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WWE says farewell to Joe Louis Arena; Hell in a Cell PPV confirmed for new arena

WWE invaded Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena for one last time last night with a Smackdown Live house show featuring a Universal Title match between Monday Night RAW superstars Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe. Here are some notes from the show.

United States Championship
AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens

The show opened with an AJ Styles promo that was filmed backstage to hype his United States title defense against Kevin Owens. Styles acknowledged that this was WWE’s final show at the JLA. The two men put on a solid match with Styles retaining his title via pinfall after hitting the Phenomenal Forearm.

Aiden English & Erick Rowan vs. Tye Dillinger & Sin Cara

Aiden English came out and sung a promo on Detroit. He called the Joe Louis Arena a disgusting building in a depressing town with pathetic people. English did a great job here and got some awesome heat. Rowan would come out to join him wearing his clown sheep mask and they’d take on the team of Dillinger and Sin Cara. Dillinger and Sin Cara won the match with Dillinger pinning Rowan for the victory.

Everyone would leave the ring except for Rowan, who in a strange turn of events proceeded to blow up a balloon. He’d then make a call out saying that there was only one person crazy enough to take on “us” implying him and the clown sheep mask. That man would be Luke Harper.

Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper

Harper hit his discus clothesline right away and got the pin. The match lasted about 10 seconds.

Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn

Corbin was originally scheduled to take on Brock Lesnar tonight but word around the campfire is that Brock likes working with Samoa Joe so much that the match was changed fairly recently and Joe was scheduled to make a trip to Detroit. Corbin beat Zayn here via pinfall after hitting End of Days.

Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The New Day (c) vs. Breezango vs. The Usos

Lots of thrusting in this one. The New Day retained the titles after Kofi and Big E hit the Midnight Hour on Jey Uso to get the pin. There was some really fun comedy spots with Breezango and The New Day that got over with the crowd.

Universal Championship
Brock Lesnar (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Samoa Joe

Definitely a big fight feel here. No one in the house was sitting down when Lesnar came out (sporting the special edition “Last Throw at the Joe” t-shirt that fans lined up for in droves before the show) alongside Paul Heyman. Joe locked in the Coquina Clutch on multiple occasions and really wore Brock down with it but the end result saw Lesnar hitting the F-5 and retaining his title. A quick high-octane match from these two – exactly what you’d expect. Lesnar sold the Clutch very well. There was no pyro for Lesnar’s walk out but we did get some strange sounding audio pyro.

INTERMISSION

Naomi, Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Tamina & Carmella

This was the first match back from intermission. The crowd was beyond dead during this match. Carmella stood out the most for me here. She barked at the crowed the whole time, mocked Charlotte and put over Naomi very well. They engaged in a staredown before the match with Naomi raising her title and Carmella raising her Money in the Bank briefcase. It’s almost like we’re getting more attention on Naomi versus Carmella than Naomi versus Natalya which is strange since that’s the big title match at SummerSlam. Nattie is feeling more like a placeholder with Carmella being the future direction of the division. It’s amazing how much she’s improved since NXT. Naomi hit the Rear View on Carmella to get the victory and the faces seemed to acknowledge just about every fan on the way down the aisle. Naomi, Charlotte and Becky really seemed to get along and enjoy working with one another. It wasn’t a terrible match, the crowd just didn’t seem to care for it.

Jinder Mahal & Dolph Ziggler versus Shinsuke Nakamura & Randy Orton

The Singh Brothers came out first to introduce Jinder. There as an issue with Jinder’s mic but it seemed like he was cutting the same promo he’s been cutting every week on Smackdown Live. Ziggler came out to join him. Nakamura then came out which brought the fans to their feet and brought their cell phones out of their pockets to take a video of his entrance. Then came Orton. This crowd loved them some Randy Orton.

After Shinsuke took a beating the whole match, the end saw him hit the Kinshasa on Jinder before Orton hit the RKO out of nowhere on Ziggler to get the pin. Orton hitting the RKO was by far the biggest pop of the night. Despite the match on a whole being your typical long boring “heels beat on the face before face gets the hot tag and goes crazy” tag team match, the pay off was huge and it really worked out. Orton and Nakamura both took to the top rope to celebrate and pose for the fans.

John Cena vs. Rusev (Detroit Street Fight)

Cena sent the fans home happy getting the victory after putting Rusev through a table with an Attitude Adjustment. He cut a great promo that we’ve attached below on the Arena as well. This was a great send off for an Arena that housed plenty of memories for Detroit wrestling. Cena also acknowledged that this was where he made his WWE PPV debut, which came against Chris Jericho at Vengeance back in July of 2002.

I’ve seen plenty of hockey games and plenty of wrestling events at the Joe Louis Arena over the years. This was a very nostalgic night but I’m also very happy to see this arena go. It did not age well. I’m excited to see Little Caesars Arena for the first time on October 8th when WWE brings their Smackdown Live exclusive Hell in a Cell PPV to town (the pre-sale was announced during the event) and I can’t wait to see the Red Wings play there during the 2017-2018 season.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has also taken note, scheduling their UFC 218 PPV at Little Caesars Arena on December 2nd. The new arena will also bring the Detroit Pistons back downtown for the first time since the 70’s and help continue to build up a great city that is clearly on the rise once again.

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