Credit: Matthew Davies & Prowrestling.net
Lilian Garcia kicked off the Smackdown taping with a pitch perfect rendition of our frankly dreadful national anthem, God Save the Queen. Fair play to Lilian. She made the dreary dirge sound almost inspiring with her impressive pipes.
There's a promo on the big screen saying Taker returns to Smackdown tonight, suggesting he isn't just here for the dark main event as I assumed….
Jack Swagger beat Alberto Del Rio in a No DQ match. Del Rio got what could more accurately be described as 'polite applause' than a sustained pop, but at this point in his flat lining babyface run, he may well take that. Lots of props including a cane, chair and ladders, involvement from Colter and Ricardo too, Swagger eventually wins the match of the night so far by pinfall.
Layla beat Aksana. Aksana was out first, not many here seem to know who she is. Next out was Layla. I thought she may get a decent reaction being British, alas she was greeted by crickets. Lilian doesn't help by announcing Layla as from Miami, Florida, but Layla has hardly aided her cause by eradicating her British accent almost totally. Plus, she's as dull as dishwater. Layla eventually won via a messy roll up as the Fandango chants began in earnest.
The Shield delivered a handheld camera promo that was recorded backstage. They hinted at going after the tag titles whilst Dean Ambrose announced it's him versus Taker tonight. Ambrose promised to finish off The Dead man, or words to that effect.
Fandango beat Justin Gabriel. There was a Road Warrior-esque pop for Fandango. A vignette was shown on how his music got to number two on the iTunes chart over here. Whilst this was happening, his opponent surreptitiously slips into the ring. I'm 99 percent sure it was Justin Gabriel, but there was no announcement to confirm that and I was in the nosebleed seats. Fandango won a fairly basic match. Any excuse to hear that music again…..
Big Show beat Sheamus. The match failed to capture fans attention and was punctuated by chants for everyone from RVD to Fandango to disgraced soccer player Luis Suarez. Mark Henry came down and turned the steps over, this was enough to distract Sheamus and let Show pick up the win.
Wade Barrett beat William Regal. Lots of noise for these two as you would expect, sadly they weren't given much time in front of their very vocal home supporters. Barrett won in a couple of minutes. He didn't even get the courtesy of having his ring music follow him up the aisle, instead a second replay of the Triple H and Paul Heyman confrontation from Raw was shown.
Mark Henry beat Randy Orton via DQ. At this point it's became rather obvious that half the crew was in Nottingham tonight. Sheamus came down midway through proceedings and Brogue Kicked Henry for the DQ. Rather than being annoyed with his pal for costing him the match, Orton cheerily added an RKO to Henry's problems.
There was a Booker T backstage interview, which was interrupted by Khali, Santino, Prime Time Players and other also rans. It's all basically unintelligible but thankfully ended quickly enough.
A graphic on the TitanTron suggested it's The Shield vs. John Cena and Ryback on Raw next week. It's Cena's chance to continue what he started on Monday and undo all the good work done with Rolins, Reigns and Ambrose thus far.
The Undertaker beat Dean Ambrose via submission. Time for the main event. Not many sat down for Taker's entrance. It was first time I've ever seen it live, probably the last in all likelihood. Even after seeing it on TV all these times it's a genuine goose bumps moment. Ambrose and the Shield come through the crowd. What a buzz this must be for Ambrose, surely the highlight of his career so far.
Taker gave Super Cena a lesson in the art of believable selling before eventually making Ambrose tap to the Gogoplata. After the bell, that darn numbers game caught up with Taker. Roman Reigns gives him a meaty spear through the barricade followed by a power bomb through the announce table. The Shield stood tall over Taker at the point where I presume the taping ends.
After a while, The New Age Outlaw's music hit. They arrived to an ear-splitting reaction, which only increased when Triple H joined them. The three faces cleaned house to send the live crowd home happy. But wait……once Billy and Trips helped Taker to the back, Fandango's music hit and he came out for one final singalong. Lilian wished us goodnight and everyone left chanting the now unforgettable Fandango theme.
Final Thoughts: A decent nights entertainment, but, man, it really hurt having a Raw show run on the same night. I don't feel like I need to see Santino, Khali, Henry, Sheamus or Orton for a really long time. How come Dolph Ziggler wasn't on the card? Surely as the Blue brand champ he should have been in London for a second night.
WWE may have killed the cool factor to the Fandango thing in the U.S. with last week's Raw, but it was still red hot here, perhaps given our propensity to enjoy a chant and the music's natural fit into that. I didn't spend any money in the merch tents, but I noticed there were a lot of Sin Cara tees on sale (got to get rid somehow I guess) and that a programme would have set me back £15 ($23.)
My friend who accompanied me hadn't seen any wrestling since childhood. He enjoyed the show but his highlight by far was watching 16,000 do the Fandango. It'll grow old soon but for now it's really quite something to witness. Johnny Curtis must have been thrilled.