WWE Live in Tallahassee Review – Small Crowds Can Still Be Enthusiastic
By William Kristoph
It’s been nearly 17 years since I attended a WWE event. My last one was the sole taping of SmackDown! in Tallahassee, way back in 1998 when I was still a student at Florida State University. You can find that episode on WWE Network (it’s only $9.99) if you want to see a youthful Big Show and a pre-real-marriage Triple H and Stephanie McMahon running the business. A lot has changed since 1998 and I’m happy to report that WWE Live in Tallahassee was a fun-filled event.
Outside of the matches, I was disappointed in the merchandise offerings and the Tucker Center really needs to move it so that it doesn’t clog up the main entrance. The use of social media by WWE is really fun. I had no less than 5 tweets displayed on the big screens during intermission thanks to using the hashtag #WWELiveTallahassee on Twitter. The crowd was probably between 3000-4000 and half of it was kids.
Intercontinental Championship – Ryback (c) vs The Big Show
It was great to see the belt in person and to see The Big Show 17 years after I last saw him. Show is slower and less mobile, but no less a spectacle. Ryback was super over with the crowd. There was a good back and forth for the entire match. Ryback couldn’t get The Big Show up for the first attempt at the Shellshock (it almost looked like his back or knee wasn’t cooperating), but the 2nd try he hit it for the win and big pop from the Tallahassee Crowd. I was very happy to see The Big Show get a good round of applause on his way out too, since he might be off to retirement in the near future.
Bo Dallas vs Cesaro
Bo won two new fans last night, his promo work and overall arrogance really came through. Cesaro is quite the physical specimen in person, and poor Bo was in the Swing for what seemed like forever. Cesaro with the win while Bo exited with at least two more fans.
Emma vs Natalya
The reaction for Emma was soft from my perspective and she needs a lot of character work. If she’s going to be a heel, we really need a reason to hate her. Plus, her ring gear is garnet and gold which at least half of the crowd probably liked. Natalya was the uber baby face and slapped five with kids and adults. Her ring work seemed to be much better than I’ve seen it on TV and she had good chemistry with Emma. Nattie with the victory via Sharpshooter, and she even took a selfie with a kid on her way out of the arena.
Stardust vs Neville
Stardust’s best move was his pelvic thrust at Eden upon entering the ring. This was my 2nd favorite match of the night. There was lots of back and forth with Neville and Stardust, with Neville eventually hitting the Red Arrow (my God it’s gorgeous in person) for the win.
Luke Harper vs Y2J
Luke Harper is much, much, much more impressive in person than on TV. His promo about being the best they had in Tallahassee tonight and that he was unbeatable by anyone in the back let to the lights dropping and good old Y2J coming out in full LED jacket glory. Y2J asked Luke to SHUT THE HELL UP and then proceeded to put on a solid match eventually ending in the Walls / Codebreaker combo. Jericho soaked up the crowd post victory and the crowd was happy to give Y2J a standing ovation.
Sheamus vs Randy Orton
My wife, who is a new wrestling fan, commented to me halfway through this match that, “They don’t work well together.” While not a bad match, it’s what we’ve seen 100 times now. The finish was at least fresh, with Sheamus pointing out individual fans saying, “You look stupid.” Sheamus finally remembered he was in the middle of a match and pulled Orton up by the head, to which Randy 180’d and landed the RKO OUTTA NOWHERE for the 1-2-3!
Lots of middle aged women were very, very, very excited that their Randy won.
Heath Slater vs R-Truth
I had no idea that R-Truth could get such a loud pop but the Tallahassee crowd loved yelling, “What’s up!?” Truth couldn’t even make it to the ring before Slater attacked him and grabbed a mic telling everyone in the building that they were, “about to witness the shortest match in WWE history.” To which R-Truth landed a kick and pinned Slater for an 8 second victory.
Lucha Dragons vs Los Matadores
By far this was my favorite match and my wife’s favorite match of the night. The Lucha Dragons had the crowd behind them immediately, but the crowd was also all too happy to participate in Los Matadores Ole! chants. There were lots of tags in this one, lots of aerials and lots of colorful ring gear. This was just pure fun if you like acrobatics. El Torito even tagged himself in before he was banished to sitting on a WWE staffer’s knee for the rest of the match by Los Matadores. Luchas with the victory after El Torito jumped off the top rope and hit Los Matadores with Hurricanrana. Sin Cara then hit the Swanton for the win!
Main Event: Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns in a Street Fight
The best part about this match was the entrances. After the high energy of the preceding tag match, this felt slow and lumbering. The street fight rules didn’t help (Kendo sticks, tables, chairs) pace it and Wyatt seemed limited by Roman’s limited skillset. I’m sorry but the Superman punch is brutal. My wife commented that with a name like Roman and a physique like a gladiator, his ring gear and silly facial expressions seem out of place It fell flat with me until all hell broke loose when Luke Harper showed up and then Stroman showed up and then the faces ran in from the back. First R-Truth, then Neville and then Ryback all came to Roman’s assistance before Roman recovered to Superman punch Braun Stroman. Roman hit the spear on Bray and got the 1-2-3 to send everyone home with a baby face sweep of the night.
Overall, it was a fun 3 hours of WWE entertainment. It won’t be 17 years again before I see the Superstars and Divas live again. Hopefully, Tallahassee gets to see them again next summer!