Archive for the ‘Live Report’ Category

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I have been very lucky to have attended two huge tapings in the past two weeks. I was at the Smackdown/NXT taping in London, England, two weeks ago (read below!), and now that I made it back to the U.S. safely (even though I slept in the Philadelphia airport Sunday night to do so), I was able to attend last night’s Monday Night Raw Draft Special. It might have been one of the best live shows I have ever seen. Like my London post, I want to share with you my experience and thoughts on last night’s show. I will have another post later analyzing the draft picks from the show and today’s Supplemental Draft. How about it?

Odd & Ends

The Richmond Coliseum isn’t what I would call a fantastic building. It it quite old and pretty small, but I think that makes for a better atmosphere sometimes. At the O2 Arena, it looked huge and the crowd was dead. But last night, I have never been a part of such a hot crowd. Before the show even started, the place was booming. Southern wrestling fans (I being one of them) are a different breed and being surrounded by them made the show 10x better. As always, there were tons of kids, but not as many as usual. A pretty adult-heavy crowd for the most part.

Also, two Superstars matches took place before the show. Gail Kim defeated Jillian Hall and Zack Ryder defeated Primo. Check in for my WWE Superstars report on Friday for more about these matches.

I will break down my thoughts on the show as they happened.

ShoMiz vs. The Hart Dynasty for the WWE Unified Tag Team Championship

The Big Show & The Miz are the first two out to start Raw and the crowd is on them quite heavily. One of the constants through the night was that if the fans in Richmond didn’t like someone, they booed so loud, I could hardly hear anything. While it sucked not to hear it all, I am happy with how enthusiastic everyone is. The Miz wants Hart to come down and declare ShoMiz the greatest tag team of all time, which he does, but not before also saying that the Mountie was the greatest Intercontinental Champion ever as well. It is amazing how great the Miz is. Did anyone see this happening four/five years ago? The crowd popped huge for Bret, who calls out the Dynasty for the title match.

This was a fantastic tag team match. D.H. Smith’s delayed vertical suplex on the Miz was impressive. Smith, like Miz, is getting better and better. Tyson Kidd was already a great talent, so I am glad Smith is catching up. The audience was very into this match and definitely got tense near the end, especially when Miz tried to use the ropes to win before Bret pushed his legs off. The ending definitely caught me by surprise. I thought that when Kidd went for the rolling senton, Show would knock him out of mid-air. When that didn’t happen and the Hart Attack did, I thought Show would get back in because it seemed like Kidd was stalling for time before putting on the Sharpshooter. But I was completely wrong. Miz taps out and we have new WWE Unified Tag Team Champions. The crowd was very excited and it was refreshing to see a new set of champions. After the match (and during the commercial break), Show knocks out Miz. Perhaps a feud is in the works? We would have to see if either man gets drafted later on tonight.

Jack Swagger/Edge backstage promo

Josh Mathews is with Swagger, who brags about his dominant victory over Randy Orton at Extreme Rules. Edge interrupts and proclaims himself next in line for the World Heavyweight Championship. I guess the feud with Chris Jericho is over. Edge/Swagger would be an interesting storyline to say the least. And I thought John Morrison would be next in line. He did beat Swagger clean last week. Oh well.

Michelle McCool & Layla El (with VIckie Guerrero) v. Maryse and WWE Diva’s Champion Eve Torres – Divas Draft Pick Match

This match is for the first draft pick of the night and it will be a Diva. There was a “We Want Mickie” chant throughout the match. Well I guess the crowd will be disappointed. To go back to my “crowd was so loud, I couldn’t hear” bit, LayCool’s promo before the match was the perfect example. I did not hear anything other than “EXCUSE ME!” Eve and Maryse shouldn’t be teaming, but at least they didn’t get along. LayCool wins with a big boot to Maryse and Smackdown gets the first pick.

SMACKDOWN RECEIVES KELLY KELLY.

Evan Bourne v. C.M. Punk (with Serena and Luke Gallows) – Draft Pick Match

A good match between two guys who haven’t faced each other (or haven’t in a long time). The crowd loved Bourne and were lukewarm towards Punk. It was obvious to me that Punk would win, but I just didn’t know how. Bourne got in a ton of offense, which surprised me. Punk wins when the masked avenger (P.S. TOTALLY Joey Mercury) enters through the crowd (right below me, I might add) and knocks Bourne off the top rope after Serena distracted the referee. Punk with the GTS and it’s over.

SMACKDOWN RECEIVES THE BIG SHOW.

Speaking of the Big Show, he is in the back with Theodore Long. Long is happy to have Show back and Show teases him before lightening up. Show is a better crowd pleaser so a face run works better for him.

Sheamus/Randy Orton/John Cena promo

Sheamus enters the ring and states that after his victory over Triple H, he should be the #1 contender. Orton enters to a big pop and disagrees, even talking about his own problems with Triple H, but facing him face-to-face. Orton did have his fair share of sneak attacks in his day, so this made me wonder how they are trying to stretch him into a face. This was the most face promo he has cut since his turn. Sheamus makes a good point by saying that Orton had his chance at Extreme Rules for the WHC and lost. Sheamus is getting more confident on the mic. Cena enters to a GARGANTUAN pop (this is the first time since 2005 I have heard almost no booing towards him) and cuts a pretty funny promo. The line about Sheamus looking like a “jar of mayo with a ketchup haircut” was fantastic. Since there is no guest host, Cena is able to determine his #1 contender. That’s odd. Why wouldn’t he pick Hornswoggle? Anyways, we get Sheamus/Orton tonight. Solid segment.

Smackdown (Rey Mysterio, IC Champion Drew McIntyre, Shad Gaspard, Kane, and R-Truth) v. Raw (Ted DiBiase, Santino Marella, Yoshi Tatsu, Mark Henry, and M.V.P.) – Battle Royal for Three Draft Picks

It was obvious that Raw would win here because that would have given Smackdown five draft picks already. It is much harder to keep up with a battle royal live than on television. The crowd was very into Rey and Santino. The spot where Mark Henry held up Kane, only for Rey to hit the 619 was awesome. The ending, with Rey and DiBiase getting near-fall after near-fall was entertaining, but I knew DiBiase would win, which he did. Entertaining match.

RAW RECEIVES JOHN MORRISON, R-TRUTH, AND EDGE

Chris Jericho v. Christian (with Heath Slater) – Draft Pick Match

Jericho comes out to whine some more, which is a great dimension to his character. He demands an apology from Slater for beating him last week. Slater can be very charismatic, but also very boring. This was the latter. Christian comes to the ring for what is a great match. These two work so well together and I kept having flashbacks to Wrestlemania 20. The crowd was split and Jericho won with a nasty Codebreaker on Christian as he came off the top rope. Jericho gives one to Slater for his troubles.

SMACKDOWN RECEIVES KOFI KINGSTON

Kingston heads out and gives Jericho Trouble In Paradise. Maybe a new feud since Edge moved to Raw?

Jack Swagger v. John Morrison – Draft Pick Match

An okay match, but not as good as last week’s match on Smackdown. Once again, this match was predictable. There was no way Swagger would lose again. The crowd started a “This Is Boring” chant halfway through and the annoying kids behind me kept shouting “The All-American American Jackass.” Swagger wins with the OKC Thunder Bomb and earns Smackdown a pick.

SMACKDOWN RECEIVES CHRISTIAN

Ted DiBiase/R-Truth Promo

Look! Carlito got on Raw just like he said he would! Anyways, DiBiase finds Truth in the back and welcomes him to Raw. As soon as DiBiase mentioned to Truth that he had an offer for him, I knew there would be a Virgil comment. And luckily for me, there was. Truth jokingly bought into it before slapping DiBiase in the face. I was actually intrigued by a DiBiase/Truth alliance. It would give Truth something to do and maybe give him a run with the Million Dollar Belt. Alas, we get a DiBiase/Truth feud instead. The “I worked hard” versus “I was given everything” kind.

Dolph Ziggler v. Hornswoggle – Draft Pick Match

This was a clusterfuck. Why the hell did Ziggler, who is being built up on Smackdown, lose to ‘Swoggle? That doesn’t help Ziggles at all. Hornswoggle wins by countout when he keeps throwing things at Ziggler. Ziggler gives him the sleeper after. Thank goodness.

RAW RECEIVES CHRIS JERICHO

Sheamus v. Randy Orton v. Batista -#1 Contender’s Match for the WWE Championship

Before Justin Roberts announces the match, Batista makes a surprise entrance and whines and complains. It was pretty funny, actually. Sheamus and Orton come out and they all bicker until Cena makes it a triple threat. Why would he do that? He already beat Batista twice. Oy.

This was a great main event. Each superstar got plenty of time to showcase their offensive sets. I won’t go into too much detail. Edge runs in near the end as Orton is preparing to give Batista the RKO and spears him. Batista rolls over and wins. Batista-Cena III. Boo.

After the show, Batista trashed-talked Orton, even calling him “Stupid RKO.” Orton gets up and gives him that. He poses and the show ends.

I think the matches were predictable, but the picks were not. It leaves many questions going into the future. Not knowing what will happen moving forward is exactly what the WWE wants and got itself last night. In the end, a great three-hour special.

Check in later for my analysis of the draft picks.

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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.