Monday, February 20, 2023

Smackdown (Feb. 17th, 2023): Live Notes And Curiosities

And so here we are... my first live WWE television taping.

This was a Christmas gift from my older brother, which surprised the heck out of me that he'd go so far as to do that. And I am not going to lie; there was genuine excitement over this. I have never attended a live WWE television taping and I could count on one hand the number of WWE house show/live events I've attended over the course of my lifetime. I've been watching the past couple weeks worth of Smackdowns, I've been getting myself prepped for everything that was going on. And as months turned to weeks and weeks turned to days, I was looking forward to this moment. Even if it was from the cheap seats - and the cheap seats are way up there - but it didn't matter because the energy of attending a live WWE event could not and would not compare to the energy of a live WWE television taping and especially moreso of the PPVs.

And then a week ago, a member of the family was hospitalized. They had a low oxygen count, they were brought in, they got examined, and we found out that one of the lungs were clogged and they're going to see if it were possible to operate. This family member is in their 70s, they've been taking medication for blood circulation, and so there were a lot of factors that had to be considered. All of a sudden, the weekend draws near, almost as a bit of an afterthought considering the sudden family emergency that had emerged.

We almost didn't attend the show because we wanted to care for this family member, but to their wisdom, they told us to go because otherwise, it'd be a waste of money and even the cheap seats for those shows are pretty fucking expensive. Now I would've fine skipping out on one, but we did attend both shows. We did enjoy the shows, had a fun time over there, and at the end of the day, I'm glad that we went and got this temporary reprieve from this serious situation.

Just as a heads up, I'm going to bouncing around from point to point, so don't expect a coherent or properly laid out format - at least, compared to the usual output.

Heading into the arena... like I said, we were in the cheap seats, which means we were practically near the roof of the Bell Centre, we had a good view of the ring and the set, which looked far smaller live and in person compared to television, where it looks like these massive video walls that make the superstars that emerge from these shows tiny in comparison... and that's not a problem from our view because EVERYBODY looks fucking tiny. But it's also interesting being there live because you get to see the superstars come out for an upcoming match and then you have commercials, backstage skits, stuff to entertain the live crowd like the DX Crotch Chop Cam or Dance Cam or whatever the fuck... and then they resume the show and have the other person come out.

Case in point, there was a match between murder clown Asuka and Liv Morgan, who seemed fine for someone who was killed by Chucky. So Asuka comes out to her brand-new horrible music - the music for a lot of these Superstars are fucking awful, by the way - so she comes out, she does her entrance, and then you have what I'd imagine is 20 minutes of fucking endless commercials and video packages... and then Carmella comes out because she's joining the commentary for the match; they're doing a couple videos on screen and all the way, this poor Asuka is just waiting there, bouncing around, doing whatever to engage the audience that's feeling for this fucking woman who's just DYING there... and THEN Liv Morgan comes out and they have the match, but it's like... fuck, why do they do this?

And it's not just fucking Asuka. They did this with GUNTHER as well. GUNTHER, the reigning, defending Intercontinental champion - fucking beast in the ring, the ring general moniker is well earned. I was able to watch some of the stuff he did in NXT UK when he was the long-reigning champion in that brand and he was fucking awesome. He slimmed down for the main roster, incredible presence and his work is phenomenal. Just going there to see GUNTHER in action was a highlight that weekend, no doubt. Anyway, same deal; he comes out, big entrance, big reaction... I don't know if GUNTHER was supposed to be babyface or heel, but the Montreal crowd cheered for this fucker. They like their Gunther and how could you not? Gunther is fucking awesome... but unfortunately, they also had him come out for his entrance and then they made him stand there for fuck knows how long while there were a billion video packages and commercials and I'm looking at GUNTHER and I'm like "that poor man just standing waiting for the commercials to end, sort of dying a death." I'm feeling sorry for fucking GUNTHER. That's fucking sad.

Now the good news is that once both had their respective matches, I forgot about the long waits. Asuka killed Liv Morgan in a match despite a bunch of other women showing up at ringside... none of which I could tell apart because I was too far and from that distance, everyone just looks the same. The only person I could make out was Nikki Cross, who was just being a crazy women on the announce desk and when she was getting close to one of the announcers - either Wade Barrett or Michael Cole, I don't call - there was a small "NONCONSENSUAL" chant, so I'm guessing that was a bad touch.

And Gunther retained the title over Madcap Moss in what I thought was a terrible match... because it was a long, competitive match that in a vacuum was fine, but it's GUNTHER defending the title against a guy named MADCAP. This should've been a short two-minute match that saw GUNTHER mutilate this poor bastard and adding another W to his fucking record. Other than that, it was a fine match with an ending that was never in doubt.

There was a tag-match somewhere along the way; Drew/Sheamus defeating some other team... this was the match nobody in our section cared about because they were chanting random things like "Thank You, Taker" - "Vince Screwed Bret" = "We Want Mami" - and eventually there was a "This Is Awesome" chant, but that didn't last long. I thought the match was fine. Not fantastic, but it was fine. There was also another tag match that saw Ronda and Shayna Bayzler defeat Natalya and Shotzi, who did come out in her tank and the benefits of live attendance is she gets off the tank and some dude swipes the fucking thing and someone was going, "That guy is stealing the tank girl's tank." I thought that was funny.

And of course, you had the big Sami Zayn at the end of Smackdown. He gets the Hogan treatment pretty much where he tries to talk and they just kept cheering him on. And this went on for five to ten minutes. He thanks the crowd in French, talks about how every year, everyone points to the sign and treat as the most important show of the year, but for him, tomorrow night, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And then he addresses Roman - who never showed up on TV, but did get an impassioned "Fuck You, Roman" chant that they blurred out. Sami faces the camera and say "Ecoute-moi bien. Demain soir, te chez moi, tabarnac."

And that got a huge pop... and that made it on TV, which surprised me but pleased me great. Because tabarnac, for those who don't know, is basically the French equivalent of fuck. So that made it on there - it was muted on the WWE clip. And then the promo with Sami saying it's not just him vs. Roman - him and the city of Montreal against Roman and he got a huge, monster reaction... and the first possible hint that maybe, just maybe, there was a bit of doubt in the finish that seemed all but set in stone. And there's a lot of debate over that finish and what should have happened, but I'm saving that discussion for the Elimination Chamber musings.

Now, I had assumed that they were going to do a couple matches for the ancillary shows - Main Event or what have you - but it turns out that's not the case. What happens is... they have a dark match before the actual Smackdown for the house, which, in this case was, Braun Strowman and Ricochet getting the win over the two guys from Legado Del Fantasmo in what I thought was a pretty good match. And then after the show, there was a Smackdown Women's title match between champion Charlotte Flair and Sonya Deville, which wasn't the most exciting thing, but people cheered for Charlotte when she won. And there was a Bray Wyatt/LA Knight street fight that we didn't stick around to see because we wanted to beat the traffic. However, Bray Wyatt and Uncle Howdy Doody did show up on Smackdown, they beat a couple guys, and they challenged whoever survived the Brock Lesnar/Bobby Lashley match at the PPV to a Wrestlemania match... so that's something to look forward to, I guess.

So however the show turned out on TV - and save for the Sami Zayn promo, I have not watched the entire show back on TV. Regardless, I had a great time, I enjoyed the show, I enjoyed soaking in the live experience as a whole. It's one less thing off the bucket list, was to attend a WWE TV taping, and I had fun there.

Elimination Chamber musings coming this Wednesday.

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