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The six best moments of WWE Live Manila

In its first event on Philippine soil in three years, the most recognizable organization in professional wrestling put on quite the show in Araneta.
Nissi Icasiano | Sep 24 2019

Last Friday, World Wrestling Entertainment held its live event in the Philippines in three years at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao. The passionate crowd witnessed nine matches that included four title bouts.

More about life in the ring:

Many underestimated this return show because the lineup of fighters—without the likes of Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins, or Finn Balor—isn’t impressive on paper. But WWE compensated with the quality of the matches, and focused more on the other elements of professional wrestling—ring psychology, emotion, passion, and solid heart.

Here are six of the evening’s best moments:

1. Kevin Owens gets warm reception with win over Andrade

Kicking off the evening was Kevin Owens, who received a boisterous welcome from the crowd as the speakers all over the arena started to play his signature entrance music. This was unusual for the 35-year-old native of Quebec, Canada; he would usually get a jeers from fans whenever he made his way to the ring.

Kevin Owens got an unusually warm reception at the Araneta.

But not in Manila. Here, the audience showered him with adulation as he walked to his opponent, Mexican extraordinaire Andrade “Cien” Almas. Owens repaid the admiration by clinching the victory against Almas with a notorious “stunner,” a finisher made popular by WWE legend “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

 

2. EC3 wins 24/7 Title, but R-Truth gets it back right away

EC3 had every right to complain after being defeated by 2019 King Of The Ring finalist Chad Gable in their Manila encounter. But he did not want to go back to the United States empty-handed.

EC3 got the R-Truth's belt for but a moment.

24/7 champion R-Truth served as the special ring announcer of the match. While he was busy applauding Gable for his victory, EC3 sneakily rolled him up for the pin to capture the green-laced belt for the second time in his career.

Unfortunately for EC3, his reign was brief. After a game of cat-and-mouse between the two wrestlers—with a little assist from Gable—R-Truth quickly reclaimed the hardware, making him a 17-time 24/7 champion.

 

3. Roman Reigns shuts off Sami Zayn

Sami Zayn says he was not supposed to compete last Friday, but was there as Shinsuke Nakamura’s spokesperson. He claimed he was still recovering from the beating he got at the hands of The Undertaker in the September 10 episode of SmackDown Live.

Roman Reigns answered Sami Zayn's challenged and won.

But he got a bit cocky after Nakamura successfully defended the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Zayn grabbed the microphone and challenged the guys in the locker room to take him on. Much to his disappointment, the one who answered the call was multiple-time world champion Roman Reigns, who secured the 1-2-3 by hammering Zayn with the Superman Punch followed by a thunderous spear.

 

4. Bayley manages to survive Charlotte Flair

Manila was in for a treat as Bayley defended her SmackDown Women’s Title in a street fight against Charlotte Flair. After a gruelling brawl filled with kendo stick blows, and strategically-placed steel chair hits, Bayley’s hand was raised in triumph.

Bayley fought off Charlotte for the SmackDown Women's Title.

Charlotte, however, had the last laugh 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 the message she sent was crystal clear.

 

5. Shinsuke Nakamura overcomes Ali in thriller

The red carpet was rolled out for “The King Of Strong Style” Shinsuke Nakamura as he graced the Manila show with his presence. He placed his WWE Intercontinental Championship on the line against the high-flying Ali in one of the most breathtaking matches of the night.

“The King Of Strong Style” Shinsuke Nakamura triumphed over Ali.

From the opening bell, both men swapped 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 his title.

 

6. Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan figure in epic encounter

In the main event of the evening, Kofi Kingston staked his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against arch-nemesis Daniel Bryan. Their showdown turned out to be way better than their WrestleMania duel for the same belt earlier this year.

Kofi Kingston pinned Daniel Bryan with the Trouble In Paradise move. 

Neither of the two would give each other a quarter in the bout as both men traded their best blows throughout the highly-anticipated rematch. After nearly 15 minutes of exchanging moves, Kingston sent the crowd into rapture by defeating Bryan by pinfall after delivering the Trouble In Paradise move.

 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICHARD ESGUERRA