Alright, so WWE announced that they were running the Westchester County Center in White Plains as a Smackdowm/ECW house show and I had no real interest. Although I went to High School in White Plains and had a few friends interested, I also knew the show likely wouldnâ€™t be for me. Of course, that was before my best friendâ€™s dad, who I havenâ€™t spent any real time with in years, decided he really wanted to go and, when combined with both the awesomeness of some previous County Center house shows (I saw everyone from Andre the Giant to the Rock to Angleâ€™s last WWE match there) and that I really, truly missed cheering for CM Punk live and I bought a bunch of tickets. Well, last minute, my best friendâ€™s dad didnâ€™t make it and, of course, Punk was drafted to Raw. My goals in shambles, could WWE still provide a strong enough show to make the night worth my money?
Before the show, the audience is about half kids, who are extremely vocal and have an absolutely great time. Jeff Hardy chants break out pre-show and all of the kids are in either Hardy or Cena gear. The target demography has spoken.
Teddy Long opens the show with crowd hype and he cuts to Eve Torres who has random promotional stuff for the fans throughout the show. Estrada comes out and decides he wants a contract and heâ€™ll face any New Yorker to get it. Tommy Dreamer answers the open challenge.
Match 1: Armando Estrada vs. Tommy Dreamer (* Â½)
Estrada controlled most of the match with his normal heelishness, using plenty of rest holds and eye gouges. Dreamer eventually made a standard comeback and won with a DDT. Itâ€™s absolutely striking how different Dreamerâ€™s job is now from when he was in ECW.
Match 2: Vladamir Kozlov vs. Stevie Richards (Â½ *)
Kozlov dominates besides a few cool kicks by Stevie and finishes with a charging headbutt. I know they like big stiffs, but Kozlov really doesnâ€™t appear to have any appreciable skill or charisma. Itâ€™s a damn shame Stevie got hurt all those years ago; he was a special talent. Still, he, like Val Venus and Sho Funaki, are consummate company men who really do make others look good. Speak of the devilâ€¦
Match 3: Sho Funaki vs. Bryan Kendrick with Bodyguard (**)
Funaki got a lot more offense than expected and it made me think Kendrick will always have a job and purpose, because the man is a fantastic seller. He made Funaki look great all match long. Kendrick drew the best heel heat all night besides Edge and won with a roll-up out of a distraction. Hopefully his size doesnâ€™t hold him back too much because Spanky is onto something here.
Match 4: Umaga vs. Shannon Moore and Nunzio (*)
They do the â€œno one wants to tag in and face Umagaâ€ stuff early, before teaming up and not tagging for the rest of the match. Thatâ€™s nice then. They spend awhile doing the â€œcanâ€™t take the big man downâ€ spots before they finally do. That makes Umaga mad and he smashes them. Good, clean, paint-by-numbers. Umaga was over as a face by the time this was over.
Match 5: MVP vs. Big Show (*)
The highlight of the night for me might be MVPâ€™s mic time where he refuses to wrestle because the place is too small, but thanks fans for contributing to his new Mercedes fund. As he tries to leave, Show comes out to a big pop.
The Memphis stall leads to a heel beatdown on Show, who eventually shrugs it off and chokeslams MVP for the win.
Match 6: Womenâ€™s Title Match: Michelle McCool vs. Natalia (**)
This was slow, but McCool has some decent flashy spots, while Natalia held the match together well besides. Itâ€™s really weird that women are the only ones to work in some MMA with leg shoots and some joint locks, but that works and McCool gets the duke. They worked hard, but post-intermission the crowd just didnâ€™t care.
Match 7: Tag Title Match: Ryder and Hawkins (C) vs. Jesse and Festus vs. Miz and Morrison (** Â½)
The crowd was way into Morrison, but he was barely in the ring. This was essentially a tag match between the Ryder/Hawkins duo and Jesse and Festus. Jesse and Festus got face-shine early, and Jesse is quite good, chaining his moves and looking like he had a purpose far more than pretty much anyone else on the card except maybe Kendrick. He was taken out by heel chicanery and a long beatdown followed, first by one team, then by the other for a bit. The heat segment ended in a hot tag that the place exploded for, but Jesse was rolled up shortly into the melee by Ryder or Hawkins. Itâ€™s called a tag formula because it works.
Match 8: No DQ: Jeff Hardy vs. Edge (***)
Jeff is stupidly over. They do a lot of brawling and tell a decent story here, with Edge controlling by taking every sneaky opportunity, but Jeff reversing about half of those into his own hope spots. This brawl lead to a lot of near falls that the building ate up, including a few chair spots and a turnbuckle removal. The wedding planner ran in to distract Jeff, but Edge accidentally hit her again. Jeff hit a twist of fate on a chair and then the swanton for the win.
And thatâ€™s the showâ€¦ waitâ€¦
Thatâ€™s the show! What the hell!?
Okay, I knew Triple H and The Undertaker wouldnâ€™t be there, but where were Shelton Benjamin, Elijah Burke, Jimmy Wang Yang, Mr. Kennedy, Matt Hardy, or Finlay! Hell! even Khali or Mark Henry! Not even Colin F’n Delaney? Really, was he too busy? Why was Â¾ of the roster not there? House shows used to have decent matches, not a series of formulaic squashes. This was sad. If youâ€™ve been a wrestling fan for more than a year or two, avoid smaller WWE house shows, even to see the stars, as half of those werenâ€™t there. If, however, you have kids, bring them on in. Theyâ€™ll have a grand old time learning the wrestling clichÃ©â€™s we did years ago. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with that, but WWE house shows used to be that and more. This will definitely be my last one for awhile.