The WWE returned to Winnipeg Friday night for the first time since 2011 on its Road to Wrestlemania tour. Being the giant man-child that I am, I jumped at the opportunity to see my favorite WWE superstars live in action. My wonderful girlfriend joined me for what was an awesome night overall. The crowd was really into the card for the most part, and there was some really funny looking groups at the show. My vote for best fans goes to the group dressed as classic NWO. The card was slightly altered a couple weeks ago to reflect what’s currently going on in the storylines, but the changes in my opinion made for a better card. Here’s what went down!
Kofi Kingston vs Damien Sandow
Fan favorite Kofi Kingston comes out first to fire up the crowd, who gets a huge reaction. Sandow comes out and proceeds to berate the crowd to be more American… great heat! Decent match between the two men to open up show, but nothing too remarkable. Love Sandow’s inverted sharpshooter. Surprisingly tame match from Kingston, very little acrobatics. Kofi gets the win after hitting the trouble in paradise. Match rating: 3/5
The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler
Miz gets a decent reaction coming out, but when Ziggler’s music hits, the crowd goes nuts. Crowds everywhere just seem to love Ziggler. Can’t figure why the WWE doesn’t push this guy harder. The men exchange pleasantries and the match gets underway. Great match, with both wrestlers playing to the crowd for favorite. The Show-Off was clearly the crowds choice this night. Was cool seeing Miz playing to the crowd to start off with, then slowing turning heel as the match progressed. Crowd was into the match the whole way through, and these guys put on a hell of a show. The Awesome One had Ziggler on the ropes before Dolph hits the zig-zag for the win. Both guys hug it out on the way to the back and Winnipeg gives them get a standing ovation. Match rating: 4/5
The Usos vs The Rhodes Bros
Kind of a weird match that felt very clunky at times. The new tag champs got a decent pop from the younger portion of the crowd. Goldust also gets lots of love, mostly from the older fans. Goldie works most of the beginning of the match against the Usos before he appears to injure his leg/ankle. Was hard to tell if it was a work or legit, but he worked through it regardless. Crowd isn’t really feeling this one. Energy picks up a bit when Cody gets the tag. Cody gets both Usos outside the ring onto the floor, and hits them with a giant splash off the top rope to a huge roar from the crowd. The Usos eventually get the injured Goldust separated from his brother and hit their own top-rope splash for the 1-2-3. Match rating: 2.5/5
Alberto Del Rio vs Christian
Was chuckling about the lack of Canadian content this show would have earlier in the night as I couldn’t think of any active Canadians on the WWE’s main roster… forgot about Christian! Crowd goes nuts when his music hits. Christian gets on the mic and shows some love for his peeps. Although Del Rio is clearly supposed to be the heel, some portion of the crowd is still cheering him on. Mostly by-the-numbers match between these two. Del Rio works on Christian’s leg throughout the match, and tries to work some heat out of the crowd. Del Rio hits the big kick to the head, but Christian kicks out at 2. Alberto drags Christian down looking for the armbar, but Christian gets the reversal and hits the killswitch for the win. Match rating: 3/5
The Shield vs The Wyatt Family
THIS IS AWESOME!!! The crowd went insane for this match. The two strongest factions in the WWE today, the Shield and the Wyatts have been butting heads on TV for the last month. I was interested to see if any of the dissention in the Shield that’s being played out on TV would happen out here, but the Hounds of Justice kept it together. Always hard to tell how a crowd’s is going to react when you have two heels going at it, but Winnipeg was clearly behind the Shield. Both groups do a big stare down in the middle of the ring before all hell breaks loose. The action spills out of the ring as all 6 men start brawling. Seth Rollins suicide-dive over the top rope – HOLY S***! Dean Ambrose gets the hot-tag and launches himself at Eric Rowan like a flying monkey which the crowd eats up. Bray Wyatt is just as creepy in person as on TV. The Eater of Worlds even breaks out the spider-walk for the Winnipeg crowd. Eventually the match breaks down again and becomes a crazy spot-fest. Roman Reigns, who’s been kept out of the match the whole time finally gets the tag in and goes on a rampage. He hits the giant jumping dropkick on the apron, and two huge superman punches on members of the Wyatts before finally spearing Luke Harper for the victory. What an amazing match, and the future of the WWE is so bright with guys like these coming up through the ranks. Match rating: 4.5/5
Intermission: Let’s all go to the lobby, and buy ourselves some WWE merch!
The Bella Twins vs Alicia Fox and Aksana
Mandatory divas match! To be fair to the ladies, they have all gotten a lot better in the last year. Brie and Nikki especially have put in the time and it shows in their in-ring performances. And I really give Winnipeg credit tonight. The WWE was polling fans all-night on Twitter, asking them to vote for whether the divas bout was going to be a dance-off or a wrestling match. Wresting match won pretty decisively. I won’t lie, I kinda tuned out here, but the Bella’s won in a match that was still better in what saw than the next bout. Match rating: 2/5
Batista vs Big Show
Batista gets a big pop from the crowd… until he cuts a promo to remind us that he’s back so deal with it. Our heroes are all weak little losers. Where have all the real men gone. Blah, blah, blah. We get it now, you’re a bad guy. At one point, he says Winnipeg has no real men and that’s why there’s never been a Winnipeg born WWE star… was really hard to tell if that was a clever jab or if he sincerely forgot about Chris Jericho. Regardless, that got a big Y2J chant from the crowd. Honestly, best part of the match was watching Batista get into it with Cam Carson from Power 97 pre-match, who was sitting front row. Not sure exactly what was said between the two men, but I definitely saw big Dave flip off Carson and reach over the guard rails and give him a huge shove. Carson flipped out, and was trying to get back at him but security escorted him from the building. Not as good as the Eddie Guerrero fan brawl from quite a few years back, but still really good.
The match… bleh. Batista is not a good worker, and Big Show isn’t the kind of guy to elevate a weak wrestler. This was mostly two big men hitting each other with their shoulders. Big Show got some big slaps in on the Animals chest which got some cheers from the crowd. Eventually Batista started targeting Big Show’s leg, which made a slow match even slower. Show starts mounting some offence, and Batista bails from the ring and heads towards the ramp. Big Show chases him down and tries to get him back into the ring, but gets thrown into the steel steps for his troubles. Dave slips back under the ropes before the ref counts to ten, and the Animal wins by count-out. Batista starts to celebrate but Big Show sneaks up behind and hits him with the WMD before leaving the arena. Crappy match with a dumb finish. Match rating: 1.5/5
Daniel Bryan vs Kane in a Steel Cage Match
Yes! Yes! Yes! Daniel Bryan is so incredibly over with WWE fans, and finally seeing him live, it’s so much more clear why. There’s a certain enthusiasm or energy that he brings with him when he performs – you can tell he loves what he does, which makes you love him even more. Forget the Rock… DB truly is the peoples champ. Crowd is definitely getting tired at this point, but they’re still cheering enthusiastically. Bryan comes to the ring second, and attacks Kane before the bell is even rung. Bryan hits a couple running dropkicks on Kane in the corner before the Big Red Monster gets the upper hand. Kane starts spearing Bryan headfirst into the four different sides of the cage. Kane tries to climb the cage before Bryan pulls him down, and Kane ends up crotching himself on the top-rope. Bryan starts hitting Yes! kicks in the middle if the ring before Kane escapes and gives him a side slam. DB escapes a pin attempt and locks in the Yes! lock but Kane refuses to tap and escapes. Kane’s in the corner again and Bryan goes to hit him with another running dropkick but Kane moves out of the way and Daniel accidently smokes the ref. Kane tries to attack Bryan from behind but he evades it and hits Kane with a big kick to the head. He goes for the pin, but the ref is still out. DB is shaking his head at the lost opportunity, and misses as Kane gets up from behind and choke slams him to the mat. Ref wakes up… 1,2…2!!! Kane and Bryan are back on their feet, and Kane’s looking for another choke slam but Bryan escapes and hits Kane with the flying knee for the 1-2-3!! Daniel Bryan climbs to the top of the cage and celebrates with the fans as they start to go home. Match rating: 4/5
Really fun night overall, and a pretty solid card. Their were a few slow spots, but the awesomeness of the Shield vs The Wyatts and being able to see Daniel Bryan live made up for any shortcomings in my book. Thank you for the entertaining evening WWE and I hope you come back soon… next time though, maybe we can have live Raw or Smackdown? Pretty please??