WWE hit Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday, February 15th for a house show at US Airways Center, the home of the Phoenix Suns (and the Live Attendance Phoenix Suns Blog, volume three seen here -http://www.therealtsm.com/index.php?topic=9156.0).
Phoenix has had its fair share of TV tapings and Pay Per Views over the past several years but I had a hard time remembering when a house show had been to town. The last time I remember going was when my father took me to see WWF Champion Shawn Michaels defend his title against WWF Intercontinental Championship in the summer of 1996. I still have my t-shirt of the returning Ultimate Warrior I got at the event.
My friend and I arrived at the event to see a somewhat small crowd and a short, chubby woman with lipstick kisses tattoos above each breast, so we knew we were in for a classy, fun-filled night.
Walking by the merchandise stands and questionable characters we quickly found our seats, which were pretty close to the seats I currently have as a season ticket holder with the Suns.
As we were seated, they were getting the fans involved by having them tweet their pictures to get on the jumbo tron. Had a tweet of mine that was retweeted by one of the wrestlers early keep popping up and my friend and I took a picture in arena that got up there too.
As we sat there, the show did a text/tweet poll to choose whether the match between Fandango and Kofi Kingston that evening would be a DANCE OFF or just a stupid match.
I went crazy for the DANCE OFF, which really irritated the 200-pound ten-year old seated in front of me. He started hollering about coming to see a fight and not to see anyone dance. I told him I only came to see people dance. He continued to yell, which I found out was the tone of his voice, much like the Will Ferrell character on SNL – http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4b1ie_will-ferrell-loud-and-proud-gay-pri_shortfilms
The guardian of the yelling kid told him to stop but I kept getting the vibe he felt I was the trouble maker when the kid would turn around and yell at me, minding my business, in between flipping off wrestlers and yelling the f-bomb (must be a Batista fan).
During all of this, a couple of guys sat directly to the side of me. Two big guys who sat expressionless the whole show. They did give me a dirty look early on when I tried to get involved in the show and were those guys who speak in another language in a way that makes you feel they are doing it so no one around knows what they are saying. So that was cool, along with the one directly next to me leaning into my seat and on me all night. They would run out the minute the National Anthem started playing, which was really odd.
But enough about the surrounding area, the show kicked off with the Intercontinental Champion Big E entering the arena.
The crowd went pretty crazy for the former NXT Champion. The opponent for Big E would be revealed to be The Big Guy, Ryback!
Intercontinental Championship Match
Big E vs. Ryback
Ryback was super over as a babyface the last show I went to in the arena, the Royal Rumble 2013. He was maybe the most popular (non-Rock) guy on the show. Now he was getting booed strongly as he took a cheap shot on Big E to get it going.
Lots and lots of Goldberg chants directed at the Big Guy, who continues to be more entertaining than when he was actually featured on the show.
Not a lot to say on the match but an entertaining and solid opener. Ryback had my favorite spot when he got up on the middle rope and did his mock the internet typing ax-handle. Although his excessive celebrations were glorious, it wasn’t enough to stop Big E, who ended the match with The Big Ending.
Winner: Big E Langston
Next up, the crowd LOST it when we were told the next match would be a Divas match. Surprised at the huge reaction.
Tamina’s music hit, so I was pretty disappointed. If it was Tamina’s music, AJ couldn’t be her partner but God as my witness, it was better, my goddess Summer Rae walked out as her partner. I lost it for Summer Rae, which really angered the kid in front of me.
As the two “bad girls” were in the ring, we were introduced to locally-raised Total Divas, The Bella Twins. The crowd had a meltdown for the Bellas.
Tamina & Summer Rae vs. The Bella Twins
Tamina and Nikki Bella were in the ring when the bell rang, however Summer Rae made a blind tag and started doing pirouettes and all kinds of dance moves to elicit massive heat from the crowd and my pants.
All four ladies worked smart and put on an entertaining few minutes. We had the Attitude Era spot where Nikki and Summer rolled around with each other and over the referee, who got up to celebrate.
The finish came when Tamina avoided a Bella Buster to superkick Brie. As she ascended the top for the Superfly Splash, she kicked Nikki off the apron. Brie was able to roll away and get up for a Bella Buster to win.
Winners: The Bella Twins
Summer Rae had taken a nasty guardrail bump. I was very sad I did not get the opportunity to go down and check on her before attempting to propose.
Our next match would be for the Tag Team Championships. The champions, The New Age Outlaws, had done a welcome video prior to the show starting and would be the first team to the ring for this Triple Threat match. It was still funny to me to think I would be seeing the Outlaws in 2014, let alone as champions. Somewhat fun though as I don’t recall ever getting to see Road Dogg in person before.
The Usos came out next to a huge reaction. My friend commented on the fact when we went to a TV taping in 2011 how I was the only person who even cared and knew the Usos.
Finally, the Real Americans came out. I like both wrestlers but it creeps me out how over WE THE PEOPLE has gotten, based on what it is supposed to be.
Triple Threat Tag Team Title Match
The New Age Outlaws vs. The Usos vs. The Real Americans
All three teams were pretty popular with the crowd. Everyone worked hard.
The match was pretty straight forward and hard hitting with everyone doing what they did best. The comedy spot of the match came when The Usos were in the ring together with Jack Swagger. The Usos did a little dancing and together pointed at Swagger. Jack, being an All American American, was not quite sure what to do. Once he figured out he was supposed to dance, he did a really big cornball dance that made me laugh pretty hard. Then yelled a WE THE PEOPLE and got back to fighting.
Cesaro did about 20 some rotations on a swing to one of the Usos, which people loved.
The match’s ending came when one Uso and Swagger were alone in the ring. Uso had Jack taken care of but as he flew off the top for the finishing splash, Billy Gunn tagged himself in, threw Uso out of the ring and won. Road Dogg literally ran away with the titles.
Winners: The New Age Outlaws
Given the heavy Latino population in Arizona, we were treated to a big screen video of Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio talked trashed about Batista to try to ensure he would be booed later that night.
Justin Roberts got on the microphone to remind us that earlier in the night we got to vote on what we wanted to see happen between Fandango and Kofi Kingston.
Sadly, match won. The kid in front of me was happy to let me know.
Fandango vs. Kofi Kingston
It was great to see Summer Rae a second time. She had a new outfit on which means at least once she changed clothes in the same building I was in. If that isn’t destiny, I don’t know what is.
After these two seemed to have a weekly match on the Main Event/Superstars circuit some months back, there wasn’t much to say on this one.
I really just appreciated my time with Summer Rae and was sad to see Fandango eat Trouble in Paradise.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
The crowd got very excited when a six-man tag was announced for the next match.
Christian came out. Was very surprised to see him slapping hands with fans ringside. Benefits of non-televised shows, as Christian is usually one of those guys that doesn’t even high five as a face.
The Celtic Warrior entered next.
There was a long pause before the next competitor, which had people breaking out the YES chants until Daniel Bryan’s music finally hit and enter the ring.
Once Bryan was in the ring, the music of the Shield hit and they appeared in the crowd about four sections over from where I was seated.
Christian, Sheamus & Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield
Daniel Bryan was a star. That’s for sure. Loudest reactions of the night. All guys came out to put on a show but this, to me, emphasized how awesome Dean Ambrose is.
First time I’ve really gotten to see Ambrose live. The Shield really just did like a blackout attack at that Rumble last year.
Ambrose just has that factor about him where you want to watch him when he isn’t even the focus of the attention. So many times during this bout where the face team was delivering punishment to Rollins or Reigns and all I could do was watch how entertaining the reactions of Ambrose were.
Like most of these style matches, a finisher brigade at the end led to Daniel Bryan scoring the win with his running knee to Ambrose.
Winners: Christian, Sheamus & Daniel Bryan
The YES chants started up, Christian and Sheamus left to give Bryan his moment. After a short celebration, Kane’s music hit. This was the oddest entrance with the house show’s lack of pyro.
Kane came down and talked about how Bryan should be like him and do what’s best for business. Shrieking and whining in the mic. Bryan referenced their friendship and tag title reign and while Kane had demanded an apology, Bryan offered up a hug.
Kane refused the hug, he just wanted an apology. Bryan laid into him. Kane teased hitting a chokeslam but Bryan escaped and hit the running knee, which Kane did not take so well.
Justin Roberts got in the ring and shilled autographed pictures at the merchandise tables, as we were now in intermission.
I still had the guy next to me leaning on me and the hallways were flooded with people trying to get into the restrooms. I had noticed there were maybe like twenty people on the entire upper level, so I went upstairs and had a private bathroom. Told someone I could’ve done bathroom cartwheels up there, which apparently disturbed them. I was just happy to have free reign.
As I got back from intermission, Dolph Ziggler’s music hit.
Ziggler was in the ring when the Wyatt entrance started. Although previously advertised for a Bryan vs. Wyatt showdown, we were now getting Wyatt vs. Ziggler.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Bray Wyatt
Ziggler lives in Phoenix and got some of the hometown reaction. The Wyatts had a lot of the kids in the surrounding area freaked out. Yelling about how he’s creepy and he’s dead.
A funny discussion I heard during this match was two kids talking about how much they dislike Bray and Eric Rowan but both did like Luke Harper. Good for Big Rig. The kids even discussed the mystery around Sister Abigail, which reminded me of some of the gimmicky characters and mystery surrounding them in my childhood.
Bray dominated the match as one would think, however Ziggler did enough of his Ziggler magic to keep people believing he was in it. There was a superkick out of nowhere and a few hope spots keeping the crowd riled up.
At one point, Ziggler was up top and he dove onto Harper and Rowan on the outside. The duo caught him and threw him in for Wyatt, only to see a Dolph rollup for a nearfall.
The match ended very similar to Rey Mysterio’s selling of the Sister Abigail recently where Dolph was running and got caught into a nasty slam.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
The Wyatts exit and even got their little screaming sheep mask moment at the end. At this point, Ziggler slowly got up to an ovation from the crowd and made his way to the back.
Alberto Del Rio’s music hit and he got some decent applause. Del Rio’s entrance seemed like one of the longest of the evening but it was cut off and the roof blew off for the entrance of Batista.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Batista
I had not realized that this was the first singles match of Batista in four years. Batista wasn’t in as rough of shape as he appeared in the Rumble. He looked to be in his regular gear.
Alberto knows how to work the ring though and I think was a great help in this match. He did all kinds of appropriate stalling to put the heat on himself when it seemed pretty clear this was probably out of necessity.
The two had a fun little brawl until Del Rio got a chair and took a DQ loss.
Winner by DQ: Batista
Del Rio got a little too zealous which led to the happy moment for the crowd where Batista caught him in the Batista Bomb and did a little celebration.
Justin Roberts thanked the fans for coming out and let us know the cage would be dropping for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Main Event.
The champion, Randy Orton, came out to a loud reaction, as did John Cena. The non-reaction guys to my side actually let out some bizarre squeal when Cena came out.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage Match
Randy Orton vs. John Cena
Orton attacked Cena early on. What helped this match in my mind, is Phoenix is typically a fairly big mark town. Certain shows here, like TNA’s Bound for Glory in 2012, are anomalies. WWE shows are very much cheer the big names and maybe acknowledge others. There were none of the reported CM Punk chants, none of the really extraneous chants, for the most part the crowd LOVED Cena and took Randy Orton to task.
Standard cage match fare but the crowd really got into all the near escapes. There were times I sat there laughing at how easily Orton could have escaped the cage instead of methodically walking above Cena doing his taunts.
The finish came with the referee getting knocked into Cena. When John checks on the ref, Orton delivers a low blow and scoots out the cage to victory.
Winner: Randy Orton
The crowd started booking it for the doors as soon as Orton won. The place was emptying out and I was sitting watching everyone, knowing this wouldn’t be the show ending. The guys next to me ran out immediately again.
Orton got back on the microphone and talked about how everyone needed to show him respect. Bragged about how he will remain the champion for a long time to come. At this time, Cena snuck up the side of the cage, kicked the door in Orton’s face when he went to leave and delivered a “send the fans home happy” moment.
Overall, I enjoyed the show much more than I expected. A long time since I had been to a house show and no truly surprising results but then again, we don’t often get surprising results on TV anymore anyway. This was a night where guys got to go out and have fun and it really translated well to those in the crowd.