On Friday the Ice Queen was like "Hey, I just got an email that there is a WWE Live show coming to Florence." Florence is about an hour and a half from me, and tickets were not very expensive. My son over the past six months has become nearly obsessed with WWE. I was a huge fan through the Attitude Era and beyond, but the last time I went to a live show it was WWF, and the only match I remember was D-Lo vs. Jeff Jarrett if that tells you anything.
AJ Styles was set to take on Sami Zayn in a cage, and AJ Styles is my son's current favorite so it seemed like a no-brainer to take him.
The show was fun. Overall, the work rate was very low. I know it's not televised but the matches were mostly rest holds, one or two spots and lots of talking shit to the crowd. No one was laying their shit in like they do on TV, punches and kicks were a mile away, people were lowering themselves gently to the mat... It was really glaringly obvious to me. My son didn't care though he had a blast. The selling was very dramatic too. They were flopping and squirming more than they do on television.
I will say it was fun to see the superstars kind of cut loose a little. They were breaking character and fucking with the refs, a few spent a LONG time high-fiving and taking pictures with fans along the aisle.
Another interesting observation is the sheer number of people around me in the audience who had no fucking clue who anyone was or what was going on. And I heard more than one person that honestly believed a tooth came out when one guy did the spit-my-gum-high-in-the-air gimmick.
The New Day vs. Aiden English and Rusev.
The place went nuts for New Day and they came out really amped up. They were doing a lot of dance moves they don't do on TV. Kofi was twerking, Big E was being even more lascivious than he usually is with his... ahem... gyrating. My son kept saying, "Ugh... that's inappropriate." He's eight. It's funny. Kofi stopped Rusev and tried to get him to twerk. Rusev pretended like he was going to but then roundhouse kicked Kofi instead. After New Day won, Kofi took a really long time stopping and taking pictures with fans, signing things and high-fiving everyone up and down both sides of the aisle. It was really impressive.
Tye Dillenger vs. some fucking guy (I think his name was Mike Marinelli)
Tye Dillenger stomped out some jobber, did lots of pandering to the audience with the 10, 10, 10 thing... I don't really like Tye Dillenger, but then again I don't watch NXT so I never got into him.
3-way Tag Match: The Ascension vs. The Colons vs. The Bludgeon Brothers
The Bludgeon Brothers came out last, without their hammers. I guess they don't like to carry them around and someone from the TV crew carries them. This match got botched when one of the guys from the Ascension didn't kick out. The ref called for the bell, no music hit and then Luke Harper kind of tried to continue the match. He tried to grab one of the Colons and pull him into the ring, but the Colon hooked his leg onto the rope and held on, but also pretended to be unconscious... Harper started pulling off all the covers off the tensioners for the turnbuckle (not the turnbuckle pad they always pull off, but a little sleeve behind it). Then he hit a big sitout powerbomb on a Colon and sat there like he was trying to pin him. Charles Robinson was shrugging like "dude, wtf." Then their music hit, he pulled a couple more covers off and they left. It was weird.
Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
Total snoozefest. Shitty match. Nakamura is not that interesting to me... sorry fanboys. His weird dancing thing is too over the top. He challenged Baron Corbin to a Michael Jackson dance contest mid match... and Baron Corbin participated. It was bizarro. The match sucked. Nakamura won.
Jinder Mahal vs. Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode got a nice size pop. People like yelling Glorious. The match kinda sucked. They did start with the test of strength though and actually completed it. There was some fuckery from the one little Bollywood Boy that Jinder brought with him. Lots of rest holds. Bobby Roode is in excellent shape though... that guy is thick, solid, tight.
20 minute Intermission
3 on 4 Handicap: Naomi, Becky Lynch and Charlotte vs. Natalya, Tamina, Lana and Carmella
Naomi's entrance and crowd interaction is awesome. She looked like she was genuinely having a good time. This is Flair country so the place went nuts for Charlotte. Besides the main event, this was the best match. The girls worked much harder than the men. They were clearly giving Lana some practice working. Becky Lynch and Carmella had a really funny comedy spot where she sort of rolled her around in a pinning combination over and over and over until they got dizzy, with Carmella screaming the entire time. Flair finished Natalya with the Figure 8 in the center of the ring. Naomi touched nearly every single fan at ringside, up both sides of the aisle and when she got up to the top of the ramp, jumped off and got the fans around the corner, up near the production booth. She also managed to find time to grab Charles Robinson and jump up and down with him. She's awesome.
Usos vs. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable
Big pop for the Usos, massive heat for Benjamin and Gable. I was surprised, considering that Benjamin is relatively local, though maybe lots of people don't know that. This watch was decent, there was one really good spot, where Shelton Benjamin hit a jumping knee from the floor on an Uso who was IN THE RING but leaning between the ropes, which led to Chad Gable rolling him backward into a pinning combination but just rolled through again nto a bridging german suplex. Shelton is very powerful. He snapped an Uso up for a powerbomb and the Usos butt didn't even touch Shelton's chest on the way up. Usos win with a splash. They took lots of pictures with fans.
Styles vs. Zayn in a steel cage
This was not a very special steel cage match... the work was alright, but compared to the rest of the night this match was great. Sami hit a HUMONGOUS sit out powerbomb on Styles. The thing that impressed the shit out of me is AJ's athleticism. This guy is insanely talented. He hit his moonsault to inverted DDT from the corner. It looked like Sami was too close, but he landed it picture perfect. Sami launched AJ over his head at one point and AJ landed like a cat on the rope and tried to scramble up the cage. The finish was AJ climbing over the top and Sami climbing out the door at the same time. AJ's leg got legit caught in a cable at the top of the cage and the guy very expertly got his leg untangled and kicked the door into Sami, knocking him back into the ring, then dropped to the floor.
We didn't stick around after that because traffic is a nightmare in and out of that place, so my son and I sprinted to the car. Overall it was worth the price of admission and the trip, simply because my son got to see his first show and he loved it.