Rex is a little bit young to attend his first wrestling show so Ross and Grace and two of our friends recently attended the WWE Raw Live show at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, UK. Here are their thoughts on the show as compiled by Ross…
Grace and I were asked to attend the WWE Raw live event at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff this last Sunday and we were thrilled to go. As I’m sure many readers of Vicky’s blog already know, I’m the writer of Bob Holly’s The Hardcore Truth and have recently announced another wrestling autobiography, that of former WWE superstar Al Snow, to be released in 2019, so any time I get a chance to attend a WWE show is very welcome indeed.
I’ll start by saying that this was the most star-studded show we’ve attended in Cardiff over the last few years. Despite the absence of advertised top star, Roman Reigns (who neither Grace nor I particularly care for), the card was packed with superstars and the larger-than-life characters we’ve come to associate with the action-packed world of WWE.
The event was the best we’ve been to at the Motorpoint Arena. At previous shows, there have been maybe one or two matches that are a little less interesting than the others but, on this particular night, everybody was firing on all cylinders and it resulted in an event which never had a dull moment and a couple of matches that substantially overachieved on expectations.
With the help of some pictures and videos, here are the results from the evening…
Finn Balor v Samoa Joe
Finn Balor opened the show against Samoa Joe in a great back-and-forth match where the crowd was split over who to cheer. The majority went with Balor but Joe certainly had his fans too. After an enjoyable 10 minute bout, Finn emerged victorious after landing his “coup de grace” move on Joe, a double foot stomp from the top rope.
8-man Tag Team Match
The arena was then plunged into darkness. When the lights came up, we were met with a motley crew of wrestlers in the ring, Bo Dallas, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson standing around the seated Elias, who proceeded to “treat” us to some live music courtesy of his acoustic guitar. His first effort elicited a round of applause (the dude can play!), the second effort – the first verse of Oasis’ Wonderwall – had the crowd joining in. And the third… well, watch for yourself.
After this, Goldust, Jason Jordan, Heath Slater and Rhyno beat the bad guys in an 8-man tag team match that was well paced and exciting throughout. This is the sort of match that can sometimes play to less of a reaction on these shows but the wrestlers held the audience’s attention throughout (particularly Goldust).
Asuka v Mickie James
The next match was one Grace has been waiting months for – a chance to see one of her very favourite wrestlers, the ‘Empress of Tomorrow’ Asuka, live and in person.
Mickie James joined her in the ring shortly afterwards and they started their match with some smooth exchanges befitting arguably the two most accomplished female superstars on the WWE roster. As the match progressed, Mickie feigned a knee injury in order to gain an unfair advantage on her adversary, drawing thunderous boos in the process. This was excellently executed. Despite this, Asuka rallied for the submission win, using her Asuka Lock crossface chicken-wing hold.
Pete Dunne v Mark Andrews
An unadvertised match for the WWE UK Title was next with reigning champion Pete Dunne retaining his title, pinning high flying Mark Andrews after his Bitter End pump-handle facebuster. Despite the audience not appearing familiar with either wrestler (particularly Andrews, who entered to borderline silence), the two worked hard and produced several moments that elicited applause and astonishment from the audience. Well done to both for a job well done.
Enzo Amore v Kalisto
Next up, we had self-proclaimed Certified G and Bona Fide Stud (whatever this all means) Enzo Amore and his ridiculous haircut starting by spending a solid five minutes berating the Cardiff crowd and turning them from Enzomaniacs into what he would describe as “haters”. Conversely, his opponent’s flashy entrance got everybody onside instantly.
Kalisto and Enzo proceeded to have a decent match for the cruiserweight title with Enzo retaining after his curiously named “Jordanzo” finishing move. The action was fine and the crowd reacted to Enzo like the superstar he is rapidly becoming. It has to be noted too that Kalisto worked very hard, perhaps not wanting to be shown up by Mark Andrews’ flashy performance in the previous match!
Kane v Braun Strowman
Moving from the cruiserweights to the superheavyweights, the first half finished with two seven-footers squaring off as long-serving monster Kane tied up with the new monster on the block and one of WWE’s hottest prospects for 2018, the spectacularly bearded Braun Strowman. The match was a departure from the high flying work of the two preceding bouts with Braun and Kane lumbering around the ring and ringside area, and ending abruptly with Kane thwacking Braun with a steel chair for the disqualification. However, the aftermath of the match was more notable than the match itself. After assaulting Braun with the chair some more, Kane retrieved a folding table from under the ring and set it up. Intending to send his rival crashing through the wood, he grabbed him by the throat… and then it all went a bit wrong for him. Observe…
Sasha Banks and Bayley v Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax
The second half began with women’s tag team action. Sasha Banks and Bayley beat diminutive women’s champion Alexa Bliss and her sizable partner Nia Jax by submission when Sasha forced Bliss to submit to her Banks Statement crossface lock. The match was fine but what was most noticeable was just how physically imposing Jax is in person – it’s often said about a lot of the bigger guys that “you can’t appreciate how big they are unless you see them in person” and that absolutely applied to Nia. The word “awesome” is thrown around a lot these days but she truly fits that description.
Miz v Matt Hardy
In the semi-final match, the Miz successfully defended his Intercontinental title against Matt Hardy after a lot of interference by his associates, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, the latter of whom looked more like your average accountant than a stereotypical wrestler. The irony that Bo’s dad was a wrestling accountant wasn’t lost on me…
Then it was time for the main event – and we hadn’t told Grace who would be replacing Roman Reigns, so this was quite the surprise…
Triple H, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins v Cesaro, Sheamus and Bray Wyatt
The ensuing match was befitting of the term “main event” for sure, running more than 20 minutes and with great performances in particular by Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, who teamed up with Triple H. The opposing squad of Cesaro, Sheamus and Bray Wyatt held their end of the bargain up more than capably and the crowd was involved in this match from bell to bell. There was even time for a tiny bit of light comedy from the veteran Triple H.
In the end… well, see for yourself.
Overall, a superb night’s entertainment, well worth the drive to and from Cardiff. We’re already looking forward to the next time WWE visit these shores in May 2018, where the company will be bringing its Raw and Smackdown TV shows to London as well as hosting live events as various cities across the UK. If you’ve never seen WWE live, do yourself a favour and get along to these events and take your kids – it’s loud, it’s colourful, it’s exciting and it’s a night everybody will remember for a long time to come.
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Disclosure: Thank you to the organisers of WWE for providing us with tickets in return for this review. Please note that all words, images and opinions have been formed by the owner of this blog and have not been influenced in any way. Please do not reproduce any of the content or images on this post without prior agreement from Verily Victoria Vocalises.