As a kid, I grew up watching WWE on TV. It seems odd for a little girl to love watching the brutal “sport” of wrestling but there was just something about the energy and all the pomp and circumstance of watching the WWE Superstars perform in the ring that just clicked with me. I loved watching the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock and the various personalities of Mick Foley go toe-to-toe against each other in the squared circle. And it has always been my dream to actually see a WWE Live event.
Well, a little girl’s dream came through last Friday as the WWE, after a long hiatus, finally returned to the Philippines and had a live event here!
And I managed to snag some tickets to the event and I got to actually see them perform right in front of me. Well, not exactly in front of me. I wasn’t able to get any ringside tickets because they were incredibly expensive… and already all sold out when I looked! I did manage to get seats close to the ring but they were opposite from the entrance, which, in hindsight, was a bad idea as I couldn’t get a clear look at WWE Superstars ring entrances!
But I did get a good view of all the matches… somewhat. I just couldn’t get any real clear shots of what was happening because of the way the lighting! Oh, I did take pictures but they kinda look terrible, especially if I posted them here. But anyway, let me go review all of the matches that happened when the WWE hit the Manila scene! Oh, and I’m guessing I’ll be very biased since, well, the excitement of being in a WWE Live event will probably have made things more exciting than if I watched them on TV.
Whatever! Here we go!
Match #1: Cesaro vs Sheamus
Have I failed to mention that I’ve been a huge Cesaro fan before? Well, I am! I really wish I brought a stack of Cesaro Section signs with me to distribute to my seatmates but I plum forgot to make them!
Anyway, the Swiss Superman tangled with The Celtic Warrior, Sheamus. It was a fun bout for the most part. There was a good back and forth between the two competitors. Sheamus played up the bad guy role by taunting the crowd often, which really helped getting the audience into the match. I will have to say that I noticed they didn’t do anything exceptional during the match. No second rope suplex from Cesaro. I don’t even remember Sheamus doing the Ten Beats of the Bodhrán. The finish came when Cesaro ducked under Sheamus’ Brogue Kick and comboed the Giant Swing into a Sharpshooter for the submission victory.
The match was a very exciting opening for WWE Live in Manila. It gave the audience a taste of what they were going to get. However, I will say that, if this was on TV, I wouldn’t be all that excited as it was generally a very safe match and nothing exceptional happened. Still, it was a great one to get the crowd hyped up for the rest of the show.
Rating: 7.5 of 10 “You look stupid” chants
Match #2: Goldust vs. Braun Strowman
If this was on Raw, you would expect a squash. Well, this was no different… but this time, the squash happened right in front of me! The Bizarre One did muster some offense during the opening minutes of the match. He even managed to land a cannonball from the ring apron, which was fun to watch.
But, of course, this is Braun Strowman we’re talking about. As much as I loved seeing a WWE Legend like Goldust in action, it was only a matter of time before the former Black Sheep of the Wyatt Family got the upper hand. The huge man ended the match with a modified triangle choke.
Even though I was coming off the high of the (objectively) fantastic Cesaro vs Sheamus match, I could still tell there wasn’t anything to this match and it was just a filler. Still, Braun looked huge and that did impress me. And it was great to see old Goldie in action. Wonder how he got through the match while he was wearing that suit? I mean, it’s incredibly humid here! How did he even manage to stay up for that long?
Rating: 5.0 of 10 cannonballs from the ring apron
Match #3: Neville vs Curtis Axel (with Bo Dallas)
I didn’t even realize the Social Outcasts were still a thing! If that shirt was available, I would’ve bought it!
This was a really good match. Neville was incredibly energetic and Axel and Dallas played the bad guys really well. Like the previous match, it was obvious who was going to come up on top (Neville) but this was just much more fun to watch. The pace was just more fast paced thanks to the high flying offense of Neville and Curtis Axel just couldn’t slow down The Man That Gravity Forgot. I do wish Bo Dallas got more involved in the match and I really hoped he would do the Bo-Lieve run around the ring. I would’ve lost it if they did! The finish came with Neville nailing the Red Arrow on Curtis Axel for the pinfall victory.
I will say I liked this match a whole lot. Neville’s aerial offense was great and all but Axel and Dallas’ comedic and heelish tactics brilliantly tied everything together. Oh, and seeing the Red Arrow in person and seeing Neville contort his body in mid-air is a definite sight to behold!
Rating: 7.0 of 10 Red Arrows!
Match #4: The New Day vs The Shining Stars vs The Club (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson) for RAW Tag Team Championship
New Day Rocks! New Day Rocks! Man, I really wanted to get myself a Booty-Os shirt but they were sold out very early! Even the little unicorn headbands were all gone! And for good reason. The New Day were incredibly over here in the Philippines and it was great to see Kofi Kingston and Big-E take the mic. I did hope that Xavier Woods said something, though. But that’s a minor quibble to a great speech before the match.
The match itself was highly entertaining and something I would be definitely fine with watching on Raw. The Shining Stars and The Club took turns beating up on Xavier Woods. The Shining Stars were mostly there for comedy relief as they tried to team up with Gallows and Anderson by giving them the Too Sweet hand signal. It was also great to see Gallows and Anderson show a lot of versatility as they did switch seamlessly from being the super tough guys you regularly see on TV to being rather buffonish for this match. And, yes, I totally approve!
The finish came with all the teams in a scramble, with everyone getting nailed with hard hitting moves. Eventually, Big-E got a hold of Anderson and The New Day took him out with their double team Big Ending/Midnight Hour for the pinfall victory. This was a very fun match to watch. Even the Shining Stars, which did feel tacked on, were fun to watch. I do wish Kofi, who was at ringside actually got to do something during the match, though. Seeing The New Day cheat and win would’ve made this a perfect match.
Rating: 8.5 of 10… I don’t have a Booty-Os shirt T_T
Match #5: John Cena vs The Big Show
Wow. Very 50/50 audience for John Cena! I swear the “Let’s go, Cena” and the “Cena Sucks” were on the same level! Well, I did notice the fans next to me chanting both of those statements. I wonder if that happens at other Live events.
Anyway, this was a good match as well. Even if you do love chanting “Cena sucks” (which I did exclusively during the WWE Live event), there is something about his John Cena’s work ethic that makes him the go to guy of the WWE. Now, I didn’t really like that he was pitted against The Big Show, but I guess that’s to set him up as the underdog… even if he did beat him like a dozen times before!
The Big Show was the one that actually dominated the majority of the match. It was amazing to see The Big Show get hit by Cena’s flying shoulder tackle and just remain standing! Of course, Cena mounted a comeback… but only after The Big Show attempted a Vader Bomb and the second rope broke!
I actually didn’t like that Cena kicked out of Big Show’s chokeslam and then rallied to get the victory after hitting the Attitude Adjustment. But the rope break was a nice surprise! It did look legit as it came as a complete surprise that the rope broke, which added to the fun. However, Jojo, the ring announcer for the night, did say they were going to have an intermission to “fix the rope” and, by the way, there’s a limited supply of posters signed by John Cena and Roman Reigns now available at the merchandise booths! Really suspicious timing there!
Still, the match was really good, with Cena actually playing the underdog really well. The rope break just added a lot of mystery if it was meant to happen or not. My money’s on it being totally part of the plan.
Rating: 8.0 of 10 Big Show breaks the ropes cause he’s fat?
Match #6: Sasha Banks vs Charlotte for the WWE Women’s Championship
When the WWE announced that Sasha Banks needed time to heal up due to a back injury, my heart sank. Partly because, well, The Boss was injured. But a huge reason why I was disappointed was purely for selfish reasons; that would’ve meant Sasha wouldn’t make it to the Manila show! Thankfully, it looked like The Boss is okay enough to compete!
This was a phenomenal match featuring probably the two of the four best women in-ring performers in the WWE today (the other two are Becky Lynch and Bayley, if you didn’t know). Lots of great back and forth throughout the entire thing and a lot of near falls that really kept everyone in the audience on their toes. There were times when it really looked like Sasha Banks would actually win the Women’s Title. I know the roof of the Mall of Asia arena would’ve blown clear off if that happened! I actually thought that Charlotte tapped out to the Bank Statement… but I guess that wasn’t supposed to happen?
The “real” finish came right after that. Charlotte broke the submission hold by getting to the ropes. The Nature Girl grabbed The Boss and smashed her face into the second turnbuckle. Charlotte then used the ropes to get the leverage needed for the pinfall victory.
It was a totally great match and worthy enough to be on television or even a pay-per-view! It was something I am so happy to actually witness with my own eyes. It would’ve been grand to see Sasha Banks take the gold but that’s just a really very minor nitpick to a totally awesome match.
Rating: 9.0 of 10 feet on the ropes for leverage
Match #7: Roman Reigns vs Chris Jericho
Was this match good? Oh, it was a fun match. But not really because of the actual wrestling. No, it was Jericho that made the entire segment entertaining as all hell! I was hoping Jericho would get on the mic to address the Manila crowd and… wow! Just wow! Listening to Jericho on the mic, playing off the fans as well as using Filipino terminology and lexicon to make him look like a fool really made it for me as well as everyone in attendance!
You could guess that “gago” is a derogatory term. But, just to be precise, “gago” basically means “idiot.”
Pitting him against Roman Reigns was actually a brilliant move as, well, we all know Reigns isn’t all that liked. So having a Superstar like Jericho battle against him was really the only way for this to be a fantastic match. To be fair, Reigns did a adequate job of playing to Jericho’s antics and he was actually really impressive to see live in action. There was actually a lot of good back and forth between the two of them and there wasn’t a dull moment throughout the match. But, let’s be honest, it was Y2J excellent comedic timing and how he played to the local audience’s sensibilities that made this the truly memorable match it was. I’m guessing a couple of years from now, I might forget that Roman Reigns actually faced off against Jericho… but I’ll always remember that opening promo Y2J did for the rest of my life!
As entertaining as Chris Jericho was, it was only a matter of time before Reigns picked up the victory. He won by countering a Jericho rollup and then nailing Y2J with a spear for the pinfall victory. This was probably the match I’m going to remember my entire life and the greatest takeaway from the WWE Live event in Manila. Thanks, Y2J, for making a joyous memory I can take to my grave.
Rating: 9.5 of 10 “Let’s go, gago!” chants
Match #8: Sami Zayn vs Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owens for the WWE Universal Championship
We finally come to the night’s main event! And it just so happens to feature three guys that actually makes me want to watch Raw! Fun fact: all of these guys started off on NXT!
The match was spectacular! This was a match that was on par with some of the ones I would see on Raw. You got Seth Rollins diving through the ring ropes and into his opponent. You have Sami Zayn jumping over the top rope and into his opponents. You have Kevin Owens mugging it for the crowd and taunting them when they started chanting “Fight, Owens! Fight!” The chemistry between all three was palpable and all three did do most of their signature stuff. I don’t remember Zayn doing the suicide dive through the corner turnbuckles. I could be wrong but, if I’m not, that’s the only thing they didn’t do. Still, it was a spectacular match!
The finish came when Zayn attempted to connect with the Helluva Kick on Owens and Rollins at the same time but KO avoided the attack but Seth got clocked by Zayn’s kick. Owens then tossed Zayn into the ropes and nailed the pop-up power bomb for the pinfall victory. While the match ended there, it still wasn’t over! Owens attempted to add injury to injury to an unconscious Zayn but Rollins leaped in with a springboard knee strike. This gave Zayn enough time to hit Owens with a Helluva Kick and Rollins connected with a Pedigree on Owens for the exclamation point!
Really awesome match! This was incredibly exciting and it was amazing to see all three doing the stuff I would normally see on TV live in front of my eyes! The closing was great as it ended the show with everyone happy for the good guys even though they lost.
Rating: 9.0 of 10 “I’m Crossfit Jesus!” yells
Overall rating for WWE Live in Manila:
Do I really have to spell it out? Yes, I had an incredible time watching some of my favorite WWE wrestlers go at it in the Mall of Asia arena! I may have spent a lot of money to get some lousy (because I couldn’t see the entrances) and primo (because I was incredibly close to the action) but it was money well spent!
I seriously hope the WWE decide to return to the Philippines soon I’ll be poorer once again but I’ll be an incredibly happy pauper!
Rating: 8.5 of 10 “This is awesome” chants
Did you see WWE Live in Manila? How did you enjoy the show? Let me know in the comments section below!