Friday night saw a highly entertaining cavalcade of wrestling superstars descend upon the Wells Fargo Center in Philly for an excellent display of hard hitting action. The biggest surprise of the night had to be the semi-retired Chris Jericho in a rare in-ring appearance taking on Riot Nerd favorite Luke Harper. This was an excellent match, even more so than Jericho’s recent bout with Neville at the Beast in the East show last weekend. We were critical of Y2J for not putting the “man that gravity forgot” over in Japan but here the match was much less dominated by the Lionheart, with both men getting in a lot of great looking spots and near falls and the match looking like it could go either way before Jericho hit a Code Breaker out of nowhere and put the big man away for good. Speaking of Neville he also made an impressive showing, continuing his sort-of-feud with Bo Dallas and making short work of him with an amazing display of his usual high-flyng theatrics. Seeing the always perfectly executed Red Arrow in real life was almost worth the price of admission alone.
Another highlight was Kevin Owens, taking on John Cena for the US Title and continuing their “regular guy vs. superhero” blood feud. Owens addressed the crowd in typical heel fashion, bemoaning his loss of the NXT Title to Finn Balor and craving Cena’s US strap to replace it. You can say what you want about the staleness of Cena’s character but his in-ring ability has never been better, and he and KO put on a lengthy and engaging match that had the crowd on the edge of their seats, with too many near falls to count and several signature and finishing moves preformed on each man to no avail. Finally Owens frustration got the better of him and he was disqualified for hitting Cena with a low blow (you could almost hear the *ding* sound from the old N64 WWF games). Cena got to his feet and hit Owens with a final AA though, making all the kids with endless piles of “Never Give Up” merchandise happy.
After a fairly predictable though decent match between Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt (awesome to experience the “fireflies” first hand) it was time for the main event, Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins in a “Philadelphia Street Fight” for the World Title. And Street Fight they did, even after Rollins’ initial protestations and Philly baiting verbal jabs against ECW, chairs and tables flooded the ring and Ambrose took a wicked suplex into a table propped up vertically in the corner of the ring. That wasn’t enough to keep the Lunatic down though, as Bray Wyatt’s interference (which was legal, this being a no DQ Street Fight and all) was what finally allowed Seth to get the three count. Then the ring of course erupted into chaos, with Roman Reigns emerging to defend Ambrose and take on Wyatt, and even Sheamus making an appearance, seemingly trying to cash in his Money in the Bank Briefcase and pin Rollins for the Championship before being taken out by a Superman Punch from Reigns.
People may choose to avoid “house shows” like this, feeling that they aren’t worth their time due to not being televised, but I disagree. I’d prefer to see a show like this because the usual TV production bullshit, promos and vignettes are kept to an absolute minimum, and you’re treated to a night of long, great wrestling matches. Seriously, the show lasted about three hours and there wasn’t a dud on the card. How many Raws, Smackdowns or even PPVs can you say that about? WWE will be back at Wells Fargo for a Smackdown taping on October 6th, and even though that might not be as pure a wrestling experience as Friday night was, we’ll still be there. Believe that!