TheWrestlingTimes.com By - Kent Jones
Oh how the mighty have fallen... "Big" Andy Leavine was collecting ticket stubs at the door tonight, and the saddest part may be that only a small amount of the people who entered took the time to acknowledge him. I did stop for a conversation with Andy. I asked, "Big Andy, why aren't you out there in the main event tonight?" to which he replied "Well that's exactly what I told the boss! Things happen, you know?" Andy was definitely a very humble guy and I can tell he's learned form his mistakes and is eager to get back in the ring to do his thing. Now, onto the meet and greet!
Present at the meet & greet were:
- Kaitlyn: I didn't get to spend much time with her, but she seemed happy to get to talk to fans. When asked by a group of guys where they can see her, she plugged NXT considering she is rarely on Smackdown.
- Cristina and Ariane from TE: They were greeting fans who approached the tables and handed out materials for the wrestlers to sign.
- Jinder Mahal: Jinder is a nice, soft-spoken guy when out of character, which I was a bit taken aback by considering his great on-air demeanor, but he happily posed and conversed with fans.
- Brodus Clay: Brodus is simply an awesome dude to talk to. We asked him about the incident at Extreme Rules when he hit a pretty nasty gusher during the World Hvt. Title ladder match. He said that he and Christian were joking around before the show while planning a spot, about how such a small stepladder could believably play a part in a ladder match. Ironically, it was the same little ladder that caused him to require 32 stitches in his head. Apparently the whole rung of the ladder cut into his skin. He said that it was only once Del Rio got thrown out of the ring and landed on him that he saw the puddles of blood on the floor and thought, "Holy s---, somebody got cut up pretty bad." Referee Rod Zapata was standing behind us. Pointing over his shoulder, Brodus said (paraphrased) "This guy would not leave me alone and kept saying 'let's get you to the back right now!' while I wanted to keep going." I asked Brodus when he's finally going to be back on TV. He said the plan is two more weeks of vignettes until he makes his re-debut, apparently to appear on both brands.
- Trent Barreta: He honestly seemed like he just did not want to be there. He sat slouched in his hair, obnoxiously chewed gum with his mouth open, and texted under the table as if he were at school. Who is he, Johnny Ace?
- Ricardo Rodriguez: He seemed a little introverted, so I didn't talk to him much, but he happily signed a replica belt.
- Mason Ryan: Say what you will about his in-ring ability, but Ryan is seriously such a nice, humble guy to talk to. We chatted about him being from Cardiff, and me being from near Quensferry, Wales, and talked about our favorite places in the area. The man is HUGE, too, which goes without saying.
- C.M. Punk: Such a chilled human being and the kind of guy you just want to hang out with. He talked for a while with each fan and signed lots of items and took a good deal of photos
The show eventually got underway at around 7:50 p.m. rather than the advertised 7:30 p.m. to compensate for the over-run on the meet & greet. As far as attendance goes, every seat in the house was full.
(1) Abraham Washington beat Brad Maddox with the "In Yo' Face!" Elbow Drop in around 5:00. Brad has this awesome gimmick in which he obnoxiously screams the name of whatever move he is in the process of executing on his opponent. As the tide of the match turned, Washington began to mock Maddox as he whaled out each of his spots. Eventually, Abe bent down towards Brad in a "Five Knuckle Shuffle" manner, but shouted "In Yo' Face!" instead, and proceeded to hit a standing elbow drop, which was good for the victory. I feel as though Washington is very cookie-cutter and doesn't bring much to the table. WWE already has the likes of the Five Knuckle Shuffle, The A-bomb, and The People's Elbow. In Yo' Face is just another annoying rendition thereof.
(2) Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley) beat Yuko Takazoa almost instantaneously. Yuko is a feisty, little fella, and a total walking disaster. He sprinted down the ramp, turned left towards the steps, and ended up flying through the ringside barrier into the first row. Upon finally entering the ring, he attempted some semblance of a jump to the top rope and ended up getting himself caught up in the turnbuckles and fell. Ambrose couldn't hold back his laughter. This was pretty much a squash. Ambrose is such a fantastic heel. After the match, Ambrose hollered "I've got something to say!," took the mic, and this happened:
A very tense, enjoyable exchange between both men and a Norman Smiley appearance. Thus, C.M. Punk vs. Ambrose was set for the main event.
(3) The Ascension (Tito Colon & Conor O'Brian w/Kenneth Cameron) beat FCW tag champions C.J. Parker & Donnie Marlow (w/Leakee) in 10:00. Parker is always fun to watch, as he made a few awesome outside dives, but other than that and The Ascension's very attractive female manager, it was pretty unspectacular.
(4) Aksana beat A.J. in 7:00. Aksana has become really good. I couldn't tell from my view, but it appears that she has taken on Naomi from NXT3 as her manager doing her "Queen of FCW" gimmick. Better Divas match than anything I have seen on TV in a long, long time. Why? Because they gave them time.
(5) Percy Watson beat Big E. Langston in 8:00. Now that Percy has finally dropped all the bright colors, tassels, and his "OH YEAH!" catchphrase, I'm finding it so much easier to get into him and take him seriously. Langston played the comedic heel really well. At one point during the match, he singled out a group of kids in the crowd and ordered them to sit down. Despite his gimmick, his ring work needs some improvement.
(6) Damien Sandow beat Seth Rollins (Tyler Black) and Brodus Clay in a triple-threat match in 12:00. This was such a fun match. Brodus was really over with the FCW audience in Kissimmee and is a total monster in the ring. Rollins resembles a young C.M. Punk, and that's working for him. However... Damien Sandow is a GENIUS. He comes out to the ring wearing this ridiculous robe, which reveals, when it is taken off, bright pink tights and purple pads and boots. The catchphrase at the moment is "I am not a Diva!" while he paces the ring, flapping his wrists. The crowd chanted "You're a Diva!" throughout. On paper it sounds stupid, but the man is just so funny and backs it up in the ring big time.
(7) Trent Barreta & Briley Pierce (Little Ziggler) beat Antonio Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli) & Rick Victor in 7:00. Claudio & Rick executed a formulaic double-team beat down routine quite well during the match-up. Barreta's offense provided for some fun bumps and spills. It was exciting while it lasted.
(8) C.M. Punk beat Dean Ambrose in 25:00. I'm not embellishing or exaggerating. I've been going to WWE events across the country for years now, and this is one of the best matches I have ever seen live. Punk and Ambrose just work together so well it's unbelievable. I can't wait for Dean to be called up to the main roster (which is inevitably happening soon, after not only getting booked with Punk in the first place, but giving the performance that he did) so that these two can feud. I filmed the last 10 minutes of the match and Punk's promo that followed.