Thanks to WrestlingINC.com readers Greg, Zach, Dan and Kyle H for sending in reports for last night's WWE live event in Cedar Rapids, IA. Also, thanks to @dan_moris for the photo above from the show. I combined the reports into the one below:
It was a great show with a fun atmosphere, the arena it was roughly 85-90% full. Pretty good crowd for a snowstorm raging outside. They were pretty loud all night, at least for the main matches.
* The first match was Dolph Ziggler vs. Damian Sandow. Ziggler was the first out to the ring and he was greeted with a big pop. Fans really seemed into him, he got the third or fourth biggest pop of the night. It was a fun, fast-paced match that Ziggler won with the Zig Zag. Sandow played the heel role perfectly and was eating up the boos (there were a lot of them). My voice was gone by the end of the match, which was a good sign to how the night was going to go.
* The second match of the night was Zack Ryder va. Alexander Rusev. No Lana at ringside. Russev looked strong from the start. Ryder got in his moves and a "Woo Woo Woo" before Russev got the win. with the Camel Clutch. He cut a typical foreign heel promo and the crowd chanted "USA!" at him. He pretty much dismantled Ryder.
* WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee vs. Natalya was up next. Per AJ, due to her friendship with Vickie Guerrero, this announced Diva's Title Match was turned into a non-title bout. Tamina was ringside and she did a good job interacting with the fans. Crowd was surprisingly quiet for most of the match. I think the crowd couldn't remember if they should cheer or boo AJ. A "CM Punk" chant broke out at the beginning of the match and AJ responded well, playing up her sadness with the audience which endeared her even more to the smarks. The chants didn't last long, and they were the only "CM Punk" chants of the night. It's hard to not appreciate a match with Nattie, because it's so easy to tell that she loves what she does. Natalya won with the Sharpshooter in a decent match.
* The fourth match (and the best match of the night, I thought) was the Usos and Sheamus vs. the Wyatts. Sheamus and Bray were both golden in the match. Sheamus came out to a huge pop. Very good match with a mix of everything. There was a fun comedy spot where Sheamus was tagged in and took out Rowan then went after Harper on the apron and Bray jumped off the apron and hid. A bit out of character for him, but it worked really well. Sheamus pinned Rowan after hitting the Brogue Kick. Again, this was an excellent match that went probably twenty minutes. Afterwards, Sheamus greeted and signed autographs with EVERYONE at ringside. He did a really good job playing to the crowd and seemed happy to be there.
* R-Truth emceed a dance-off between Xavier Woods and Jinder Mahal. Woods wins, obviously. Then Mahal challenges Truth to a match. Crowd was into the dance-off. The match had it's moments, but wasn't spectacular. Truth with the win. Afterwards, Woods gets announcer Tony Chimel in the ring to dance with him.
* Next was Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins (w/ Dean Ambrose) vs. Kofi Kingston and The Big Show. The Shield came through the crowd, which was really cool. Big pop for Big Show. He's such a pro. Has the crowd in the palm of his hands as a face. Cedar Rapids is close to where Rollins grew up, so I think they tried to give him a moment for the crowd to cheer/acknowledge their home-state guy, but unfortunately I don't think enough realized he was actually from Iowa to generate any sort of noticeable reaction. Similar to previous match where the heels kept the weaker face (Kofi) in their corner for a long time before the fan favorite (in this case, Big Show) was able to tag in and clean house. Big Show pinned Rollins with the choke slam. There was a lot of tension between Ambrose and Reigns the whole time, which led to the finish. Ambrose plays the unhinged crazy guy very well. The crowd really enjoyed this match.
After the match, the Shield argued among themselves in the ring until the lights go out and the Wyatts come out. Big crowd pop for the moment. As the two stables faced off, the crowd chanted "this is awesome." There was a short brawl with the Shield clearing the Wyatts out of the ring and Reigns nailed Harper with a spear. The Shield celebrated in the ring afterwards.
A good portion of the crowd half-expected to see Hulk Hogan. During the pre-show tweeted images from backstage, one clearly showed Hogan. But, other than a video featuring the Hulkster for the WWE Network, there was no sign of him.
* The main event was Daniel Bryan vs. Kane in a steel cage. Bryan was over like crazy and got a huge pop. Kane got some good heat. It was a typical cage match that resulted in the ref taking a running drop kick from Bryan, then Bryan hit the running knee on Kane, but no ref was in there to count it. Bryan checked on the ref, which allowed Kane to get his wits about him and he choke slammed Bryan, but Bryan kicked out. Bryan won after hitting the running knee. He then celebrated on top of the cage. The "Yes!" chants were crazy.
This was a great house show and the roster there was incredibly solid. The three other people I went with who aren't big wrestling fans all loved it and had a blast. One of them is ordering the Network now, since it was being plugged throughout the show.
Daniel Bryan merchandise was the biggest seller there; his foam hand and Cena's foam hand were both for sale, but Bryan's was $5 more, for whatever that's worth. They were still selling CM Punk merchandise, and quite a bit was purchased by the looks of it.
1. Daniel Bryan
3. Dolph Ziggler/Big Show (tie)
2. Jinder Mahal (during dance-off)
Faceoff between Wyatts and The Shield