WWE Smackdown/Superstars/NXT Spoiler and Live Report

Posted: April 14, 2010 in Live Report, NXT, Show Report, Smackdown, Superstars
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courtesy of Google Images

There is nothing like getting a slice of home when you are far from it. Being away from home since January while studying abroad this semester, I got this home cookin’ last night when I attended WWE Smackdown & NXT at London’s O2 Arena. It was quite an experience. I have been to several WWE events in the United States, but England was a different beast. I thought I would share my thoughts about the shows as well as my interactions with British wrestling fans. Let’s get it started, shall we?

The arena

The O2 Arena is quite a sight to see. It opened within the last decade and is not just an arena, but an entire entertainment complex. The O2 is a “bubble;” The arena is inside the bubble and outside the arena (but inside the bubble) are several restaurants, museum exhibits, a movie theatre, and so much more. One could really get lost in it. I know that some American arenas are incorporating the same kind of complex (Staples Center, Gillette Stadium), but all of them should. The arena is a beautiful, state-of-the-art building with great views and angles from every seat. The only qualms I have are that 1) the O2’s scoreboard does not have an LED display, so I, sitting at a hard angle to the Titantron, could not really see what happened on the screen and 2) the sound system is dreadful (I’m already turning English). Overall, a great place to see a show.

The fans

British fans are passionate and knowledgeable about wrestling. After striking up conversations with a few of them, they seemed so fortunate to be able to attend a live WWE  event, something we in America take for granted since the WWE tours around the States all year. The crowd, as usual, was very child-heavy and really represented John Cena and Rey Mysterio. Some had Rey gear on, some had Cena, and some had both (the Cena shirt and wristbands with the Rey mask was a popular choice). Yet, once the show started, you could hear a pin drop. I watched Raw on Tuesday morning and noticed how dead the live crowd was. I thought that it might be louder in person, but it was eerily quiet. Not a lot of cheering or chanting going on except for the rare spots around the arena made up of mostly older fans.

WWE Superstars: Matt Hardy (with Justin Gabriel) v. Carlito (with Michael Tarver).

Hardy comes out to what was a “large” ovation considering the quiet crowd. Interesting/funny note: when Hardy went into the ring and climbed the ropes to do his usual V1 pose, he actually slipped and fell through the ropes. After laughing it off, he came back into the ring and did it again. It was a good match. Carlito works the arm and Hardy plays the face-in-peril very well. The match ends when Tarver tries distracting the ref, but ends up distracting Carlito, who turns into the Twist of Fate for the Hardy victory.

WWE NXT

Matt Striker comes into the ring and introduces the rookies. The biggest pops went to countryman Wade Barrett (which, when he says it, comes out like “WAY BAHRUH”) and Daniel Bryan. Striker announces that the weekly competition will be a speaking competition. This was intriguing because some of these guys haven’t had adequate time on the microphone. The rookies go in order from first to worst. Here is an analysis of what the topics were for each candidate, crowd reactions, and my thoughts on their promo skills.

Daniel Bryan: Passion

Bryan is comfortable on the mic and his humble attitude works for him. Yet, he went completely off topic and the fans definitely booed him heavily for it (surprising really). This is the first time I’ve ever heard him booed, but I am sure it won’t factor in too much. The show was made for him.

Wade Barrett: Blase

Being the “hometown hero,” Barrett got the preferential treatment and received the strongest crowd reaction. He stayed on topic with a word that I think most people in the audience did not understand and made it work. I believe he is the strongest promo guy on NXT, slightly better than Otunga and Bryan. He has a unique, memorable voice, which will help him in the long run.

Justin Gabriel: Flowers

Gabriel, in my opinion, is the worst on the mic. He is too timid. Watch him answer Matt Striker’s question; he rambles. I actually didn’t have any clue what he was talking about when Striker mentioned that he defeated Otunga last week. The crowd was mixed for him. The 450 Splash is a thing of beauty, but he might be a replica of Evan Bourne. He needs to do something to stand out from the crowd.

Heath Slater: Cereal

Slater started off well and on topic, but then went into heel mode talking about how he can’t eat cereal because he has too nice of a body before trashing the subject. Slater was also mixed, but more boos were prevalent. Slater needs some help. Christian is a great promo guy. Slater should learn from him.

David Otunga: Sleep

Otunga got the second most heat of the rookies. He has the “it factor.” He is pretty good on the mic, but his in-ring skills need much work. He gets a lot of press for his wife, Jennifer Hudson, but he needs to be separate himself. His speech was good and reflected his character. If he can get the moves to go with his mouth, he could be a star one day.

Skip Sheffield: Rainbows

Skip goes off-topic and does his “Yup Yup Yup” schtick for the crowd. He got the second most cheers behind Barrett. What confused me was that just last week, he cut a promo where he said that there would be “no more Mr. Nice Guy,” but then plays to the crowd? After advancing to the finals of the competition, he starts off with the Meathead stuff, but then flips to the heel mode, claiming he was cheated out of the keg competition last week. And at the end, he says “And that’s all I have to say about that.” With the bald head, southern accent and vest, I swear he was Stone Cold for 10 seconds.

Michael Tarver: Itchy

Tarver does not say a word. He is the weakest competitor and will be eliminated first.

Darren Young: Toothpaste

Young gets cheap heat for talking about stereotypical British dental problems. He won’t be eliminated on the fact that he seems to have a program developing with Punk (more on that later).

Barrett wins (no surprise). He is a stud and should be in the competition until the end.

Darren Young is in the back with SES. Punk admires Young for standing up for himself last week on Smackdown. Gallows with some funny lines, saying that he manhandled Young like a “punk” last week, garnering a confused look from Punk. Punk sets up a match between the two. If Young wins, last week is forgiven. If Gallows wins, Young will have his head shaved. Trouble brewing in the SES? Stay tuned.

Wade Barrett v. Christian

Okay match showcasing Barrett’s strength and power. Christian wins when Jericho distracts him, but Slater distracts Barrett, setting up for the Killswitch. Crowd popped for Christian, even though Barrett was the favorite throughout the match.

Daniel Bryan v. William Regal

Finally, a match between these two. A storied history with Regal training Bryan and Bryan paying tribute through his ring gear. The chemistry was definitely there and they put on a match that only got one minute. If this match got more time, it could have been one to remember. Miz attacks Bryan afterwards to further their feud.

I’m calling this now. Bryan wins NXT, challenges Miz for the U.S. Title and wins. Write that down.

Luke Gallows v. Darren Young

Very similar to Young’s match with Bryan. Young gets the predictable victory. It is too soon to have his head shaved, if it ever happens. Punk enters the ring and raises Young’s hand. Gallows is left in the ring with a look of grief upon his face.

WWE Friday Night Smackdown

Jericho/Edge/Teddy Long promo

Jericho comes out and says he is ostracized as always and is being cheated out of a title match. Edge comes out and disagrees. Teddy Long comes out and says that if the two of them didn’t get counted out last week, they wouldn’t be in this position. But he did say that Jericho is right; he does have a rematch. But he also thinks Edge has a case as well. Tonight, there will be a World Title Triple Threat match. I felt that Orton might find a way to get involved. We would see later.

Drew McIntyre v. Kane

Is it just me or has Drew only faced Kane, Morrison, and Matt Hardy since the beginning of the year? Drew gets heat just from being from Scotland. Kane comes out to a pop. Typical match between the two, Hardy interferes as Drew tries to leave. I thought it would be a countout because I have seen so many wrestlers throw others back into the ring and there was no DQ. But there was one here. Drew wins by DQ. Kane chokeslams both men for their troubles.

Dolph Ziggler v. R-Truth

Ziggler comes out makes a half-hearted apology to Josh Mathews for putting him to sleep last week. R-Truth comes out and calls Ziggler out for being insincere. Ziggler wins with the sleeper. The crowd loved Truth at the beginning, but it died down by the end.

Mickie James v. Michelle McCool

Sorry, I was in the bathroom. What did I miss? McCool wins with a big boot after interference from Layla El. McCool attacks James after the match, but Beth Phoenix makes the save.

CM Punk, Luke Gallows, and Darren Young v. The Hart Dynasty and Rey Mysterio

Best match of the night by far. The crowd woke up for this one. Rey got the biggest pop of the night as well. A promo beforehand teased more turmoil in the SES, but they seemed united during the match. The good guys win when Rey 619’s Punk behind the referee’s back and DH Smith uses his father’s running powerslam for the win.

Caylen Croft v. JTG

The Dudebusters came out to new music (they have had three themes since being called up from FCW). JTG comes out to the Cryme Tyme music, which was weird. Shad makes his way down during the match and watches. The crowd was dead for this one. JTG wins with the Drive By. Shad tries to attack him after, but JTG finally gets the upper hand. Extreme Rules, anyone?

Edge v. Chris Jericho v. Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Title

A 30 minute match with plenty of near falls to get the crowd roaring again. The match ends when Jericho tries to spear Edge, but misses to only get hit by the Spear himself. Swagger sneaks in and throws out Edge to pin Jericho for the win. Great way to end the show. Swagger hits Edge with the OKC Thunder Bomb for emphasis afterwards. As Swagger leaves, Jericho attacks Edge, trapping his leg in the steel steps and attacking the Achilles Tendon. The show stops taping there.

As Jericho heads to the back, Rey attacks him. Punk comes out and attacks Rey and we have our dark match. It is the same match as Wrestlemania; Rey wins when he reverses the GTS and knocks Gallows off the apron. He hits Punk with the 619 and the splash and sends the fans home happy.

A very entertaining show. I will be attending the WWE Draft Special April 26 in Richmond so stay tuned for more coverage from #1 Pretender.

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