[Editor’s Note: This article was supposed to post prior to Friday, so the author wrote a spoiler-free recap of the Smackdown portion. However due to my cancer surgery on Tuesday, the posting schedule is a little behind. We thank J.M. for covering this event for us, and hope you enjoy his experience and photos!]
I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling since the time when the WWE was known as the WWWF (yes, three “W’s”, the World Wide Wrestling Federation), so when WWE came to the Amway Center this past Tuesday night, and I had a chance to attend on behalf of CitySurfing Orlando, I was more than happy to go enjoy the show.
The audience was treated to two shows in one because the WWE was using the first part of the program to live broadcast their regular Tuesday night show “WWE Main Event” on the WWE Network, followed by a television taping of their Friday night show “WWE SmackDown” on the Syfy channel.
We start off with a “dark” (non-televised) match between Adam Rose (accompanied by his entourage of rosebuds) and Damien Sandow. Sandow, whose latest gimmick is to imitate his opponents, entered the arena dressed as and acting like Adam Rose, which drew raucous boo’s from the crowd. This was a short match with Rose scoring a pin after 4 or 5 minutes of in-ring action. Rose left the ring to cheers with his rosebuds surrounding him as he walked up the ramp to the back.
We’re then joined by the Main Event announce team of Byron Saxton and Tom Phillips as they make their way to the ringside announcer’s table and the crowd is asked to make a lot of noise as we’re about to go live on the WWE Network to kick off the show.
The first match of the show is Seth Rollins (with his always-present Money in the Bank briefcase) versus Fandango. Rollins scores a decisive win after about 5 minutes by powerbombing Fandango into the turnbuckle spine first and then using his finishing curb stomp to the head and pinning Fandango for the three count.
Next up we see WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos backstage heading to the ring for a singles match of Jey Uso taking on Ryback. Jey’s brother Jimmy and Ryback’s partner Curtis Axel will both be at ringside as well for this match. After 5 minutes or so of back and forth between the two men, Curtis jumps up on the ring apron to distract Jey Uso and earns a flying leap from Jimmy for his trouble, but the distraction allows Ryback to take Jey down with his Meat Hook move and pin Jey for the three count in the middle of the ring.
Backstage promo on the big screen by the new team of Heath Slater and Titus O’Neil with some friction between the two as Slater extols the talents of their team that he is calling “Slater/Gator” and O’Neil telling Slater to shut up and follow his lead as this is a one time thing.
They come to the ring to face their opponents, Kofi Kingston and Big E accompanied by Xavier Woods in a white three-piece suit. This is a very short match of 3 minutes which ends with Big E executing a vicious backbreaker on O’Neil and then holding him bent over his leg as Kingston comes off the top rope feet first on O’Neil’s chest, driving him to the mat. Woods then screams for them to do the same to a prone Slater after which Big E stacks Slater on top of O’Neil and pins them both. The crowd shows their approval with loud cheers as Big E, Kingston and Woods raise their arms in victory in the center of the ring.
The final match is the main event of the night pitting Jack Swagger against Rusev, a match that had been listed earlier in the day as Sheamus versus Rusev and with no explanation given for the absence of Sheamus. This match is more like a re-match of the “Battleground” PPV the previous Sunday except that this time Swagger wins by DQ after about 9 minutes when Rusev attacks Swagger outside the ring using the Russian flag.
WWE’s Main Event broadcast on the WWE Network is over and all the arena graphics switch to the SmackDown logo as we prepare for the tapings of this Friday’s show.
We start off SmackDown with a “dark” match as we did for the Main Event airing, this time with WWE NXT Champion Adrian Neville taking on Tyler Breeze. After the match ends we welcome the SmackDown announce team of Michael Cole and JBL as they come down the ramp and exchange lots of high-fives with audience members on the way to the announcer’s table.
The first match is a tag team bout with WWE Tag Team Champions, The Usos, going up against Ryback and Curtis Axel. It was a decent match that at the end saw one man leaving the ring earlier than his partner, which may be setting up a split in the future.
Next we have a live episode of MizTV in the ring with the Miz giving his “acceptance speech” that he didn’t get to give after winning the Intercontinental Title at the Battleground PPV this past Sunday. The Miz goes into the ringside audience and introduces his mom and dad who are attending tonight’s taping. He asks his mom who her favorite WWE wrestler is and she says…Roman Reigns to a huge pop from the crowd!
Bo Dallas comes out to compliment The Miz, who returns the favor and then they’re both interrupted by Dolph Ziggler. This leads to a match between Dallas and Ziggler and The Miz moves to the announce table to offer commentary with JBL and Cole. After the match is over, The Miz and Dallas double team Ziggler and beat him down outside the ring.
The next match is my pick for the best match of the night; Dean Ambrose against Cesaro in a No Disqualification Match. At one point, there must have been 20 metal folding chairs in the ring being used as weapons and having both wrestlers body-slammed into them. These are two of the best performers in the WWE and this match showed their talents off to great effect.
After the match ended, Seth Rollins came out and viciously attacked Dean Ambrose as their feud continues. Ambrose’s injuries were sold even further by having a medical team come down and assist Ambrose backstage while the crowd cheered and roared his walking out on his own.
A WWE Divas match is next with Paige versus Naomi. This must be the night for run-ins as Naomi’s former partner Cameron comes down after the match ends and attacks Naomi.
The crowd popped loud and hard as Bray Wyatt and his “Family” (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) make their way down the ramp for Wyatt’s match against R-Truth. The lights went out and at least half the crowd lit up their cell phones as Wyatt entered the ring.
Finally, the main event match for SmackDown begins as crowd favorite Roman Reigns faces Alberto Del Rio. Another great match between two great competitors as the taping for the show ends.
But it’s not over as we have one more “dark” match for the crowd to enjoy. The lights go down again and suddenly pyro on the stage explodes as the ominous organ music of Kane comes piping through the arena. The Demon from Hell comes down to the ramp to the ring and says he came to Orlando to hurt someone and he doesn’t care who it is so send “a body” from backstage to the ring so he can do what he wants to do to them. For several seconds the silence is deafening as all eyes are turned to the stage entrance to see who will come down. Then the familiar strains of “Well it’s the Big Show” theme music starts playing and the crowd jumps to its feet and goes wild!! We get a great match to finish the night between these two big, big men. At the end of the match, Big Show gets a mic and tells the crowd with real sincerity, “Thank You for coming out to watch us perform for you tonight, we really appreciate you being here.”
It was a great night for wrestling fans who got to see more than 3 hours of programming live at the Amway Arena. WWE will be returning to Orlando on February 16, 2015 for a live airing of WWE Monday Night Raw! Tickets are available for as low as $15 online or at the Amway Center box office.
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