WWE at the St. Pete Times Forum: Jack Swagger, Big Show and a dick named Alex Riley

WWE Superstars, which airs on Thursday nights, featured Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston vs. Luke Gallows. According to Johnny (the 9-year-old super fan sitting next to me), Kofi’s signature move  is the “SOS," while Luke is a recovering drug addict who saw the error of his ways and joined forces with CM Punk and his Straight Edge Society. I won’t spoil the surprise, but let’s just say Johnny was pleased with the outcome of this match.

As the hour of the SmackDown was upon us, the main event a tag-team cage match involving Rey Mysterio and Big Show versus CM Punk and Heavyweight Champ Jack Swagger. The idea of this match was to pin the opponent down on the mat for three seconds, like any other standard match, but instead of just ropes to keep the wrestlers on the mat, there was also an 8-foot-tall fence.

After many close-call pins, 6-1-9’s (Rey’s signature move) and heckling from the crowd, the 7-foot-tall Big Show put 5”6’ Rey Mysterio on his shoulders and flipped Rey down onto Swagger for a pin. The four will battle it out again on June 20th in the “Fatal 4-Way Match."

The crowds exited as quickly as they came. As we wandered back to our cars, an SUV pulled out from a hidden parking lot, and someone inside it shouted “NERDS!” from the open window.

We turned our heads in bewilderment to see Alex Riley, in his sleeveless letter jacket, taunting fans from the driver’s seat.

In a cloud of dust he was gone, with heartfelt boos from the tired fans trailing behind him.

The combination of thousands of professional wrestling fanatics, an impressive pyrotechnics display and  overly priced memorabilia makes for a WWE invasion worth writing about.

A steady stream of bright orange John Cena t-shirts, Rey Mysterio lucha libre masks and supportive parents willing to spend a pretty penny to make their kids happy filtered into Tampa’s St. Pete Times Forum on Tuesday for a night of professional wrestling to be broadcast on three different WWE series.

The night’s lineup included bouts being taped for NXT (the WWE’s newest competition in search of the next big wrestling great), Superstars and the main event, SmackDown.

NXT, like a game show but with more spandex and muscle-bound hotties and less Chuck Woolery, isn’t why people pay the big bucks, but it’s something to keep the audience occupied. The wrestlers included Alex Riley, a high school jock who sports a sleeveless letter jacket; Eli Cottonwood, a supersize dude with a degree in psychology; and Percy Watson, whose gimmick seems as simple as wearing thick-framed red Ray Bans and smiling a lot. The show, which was recorded live as the premiere of the show's second season, was promising in more ways than one.

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