Sunday Slams With WWE Live!
There are few things more fun than a WWE crowd. All live event crowds, whether it be a concert, a hockey or basketball game, anything is great. The difference between those crowds and a WWE crowd however, is that WWE fans can’t rely on a planned schedule. You never know when WWE is coming to town, so when it does, the fans come out. I arrived at Bud Gardens at 3:30 to pick up my tickets to see a crowd of about 60 people herded at the back gate attempting to meet any superstar arriving to the venue. Around the area fans could be spotted in their favorite wrestling tees, carrying signs and championship belts.
Come time for doors there were lines to the road at just about every entrance. I was fairly quick in, took a quick look at merchandise and headed to my seat. I think other than the actual wrestling itself, the best part of live events is seeing the enjoyment and genuine happiness the younger fans in attendance get from being there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because they’re naive and believe it’s real, I was seated next to a boy no older than 7 who on the first strike of the first match looked at me and said “that was so fake,” and laughed. But it’s because of their genuine passion for something at that age, and their lack of shame in it. They don’t need an entire crowd chant to join; I heard so many little voices expressing themselves at any given time throughout the event. I think that’s something we lose as we get older, we become too self-conscious to voice our enjoyment sans ridicule. That said, to the event itself.
Before the opening match, ring announcer Byron Saxton gave a lucky family of four seat upgrades to ringside seats, a nice gesture by WWE. The opening match was an eight-man tag match featuring The Shining Stars, Bo Dallas, and Jinder Mahal versus The Golden Truth, Sin Cara, and a surprise partner who would be late because he was “stuck in traffic.” The match started off with a considerable amount of crowd pandering by both the faces (good guys, for those who aren’t up on wrestling lingo) and the heels (bad guys). The fans were happy to oblige to the efforts of the superstars as they instantly cheered and booed as they saw fit. The match was a decent pace, as there was a good combination of high flyers and impact wrestlers. Towards the end of the match, the numbers game caught up with the good guys, which was met by the arrival of their late partner, Big Show. Once he arrived to the ring, he was tagged in and seemingly took on the entire other team. The match finished with Big Show hitting his finishing move, a knockout punch, winning the match for himself, Golden Truth and Sin Cara.
Match two featured a bout for the cruiserweight title. Challenger Rich Swann took on champion Neville. It was quickly visible though booked as the bad guy for the match, Neville was clearly the fan favorite. I believe in wrestling today, fans just enjoy the person who plays their character well, whether they’re supposed to like him / her or not. As typical in a cruiserweight match, there were plenty of arm drags and standing drop kicks however I was honestly let down by the match overall. It was probably the lowlight of the card, ending in Neville faking an injury and in true villain fashion, landing a cheap shot while the ref was distracted to earn the win. On the way out, Neville decided to taunt some children sitting ringside who didn’t seem bothered by him at all.
The third match of the evening was the first women’s match on the card. Let me tell you, the WWE’s women’s division can hold their own. They aren’t the break to go get popcorn that some may assume they would be in such a macho mentality business. It was a tag team match featuring Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox taking on Nia Jax and Dana Brooke. Sasha Banks to that point in the night was the loudest the crowd had been, definitely a fan favorite and rightfully so. On her way to the ring she gave a little girl sitting along the entrance ramp her glasses, which resulted in the girl tearing up with joy. A nice moment. The match was dominated early on by Nia Jax who has a considerable size advantage over her entire division let alone anyone in the match. Using some teamwork Banks and Fox were able to take Nia out of the equation allowing Sasha to apply her finishing submission move to Dana Brooke for the win. The crowd approved, Banks and Fox then exited high fiving and signing shirts for fans ringside.
Next up was a triple threat match for the US title between champion Chris Jericho, Sami Zayn, and Samoa Joe. I knew the crowd would be heavily involved in this match as Jericho and Zayn are both Canadians, from Winnipeg and Montreal respectively. To no surprise, the crowd was alive for Sami, but absolutely erupted when Jericho arrived, breaking out in a “Y2J” chant. Jericho soaked it in for an elongated time, the fans were happy to continue as long as he would accept. Maybe it was because they were both Canadian, maybe it was because they were at a size disadvantage, but at match start Jericho and Zayn decided to make it a point to take Samoa Joe out of the match. This led to Joe delaying outside of the ring. Zayn and Jericho then went back and forth in the ring until Joe re-emerged. The big man was quite nimble for his size, moving around the ring very well. After some slight chaos, Zayn hit his finishing move on Joe and looked to be in place for the win before Jericho snuck back into the picture to hit his finishing move, the code breaker for the win. After the ring was cleared, Jericho cut one of his on mic promos in a fashion only he could. Having the crowd’s full attention and support, Jericho brought out his famous “list” and added London to the delight of the crowd. This to me was the match of the evening.
After a quick intermission, action resumed with the second women’s match of the night. Champion Bayley took on challenger Charlotte Flair. This match was great for back and forth momentum shifts. Following in the steps of her legendary wrestling father Ric Flair, Charlotte struck with multiple chops to the sound of “WOOO” echoing throughout the arena. The match overall was great however the ending was slightly abrupt and odd. Bayley landed her finisher, a belly-to-belly suplex, after Charlotte had re-entered the ring.
Next came the match I was personally looking forward to the most. A four-way tag team match for the titles between champs Gallows and Anderson, The New Day, Enzo and Cass, and Sheamus and Cesaro. New Day, my personal favorites and crowd favorites entered the ring first with all their bells and whistles, in their case, a giant blow up cereal box, a trombone, and an ice cream bike. These guys are entertaining. Enzo and Cass who are equally as loved by the fans then joined them, they engaged the crowd in their lengthy intro promo. Cesaro and Sheamus and the champs Gallows and Anderson followed suit to moderate receptions. This match was quick and chaotic due to the amount of people and different styles. Since titles rarely, if ever change at house shows, it was kind of a bummer to see New Day lose, however not surprising. Did I mention wrestling wasn’t real? So most times predictable ha ha. After the match Gallows and Anderson left immediately leaving the remaining three teams all standing in the ring, this is when the entertainment value of WWE took over. New Day grabbed their trombone and challenged the other two teams to a dance off, drawing laughs from the crowd.
Finally it was time for the main event, WWE’s golden boy Roman Reigns vs the very imposing Braun Strowman. In truest heroic fashion Roman overcame an early onslaught from Strowman to make the match competitive. The match continued at a fairly high impact rate, as both men are power-based wrestlers. Then another genuine character / fan interaction occurred. While fighting outside of the ring, Roman had fallen in front of a little girl, actually the same little girl who had gotten the glasses earlier. As she cheered for Roman to get up and keep fighting, Strowman, who is an absolute monster of a man approached her direction and her face turned to fear as she fell back into her father. You can’t write that stuff, and it was really cool to see. The match ended in a disqualification as Strowman attacked Reigns with the ring steps, but upon taking the then brawl back into the ring, Roman landed two spears on Strowman leading him to leave the ring and Roman to look the part of a hero for the fans.
Overall, it was a great show and a fun experience so I’d like to thank Budweiser Gardens for the opportunity.
Until next time,