Two weeks ago, I attended my second house show. This one took place in Springfield, Illinois. I've been to a RAW in St. Louis (2011), and I went to my first live event this past June in Bloomington, Illinois. I'm going to start off by saying that I actually prefer the house shows over TV tapings. Why? Because there is more fan interaction, and timing is not a big issue.
CM Punk and Rob Van Dam were the two sellers of this event. My father, brother, and I arrived to the arena about a half-hour before the show started. Our seats were a lot closer to the ring and the entrance ramp than I expected. Tom Phillips, an NXT commentator welcomed us to the show. There was a National Guard swear-in before the first match took place. Damien Sandow made his way to the ring with a lot of boos, followed by Santino Marella who had a nice pop.
Santino Marella def. Damien Sandow - by pinfall
Sandow cut a promo on his way out, and he concluded by saying "You're Welcome!". This prompted Santino to grab a mic and say "We didn't say thank you!". This wasn't a spectacular match by any means, but I thought it was a good way to the start the show. Sandow's briefcase looked smaller in real life, and he had it handcuffed to the post as normal. Santino won with the cobra.
This next match was being voted on by the fans. Naomi and Cameron were going to fight AJ Lee and Layla in a tag team match or a dance-off. I voted for the match, just so I could see AJ and Naomi work in person.
Naomi and Cameron def. Diva's Champion AJ Lee and Layla - by pinfall (tag team match)
I was quite shocked to hear the pop AJ received as she was entering. Fine work by all four for the most part. There was a botch where Cameron tried to hop over Layla, and Cameron didn't jump high enough or their timing was off as Layla ended up running into her groin. Naomi roundhouse-kicked AJ for the finish.
I had read on Twitter right before I left for Springfield that Sami Zayn was going to be in town, and I could not contain my excitement. The guy is fantastic in NXT, and I was so glad to see him in person.
Sami Zayn def. Jack Swagger
Swagger cut a promo beforehand about being a real American. Zayn entered to a very little pop because hardly anyone knew who he was. I joined in the "Ole" chants that occurred twice during the match. We didn't get to see as much high-flying action from him as usual, but we did witness some wicked counters.
Rob Van Dam def. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio by DQ
This was the only title that was defended. Del Rio controlled a big portion of the match until RVD came back to hit all of his signatures. The DQ finish came when RVD was setting up for the Frog Splash, and Del Rio stuck him with the World title. Van Dam beat Alberto down and connected with the splash before celebrating with the belt. A lot of people around me thought RVD won the title, and I had to explain to them it was a DQ finish.
Ryback def. Zack Ryder - by pinfall
I was glad to see Ryder was added to the card about a week before the event. And, if you haven't seen Ryback up close.... he is huge! Ryback dominated most of the match, and Ryder had some offense that included a roll-up nearfall. The sad thing out of this match, is that the adults behind me didn't even know who Ryder was! But, I'm not surprised. Ryback won after hitting Shell Shock.
The Wyatt Family def. Kofi Kingston and The Uso's - by pinfall
The Uso's and Kofi had decent pops on there way to the ring (separately). I found it interesting that The Uso's did their battle cry chant thing into a microphone, which is different than on television. The Wyatt Family sent shivers down my spine on their way out. Harper and Rowan are really tall, too. Bray spent the first few minutes in his rocking chair while Luke and Erick fought. Wyatt finally came in after The Uso's and Kofi were getting the upper hand. It was a nice drawn-out match that ended when Wyatt hit Sister Abigail on Kingston.
Now, it was time for the advertised match-up: Curtis Axel vs. CM Punk in a No DQ Intercontinental Championship match. To be honest, I spent every penny to see Punk. I've been a huge fan for some time, and I hadn't seen him live since 2011.
CM Punk def. Curtis Axel - by pinfall in a No Disqualification Match
Axel entered first. He said a few words before brining out a "surprise". He brought out Paul Heyman in a wheel chair. Heyman said due to Axel's contract, that he does not and will not defend the belt tonight. Punk made his way to the ring with the biggest pop of the night. With the no disqualification stipulation, kendo sticks and chairs were used. There were lots of 'We want tables!" chants in the first few minutes. The match ran for about 20 minutes, and there was a lot of good back-and-forth action. At one point, Punk went up for the elbow drop, and Heyman jumped out of his wheel chair to knock him down. The match ended with Punk knocking a kendo stick out of Axel's hand, and delivering the Go To Sleep.
Ryback ran out after the match, and Axel joined him in beating Punk down. Kofi Kingston's music hit to make the save. Kofi and Punk took both out, and the trio fled from the ring. To end the brawl, Punk hit Axel with a Stone Cold Stunner! Punk motioned for someone to hand him a drink, and mocked Stone Cold Steve Austin. He ended up receiving a water, and he splashed it all over the crowd. Stone Cold's music played for thirty seconds which had the crowd wondering if the legend would appear. Punk and Kofi high-fived everyone at ringside before exiting.
We stood outside for a half-hour watching Cameron, Layla, Santino, Sandow, Erick Rowan, Bray Wyatt, Ryback, and Kofi Kingston leaving the building. We all stuck around for Punk, but already sneaked out. Great show, with lots of great action. I will be saving my money for some shows next year!
(My view of the ring)