This past Tuesday I had the splendid pleasure of attending the WWE Smackdown (and Main Event) TV tapings at London’s O2 Arena. This was my first WWE show in 2 years – the last one being the Smackdown TV tapings in Orlando, Florida right after Wrestlemania 28… when Ryback made his debut if my hazy memory serves me correctly.
I live pretty close to the O2 Arena so I have no real reason to offer for why I haven’t been to any WWE shows in the two years. And when you take into consideration that I’ve been to two awful TNA shows in that period, it would be perfectly acceptable to question whether or not I have suffered brain damage. I must remind myself to get a check-up.
This column will contain spoilers for Smackdown/Main Event (duh!) so run home to your momma if you don’t want to be spoilt.
I haven’t seen the event back on TV yet, so I’m not sure if I managed to get my ugly mug on the telly box. But we did have pretty decent seats on the hard-camera side so I’m expecting to catch at least a glimpse of myself (The view from my seat below… I failed to take a pic whilst someone was in the ring for some daft reason).
Although I went to the show giddy with anticipation, I’m saddened to report that it was somewhat of a letdown. It seemed like the booking team were intent on killing the enthusiasm of the crowd before the show had built up any kind of steam.
In the first hour, we were treated to a CesaroHeyman promo (fine); A truly awful R-Truth v Damien Sandow comedy match that went about 15 minutes and felt like it consisted of 80% rest-holds (as well as Truth annoyingly yelling “What’s up” every 30 seconds in attempt to wake up the crowd); A divas match that I was so indifferent to I can’t even remember who participated (but I do recall trying to start a “toilet break” chant); And the scheduled Main Event match between Cesaro and Mark Henry was, for some dumb reason, turned into an arm wrestling match. How is that supposed to be entertainment?!
We were served all this crap before Smackdown even started! Consequently, when the main Smackdown tapings kicked off and Hulk Hogan made his entrance, a huge portion of the crowd were already half asleep of back at the bar!
By the end of the night, even John Cena remarked how surprised he was by the dead crowd (especially compared to the previous night). That’s what happens when you feed your audience crap!
Of course, it wasn’t all bad, and there were some enjoyable moments indeed as the night went on… But I’d have to say that the badness outweighed the goodness. Here’s what I enjoyed, and stuff that I thought sucked:
– Adam Rose’s segment with Vickie Guerrero was suprisingly entertaining and I’d honestly say he received the biggest pop of the night – bigger that Hogan, Cena, Ziggler or Wyatt! Fans were well into singing his theme song and there was a loud “She’s a lemon” chant aimed at Vickie. Faaaaantastic.
– It’s always good to see The Hulkster in any capacity… even if it was only to shill the WWE Network. And Jimmy Hart was there too incidentally. Bonus!
– Dolph Ziggler and Batista did their best to put on an entertaining match, and it was funsome to see a gimmick match (no DQ) being taped for TV.
– It was the first time I’ve seen Bray Wyatt in person (well… second if Husky Harris counts) and it was enthusing to witness one of his kick ass promos. The crowd loved having a singalong with him too.
– It was also great to see the debut of Bo Dallas’ new gimmick. I thought it was reminiscent of Kurt Angle when he first started in WWE – preaching to the crowd whilst falsely believing that they look up to him. A “Wyatt Family” chant occurred briefly in his match with Sin Cara, but it didn’t get any real momentum (as I suspect most of the audience were unaware that Bo and Bray are brthers) so I doubt it’ll be audible on the TV broadcast.
– There was also a very entertaining dark match between Sam Zayn and Adrian Neville who gradually drew a decent crown reaction with their high-octane match. A niiiice taster of WWE’s future.
– As previously mentioned, the first hour was incredibly bad. WWE should have sent out Hogan first!
– Nobody wants to see a 15 minute R-Truth match. Not even R-Truth.
– I get that there was a house show occurring elsewhere at the same time and consequently not all the big names on the roster could be present… But did WWE really have to emit both Paige and Wade Barrett from their home-country tapings? The crowd response to them would have been great for TV, as RAW already proved.
– And on the same subject… I was pissed that all the merchandise stands had sold out of Bad News Barrett t-shirts! Surely it was pretty basic foresight that they would be big sellers in the UK. The T-shirt guy didn’t even say “I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news” when informing me they had sold out! Talk about missed opportunity.
– Another small roster complaint, but it was indeed a mighty shame that none of The Shield were in attendance. There were t-shirts and banners aplenty for them throughtout the arena. Those three guys really are the mutt’s nuts at the mo.
– Cesaro came out to the ring with a full entrance THREE times (once for a promo, another to commentate and thirdly for the aforementioned arm wrestling match with Mark Henry) yet we didn’t get to see him wrestle once! What a lame tease.
– One divas match is bad enough. Giving us two is just plain nasty.
– The Cena v Bryatt feud really needs to end once and for all after Payback. It feels like it’s been going on forever. Thankfully we were spared a John Cena v Luke Harper or Erick Rowan match here for the 79th time (the RAW crowd weren’t so lucky), but the feud still felt stale regardless of Wyatt’s excellent promo work.
So whilst it wasn’t a distaster of a night (and definitely not as dull as any of the TNA shows I’ve been to), it would probably rate as the worst WWE show I’ve been to (I’d estimate I’ve been to about 20). I got to drink lots of beer with my friends and be obnoxiously loud if nothing else though, so that’s always gonna be fun regardless of the setting.
Thus I’ve definitely not been put off going to WWE tapings again… But next time I will definitely spend the extra sheckles to get RAW tickets instead. That’s where the big boys play.
Over and out.