I attended the WWE SmackDown 15 taping in Philadelphia, PA this week with my niece (Hi Alyssa) and brother-in-law. Rather than give you the typical spoiler rundown of the results, I thought it would be more interesting to give you some quick takeaways from the big anniversary event.
[adinserter block=”1″]One thing I should note before I get into the takeaways and news from Tuesday’s taping is that this was the first WWE live event I have attended in 15 years. Ironically the last event was a SmackDown taping in Trenton, NJ. Needless to say the presentation is entirely different as we are talking Attitude Era vs. PG era WWE. So with that in mind, here are my five takeaways from the big anniversary event.
So that was an anniversary show? – I have to admit I got pretty excited when news broke that the Tuesday taping was going to be presented as the 15th anniversary event. I look back at the big RAW milestone shows and they were always full of surprises and big matches. I expected the same Tuesday, especially with 15 years to celebrate. What I got instead was nothing more than an ordinary SmackDown show with some very minor surprise.
The “celebration” was disappointing. I expected much more. The biggest surprises were the returns of Teddy Long and John Laurinitus. That was it! Sure, you got The Rock in a tremendous taped segment with Triple H but that was the extent of it. Expenses were certainly mitigated here as the WWE didn’t even bring Hulk Hogan back for the event. I think I’ll temper expectations for future anniversary events.
Strange timing for a NHB Ladder Match at Hell in a Cell. – In case you missed it, a stipulation was added to the John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose at Hell in a Cell. The match will not only be a No Holds Barred Match, but it will also be a ladder match as the winner must grab a contract to wrestle Seth Rollins which will hung above the ring. This screams of a lack of creativity from the WWE. It is very reminiscent of WCW and TNA when they’d just throw stipulation matches around with little reason or regard for future booking.
The stipulation would be fine if not for two important factors. The first factor being that it will take place on Hell in a Cell. Isn’t the HIAC enough to draw viewers to the $9.99 WWE Network? The second and most important factor is that the next special event is Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. Why in the world would you book this the month before you are trying to sell an entire show based on that very same concept? Overall it just seems like a case of poor planning to me.
Dolph Ziggler is a machine! – I walked into the show as Ziggler was wrestling Bo Dallas. I think we can all agree that Bo is nothing special in the ring. I am sure he is a nice guy but he isn’t what I’d call a Blue Chipper or standout. Yet Dolph made this kid look like a million bucks. Dolph worked like a maniac throughout the match, running and bumping like he was working the WrestleMania main-event. I have always been a fan but seeing him live gave me more of an appreciation for how talented he really is. I don’t know what this guy did to get on the boss’ wrong side but he deserves a lot more than what he has gotten the last year.
Why in the world is The Rock hanging out with Triple H? – I don’t want to spoil too much but The Rock taped a segment which will air on SmackDown in which he walks into Triple H’s dressing room to reminisce with the Game. The segment is one of the best I have seen on WWE television in months, and credit goes to both men for that. Rock and Triple H argue a bit about their past rivalry and then start pontificating about a future WrestleMania match. The segment ends with Stephanie walking back in the dressing room, calming them down, and then sending them both off to eat dinner together. In the words of Steve Austin, “What?”!
This goes back to a blog I wrote several weeks ago about the WWE wanting it both ways with Stephanie and Hunter. One minute they are the dastardly authority figures screwing with John Cena and Dean Ambrose and the very next night they are going to dinner with arguably the most popular star in the WWE. That makes zero sense to me! Additionally, why would a character like The Rock be going to dinner with the guy cheating the fans and screwing the heroes? As great as this segment was and it was tremendous it made zero sense to me.
[adinserter block=”2″]Dean Ambrose is the future WrestleMania headliner, not Roman Reigns. – The WWE really have something with Dean Ambrose. As much as we all hate the idea of someone losing their spot due to injury, the timing of Roman Reigns’ injury is the opportunity that Ambrose needed. The fans in Philadelphia just loved him and he was far and away the most popular wrestler of the night.
I think it is becoming more evident by the week that it is Ambrose, not Reigns who should be the future of this company. He certainly isn’t the prototypical WWE superstar that Vince and Triple H would choose to be the face of their company. However, he has something that no other babyface has had in years. He is authentic and he is someone the fans can relate to. Even CM Punk as popular as he was in 2011 lacked the authenticity that Ambrose has. Quite frankly I never expected the jeans look to work for the guy but what it has done is make him something of a common man. There is a lot of Stone Cold Steve Austin in Dean Ambrose and that is something the company has not had in many years.
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