WWE SMACKDOWN HOLT REPORT
REPORT BY MATTHEW L. AND JOSH W., PWTORCH CORRESPONDENTS
MIXED MATCH CHALLENGE TAPING
(A) Naomi & Jimmy Uso vs. Baron Corbin & Tamina. Before Smackdown went live, they taped a match for Mixed Match Challenge. There was more comedy than usual in this, some corny and playful spots. They played up that Naomi and Jimmy are married, whereas Corbin and Tamina didn’t have that connection. It felt like a house show match.
-In the dark main event, The Usos & Bobby Roode beat Jinder Mahal & Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin.
-Shinsuke arrived at the arena at 8 in the morning. He was the first of the wrestlers to arrive.
-The A.J. Styles interview with Renee Young didn’t work with the crowd. It was so early in the night, the crowd wasn’t worked up yet, and this was too low key. The fans were playfully heckling A.J., given that he’s from Georgia and the College Football Championship game was the night before.
-This is a mid-sized arena for WWE. The upper deck was entirely tarped off, and the lower deck was mostly full. By the time 205 Live finished, though, well over half of the crowd had left.
-The crowd generally fell in line with going along with the babyfaces. It’s a different cultural fanbase than, say, Chicago. There were still some Bullet Club t-shirts. That said, there were a number of matches where fans were confused about who to cheer and boo. It felt all over the place.
-The crowd started hot, especially when A.J. Styles came out. Becky Lynch and Charlotte got good reactions, too. Then there was a long mid-match lull with a cavalcade of horrible mid-card (at best) tag team matches, fans sat on their hands and weren’t sure what to do and who to cheer for. There was no mid-show anchor to liven the crowd back up.
-Regarding Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan, it seemed the crowd had equally positive reactions for each of them. Shane was hurt by having his music play so many times. Bryan didn’t seem to get as much of a “Yes!” chant as seems typical for him, so many the booking is eroding people’s enthusiasm for him.
-Randy Orton got the biggest pop of the night, but Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were popular too. Kids are making the weird hand gestures to imitate Nakamura, so he seems to be catching on in that way. But compared to attending his debut at NXT Takeover when he faced Sami Zayn, it’s night and day compared to him and his reaction here. The crowd response for Orton made it seem like he was going to main event WrestleMania. As soon as he threw Sami over the table, the fans went bonkers. He stole the show.
-There wasn’t a big reaction for Breezango, but when Rusev came out, the Rusev Day gimmick was really over. During the actual match, the crowd booed Aiden and cheered Rusev. When Aiden was in the ring, the crowd wanted Rusev to tag in and they chanted “Rusev Day.” The crowd had a “surprise pop” for the finish of Breezango winning.
-When Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable first came out, there was no reaction. Time stood still. The crowd was really engaged when Shelton brought up the College Football Championship. It was confusing which direction they were going in with Bryan because here he was clearly positioned opposite of a heel tag team and trying to outsmart and show them up, yet the rest of the show it seemed like the heat was supposed to be on him for making questionable decisions.
-T.J.P. got himself a pretty good pop at the end of his match on 205 Live. He threw a typical heel tantrum at ringside, and it was nice to see emotion from him since we haven’t seen a lot of that. Out of everyone on 205 Live, with the exception of Enzo, he and Cedric were the only other wrestlers fans reacted to.
If you attend a live event in the future, send results to pwtorch@pwtorch.
Listen to both of our on-site correspondents on today’s Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast, available free at Podcast One HERE or search “Wade Keller” in Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.