I took in the Smackdown house show last night in Lexington, Kentucky. This was one of the last stops on the Road to Wrestlemania (which was mentioned over and over throughout the night of course, including on the t-shirt). It wasn’t exactly a huge show and the advertised main event (at least in some places) didn’t go through in the end, though a little something started to make up for the changed match. Let’s get to it.
The show was scheduled to start at 7pm and started almost exactly on time, as is almost always the case with house shows. The arena was far from full, but to be fair Rupp Arena is the biggest basketball arena in the country and can hold over 25,000 people. Not terrible for Easter Sunday night.
Before the show, the fans chose to watch clips of Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage from Wrestlemania VII. Not surprising as Savage used to live in Lexington.
Daniel Bryan welcomed us to the show via a video which never said where the show was taking place.
It was announced that the four way main event with AJ Styles defending the Smackdown World Title against Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens would be a singles match with only Corbin getting a shot. This was announced on the Rupp Arena email I received about the show so it wasn’t a huge shock.
1. New Day b. Rusev Day – Midnight Hour to English (14:27, B-)
There was a giant inflatable BootyO’s box next to the ramp during New Day’s entrance. New Day came out with Easter eggs but English said that Rusev was the Rusev Day Bunny. Rusev Day stole the eggs and poured the candy on the mat before the match, much to Big E.’s horror. Also, New Day threw pancakes to the crowd and those things went FLYING, with a kid about four seats to my right catching one. They’re real pancakes too.
This was actually a lot of fun with Woods and English having a hot start. The fans were WAY into New Day’s antics and it was comedy for a good while. Big E. was gyrating more than usual, including one spot where English took a bow but looked up to see the gyrating hips. After Woods took a long beating, Big E. came in off the hot tag and cleaned house until the Midnight Hour ended English. The match felt longer than it was, albeit in a good way. Very solid opener.
2. Shinsuke Nakamura b. Dolph Ziggler – Kinshasa (16:20, B-)
This is the third time I’ve seen this match live in a year (plus a tag match with the two of them involved) so I was more than a little bored this time around. It was exactly the same match they’ve had time after time with Ziggler doing all of his usual stuff but getting Kinshasaed for the pin. Not terrible, but I’ve seen it so many times that I really don’t care anymore. Also, kind of early in the show for Nakamura. After the match, Charles Robinson fireman’s carried a groggy Ziggler to the stage, where Ziggler superkicked an Easter Bunny pinata.
3. Tag Team Titles: Usos b. Shelton Benjamin/Chad Gable – Double superkick to Gable (8:22, C)
This was short and to the point, but the main thing here was the Usos being CRAZY over. They easily got one of the best face pops of the night and it was nice to see them getting the recognition. These guys have reinvented themselves and they had a completely watchable match here. Nothing great, but it was fine for what it was.
4. US Title: Randy Orton b. Jinder Mahal and Bobby Roode – RKO to Mahal (13:54, C)
If this is any indication of what’s coming at Wrestlemania, we’re in for a nacho break match. This was really uninspired stuff and everything you would expect it to be. Mahal was really lame in his offense but the fans couldn’t stand him. At least they were into Roode’s pose. The interesting part here was the fans chanting HAPPY BIRTHDAY at Orton, who seemed to smile a little bit at the recognition. This was exactly what you would expect from these three, which isn’t a good sign.
5. Tye Dillinger vs. Mojo Rawley went to a no contest when Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens interfered (7:55, D)
As intermission was winding down, we got a countdown from thirty seconds and Dillinger’s entrance started at ten in a nice surprise. This only existed for the run-in finish and that’s fine. The fans HATED Rawley though, mainly because he turned heel in the same arena. This earned him chants of MOJO SUCKS, YOU STILL SUCK and WE REMEMBER. Owens and Zayn ran in after an uninspired match, saying they were giving the fans what they paid to see, unlike Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon. Security took them out and that was that.
6. Charlotte/Naomi/Becky Lynch b. Riott Squad vs. Lana/Carmella/Natalya – Figure Eight to Morgan (10:28, C-)
They threw all of the women into one match and that’s a little annoying. I was expecting two matches but throwing them all into one didn’t let anyone stand out, save for one person. Becky Lynch came off as the biggest star in this match by a mile and a half with only Charlotte being on the same planet. She has the energy, the look and the work to be the top woman in the company and they’re crazy if they don’t go with it. Everything broke down and Charlotte made Morgan tap. This felt like a house show match, which isn’t a great thing to say. The camera doesn’t do Lana or Carmella justice.
7. AJ Styles b. Baron Corbin – Phenomenal Forearm (12:56, C+)
Styles worked the leg throughout and nearly got a submission off the Calf Crusher. There isn’t much to talk about here, save for a wicked Deep Six from Corbin. The main thing that stood out to me was how big Corbin seemed. I know he’s bigger than most of the roster but he was TOWERING over Styles here. Nothing much to this one as it was just a house show main event.
Overall, nothing worth seeing but for $27.50, I can’t really complain that much. The wrestling was fine and considering it was the Sunday before Wrestlemania, you can’t expect them to be going full speed. I had a good time and the wrestling was watchable so all in all, not a bad night whatsoever.
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