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AJ STYLES VS. 'FREE AGENT' JOHN CENA VS. JINDER MAHAL, RUSEV DAY, AND MORE: 12/30 WWE IN TAMPA REPORT AND THOUGHTS

By Richard Trionfo on 2017-12-31 01:08:00

On Saturday night, the Smackdown brand of WWE had their final show of 2017 at the Amelie Arena.  Here is what happened.

Before the show started, Kayla Braxton warmed up the crowd by talking about the WWE Holiday Tour and some of the people who are going to be on the show.  She also pointed out and mentioned some of the signs in the crowd as well as mentioning some of the tweets about the show that were shown on the scoreboard above the ring.  Kayla also asked a few of the children in the crowd who they were looking forward to seeing.  After a clip about the WWE Statistic book, she gave a family a copy of the book as well as front row tickets.

After a series of video clips the show ‘officially’ started with Daniel Bryan on the TitanTron welcoming everyone to the show.

Match Number One:  The Usos successfully defended the Smackdown Tag Team Titles in a Four Way Match against The New Day, Rusev and Aiden English, and Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable when Jimmy Uso pinned Chad Gable with a frog splash.

Match Number Two:  Mojo Rawley defeated Zack Ryder with a running forearm.  Before the match started, Zack cut a promo on Rawley calling Mojo the most annoying person he has ever met and after teaming with him for so long, he wanted to punch Mojo, which he did before the match started.

Match Number Three:  Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan (with Ruby Riott) defeated Naomi and Becky Lynch when Logan rolled up Naomi after Ruby’s interference led to Naomi being distracted.

Match Number Four:  Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Bobby Roode defeated Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owens when Randy Orton pinned Sami Zayn after an RKO.

They had a brief intermission.

Match Number Five:  The Bludgeon Brothers defeated Breezango when Harper pinned Fandango after an assisted sit out power bomb. 

Before the match, Fandango and Breeze were on the video screen talking about losing to the Bludgeon Brothers last night and Fandango commented that his spleen was dislocated.  The Ascension show up and give Fandango and Breeze a pep talk.

Match Number Six:  Charlotte Flair successfully defended the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a Four Way Match against Tamina Snuka (with Lana), Carmella (with briefcase), and Natalya when Charlotte forced Natalya to tap out to the bridging Figure Four Leg Lock.

Match Number Seven:  AJ Styles successfully defended the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat Match against John Cena and Jinder Mahal (with The Singh Brothers) when Styles pinned Mahal after a Phenomenal Forearm.  Prior to the Phenomenal Forearm, Mahal send Cena through a table propped up in the corner.

After the match, AJ Styles got on the mic and he said that they saved the best for the last show of the Holiday tour and thanks everyone for coming.

Thoughts on Show:

The top level of the arena was tarped off but the lower bowl and floor was full.  They opened up seating in the club level as well and it was full.

The doors were opened earlier than announced so Kayla Braxton started her ‘hard sell’ for the show around 6:45 and she did a great job to keep the crowd involved leading into the start of the show.

Just like the summer house show that I attended, they started off with a pre-recorded Daniel Bryan video (not certain if it was the same video)

Also like the summer house show, they started off with the Fatal Four Way Tag Title Match and had three of the same teams, with Rusev and Aiden English replacing the Hype Bros.  I thought this was the best match of the show and featured a number of things that you do not normally see in a televised match.  They did the dueling dancing bit between the New Day and Usos, but then they escalated it to levels not seen on television, and even had a brief cameo from Shelton Benjamin.  Kofi’s performance got musical accompaniment from Xavier and Big E doing his thing on the apron.

Also during the match, Gable, Benjamin, Rusev, and English rotated making tags to try to work over Kofi.  The Usos hit a lot of super kicks during the match including double super kicks and super kicks to people coming off the turnbuckles.  Early in the match, Gable tried to get Kofi into the match and when Kofi tagged in, Gable tagged out.

In the opening tag match, three of the teams were super over with very audible Rusev Day chants, New Day chants, and chants for the Usos.

Aiden English had his own TitanTron graphic when he came out to introduce himself and Rusev.  Aiden cut a brief promo where he mentioned that he was in the United States Title Tournament.

The New Day team for this show was Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods.

The six man tag match was mostly Corbin for the heels until the end when Zayn took the pin.

After the six man tag match, Nakamura, Orton, and Roode signed autographs and took photos with the people in the front row at ringside and along the ramp.

I hope the next time that the Smackdown brand is in Tampa, they let Luke Harper do more than a minute or two of action in front of the crowd.  At the summer show, he had a brief match with Mike Kanellis.  The Breezango/Bludgeon Brothers was about the same length as their match at Clash of Champions.

Since multi-person matches are No Disqualification, I don’t know why the referee tried to stop Carmella from using the briefcase or why neither of the women who were not going to be hit by the briefcase would stop Carmella.  If she uses the case, you throw her out of the ring and pin the person hit and you are the new champion. 

There was a lot of interference by the Singh Brothers during the main event and after Cena hit an Attitude Adjustment on Mahal, they pulled the referee out of the ring before the three count could be made.  Cena was the one who brought the table into the ring and he was the one put through the table at the end of the match.

The children behind me during the main event were extremely loud and into the match.

While there were a few ‘Cena sucks’ chants, the crowd was clearly pro Cena.

I thought that after the opening match, the rest of the show had a ‘house show’ feel to it.  However, the crowd was there to have fun and they did.

In 2017, I was able to attend both a Raw taping and two Smackdown house shows in Tampa and I definitely had more fun at the house shows.  The format of the house shows does not allow for long commercial breaks that take away from the momentum of the product.  If you are apprehensive about attending a house show because it is not a television taping, you should definitely consider attending the show.

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