5/25 WWE Smackdown in Regina: Wade Barrett vs. Sheamus for the Intercontinental Title, The Miz vs. Fandango, Natalya vs. Aksana, Big E Langston vs. Alberto Del Rio, Curt Hawkins vs. Justin Gabriel
WWE Smackdown live event
Report by Dot Net reader Derek Ruttle (@DerekRuttle)
- Before the show, I have to admit that I didn't have the highest of hopes because there were some major names not being advertised, as well as names that everyone already knew wouldn't be there. This show didn't have Ziggler, Orton, Big Show, or Mark Henry. But truthfully, in the end I didn't care because I was damn impressed with the caliber of action and overall entertainment that we got. To me, it seemed like there was a memo that all talent received that said, "We're lacking in top names tonight, really put the effort into your matches."
- Regina didn't care, either. Saskatchewan's relationship with WWE has always been very odd; we don't get the number of shows that other provinces get like Ontario, Quebec or even Alberta, so I think the mindset is that we're happy to get whatever they offer.
- My brother and I were pretty lucky before the show. We met Wade Barrett, Sheamus, Miz and Natalya outside a gym right near the arena in the afternoon and got photos with all of them. They were more than gracious and it's very cool to have that sort of 'extra' experience with them outside of the show atmosphere.
- The crowd was into this show from start to finish. A good mix of families with kids and older fans (more than a few Attitude Era fans still left in these parts). On to the matches...
1. Fandango (w/Summer Rae) pinned The Miz in 12:00. Hot opener. The crowd ate up Fandango's routine and he got a lot of heat, as opposed to the TV crowds each week that cheer him and try to get themselves over by hopping on the "Daaa da" bandwagon. Miz was super over. Good back and forth contest between these two (sign of things to come at Payback?). Summer Rae is hotter than hell in person. In the end, Fandango raked Miz's eyes as the ref was distracted and hit what I can only call an exaggerated Russian leg sweep for the win. The coolest part of the entire match? During Fandango's entrance, he dipped Summer right in front of my brother and I, and it looked like he was posing just for me in the photo I took. I remember first seeing vignettes for Fandango's debut and just shaking my head. The reality is that this guy is just plain fun to watch.
2. Justin Gabriel pinned Curt Hawkins in 10:00. Here's where most of the crowd and I differed. I see matches like this as a way for guys like Gabriel and Hawkins to really earn their bread and butter - honing their craft on the road when their TV time is relegated to Saturday Morning Slam or Superstars. It's where they can really have a platform to shine, and yet a lot of Regina fans just kinda sat on their hands and politely cheered when Gabriel would hit a spin kick or a flying bodypress. That's a shame. Both worked hard and Gabriel eventually put Curt down with an STO followed by a moonsault off the top rope.
3. Natalya tapped out Aksana in 8:00. A solid Divas contest. Again, this is sort of in the same territory as Gabriel/Hawkins because as opposed to the 3 or 4 minutes they get on TV, the Divas have a lot more breathing room on the road and the end result can be a lot more entertaining than WWE allows most of the time. I kinda forgot what Aksana was capable of in the ring. Definitely improving. Very athletic and Natalya was huge with the Western Canadian crowd, obviously. Fans popped big for the Sharpshooter.
4. Alberto Del Rio tapped out Big E. Langston in 14:00. You read that right. To the best of my knowledge, has Big E tapped out on TV/PPV yet? Because he did here. They did the bit where people tweeted whether AJ should be allowed at ringside. I laughed when the vote was a landslide vote of 'Yes'. The red-blooded male wins again. Very good match, I'd say second best of the night besides the main event. Del Rio really has the Ricky Steamboat "dying a beautiful death" babyface-in-peril selling down. Big E looked like an absolute monster at times. Some fun outside antics by Ricardo and AJ. In the end, Big E finally tapped on Del Rio's second attempt at the Cross Armbreaker. After the match, Ricardo has everyone sing Happy Birthday to Alberto, who turned 36.
5. Brodus Clay pinned Darren Young in 7:00. Short and sweet with Brodus doing his usual routine. After he got the win, Titus ran out and the Prime Time Players beat down Clay, prompting Tensai/Sweet T/Guy With Imaginary Shovel to hit the scene. Can you see where this is going?
6. Tons of Funk beat the Prime Time Players in 7:00. Yup, tag team match, playa! Didn't even need Teddy Long's permission to happen, either! The usual tag match we've seen from these two. Titus is a great heel and really played it up with fans at ringside. Hope WWE is keeping an eye on him. Tensai played the face in peril before the tag to Brodus, and the two eventually got the win with a splash/leg drop combo.
7. Sin Cara pinned Heath Slater in 8:00. Pretty much the same we've seen from these two. No botches from Cara tonight. That's not me being smarky. OK, it's a LITTLE smarky, but I know the guy's just coming off the injured list, and he didn't seem to miss a beat. Crowd hated Slater, so he's doing his job. Cool spinning splash to Heath on the outside. In the end, Slater ate a kick to the temple while Cara was on the apron, and a Swanton Bomb ended this one.
8. Sheamus beat Wade Barrett by DQ in an Intercontinental Title in 18:00. Like I said earlier, the entire night kinda had a bigger vibe than it probably should've considering the lack of top star power, but this one was a damn fine main event. Oddly enough, not the first house show I've seen where an IC Title match was the main event (Razor Ramon/Jeff Jarrett back in October '94). Awesome match, as can be expected from these two workhorses. Sheamus and Barrett just seem to click in the ring. Very back and forth in the beginning before Wade took control and the crowd got behind Sheamus.
In the second half of the match, there were some great nearfalls. When the Winds of Change and Wasteland couldn't put Sheamus away, Wade opted to take his title and walk off, prompting Sheamus to chase him down and throw him back in the ring. Only problem was the belt came with Wade, and he hit Sheamus for the DQ finish. Some were probably disappointed, but older, cynical, jaded fans saw it coming a mile away. A fine ending for an awesome match. Sheamus ended up hitting White Noise and the Brogue Kick to send the crowd home happy, and he made the rounds at ringside about three times to slap hands and sign autographs. Very cool to see him go out of his way to do that. I swear, if Barrett can gain some more credibility on TV and the IC Title was switched for the World Title, there's money in a Sheamus/Barrett program.
Overall, a very cool house show that more than exceeded my expectations with the absences of Ziggler/Orton/Show/Henry. Lots of action and getting to meet a handful of the superstars before the show was excellent.
- Barrett vs. Sheamus
- Del Rio vs. Langston
- Fandango vs. Miz
- Del Rio
- AJ being allowed to stay at ringside (no lie)
Final Thought: I'd put attendance at around 5,000, maybe more, which is awesome for a Smackdown house show, and especially one that suffered from a lack of main event talent. I think it also helps that WWE didn't book a house show in Saskatoon, because the two cities are only a couple hours apart and it forces fans from that city to travel to Regina, which only helps the attendance and live gate revenue. After all, Saskatoon is my home arena and I didn't care about driving three hours for this show.
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