Detailed report for last night's WWE live event in Ontario: Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt, Bryan, more
Thanks to WrestlingINC.com reader Brian Reed-Baiotto for sending in this report for last night's WWE live event at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California:
The arena was about 60% full, including most of the top level. For those not local, Ontario is about 45 minutes east of the Staples Center, where Monday Night Raw will air from tonight.
First match saw Dolph Ziggler, who got a huge pop take on Luke Harper, and despite the enormous difference in size, the match got "this is awesome" chants throughout. Ziggler and Harper both traded several near-falls before Ziggler finished off Harper with the pin. I haven't been to a house show in nearly a decade and it was interesting to see how much more freedom the superstars have to show off their personalities as opposed to the strict time constrictions of a live or taped show. Harper did several in-ring, in-match poses mocking Ziggler and the crowd, which you never see on Raw/Smackdown from him.
The second match saw NXT wrestlers Finn Balor taking on Tyler Breeze. Breeze came out first and kept fixing his hair and checking his face to make sure he looked "gorgeous," before cutting a pretty good promo about how good looking he is and picking up heat. Balor came out and after a pretty short back-and-forth, Balor pinned Breeze and got a decent pop.
Following the match, Bray Wyatt did an anti-Reigns segment on a pretty small screens within the arena. You get spoiled at the live shows to see everything on the Titantron.
Lillian Garcia told the crowd it was up to them as to whether the next match, a Diva's division bout would be a 1-on-1 contest or a 6-woman tag team match. According to the screen, the crowd picked a 6-way by an 85-15% margin. First out was Cameron, Summer Rae and NXT women's champ, Sasha Banks to a pretty solid reaction. Next out was Emma, Naomi and Nattie, who received a very positive response, especially Natalia.
After a pretty short give-and-take battle, Nattie picked up the victory with the sharpshooter and posed for pictures with ringside fans.
The WWE promoted the first-ever "Warrior's Award" and did the video package of Connor "The Crusher" Michalek, who tragically passed away last year after a battle with cancer. The entire crowd was both loud in its applause for Connor, but also sad seeing his beautiful face and knowing he lived just 8 years. Lillian Garcia asked all the fans to text a $5 donation to the Children's cancer fund.
The Miz came out with Damien Mizdow, and as usual, the Miz was booed and Mizdow was roundly cheered. Miz did a promo about how all the people in the Inland Empire (Ontario) were "Los Angeles wannabe's," and how tonight, being at the show is the best it will ever be for them (us), but for him, he's a Hollywood star. It received decent heat.
Then Jimmy Uso came out to a nice pop, but honestly, the match was more comical than athletic. The match stopped a couple times so Miz and Uso could see who could do "the worm" and other dance moves better. Miz danced so poorly that Mizdow, who was seated on a chair, tried really hard to cover his face and not get noticed he was laughing at Miz. Uso pinned the Miz in arguably the least "athletic" match of the night after a kick to the chest. After the bout, the Miz took off and Mizdow and Uso danced in the ring in the fashion of Uso's father, and soon-to-be Hall of Famer, Rikishi.
Bray Wyatt came out and the entire arena had their cell phone lights on and gave Wyatt a solid mix of heel/face reactions. Roman Reigns came down the north side of the arena and through the crowd, despite having very little security. Reigns seemed to be currying favor with the fans as he shook hands and even took a pic with a fan before jumping over the gate and into the ring. Both Wyatt and Reigns missed some spots or were trying not to do anything remotely dangerous with just a week remaining until the biggest matches of their lives/careers. In the end, the match got better and Reigns speared Wyatt for the pin. Reigns had just countered the "Sister Abigail" from Wyatt.
After two hours of wrestling, the WWE took an intermission in the hopes of selling more merchandise.
The first match after the break was Curtis Axel and Heath Slater vs Los Matadores. Axel did his "Axelmania" spiel and the crowd seemed to like it. This match had much in common with the Miz/Uso match in that there was a lot of Naked Gun-type humor in that Axel didn't realize he was slamming Slater's arm into the corner rope and was high-fiving El Torito as he thought he was injuring one of the Los Matadores. In the end, after a sub-par match, Axel was pinned.
The second to last match featured Bad News Barrett vs Seth Rollins for the IC title. BNB came out with the belt and got on the mic and said many weren't sure who the real IC champ was and that he would prove tonight he was that champion. Both Barrett and Ambrose traded shots but the match ended on a DQ when Barrett kicked Ambrose "below the belt." Ambrose got up after a minute or two holding his groin area and laid the dirty deeds on Barrett before leaving ringside angry. He took off his shirt and tossed it into the stands for a fan.
The main event: Kane vs Daniel Bryan in a Street Fight. Those not having been inside the CBA in Ontario and not knowing how small the arena is, we all got to see the incredible size difference between Bryan and Kane so clearly, but Bryan was so good and Kane did his part in not making it seem like it was a factor. Bryan came out to, without question, the biggest pop of the night. Bryan and Kane used a kendo stick, chairs and a table. Kane slammed Bryan through the table and got a 2-count. Kane grabbed a chair and went to finish him off, but Bryan countered the would-be chair shot with a knee through the chair that hit Kane in the face for the pin. They had just had the same match the night before in Anaheim at the Honda Center.
Side notes from the show:
* Lillian Garcia got the crowd pumped with her beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
* Many people throughout the concourse before the match and during intermission were overheard discussing the tragedy in Mexico over the weekend in which a wrestler passed away in a match with Ray Misterio Jr.
* Almost all of the guys/gals, as expected were more cut up than usual because of WM being just seven days away. Bad News Barrett was especially ripped and proudly showed off his abs.
*Last but not least: There was a large female security guard for the Citizens Bank Arena who continually made it hard for the WWE superstars to interact with the crowd. On a number of occasions, she stopped wrestlers from taking pics with fans' cell phones and signing autographs. Most notably, this woman, who looked like Shirley Hemphill from "What's Happening," stood in between Roman Reigns and fans after he won his match when Reigns was trying to sign autographs and take pics. Reigns was visibly frustrated and tried to laugh through it and continue being friendly to the fans. But those not near ringside continually commented on how many times she didn't allow these wrestlers to make that connection with the fans. Ziggler, Nattie, Naomi, Jimmy Uso and Daniel Bryan went out of their way to high-five, hug, sign autographs and take pics w/fans until this lady would interrupt.
On a scale of 1-10, the action was about an 8 and the fans' reactions were about a 9.