WWE House Show Report 5.31.14: Springfield, IL
Posted by Ryan Byers on 06.01.2014
A live report from the show...
WWE rolled into the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Illinois for its usually-annual visit on May 31, 2014. This was billed as a "Supershow" and featured the majority of the company's top available talent, presumably because they were all en route to the Payback pay per view scheduled to take place on June 1 in Chicago. Oftentimes, when the company is running two separate house show tours, Springfield will get the "B" crew, so this was a welcome upgrade.
Attendance for the event was what I have come to expect for house shows at the PCCC, with the building about 50% full. The floor seating level was packed, though the section just above the floor was more sparsely populated, with the value-priced section above that then being fairly full. It appeared that they didn't even try to sell the fourth and highest block of seats.
A young woman who I believe may have been Brandi Rhodes (she never identified herself) was the ring announcer for the evening. She did a fairly good job throughout the evening.
1. The Uso Twins defeated Ryback & Curtis Axel to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles: For some reason, Ryback has a new singlet with a heart on his stomach and the letter "R" in the middle of the heart. It makes him look like a Care Bear. This was a formula tag team match that benefitted in terms of crowd reaction from being the first match on the show. Axel dominated early before trading off to the Big Guy. The Uso made a comeback with numerous kicks, and Axel sold them by taking a couple of over-the-top bumps that were reminiscent of his father. (This is something he doesn't do too often on television for whatever reason.) Ultimately, the champions retained their titles with a Superfly splash off of the top rope. There were no big dives by the twins, which was a little bit surprising because it's become a pretty standard part of their repertoire lately.
After the match, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper laid out the Usos in the entranceway while Bray Wyatt - who did not appear in front of the crowd in a smart move to save his pop for later - cut a promo on John Cena over the PA system.
2. Adam Rose pinned Jack Swagger with the Party Foul: Zeb Colter was out with Swagger and did a fairly lengthy promo pretending not to know which of the many "Springfields" in the country he was in. Rose did his full entrance from television, but his entourage was not the same group that he has on TV . . . not even a bunny. I'm not sure where they found these people. There were a lot of comedy spots early, including Rose offering a disgusted Swagger a lick of his lollipop and the Rose Pedal. All in all, Swagger got a surprisingly small amount of offense before getting pinned. Rose's reaction on TV have been mixed, though the young crowd seemed to be on board with him here.
3. Antonio Cesaro pinned Kofi Kingston with a giant swing/Neutralizer combination: These two have proven that they have great chemistry in the past, and this was no exception. It was essentially a condensed version of one of their television matches from last year, incorporating many of their "greatest hit" spots. Cesaro's feats of strength are even more impressive in person, as he deadlifted Kofi and carried him around the ring on more than one occasion. Even though Kingston was over pretty big as a face, particularly with the children in the audience, the longer the match went, the more people started chanting for the giant swing. Eventually they got it, but Cesaro only did about four revolutions before going immediately into the Neutralizer to finish things off.
4. Trinity and Paige wrestled to a no contest in a match for Paige's WWE Women's Title: This was an odd match that didn't quite know what it wanted to be. They started with a version of the same sequence that every indy babyface match from 10 years ago started with, trading identical moves before throwing stereo dropkicks and popping up for polite applause. It looked like Trinity was going to play heel, as she took advantage of Paige off of a handshake. However, then they moved into comedy, doing the old divas' catfight and roll over the referee spot, though in a twist I'd never seen before, the ref got up afterwards and celebrated like he'd just won the Wrestlemania main event. Things went along for a little while longer before Alicia Fox ran in and attacked both women, though the good girls eventually regrouped and ran her off with a mistimed dropkick. Alicia had mini-freak out after she was beaten, stealing a little kid's cotton candy and running around with it in her mouth. Once she was gone, Trinity's music played and she tried to teach Paige to dance, which Paige appeared very uncomfortable with.
5. Sheamus bested Alberto Del Rio to retain the United States Title: Sheamus was rather popular with the live crowd, much more than I would have expected him to be given his reactions on television lately. Like Cesaro vs. Kingston earlier in the show, these are two guys who have had a lot of television matches against each other over the years and generally work well together, with this match living up to their standards. However, they did bust out a few things that don't necessarily get incorporated a lot most of their matches, including Sheamus doing a bit of a flip up onto the top rope, only to be cut off by Del Rio's leaping enzuigiri before he could come off with an offensive maneuver. After that, Sheamus got caught in ADR's armbar and remained in it for a fairly long time before powering up and lifting Alberto a la Bob Backlund, turning it into a short powerbomb. Not much later, Sheamus connected with the Brogue Kick off of a misdirection play and got the duke.
6. Dolph Ziggler & Summer Rae beat Fandango & Layla El in a mixed tag team match: There was an alleged fan vote via twitter to decide whether this would be a mixed tag or a dance contest, though it was never explained particularly well that I heard. The mixed tag won pretty handily. Summer Rae was surprisingly physical during the match, taking bumps out of the ring between the ropes on two different occasions. The women took the first half of the match and were competent enough before trading off to the men when there was what almost looked like an inadvertent tag between Fandango and Layla. Fanny and Ziggler went at it for a bit, with Dolph looking primed to win before Layla jumped him from behind and tried to choke him. Summer cut her off (and did the second of her two spills out of the ring) to free up Ziggler to hit the Zig Zag for a three count. Summer ever-so briefly teased kissing Dolph after the match, but it didn't happen. The two of them would have looked like a pretty natural couple if not for the fact that they're darn near the same height.
7. Wade Barrett pinned Big E to retain the Intercontinental Title: Barrett cut a promo while walking down the aisle before the match. Even though he railed against the city, virtually everything else he did caused the crowd to treat him like a babyface. Big E's agility, much like Cesaro's strength, is very impressive on television but is somehow even more impressive live. I loved his leapfrog, and he did a big bump at one point in which he charged at Barrett while both men were on the apron, only for Barrett to move and E to hit his shoulder on the ringpost before crashing and burning on the floor. The finish came when it looked like E was scooping Barrett up for the Big Ending, only for Bad News to rake his eyes while in midair, setting up the Bull Hammer elbow for a three count.
8. John Cena & The Shield defeated Kane & The Wyatt Family in an eight man tag team match: Kane was a substitution for Randy Orton, who had been advertised locally as teaming with the Wyatt Family. (The original locally advertised main events were Daniel Bryan vs. Kane and the Shield vs. the Wyatts with Cena also appearing.) The crowd had been a little quiet to this point but came unglued for the Shield and Cena entrances. There were a few boo-birds out for Cena but not many. After an eight man brawl to open the match, the bad guys got the heat on Rollins for a while before he hit a hot tag to Cena. Cena did the majority of his comeback but was cut off before he could hit the FU and beaten down himself. Eventually he did hit an FU on Kane and slapped hands with Roman Reigns. Reigns nailed his leaping kick from the floor to the apron on both Rowan and Harper in succession, and Ambrose and Rollins did their stereo topes suicida. Reigns had another good spot where he saved Ambrose and Rollins from a double chokeslam by Kane when he flew in between the two of them and nailed the Big Red Machine with a superman punch. He also picked up the victory with a spear. After the match, Cena got a few kudos from the crowd but left early let the Shield soak in the majority of the audience's adulation.
Overall: From top to bottom, this was a well put together, well worked show but not particularly spectacular. Nobody completely dogged it and all of the matches were at least good with some bordering on great. However, you could tell that most of the wrestlers were not going all out, which is perfectly acceptable given that they were going into a pay per view event less than twenty-four hours later which had to have been a higher priority. As noted above, the crowd was a bit quiet until the main event, but everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves, particularly the kids, which is what these live events are more and more about these days. All in all, it was worth the price of admission in a town that doesn't get a lot of live wrestling.