4/20 WWE Smackdown in Birmingham: Sheamus and the New Ages Outlaws vs. The Shield, Randy Orton vs. Big Show, Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio in a No-DQ match
WWE Smackdown Live Event
Report by Dot Net contributor Darren Gutteridge
Lilian Garcia opened by singing "God Save the Queen", which she delivered well, but was met with an unenthusiastic crowd. I knew at this point that this crowd wasn’t going to be on par with the one here for the November TV tapings last year.
1. Santino, Ted DiBiase, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal defeated The Primetime Players, Epico and Primo (w/ Rosa Mendes). I think WWE was banking on Drew getting a nice reaction with him being from Scotland, but as the report from Glasgow highlighted, the relationship between England and Scotland has always been a little frosty, so he wasn’t cheered all that much. Lots of Santino comedy, which went down well with an audience populated mainly by kids. Santino pinned Epico after the Cobra.
After the match, the Shield ran out and attacked DiBiase and Santino, hitting the triple powerbomb on DiBiase. Dean Ambrose did a take off of the New Age Outlaws pre-match intro, before Seth Rollins said they had "four words" for the audience. No prizes for guessing the words.
Lilian introduced a twitter poll allowing fans to decide if Zeb Coulter could remain ringside for Jack Swagger’s match with Alberto Del Rio. The percentages for and against started moving immediately, so I doubt its legitimacy.
2. Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) defeated Alex Riley. At least I think it was Summer Rae, I was up in the rafters with my seats. Pre-match, a bit of Fandango-ing broke out, but it didn’t really catch on during the match. Fandango asked the crowd to say his name four times before Riley interrupted. It was essentially an extended Fandango squash match, which he won with his new swinging reverse STO finisher.
3. Natalya defeated Alicia Fox. Hornswoggle was the special guest ring announcer. The crowd could not have been more silent for the most part. The two running themes were teasers for the Sharpshooter, and spanking. Natalya won with the Sharpshooter after a somewhat decent Divas match.
4. Mark Henry defeated The Great Khali. I read about this match from previous house show reports, but nothing could prepare me. Time stood still as they threw awkward punches, and Henry stalled for an eternity. After some over the top reactions from Henry, which seemed oddly out of character, he won with a World’s Strongest Slam.
5. Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) defeated Jack Swagger in a No-DQ match. Before the match, Swagger said the UK had the same problems as the US. Zeb said he liked the city, before saying ‘Hello Manchester!’. After the booing subsided, he said England had problems with Scottish, Welsh and Irish immigrants, and hoped to one day return to make "Jack Swagger’s England". Rodriguez came out with the ankle protector on, but no crutches. The twitter vote made Zeb leave ringside.
This match picked the crowd up after a sleepy start to the show. Swagger used the kendo stick for a good stretch, until he was distracted by Rodriguez, who ran away with no problems when Swagger gave chase. A nice close count came when Swagger put Del Rio through a table in the corner, but Del Rio rallied to apply the Cross Armbreaker for the submission victory.
6. Wade Barrett defeated Justin Gabriel to retain the Intercontinental Title. Wade got a monster reaction in November, but only got a loud pop tonight. A solid match that Barrett won with the Bullhammer Elbow when Gabriel was in mid-air.
7. Randy Orton defeated Big Show. Standard ‘going through the motions’ house show match. Orton was very over with the kids in the audience. He won with the RKO.
8. Sheamus and the New Age Outlaws defeated The Shield via DQ. Big pop for the New Age Outlaws and Sheamus. Pre-match, Road Dogg’s voice broke during the intro, and he joked that he had finally hit puberty. The Shield entered through the crowd. The Shield took it to the NAO until Sheamus got the hot tag and looked to be ready to put Rollins away with the Brogue Kick. Reigns slid in and hit him with a chair to cause the DQ, but the NAO slid in to the ring with a chair of their own to send Reigns and Ambrose to the outside and allow Billy Gunn to hit the Fame-Asser on Rollins, before he ate a Brogue Kick from Sheamus.
After the match, Road Dogg wished everyone a safe journey home, and Sheamus said his mom was born in Birmingham. This got a nice pop from the crowd, and Sheamus said he hoped to see us all again.
Notes: About a quarter of the upper deck was tarped off, and a good portion of the floor seats were empty. It’s the least full I have ever seen the LG Arena, and it showed in the crowd reactions throughout the night. For the first time since I have been going, there was no tour t-shirt. This brought my run of having a tour t-shirt for every show I have been to to an end. This saddens the collector in me.
Overall, this was the weakest house show I have been to. I came close to not going because I feared it wouldn’t be a good show, but I wanted to keep my streak going, and unfortunately match quality didn’t repay my faith. While it was cool seeing the New Ages Outlaws and The Shield, the rest of the talent on show felt stale, while Raw got most of the acts I wanted to see, and got both World Champions. Swagger vs. Del Rio was the only match outside of the main event to climb to "good," and everything else was either OK or dull, especially the first four matches.
The next show for Birmingham in November is being advertised at the moment as "WWE Live" so hopefully this was the last of the twin branded house shows, and the start of a new drive towards balancing the touring rosters.
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