Monday, July 11, 2016Author:
WWE LIVE SummerSlam Heatwave Tour
By Jon Empringham
The WWE brought its high energy product back to Budweiser Gardens for the first time in over two years. The leaders in “sports entertainment” didn’t disappoint, putting on a high octane performance for an enthusiastic crowd, with many of the company’s hottest talents in attendance.
Attending my first live WWE event, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect as we arrived at Budweiser Gardens. People were lined up outside to get in – many already wearing WWE apparel and many others in costume! Inside, the concourse was packed with people trying to purchase WWE merchandise. The ring was in the centre of the arena, with the entrance ramp coming in from the west end of the arena (opposite the restaurant) which was closed off. Our seats were in Section 106, Row H – an excellent vantage point. I had my family with me, so the kids were up off the floor enough that they had a great view of the action! The set up made for a smaller audience but once the action started, it sounded much larger! London sure loves its WWE superstars!!
The WWE put on a loaded card. Three title matches took place over the evening. Fan favourites The New Day opened the show with a tag team title defense against Eric Rowan and Braun Stroman. Great booking here, as the crowd instantly came to life and were entertained with a great match. Next, Sheamus wrestled back-to-back matches, defeating Sin Cara and then losing to Apollo Crews, after putting out an open challenge to the locker room. Neither was a great match, but putting on back-to-back performances spoke to how strong Sheamus is in the ring. Next up, Social Outcast members Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas were beaten in tag team action by Titus O’Neil and Cesaro. I’m a big Cesaro fan, so this was a fun match for me to see. Cesaro took the time to jump down off the apron and put his shirt into the hands of a very excited young fan beside the ring. The two victors took time for fans afterwards, too. A woman seated near the ringside, received a big treat from Titus O’Neil, who took the time to stop and have her wheelchair moved closer so he could give her a hug. The Miz, along with his wife, Maryse, came out to face Darren Young in the next match. The Miz did his usual excellent job on the microphone, working the crowd into a frenzy before the match. For his part, Darren Young looked great in the ring, as he works his way back to major card matches. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were next up and put on a great match, with Sami getting the win. This was a great booking going into the break, as it gave the crowd a real buzz and excitement as they headed off to buy up merchandise.
After the break, the crowd was treated a great match for the Women’s Title between Natalya and the champion, Charlotte. Natalya got a huge pop from the crowd, and put on a great show for her fans. Canada’s girl didn’t get the win, but she put on a great match and definitely got the love. Once again, after the champion had left the ring, Natalya took time to take photos with fans around the ring, and along the entrance. I’m pretty certain she didn’t miss anyone! The main event of the night was a Triple Threat WWE Title match between Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and AJ Styles. This is a Pay-Per-View caliber match – so excited to have seen this in London! The three combatants put on a terrific performance with several near-falls and lots of opportunity for each individual to shine. In the end, it was the champion, Dean Ambrose hitting his finisher “Dirty Deeds” on AJ Styles for the win. Dean took about 5 minutes in the ring before finally making his way to the back and sending the crowd home happy.
I had a friend ask me why we’d buy tickets to see the WWE when we could watch it on TV for free. Well, I’m happy we bought tickets. Like other events – concerts, sports, etc – there is lots going on that you miss on TV. And having a chance to actually feel the energy in the arena, and be so close to the ring and the superstars, was well worth the price of admission! And frankly, the price of admission was very reasonable. My only hope is that WWE won’t wait two more years to come back. London clearly came out and supported this event – lots of families, and kids, too. A fun night for everyone! And for a first-timer, like me, a real thrill to finally see WWE up close!