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WWE House Show - September 20, 2013

I took in the WWE house show tonight at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. I know I said this about the TNA show I went to over the summer, but this might have been the most fun I've ever had at a wrestling event. The crowd was red hot all night and the matches were all at least decent. There was even a nice surprise that I'll get to in a bit. Let's get to it.

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

The tickets didn't cost anything as I beat a wrestling expert on the local radio station in a trivia competition to win the seats. We were in the second row on the first level above the floor seats, which is where I've sat many times before. The view was great and you could easily see almost everything save for some brawling on the floor or in the aisle. I'm horrible at guessing attendances but I'd guess there were a few thousand people. The entire upper deck was empty but Rupp arena holds well over 20,000 people so a packed house was out of the question. As usual the empty sections started filling up as the show went on.

Also note that I'll be lighter on the ratings tonight as this is a house show, not a major show.

Damien Sandow vs. Zack Ryder

In possibly the biggest shock, Zack Ryder might have actually received the ovation of the night. I mean the place exploded for him and didn't stop cheering for him for nearly half of his match. It was like 2011 all over again and it was a very nice surprise for an old Ryder fan. Before the match Sandow asked up to stand for My Old Kentucky Home (state song) but said we weren't worthy of it. He also promised to drive 65 miles to Louisville to be with a real basketball team before trying to start a Let's Go Cards (hated enemy of the Kentucky Wildcats who play at Rupp) chant. He also said God bless Rick Pitino (Cardinals coach) to really tick them off.

The match was what you would expect, though there was some nice psychology included. Ryder missed a charge and got his arm tied up in the ropes. Sandow spent the majority of the match working over the arm which is such a basic move but so many wrestlers just miss it anymore. Ryder hit the Broski Boot and sent Sandow face first into the buckle, setting up the Rough Ryder for the pin in about 6:00.

Rating: C. Fine opener and the crowd is very hot tonight.

The fans voted for the Divas tag to be a dance off instead of a match.

AJ/Layla vs. Funkadactyls

Didn't Layla turn her back on AJ recently? Anyway AJ got a high pitched pop before refusing to dance. Layla did the usual comedic dancing before slipping while going to the corners. The Dactyls did their usual routine but AJ/Layla jumped them to start a match. I sat through this entire thing and absolutely nothing happened that deserved to be written down. Horrible boring stuff and the fans didn't care at all. Cameron pinned Layla after about 7:30 with a not horrible DDT.

Rating: D-.

The Dactyls danced afterwards.

Jack Swagger vs. Sami Zayn

Since this is an ultra conservative state, Swagger was relatively over. Zayn was the one guy I was hoping would be here who wasn't advertised, though he came out to crickets. Remember that for later. This wasn't as good as their NXT match but it was still one of the better matches of the night. A few fans behind us chanted OLE which seemed to confuse many fans around us. Colter wasn't there either as was recently announced.

This was a nice match with Swagger controlling for the most part. Sami came back with his high spots, including a big flip dive over the ropes to take out Swagger. Sami's top rope cross body looked great too. He tried a second one but got caught in the second Patriot Lock of the match, only to roll Swagger up for the pin at about 10:00. The important thing to note was that while Sami came out to crickets, he had the crowd invested in the match after just a few minutes. Zayn made them care about someone they didn't care about, which is really difficult to do. That's a good sign for his future.

Rating: B-. This was really fun stuff.

Kofi Kingston/Usos vs. Wyatt Family

The Wyatts was the advertised appearance I was looking forward to most. First of all though, the Usos' entrance got a HUGE reaction. They always get a solid reaction on TV as well, which makes me hope that they get a stronger push soon. The Wyatt entrance got a nice reaction too and the reports are correct: they're just chilling in person. Bray sat in his rocking chair while the other two were in the ring when the lights came on. I've seen Undertaker, Kane and Big Show in person but those two were even more imposing. Rowan, the one with the mask, stood perfectly still during the pre-match staredown and stayed there until the opening bell. It worked really well.

Bray stayed on the floor at first before bolting into the ring to beat down an Uso, revealing some bright red pants that you have be a brain washing swamp preacher to pull off. Bray is downright eerie in person, walking around the apron with this psychotic look on his face. They worked a regular formula match here with I think an Uso getting beaten down for the most part. You just couldn't take your eyes off Bray though as he was so creepy. The big spot of the match was a triple suicide dive from the good guys.

It was quickly forgotten though as Bray came back in and did the spot where he leans over backwards in the corner, only to drop to his hands to do the upside down on all fours walk from the Exorcist. JBL freaking out when he sees that on TV will be quite a sight. Anyway Kofi got the hot tag and everything broke down with Kofi hitting Trouble in Paradise on Harper, only to get caught with Sister Abigail for the pin at about 12:00.

Rating: B. REALLY fun match here with the Wyatts, Bray in particular, totally stealing the show.

World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam

There wasn't much to talk about here. Alberto worked on the arm, Rob came back with kicks. Del Rio went after the arm and got the armbreaker, only to not break when Van Dam got to the ropes for the DQ, just like at the PPV. Match ran just under 10:00 and was nothing special at all. Not bad, but these two have don't have much chemistry.

Rating: C-.

Rob got up and kicked Del Rio down, drawing out Sandow to tease a cash-in, only to be kicked in the face by Van Dam. Van Dam went around shaking hands as we went to intermission.

Ryback vs. Santino Marella

Now we get to the comedy portion of the evening. Ryback insisted that the referee hold the ropes open for him, only to say those weren't the ropes he meant and that the referee had to open the other set. Ryback was then introduced at 305lbs, which he insisted be described as ALL MAN. Santino was ticked off about the bullying and said Ryback was just a bully, just a mean person and....much bigger than he looked from the floor.

Santino tried a series of shoulder blocks to start the match but kept bouncing off Ryback and falling to the mat. He hit the ropes again but stopped short of Ryback, said “allow me” and fell on his back without being touched. Santino couldn't execute a nip up or slam Ryback, so the big man destroyed him for a bit instead. Santino came back and hit the nip up and slam to big pops because they had been built up. Again, simple idea but no one does it anymore. Santino loaded up the Cobra but Ryback bit his fingers to block it and put on a bearhug, only to have Santino escape with a wet Willy. The Shell Shock ended Marella in 7:40.

Rating: C+. Fun comedy squash here and there's nothing wrong with that.

CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel

This was kind of confusing as the match had been advertised as for the title, then as No DQ later in the show. Axel said that Heyman (not here tonight) had found a rule saying that Axel didn't have to defend the title if he had defended it in the last 30 days, so this was non-title. Axel also said there would be DQ's, because apparently he just has that authority.

There really wasn't much to this match and it was mainly punching and kicking. Punk did his usual spots, including the dive through the ropes and the Macho Elbow, but there were no weapons at all in the match. At one point Axel even grabbed a mic and said he wouldn't be using a table so stop asking for one. Punk won with a GTS in approximately 15:00 (I forgot to time it). Not much of a match but the fans were into Punk.

Rating: C. I'm guessing Punk is moving a bit slowly due to the injuries from the PPV.

Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton

Now this is where we'll get to the interesting part. Orton got a solid pop but the same at best or maybe even a bit weaker one. The fans got on their feet and did the YES chant and the finger point, but it definitely wasn't an explosion or even a huge pop. My buddy Josh suggested that a lot of the fans aren't so much into Bryan, but maybe just joining in because everyone else is doing it. I read a report from I want to say Wade Keller from a Smackdown taping a few weeks back and he said about the same thing: the fans cheered for Bryan, but he doesn't get the same reaction that other superstars get. There's time to change that, but it's very difficult to overcome.

This was about what you would expect as Bryan got in all of his usual spots. Bryan is incredibly talented, but he's getting to the point where he's using a lot of the same sequences. Those sequences are very entertaining, but other than the running knee he hasn't changed things up in awhile.

The interesting part of this was Orton might have lost a tooth due to a running dropkick in the corner. Something very large flew out and Orton was holding his mouth and nearly writhing around in pain. Bryan got the YES Lock but Orton got to the rope. Bryan missed a dive to give Orton control, meaning a lot of chinlocks. Bryan made his comeback and hit his signature spots before hitting the running knee out of nowhere for the pin at 16:50. I don't even think Orton loaded up an RKO.

Rating: B-. Good match but it wasn't great by any means.

Bryan went around to shake hands to end the show.

Overall Rating: A-. This show was a blast with only the Divas match being bad, but if the worst thing I have to sit through is Layla basically wrestling in a bikini, so be it. The fans were on fire all night, most of the big stars were there, and the matches were all solid. I believe the seats we were sitting in cost about $20-30 and they would have been more than worth the price. I was at the show in Louisville a few months back and wasn't very impressed. This was the polar opposite and one of the most entertaining shows I've ever been to. WWE is on fire at the moment and at a level I haven't seen in a long time. Great show.

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  1. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomerySeptember 20, 2013 at 10:48 PM

    Maybe it depends on the city; I went to Summerslam in LA and Bryan was SUPERMEGAMOLTENHOTLAVA over all night, and not just for his entrance.

  2. Zayn just has so much charisma, it is really amazing to see how he can draw in a crowd.

    Really hope the Wyatts are allowed to show how creepy they can be on tv soon, so worried that WWE has already given up on them, as most of the IWC seems to of.

  3. I don't understand how you can do the grading gimmick, yet give the whole show a higher score than any single component of the show.

    A kid can't bring home a report card filled with B's, C's, and D's, then claim that he's an A- student!

  4. "Super Conservative State" He's in Cena/Orton country, not the smark havens. The USA is a big country--different performers will be more popular in different places based on demographics

  5. Sandow's getting the usual MitB push: lose about 178 matches in a row before cashing in the case, only to have WWE scratching their heads as to why no one is taking him seriously as champion.

  6. Guyz, Bryan isn't over because he's been buried by HHH and Blandy Boreton every step of the way. They needed to put Bryan over HHH, Batista and The Warlord clean as a sheet, but its too late. I mean just look at Ryder, the most over guy in this business.

  7. There's a lot more to a show than just wrestling.

    There's atmosphere, talking, crowd reaction, how well the show flows from one match to another, how well the show balances fun with serious etc.

    In other words, it's the overall rating, not the collection of individual ratings.

  8. Blandy Boreton? Can't tell if being serious or...?

  9. What was the trivia contest questions you won on?

  10. He clearly passed to farce at including the warlord

  11. Oh right, missed that, and the 'guyz'

  12. What was the first WWF produced music video?

  13. Then rate those areas a well. Then it would be an overall rating, as this gimmick demands.

  14. No need to. Putting numbers or ratings on everything would A, take way too long and B, turns this into something resembling a math/science equation, which is way more complicated than it should be.

  15. I disagree. Downvote if you agree with me.

  16. I'm going to WWE live today (Sept. 21) in Hidalgo, Texas.

  17. Yeah, like that time with Sheamus in SC where he got a God pop.

  18. Meltzer and Bryan have discussed it on and off on the radio shows recently, but from what I can piece together the original plan sounds like it was Sandow winning the case to set up Cody Rhodes getting it from him at Summerslam, but then they went in a different direction with Cody and now they're stuck with Sandow as the MITB holder they don't want. And since no one is going to take him seriously in that role anyway, he's going to end up being the first guy to do a surprise cash-in and lose, because if you're gonna do that it needs to be someone bulletproof (ala Cena) or someone who's already severely damaged anyway (like Sandow). Since they're clearly not going to give him the World title and push him, might as well establish that the briefcase is not a guarantee.

  19. That's odd, I thought they liked sandow. He's a fun heel, and if they let him win some matches, he could be back to title.contention id have thought.

  20. Who rates matches at a house show?Just go and have fun

  21. I did. The ratings took me about 4 seconds per match.

  22. Daniel Bryan is talking about booking issues with Dave Meltzer!?

  23. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomerySeptember 21, 2013 at 2:49 AM

    I'm sure they like him, but talk about someone who's never been given any ball to hold in the WWE until then. Even Swagger had built up some goodwill on WWECW before winning his.

  24. Sandow's best role will be as a heel announcer whenever he's done wrestling full-time.

  25. I'm going to the show in Fort Wayne, Indiana tonight and I am so glad Bryan and Punk are on this show! I was worried about the Punk injury rumors.

  26. Honestly, I've found that house shows are more fun than TV events. The talent seem to be enjoying it more as they get a longer leash. You'd think in the modern age they could run house show angles using YouTube or something.

  27. Is that fair to Punk though? Unless you're just going by in ring match quality? I think of first career Michaels as a drugged out asshole politician. Punk's just an asshole.

  28. Sandow is jobbing to Ryder now?????? Wtf

  29. Most of us think of first career Shawn as one of the greatest heels and workers ever.

  30. WOO WOO WOO.

    You Know It!

  31. Definitely in ring, hence my second question. Shawn also had a shit load of baggage out of ring during phase 1.

  32. Shows can definitely be greater than the sum of their parts. I don't think Wrestlemania 14 had anything above a three-star match, yet it was a very strong show that blew off every angle.

  33. They should bring in Xavier Woods from developmental to feud with Damien Sandow for a real scholar (Woods is working on a PhD) vs. fake scholar feud.

  34. If they don't do that, there'll be CONSEQUENCES...

  35. Bryan might've gotten a bigger reaction than Kobe would have.

  36. Bryan is balding, tremendously unfunny and hiding his degraded ring skills with a bunch of smoke and mirrors?

  37. I'd love if they played the "Damien isn't smart or sophisticated" angle up.

    But Xavier isn't no.

  38. I went to Musician's Institute in Los Angeles during 1988 - 1989. One of the things I enjoyed was access to about 5 WWF shows during that time; the number may have been 4. As I recall, 3 were house shows and 2 were taped for Prime Time Wrestling, and I saw myself twice and heard myself multiple voice carries.

    I bring this up because I really kind of miss going to house shows. But, I'm also at a point where $20 - $30 for a house show ticket seems like a lot to me; I remember paying around $12 for TV tapings in San Diego shortly after WM12.

    But, given the chance, I would probably go. I toyed with the idea of buying a ticket to the most recent PPV in Chicago; I forget what it was featured CM Punk's return after WM29 against Jericho, but I'm really broke these days and tickets were FUCKING EXPENSIVE. Cheap single seats were over $100. Doesn't make $20 - $30 seem like that much, and I'd pay that to see the card you described. Thanks for the review.

  39. I haven't given up on the Wyatts. I dig the gimmick and think it could have legs for a long run. However, I am worried that Bray hasn't had a good televised match yet. I'm not counting nxt cause I wasn't watching for most of their run.


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