By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
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WWE Live Event
Minneapolis, Minnesota at Target Center
Report by Dot Net’s Jason Powell
1. The Usos defeated Sheamus & Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev (w/Lana) to retain the Smackdown Tag Titles. Unfortunately, I missed most of the opener. Lana was wearing a walking boot or some type of leg brace.
Jeff Hardy made his entrance. Samoa Joe attacked him from behind.
2. Mandy Rose defeated Naomi. Rose got the win with her feet on the ropes.
The Miz hosted a Miz TV segment with Andrade and Zelina Vega. Miz paid tribute to Rick Rude’s entrance, which he had done before in Minneapolis. As a babyface, he changed the words to praise the fans. The segment led to a match between the two.
3. The Miz pinned Andrade (w/Zelina Vega). Zelina was ejected for interfering in the match. Miz hit his Skull Crushing Finale for the win. Miz continued his Roode tribute by doing a hip swivel on the stage afterward.
4. Jeff Hardy defeated Samoa Joe. Hardy hit a Twist of Fate and followed up with a running splash for the win. He’s no longer performing the Swanton at house shows. Jeff could use something better than the running splash as a finisher, but it’s smart to save him the wear and tear of doing the Swanton a few nights a week. Hardy went above and beyond while greeting fans after the match.
5. Daniel Bryan (w/Rowan) defeated Mustafa Ali to retain the WWE Championship. No explanation was offered for Ali replacing AJ Styles in the advertised WWE Championship. It was still a pleasant surprise to see Ali back after his injury layoff. Bryan stalled to the point that I thought he was doing a Larry Zbyszko tribute. He did have some fun over the house mic by taking a jab at the Vikings. Fans responded with a “Seahawks suck” chant. Bryan took the mic again and told the fans that the Seahawks do not suck. There was a really good near fall that ring announcer Greg Hamilton aided by leaping up from his seat at ringside with the belt in hand as if he thought he was on the verge of announcing a new WWE Champion. Nice touch. Hamilton did a nice job overall.
6. Nikki Cross and Carmella defeated “The Iiconics” Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. It was announced as a handicap match with Cross flying solo, but Carmella’s music played to a nice pop and she became Cross’s tag partner. There was a hilarious dance break with Carmella doing her usual dance while Cross jumped up and down while doing a “dance” that was fitting of her character. Carmella scored the pin for her team.
7. AJ Styles defeated Randy Orton. Orton hit an RKO, but Styles put his feet on the ropes. AJ set up for a Phenomenal Forearm. Orton was waiting and held his arms up for an RKO attempt, but Styles head faked him and then hit the Phenomenal Forearm for the win. The fans liked both men and Orton didn’t make any attempt to turn the fans against him. There were a lot of fan chants for the RKO.
8. Asuka defeated Charlotte Flair to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship. It was strange to see a champion who appears so infrequently on television these days in the main event slot. There were some fans who left after the Styles vs. Orton match, but most stuck around. Fans still love to wooo. Anyway, there was awkward interference by Mandy Rose. The referee stood and watched Rose get physical with Asuka, but there wasn’t even a tease of a disqualification. It felt like something that should have been laid out to occur while the referee was distracted or even bumped. Charlotte went for a top rope moonsault. Asuka put her knees up. Charlotte made a very safe landing before being placed in the Asuka Lock and losing via submission.
Powell’s Notes: The lower bowl of the arena was nearly full and no upper deck tickets were sold. It seemed like a good turnout for a house show these days. The crew mostly played it very safe in terms of the in-ring work. It’s a smart style to work on live events, but there was a noticeable difference between the in-ring quality of this show compared to the far more entertaining NXT live event that was held in St. Paul back in December. It is crazy to me that Smackdown features two of the company’s hottest acts in Becky Lynch and Kofi Kingston and yet neither one appeared on this event. Sure, Lynch is selling a suspension, but a simple run-in would have been a crowd pleasing moment, though she was not advertised. New Day was advertised and did not appear. Most of the babyfaces were good about slapping hands, signing autographs, and posing for selfies with fans at ringside and along the entrance aisle. No return date was announced.
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