Welcome one and all to a special live event review here at TJRWrestling for a Smackdown Live Event I had the pleasure of attending last night in Waco, Texas. Living near the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I’m fortunate to get about three or four times a year where I can decide on traveling no more than 3 hours in any direction to attend various WWE TV tapings, PPV’s, or live events. Texas is a massive spot for WWE, as just in the last 27 months or so, we’ve had a WrestleMania, Royal Rumble and Survivor Series in the state. WWE was last in Dallas back in March, where they taped back to back nights of Raw and Smackdown Live. They know they can draw good crowds in Texas, so they keep coming back for more.
On this particular loop for Smackdown, I could decide between driving two hours south to Waco for the Saturday night show, or 45 minutes west to Arlington for the Sunday matinee. There was quite the price differential between the two cities, so based on the fact that I could get 7th row floor seats for $50 a ticket, and those same seats were $96 in Arlington, I decided to drive a little further and see the Saturday show. Smackdown is universally hailed as the better brand, and so I’m always excited to see them live, no matter who is on the roster. It’s just a vibe you get when you see Smackdown. Daniel Bryan was headlining, and according to advertisments for the last two months, it was going to be against The Miz. That was a draw onto itself. Unfortunately, card subject to change reared it’s ugly 7 feet tall head. And you can’t teach that.
The venue was the Extraco Events Center and the crowd was about half full, which is pretty standard for Waco. They don’t draw that great, but it’s always a really lively crowd that sounds bigger than it is.
Smackdown Tag Title Triple Threat Match
Bludgeon Brothers defeated The Usos & Rusev Day
Hardly a better way to start the show. The crowd was fully into Rusev Day, with Usos getting some good cheers sporadically. This was a hot match and would’ve been the match of the night, had it not been for the US Title match we got later on. The Bludgeon Brothers look incredible when you’re up close to them. Their size, look, and presentation is unmatched. Usos looked to have this match won, but they tried one too many time to go to the top rope and Bludgeon Brothers were able to get a blind tag that led to their double team powerbomb for the win.
After the match, we got the video package that has been airing on Smackdown on various weeks, highlighting the arrival of Sanity to the brand. This then led to…
Gallows & Anderson defeated Sanity by DQ
Great to see Sanity on the road, which hopefully means there’s a plan finally to have them debut on TV soon. The crowd reacted favorably to Sanity, so the video package helped and I’m sure there are some NXT fans in the crowd. I also think those that know Sanity, think of them as babyfaces during their last few months in NXT, but as this match would show, it looks like they’ll be heels again on Smackdown. Gallows & Anderson got a great reaction. Alexander Wolfe and Eric Young were the team for Sanity, with Killian Dain on the outside. Decent match. EY was a little late on breaking up a three count when he delivered an elbow drop from the top rope on Anderson, so that took the crowd out a bit. G&A hit the Magic Killer, but Killian came into the ring to cause the DQ and a 3 on 2 onslaught began, which really left no doubt about whether they were heel or faces.
After that match, we got another video package, this time highlighting Andrade Cien Almas & Zelina Vega. This was a really nice touch for a live event. There’s no guarantee everyone has seen NXT or knows that these entities have debuted on the brand, so you give them a package before their match so they don’t come out cold.
Andrade Cien Almas (w/Zelina Vega) defeated Sin Cara
It’s amazing how little Sin Cara is on TV, but he ALWAYS gets a massive reaction at the live events I go to. There’s a good Hispanic community in a lot of these cities around the DFW, so from that perspective it makes sense, but it still amazes me sometimes. These guys look to have good chemistry together, but I can’t help to think it’s a disappointment to have Almas debut and start with this low of a program. The most interesting moment of the match was the curse of Sin Cara striking again and he somehow almost broke both his and Almas’ neck in the same move. He attempted a reverse hurricanrana out of nowhere, and it did not go well, to say the least. The crowd went very quiet as neither man moved for a few seconds. Once both men finally got to their feet, Charles Robinson clearly was asked in his earpiece about the incident and his reaction, while looking back to the agents, was one of sheer relief. Almas eventually hit his Hammerlock DDT for the win.
Six Woman Tag Match
Becky Lynch, Naomi, & Asuka defeated The IIconics and Lana
For those that follow my NXT Spotlight, I’ve been a HUGE fan of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. Being that close to them, especially Peyton, was a real treat. The sound system was a failure all night, and so while The IIconics were trying to get some heat on the Texas crowd, no one could hear them so it all fell flat. The crowd was confused by Lana being on the heel team as she’s been presented as a babyface, and against these two women on top of that. Sometimes it’s just about making numbers work at a live event. Asuka was a rockstar and was able to make Lana tap at the end with the Asuka Lock.
It’s really cool to see how many little girls go to these shows now and idolize these women. There was a girl a row in front of me that had seats by the barricade and when Becky came to her after the match, she gave Becky a hug that she did not want to let go of. Becky gave her a great moment and it’s obvious in situations like this that WWE has done SOMETHING right in terms of the women’s revolution.
United States Title Fatal 5 Way Match
Jeff Hardy defeated The Miz, Samoa Joe, Shelton Benjamin, & Shinsuke Nakamura
It was at this moment that my shoulders sunk and a tear wanted to form in my eye, as when The Miz was the first one to come out for this match, it became quite apparent that the new main event would be Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass instead of The Miz. It was like my own version of the Royal Rumble where I want Daniel Bryan to win and I get Roman Reigns instead. That being said though, this is an insane amount of talent in one match and they did not disappoint. This was match of the night and got the only, “This is awesome!” chant of the evening.
The Miz was spectacular in trying to get Nakamura and Joe to join sides with him, even busting out a little Karate Kid on Nakamura. The appeal of Jeff Hardy is just as strong as it’s always been. There was a group of four boys in front of me, probably older middle schoolers. For lack of a better term, they were losing their shit for anything Jeff did. It was a lot of fun to see their reactions. After a flurry of finishers, Hardy hit the Twist of Fate and Swanton on Miz to retain.
The New Day defeated The Bar
After the standard intermission during a live event, we come back to 2/3 of The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Big E), who were minus Xavier, against The Bar. You would think a match this strong coming out of the break would be really good, but it wasn’t. Very standard, plodding match. The crowd would get into the New Day Rocks chants, but that’s about it. I wonder if The New Day have started to plateau, some would argue it’s been happening for awhile, but it probably didn’t help that they didn’t have all three members and Xavier on the outside to help with the entertainment. Pancakes were tossed and that’s about all I can say on this match.
Smackdown Women’s Title Match
Carmella defeated Charlotte Flair
It’s odd to me that they changed the main event to Daniel vs. Cass to coincide with the angle on TV, but they didn’t change this to Carmella vs. Asuka as well. Seeing how Carmella has struggled as of late, I would think she needs the work with Asuka to try and get some chemistry. Hey, remember during my Backlash preview how much praise I was giving Carmella and I thought she was going to have a breakout match? I just want to thank all of you for not shoving that in my face. Boy, was I wrong. This match was just as clunky as that match was. Thankfully with less commentary from Carmella though. Carmella was able to make Charlotte ram her shoulder into the ring post and then pinned Charlotte with her feet on the ropes.
Daniel Bryan defeated Big Cass
In hindsight, this match and the US Title Match should’ve switched spots. Everyone loves Daniel, but no one cares about Big Cass, thus they didn’t care about this match. It’s one thing when a live event typically favors babyfaces, but it at least gives the appearance that anyone can win. Not one person believed Big Cass would beat Daniel. It was just a bad decision. I wish I would’ve counted how many times Big Cass lifted his arm in the air. You want to play a drinking game? Take a drink every time he puts his arm in the air. You’ll probably go to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.
The crowd was really quiet except when they were cued for YES! chants. After the second attempt for the YES! Lock, Cass finally tapped out. Cass was angered from before the bell rang with something the producers told the ref. As Daniel was coming to the ring, Cass could clearly be seen yelling at the agents behind me, “Say that shit to my face!” and a very directed point and “F— You!” to either Mike Rotunda or Scott Armstong, who were the ones stationed behind me. With the reports on Cass getting heat as of late, I would love to know what this was about. Daniel thanked us for coming and that ended the show.
Despite the change in card, I really enjoyed my time at this show. There’s just something about being that close to the ring that makes things better. Talent worked hard and it was a receptive crowd for the most part. Thanks for taking the time to check this out and I’ll see you guys for the NXT Spotlight!