The Bay Center in Pensacola, Florida has been a regular stop on the house show circuit World Wrestling Entertainment for over a decade now. I’ve attended the last four events: one show was pre-brand split (main event: Roman Reigns vs. Big Show), the next was an NXT show (Samoa Joe/Austin Aries vs. Shinsuke Nakamura/No Way Jose), then Smackdown Live (Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler), and last night was again a SDL show.
The show wasn’t a sellout and it wasn’t configured for maximum capacity (which is about 12,000 seats), but it was still a good turnout, I think. My guess is maybe 5,000 or so people. To me, that’s pretty good given how stale WWE has become over the last few years. I haven’t watched any of the TV shows since May, but was still interested in seeing WWE live.
Wrestling legends and WWE agents Arn Anderson and Scott Armstrong sat all night long at table set up by the entrance way to help produce the show. Byron Saxton was the host of this event and before the start time of 7:30PM they held a social media poll asking which classic Summerslam match would we like to see tonight: Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog from 1992, Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock from 2003, or Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair from 2016. Lesnar/Rock easily won and they aired a few minutes of highlights from that match. Then it was time for the show…
- The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E), R-Truth & The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) vs. The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) & Sanity (Eric Young, Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe)
No Xavier Woods w/ trumpet. :( This was a fun opening match. Lots of comedy involved with New Day & Truth trolling Sanity. Big E is always hilarious at house shows. Hometown boys Usos cleaned house and ended up scoring the pin after one of them hit a top rope splash on Sheamus.
- Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger
I don’t care about either of these guys. Tye’s “Ten!” gimmick was pretty over. Aiden went for a flying bodypress off the top rope but Tye rolled through and got the pin. Aiden then got on the mic and said he didn’t come to Pensacola (aka- “the home of Scott Armstrong”) to lose, so he demanded another opponent. That led to…
- Aiden English vs. Sin Cara
This match lasted about 10 seconds. It was so quick, and people were all still standing from Sin Cara’s entrance, so I missed seeing how Sin Cara won. Not sure what the point was of having Sin Cara on the show to only work a few seconds.
- Mandy Rose w/Sonya Deville vs. Becky Lynch
Let me start off by saying that I love Mandy Rose. She was #1 on my list of who I wanted to see at this show and she is just as gorgeous in person as she is on TV. She’s amazing. The match went only a few minutes. Becky got Mandy in the Dis-Arm-Her and then Sonya jumped into the ring and started attacking Lynch. This led to Charlotte Flair running out and running Mandy & Sonya off. It was then announced we now had a tag match, playa.
- Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville vs. Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair
Deville tapped to the Dis-Arm-Her.
- Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Rusev w/ Lana
No Zelina Vega, unfortunately. This match didn’t go very long and ended with Almas tapping out to the Accolade. I was surprised by how short this one was and with Rusev going over so easily. I thought reports were saying Almas was destined to be WWE’s new Hispanic star. Lana was very over and got “We want Lana” chants, which led to Rusev obliging and calling her onto the ring apron before the match started to wave to the crowd, which got a big pop.
- Smackdown Tag Team Title Match: The Bludgeon Brothers (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) (c) vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
This was another fun one. “Two sweet!” was over and I always enjoy seeing Luke Harper’s antics. He kept tore off the tag rope twice in his corner and threw it to the ref and then took off protective padding from two turnbuckles as he was leaving the ring. Harper hit a spinning lariat on Anderson to get the pin.
- Daniel Bryan vs. Shelton Benjamin
Solid match that I would love to see get 15 or 20 minutes sometime. Bryan won with the running knee.
- Smackdown Women’s Title Match: Carmella (c) vs. Naomi vs. Asuka
This was essentially Asuka vs. Naomi as Carmella mostly stayed outside and only got involved when it was opportunistic to do so. I’d like to see a complete Asuka/Naomi singles match. They both traded lots of kicks here. Carmella won after getting a super kick in on Naomi. Naomi and Asuka hugged after the match.
- United States Title Match: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy
Another solid match, with most of it being built around Nakamura & Orton double-teaming Jeff. The alliance only fell apart at the end when Orton hit Hardy with RKO, then Nakamura hit Orton with the Kinshasa and pinned Hardy.
- WWE Title Match: AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe
Funny that these guys were feuding 10+ years ago in TNA over the X-Division title, and now they are main eventing in WWE for the WWE title. Honestly, I expected more from this match and was disappointed. It ran probably only 10 minutes or so and both seemed to be in cruise control for the most part. AJ won with the Phenomenal Forearm. I would’ve rather seen something like AJ & Bryan vs. Joe & Shelton and give them 20 minutes.
All told, this was a solid show and good way to spend an evening. I got to see everyone I wanted to see except The Miz and the IIconics.
The most over people were the ones you’d expect: Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, The New Day, Jeff Hardy, The Usos, and Rusev.