The McKenzie Arena was about 2/3 full. Lots of kids, but a very fun crowd. All of the superstars came to put on an amazing show, and they did just that. This live event was easily the best non TV/PPV I've ever been to.
Before the show started, it sounded like they had an Ultimate Warrior tribute on the big screen. I unfortunately was outside waiting on my friend to get there, so I'm not completely sure. After the video, the National Anthem played and it was time to start.
1. Sheamus vs Titus O'Neil. I missed this match, but others in the arena said it wasn't anything to talk about.
2. Goludst beat Fandango (with Layla) . I finally got to my seat (3rd row ringside!) just in time for this match to start. Layla looked amazing, but I do miss the chemistry between Fandango and Summer Rae. I first saw Goldust wrestle Psycho Sid in 1996. How is it possible that he looks in better shape now than 18 years ago? Anyway, solid back and forth match with Goldust hitting his twisting suplex (great technical term, I know) for the win.
3. Natalya beat Alicia Fox. Apparently, before I got into the arena, there was a vote for either a Diva's Dance-Off or a wrestling match. Thank God the Diva's match won out, although some people booed the results. I guess some wanted to see the ladies dance. Stay classy, Chattanooga. Alicia Fox was one of the biggest surprises of the show for me. She showed an attitude I had never seen out of her on TV. She was fantastic. Another solid match. Nattie won with the Sharpshooter.
After the match, Nattie went around ringside and took pictures, slapped hands, and signed autographs for fans. I thought that was pretty cool of her to do. She instantly became my favorite diva. (She also follows me on twitter now that I posted a picture of her from the event. That might have tipped the scales in her favor, too)
4. Cesaro defeated Dolph Ziggler. Oh. My. God. What an amazing match. By far the match of the night, and quite possibly the best match I've ever seen live. These two guys went full tilt like it was WrestleMania. They both hit their signature spots (Ziggler: Jumping DDT, Fame-Asser. Cesaro: Superplex from the 2nd rope while Ziggler was on the apron, throwing someone into the air and upper cutting them). After several false finishes, Cesaro nails an 18 revolution Cesaro Swing and then the Neutralizer for the win. Seriously, unbelievable match. My hats off to both guys. I pray this becomes a feud for a major title one day.
5. The Usos defeated Curtis Axel and Ryback to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship. The Usos are WAY over. At the start of the match, Jimmy threw his shirt out right beside me. It was headed towards a little kid, but obviously there was six or seven pairs of adult hands trying to grab it as well. Once we realized there was a child around, we all backed off and the kid got it. He immediately put it on and was on cloud nine the rest of the night. Pretty cool moment.
Jimmy was happy the kid got it, too. Curtis Axel immediately jumped on the apron and yelled, "It's just a stupid shirt!". He then teased throwing his shirt into the audience. He wound up giving it to Ryback, who immediately yelled, "RYBACK RULES". Funny. After Ryback threw the shirt down, Jey grabbed the shirt, gave it to Jimmy, and Jimmy threw it into the crowd.
Ryback is a killer heel. He had that crowd hating him and he was constantly jawing with them through the whole match. One thing to note: you could really hear Ryback calling spots in the ring. Granted, I was third row ringside, but I still thought it was crazy how he just didn't seem to care whether we knew or not. Again, another solid match. Usos won with the Superfly splash to Axel.
Cody Rhodes' wife was the ring announcer all night. After the tag match, she pimped some merch and then sent us to intermission.
6. Big E beat Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) and Cody Rhodes to retain the Intercontinental Title. Swags and Zeb came out first. Zeb said it was great to be in Knoxville to huge boos. Zeb is great at riling a crowd, and he proved it here. People were booing him out of the building, of course until WE THE PEOPLE. Cody came out fired up and to a great pop from the crowd. Big E is just a monster. I saw him last year in the cheap seats and was amazed at how huge he was. This year, I was six feet away from him and was blown away.
This was the third best match of the night. Great effort by all three men. Swagger tried to get Cody on his side, and after a brief association (complete with a WE THE PEOPLE by Cody), Cody tried to roll Swags up for a quick pin. Again, great action by all. Big E hitting some amazing power moves (including a Warrior tribute press slam to Cody), Swagger being very aggressive on the outside, and Cody hitting some impressive high flying moves including a moonsault to Swags and a top rope dive on to Big E.
The ending was very original: Cody was on the apron and went to sunset flip Swags. While Cody was trying to bring Swags down, Big E came up and slingshotted Cody into Swagger's corner. Then Big E hit the Big Ending on Swags for the win. Big E then went around and signed autographs and posed for pictures. Classy.
7. Big Show beat Damien Sandow. Sandow had NUCLEAR heat with the crowd. He was introduced to huge boos. Immediately after walking out, he told the audience they didn't give him the proper response he deserved. He went back into the back and had them play his music again. The second time he walked out the boos doubled. Sandow kept trying to talk, but you could barely hear him over the boos. Seriously, it reminded me of Vickie Guerrero heat. He finally told the crowd he would yell over them and then declared since WrestleMania starts the new year for WWE, he was vowing to go undefeated. Obviously, you know where this leads.
Brad Maddox walked out and told Sandow that his first opponent in his new streak is the largest opponent. HUGE pop for Show. Show gets into the ring, and Sandow tells him, "Well, you've had your moment to wave. Now, leave because I wasn't finished with my speech." Funny. Sandow then realizes this is a true match, tells us all he'll defeat the Big Show, and is then knocked out 45 seconds later. Big Show heads back to the back and Sandow stays in the ring for a good few minutes selling the punch. Two officials help Sandow up....only for him to take a Flair Flop back to the mat. After Ziggler and Cesaro, Sandow was the MVP of the night for me. Unbelievably entertaining.
8. John Cena and The Shield defeated Kane and The Wyatt Family in an eight-man tag. Second best match of the night. Kane came out first to a mixture of cheers and boos. The Wyatt's entrance is amazing to see in person, although I was a little disappointed we got the generic, "We're Here" instead of "Chattanooga, we're here". The Shield got the second biggest pop of the night as they walked down (right past me). I'm so glad the WWE decided to turn them and not break them up. They're going to be fun to watch as faces. Cena's music hit and the roof came off the McKenzie arena. Cena charged the ring and it was on! Rollins played the babyface in peril for the first few minutes, and then tagged Roman Reigns in to a huge pop.
Reigns cleaned house for a little bit, then tagged in Dean Ambrose. Ambrose then played the Babyface in peril. By this point, the "Let's go Cena" chants were at a fever pitch. There was a "Cena Sucks" chant to go with the "Let's go Cena" but died quickly. Cena is loved in the Noog. Finally, after several minutes of hope spots and getting killed, Ambrose tagged Cena, who came in hot. Cena wound up hitting a double 5 Knuckle Shuffle (10 knuckle shuffle?) to Rowan and Kane. Ambrose and Rollins hit a double suicide dive to Kane and Luke Harper on the outside. Reigns Superman punched Rowan right into the AA. Very fun match. All eight guys are fantastic. Cena stayed out and did his normal signing autographs and taking pictures for several minutes.
Again, just a really fun show with three fantastic matches and a very solid rest of the card. We unfortunately only get the WWE once a year, and this year they definitely delivered. My hats off to all the guys and gals who busted their butts tonight.
Damien Sandow (by far!)