I’m back with another wrestling review, one that I honestly shouldn’t be doing since it was an impulse buy two days before the event. My logic was that I had finished my last assignment in Uni until my resits next academic year, so I should treat myself. But really along with the food I bought at the venue, I spent around £60-£70 for the whole day. Welp, that’ll be me foodless until I get paid in my work next week.
But poor decisions aside, I thought I would treat myself by going to see a WWE Live show that was held at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on the 5th May. Since the WWE organised a brand split since July last year, Raw and SmackDown were once again separate shows with separate talent, and Cardiff was lucky enough to be graced with SmackDown Live. Most of the matches were announced on social media, so most of us knew what we were getting. My main reason(s) to go was to see Sami Zayn (my guy from the underground), AJ Styles, Becky Lynch, Naomi (her entrance mostly), Shinsuke Nakamura (Also for his entrance and his weirdness). Above all else, to see the United Kingdom guys, who were advertised for this show, with Cardiff’s own Mark Andrews being included, making this show the first time he’s wrestled a WWE show in his hometown of Cardiff, Wales.
I’ll mention again, this show was held at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, which Is the main location for mainstream wrestling companies to hold any shows in Wales. And by ‘mainstream wrestling companies’, I mean WWE, since none of the other ones tour to the UK very often, let alone Wales. The crowd itself was what most wrestling views would call, ‘casual fans’. Which isn’t a bad thing by any means, but it just means you won’t expect to hear many ‘unique’ chants or much reaction for every single roster member. That was the case here as there were only a certain amount of wrestlers that the crowd truly paid attention to. Still, everyone was loud enough (on the opposite side of the arena to me anyway) and all had a fine time.
Shinsuke Nakamuraa defeated Dolph Ziggler
Before the match begun, Shinsuke appeared on the titantron and spoke to everyone in broken English, which he is still getting better at. He then came to the ring, and seeing his entrance live in person for the first time was truly something special. I though more of the crowd would sing along to his entrance, but like I said earlier, nothing much than regular cheers. You can say it’s because ‘casuals’ don’t really watch NXT as much and won’t know people’s tendencies to sing to his entrance. Also because he only recently made his SmackDown Live debut, so there’s that as well. Still he got a nice reaction, while Dolph got more of a mixed reaction, with people siding more on the disapproval side. The match itself was pretty engaging, both men had a certain swagger about then. Dolph being more cocky and arrogant with his flashy moves, while Shinsuke was more playful in his bizarre movements and sickening kicks. In the end of it all, Shinsuke won with his Kinshasa (Running Knee) finisher to get the win.
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Triple Threat Tag Team Match
The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) retained against American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) and The Colons (Primo & Epico)
The first of the few title matches tonight, it was an interesting one. American Alpha, who I remember seeing live before when NXT visited Cardiff for the first time, got a tepid reaction, still some applause, but nothing major which shocked me. And as a fast forward, no ‘Gable! Jordan’ sing along, which also happened at the last NXT show. But again, different crowds, different mindsets, I need to remember that. The Colons got barely anything other than a few small boos, probably because they only resurfaced on the tag team scene and most people forgot they were a thing to be taken seriously. Poor Colons… And The Usos actually got the most reaction. I mean sure, they are the champions and have been around longer, but cheers? When they aren’t exactly the, quote, ‘good guys’, unquote? Cardiff you’z crazy.
Even still, this was a fine match with all teams showing great chemistry with each other. American Alpha were more of the underdogs here and did more support as the match went on. They were able to come back while The Usos and The Colons were on the offense, both teams being quite aggressive in their brawling. Jordan had more of the power and was able to turn the tides quite a bit. But in the end, it wasn’t enough as The Usos got the win after one of them got the dirty roll-up by pulling on Gable’s attire for leverage. The people still cheered them which threw me off since, you know, tighting pulling is BAD children, BAAAAAD.
Luke Harper defeated Erick Rowan
This match was a big man bout between these two former Wyatt Family members. The crowd didn’t seem as into it at the start, but they got on Harper’s side once they saw how agile the guy was for a man of his height. Rowan at one point randomly blew a balloon and let it go into the crowd, followed by Harper slapping his silly, which was unintentionally comical. There was a bit of a ‘Ten’ count by the people when harper punched Rowan in the corner ten times, as a nice little nod to Tye Dillinger, who also got drafted to SmackDown recently. The ending came when Lyke hi his Discus Clothesline finisher for the pinfall win.
Sin Cara and Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) VS The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) and Aiden English
This six man tag team match was the comedy match of the night, which got a few chuckles from people, and even more for the kiddies. Sin Cara got a bigger reaction than the rest because of the ‘Lucha’ chant and the mask, which the kids are majorly into. It’s all about the masks and repetition! Aiden English came out last and sang his way to the ring, as ‘WWE’s Drama King’ does. He ‘mistakenly’ called the crowd ‘meandering, ENGLISH, buffoons,’ which you’d think more people would take exception to, especially in WALES, but again, not as loud of a hate reaction. Come on guys, wake up please! Or maybe it’s just my section, again, the opposite side of the arena was more vocal.
So as I mentioned, this was more of a comedy match, especially when Fandango was in the ring, as he had an un-PG habit of gyrating his hips on the stop… I mean, I’m okay with it cause Fandango is a looker. No homo. Or all the homo, whatever works better. At one point, Sin Cara & Breezango chased their opponents around the ring in a weird cat and mouse game, but The Ascension would fight back with their aggression and heavy hitting. English took his free time to mock the crowd whenever he could. As the match went on, Breezing got back into the match along with the high-flying prowess. By the end of it, Fandango got the win after getting a roll-up victory for a well received victory.
Aiden English wasn’t too pleased however, and demanded he get another match against anyone in the back. Now you’d think it would be the Perfect 10, Tye Dillinger as he did mention the word, ‘PERFECT’, but instead, the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal 2017 winner, Mojo Rawley, rushed to the ring, full of hype, to accept the challenge.
Mojo Rawley defeated Aiden English
So Mojo ran house for a good fifteen seconds… that was the match, I’m not even exaggerating. That’s that I guess.
WWE United States Championship
Kevin Owens retained against Sami Zayn
This match was one I was looking forward to the most, and one that the people actually seemed to react for the most. Sami got the support of mostly the children (and myself, one of the rare time you’ll here me relate to children) and Kevin got mixed support from all people. People actually did sing along to Zayn’s theme as he entered the ring, and Owens got a snarky comment on the mic saying to us all, ‘Yeah, we get it, you’re all idiot’. The match started with Owens deliberately avoiding his former best friends until Sami went on the pursuit. Owens took advantage of this and the two continued their epic battle. Owens definitely wasn’t pleased to see the people, displayed by him saying that Zayn losing the match was ‘our fault’ as well as giving our side the ‘suck it’ crotch taunt. Zayn would get back into the match after getting beat down for quite awhile. He at one point hit a Blue Thunder Powerbomb, and went for the pin. By this point, MANY kids on the ground floor dashed for the railings to cheer for Zayn, but Owens kicked out and the kids walked back completely defeated. Funniest moment of the night right there… yes I’m a terrible person for enjoying the despair of the youth, as I say on a young person website. Whoops? In the end, Owens hit his Pop-Up Powerbomb finisher to get the clean pin-fall victory.
Next was an intermission, not much to do except refill my empty water cup with water from the toilet sinks since everything in the arena is overly expensive. Yes I’m cheap, but I spent £60-£70, I was not looking to spend anymore. Don’t blame me, except for spending so much money in the first place… oh the shame.
WWE United Kingdom Division Match
Tyler Bate, Trent Sevens and Mark Andrews defeated Pete Dunne, Joseph Connors & James Drake
The match I wanted to see the most tonight, mainly to see our home country boy making his WWE Cardiff debut. Along with Moustache Mountain, which consists of Trent Seven and the WWE United Kingdom Champion, Tyler Bate, they all came out to a nice enough reaction, with Mark entering holding the Welsh flag behind him. Pete Dunne and his entourage came out to, different music than usual for Pete. Not sure if they used someone else’s music, or if Pete is using new music now. Even still, they got boos which shocked me, considering Pete is one of the biggest names in the UK division and despite one of the most despicable people in it, people adore him. I mean I do as well, but still, it was odd to hear him being booed for once in a WWE setting.
Dunne, Connors and Drake were all quite viscous with their offense, with Connor being much more vocal about it to the crowd, which they didn’t like much. Honestly, in this match, he stood out the most from his team, and his team had Pete Dunne in it. Keep an eye out for that guy, he’s a sneaky one… Tyler had more of the power for his team, while Trent assisted as much as he could whenever his teammates needed a hand. He held his own as well, even when he took most of the beatdown from the other team. Welsh-born Mark Andrews was definitely the most aerially impressive, pulling off moves you wouldn’t believe you were seeing if this was your first time seeing Mark in action, which was the case for most of the people here.
I’ll mention again since it was a shame, but the crowd reaction here was very… meh. I heard more Moustache Mountain chants from children than I heard chants for ‘Mark/Mandrews’, and I heard one ‘Wales!’ chant. Seriously… one Wales chant. Like, how is that ever possible? Again the UK Division is very niche compared to the others as it’s had the least mainstream exposure compared to RAW, SmackDown, the Women and the Cruiserweights. Being in the UK you’d think people would react more? Not this night I guess. But the crowd did pick up more as Mark went of the final offence. He executed more high-flying, even diving of his opponents on the outside. The ending came when he hit his Stundog Millionaire Tilt-a-Whirl Stunner on Drake, followed by Shooting Star press finisher for the win. Mark stayed in the ring for longer as ‘Falling To Pieces’ from his Pop-Punk band Junior played, as he celebrated in his victory WWE Victory in Cardiff. Well done Mark, here’s to many more wins!
WWE SmackDown Womens Championship
Fatal Five Way Match
Naomi retained against Becky Lynch, Natalya, Carmella w/ James Ellsworth, and Charlotte
Before I begin with this match, I find it odd that every other active women’s wrestler on SmackDown was included in this match, except for Tamina. She did resurface on there a few weeks back, yet she wasn’t involved here? Maybe she wasn’t on the tour, or just not available this night. Either way, it was still bizaare.
Anyway, Naomi came out first and she came out to her Neon dance number entrance, one of the best entrances in WWE right now. Becky came out to people singing along to her song, which was great to hear. Natalya and Carmella (with James Ellsworth) got booed, but in between them, people were getting their ‘WOO’ vocals ready for ‘The Queen’, Charlotte.
The match itself was very fun. All women got their moments that the people got into during the match. Carmella was slightly comedic with her high pitch screeching.Natalya and Carmella did team up a bit during some moments in the match, linking to their ‘Welcoming Committee’ faction. But Charlotte, Becky and Naomi would fight back just as much. All were able to hit some of their finishers and signatures in a fast session. In the end though, Naomi hit the Rear View on Carmella to retain her championship.
Main Event – WWE Championship
Triple Threat Match
Randy Orton retained against Jinder Mahal and AJ Styles
Mahal came out first and got on the mic to speak in his native Indian tongue. Of course this caused people to give him the nonstop ‘What?’ treatment, and even then these people did it wrong, saying ‘What?’ even before he spoke nonstop. Come on people, if you are going to do one of the worst wrestling chants in history, do it right. Jinder eventually went to on say we were all like the Americans, mocking his lineage and disrespecting him, even as the new Number 1 Contender for the WWE Championship. He said he wouldn’t wait till Backlash to take the title and spoke some more for his people back home (even though these live events aren’t seen by other countries). AJ came out to great cheers from people, and then Randy Orton to an even bigger reaction.
Let me just say, the idea of Jinder Mahal, JINDER. MAHAL. One of the talents in WWE who would not even be considered in the top prize last year, is suddenly in the main event for the WWE Championship at a live event… unreal. Let alone if you look to what has happened after Backlash, since this review would be posted after, what happened. What world are we living in?! The action between Orton and Styles when they were in the ring alone was great, and Jinder himself did fine as well. He wasn’t well liked and it’s not often you hear a genuine dislike for one of the villainous characters. Granted, this crowd was more ‘casual’, but even on television, where more ‘edgy crowds’ cheer for the villains (Kevin Owens being a prime example), he still gets booed. I found it funny how some little kids around me kept calling him ‘Ginger’ instead of ‘Jinder’. OH! DON’T HINDER THE GINGER! That’s how the saying goes, right?
The action picked up more during the closing moments, Jinder got momentum, Orton and Styles got back into it, some finishers were hit, and in the end Randy hit the RKO on Mahal for the pinfall victory. After the match Orton high-fived the fans who were by ringside as the show came to an end.
An impulse buy that a part of me regretted, as I usually would with these expensive WWE/Motorpoint Arena events. But it was all worth it to see the likes of Mark Andrews competing in a WWE ring in his hometown of Cardiff. And also to see other favourites; Sami Zayn again, Shinsuke, Becky Lynch, Naomi, Breezango who all made it fun.