For as long as I’ve watched WWE it’s always been through a television. Until this week when, for the first time, I attended a live taping of Monday Night Raw with fellow Inside Pulse writer Chris Sanders. So while this week’s Raw didn’t offer up much worth talking about, it’s nice to learn that even the less than stellar episodes of Raw can still offer up a fun evening for the live audience, since those “less than stellar” episodes seem to pop up all the time.
First reaction upon entering the stadium: Everything is a lot smaller than I thought it would be. This is a reaction that I have seen from people attending shows before, but it’s still the first thing that struck me upon entering the building. Even watching the same show later on DVR, I was impressed at how big everything seemed on the screen.
The group I attended with was sitting in the corner behind the announce table on the side that is never on the camera. These were actually really good seats and we were able to see everything that was going on except for one small problem. During the tag team matches whichever heel was not currently in the match was standing in the corner, blocking my view of the ring. It wasn’t a huge problem. The view was only partially obstructed, and we could still follow the match on the big screen whenever we wanted, but it’s a problem that never occurred to me before Monday.
While I have spent many of these articles complaining about how much I hated the Commentators, it has become clear to me, after not having any commentary for a night what a necessary evil they are. See for one thing every now and then they have something important to say that it would have been nice to know about. (Like for instance everything they said during the Triple H segment. All we got was that he would be there next week and just a log segment of nothing before that. ) Plus during matches that didn’t get much crowd reaction (see: the Diva’s match) it was eerily quiet without commentaries to fill in the awkward silence.
Speaking of Diva’s matches, that was a really short match. As a result those who were using the opportunity to go to the bathroom or the merchandise table, probably ended up missing the start of the next match, which just happened to include Chris Jericho’s ring entrance. And that was like half the reason that I bought the ticket.
Fireworks are loud. Like really loud.
Did we make enough noise for Paul Heyman? It feels like we should have been louder for that man. Don’t get me wrong, I was screaming with everything that I had, but I don’t know how well it played out. Let me tell you how it went down for us in the stadium. See we didn’t know that Brock was sending someone in his place. So when Brock Lesnar’s music hit we started to cheer like the man himself was about to appear, and then when we waited several seconds with nothing happening, it became clear that Brock was not coming out. Then, this guy in a suit appeared. From across the stadium it was impossible to see who it was and the jumbo screen was still playing Lesnar’s video. As he got closer to the ring, the hair started to appear familiar, but I though that there was no way I would be seeing Heyman in the WWE ever again. It wasn’t until his face appeared on the big screen that I saw that Heyman has in fact returned to the WWE. While I cheered as loud as I could, I wish we could have given the man a major pop as soon as he entered like he deserved.
It was disappointing watching Raw last week to see that while Brock Lesnar Triple H, and John Cena were all on the show, the would most likely all be missing from the episode that I had tickets on. Of course I got to see Paul Heyman live so that made up for everything. But it turns out that Cena was there as he was in the dark match with Kane after the show went off the air. It was really cook that even though this was a match for the live crowd only, Cena still had his left arm bandaged and didn’t really use it throughout the match. For the first time ever, it was actually fun to watch Cena in “Super Cena” mode. When there’s no storyline to worry about, it’s nice to see Cena just trying to put on a good show. Plus I finally got to be a part of a “Lets Go Cena/Cena Sucks! Chant.” (I chanted for both sides just because it’s so catchy!)
And Now For an Additional Take From THE RAGER
Opening: I have been a wrestling fan for the majority of my life and I am almost ashamed to say that it took 24 years for me to attend a live wrestling show. And it may not have been a great show for the television audience, I had an amazing time and I’m sure Joel would say just about the same.
What I loved:
WE GOT INTO THE ARENA WITH ALL SIX OF OUR SIGNS! I wasn’t terribly worried about most of our signs (I was most worried about my pro-Chris Masters poster) but in true stealth/walking-with-confidence fashion, we got past the sign checkpoint.
I assumed we would get at least one dark match but it didn’t occur to me that they would be recording Superstars (a couple of solid matches). The overall atmosphere was pretty fantastic and it was hard not to be a little kid (which fit right in with the surroundings) as all the visuals during the show were pretty fantastic.
I know this is gonna sound corny but one of the biggest enjoyable things from the night was the immense and genuine excitement for John Cena. We had a group of younglings in the row in front of us. They were quiet and had a look of disappointment to only get Cena via satellite. Their mom looked kinda worried and asked us when it all ended and we told her about the usual dark match after Raw and so they stuck around (when a surprising number of folks bailed the second the bell rang on the Punk vs Bryan & Tensai match). And sure enough, the was Cena ready to face Kane and these kids, who were quietly and politely sitting in their seats all night, instantly came out of their seats and had all kinds of excitement. It was a pretty cool moment to witness. I know it’s not cool to be in favor of WWE pandering to the kids (trust me, I was always on that train too) but I had memories of mid to late 90s and how excited I got when Shawn Michaels or Rock’s music hit and it was just awesome to see another generation of wrestling fan mark out.
I got to see CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho in the ring. In the grand scheme of things, not many people can say the same so I feel quite fortunate for that.
I SAW PAUL HEYMAN IN THE FLESH. I know on tv the crowd seemed pretty dead when he came out but in the distance you can hear a couple people yelling their heads off and I promise you that was Joel and myself.
What I Hated:
First of all, there was a dark match prior to the Superstars taping between Alex Riley and Husky Harris’ new character (he has a new name but I couldn’t quite make it out when he made his entrance). Don’t get me wrong, I did like Husky and I was eager for his return but I didn’t like was the character which seems to be the character that was rumored to be meant for Drew McIntyre just before Wrestlemania (very flirtatious especially with other men). He came out looking exactly like Al from early South Park episodes with the shirt and white pants. The match itself was fine (minus the part Harris started ballroom dancing with Riley…not even kidding).
All of the “It’s still real to me” 40-50somethings in attendance for…well obvious reasons. These basically were people that just didn’t seem to want to have a good time but instead wanted to yell at other fans or start a “Cena sucks” chant every 5 minutes regardless of who was in the ring.
The merch table! During the Divas match, I accompanied a friend of mine because they wanted a Punk shirt and the crap we had to put up with for a good 20 minutes was infuriating. Everything from cashiers moving at a crawl, 6 year olds uncertain of what they wanted, parents continuously asking that same 6 year old what they wanted to a group of adults that were getting shirts together but instead of saying that all at once, they made the slow moving cashiers grab each shirt one by one and walk back and forth back and forth back and forth and ahhhhh I missed Del Rio and Jericho’s entrance. RAAAAAAGE!
The ending to raw. I’ve voiced my displeasure about Tensai time and time again and this really had nothing to do with being there live…I just hate that he was there.
Going to a live wrestling show was one of the best nights I’ve had in a while (minus Avengers on opening night GO SEE IT! AND SEE IT AGAIN!) and I can’t wait for the next time they’re in Greensboro. It was a great night, great show (in person) with some pretty awesome people surrounding me. Also, I got a Ryder headband…so…you know…huzzah.