The WWE returned to Rupp Arena Saturday night with the Summer Slam Heat Wave Tour. Wrestling has always had a rich history in Lexington and Central Kentucky. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s Jerry “The King” Lawler would run his territory from Memphis regularly. Along side Lawler, “Superstar” Bill Dundee, “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant, and others would appear. Beside Lawler’s Memphis wrestling Randy “Macho Man” Savage and his family ran a territory out of Lexington. They would air every Saturday morning on WLEX 18. Eventually Lawler and Savage’s promotions would fall to the WWF which became the company that would take over the country.
WWF, led by Hulk Hogan, would still come to Lexington but not with the frequency that wrestling had been. When the WWF would make a stop Rupp Arena would sell out. Thousands would fill the arena to see stars such as Hogan, Andre The Giant, Jake “the snake” Roberts, and Randy Savage who had become a star on the national scene. Wrestling, like every sport, watched as the 1990’s brought a downtime in business but by the end of the decade the “attitude era” was in full effect. Led by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, DX, and The Rock wrestling as popular as it ever had been. In recent years though wrestling has taken a downward turn but thousand filled Rupp Saturday night to watch the stars of today.
The event started with a tag team championship match between former Smackdown champions Heath Slater & Rhyno and newly crowned champions the “B” team. Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas, current champions, are sons of WWF legends “Mr. Perfect” Curt Henning & Mike Rotundo. The B team played the part of the “heels”, bad guys in wrestling terms, and they retained their titles when Axel rolled up Slater holding the tights. Next match saw young upstarts Mojo Rawley win over No Way Jose. Zach Ryder came out next and defeated Mike Kanellis in the third match of the night. Kanellis after the match ran down the Lexington crowd and said he wasn’t going to leave without a win and made an open challenge to anyone in the locker room. Former MMA fighter and ECW World Champion Bobby Lashley answered the challenge and made quick work of him.
Next match was a women’s tag team bout. Back in the attitude era women wrestlers were more or less just eye candy and used to sell merchandise. In today’s business women are used for their ability. Former Women’s champion Bayley teamed with newcomer Ember Moon as they took on Alicia Fox & Liv Morgan. In a very good match Bayley and Moon came out on top. Next out was Elias and Bobby Roode. Roode is a former World Champion from the rival TNA promotion. Elias and Roode had a great match with the “Glorious” Bobby Roode winning. The Authors of Pain, newly called up tag team from development, took on Tyler Breeze & Chad Gable. The AOP with a decisive win.
The next match was a triple threat for the Women’s Championship. Natalya Neidhart, daughter of Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart, and Nia Jax challenged Alexa Bliss. Bliss who only stands at five foot tall plays the part of a heel to perfection. She comes out and plays to the crowd and feigning fear to the larger Jax. The match saw Bliss get the win when Jax had Neidhart defeated until Bliss rolled her off and stole the pin fall to retain. The main event saw Drew McIntyre and Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler take on arguably the two biggest stars in the WWE today in Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. This was the best match of the night. The ending saw Rollins hit his finishing move, the curb stomp, on Ziggler for the win.
You can watch the WWE every Monday and Tuesday night’s on the USA network starting at 8 PM. You can also subscribe to the WWE network for $9.99 month and watch the monthly pay per views as well as an extensive library of classic shows from the 1980’s to today.