Nothing says crap shoot more than “WWE Live Event”. I’ve seen some great efforts on nights when I expected nothing and cards that look great fall to the “card subject to change” virus and die a quick death. And I’ve also seen cards that went exactly as they looked on paper!
Even though it was advertised as a Supershow, with all of the current, major WWE stars, I wasn’t expecting much from last night’s show. First off, WWE roster has been run a bit ragged lately with injuries (Seth Rollins and injured so long he might be…hopefully, he isn’t involuntarily retired Daniel Bryan) and absences (Cena filming his reality show).
It was the night before a PPV, which usually means guys work at a medium pace (TM Adam Sandler) and try to do just enough to not get hurt. It was also a show in the third biggest city in a C state for WWE. I wouldn’t have begrudged the WWE superstars if they had just shown up and yelled “Pin me! Pay me!” (TM Al Snow) and left. Like I said though, in WWE, you have to expect the unexpected and I’m always psyched to see the stars of WWE live. Especially since I got comped tickets this time (#MaineCelebrityStatus).
WWE Holiday Supershow
December 12th, 2015
Live from Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine
Ring Announcer: Eden Stiles
First observation is it was kind of jarring/cool to see WWE in such a small arena. When I told people I was going to WWE last night, most people were like “Huh? WWE’s back in Portland again?” WWE did a Maine loop of Bangor & Portland two months ago, on a New England Patriots off weekend! Here’s my report from then; http://culturecrossfire.com/wrestling/wwe/wwe-live-portland-maine-2015/#.Vm2rBdIrLMw .
Tonight though, WWE was doing a show in Lewiston, a beleagured, small mill city, about 40 minutes outside of Portland. It also has a 3,600 seat arena, The Colisee (name is way classier than the arena itself), which hosts a third tier junior ice hockey team and famously hosted the second Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston fight 50 years ago.
WWE hadn’t run in Lewiston in almost exactly ten years. Last show in Lewiston was around Christmastime in 2005 and featured (what I’d assume to be) Undertaker’s last appearance in the State of Maine. Unfortunately, I did not attend so I can’t post my recollections of the show for a “Ten Years After” article. Before that, according to The History of WWE, last WWE show in Lewiston was on New Year’s Day 1989. So WWE is a rare treat for the good residents of the Lewiston/Auburn metropolitan area and attendance was stronger for this show than in any of the State of Maine in three years (last time I remember a crowd this good was a show in June ’12 in the similarly podunk small city/Capital of Maine, Augusta). Although, it’s hard to tell since even though the arena was mostly packed, it’s roughly half the size of the venues they usually run in Portland & Bangor.
Anyway, I rambled a lot about The Colisee. Let’s cut to the action.
Triple Threat Tag Team Match for WWE Tag Team Titles: New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (c) Vs The Usos Vs Lucha Dragons
I was super pleasantly surprised to see New Day (well, at least two thirds of them. Xavier was busy hosting a Super Smash Melee tournament in Massachusetts.) , who hadn’t been advertised for the show, make an appearance. Their shtick seemed somewhat more raunchier than it is on TV. Kofi’s twerking and Big E’s swiveling seemed more pronounced for some reason. Also they pretended the steam pyro cannons were them farting during their entrance which is just classic entertainment.
These three teams have so much energy and have so much chemistry with each other that even them going half speed is going to be more entertaining than 90% of rasslin matches. This was a nice preview of their match at TLC the next night. Well, I’m writing this the day of TLC so hopefully, that match goes well. Assume it will! This was a really fun way to open the show. New Day wins when Kofi pins Kalisto with a rollup with a FISTFUL of TIGHTS! B+
R-Truth Vs Tyler Breeze (with Summer Rae)
I groaned when R-Truth came up. His shtick to me is incredibly dates. At one point, he got the crowd to chant “Whoomp! There It Is!” What is this? A 1993 WCW show? It was an interesting contrast with Tyler Breeze, who has a gimmick that’s fresh and current (at least by WWE standards). This match was what it was. Preening, pretentious heel Vs crusty, veteran. I did laugh at R-Truth (poorly) attempting Tyler Breeze pose, where lays on the top of the ring ropes in the corner. Also good was Tyler Breeze trying to do the “What’s Up?” chant. Match itself was whatever. Kind of pissed R-Truth got the win with a fluke rollup after the ref got Breeze rolling up Truth. I guess justice for babyfaces after the finish to the opener. Anyway, it’s maddening to see R-Truth go over Tyler Breeze. I HATE RASSLIN! C+
Bo Dallas comes out for a promo! I LOVE RASSLIN! I’m like one of 12 people that still really enjoys Bo’s shtick. He says everyone in the audience has a dream but he’s the only one ambitious enough to follow his! It’s OK because they all get to see him. His promo is interrupted by MOTHAFUCKIN’ GOLDUST! I LOVE RASSLIN!
Bo Dallas Vs Goldust
Goldust was SUPER OVER! Like right up there with Ambrose & Reigns. Massive chants for him. I guess it’s not a surprise though since they were running in a town where most people like to think it’s still 1997. Aw. Who am I kidding? I’m wearing JNCOs as I type this!
This is the kind of match that I’d watch on a show like Main Event or Superstars and say was a solid, no frills kind of match—if I watched Main Event or Superstars. This was nothing to write home about. Just a solid, workmanlike match with some funny moments. Loved watching Goldust do Bo Dallas’ run around the ring taunt. Goldust is a national treasure! Goldust gets the win with the Final Cut. B
Next, Eden Stiles asks if we’re ready for some WWE DIVAS! My friend and the dad in the row in front of us are ready so away we go!
Charlotte & Becky Lynch Vs Team B.A.D. (Sasha Banks & Naomi) (with Tamina)
This is my first time seeing a Flair live. While I would’ve liked it to have been the Nature Boy ( I started watching in ’94 and only time WCW ever came to Maine was during Flair’s lawsuit against them), at least I can say that I didn’t pop my seeing a Flair wrestle cherry with David! Also always happy to see Sasha Banks, a New England indy talent, made good. This was another very solid match with most of it centered around Team B.A.D. working over Becky. The good gals get the win after Charlotte makes the hot tag and makes Sasha tap to the Figure Eight. They didn’t acknowledge Charlotte & Becky’s recent tension so I guess these house shows are non-canon? Probably best not to think about it too much (as with most things pro rasslin related) B
Kevin Owens comes out for an Intercontinental Title defense. Owens protests. He’s the Intercontinental Champ! He’s not gonna defend his title in a podunk town like Lewiston, Maine. He only defends the title in major cities like Boston! He is gonna give the fans the honor of seeing him beat down Dean Ambrose in a non-title match, in a preview of their TLC Match for the title.
Kevin Owens Vs Dean Ambrose
As it was with the participants of the opener, it’s impossible for these guys to have a bad match. Ambrose has been at every house show I’ve been to in the past three years and I think at all but one, he was placed in the pre-intermission, showstealer match (a role Bret Hart was famously put in the late ’80s/early ’90s right before he became a solidified main eventer). And the one that he wasn’t was a match against Alex Riley (SAY IT TO MY FACE) six months before Ambrose made his TV debut.
Nifty exchange where Ambrose kept finding creative ways to get out of the Popup Powerbomb. Ambrose got the win with the Dirty Deeds. A preview of TLC? Maybe. Probably not. Interestingly, that brings Ambrose’s record up to 4-0 at house shows I’ve attended. THE NEW STREAK!?
After this match, it’s time for WWE to sell some crap. I always point out that intermission music at WWE house shows is random as hell. At this one, it was early ’80s Top 40/lite rock (Christopher Cross, Foreigner, Billy Joel). Assuming this is something that WWE lets the venue decide but I could also see one of the road agents being like “Yes. Billy Joel’s ‘My Life’ would be a great song to play during intermission.” Probably Terry Taylor.
WWE United States Title Match: Alberto Del Rio (c) Vs Jack Swagger
Jack Swagger is a guy who is somehow still very over with a certain (dumb?) segment of the WWE Universe, despite mostly jobbing the last few years. I always felt he had a lot of potential but got pushed to the World Title way too soon and never really recovered. Damage was really only exacerbated (Bob Backlund word) by his racist, Tea Party member gimmick that he did in 2013, that he somehow retains in watered down form as a babyface. He’s the kind of guy that I see as a perfect example of why a wrestler shouldn’t spend his entire career in WWE. I’d be curious to see how it’d turn out if he spent time on the indies or overseas.
Speaking of spending time overseas & the indies, US Champ Alberto Del Rio was another guy making an unadvertised appearance here. He’s back after a year and a half away from WWE and seemed in good form tonight. Can you believe that these two guys were in a World Title match at WrestleMania just two and a half years ago? Seems like ages. Anyway, this was a surprisingly solid, post intermission match. Alberto Del Rio wins with the diving double foot stomp in the ropes. B-
Ryback & The Dudley Boyz Vs The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman)
Semi-main event was originally advertised to be Kane Vs Bray Wyatt but both those guys were removed from the card and this was the replacement. As cool as it is to see Bray live, I think this is an adequate replacement. And I could die happy if I never had to watch another Kane match again. Tommy Dreamer was at the buffet so Ryback was The Dudleys’ partner of choice against Braun Stroman & Harper & Rowan. Pretty standard issue six man tag. I feel kind of like a hypocrite for calling out R-Truth & Kane’s stale acts while marking out crazy for Goldust and The Dudleys. At least, Goldie, Bubba Ray & D-Von actually reinvented their characters (even if some of the reinventions sucked. Lookin’ at you, Black Reign) before going back to the old standby! Of note, this is the second house show in a row where Luke Harper did a lot of preening and flexing, like he was working a muscleman gimmick. Maybe he’ll channel Rick Rude in his post-Wyatts gimmick. One can hope at least! Anyway, Dudley Boyz & Ryback win when Dudleys hit 3D on Rowan. After the match, Bubba just powerwalks to the back for some reason, leaving the odd duo of Ryback & D Von Dudley to celebrate the victory over the Wyatts B-Team. Maybe Bubba wanted to rush to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the UFC PPV.
WWE World Title Match: Sheamus (c) Vs Roman Reigns
It’s time for our main event. Sheamus chides Eden Stiles for giving him a terrible intro and then facetiously applauds the audience’s intelligence & creativity. After a good start, his heel promo goes into obvious, crappy “I don’t look stupid! YOU GUYS LOOK STUPID” territory. Roman Reigns interrupts by invoking the howlingly awful “tater tots” promo from Monday and we get this match started.
It’s too bad that our main event was the worst match of the night and it wasn’t even particularly close. Not awful but just very unmemorable and rest hold heavy. This was the one obvious example of guys clearly kind of holding back and just doing enough to get by on the show before a PPV. Me and my friend were both kind of pissed that we didn’t get a spot where Sheamus avoids the spear by Brogue Kicking Reigns but one can hope we’ll get it tonight. We get the expected schmozz finish with Sheamus getting himself DQ’d by hitting Reigns with the belt. After the match, Sheamus tries to beat down Reigns with a chair but Reigns fights back and hits him with a Superman Punch. Show ends with Reigns celebrating his (disqualification) victory. C-
Anyway, despite a lackluster main event, this was definitely one of the strongest house show efforts I’ve seen from WWE recently. The intimate atmosphere, while kind of disconcerting in a financial sense for WWE, really added to the show and I think a lot of guys enjoyed playing to the crowd. Really enjoyable night and I got to see most of my favorite current WWE rasslers. I’ve wrote too many words so I’m just gonna say I give this show a big ol’ thumbs up!