Lights…Camera…Smackdown! The popular WWE extravaganza rolled into the Nassau Coliseum on June 4th and the atmosphere was raw and electric. Although only three quarters of the sixteen thousand plus seating was available for the event due to the set-up of the ring and corresponding theatrics, there was not a seat to be had. And even though the bulk of the crowd was predominately young adolescent boys, there was a smattering of “big kids” who most likely haven’t yet abandoned their video games or their bunk beds in their parent’s homes. But no matter. This crowd was amped up for some raucous WWE action.
The ring was set in the middle of the arena with a neat backdrop that featured a massive video screen and an expansive ramp that allowed the performers to enter the arena in a grand manner that only the world of Vince McMahon could offer. The festivities began with a barrage of pyro technics and loud heavy metal rock and roll. First up were the Divas, the WWE equivalent of foxy boxing. Alicia Fox opened it up with a lively session and the crowd ate it up. There’s something about female wrestlers that prohibits this writer from commenting upon in this forum, but suffice it to say the Fox(y) opening act was the perfect warm-up to get the crowd going. And as would be the trend all evening, the downtime between matches featured your typical WWE promos and propaganda on the big screen.
The crowd was then treated to what they were hungry for. Fan favorite Sheamus – all 267 pounds of him – entered the ring to ear splitting cheers. The Irish giant took on bad boy Antonio Casaro and the match exemplified the WWE ethos of beating a man when he’s down. Bodies were tossed out of the ring, and Sheamus finished it all off with his signature ten-in-a-row heart punches as he tied Casaro up on the turnbuckles. The crowd gleefully counted each punch in unison and rose to their feet in triumph as Casaro got pinned and counted out. More video screen entertainment followed as chants of “we want Ryder” filled the arena. But the young fans would have to wait for him, as out came the Uso Brothers (twins Jimmy & Jey) instead. The tag team match was followed by a spirited bout between Justin Gabriel and Curt Hawkins. The fans were on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting the acrobatic 450 Splash move that Gabriel is known for. And much to their joy – and to the detriment of Hawkins – they got it. Gabriel perched himself upon the turnbuckles and ripped off a wild double flip (the 450 Splash) only to land on top of the sprawled out Hawkins. Nurse!
The next mini intermission featured a nice tribute to our troops and it had the crowd on their feet chanting “USA” at the top of their lungs. The Divas that came on next kept the fans motivated. Akansa took on Cameron Lynn in the WWE “Tons of Funk” segment. There is no doubt that these ladies are hot, but you couldn’t pay me to get in the ring with them. Tough girls for sure! Following that, fan favorite Randy Orton and tag-team partner Daniel Bryan came onstage to offer some classic WWE shtick, prepping the audience for their battle with the evil Shield. Bryan pleaded for a chance to win back the respect and deservedness of being paired with Orton, and even though they exited the ring somewhat prematurely, the fans know that this was to be continued.
Matches between Y2J (Chris Jericho) and Curtis Axel kept the WWE faithful alive and enthusiastic. Axel entered with his loud mouthed manager Paul Heyman, harkening me back to the days of the Wizard and George the Animal Steel. As expected, Y2J beat Axel into oblivion, rendering him a slithering snake wiggling his way out of the ring into safety. Suddenly the arena was filled with explosive fireworks and shredding guitars. Out came Kane only to be outdone by a siren squealing ambulance that screeched up to the ring to deliver bad man Ryder.
Some more WWE antics ensued when a well-dressed Damien Sandow did some sketch comedy with Sheamus, dissing Nassau County residents while being the recipient of thunderous boos. Sandow played the perfect WWE bad guy and as expected, the patience of Sheamus wore thin real fast. Lights out for Damien and the crowd was elated. Ryder and playboy Fandango mixed it up next and finally it was time for the Shield. The evil duo entered through the crowd at the Coliseum, and after the expected bashing of Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton, Sheamus and Kane stormed back into the ring for an all-out slugfest. The match ended with Bryan standing triumphantly atop the ropes, arms outstretched towards the heavens in victory. The little big man from Washington ended the night with his respect intact.
Say what you want about the legitimacy of the WWE. Is the action real or fake? Either way, these men (and women) are truly athletic and perform feats and stunts that require hours of training and dedication. I don’t care whether it‘s genuine or contrived, flying off the turnbuckles and landing on a mat takes guts and it can’t feel all that good. Regardless, Smackdown at the Coliseum was a night of fun filled family entertainment. It almost made this writer want to dig up his Spiderman pajamas and move back home with Mom and Dad.