FAIRFAX, VA – WWE house shows bring a unique experience. While there is a sameness and “seen one, seen ’em all” quality one can identify after attending a handful of these shows, there is an intimate atmosphere when the biggest show in town detours into the suburbs. Having such a grandiose promotion in a smaller venue is surreal and worth the price of admission for the experience alone, regardless of whether or not the show delivers.
WWE rolled through Fairfax Sunday night. Just a stone’s throw away from Washington D.C. on the campus of George Mason University, EagleBank Arena was the site of WWE Live, which featured a John Cena vs. Kevin Owens street fight main event.
Starting from the top, the main event delivered as expected. Cena and Owens have a good rapport and bring out the best in each other. While we can expect consistency from Cena (who has had a legitimate Worker of the Year run), it was Owens who stole the show and capped off what seemed to be a theme as the card progressed. Fighting Cena on the outside with a microphone in hand, Owens turned to a Cenation grade schooler. “This is because of you,” Owens pointed as he cracked the live mic over the head of Cena. “Did you hear his skull crack?” Unfortunately, the young man was not able to interfere and get a few licks in, but Cena did the job for him as he ended the show with an AA through a table to get the win.
The brilliant showmanship of Owens was the end of a common thread throughout the show. While the old guard delivered what was expected of them, the new talent took over the spotlight and made sure to not give it back. Second only to Cena vs. Owens in terms of crowd involement were the WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day. While Xavier Woods was not present to give us his best Tommy Dorsey, Big E and Kofi Kingston were at their best, hamming it up with dancing and gyrations that would make Elvis blush. It takes two to tango (or four, in this case) and they had the Lucha Dragons to defend the titles against. Though he played the punching bag for a majority of the match, seeing Kalisto defy gravity only a few rows away was a treat. Even getting to demonstrate a little personality as he had dance moves to answer Big E, Kalisto has unreal potential and all the right tools to be a surefire star in years to come, The New Day got the win as expected and continued their run from a dead in the water pairing to perhaps the best characters on WWE television today.
Among other pleasant surprises included a great Rusev vs. Ziggler contest. With Lana having hurt her wrist training earlier in the day and being put on the shelf for up to four months, Ziggler was able to take the match on his own. Hopefully these two can be put in a position to succeed and these treats can make their way onto television, rather than focusing on a feud that has somehow made Rusev look deserving of sympathy.
Some final odds and ends included Adam Rose debuting a new “no fun” gimmick inspired by his failed rock star stint, Cesaro kicking off the show and making the crowd hot against The Miz, and a rather uninspiring Divas match between Tamina and Sasha Banks of Team BAD taking on PCB’s Charlotte and Becky Lynch. While Charlotte has seriously regressed from her days at NXT, it is hard to put too much of the burden on any talent trapped in the quicksand that the Divas Revolution has become.
These house shows act as a chance for impressing in long-form matches for those who don’t often get the opportunity. From that perspective, the future looks bright for WWE with their young talent going all out and demonstrating the effectiveness NXT has had since their rebrand. However, that future can be handicapped when strengths aren’t played to and time is limited.
When your house shows gives these nuggets of gold a chance to shine and you are left not wanting more, but dreading what you will be dragged through every Monday, something needs to be changed. WWE needs a new sieve to keep these potential cornerstones and steady hands from falling through the cracks.