SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE LIVE EVENT – SMACKDOWN BRAND
MAY 22, 2017
YPSILANTI, MICH. AT EASTERN MICHIGAN CONVOCATION CENTER
REPORT BY CHRIS FROM ANN ARBOR, PWTORCH CORRESPONDENT
I was at the Smackdown house show last night, front row wearing my PW Torch t-shirt.
Lots of families with kids in attendance. Building seats 9,000. WWE setup probably seats 7,000. The upper deck was NOT blocked off, but was 99 percent empty. Lower bowl about 40 percent occupied. Floor seating about 75 percent full. I estimate 2,500 in attendance.
The show started at 7 p.m.
(1) Shinsuke Nakamura beat Dolph Ziggler in 14:00. Very much a repeat of their match at Backlash. Ziggler got in way too much offense, but was a good heel.
(2) Breezango over The Ascension in 8:00. Decent pop for Breezango. At one point in the match, Konnor hit Breeze when the ref was distracted. A fan scolded him, shouting “cheaters never win.” Konnor replied, “No, we always win.” The Ascension lost the match two minutes later.
(3) Tye Dillinger over Aiden English in 12:00. Aiden English sang on his way to the ring and got good heel heat. Tye made his way to the ring and had fun with the crowd getting under Aiden’s skin telling him “he’s a chicken.” After losing to Tye, Aiden complained that no one can beat him (strange), and asked for another opponent. Mojo Rawley sprinted to the ring, smashed the shit out of Aiden and pinned him in 30 seconds.
(4) Luke Harper beat Erik Rowan in 11:00. Harper was playing the smiling, thumbs up, babyface role. This match wasn’t as awful as the reports you’ve been receiving would indicate. In fact, I enjoyed it, perhaps because I was fortunate enough to be front row and see facial expressions and other details.
(5) A.J. Styles beat Kevin Owens in 14:00 by DQ in a match for the U.S. Title. Owens came to the ring and told us that he couldn’t decide which section was the ugliest, so he picked the one with the most people in it, because that’s where the total amount ugliness was highest. He then told us that A.J. is hurt from last night and can’t wrestle. A.J. totally surprised us (wink) by showing up to wrestle. Before handing over the belt to the ref, KO kissed the belt, cradled the belt, stared at the belt. He made it matter. When the ref showed the belt to A.J., he touched it, enraging Owens. A.J. kept touching the belt to annoy Owens. Good stuff. During the match, Owens removed one of the top turnbuckles. When the ref turned his back on the match to fix it, Owens retrieved at chair from ringside. The ref stopped him from using it just in the nick of time. A few minutes later, Owens ended up tossing the U.S. Title belt to A.J., which he felt the need to catch, giving Owens the opportunity to grab the chair and hit him in the gut. DQ finish but A.J. came back and delivered a Styles Clash to make us happy. Watching the Styles Clash be performed up close on Owens was absolutely frightening. I was certain Owens was going to get hurt, but they pulled it off. Not worth the risk if you ask me.
(6) Naomi & Charlotte & Becky Lynch beat Natalya & Carmella & James Ellsworth when Naomi pinned Carmella. Yep, Ellsworth wrestled in this. Lots of comedy, little athleticism in this match.
(7) The Usos beat American Alpha in about 10:00 to retain the Smackdown Tag Team titles. Usos were really good heels. One of the Usos beat on Chad Gable while shouting and pointing to a heckler, “I wish this was you!” I was with the Usos on that point. They cheated to win.
(8) Randy Orton & Sami Zayn beat Jinder Mahal & Baron Corbin in 17:00. Jinder came out with the Singh Bros. One of the Singhs told me that I should be taking pictures of the Maharaja. I declined. Jinder gave the same old speech about us not liking him because of his skin color. Believe it or not, the crowd rose up with a “USA, USA” chant. I guess Vince is going to hear that this stuff is working at house shows. By the way, Jinder was hard to hear on the mic. Basic match. For the finish, Sami dove over the top rope to ringside, landing on Jinder and the Singhs. A distracted Baron Corbin then walked right into an RKO for the win. I’m not a Randy Orton fan, but he was good. He came to the ring looking like he had a very serious issue with Mahal. He looked like he was having fun while working the match. He looked concerned when Sami took a long beating. He begged for the hot tag. He fired up and put on a good show. After the win he fist bumped every single person around ring.
Show ended at 10 p.m. Overall a very fun night.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was the night after a PPV, perhaps leading to a lot of stalling, restholds, and a LOT of light showing.
Best pops: Styles, Orton (but it faded quickly), and Breezango when they got the win
Best heel heat: Aiden English’s mic work, Owens
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