BUFFALO – The Smackdown show in Buffalo on Tuesday evening was a fun affair that was helped by a raucous crowd. One fan in particular was enjoying his first taste of live WWE action, seven-year-old Phynn. I talked with the youngster throughout the show and his enthusiasm was contagious. Even though he didn’t know a majority of the wrestlers, his views on the mat game were very interesting. Perhaps the WWE might want to listen to him.
The night started off with matches that were taped for the WWE’s Main Event broadcast. When Kalisto entered the ring to face Victor the crowd was clearly behind the diminutive grappler. Phynn took to the masked wrestler right away and liked him because he could do cool moves and had a bright, shiny outfit. Kalisto pinned his opponent to the delight of the crowd.
The next match saw the Hype Bros. defeat The Vaudevillians. Phynn pointed out that all of “The bad guys wear black.” He was intrigued by the charismatic and crowd pleasing Zack Ryder. “We’ll be seeing those guys again,” noted Phynn regarding the Hype Bros. “They’ll be fighting for a belt.”
An interesting observation was supplied by the young fan. He noted that every wrestler who came out first to the ring won their match. This was true of all matches except the Six-Pack Challenge. Perhaps the WWE might want to mix up the entrances a bit.
When Smackdown started, the roster was on the ring apron while Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan spoke in the ring. I was struck by the different reactions of the wrestlers on the outside. Some of them understood that they were on display and should react to what their bosses were saying. Others looked like pieces of cardboard. Mojo Rawley had great enthusiasm and the old pro Randy Orton had a look of burning intensity, while Becky Lynch seemed tuned in and focused on what was happening in the ring. They were putting on the performance that makes the crowd believe that it is a competition. Others such as the Ascension, Carmella and Alexa Bliss looked like bored kids who had something better to do. If Orton and John Cena can look engaged, then the rest of the roster should follow that example. There is a reason they stay at the top of the cards and part of it is the little things, such as looking like they care.
The Battle Royal for the sixth spot in the Six-Pack Challenge was a lot of fun. Kane made an impression on Phynn when he entered the ring. He quickly said that Kane would win. The Big Red Machine is an impressive sight to any audience, but to a young fan he is mythical in size. His appearance, mask and menacing look brings a storybook monster to life.
The crowd was fantastic. They were the perfect wrestling fans. They cheered the good guys and booed the bad guys. As always Cena had his detractors, but the young fans in the audience made sure their hero received a positive reaction. A fun event last night was the enthusiasm of a young lady who was sitting behind me. When AJ Styles entered the ring she lost her marbles. I have never heard a person yell that loudly or passionately about a wrestler before. The people sitting in my section turned towards her and they all smiled. That is what wrestling fandom is about. You pick your favourite and cheer as loud as you can. The folks around me appreciated her love and appreciation of the mat game.
When the show went off the air a special main event was slated. It featured champion Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns against Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins. While the match was quick and fun, resulting in Ambrose and Reigns winning, it left the crowd confused. I heard many times people exclaim “Why are Reigns and Rollins here?” This was not a good match for the crowd to see because it confused the fans. Rollins and Reigns are supposed to be exclusively on RAW and yet, here they are fighting in a dark match on Smackdown. I really hope that the WWE does not dilute the brands by having inter-promotional matches every week or even every month. Let the brands develop their own unique feel. There must have been a few wrestlers that could have fought the champ and a mystery partner from the Smackdown roster. Heck, they had Rhyno in the building, use him!
At the end of the night I asked Phynn what he liked about his first wrestling show. “I have new favourite wrestlers,” said Phynn. “I like Kane, Kalisto, Apollo Crews and Zack Ryder. I liked that some of my favourites won and I liked the battle royal.” Those four grapplers were featured prominently in the battle royal, but what is it that they have that attracts a fan who has never watched the WWE before?
Kalisto is flashy, fast and looks like a superhero. Kane is the monster that could crawl out of your closet. Ryder and Crews both have colourful outfits that attract they eye. Ryder in particular connects with the crowd with looks into the audience, much like Hulk Hogan used to do, to ask the fans if he should stomp the bad guy. All four wrestlers drew in the audience and Phynn the new wrestling fan. When Phyn and his father returned to their car he took off his shirt and told his dad he needed to do that so he could look like John Cena. WWE take notice, Phynn knows what he is talking about.
It was a fun night in Buffalo. The fans were great! I also got to spend time with the Canadian haggis throwing champion. That does not happen every day.