WWE kicked off its November 2018 UK tour less than 24 hours after Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia in front of a rowdy crowd in Cardiff.
The Welsh capital witnessed an evening of pay-per-view quality matches, comic antics and hard hitting bouts from the stars of SmackDown Live.
Mirror Sport’s Morgan Richards runs down the results and shenanigans of an eventful night.
Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy
An explosive start to the show saw the Cardiff crowd cheering loudly for both men during their entrances. Orton and Hardy renewed their long and bitter rivalry, which we’ve seen on screen in recent months. As the fans chanted both veterans’ names, Orton quickly turned them against him, slowly pacing around the ring, waiting for his best opportunity to strike and performing his signature taunt.
In a back and forth contest throughout, which saw a build up of counter after counter, Hardy attempted a Twist of Fate, only be hit by a devastating RKO out of nowhere for the win.
The Usos defeated The Colons
The Colons made a statement and ambushed The Usos on their entrance, dominating the early moments of the match and sticking to a thorough game plan. As a team we haven’t seen much of in recent times, this was Primo and Epico’s chance to address their frustration of being overlooked in the SmackDown Live tag team division.
They isolated Jey Uso, working on his upper body and making sure Jimmy Uso was kept on the outside by knocking him down from the apron every time he attempted to gets back up. When Jey made a comeback and got to his corner there was nobody to tag and The Colons continued their dirty tactics.
When Jimmy finally got the hot tag, the Samoan brothers dominated. A nice touch saw Epico force the brothers to headbutt each other, which they no sold, laughing because in wrestling lore, Samoans don’t feel headbutts! The brothers then combined to pick up the win in a contest full of nice storytelling.
Mark Andrews defeated Wild Boar
NXT UK hometown stars faced off in an all-Welsh affair, showcasing just what WWE’s newest brand has to offer. A hard hitting contest that fans of the independent circuit have come to know and love from these two stood out on the card, as you could see the pair were excited to perform in their own country, while also having a point to prove to promote the new brand.
Boar’s tough strikes and Andrews’ eye-catching, high flying brilliance provoked a loud reaction and after a picture-perfect shooting star press, Mark Andrews got the three count and cemented himself as one to look out for on NXT UK.
Naomi and Asuka defeated The IIconics
Peyton Royce and Billie Kay emerged on the mic with a small game of “Iconic or Not”, naming things they thought weren’t iconic, like Cardiff, which was received with the biggest boos of the night. The duo continued to talk trash about the city, their opponents and put themselves over with some great heel work.
The match produced a nice entertaining tag contest, with Naomi and Asuka having a little more fun in the ring compared to their serious work on screen. Asuka put Kay in the Asukalock and she furiously tapped out.
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) defeated Rey Mysterio and Andrade Cien Almas in a triple threat match to retain the United States Championship.
An exciting treat for those in attendance saw three of the best international superstars square off against each other. Shinsuke and Almas decided to gang up on the newly-returning Mysterio in a two-on-one affair. After an ugly beatdown in the early stages, Mysterio fought back and Shinsuke attempted to sneak a roll-up oinfall on Almas.
The two fought it out for a good period until Almas turnde his attention to the masked legend. Rey and Cien exchanged blows in an exchange that in its own right could have been a stand out fixture on the card.
Mysterio hit the 619, followed up with a frog splash and just when you began to think the title could change hands, Nakamura stole the pinfall. This trio’s contrasting styles and experience produced a match that hopefully we’ll get to see again on a pay-per-view or a broadcast episode of SmackDown Live soon.
Daniel Bryan defeated The Miz:
This was not exactly the intense and serious big fight that fans were hoping to see from a rumoured main event for WrestleMania 35, but Cardiff witnessed the two in a battle of wits on the mic and comedy wrestling at its finest.
The Miz grabbed the mic and moaned how he was screwed out of being crowned the Best in the World at WWE Crown Jewel, demanded the crowd be quiet while he took off his jacket, headband and sunglasses and called everyone in the building a bunch of Cardiff sweathogs. Bryan attempted a roll up and Miz reacted by storming off down the ramp, saying Cardiff didn’t deserve to see this match.
Daniel chased after him and the two brawled in the isle, before it turned into a great combination of storytelling and comedy, with an old school classic heel and babyface dynamic. Bryan used a lot of high flying moves that we haven’t seen in a while on TV from him and after The Miz taunted him ‘yes’ chants, Daniel connected with the running knee to get the one-two-three.
Rusev and Lana defeated R-Truth and Carmella
Dance offs, ‘what’s up’ and Rusev Day. What more could you ask for? Back from the intermission, both teams engaged in a chant off before the dance break music of Truth TV hit and Lana stole the segment with her hip-hop breakdancing moves. The crowd chanted for Rusev to dance but he wasn’t having any part in it, before finally attempting to do the splits, before Truth went for a quick pin. The women brawled to the outside in a cat fight and Rusev snatched the win for his team with an opportune roll-up of his own. They then hugged it out and raised each others’ hands in a fun-loving segment of a WWE live show.
The Bar (c) defeated The New Day in a tag team match to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Big E and Kofi challenged The Bar for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship in a straight rematch from Crown Jewel, but without Big Show in The Bar’s corner. Xavier Woods and his trusted trombone made loud noise throughout with Big E up to his humorous tricks, spanking Sheamus to the beat of ‘New Day Rocks’.
This was what we’ve seen from the two teams in the past, just a lot more lighthearted encounter than the night before in Saudi Arabia. While The New Day focused on Cesaro, Sheamus sneaked in with a Brogue Kick and pinned Big E to retain the titles. These two teams always make for a match worth watching.
Becky Lynch (c) defeated Charlotte to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship
Fresh from their critically acclaimed Last Woman Standing Match at the first all-women’s WWE pay-per-view Evolution last month, two of the greats in sports entertainment today renewed their rivalry for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Fast-paced with submission-based counters, the two squared off with attitude.
Throwing Charlotte into the turnbuckles, Becky dominated staying on her challenger and mocking her former best friend with the famous Flair strut. The two exchanged chops and fists before Charlotte got Becky on the ground and went up high for her top rope moonsault.
Lynch got her knees up and countered with a side roll up to sneakily retain her title, continuing her transition into a badass and no-nonsense champion, which her fanbase are continuing to love.
AJ Styles (c) defeated Samoa Joe to retain the WWE Championship in a NO DQ match
The main event saw the most aggressive match of the night. Joe attacked the man he’s been deep in rivalry with the last few months before the bell rings, throwing right hooks to the champion in the corner.
It wasn’t long until the Phenomenal One found his feet and took it to the Samoan Submission Machine by using the No DQ stipulation to his advantage. Joe swung to the fences with a Kendo stick he found under the ring and chants of “we want tables” were ignored by Joe shushing the crowd.
AJ’s Pele kick got him back into it and he used the weapon to get his revenge. The champ grabbed a steel chair and as Joe begged for mercy, Sheamus and Cesaro ran down to the ring and started beating Styles, allying themselves with Joe. Could this be something we see on screen?
A table was finally set up in the corner by Sheamus, but The Usos saved the champion. Out of frustration, Joe ran into the table and AJ hit him with a Phenomenal Forearm for the pin.
After celebrating his victory, the champion cut a promo thanking the crowd for a stellar first night of the tour and said his work is never done. This was a great finish to an eventful night of sport entertainment.
WWE UK Live November tour tickets are available at www.bookingsdirect.com
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