I took in the Smackdown house show this evening in Lexington, Kentucky. The show is five minutes from my house and I won free tickets in a radio trivia contest. Anyway, after paying $10 to park, I figured I needed to win tickets more often as these were great seats, roughly eye level with the middle turnbuckle and on the same side as the entrance which was on my left. There were two rows in front of me, an aisle, and then three or four more rows of seats before the barricade. Great seats.
The show itself was great, definitely the best house show I’ve ever been to. The house shows have zero nonsense to them, with the music of one match finishing and then Chimmel (who handled all the attire and titles etc) saying “The following contest is scheduled for one fall!” There were 9 matches and a ten minute intermission covered in just about two hours and 15 minutes, so you can tell they’re flying through this, but nothing seemed rushed at all.
This is merely going to be a brief recap and not a full on review with grades and all that jazz as I only took basic notes since I was watching the show for the most part.
Alberto Del Rio vs. R-Truth
Truth came out first and for some reason there was a long delay after his music started to play. He finally got there but wasn’t singing along. He did the What’s Up part and got a great reaction almost every time. Way over to say the least. Del Rio is clearly having a blast being a jerk to people and it shows in his talking and mannerisms.
He cut a quick promo talking about how Truth belonged on Raw but was here anyway. The mic kept cutting out, prompting the guys next to me to start a brief You F’D Up chant which stopped when all the parents with little kids around gave them evil glares. This was a relatively short match with Del Rio working on the back for the most part for some reason.
It’s amazing how much more fake punches clearly are at house shows. That running enziguri in the corner is awesome looking in person. Anyway, in a surprising upset, Truth got the win with the axe kick in about 5:30. The match was rather basic but well done and it worked as an opener with the surprise ending. Post match Del Rio caught Truth in the cross armbreaker and left him laying.
Chavo Guerrero vs. Percy Watson
Chavo got a big face pop and Watson got silence as I don’t think the vast majority of the audience had any clue who he was. There was a loud Chavo chant before the match and he turned it around easily by saying “Thank you for the cheers, but I already know I’m great.” Chavo is another guy that you don’t get to see enough of on TV but in front of a live audience he knows how to have a crowd wanting to kill him in seconds. Great heat magnet and got the people hating him quickly.
After a long stalling session we got started with a rather basic match. Watson has a presence about him but he isn’t incredibly sharp in the ring. A lot of his stuff was somewhat sloppy while Chavo was crisp with everything he did. Not a terrible match but definitely a step below the first. Watson won after a spinning splash set up by Chavo missing the Frog Splash. Ran a little over 8:00.
Rosa Mendes, who is incredibly good looking in person, asked a fan what the next PPV was and he got to ring the bell for the next match. Always a cool thing to do.
Tyler Reks vs. Ezekiel Jackson
This was just a step above a squash and ran less than 3:00. There was a pose down and then Reks tried basic stuff to no avail. Jackson won with a Rock Bottom and looked impressive like he’s supposed to without being exposed at all. The kids seemed into him somewhat too.
Cody Rhodes vs. Chris Masters
We got some dueling promos to start. Cody is so awesome in his role it’s unreal. He got a face pop for some reason too. That mirror on his jacket is certainly real too as it reflected light into my eyes a few times. Cody cut a basic heel promo, running down UK basketball (in their home arena) and talking about how Masters has never won anything. Masters said that today was his birthday (which it was) and that as a birthday promise he was going to slap Cody.
Cody is so old school in his style it’s not even funny. He uses basic stuff like the jumping stomp with the ropes to help him and knee drops and it looks like something out of the early 80s. Needless to say I love him right now. Masters surprised me here, busting out a Sky High and a Samoan Drop, both of which looked rather good. He needs something besides the Masterlock so maybe he’s testing some stuff out.
Anyway Masters kept teasing the slap all night and finally got it to a great pop. After that the crowd was far more into the match and it helped a lot. I was really surprised that Masters vs. Rhodes had the crowd into it as much as they did. After about 7:45, Cody hit a really bad looking Cross Rhodes to end this. Better than you would expect and probably the match of the night to this point.
Drew McIntyre vs. JTG
I have never heard a crowd as quiet as they were for JTG. Drew is awesome at working the crowd. After every little thing he would do he would hold up a finger, signaling that he was up 1-0, 2-0 etc. He played to the crowd all match and got them riled up very well. JTG got in a surprising amount of offense but got caught in the Futureshock for the clean pin after about 6:50. Not bad but certainly nothing special.
Intercontinental Title: Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler
These two are awesome together and this was no exception. I would have liked to see them get more time but they wound up getting just shy of 10:00. Both guys got to do a lot of their big spots and there were some good near falls. Kofi has incredible energy and never stops going the whole time. They were hammering on each other and it’s clear that they’ve had a lot of time working together. Kofi won with the Trouble in Paradise just shy of 10:00 in the best match of the night so far and probably all night.
Divas Title: Natalya vs. Layla
First things first: Layla is one of the most stunningly beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. TV does not do these girls justice whatsoever and they are indeed as gorgeous as they’re built up as. Anyway, Layla brought out an exercise ball and did a routine on it which every straight man or lesbian in the audience loved very much.
To my lessening surprise, this was a good match. The Divas on Smackdown have been getting much better in the ring and this was no exception. Layla hooked a reverse Indian Deathlock and got a rollup out of that for two. The focus of the match was on Natalya’s knee and she never could get the Sharpshooter. Instead she rolled over on an O’Connor Roll for the pin. Post match Layla went after the knee again but Beth came out for the save. Match ran roughly 10:00 and felt like half that, but in a good way.
Wade Barrett vs. Big Show
Show got the loudest pop of the night or at worst the second loudest and just a step behind Edge. Probably the loudest though. On his way to the ring, Barrett jumped him. Wade said he didn’t need Nexus anymore and that he was the new big man on Smackdown. Interesting indeed. For some reason this match had far more flash bulbs going off than anything else all night. Show won with the Knockout Punch in 4:50 and Barrett sold it like he was shot. Two referees helped him to the back.
Smackdown World Title: Edge vs. Kane
This was fan’s choice, with the options being 2/3 falls (I think 5 people in the arena cheered for this, myself included), or a street fight. I think you know what won. I forgot to time this but it was definitely the longest match of the night at maybe 13-15 minutes or so. Good stuff indeed with them brawling up by the entrance and using a few weapons. Kane hit the Chokeslam for two after avoiding the Conchairto to the knee. Edge hit the spear to win it and then high fived a ton of fans to end the show. He was incredibly over to say the least.
Overall, this was a GREAT show. When you can get that many matches on a show and in just over two hours without anything bad, what more can you ask for? The crowd was hot all night long with lots of chants and pops/heat at the right times. The upper arena was tarped off but the lower arena was about 80-90% full. Keep in mind that Rupp Arena is one of the biggest basketball arenas in the country and can hold over 20,000 people at maximum capacity. Very fun show and I’m quite glad I went.