11/14 WWE in Leeds, England: More on John Cena's injury during the main event, C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, Ryback vs. Justin Gabriel, Curtis Axel vs. R-Truth for the Intercontinental Title
WWE Live Event
Leeds Arena, England
Report by Dot Net reader Philip Regan (@philipregan1986)
Our brand new, fan-shaped arena has a 13,500 capacity and has recently hosted Bruce Springsteen, Depeche Mode and (home town favorites) Kaiser Chiefs. Until tonight, the WWE had never visited our city. Based on the estimated turnout and positive reaction, it hopefully won't be too long before we welcome the superstars back with open arms. This was my first ever WWE show. I watched it with a friend, Tom, who has been to Raw, Smackdown and other live events over the past few years. We sat on the top level in Block 322 and had a wonderful view of the action.
1. The Prime Time Players beat Hunico and Camacho. This was a passable opening contest. The Players received a strong reaction throughout but the audience didn't really know who their opponents were. Hunico and Camacho haven't been back on television for long so apathy was to be expected. In the end, Titus won with his sitout spinebuster.
2. Ryback defeated Justin Gabriel. Ryback dominated for the majority of the bout. Despite its predictable nature, the crowd had fun chanting 'Feed Me More' and 'Goldberg' on numerous occasions. Gabriel eventually managed a brief comeback. He hit a springboard moonsault and other flashy moves but Ryback cut him off and hit Shell Shocked for the victory.
3. Bella Twins beat AJ Lee and Tamina Snuka. Big cheers for the Bella Twins and AJ Lee before the bell but general indifference towards Tamina. For a Divas match this was merely OK but thankfully didn't outstay its welcome. The Bella's won with the sitout facebuster.
4. The Great Khali defeated Jinder Mahal. I expected this to be awful (because Khali has trouble walking) but it somehow turned out to be a simple, short, logical story. Jinder stalled, worked Khali's legs for a few minutes then Khali hit a some clotheslines followed by a big chop for the 1-2-3.
Paul Heyman made his entrance with Ryback and Curtis Axel. He cut a promo and received nothing but deafening boos in return. Eventually, CM Punk came out with a kendo stick looking to use it on Heyman. Ryback and Axel abandoned Heyman even though he begged them to stay and told Ryback that he loved him (which drew some laughs and wolf whistles). Punk proceeded to beat on Heyman, much to the enjoyment of the crowd. The lights went out and the Wyatt's ambushed Punk. Bryan made the save. Very good storytelling that gave the next match a greater sense of importance.
5. Daniel Bryan and CM Punk beat Luke Harper and Erick Rowan (with Bray Wyatt). Undeniably, the most accomplished and epic attraction before intermission. At around 16 minutes, it was twice the length of all preceding matches. This gave it time to develop into something special. It felt like they were experimenting, tweaking their match close to the standard we will hopefully see at Survivor Series. Punk and Bryan were incredibly over with the Leeds fans, who gave them dueling chants of support. After an engrossing performance from all involved Punk won with the Go To Sleep.
6. The Usos defeated Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater. The Usos' catchphrase was over but me and Tom weren't impressed. Towards the final stretch, the Usos performed impressive twin dives to the outside then got the pin fall victory after a splash from the top rope. Tom is a big fan of 3MB and really wanted to see them win, even just once to shake things up. It wasn't his lucky night.
7. Curtis Axel beat R-Truth to retain the Intercontinental Championship. This was nothing special and unintentionally acted like a comedown buffer before the main event. R-Truth went through the motions as usual but Axel demonstrated plenty of technical ability. Sadly, this is not enough to entertain in the modern day WWE. He needs to develop his charisma if possible, meaningless title defenses such as this do not help one bit. Finishing moves should be believable and strong. Axel needs a better one immediately because even the young kids thought his looked weak.
8. John Cena defeated Alberto Del Rio to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. Equally as good as the earlier tag match, depending on your preference. It was about the same length and provided a second engaging preview for the upcoming PPV. Del Rio drew a slightly muted response and Cena had 60/40 cheers to boos. Whatever the fans thought of Cena, he was still the person they all came to see. Tom noted that there were more phones recording Cena than anyone else.
Early on in the match, Cena appeared to tweak his knee and the crowd initially seemed confused to weather or not he had suffered a genuine injury. As the trainer attended to Cena, Del Rio stalled on the turnbuckle with the Championship above his head. Cena retook control but seemed to be moving gingerly after hitting the Protoplex and Five Knuckle Shuffle.
After a few sloppy sections, they went back and forth for a climactic final stretch. Del Rio executed a German suplex, Cena locked in the STF then Del Rio hit a super kick. Cena went for the Attitude Adjustment and the ref took a bump. Cena locked in the STF and Del Rio tapped. Rather than keeping on the hold and waiting for another official Cena tried to revive the referee. This allowed Del Rio to hit Cena with a belt shot for a near fall that fooled some people in the crowd not familiar with Super Cena. Right on cue, Cena recovered from all his injuries to hit the AA and send the kids home happy.
He thanked everyone for coming after his match and gave special praise to those who attended in fancy dress. Cena is an amazing ambassador for the company and it is impossible to imagine who will fill his position when he decides to call it a day.
Notes: Overall, my first WWE show was memorable and great value for money (£20 each). We were told of our main event in advance and it was thankfully not changed, unlike the Cardiff show. Only two matches went over 15 minutes but it was great seeing all the wrestlers live, even if high quality UK independents such as Preston City Wrestling give you far more bang for your buck.
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