Sports Entertainment Review: "WWE Super Showdown" (2018)
WWE has a ten-foot hard-on for these overseas “PPV” events, and who can really blame them? The crowds are generally hot, the gate is huge, and the press is monstrous. It’s smart business. You can say what you will about Vince McMahon, but you can’t call him stupid. Making money is what he does. While it may not be the be all end all in the bigger picture, it’s a winning formula in the wrestling biz.
Here we are at the beginning of October of 2018, and the giant of sports entertainment (truth be told, I still prefer the term PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING) takes us to Melbourne, Australia in the Melbourne Cricket Grounds. The announced gate was 70,039 for attendance. That’s nuts. Having been part of the 67,925 at Wrestlemania X7 (at the old Astrodome in Houston, TX) and part of the 101,763 at Wrestlemania 32 (at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX), I can tell you that’s a legit crowd. Aussie crowds are pretty rowdy, and this show was no exception.
Let’s get down with the results:
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day (Champions) vs. The Bar (Challengers): The New Day are, for my money, still the best 3-man group since the Fabulous Freebirds and highly organic in their bizarre popularity. Their shtick shouldn’t work, and yet it does. They opted for the “Speed Force” combo of Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston for this one. Sheamus and Cesaro are another stellar tag team, and this was a great match to start off with. It was nothing out of the ordinary, but it was solid on every level. Know your opener must be a mantra in the biz. Winners and STILL Smackdown Tag Team Champions: The New Day
Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Becky Lynch (Champion) vs. Charlotte Flair (Challenger): The heel turn of Becky Lynch has been a very interesting thing to watch. It’s fan-driven and natural; Becky is a ludicrously hard-working competitor akin to Dusty Rhodes in his day. When you get over as a heel it’s a thing of beauty. The fans see this and have let WWE know. Kudos to Vince and company for responding in the appropriate historical fashion. Let’s face it- Charlotte WILL have about a zillion more title reigns. Becky has earned her time in the sun. This one gets the “of course” nod to the classic cheat to lose finish by Becky…there’s another 3 or 4 matches to be milked out of this rivalry yet. Winner by DQ: Charlotte Flair; STILL Smackdown Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch
Bobby Lashley and John Cena vs. Elias and Kevin Owens: Entertainment value only here, y’all. Cena hasn’t been on TV in months, and this one was all about his one off appearance. They built to the proverbial hot tag, and Cena finished it off in quick fashion. Totally predictable. Bobby Lashley is still the best looking (physically), most boring guy (charismatically) in the ring today. Elias and Owens are a great pairing and should be utilized much, much more. Side note: John Cena looks incredible in his leaner shape (that hair, though!), but if I had to hear Cole mention him training with Jackie Chan one more fucking time I was going to need a new TV. Please shut the fuck up, Cole. Winners: Bobby Lashley and John Cena
The IIconics (Peyton Royce and Billie Kay) vs. Asuka and Naomi: What can you say? The crowd was hot for the Aussie duo, and it goes to show the power of the “hometown” advantage. They’re super obnoxious, but it’s growing on me. This match also showed the criminal wasting of Asuka. What are you doing with her, WWE? She’s a top-tier talent being squandered in mid-card hell. The IIconics are a classic, by the book heel team in the vein of the Andersons (minus the technical skill). Winners: The IIconics (Peyton Royce and Billie Kay)
WWE Title Match - No DQ, No Count Out, There Must Be a Winner: AJ Styles (Champion) vs. Samoa Joe (Challenger): I can’t lie. I was kind of disappointed in this one. Granted, these two guys know each other very well and are always sound. I wanted something extra in this match, though, and what we got was the same general spots in a match that probably ends the rivalry. I didn’t really think that Joe would be the one to end AJ’s impressive (and much deserved) WWE Title run, but it would make for a hell of shake up. Oh well. Winner and STILL WWE Champion: AJ Styles
The Riott Squad vs. The Bella Twins and Raw Women’s Chamion Ronda Rousey: I didn’t expect much except Ronda dominating, and I wasn’t disappointed in that respect. The new “Rowdy One” is developing bit by bit, but I’ve never been a fan of utterly dominant wrestlers (I’m talking to you, Goldberg)…the shit is just fucking boring. Sorry, folks. The truth hurts. Pairing dominance with the Bella Twins is a snoozer for me; I literally fell asleep and had to backtrack and force myself to watch. I feel bad for the Riott Squad, a group of talented and hardworking ladies with real potential. Winners: The Bella Twins and Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey
WWE Cruiserweight Title Match: Cedric Alexander (Champion) vs. Buddy Murphy (Challenger): Damn it’s nice to say that the Cruiserweight Title match stole the show tonight! That crowd was red hot for the Aussie. Murphy is a perfect fit in the Cruiserweight Division (i.e. not quite “big enough” for the main roster but killer at the 205-lb. and under weight). There were enough (but not too many) false finishes and retarded athleticism on display. Is it crazy to say it was the match of the night? A little….but it was close. Winner and NEW WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Buddy Murphy
The Shield vs. Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre: This was a pure Raw storyline match in regards to The Shield. Will Ambrose ditch the other Hounds? Can they remain brothers? I don’t have any beef with storyline matches, but it’s designed so that you barely notice the uber-talented McIntyre and Ziggler. Strowman needs to freshen up the character a bit, but he’s still money. My God, will Reigns ever not be hated? That’s a rhetorical question. I’m very cool with stretching out this drama a bit longer, though. Ambrose is a wellspring of untapped dollar signs and a natural storyteller. Winners: The Shield
#1 Contenders Match for the WWE Title: The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan: It’s kind of funny how the rivalry with the most compelling and smooth build has become a little stagnant. It’s also kind of a shame, as The Miz is the best heel going today for WWE. I digress, though: Daniel Bryan is THE man of the people. You can’t argue his popularity, and I believe he will be the one to finally dethrone The Phenomenal One. I was surprised at the very quick (and classic) schoolboy finish. Winner and NEW #1 Contender for the WWE Title at WWE Crown Jewel PPV: Daniel Bryan
No DQ Match: Triple H (with Shawn Michaels) vs. The Undertaker (with Kane): A last minute change to No DQ status (per Triple H) told you everything you need to know about this one, and I mean that in the best way possible. This was Version 1 of The Bald Brothers vs. The Brothers of Destruction. It warms my heart to see the old gladiators of the Attitude Era still balling out like this. Sure, they’re a step slower now, but don’t question their heart. We got chairs, tables, and sledgehammers. Refs were knocked out. There was Sweet Chin Music aplenty. The Game finally got the monkey off of his back with generous help from the GOAT. You had to love the genuineness of the post-match show of respect…before the Brothers of Destruction decimated DX and set up an in-ring return for The Showstopper. I can’t wait! Winner: Triple H
There was more definitely more storyline development than you would expect out of a specialty overseas PPV. It won’t go down as an epic show, but it was worth it for that “Last Time Ever” match and the show-stealing Cruiserweight Title change.