On the night before Money in the Bank, WWE made not one but TWO stops in the Pine Tree State of Maine at the same time. One in Bangor, Maine, of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” and Stephen King fame and one stop in my beautiful hometown of Portland, THE PREQUEL! I thought it was kind of an audacious move for WWE to run two shows at the same time in a state with a population of 1.3 million people. My expectations for disastrously low levels of attendance turned out to be somewhat unfounded. While I don’t think Monday Night RAW will be returning to Portland for another taping (first and so far last time was the night after In Your House: DeGeneration X in December 1997), the crowd was only slightly smaller than the crowd the last time WWE visited Portland in September 2012. I’d say there were about 3,000ish people in the arena (give or take a few hundred), bringing the arena to a little less than half capacity.
Kofi Kingston Vs The Miz
It’s weird. This is the second WWE show I’ve been to in a row that was kicked off with a Kofi Kingston/Miz match up. Besides the main event and maybe Seth Rollins-Dean Ambrose, this was the match that the crowd was the hottest for. I know a lot of this was because it was the opening match but these guys have wrestled each other so many times that they can have a solid match with each other in their sleep. I can complain a lot about these guys schtick being tired but the crowd’s reaction to this proved why these two are still valuable assets to WWE’s mid-card.
Kofi Kingston won a hard fought, back and forth match with um, I’m assuming a Trouble in Paradise but I honestly can’t say I totally caught the finish as I was busy getting accidentally hit in the face with some kid’s John Cena glowstick. No wonder why the internet hates Cena so much…
Bo Dallas Vs Zack Ryder
Seeing Bo Dallas live filled my heart with peace and joy. His pre match, inspirational promo riled up a bunch of people in my section to an absurd extent. His heel antics are tremendous live. He faced “Long Island Iced Z” Zack Ryder, who seemed somewhat relieved that he is still on the roster. The match itself was average to maybe slightly above average but Bo’s mugging got an A+. Bo won with the Bo-Dog and I breathed a sigh of relief that the most impressive winning streak in WWE was left intact. Zack Ryder got more offense in than he usually does on TV. After the match, Bo cheered up Zack after the match by telling him he tried his best and that’s the greatest thing you can do in life. What a great man!
The Ascension Vs Sin Cara and Dolph Ziggler
NXT Tag Team Champions The Ascension came out for a non-title match to a round of shrugs from the audience. Judging from my section alone, it seems like there’s a good chunk of the WWE Universe that hasn’t subscribed to the Network and is totally unaware of the NXT roster. They would face Sin Cara and Dolph Ziggler, a pairing that I thought might have been selected by a BattleBowl drawing. Sin Cara and Ziggler were both wearing the same color tights though so maybe we’ll see ZigCara on RAW or Smackdown! soon.
Anyway, this was a standard issue, formula tag team match with Sin Cara playing face in peril. I wasn’t hugely impressed by The Ascension. They reminded me a lot of some of the also ran tag teams like the Bashams and the Gymni that were the tag team prospects of the day ten years ago but fizzled on the main roster. I’m not a great judge of future talent though since I saw Randy Orton and John Cena work house shows when they were in development and thought they were nothing special but thought Sylvester Terkay had potential to be WWE’s star of the future going into the 2010s. *shakes head* Anyway, Ziggler won with the ZigZag on one of the Ascension in a decent match. I’m glad to see that Dolph is still really over, despite all of his defeats in the past year, even with a mark heavy audience.
Next, Zeb Coulter came out to greet the crowd with Jack Swagger. Zeb Coulter told us how glad he was to be back in New Hampshire. Swagger quickly corrected Coulter and Coulter wondered if he was in Canada. Zeb then became incredulous over the fact that this crowd had booed Real Americans like himself and Jack Swagger. Zeb asked us if he thought that we were better than people from New Hampshire (New Hampsters?). Because Zeb thought otherwise because we would cheer for an illegal alien and fool like Adam Rose. This brought us into our next match.
Jack Swagger (with Zeb Coulter) Vs Adam Rose
I was very, very surprised that Rose brought out his Rosebuds for a house show. I wonder who they used as the Rosebuds at this show since there was talk of downsizing them. Local ring crew?I wonder if one of my friends was in one of those costumes…A lot of talk has been made about Rose’s character being a disaster, which has struck me as very odd. It seems like the ceiling for his character was Santino’s successor as top comedy wrestler in WWE. Did somebody actually expect him to be a top babyface? If so, that person probably does deserve to get fired. Anyway, in terms of crowd reaction, the kids in the crowd (mostly) seemed to like Rose and the adults mostly just kind of shrugged at his schtick. This match was what it was, a goofy comedy match. I did chuckle at a spot where Adam Rose leaped into Swagger’s arms like he was Bugs Bunny or something and patted Swagger on the head. During this match, I kept thinking that at the WWE show before last at this arena, Jack Swagger was challenging Rey Mysterio for the World Title. How things change. Anyway, Rose won with a rollup after heel miscommunication.
An angry Zeb Coulter said that they were NEVER coming back to this town due to the reception they got and got a massive pop. That’s old schtick that always makes me laugh.
With the comedy out of the way (for now), it was time for our semi-main event and last match before intermission.
Seth Rollins Vs Dean Ambrose
This was a pretty good brawl and obvious Match of the Night. It’s not easy for two guys to really convey legitimate dislike in the ring but these two managed to do it. I can’t wait to see these two wrestle each other on TV or PPV when they’re going at 110% because even at the 75% or so they were going at tonight, it was still an exciting match. Only complaint is both these guys’ new themes are terrible. I still don’t get why Ambrose can’t just come out to the Shield theme like Reigns.
Some wacky audience moments during this. A couple of older gents were really, really upset that both of these guys were wrestling wearing jeans which makes me wonder if they haven’t been watching for the past twenty years…Me and my friend did get a big laugh out of one of the old timers getting concerned that Ambrose and Rollins were going at it so fast and furious that one of them “was gonna rip up them skinny jeans!” Also there was a female Ambrose fan behind me that kept reacting to Ambrose like he was a new puppy. “C’mon, up, Ambrose! Up! C’mon, boy! Good boy, Ambrose, kick him in the face.” Lot of interesting people you meet at rasslin shows.
Anyway, finish came when Rollins was DQ’d when he kept attacking Ambrose when Ambrose was tied up in the ropes. I think he low blowed him a few times so I’m not sure if the DQ was for that or just because he kept beating up Ambrose while Ambrose was defenseless.
Anyway, after that excitement, it was time for intermission. One reason I’m glad that WWE has gone in such a kid-friendly direction…beer line is practically empty even during intermission and the pre-show rush. Mmm. $6 Bud Lights.
Mixed Tag Team Match: Fandango and Layla Vs Santino and Emma
Next up was Westbrook, Maine’s own Fandango teaming up with Layla against Santino and Emma in a mixed tag team match. Actually, the person in front of me was very assertive in correcting me that Fandango’s actually from Standish, Maine and was only billed from Westbrook, Maine during the Johnny Curtis era. I remember hearing this as well! So now you know!
This match was what it was. More notable for the old dudes around me, getting really, really mad at the people at the back of the floor for standing up during this match. Which was kind of odd since if you’ve ever sat in the back of a floor at a wrestling show (I’ve had the misfortune a few times), you kind of have to stand up to see anything. I guess these guys just really wanted to see some wacky mixed tag action. Finish came when Santino and Emma hit stereo cobras on the heels. I guess Fandango had to do the job since it was his hometown.
After the match, Summer Rae came out to attack Layla. Fandango got to make out with both Layla & Summer Rae so I guess the night wasn’t a total loss for the Dirty Curdy.
RyBaxel Vs Stardust & Goldust
You know people still really, really hate Ryback despite the fact that he’s been mostly used as cannon fodder for the past seven or eight months. He was probably the #2 or #3 most hated heel of the night. Alternately, people loved the Dusts and Cody seemed to be having a ball doing the new role, running into the crowd like a mad man to whoop it up with the fans. Assuming this was a dry run for the match at Money in the Bank. It was a fine tag team match. Also during this, I marveled that the last time I saw Goldust wrestle at the Civic Center was almost eighteen years ago to the day when he wrestled then Intercontinental Champion Ahmed Johnson for the belt at a house show. The guy in front of me turned around when I said the words Ahmed Johnson and began fondly recalling the time Goldust gave Ahmed mouth to mouth and Ahmed started foaming at the mouth in response. Vintage Johnson.
Stardust & Goldust won with their sweet new finisher, that’s sort of set up like a 3D but ends with the victim getting with a DDT. It’s cool. I imagine we’ll see it on TV soon (by the time, this is published, we might have seen it on TV already!) With the under-card out of the way, it was time to get to our main event.
Last Man Standing Match: Kane Vs Roman Reigns
Another thing I’m surprised they did at a house show; Roman Reigns entering through the audience. Also since when have they insisted on referring to Kane as The Demon Kane. Just seems silly. You know what it also silly? Crowd brawling during a house show. I get why they do it during TV shows since the live crowd is secondary but with a house show that wasn’t filmed and thus had no video screens for the crowd to see the action, it seems dumb. You’re just gonna piss off the 75% of the audience that can’t see diddly squat!
This match was so-so. The Last Man Standing gimmick seemed kind of silly the night before a PPV with a big gimmick match but I guess it gave both guys plenty of chance to rest. Finish came when Seth Rollins interfered as Reigns was about to hit the spear and Rollins and Kane beat down Reigns. Would a heel go over to send the fans home bummed? Thankfully not, in this case. Dean Ambrose ran in to make the save for his old friend and Reigns hit Kane with a spear through a table to get the win to the delight of everyone. Everyone except the guys a few rows behind me who got free tickets and only knew Kane and Goldust.
Overall, I enjoyed the show. House shows have gotten quite a bit better the past few years in terms of production and quality. You (probably) won’t see any match of the year candidates but there was a lot of solid action on this show and relatively little of the goofy crap that plagues RAW and Smackdown. Well worth the $17.50.
Match of the Night: Dean Ambrose Vs Seth Rollins
Worst Match of the Night: Nothing was really terrible but I guess mixed tag team match was the weakest. Either that or Swagger/Rose and both were fairly short.
MVP: Bo Dallas
Most Popular: Roman Reigns (although Ambrose running in during the main event got pop of the night)
Most Hated: Seth Rollins