For over 500 days, WWE had to perform in front of an empty house. The fans’ energy was sorely missed because of the pandemic. Over the last several weeks, however, that all changed.
WWE hit the road and fans were finally back in attendance. It all started on July 16, when SmackDown aired live from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Money in the Bank and RAW followed suit, taking place in Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas respectively. But their first house show took place this past Saturday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
As a native of western PA, I go to wrestling shows in the Steel City all the time with my mom. The last event we went to was when NXT came to town on January 10, 2020. It feels like forever ago, so we couldn’t wait for the chance to go to another one.
I honestly wondered how big the crowd was going to be. I’ve seen live events in Pittsburgh that were packed, and others that were nearly empty. But once we walked into the arena, I could tell it was going to be a crazy night.
Granted, I think there were two reasons why there was a massive crowd. For starters, this was the first WWE house show in a long time. People were certainly anxious to fill the stands again and cheer on their favorite superstars in person.
However, the advertised main event is what really put butts in seats; Roman Reigns and the Usos vs. the Mysterios and a returning John Cena. No matter where I looked, there were people clad in Cena gear everywhere. It was completely understandable, especially since he has been gone for almost two and a half years.
After walking around for a little, we made our way to our seats. Shortly after, the show started, and we kicked things off with a title match. Natalya and Tamina put their WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships on the line against Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax.
As anyone who sees my Twitter knows, I absolutely love Baszler. It had been over a year and a half since I saw her live, so needless to say I was very excited. While her and Jax didn’t pick up the win, it already made my night getting to see the Queen of Spades once again.
Sheamus came out after and, as heels do, trash talked the crowd. He then laid out an open challenge for anyone in the back, but the United States Championship was not on the line. Instead, it was a match for a future title opportunity. To everyone’s surprise, Drew McIntyre’s music hit, and he answered the call.
But as he made his way to the ring, Jinder Mahal attacked him from behind. Sheamus took full advantage and had the upper hand early on. Despite all that, McIntyre rallied and ended up knocking off the champ, much to the crowd’s delight. Mahal tried to attack him again after the match, but the Scottish Warrior hit him and Sheamus with Claymores.
Up next, we saw Bianca Belair defend the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Carmella. While we have seen this twice already on TV, it was still a good match. The crowd was 100% behind Belair, and she used that momentum to beat Mella and retain the gold.
We got another title match after that, with Bobby Lashley putting the WWE Championship on the line against both Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. But when The New Day’s music hit, they didn’t come out. Lashley grabbed the mic and stated that the card is always subject to change. A video feed from backstage showed Woods laying on the ground, seemingly after an attack by the champ.
An irate Kingston demanded Adam Pearce let him go out and fight Lashley one-on-one. Pearce agreed and the fight was on. Luckily, it was a little more competitive than their encounter at Money in the Bank, but Lashley still picked up the easy win.
There was a brief intermission before the action started back up. Kicking things off in the second half was Riddle taking on one half of the RAW Tag Team Champions, AJ Styles. Early on, Styles’ partner, Omos, became a factor after repeated interference. However, he did it one too many times and the ref caught on, sending him to the back. Styles never recovered, and Riddle went on to win after hitting an RKO.
Nikki A.S.H. defended the RAW Women’s Championship next, battling Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley. The crowd was firmly behind Ripley the entire time. Several “Rhea” chants broke out before the match even started and continued well after the bell rang. Unfortunately, as Flair locked Ripley in the Figure Eight, Nikki rolled the Queen up to retain her title.
Without a doubt, Ripley got the second biggest pop of the night. I think you all know who got the loudest, which brings us to the main event of the evening. The Usos and Reigns came out first, with a good portion of the crowd behind them.
Rey and Dominik came out next and got a pretty good reaction as well. Then, Cena’s music hit, and the crowd went nuts. While I may not be as big of a fan of his as I used to be, it was still great seeing him again. Like the old saying goes, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
For most of the match, Reigns and the Usos controlled the momentum. Dominik took the brunt of the assault, and almost tagged Cena in several times. With each failed attempt, you could feel the crowd’s pent-up energy get bigger and bigger. Once he was finally tagged in, everything let loose, and he cleaned house.
Towards the end, the ref took a bump and Reigns looked to hit Cena with a spear. But Cena was able to get out of the way and hit him with an Attitude Adjustment. He caught Jey Uso with one too and picked up the win for him and the Mysterios.
Despite a few noticeable absences, specifically Alexa Bliss and Big E, I still thought it was a great show. Each match was entertaining in its own way, and you could tell the superstars were feeding off the energy in the arena.
From start to finish, the crowd was fully invested and kept it up all night. There was that electricity in the air that you can only experience in a live crowd. Now that WWE is back on tour, I can’t wait for them to return so I can experience it all again!