TOLEDO, Ohio — Tuesday’s tapings of WWE Smackdown, Superstars and NXT wasn’t notable because of what happened in the ring, but rather because of what was happening outside the ringside area. Or more appropriately, what wasn’t happening.
Toledo’s second WWE show of 2011, this time at Huntington Center, was notable because of the lack of fans inside the facility, with almost all of the camera side tarped off, along with a large part of the upper bowl, including all of the seats in the end zone.
The fans who were there, though, were rabid, but the poorly attended taping raises a question of why this taping wasn’t in a bigger market, like Detroit, 40 miles to the North, which hasn’t seen a WWE show since January and currently isn’t even on the schedule for another. Since Detroit’s last show, Toledo has gotten two shows, as has WWE’s other big markets.
Huntington Center holds just north of 7,000 fans for a hockey game. There were easily less than 3,000 people in the venue for this event.
Tuesday’s taping’s opened with a dark match that saw Trent Barreta knock off Johnny Curtis with the tornado DDT in a short, action-packed match.
NXT followed and although the small crowd reacted to someone they’ve seen for years like William Regal, the people had no idea who his opponent, Darren Young, was nor did they know Derrick Bateman and Maxine.
Three matches were taped for Superstars, as Alicia Fox and Tamina opened in Diva action, Brodus Clay faced a local wrestler and Smackdown’s Mr. Money in the Bank, Daniel Bryan, battled former WWE Tag Team Champion Heath Slater.
Bryan and Regal were the two most beloved Superstars of the undercard portion of the night, with both men garnering chants of their name.
From there, it was on to Friday Night Smackdown. The matches taped for that show include Mark Henry against Ezekiel Jackson, Sin Cara (still appearing to be Hunico) facing Tyson Kidd (who wrestled on both NXT and Smackdown), Kelly Kelly against Natalya, Sheamus against Wade Barrett, Air Boom facing The Great Khali and Jinder Mahal and in the main event, Randy Orton faced Cody Rhodes in what was billed as a “Champion vs. Champion” match, but with no titles on the line.
Orton was, by far and away, the most popular person on the entire show. He was the only wrestler who got a “Superstar reaction.” Everyone else was secondary to “The Viper.”
Once the Smackdown taping concluded, Smackdown general manager Theodore Long came out and announced there would be a World Heavyweight Championship match tonight and announced Orton would be defending against Henry.
The match was short and saw Orton hit a standing DDT and call for the RKO when Christian ran in, causing a disqualification. Christian and Henry would beat Orton down until Sheamus made the save. “The Celtic Warrior” hit Henry with a Brogue Kick that sent him over the top and to the floor and then set his eyes on Christian, who received a Brogue Kick and then an RKO from Orton to send the crowd home happy.
Also in a segment that does not appear destined for television, after his match with Air Boom, Mahal took the microphone and started speaking, only to be interrupted by WWE COO Triple H, who came out, said very little himself and gave Mahal not just one Pedigree, but two for good measure.
All in all, the taping was about your average WWE televised event. Nothing to write home about on this show other than how few tickets were sold. For this being the first time WWE TV has come to Toledo since May 2010, it was shocking not to see a better turnout at the gate.