Lynnette did the job last night, agreeing to watch Cole and Avery so that Madison and I could attend WWW Live at the Blasidell. I don’t profess myself as some kind of relationship guru or master of the love languages, but damn if this kind of sacrifice isn’t the truest form of love. Je t’aime, girl.
New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Baron Corbin – The ring announcer began the night by telling the crowd that the event would feature 3 title matches. This was the first. When New Day was announced, I expected the Usos to follow, but instead got the team of No Heat, Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler, two guys whose names were also generated by my copy of NCAA Football for PS3 a decade ago. Ziggler wasn’t doing any of his sarcastic gimmick stuff and Corbin was just Corbin. As always. The match was choppy and featured way too many swiveling sets of hips for my tastes, but Madison found them hilarious. To the surprise of absolutely no one, New Day retained. After the match University of Hawaii head football coach Nick Rolovich appeared in-ring with New Day to present one of his players with a full scholarship. The set-up could have been better, but it was still a really cool moment. The best bit happened mid-match, though. The crowd started chanting “New Day Rocks!” But the cadence was wrong. People chanted as if they were plainly counting “1-2-3” – evenly and without any kind of inflection. Xavier Woods heard it and made a face like he just caught wind of a nasty fart. He formed his hand into a blade and cut the air with the proper timing “New dayrocks! New dayrocks!” He smiled and gave a thumbs up when the chant corrected itself.
Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper – Neither of these two were featured on the site offering event information, so it was a surprise to see them. It was even more surprising to see them face off against each other considering their history as pals in the Wyatt Family. But it was a mostly entertaining match from bigger dudes. At one point Rowan broke out a spinning kick which elicited a “Where’d you learn that?!” from a guy in the row behind me. Harper also hit a super-plex which would have ranked as the second or third highest spot in the show last July. There were a lot of chops and a lot of beard stroking, but both of them have been off of television for so long, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel about them, let alone process their feud. Harper won, and since I’m here, I’m just going to say it. Everytime I see Luke Harper, I think the same two things: Why is he dressed like Dean Ambrose? and This is what Brodie from Mallrats would look like if he grew a beard 231 times Banky from Chasing Amy then took ‘roids and didn’t bathe for 6 months.
Aiden English vs. Sami Zayn – I was excited to see Zayn for the first time, but English was much more entertaining. Like most of the show, English’s shtick just doesn’t translate over TV. He does this thing where he introduces himself as the “drama king” by singing a cappella. First, they turned his mic volume up so damned high that when he went for the high/loud notes, my ears actually hurt. Second, even though he sings the same song every time, it’s so stupid and irritating that it works. English doesn’t appear as musically-inclined as Elias Samson on Raw, but in my opinion, that’s what makes it work. “I know what painting his pants are supposed to be,” Madison said. “Oh, yeah?” “Yeah! I don’t know what it’s called, but I know it has a building and a starry sky,” she said. Good job, Mad. English spent a bunch of time telling the audience to shut up, but I saw Zayn hit the exploder into the turnbuckles and the helluva kick on English for the win, so that was pretty cool.
Rusev vs. Randy Orton – Before either contestant emerged, the bout was announced as a Last Man Standing Match. There was a pretty big pop when Rusev’s music hit, but it was dwarfed by the screaming for Randy Orton. The match featured kendo sticks, steel chairs, and a folding table, but that’s not why it was my favorite match of the night.
I have personally never found Randy Orton compelling. I’m not sure what his character is – even after all this time – and he always seems to be underperforming with regards to his considerable physical gifts. I realized these are common complaints of Orton, but it always seemed like Orton got a great reaction at live events. I never understood why. For a long time, David Shoemaker and Dave Schilling (two wrestling writers/podcasters) have been saying that Orton’s singular talent/value is his existence as the platonic ideal for what a professional wrestler is supposed to look like. I understood the argument, but I had never experienced it before last night.
When he walked up the steps and lingered on the ring apron outside the ropes, I actually said “Holy shit,” out loud. He’s not physical freak in the way Strowman and Lesnar are. He’s not ripped-to-shreds muscular like Rick Rude or the Ultimate Warrior were. He climbed the ropes before and after his match (which, of course he won with an RKO) to hit his signature pose. And I get it now. The gods stepped down from Olympus and sculpted Randy Orton from a slab of marble, then breathed life (but not the ability to cut solid promos) into him. He looks and feels like a wrestler in a way that AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and even someone like Seth Rollins does not. I say this without hyperbole: it was an almost religious experience, to have an epiphany in the midst of all that emotion.
Naomi, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch vs. Carmella, Tamina, Lana, and Natalya – It was a handicap match inside and outside of the ring because of the presence of the chinless James Ellsworth. The “good” girls brought out Asuka (in a sling) for a nice pop and so they could stand on all four corners when they eventually won.
1. Lana is terrible.
2. Tamina – even as a heel – got a huge ovation. She had family in the audience. She broke out a chee huu! in the middle of the match and every single human in my section – and probably in the arena – gave it right back to her. Great moment.
3. Naomi’s glow/blacklight entrance really is something. Mad was looking forward to it the whole night.
4. Becky lifted her arm to throw her goggles in our direction. I saw it and stood before anyone else did. I got my hands on it, but at the last minute the guy on my right made a move for it. He whacked my hands and sent the goggles into the lap of the woman sitting in front of me who didn’t even notice what was happening until the goggles plopped down on her thigh. So unclutch.
Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles – I figured it was would be these two and I was pretty excited about it. Sadly it was a short match that teased a few high spots, but ultimately didn’t deliver them. I suspect that since both worked pretty hard the night before – Smackdown Live was in Vegas on Tuesday night – they took it easy. I understand, I’m just bummed about it. Styles did hit the Phenomenal Forearm from the ring to the outside, then hit it again for the win. No Styles Clash, no 450, no pop-up power bomb, no 5-star frog splash. If last night Styles had the match with Tye Dillinger he had on Tuesday night, I would have been so stoked. Alas.
Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – Announced as the main event, it was (in my opinion) the worst match of the night. Mahal’s not a great wrestler and Nakamura was obviously protecting himself during the match, so that didn’t make for a particularly compelling physical contest. I was more frustrated with the tropes of a Jinder Mahal match because I’ve been watching them play out in exactly the same way for what feels like 6 months already.
The Singh Brothers came out to herald the Modern-Day Maharaja like they always do. A few guys in my section tried to start a “mahuraja” chant, but it didn’t take. I personally thought the money was with “Maha-raj-raj-raj-raj,” but that’s just me. Anyway, Mahal then cut the same promo he does before every single match, starting with “You people”, moving to a reminder that he’s our WWE champion, then closing by speaking to his people in his language. And then eventually the Singh Brothers interfered in the match which led to a loss for Nakamura. Again, has no one ever watched a single Jinder Mahal match? Because I have watched several. AND THEY’RE ALL EXACTLY THE SAME.
Still, it was a good night. I will probably go every time they return. Besides, it was a great date with Madison that ended at the Mililani Mauka McDonald’s at 11 PM. “So, two McDoubles, a 6-piece McNuggets, and we’ll share a fries?” I said. “Yeah,” Mad said. “And two waters?” I added. “Yeah, we don’t need to stay up any later than this,” she said. True.