Thanks to rajah.com reader Alex Jakewhey for sending this in!
I had never been to any sort of event at the Hammond Civic Center and was expecting it to be relatively empty, especially considering the heavy snowfall. I was pleasantly surprised to see the place was packed and fairly close to sold out. The capacity of the building was around 4,200, so it was very small.
The show opened with Tony Chimel announcing the main event for the evening – CM Punk taking on all three members of the Shield in a 3-on-1 handicap match. He also announced a Divas Championship match would take place as well as an Intercontinental Championship match.
They should’ve brought Bad News Barrett out for this, but Chimel was then forced to let the crowd know that Daniel Bryan would not be appearing due to an injury. Bryan had been advertised to take on Bray Wyatt in a Falls Count Anywhere match (previously a Steel Cage match, but whatever), and no replacement was announced for it. I couldn’t quite hear him at this point due to the chorus of boos, but some sort of refund was offered to whoever wanted it if it was claimed before the second match.
The first match of the evening was Kofi Kingston vs. the Miz. Both superstars looked to be having a blast, and each were trying to garnish the loudest pops. I’d say it was mixed down the middle in terms of reaction, but the crowd was certainly into it. Good match overall to start to the show. Kingston won with Trouble in Paradise.
Afterwards, the lights went out and the Wyatt Family’s theme played. Bray Wyatt came out to the ring alone which was odd to see. He got a surprisingly decent pop. Wyatt cut a promo and challenged anybody in the back to a Falls Count Anywhere match. Out comes the Big Show…
The match was pretty awful. Bray looked great, but Big Show wasn’t very exciting. He did his usual “shh” chest slap spots and ended up ripping off Wyatt’s shirt completely which was a bit…different…to see. Being that this was a Falls Count Anywhere match, Wyatt grabbed a kendo stick from under the ring. It was used a couple of times, but had absolutely no sound effect whatsoever other than when Show broke it in half. I don’t believe the superstars wrestled outside the ring even once. Short match. Wyatt won CLEANLY with Sister Abigail.
I am honestly wondering how we’re expected to believe Big Show poses any threat to Brock Lesnar after losing cleanly to Bray Wyatt.
The next match was a “Diva’s Championship” match between AJ Lee (w/ Tamina Snuka) and Natalya. I put the quotes there because Natalya won the match via submission with the Sharpshooter, yet AJ left with the Diva’s title. Obviously wasn’t supposed to be a Championship match, and it sure had some people in the audience confused. Average match. Nothing noteworthy other than AJ getting a huge pop.
Up next was Justin Gabriel vs. Tyler Breeze. Nobody knew who Tyler Breeze was, and he got a lot of heat thanks to that. He played his John Morrison x1000 gimmick to the fullest. Nobody was into this match. I left to get a hotdog, as did many others. Breeze won. I’m not exactly sure how it ended.
Intercontinental Championship match was up next. Damien Sandow came out and cut a promo. Lots of heat. Big E Langston got one of the bigger pops of the night. This was a very mediocre match. Sandow played off the crowd a lot which helped, but it was pretty cut and dry overall. Langston won with the Big Ending to retain.
Next up we saw Bad News Barrett wrestle Tyson Kidd. This match wasn’t too bad. It was nice to see Barrett back in the ring. Barrett cut a promo ripping apart Hammond’s crowd before the match. Barrett won, but I can’t recall the finisher he used.
Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) vs. R-Truth was next. They had instructed us before the show began to vote via text whether it would be a Dance Off or a regular match. Luckily, the crowd voted for the wrestling match. The crowd was really involved in this one. Truth got a huge pop and the opposite for Fandango. R-Truth ended up winning with his finisher.
The main event was next and was undoubtedly the match of the night. It was really, REALLY good. CM Punk came out first and got easily the biggest pop of the night, which was anticipated as Hammond is no more than 20-30 minutes outside of Chicago. The Shield followed and got a decent amount of heat mainly due to the fact they were wrestling Punk. They still had a good deal of signs in the crowd and plenty of supporters. I would say this was better than their match at TLC last month, and several others agreed with me. The Shield looked strong throughout and beat Punk to a pulp, but Punk came back and ended it with a GTS on Ambrose for the pin.
Noteworthy spots in the match included Reigns hitting the dropkick on the ring apron that he used against Punk on Raw – it looked fantastic. Punk hit Ambrose with exactly 40 punches in the corner simultaneously. The crowd chanted along to all 40. Reigns went to hit Punk with a spear outside of the ring and ended up colliding with the ring steps. He was out from that for a completely inadequate amount of time. Legitimately looked like he fell asleep out there. Punk was limping pretty badly after the match…couldn’t tell if he was selling or not.
The show was a lot of fun overall. The card certainly could’ve been better as far as star power goes. It was a huge bummer that Bryan couldn’t make it, along with Harper/Rowan and the Usos, but I still feel like I got my money’s worth. The event lasted slightly over 2.5 hours.
1. CM Punk
3. AJ Lee
4. Kofi Kingston
5. Big E Langston
1. Tony Chimel (Bryan announcement)
2. Damien Sandow
3. Tyler Breeze
5. The Shield