WWE returned to Portland, Maine on the afternoon (evening? It was a 5 P.M. start time) of Sunday October 4th, 2015, the day after its Madison Square Garden special and three weeks before Hell in a Cell. The good rasslin’ fans of the 207 got the crew that was not featured on the MSG special (they wrestled up the road in Bangor that night). WWE was here the night before Money in the Bank 2014 but for whatever reason, advertising built it as “WWE’s first appearance in Portland, Maine in three years”.
Perhaps it was to drum up some more excited but if that was the case, it didn’t work. Even though WWE came during an off week for the New England Patriots, this might have been one of the worst attended WWE shows I’ve been to. It was disconcertingly quiet outside before the show and inside, arena was maybe a quarter filled. Me and my pals were able to get seats on the first row off of the floor for $18 a piece on day of show. Crowd that was there was fairly vocal but with attendance like that, I hope WWE doesn’t avoid us for three years for real!
October 4th, 2015
Live from Cross Insurance Center in Portland, Maine
Ring Announcer: Jojo
Show starts with Triple H giving us a generic welcome message. I think it was the same intro that they did before the WWE house show here last year.
Former Total Divas star Jojo sings the National Anthem. She also does ring announcing duties. Like to see Howard Finkel try and do THAT!
Cesaro Vs The Miz
Seems like it’s a tradition at the last few WWE house shows, I’ve been to to open with a mid-level match and this is really no exception. Miz has opened up the last two house shows in Portland. Quite the fall from main eventing WrestleMania. This kind of established the pace for the night…guys doing just enough to get the crowd into it but taking things kind of easily so they wouldn’t get hurt. Lot of restholds, stalling, and playing to the crowd…which is I guess what these untelevised shows are about. Still this worked better than some of the mid-card matches since these guys are semi-established characters. Miz, in particular, plays a great jackass and even going at a slow pace, Cesaro’s entertaining. Highlight was Cesaro stealing Miz’s sunglasses and doing his poses. Cesaro gets the win with the giant swing followed by the Neutralizer. C+
Heath Slater Vs Fandango
I love that I got to mark out for Heath Slater in 2015. I was the only one marking out for the One Man Rock Band. No accounting for taste in this town. He was going against hometown boy Fandango. This was a very quick affair with Heath Slater stalling for a few minutes then tripping on the ropes as he tried to jump back in the ring and getting immediately pinned by Fandango. Ah. You’ll get ’em next time, OMRB. 🙁 Incomplete
Jack Swagger Vs Braun Strowman
Jack Swagger gets a much bigger pop than I’d expect for a guy who hasn’t been on RAW in months. I don’t know if he’s been on RAW at all in 2015 and if he has, it’s been a quick squash loss. Funny. A guy sitting behind me had no clue what NXT was (he could have been joking when he yelled out “What the hell is Next!?” when they showed a promo for Breaking Grounds on WWE Network) but was really into Jack Swagger. Wrestling fans comes in all types.
Anyway, this match was a little more competitive than I expected with Swagger actually getting in a few babyface hope spots before falling to the bearhug from Strowman. Strowman’s really, really green but this match was short enough to be non-offensive. C-
I stop and get a coffee at the Dunkin Donuts stand while Luke Harper cuts a promo on Dean Ambrose on the video screen. I hear the Lucha Dragons music hit and I do the “Lucha! Lucha! Lucha!” arm gesture to the confusion of the DDs employees. It’s time for some triple threat tag team action.
Triple Threat Tag Team Match: Lucha Dragons Vs Los Matadores Vs The Ascension
Was really hoping Prime Time Players would be in one of these slots since they weren’t on the MSG show last night but they must have gotten the weekend off. This was a standard house show triple threat tag. Both heel teams gang up on the Luchas. It’s not like Los Matadores were super hot before they ditched El Torito but they have negative momentum now that they’re heels. They might as well just go back to being Primo & Epico now that they don’t have the bull. Anyway, it looks like they’re going to get an upset win when “Bad to the Bone” plays over the P.A. Is George Thorogood or The Terminator (featured in WWE 2k16) making a run in? No, it’s the aforementioned little bull himself, El Torito making a run in. He honestly gets the biggest pop of the night so far. Go figure. Lucha Dragons pick up the win and celebrate with the bull. C
Nattie Vs Tamina (with Sasha Banks)
This was probably biggest disappointment of the night. I was under the impression that we’d get Nattie Vs Sasha Banks, which could’ve been a highlight of the show but instead we got Sasha managing Tamina against Nattie. I can’t remember last time I saw Tamina wrestle a singles match. Apparently, Nattie and Sasha did have a good match night before in Bangor but it was not to be here in Portland. Normally, I’d be excited to see the clash of the daughters of eclectic ’80s WWF stars named Jim but I was looking forward to see Sasha and I think the crowd agreed with me. Anyway, Nattie won a pretty blah match with the Sharpshooter. C-
Dean Ambrose Vs Luke Harper
This match got off to a slow start but picked up its pace by the end. Main takeaway from this match is Luke Harper kept flexing and kissing his biceps like he was Big Poppa Pump or Rick Rude. I guess you gotta entertain yourself however you can when you’re facing the same guy that you’ve faced a dozen times past few months as Harper has with Ambrose. Ambrose was by far most over babyface of the night. I’m surprised to how well he’s adapted to playing the role of fired up, babyface. After he turned face last year, I thought he’d turn heel again in fairly short order but here we are, a year and a half later and he’s still going strong. This match got the first of several unnecessary “This is awesome” chants. Crowd chanting that for solid but unspectacular house show matches is the pro wrestling equivalent of Lakers fans chanting MVP for Kobe during an early November game against the Nuggets. B-
After this is intermission. Lots of promos for WWE Network programming. It seems like house music at WWE shows is different every time I go to a show. Must be programmed by somebody at the arena. They played Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Aeroplane”. Glad to see someone in the WWE Universe repping Dave Navarro era RHCP.
R-Truth Vs Adam Rose
Me & my buddy let out a groan when R-Truth entered. R-Truth’s act might be most played out in WWE, which is really saying something. Speaking of acts, Adam Rose debuted a new schtick where he was now the “party pooper” and just talked trash. At one point, he said he wanted to poop all over Portland, which I thought was p. inappropriate for a family friendly show. Adam Rose challenged R-Truth to a dance off and cut a rug to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” (I don’t think WWE acknowledges music made past 1996 that isn’t Florida Georgia Line, Flo Rida, or Machine Gun Kelly). He then jumped R-Truth when Truth started to dance. This quickly backfired and Truth pinned Adam Rose with the scissors kick. I was surprised we got two comedy matches that pretty much lasted less than thirty seconds. Kind of uncreative booking but I think guys involved in both matches are so low on the totem pole, they’re just glad to be on the card. Incomplete
King Barrett Vs Ryback
King Barrett came out with the crown but no cape. I could probably count the number of victories that Wade Barrett’s gotten since becoming 2015 King of the Ring on one hand. Anyway, I was glad to see the clash of the NXT Season One superstars! Ryback was probably the second most over guy on the show behind Ambrose. He was really over as a heel on the last show here in Portland and that was during the midst of his Rybaxel cannon fodder days. Like with Miz, I think he’s reached the status where he’ll be over with a live audience, no matter how far down the card he is, much to some of the IWC’s consternation.
Anyway, this match was pretty paint by numbers. Barrett was on offense for most of it until Ryback made a quick comeback and won with the Shellshock. C A sign of how half assed much of this card was: Ryback wore a basic, red, black, and white singlet in this match and not one of his usual, elaborately airbrushed singlets!
No Disqualification Match: Bray Wyatt Vs Roman Reigns
Wyatt’s entrance is something else, even at a smaller show like this. Another production note…they sort of had pyro at this show, which is the first time I’ve seen it at an untelevised show. It was pretty much just a big puff of smoke rather than the elaborate ones you seen on TV but it was there. They used it for Nattie & Ryback and at the top of the show.
Anyway, this was a pretty damn good main event. Not quite on the level of their match on RAW but not as far off as you’d expect. I’m glad it seems like WWE has realized that it’s best to keep Reigns as a no-nonsense, mostly silent asskicker than have him quoting Bugs Bunny and acting like his cousin Dwayne. Wyatt seemed pretty popular and got just as many cheers as Reigns. In fact, outside of Miz, I can’t think of anybody that was super over as a heel. They incorporated a decent amount of weapons for a house show, I think; two tables, a kendo stick, some chairs, the ring steps. Braun Strowman waddled down to interfere on behalf of Bray. Ambrose ran down to make the save and him and Reigns managed to knock the big galoot out of the ring (but Strowman managed to stay on his feet throughout). Reigns got the win with the Superman punch and Spear. Show ended with Ambrose & Reigns posing for the fans, which is how the last WWE show in Portland ended! B+
This main event really salvaged the show. Outside of the two advertised matches (main event and Ambrose Vs Harper), there was nothing really on this card that would have seemed out of place on Superstars. I’m all for giving the unheralded undercard guys of WWE a chance to shine but they weren’t really given much of an opportunity with a lot of quick squashes. Still, I think those advertised matches were just good enough to justify the $18 I spent on the show.