As mentioned in a previous column, I recently introduced my 8-year-old to the PG-rated world of WWE sports entertainment.A couple of weeks ago, WWE invaded Halifax, Nova Scotia for their first live event in the area in over four years. Needless to say, the city was pumped.
The show was scheduled to start at 7:30pm and all seats were assigned, yet the line-up started around 6 o’clock. By the time my son and I had arrived at 6:45pm, the line has extended out the parking lot of the Halifax Forum, around the corner, and down the street. I took a couple of pictures with my phone to document (as best I could).
Here’s a more apt way of describing the line: it was half a kilometer long (0.3 miles). As soon as we got in, we noticed that the line was slowly moving…so for as much as we would move up, the line would continue to form behind us. It was insane…so much that the crowds were still filing in when the show officially started.
The Forum was sold out on Saturday night with an attendance figure of well over 6,000 people (they could have very easily sold out the 10,000-seat Scotiabank Centre, but the venue was already preoccupied). Once inside, the hoards of people trying to get snacks or merchandise were huge (the merch table, especially, was busy all night). My son and I thought about trying both, but decided to his our seats first so we didn’t miss the beginning of the show.
The extremely gorgeous Eden Stiles (aka Brandi Runnels aka Mrs. Stardust) kicked things off on the mic to welcome everyone to #WWEHalifax. I mentioned this on Twitter (and Eden RT’d it…heh), but I think she’s been doing a phenomenal job as announcer lately. Her delivery is spot on; her emphasize on certain words is perfect; and her ability to speak and interact with the live audience without having to stutter or stammer or be awkward was welcomed by the capacity crowd. Plus…she’s super hot. Did I mention that yet?
The first match saw the Lucha Dragons & Fandango take on Los Matadores (with El Torito) & Adam Rose (with Rosa Mendes). I’ll be the first to admit, when Fandango’s music hit first I totally popped. I had the fingers going and then quickly realized that he was being booed. I was surprised…hadn’t these people realized that he had turned babyface?? Ugh…silly live events.
The Lucha Dragons got a pretty good pop and my son was super happy to see them. He thinks Kalisto is incredible, and I tend to agree. Give him some time and he’ll be the second coming of Rey Mysterio. Seriously. He may never be WWE World champion, but he can be an upper card main event player who sells a TON of merch if he can stay healthy long enough.
Despite being “heel-ish”, Los Matadores got a decent pop when they came out…but the kids were all there to see El Torito. WWE even uploaded a Vine of their entrance.
Then came Adam Rose to loud boos. Again…I sat there and cheered because I am a huge fan of Rose and think WWE can do a TON with him. Rose Mendes came out to join him and we were ready to kick things off.
The match itself as fun. One thing I noticed was that the lucha action was really slowed down. My guess is simply because they want to be careful out there. On television, with HD cameras everywhere, you need to go full speed so people don’t think you’re just going through the motions. Kalisto looked great, but Sin Cara #2 was really sluggish. It’s weird, maybe it’s because he’s completely doing a WWE-style but it seems to be that he’s phoning it in every chance he gets. For a guy his size doing the moves he does, you would expect him to be lighter on his feet. I suppose, though…the original Sin Cara was sloppy because (a) he went too fast and (b) the people he was wrestling weren’t familiar with his style.
The next match, for me anyway, was the bathroom break match.
Stardust came out first, which was pretty cool to see. The crowd popped for him and you could tell he was having fun with everybody. He did a little teasing with his wife Eden inside the ring before grabbing the microphone and stating, “I really don’t want to be here tonight.” Out came R-Truth to “save the day” as my son and I immediately stood up to grab some concessions and a t-shirt (sorry, Truth… “What’s up?” was us…from our seats). We got back with fries, pop, and a Roman Reigns t-shirt just as the next match was about to begin (Truth apparently won with a roll-up or something – you can see for yourself here).
I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to see the Divas wrestle. I mean, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been the biggest Diva fan over the past few years. What Sara Del Ray has done with the division, though, is nothing short of miraculous. With AJ Lee gone, Paige is the only “real” worker on the main roster next to Natalya. Thankfully, Natalya is from Canada so she got a pretty big pop. She came out with Emma, who people were polite towards. She trained in Canada but her character has been so ill-defined by WWE Creative that people had literally no idea who she was or what her character was all about.
They took on the team of Summer Rae and Cameron. I’ll give these two ladies credit: they have come a LONG way in a couple of years. Cameron isn’t PPV-worthy by a long shot, but she did a decent job of slowing things down and heeling it up for the crowd, who was pretty hot for this match.
(I hope at some point that someone told her that she was going to SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick; not ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland. #WWESaintJohn)
Next up was, without question, the match of the night. It was deemed as a “Halifax Street Fight” between Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler. As the match started, the “You look stupid” chants started, as well. I’ll be honest…I really like his new look. It’s unique and bad-ass. Sheamus got on the mic to exclaim that he did not look stupid before walking away in disgust.
Ziggler went after him and the match was one.
There were three big spots in this match. The first was Sheamus delivering a White Noise to Ziggler in the corner through a table. We ALL thought it was over after that, so imagine the pop of the crowd when Ziggler kicked out (it was big!). A few minutes later, there were two chairs lying on top of another table inside the ring. Sheamus went to deliver a powerbomb, but Ziggler reversed it into a Fame-asser that broke the table. ANOTHER 2-count and the crowd was chanting “THIS IS AWESOME!” for the second time in the night.
The final spot came when Ziggler reversed a whip by Sheamus into the corner. A chair had been placed there earlier so Sheamus hit it head (shoulder?) first. A quick superkick and Zig Zag later, and the crowd was exhausted and ready for intermission.
Curtis Axel made his way to the ring to grab the mic and tell everyone to hurry up and get back to their seats to see him. He went on about being in the Royal Rumble for over 100 days and said that “Halif-AXEL” was going to rock tonight (or some variation on the theme). Much to my dismay, Zack Ryder woo-woo’d his way to the ring to quell whatever positive heat Axel had gotten for himself. People wanted to boo someone but didn’t feel enough one way or the other about either one of these guys. If Axel had battled agsinst a heel, he would have been over big-time as a babyface in Halifax. Sometimes you wonder why the bookers don’t call an audible en route to the ring and tell Ryder to “heel it up” or something. By the end, the crowd didn’t care that Ryder won and it was the quietest people were the entire night.
Jack Swagger hit the stage next to do his one-trick-pony-show of “We the people!” After that, people didn’t know what to do with the guy. They DID know what to do with Kane, as he made his way out to a massive pop.
Let’s be honest here…this wasn’t a “here’s good guy Kane” type of pop. It was a “we respect the hell out of this 20+ year legend” type of pop. From that point on, Swagger was verbally abused by the crowd. They wanted Kane to win and when he hit his chokeslam, they went nuts for it. And even though Kane is 48 and didn’t acknowledge people at all during his match, he still sold the Patriot Lock all the way to the back…so he still has old-school selling tendencies.
The main event of the night was Roman Reigns taking on Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Title.
As Reigns’ music hit, the spotlights went all over the arena and people were breaking their necks trying to figure out where he was going to come from. He eventually emerged from the main stage, but received the biggest pop of the night…without question.
Were there boos? Absolutely…but the majority of responses were positive from the kids and the women in the crowd (sound familiar?). He made his way to the ring and did some posing before the music of Seth Rollins hit. I don’t remember the last time I was at a live event where I heard that many boos for one man. Without a shadow of a doubt, Seth Rollins was THE most over performer at #WWEHalifax the entire evening. And it wasn’t just “go away” heat, either. I mean, people HATED this guy.
Eden did a pre-match introduction so it really felt like an “actual title match”. My son was stoked and a lot of the crowd were excited. There is just something a little different about having a title match in your city. 99.99% of the time nothing is going to happen. But you just never know…
So Rollins did a ton of stalling at the beginning of the match, which led to even more heat. He didn’t have to do much, though…just raise his arms in the air and yell out, “I’m the man!” and then soak in the boos.
While this match didn’t have the intensity of the Ziggler/Sheamus match, it was still a really good back-n-forth between two incredible all-around performers. Say what you want about Roman Reigns and his lack of in-ring ability, the guy is much improved and can probably out-wrestle your local indy champion.
In fact, while in the line-up for popcorn I had a guy behind me say that Roman Reigns sucked and couldn’t do anything. I turned around and said, “He’s improved by leaps and bounds over last year”. The guy responded with, “Well…he’s got more than Cena’s 5 moves.”
People…the number of moves that you know doesn’t make you any better or worse of a wrestler. You can know all of the moves in the world and still end up with nothing of a career. Reigns (and Cena and Hulk Hogan before them) doesn’t know a hundred moves but he can still entertain like crazy. At the end of the day, that’s ALL that matters. Moves can only take you so far in this business.
ANYWAY (rant over)…the match was very entertaining. My son actually thought that Reigns had won the WWE title when he covered Reigns late in the match. The only problem is that the referee was bumped so there was no one there to make the official 3-count. Kane came out for a distraction.
My son yelled out, “BEHIND YOU!!! ROMAN!!!” even though we were up in the bleachers. He didn’t want Kane to interfere, but he did. The referee came to just as Rollins delivered his new dropdown-DDT finisher for the 3-count.
As people began to get up and walk out, I noticed that things weren’t quite over yet in the ring. In fact, Rollins was berating Kane and telling him to keep kicking Reigns while he was down. Unfortunately for Rollins, he shoved Kane too much. One chokeslam later and the crowd was going nuts. Kane left and Rollins slowly got to his feet, only to turn around and eat a spear by Reigns. The crowd popped big, Reigns hit all four corners as his music played, and that’s how we ended the show.
All in all, this was a very entertaining show. For me, personally, I think I’d rather see a PPV or RAW or even my local indy show, just because the wrestling action is a bit faster-paced and a bit more hard-hitting.
My son, though, loved every second of it. To see wrestling through the eyes of a child is almost like a reset button for me. I now sit back and re-think my opinions of Los Matadores while wondering if R-Truth still has a place in the upper mid-card (ANSWER: he doesn’t).
No internet. No Twitter. No complaining. No whining. No “this is how it should’ve been booked” arguments from smarks. I was able to enjoy wrestling for what it was meant to do initially: entertain.