WWE Manila 2019 Recap

Araneta Coliseum before Smackdown
Fans went to Araneta for a night of Smackdown!

The Araneta Colisuem had a different kind of energy for this wrestling show.

Last September 20, WWE made its return to Manila after three years. In 2016, WWE held a show in Mall of Asia arena, while this year’s show was held in the legendary Araneta Coliseum.

Both shows had fairly decent attendance but, the energy of the crowd for Smackdown Live was electric.

Here’s a rundown of the match card:

  1. Kevin Owens vs Andrade Cien Almas*
  2. EC3 vs Chad Gable (R-Truth as Guest Announcer)
  3. Carmella vs Mandy Rose with Sony Deville
  4. Mustafa Ali* vs Shinsuke Nakamura
  5. Charlotte vs Bayley (Street Fight for the Smackdown Women’s Championship)
  6. The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) vs The Revival (Smackdown Tag Team Championship)
  7. Daniel Bryan vs Kofi Kingston (WWE Championship)

*Bear in mind, we’d like to use the full names of the wrestlers because it’s so weird not hearing the rest of their names.

Kevin Owens vs Andrade Cien Almas

The night started off with a bang as Kevin Owens faced Cien Almas. People call him Andrade now but, there’s something lacking about having just one name.

Anyway, the crowd LOVED Kevin Owens. That’s already an understatement. Bringing out one of the hottest stars in wrestling for the opening match was a great idea to get the crowd alive after waiting for two hours in line.

Since this was a house show, you know that the wrestlers would pace themselves accordingly. We knew that we weren’t going to have the TV-level of intensity so tonight was all about having fun.

Owens and Almas had a pretty fun moment where the crowd would take turns cheering for Owens and jeering Almas. Kevin Owens even went into the crowd for a little bit to grab more people’s attention. He knows how to get you invested even without saying a damn word.

Everybody already loved Owens but, tonight was Cien Almas’ time to shine.

No matter how many boos he got, Cien Almas showed why WWE recruited him. The former La Sombra was so damn, good. Not saying that Kevin Owens was a bad performer. Cien Almas just had a unique flair to his moveset.

Owens also displayed his versatile moveset as he moved around the ring like a light heavyweight. You would forget that the guy is 270+ pounds. He’s so damn agile. I hope he wins the WWE Championship soon.

Almas. What can I say? He may not speak english but, his wrestling speaks for him. The whole crowd got invested in the match quickly and knew the right time to do the “Si” chants when he hit the Double Knees on Owens.

The match ended with an Owens stunner (his new finisher) to start the night off on a positive note. After the match, Almas would attempt to attack Kevin Owens but, he fell victim to another stunner by the Man from Marieville. STUN OWENS STUN.

EC3 vs Chad Gable

This match was not what we expected it to be. More on that later. R-Truth came out as the guest ring announcer and he brought the 24/7 Championship with him!

He does his usual “What’s Up”? bit. Before he performs his ring announcer duties, he plays with the crowd. Everybody chants for Li’l Jimmy to pin R-Truth. However, R-Truth’s best friend did not betray him.

Li’l Jimmy is such a good friend!

R-Truth finally starts ring announcing and introduces EC3. The one percenter easily got the crowd to boo him by simply saying that he was in Thailand in classic EC3 fashion. It’s such a shame we don’t get to see this side of EC3 on TV. He was, pretty much, on his Impact mode here. He knew how to make the crowd boo him immediately!

Next up, we had Chad Gable. Still a bit cookie cutter but, his wrestling was on another level. Every move he used was so good. The best way to describe his wrestling is crisp and clean. A little bit of mic work and he can be something even bigger than Kurt Angle. Seriously.

EC3 was able to showcase his powerful moveset to a crowd that might not have been too familiar with him, if the didn’t follow his career from NXT to Impact to NXT and to the Main Roster.

In the end, Gable would make EC3 tap out to the ankle lock which looks so damn excellent when Gable uses it. His amateur wrestling background really helped make the move look more devastating than usual.

The match may have ended there but, we got two bonus matches right after…

EC3 pins R-Truth (24/7 Championship)

Yep. We got a title change as R-Truth was celebrating with Chad Gable. EC3 performed a roll-up and won the 24/7 Belt. However, that celebration was short-lived.

30 seconds later…

R-Truth pins EC3 (24/7 Championship)

That’s right. R-Truth won the belt back after Chad Gable performed a German Suplex on EC3. That’s right. Manila was blessed with TWO title changes in a night.

Mandy Rose (with Sonya Deville) vs Carmella

This may have been the only down point of the event. The crowd was pretty quiet for some reason. Maybe people were just getting a little spent from all the excitement from earlier. Overall, it was an okay match. You could tell that Mandy Rose was the better of the two competitors tonight.

Sonya Deville performed the usual interference shtick to perfection. Carmella did well as the underdog babyface here. There wasn’t much to write about. Carmellas finished the match with a superkick and that was it.

Carmella went around ringside to take pictures with fans which was a nice touch. You can tell everyone loved her.

Mustafa Ali vs Shinsuke Nakamura with Sami Zayn (Intercontinental Championship)

Oh man. What can I say about this match? The entire crowd was on Nakamura’s side. Everyone loved him from his entrance all the way to the finish. Without heel antics, this would have been fun. Not a barn-burner but, fun.

Right after Ali’s entrance, you can feel the aura of the building change. Everyone was waiting for The King of Strong Style and he delivered. Both wrestlers’ moves were so fluid and free-flowing. This match was an example of making wrestling look so easy but, once you step in the ring, you realized how difficult it can be to execute the moves they perform. No, it wasn’t a technical masterpiece but Ali’s wrestling ability combined with Nakamura’s charisma and ring experience made this match so much fun. As PWR fans would say: SULIT BAYAD.

Right after the match, Sami Zayn would start to brag about feeling good and wanting to wrestler anyone in the back. And, boy he done messed up…

Sami Zayn vs Roman Reigns

I was not expecting Roman Reigns to come out this early in the night. Although, Roman Reigns in the midcard isn’t so bad. It gave him time to settle back into wrestling and slowly climb back to the main event scene.

What made this match so fun was the fact that we didn’t know who Roman would face, after Drew McIntyre got injured. Roman vs Sami was an excellent replacement match.

Both wrestlers got their signature moves in. I was so happy to see the Blue Thunder Bomb again. Seeing Roman’s OOOWAAAHH Taunt and the proceeding Spear was even better. This was a quick match done to send the fans to intermission happy.

Roman stayed around to take pictures with fans at ringside and you can tell the vibe for him has changed since his break last October.

Sorry to be a little grim for just a moment but, seeing Roman in person after the cancer treatment made me realize how much we should value these wrestlers. We don’t know when they’ll be gone from us and those memories of escapism could disappear forever.

I was seriously expecting people to boo Roman Reigns but, I was glad to barely hear any jeers from him. Look, Joe Anaoa’i seems like a good guy. Roman Reigns is just a character and I’m just glad he’s still with us.

Anyway, Roman ends the match with a Spear to send us to intermission.

Charlotte vs Bayley: Street Fight (Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Wow. Just wow. I wasn’t expecting this match to be so much fun.

This match became very interesting due to the recent events on WWE TV. Bayley is now a villain and Charlotte is now a hero.

People were cheering Bayley when the she came out but, the constant teasing of the table resulted in people starting to boo her. I love Heel Bayley.

Anyway, what made this match so much fun was the fact that Charlotte and Bayley went around the arena floor. It’s a Street Fight after all. However, we already know that Charlotte and Bayley are excellent competitors. They’ve grown together as wrestlers from the NXT days. You won’t hear any complaints here.

The true star of this match wasn’t even a living object. It was the table. That’s right ladies & gentlemen. The table stole the show.

The finish of the match had Bayley winning via Bayley to Belly. Everyone expected the table to be used but, the table was wrestling Strong Style. Charlotte hit a moonsault on Bayley to the table but, the table didn’t break.

As the true professional, Charlotte, tried to attempt a powerbomb to put Bayley through. The table still wouldn’t break. This isn’t the first time that Charlotte had issues with tables. It seems to be a recurring issue with any of Charlotte’s matches. Case in point: Charlotte vs Sasha from Hell in a Cell 2016.

The duo attempted to break the table a few times but, they ended it with Natural Selection. Charlotte just has the worst luck with tables.

The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) vs The Revival: Smackdown Tag Team Championship

Our second to last match featured the newly-crowned Smackdown Tag Team Champions showcasing their skills against New Day.

The matches started off with a hug battle. That’s right. It was a brawl between which tag team could do a better hug. Dash and Dawson’s was filled with so much friendship it could make you cry while Big E & Xavier’s was filled with so much positivity. I’d like to declare the hug-off a draw.

I simply couldn’t choose a winner.

Once we got into the action, you can tell there was something that stood out with The Revival. The way they would move was so flawless. They really are a throwback to the tag teams that were never broken.

Most WWE tag teams would disappear in a few months but, the likes of The New Day and The Revival have been together for years. It’s a breath of fresh air in a world where teams tend to disappear in a breeze.

Every move was calculated and precise. You can also say the same for the New Day. Their years of working together have given them moves that match their theme and everything.

However, The Revival won the match with a roll-up. No Shatter Machine today, sadly. 😦 I seriously wanted to see them perform their finisher. I remember watching Revival vs DIY in Takeover Toronto and it was so damn good. I hope they get back on that kind of level one day.

Daniel Bryan vs Kofi Kingston: WWE Championship

Bryan vs Kofi was our main event. Imagine that. We got a Wrestlemania rematch as our main event.

It’s still crazy to me that we got to see Daniel Bryan perform in-person, after all the injuries he suffered. The way he moves is just…wow. It makes me speechless.

Kofi has also taken things to another level as WWE Champion. And to think, the champion wasn’t even meant to be in the main event picture. Life works in mysterious ways man.

I can’t really say much about the event. I was just in awe of seeing Daniel Bryan and Kofi wrestle in Manila. We got a blend of technical wrestling and a little bit of high-flying moves and it was so damn good that it left me with no more words.

Venue

The show was held in the legendary Araneta Coliseum. Unlike the awkward angles of MOA Arena, Araneta gave us a more intimate view of the show. Even our view from the Upper Box was excellent.

Attendance

Sadly, the attendance wasn’t very good. People in the General Admission section ended up moving to the Upper Box so that people could fill in the empty seats. I’d say the event had about 7-8000 people in attendance.

The low attendance didn’t stop us from enjoying the show, however. Smackdown had a much different vibe than Raw did. You could tell that the fans were very passionate and truly appreciated each wrestler’s efforts barring the dumb CM Punk Chants.

People seriously need to get over it. He’s probably never coming back. Let’s appreciate the wrestlers who are right in front of us and sacrificing their bodies night in and night out.

Merchandise

Sadly, the merchandise selection was very limited. We had AJ Styles Gloves, signed wrestler photos, a few shirts and even a replica toy WWE Championship belt.

The shirts were limited to Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns and The New Day. We didn’t have any Daniel Bryan shirts or Sami Zayn merch. There really isn’t much to talk about when it comes to the merch.

Chants

There were so many memorable chants from the show. Here’s a few of our favorites:

  1. Li’l Jimmy
  2. YES! YES! YES!
  3. New Day Rocks and then transition to FTR
  4. Nakamura’s Theme Song
  5. SI! SI! SI!

Overall Thoughts

An amazing night.
Yeaoh!

Many observers would say that this show was a bust due to the low attendance numbers or the “disappointing” match card. However, I beg to differ. The fans for this show were much more passionate than your usual crowd. We knew when to shut up and let the action speak for itself. The event reminded us why we love wrestling.

The athletic ability and the charisma of the performers is unmatched. WWE Wrestlers are able to make us forget about our worries even for just two hours.

I, for one, would love to see the show come back soon.

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