Submitted by Stephen Lyon
– Neville beat Stardust in the opener with the Red Arrow. Okay match. Neville got a pop for his finisher.
-Damian Sandow beat Heath Slater in one minute with a roll up. Sandow was back in his old blue robe intellectual gimmick. This was a head scratcher. Either give these guys at least five minutes or don’t do the match at all. Why you would fly these guys to Europe to do a one minute match is baffling.
– Luke Harper & Braun Strowman & Erick Rowan beat Ryback & the Usos. Decent match. Ryback did impressive standing suplex spots with both Harper and Rowan, but ‘couldn’t do it’ with Strowman, putting over how big Strowman was. Strowman made one of the Usos submit in his sleeper finisher.
– King Barrett beat Fandango with the Bull Hammer. Crowd cheered Barrett and had no reaction for Fandango. Virtually nobody in the crowd did his dance.
– Lucha Dragons beat Los Matadores and the Ascension in a triple threat match. Los Matadores came out, clearly as heels (they made fun of El Torito not accompanying them to the ring), yet virtually nobody in the youthful audience picked up on it. The finish saw the song ‘Bad to the Bone’ play out of nowhere (I was having Steve ‘Dr Death’ Williams NWA flashbacks, given it used to be his entrance theme for a period) and El Torito ran out, cleaning house on both Fernando and Diego. Kalisto pinned Viktor with the Salida del Sol. Crowd enjoyed doing the ‘Lucha Lucha’ arm wave.
– NXT Women’s Champion Bayley & Natalya beat Sasha Banks & Naomi. It seemed like about 10% of the audience knew who Bayley was, and the rest didn’t. There was a very weak NXT chant that didn’t catch on and lasted just a few seconds. The work itself was fine, and amongst the better matches of the night. Banks was funny tying her hair back and mocking Bayley. Finish saw Natalya make Naomi tap in the sharpshooter.
– U.S. Champion Alberto Del Rio beat Jack Swagger. This was the second best match on the show. Del Rio was great as a heel, begging off from Swagger and getting on his knees with his hand extended. Del Rio shook hands with both the referee and a fan in the front row to try convince Swagger to shake his hand, but it was all a heelish ploy. At one point Del Rio grabbed the mic and berated the crowd for being dead and asked why Liverpool Football Club suck so much.
This got a mixed reaction, with some fans cheering because there are two Premier League soccer clubs in Liverpool, with there being Everton Football Club fans in the building, all happy at that comment. Swagger kicked out of a superkick and broke/reversed Del Rio’s armbar, before eventually submitting to the cross armbreaker.
– Roman Reigns beat Bray Wyatt in a No Holds Barred match. Most heat and reaction on the show, and best match on the show. Crowd was 95% behind Reigns. They used a kendo stick, chairs and the ringside stairs as props. Reigns eventually brought a table in too. Reigns won after nailing Wyatt with a Superman punch, sending everyone home happy.
Notes & Observations —
– This felt like the least star power on a WWE house show on a U.K. tour for several years. The arena was packed. There were no sections curtained off, and I couldn’t see any empty seats in any sections, so I’d estimate the crowd to be at least 5-6000. It was mostly families with lots of kids, especially given the family-friendly 5pm start time.
I’m aware of all of WWE’s current limitations at this time, and that this was at the start of a lengthy tour, and that some guys may have taken notice of Rollins injury and may be working even more safe than usual. But to me, this felt like a boring show. It was, essentially, a near-three hour version of WWE Main Event/WWE Superstars. Okay matches, featuring limited star power, involving people the main tv shows don’t feature. Even something as simple as the show’s tour programme told a story. The cover of the programme featured seven people, and only four of them (Paige, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Kofi Kingston) are on the tour. And of those, only Reigns was on this show. The other three – John Cena, Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins all aren’t even on the tour. I guess Rollins was, and his absence through injury was very unfortunate.
There was a scary lack of crowd heat and crowd reaction for anyone or anything on this show, bar Del Rio vs Swagger (entirely due to Del Rio’s excellent work as a heel, predominately on the mic) and the Reigns vs Wyatt main event. People didn’t react to anything. Even kids didn’t seem that excited or were starting any chants.