photo credit: O2 Arena
The WWE, a divider of opinions, some see it as an over the top soap with jacked up gents who have way too much muscle mass grabbing each other and over acting at any possibility. Well ok, yeah its kinda is but to those of us that love a bit of rough and tumble with a whole heap of over the top acting and spectacle the WWE will always be our home and fight to defend it tooth and nail.
So arriving at my first WWE event ever and this is an unofficial review from a fan point of view that has loved this entertainment and company for 25 years now since I was a little lad watching the one and only Phenom entering the ring to defeat Hulk Hogan way back in 91. Approaching the O2 arena with a sea of wrestling t-shirts littering the tube entrance all the way to the large arena was a welcome site. With the promise of high octane action and larger than life characters the air was buzzing with excitement for WWE's 2nd brand.
The show opened promptly at 7pm with Main Event with a highlight in particular a tag team match between quite frankly giants even from the seats way up in the gods you could see their facial features as if they were sitting next to you, but anyway I digress, Kane and The Big Show team up to take on two members of the Wyatt family, a sluggish match certainly ensued but considering the size of these gents you'd hardly expect a high flying free for all now. Kane and Big Show picked the win nicely and was certainly one of the main highlights of tonight's entertainment.
The Pyro exploded to announce the start of Smackdown and its stars including the likes of Chris Jericho, AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose. The first bout to kick off Smackdown was a David vs. Goliath encounter between the massive Ryback and Calisto whose style is very much of the Mexican ilk, so lots of jumping, twists and turns were on show. Yet, Ryback pretty much dominated proceedings to pick up a very predictable win.
AJ Styles was very prominent on this evening card due to the AJ vs Roman Reigns storyline pushed a little further before Payback event, as he was on hand for Miz TV as well as a dark match after the cameras were turned off.
Another highlight of the night was again another Tag matchup this time in the women’s division between Naomi and Tamina against Paige (a home hero) combining with Natalya with the latter pair picking up the win, finishing with double sharpshooters that certainly for Natalya is a family tradition being part of the legendary Hart foundation.
A personal highlight was seeing Shane McMahon to which he came out to a superb ovation to help the Miz investigate the interference of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson on the matchup between the above pairing in which AJ picked up the win fall.
Now there were other matches on tonight’s card yet as a lifelong WWE fan it very underwhelming, now this could certainly have been the no show of the Undertaker which was advertised a few months prior but rumour had it that he was suffer health issues and at his age and lifelong excellence who are we to comment, yet it would have been at least decent of the WWE to replace it with something memorable.
The event also showcased why the WWE is lacking that certain magic that is really only felt at Wrestlemania’s, which was certainly addressed many years ago with more aggressive content, better character development and the right pushing of superstars like The Rock or Stone Cold. Yet at present the whole thing felt very safe, too safe in fact and far to under developed. I don’t remember Stone Cold cussing too extensively or that radically yet it was entertaining and you tuned in every time. Current stars just do not seem as developed or allowed to develop as they once were, gone are the days that a wrestler can really pick up and develop their characters and it’s the instant hits that the WWE wants, that cash in the bank from word go and personally it shows.
So what does the WWE need to do about this?
Well firstly as a fan I do not know the full extent of what the WWE does on a day to day basis but from all accounts it’s highly thought through and worked to precision like accuracy. Yet, currently this could the issue, the machine like production of elements of the company that should be more organic and less constrained. Perhaps the WWE needs to leave the PG era as this is really damaging the product for the older audience, contributing to the overtly safe nature of the programme.
Final point, the WWE needs competition. Since the days of the Monday Night War conclusion the WWE’s lack of creativity has certainly been well documented and perhaps that’s really what we all need, we need competition to push us, to drive us and to experiment in new and creative ways and simply and without a doubt nothing is out there to catch Vince’s machine.