UIUC SmackDown: State Farm Center hosts WWE’s ‘Saturday Night’s Main Event’

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Faith Allendorf

WWE wrestlers Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan fight against one another during WWE’s ‘Saturday Night’s Main Event’ on Saturday. The event featured an array of professional wrestlers such as ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey, Cody Rhodes, Rey and more.

By Faith Allendorf, Interim Summer Editor in Chief

Saturday night, State Farm Center hosted the World Wrestling Entertainment’s ‘Saturday Night’s Main Event.’ Hundreds of wrestling fans of all ages gathered inside the venue to cheer on their favorite wrestlers, enjoy the theatrics and bask in WWE’s ‘glorious’ world. 

Some of the professional wrestlers that made an appearance included ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey, Cody Rhodes, Rey and Dominik Mysterio, Rhea Ripley, The Miz, Drew McIntyre and many more.

The show started with a match between Liv Morgan and Rhea Ripley, and as with every fight that happened, there was a clear fan favorite. 

Morgan received cheers and shouts of encouragement throughout her entire fight with Ripley. Meanwhile, Ripley was booed each time she threw Morgan to the arena’s floor or demanded the audience’s praise. 

Much to the audience’s pleasure, Morgan defeated Ripley. 

Right after Morgan and Ripley’s fight, a video began playing on the big screen hanging from State Farm Center’s roof. 

Backstage, superstar Cody Rhodes was struggling on the ground in front of a Carle Hospital ambulance, as referees tried to help him. 

When Rhodes was carried away, another wrestling star, Seth ‘Freaking’ Rollins, menacingly came out from behind the Carle ambulance. He joked about hurting Rollins before their scheduled fight, saying that he “had the night off.” However, a WWE employee told Rollins he would be fighting anyways. 

The video was a teaser as to what would come later in the show. 

Next in the arena were Veer Mahaan and Bobby Roode. Like all of the wrestling stars, they walked out from behind the classic LCD screen walls to their individual theme song. Roode, the fan-favorite, had the audience screaming the lyrics to his song “Glorious Domination.”

After seven minutes, Roode tapped out after Mahaan squatted on top of him. Mahaan shot his fists in the air but looked upset when the audience booed him as he exited.

‘Roudy’ Ronda Rousey’s match against Natalya, a Canadian wrestler, was one of the most anticipated fights of the night. 

The battle was for the SmackDown Women’s Championship title. At the time of the fight, Rousey held the title. As she walked out to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Rousey had the shiny silver, blue-and-red champion’s belt slung over her shoulder.

Natalya was greeted with boos from the audience, and she was not happy about it. In response, Natalya often grabbed the announcer’s microphone and yelled “shut up” to the crowd. 

After 11 minutes, Natalya tapped out when Rousey pinned her to the ground with her legs. The crowd roared as Rousey left the arena, keeping the title belt. 

Before intermission, a wrestler known as The Miz hosted a segment called “Miz TV.” Miz’s special guest was Austin Theory — one of the youngest WWE superstars to win a U.S. title. 

However, Miz and Theory became too cocky for a couple of other wrestlers to handle. Halfway through the segment, fan favorites Rey and Dominik Mysterio entered the arena and initiated a tag team match where Miz and Theory fought the Mysterios. 

The match was over when Rey Mysterio jumped on top of Miz, the floor of the arena thundering with the force of the impact. The referee counted to three as Miz was pinned under Rey Mysterio, and the Mysterios came out as the winners. 

Seeing Rey Mysterio was Champaign resident Sean Beal’s favorite part of the night. 

“My favorite part was seeing Rey Mysterio,” Beal said. “I’m old, so that was the cool thing for me.” 

After intermission, another tag team match happened – this time, between The USOS (Jimmy and Jay Uso) and The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods.)

It looked like The USOS were about to win when suddenly, Canadian wrestler Sami Zayn came out from behind the walls, yelling at the wrestlers and distracting The USOS. The New Day took advantage of the distraction and quickly took down The USOS.

Zayn stayed in the arena as the next wrestlers, Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins, entered. 

The crowd recognized Rollins from the video that played after Morgan and Ripley’s fight and demanded an appearance from Cody Rhodes. Rollins was not pleased and, similar to Natalya, told the crowd to “shut up.”

Rollins was close to defeating Zayn and McIntyre, but a swift and sudden appearance from Rhodes changed the game. In under a minute, Rhodes had Rollins running out of the arena. McIntyre then quickly defeated Zayn.

Tilton resident Tyler Freeman said this match was his favorite of the night. Freeman has always rooted for McIntyre and said he was looking forward to seeing Rhodes. 

“I grew up watching wrestling my whole life, my dad loved it,” Freeman said. “I ended up loving the show … even though seeing Cody Rhodes didn’t pan out. He was there for two seconds.” 

The final fight of the night was the Women’s Championship Triple Threat match between Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Asuka and the current Women’s Champion, Bianca Belair. 

After sixteen minutes, Belair pinned Lynch to the ground, won the match and kept her title.

Jameel Jones and Karen Thomas, Champaign residents, came to the show to celebrate Jones’ birthday. Jones, a “renewed” fan, said that the event met every one of his expectations.

“This was my first experience at an actual live wrestling event and it was a bucket list item,” Jones said. “We had some super fans behind us which really helped the experience.” 

Although she was a new wrestling fan, Thomas said she loved the show. She specifically loved the audience.

“I loved the diversity of the audience and the dramatics of it all — I was laughing the entire time,” Thomas said. “I loved the passion and energy of the audience, that was my favorite part, just watching everybody have a good time.”

 

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