This past Saturday the WWE brought their Smackdown brand back to the Knoxville Civic Coliseum for a live event. Through a family connection I was able to get comped third row seats which is the closest I have ever been to the action. I brought my wife Angel with me to catch all the fun and we had a great time. Here is how it all went down.
We arrived about 45 minutes before the start of the show and the place was already starting to fill up. The Knoxville Civic Coliseum has played host to many wrestling events throughout the years from WCW and the WWE to being the home base of Smokey Mountain Wrestling. Usually when the WWE comes to town for RAW or Smackdown TV they go to Thompson-Boling arena on the University of Tennessee campus as it holds about 14,000 more people. However for the live events the smaller Coliseum is much better and it was about 75 percent full as the evening got under way.
Angel is not really a wrestling fan but she really enjoys going to the shows with me. She has been to a live RAW and a local independent show and has had a good time. She does not really know much about the storylines or wrestling logic so hearing her comments all night was great and I will add some of her takes from the show as well.
Dasha Fuentes was the host/ring announcer for the evening. Before the show there was a Twitter poll for fans to vote on which match from the previous Wrestlemania they wanted to see before the show. AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon won easily over Cena/Nikki vs. The Miz/Maryse and Orton vs. Wyatt with over 60 percent of the vote because that was the only good match to chose from. Once the highlights were over and the National Anthem was played, it was time for the show to officially start.
Match 1: Breezango d. The Colóns
Angel thought Breezango were male strippers coming out in police uniforms until I explained that they were the fashion police. I think Angel was disappointed that they would not be ripping off their pants to reveal G-strings. I had to remind her that this was a family show. As for the match it was a pretty straight forward tag match with the Colóns dominating Tyler Breeze before he made the hot tag to Fandango and he won the match with the Falcon Arrow. Breeze did the bit where he was laying prone and about to receive a top rope attack from Epico but rolled to the opposite corner. He did that four times drawing bigger laughs each time. Solid opener.
Match 2: Mojo Rawley d. Aiden English
English came out and did the standard heel bit of trashing the town and talking about how they do not appreciate him as an artist before trying to sing. My wife said he reminded her of a weird theatre guy and that he was as white as Michelangelo’s David. Rawley was his usual hyped self and won a hard fought match with a running forearm smash in the corner. After the match, Aiden called out anyone in the back wanting a win so the crowd could appreciate his art, which brought out…
Match 3: “Sin Cara” d. Aiden English
“Sin Cara” came out in a full smokey grey and orange (University of Tennessee colors) bodysuit and beat English with a senton bomb from the top in about 30 seconds. Angel and I both agreed that it was probably one of the Colón cousins in the bodysuit.
Match 4: Luke Harper d. Erick Rowan
This was hands down the worst match of the night. Both guys plodded along with nothing really of note happening until Harper won with the Discus Clothesline. Angel was pretty much creeped out by both guys.
Match 5: Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn d. Baron Corbin and WWE CHAMPION JINDER MAHAL
Accompanied by the Singh Brothers, WWE CHAMPION JINDER MAHAL came to the ring first and talked about how he was getting such little respect as champion and then spoke punjabi. His promo did get some very solid heel heat from the Knoxville crowd.
Zayn got a very strong pop on his way to the ring but that was immediately surpassed by the pop Nakamura got when his music hit. It was nice to see Nakamura get a strong reception from a crowd that overall might not be as familiar with his work in Japan and NXT as I or other “smart” fans may be. Angel really likes Nakamura and thinks he just oozes charisma.
As for the match, it was another standard tag match with Zayn and Corbin doing much of the heavy lifting. At the beginning, Corbin challenged Zayn to a test of strength and won easily. After seeing the much smaller Zayn get dominated like that, Angel replied, “Nakamura is going to lose because he has an idiot for a partner.” Mahal was in the match very little and seemed to be protected as the Singh Brothers ran interference. Nakamura eventually got the hot tag and cleaned house, hitting Corbin with the Kinshasa and scoring the pin. Definitely the best match of the night.
Once the ring was clear it was time for intermission which was good because it was already 900 and the venue stops selling beer at 915.
Match 6: Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair d. Natalya, Tamina, and Carmella
While there may be booking problems with many in the women’s division, that really did not seem to matter as pretty much every little girl in the building popped for Becky and Charlotte and yelled for much of the match.
It was another standard tag match with Charlotte getting the hot tag and the rollup pin on Natalya after heel miscommunication. Angel being an analytical math Phd was not fond of the match because the teams were uneven.
Match 7: Tye Dillinger d. Dolph Ziggler
Dillinger was booked as the face here but much of the crowd was cheering for Ziggler. I think that was because much of the fan base was not as familiar with the Perfect 10. Angel preferred Dillinger because we wore a speedo and Ziggler had on pink.
This one was definitely the most even match of the night as both guys went back and forth until Dillinger got the pin with a small package after arguing with the referee for too long.
Main Event for the United States Championship: AJ Styles d. Kevin Owens (c) via DQ
Styles had the biggest pop of the night as the Knoxville crowd loves its long haired southern boys. Owens got underneath the crowd’s skin by bailing out of the ring multiple times at the beginning of the match. As a whole the match was good but not great as it got bogged down with too many rest holds by Owens in the middle. In the end Owens got frustrated and hit Styles with a chair to draw the DQ and keep his championship. However, Owens spent too much time on the microphone afterwards which allowed Styles to hit him with the Phenomenal Forearm and Styles Clash to send the crowd home happy. Happy that is until a huge thunderstorm hit the area just as everyone was getting to their cars.
Overall it was a very fun way to spend a Saturday night as the faces won every match and the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves throughout. Angel told me she liked this Live Event better than the RAW show because everything kept moving along instead of having all the breaks for TV, plus besides the main event, all the finishes were clean.
I hope everyone enjoyed my review. See you next time!