I wound up with free tickets to my company's suite at the Oracle arena last night, so I wound up watching Smackdown in person for the first time, and watching a full episode for the first time in seven or so years.
I'd previously been to a RAW at Oracle last year. Other than the main event I liked Smackdown much better. Far more stars that I recognized, and the show did not drag on like RAW did.
Sadly, because they started the show so early, I missed the dark match between Roode and the Miracle. I saw Roode in person the last time TNA ran a show out here, but it would have been nice to see the Miracle.
It seemed as if the arena itself was pretty empty. My suite has room for 20, but only three of us attended. The suite next to me on one side was empty. (On the other side it was filled with kids having fun though.) About 1/3 of the seats downstairs in the arena were filled and the rest were tarped off. After the show, people were talking about how a lot of the people in their section claimed that they were being paid to be there to fill the empty on-camera seats. Good gig if you can get it, I suppose. For comparison, the arena was a lot more filled when RAW ran a show last year. That time 3/4 of the top levels were tarped off, and the titantron quarter of the arena was tarped off, but the rest of the arena was filled. There also seemed to be a lot less energy among the fans this time. I suppose this is the downside of doing a live show -- people on the West Coast do not want to attend an event so early in the afternoon.
Onto the show itself:
It was exciting to see Shane McMahon in person. It was funny how he was cutting a promo about defending his father's honor, yet he came out to his 16 year old entrance music filled with lyrics bashing his father from his WM 17 feud.
1. Randy Orton defeated a jobber
2. An Evil Russian defeated Randy Orton
WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, formerly of the 3 Man Band, cut a promo with his sidekicks that was apparently controversial. Jinder's redcarpet intro looked pretty visually stunning in person. I loved how it appeared to roll out right before he took each step. It was the best use of the video floor.
The crowd really liked Jinder. No surprise since we are in Silicon Valley. Considering how I grudgingly grew to enjoy Detective Drew Galloway, I suppose I can't blame the WWE for putting their world title on an ex-3MB member. The belt itself looks garish though. They should return to the 1998-2002 belt design. Jeff Hardy's Immortal World Title Belt looks more impressive than the WWE belt.
AJ Styles then came out for a match with some guy. Seeing AJ Styles was one of my main reasons for being there. Having now seen both AJ and Shane, I could have left satisfied then and there.
AJ's match got postponed, and turned into a post-show dark match.
Throughout the night, on the titantron they were advertising an appearance by Ric Flair. Ric wound up not being there, but his daughter did show up. She looks charismatic. A bunch of other women showed up for a promo. One of whom was Natalya Hart, whom I was glad to see.
3. The New Day defeated Zack Ryder and some guy. The Usos were also at ringside.
It was a pleasant surprise to see Zack. The fans were happy to see him as well. One time I almost attended a WWE House Show merely to see Zack in person. It was nice to see him receive a respectable amount of offense.
Shane's nemesis gave a video promo.
On the titantron Zack's partner was mad at him because they lost, even though Zack had carried the bulk of the match.
Dolph Ziggler came out and did the entrance poses of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and DX. That was fun. Dolph still oozes charisma. The fans by the stage seemed to be ignoring the segment and just chanted for CM Punk. Lame.
4. Charlotte Flair won a match against a few other divas
I guess they do the C-show (D-show?) tapings after Smackdown now. To get us to stay for it, they promised an AJ Styles dark match main event.
It was fun seeing Desmond Wolfe as one of the announcers. Never thought I'd get to see him in person after he retired!
1. Some guy beat Brian Kendrick
Some amusing looking suited British guy (reminded me of a young Rockstar Spud) then beat up the other guy. The British guy cut a great titantron promo afterwards. The fans were into the British guy.
A political looking sign guy walked out. He was apparently feuding with some wrestling fashion police and some Asian wrestler. He then showed us a powerpoint slide which got a lot of cheap heat.
2. That Asian guy beat some Scottish(?) guy. The wrestling fashion police were absent.
On the titantron Manik tried to get another match against his tag partner who apparently he keeps losing to. The tag partner said no, and that he was going to fight someone else.
Before that match could take place, apparently Manik took out the other guy back stage, and then attacked his partner. Way to go, Manik!
At the end of the C-show taping, some biker guy and some Italian guy argued in the ring. They both seemed like heels, so their in ring interaction was actually cool.
Dark Main Event: "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles and Nakamura defeated the guy who was supposed to wrestle AJ earlier and Jinder Mahal
I vaguely am aware that Nakamura is supposed to be important due to his Japanese wrestling background, so I was pleased to see him in person. He definitely came across like a main event star.
It is very weird to see AJ come out to music other than "Get Ready to Fly".
On the way back to the BART train I overheard people discussing some upcoming indie show in the nearby Daly City. Nice to see more wrestling action in the Bay Area.
Overall, good low key show, with a ton of people who I've been wanting to see for decades.
I decided to take a few minutes and copy out the results of every Royal Rumble undercard match. The rules are simple; as long as it's not a Free For All bout or a non-wrestling match (i.e. a Super Posedown or Bikini Contest), then it counts.