By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
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WWE Live Event
Dubuque, Iowa at Five Flags Center
Report by Dot Net reader Clete Campbell
WWE returned to Iowa’s Key City Saturday night in an arena The Miz jokingly calls “smaller than my high school gym.” Smackdown’s final house show for Money In The Bank drew a lively crowd of about 3,000 fans to Five Flags Center, many of whom were drawn in by Daniel Bryan’s first-ever Dubuque match. This is just one of hundreds of house shows on WWE’s calendar this year, but for a small market town of 60,000 people that usually gets a WWE show once a year, it’s our WrestleMania. It’s always cool to have WWE in your town, and Smackdown brought a fun, well-performed show to town that topped anything it’s done on television in the last six months.
1. “The New Day” Big E and Xavier Woods defeated Sheamus and Cesaro.
2. Shelton Benjamin defeated Tye Dillinger.
3. Rusev and Aiden English beat Sanity by DQ.
4. Jeff Hardy defeated The Miz, Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe to retain the United States Championship in a Fatal Four-Way Match. Hardy pinned The Miz with a Twist of Fate to take a comedy-heavy eight-minute match.
5. Andrande “Cien” Almas beat Sin Cara.
6. The Bludgeon Brothers defeated the Usos and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson in a Triple Threat to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.
7. Daniel Bryan beat Big Cass by submission in 15:00.
Top Dubuque Pops
1. Daniel Bryan: The “YES” chants were cranked to 11 tonight. Wrestling a solid 15-minute match with Big Cass that served as a smooth MITB dress rehearsal with Big Cass tapping out to the Yes Lock, Bryan was the rock star attraction of the night. Bryan is WWE’s most popular wrestler of the 21st century and he spent a good 10 minute post-match high-fiving the crowd and signing autographs after the show. Vince, re-sign this man at the AJ-esque pay rate he deserves, then book him against AJ at WrestleMania 35!
2. The New Day: Coming out with a life-size box of Bootio’s and to loud “New Day Rock” chants, Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Wood drew a ton of cheers and moved a ton of merchandise Saturday. When you see the response they create from the fans, you realize why Vince keeps them together, though I can’t help but imagine how good Big E could be if he got a strong singles push.
3. Jeff Hardy: Using a Twist of Fate to put away The Miz in a quick eight-minute Fatal Four-Way Match (understandably executed fast to protect all men for MITB) with Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe, one of WWE’s all-time great baby faces was big time over with the kids in the crowd.
Most Dubuque Heat
1. Big Cass: For all valid complaints about his limited in-ring skill set, Cass did exactly what good heels do: Draw heat from the crowd and make their babyface opponent look like a superstar.
2. Andrande “Cien” Almas: This kid’s future as a heel is brighter than the sun. With Zelina Vega doing a pitch perfect Sensational Sherri impression, they actually had Sin Cara over big with the crowd. This kid could be the Latin Ric Flair.
3. Shinsuke Nakamara: The crowd was split on Shinsuke – who engaged in a hilarious kung fu duel with The Miz during their U.S. Title Fatal Fourway – loving his entrance, but going all Jeff Hardy during the match. The artist put on a charismatic show. As much as I’d love to see creative have him take the belt from AJ Sunday at MITB, all signs point to WWE Creative moving him into a U.S. Title program with Hardy.
Match of the Night: The New Day vs. The Bar: Working like a finely tuned machine, these two teams went an entertaining 15 minutes with plenty of dramatic false finishes.
Biggest Surprise: Would you believe “Boring” Byron Saxton was channeling his inner Rock and was super engaging as the ring announcer?
The Verdict: A fun show (even the ushers in our section were having a good time) with everybody on the card engaged and delivering solid work. You get a new appreciation for how hard these guys work doing 200 shows a year in a 150-plus cities. Sure, I’m biased as a diehard wrestling fan, but there are no more talented, better conditioned athletes on the planet than pro wrestlers.
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