For the first time in three years, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) brought its renowned blend of world-class professional wrestling action in the Philippine capital of Manila last Friday, September 20 with a live event that featured nine compelling matches with four title contests.
The passionate crowd inside the iconic Araneta Coliseum witnessed dynamic performances from established names and up-and-coming talents in the industry, standing in awe of the fantastic finishes, incredible displays of courage, and entertaining back-and-forth battles.
Of the many great moments from the show, here are just six of the evening’s best highlights.
6. Kevin Owens gets warm reception with win over Andrade
Kicking off the evening was Kevin Owens, who received a boisterous ovation from the crowd as the speakers all over the arena started to play his signature entrance music. This scene was quite unusual for the 35-year-old native of Quebec, Canada as every time he made his way to the ring in the past, he would always get a chorus of jeers from the fans.
It was different in Manila as the Filipino audience showered him with adulation as he walked towards the squared-circle for the night’s curtain-raiser attraction against Mexican extraordinaire Andrade “Cien” Almas.
Owens repaid the admiration that he got from the Filipinos by giving them another reason to celebrate, clinching a victory over Almas with the notorious Stunner, a finisher that was popularized by WWE legend “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
5. EC3 wins 24/7 Title, but R-Truth gets it back right away
EC3 had every right to complain after being defeated by King Of The Ring 2019 finalist Chad Gable in their Manila encounter. However, he did not want to go back in the United States empty-handed.
As 24/7 Champion R-Truth, who served as the special ring announcer of the match, was busy applauding Gable for his victory, EC3 deviously rolled him up for the pin to capture the green-laced belt for the second time in his career. A brief game of cat-and-mouse between him and R-Truth ensued afterwards.
Unfortunately for EC3, his reign as the titleholder did not last long. With a little assist from Gable, R-Truth reclaimed the hardware, making him a 17-time 24/7 Champion.
4. Roman Reigns shuts off Sami Zayn
Sami Zayne claimed that he was not supposed to compete at the event as he was still recovering from the beating that he had at the hands of The Undertaker on the September 10 episode of SmackDown Live. He was there just to act as Shinsuke Nakamura’s spokesperson.
However, he got a bit pompous about it after his close ally Nakamura successfully defended the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Zayn grabbed the microphone and issued an open challenge to any person in the locker roon.
Much to Zayn’s disappointment, the athlete who answered the call was none other than multiple-time world champion Roman Reigns, who secured the 1-2-3 by hammering Zayn with the Superman Punch and then hitting a thunderous spear.
3. Bayley manages to survive Charlotte Flair
Manila was in for a treat as Bayley defended her SmackDown Women’s Title in a Street Fight versus Charlotte Flair. After a grueling brawl filled with steel chair shots and kendo stick hits, Bayley got her hand raised by sending Charlotte head-first into a strategically-placed steel chair in the corner of the ring.
Bayley may have been able to retain the gold, but the last laugh went to Charlotte as she attempted to put her opponent through a wooden table with a Frogsplash and then a Powerbomb. The table may not have broken, but her message was crystal clear.
2. Shinsuke Nakamura overcomes Ali in thriller
The red carpet was rolled out for a professional wrestling royalty as “The King Of Strong Style” Shinsuke Nakamura graced the Manila show with his presence by putting his WWE Intercontinental Championship on the line against high-flying Ali in what was easily one of the most breathtaking matches of the night.
Both men immediately engaged in a back-and-forth war of attrition from the opening bell, swapping solid strikes and momentum-shifting maneuvers. With a bit of interference from Sami Zayn, Nakamura was able to connect on the devastating Kinshasa to pick up the win and retain the Intercontinental Championship.
1. Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan figure in epic encounter
In the main event of the evening, Kofi Kingston staked the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against arch-nemesis Daniel Bryan in a showdown that turned out to be way better than their WrestleMania duel for the same belt earlier this year.
Neither of the two would give each other any quarter for the whole bout as both men traded their best offense all throughout the highly-anticipated rematch. After nearly 15 minutes of exchanging move after move inside the ring, Kingston sent the crowd into a rapturous refrain of applauses by defeating Bryan via pinfall after delivering the Trouble In Paradise.
Many underestimated the return show of WWE on Philippine soil because the lineup of superstars was not all that impressive. But although there were only a few big names, WWE compensated with the quality of matches, some of which are worth television airtime.
Even in the absence of the likes of Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins or Finn Balor, WWE saw to it that the three-year wait of its fans would be well worth it as it focused more on the real elements of professional wrestling—ring psychology, emotion, passion, and solid heart.
Several fans have forgotten these aspects of the performance art, but the recently-concluded WWE event in Manila was a stark reminder as to why most of us turned into professional wrestling fans in the first place.