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Pinfall - A WWE Column #014

OFFWORLD - OTHER

Richard Cosgrove experiences Smackdown live at the London O2 Arena, and lives to tell the tale...

Last week myself and fellow Shadowlockers Deborah Cosgrove (SL’s resident photographer, whose work graces this column and who also happens to be my wonderful wife) and Luke Connolly (SL writer and editor) had the good fortune to go to the Smackdown taping at the O2 Arena as guests of 2K Games, so I must first of all give a massive shout out to 2K’s Bryce Yang for sorting us out with tickets.

This was only my second live WWE event, the first having been when the circus rolled into town last November, but while that was a continuously flowing show, which I suspect the live RAW show that went out the night before must have been, the Smackdown experience was more like being in a studio audience as a show was being pieced together, which isn’t really surprising as that’s exactly what happened.

After a dark match featuring Los Matadores versus The Union Jacks (3 Man Band plus Hornswoggle, all rather fetchingly decked out in, what else, Union Jack attire), the ring was dressed in Main Event banners for the taping of several matches for that week’s show, though as you may well have seen by now, they were pretty dire.

Damien Sandow further eroded any credibility he may once have had (and it seems hard to believe at this point in time that there was actually a time when he looked as though he could be a serious A-list talent) by appearing as Sherlock Holmes, presumably in an attempt to curry favour with the locals. To his credit, his attempt at a British accent was passable, but the actual match, versus R-Truth (who was so over with the crowd, who yelled back ‘What’s Up!’ with gusto every time he called out for a response) was dull.

Even duller was the potentially interesting clash between the rebranded Cesaro and Mark Henry. Paul Heyman’s performance was quality, as ever, and yes he did remind us once more that his other client was responsible for some minor upset at Wrestlemania XXX, but the match turned out to be – wait for it - an arm wrestling contest between the two men across the announce table. Even that only lasted all of fifteen seconds or so before Cesaro delivered an uppercut and then, gasp, tipped the table over onto the World’s Strongest Man, who evidently struggled to push the extremely sturdy piece of furniture off himself.

Once we reached the actual Smackdown segment, though, things picked up considerably. I knew that Hulk Hogan was scheduled to appear, but you could have knocked me down with the previously tipped over announce table when he was accompanied by legendary manager Jimmy ‘Mouth of the South’ Hart. Unsurprisingly the arena went wild for Hogan and it was good to see another legend in the flesh, having been to an evening with Shawn Michaels a few weeks previously, even if his promo was essentially a plug for the WWE Network.

Something that I’d noticed at the WWE Live event back in November, and that was once again interesting to note at Smackdown, is just how different some of the Superstars appear to be in person. Daniel Bryan and CM Punk seemed to be much smaller in real life when I saw them than they appear on screen (and they’re not that big even then), but Hogan seemed enormous which I’m sure had something to do with his ability to work a crowd.

As regular readers will know, I’ve previously pegged Bray Wyatt for big things (and I’m certainly not alone in doing so), and he didn’t disappoint. Cutting a promo from the ring, he had the audience singing along with him, and a sea of mobile phones illuminating the arena like a starry, starry night. Wyatt quite simply holds the entire audience in his hands, and if managed correctly will become a huge star over the next few years.

Dolph Ziggler was a revelation as well. Another wrestler who seemed to have been on the verge of breaking before fading into mid-card he had a cracking match with a heavily bearded Batista (who is presumably becoming more hirsute for his upcoming promotional work for Guardians of the Galaxy). Though ultimately losing to the Animal, the match was a great example of why Ziggler needs to be given a serious run at some gold in the near future.

Sadly there was no Shield in the house, but we did get both the (latest) debut of Bo Dallas, who is another wrestler with charisma to spare, and an appearance from new boy Adam Rose, whose party chant was quickly taken up by the audience and whose take down of Vickie Guerrero (who looks far better in the flesh than she does on TV) was supremely entertaining.

The evening concluded with John Cena once again teasing a possible Wrestlemania in London in the future, and then calling out Bray Wyatt for a great dark match. Thus ended my first Smackdown, and we spilled out in the night with smiles on our faces, having been thoroughly entertained.

Thanks again to Bryce Yang for arranging tickets for us.

Thanks also to Deborah Cosgrove for the pictures (check her work out here).


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