By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dot Net reader Chris Vetter attended the WWE Smackdown event in Minneapolis, Minnesota at Target Center on Friday and passed along the following report.
The pre-show started at 6:40 CT. I will estimate the crowd at 7,000. The lower level was sold out all the way around; I remember some WCW Nitros where seats on the hard camera side were open. Even the section that had the hard camera was full except for just a few seats around the camera. The upper deck across from the hard camera was full to the top, but they didn’t sell any upper deck seats at the ends of the upper deck, or upper deck behind the hard camera. So, I’m estimating 6,000 lower deck and 1,000 upper deck.
Odyssey Jones defeated Austin Theory in 4:37 in a pre-show dark match. They packed a lot of offense into this short match. Theory ran and leapt at Jones; Odyssey lowered his shoulder and sent Theory FLYING backward, and that got a huge pop. Jones won it with a second-rope frogsplash. Theory did the bulk of the work, but Jones held up his end of the match. It’s easy to look at Jones as a young Mark Henry, especially with that African-style ring gear that looks like it was used in the Nation of Domination.
Aaliyah defeated Indi Hartwell in 5:27. The crowd was quiet at first, but the wrestlers really got the fans into it during the final two minutes. The biggest problem is that Indi isn’t really a heel; she’s a love-struck ditzy girl. Aaliyah wrestled as the babyface, but maybe Indi needed to pull hair or something to establish that she was the heel. That said, it was a fine match. Aaliyah hit a DDT out of nowhere to end it.
Before we went live, the crowd was already doing alternating “Let’s go Cena,” and “Cena SUCKS” chant.
-Jimmy Uso and Rey Mysterio did one long, boring, continuous rest-hold during the commercial break that took place during their match.
-After the Rey vs. Uso match, Pat MacAfee stood up for a “MacAfee Minute.” He ran down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and made comments about Lake Minnetonka. He made fun of Michael Cole. A REALLY good way to kill a minute during a commercial break.
-After the Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair segment, as soon as they went to commercial, Sami Zayn ran out. He complained about conspiracies and how he wasn’t scheduled to be on TV tonight. He bashed all the Minnesota sports teams. He got in the ring. Kevin Owens ran out. Zayn charged at him and missed with a clothesline. Owens turned, kicked him in the gut, hit the Stunner, and the crowd cheered. Zayn scampered to the back. The whole segment lasted maybe two or three minutes, entirely finishing before we returned from the commercial break.
-It’s worth noting they did not announce Chad Gable as being from Minnesota. The crowd popped for Reggie’s leap into the ring, but otherwise they weren’t interested.
-At the next commercial break, they showed a video clip of a Steve Austin and Randy Orton interview. They played a quick “word association” with Austin mentioning a name. The only interesting reply was when Austin said “Ricochet,” and Orton replied, “Excellent, but he’s missing something. I’d like to teach him” or something to that effect. Intriguing, and another really good way to kill time on a commercial break.
-The crowd loved the contract signing segment. it doesn’t matter how nonsensical it was. I LOVED Roman Reigns trying to start a fight between John Cena and Finn Balor.
-The six-man with Big E, Cesaro, and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Apollo Crews, Robert Roode, and Dolph Ziggler had good action. I presume they went to a commercial break, even though it was under 7 minutes long. It felt like everyone was reasonably over.
-There was a MASSIVE pop for Edge. Easily largest of the night.
-Everyone, and I do mean everyone, saw the Sasha Banks heel turn coming. It was fine. Sasha left the ring first, and as Bianca Belair made it to the top of the ramp. John Cena’s music hit, so people didn’t automatically leave, thinking the show was over. Cena tipped his head at Bianca as he passed her, and he ran to the ring. He posed a long time before his partners, then his opponents, came out.
John Cena, Rey Mysterio, and Dominik Mysterio defeated Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso at 8:01. The first six minutes was entirely the Usos vs. the Mysterios; Reigns was in the ring for a couple stomps in the corner for just a few seconds.
Cena finally got the hot tag at 6:00 sharp, and the final two minutes were a sprint. Cena cleared the ring and got Reigns on his shoulders, but he ate a superkick before he could drop Reigns. There was a ref bump. The Mysterios hit simultaneous 619s on the Usos on the same side of the ring. Reigns got back up and hit everyone with Superman Punches. Cena flipped Reigns to the floor, hits his FU/Attitude Adjustment on one of the Usos, and the ref rolled back in the ring and counted the pin. As noted, final two minutes was well-done sprint. The babyfaces shook hands at ringside, and the show ended at 9:15 CT.
Final Thoughts: Despite the eye-rolling of the contract signing segment, I can’t stress how over everyone was. The crowd groaned somewhat at Carmella, largely because her feud with Bianca has played out. The crowd didn’t care for Reggie beyond his flip into the ring. But seriously, everyone else was on. Heck, even down-on-his-luck Baron Corbin worked for me.
The only disappointments was the lack of in-ring action, as the first 80 minutes of TV time had just two matches that totaled less than ten minutes of ring time. I would have liked to have seen Nox, Shotzi, and Toni Storm, but it was a good, satisfying show.
We are looking for reports from the WWE Supershow events in Milwaukee and Detroit, Monday’s WWE Raw in Chicago, and AEW Dynamite in Jacksonville along with all WWE, AEW, ROH, Impact Wrestling, and MLW events. If you are going to an upcoming show and want to help, email me at email@example.com