WWE Live Review: The Odyssey Belfast, November 2013
Each year I am fortunate enough to be able to not only attend the bi-annual live wrestling shows by the WWE, but we also get to review them as well.
This year however we have decided to take a slightly different slant with out review and instead of just giving you our loyal and treasured readers a run down of the matches, our reviewer Phil Allely has opted to critique the whole event instead.
WWE live shows over the last few years especially have seen some of the industry's biggest names grace NI's shores and of course that has led fans to turn out in record numbers to see them. I for one have been fortunate enough to have seen such names as Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker and Kane all enter the ring in the Odyssey Arena. There have also of course been appearances by more modern day heroes such as CM Punk, John Cena and Rey Mysterio, amongst others.
But this November we saw a card that was decidedly big name light and you know what it worked better for it. Irishman Sheamus was injured and we were also missing some heavy hitters like John Cena and Daniel Bryan, but believe it or not that actually made things easier for us fans.
Yes the merchandise stands were still full of Cena T-shirts etc. and the crowds did buy it, but the fun thing here for me was the way the show was laid out.
In the last few years the WWE has been slated for its more family friendly approach to wrestling and a distinct lack of blood, violence and extreme actions. However, one thing I will state is that whilst pay-per-views are of course pre-planned and scripted (due to TV cameras etc. being present), live house shows a re a very different beast.
Here mid-week in November Belfast was treated to a reasonably well-paced collection of matches that showed some of the WWE's mid-card players at their best and a few main eventers prove their worth.
This was a show for the whole family. The matches mostly featured a high level of audience involvement, there were elements of comedy and when the violence did kick in, it was not only believable, but intriguing.
A live WWE show is an amazing thing to witness. This is something that takes in so much more than the card itself. For many fans there are opportunities to perhaps stay or visit the hotel where the wrestlers stay and meet them. There are also a select few VIP events and shop-based meet and greets. One amazing aspect is the fact that fans in their droves will even visit the venue early to purchase merchandise prior to the show as well.
What I witnessed here was a WWE live show that was put together to prove a point. There were many big names missing, but this was the chance for the rest of the on-the-road crew to showcase their wares and they did it very well indeed.
Highlights for me were the wonderful entrance through the crowd by The Shield (which occurred right beside my seat). The long-awaited appearance by Goldust (who looked in amazing shape). The amazingly comedic performance by Santino against Fandango was the perfect opener too.
There were a few wee niggles however, a few matches over-ran and lost their appeal, plus I personally would have put the Rhodes/Big E Vs Shield match as a post-interval match rather than a pre one. One shame was that even though they mentioned him by name (and his family were there) NI wrestling legend Finlay was not there to make a surprise appearance.
All in all this live WWE show ticked all the boxes and yes there were some empty seats, but that is happening everywhere. The talent shone through and that is what counts.
Roll on the next live show in early 2014.
By Phil Allely