WWE Raw rolled into the O2 Arena in London, England, this past Monday night (April 16, 2012) and basically, I made myself a stupid costume and went and got drunk and enjoyed myself as I do every year when the WWE show rolls into Olde London Town.
Rambling details after the jump!
I went to the show at the O2 Arena on Monday and had a great time as always. I took the afternoon off work and went to meet friends at the pub we always meet up at beforehand, only to find a WWE camera crew shooting CM Punk sneaking in and out of the pub. I can confirm that he didn’t eat fish & chips like he said! (Loved the crowd chanting "Fish and chips! Fish and chips!" later on.) I won't reveal what he really did while in the pub unless anyone's desperate to know... never sure how much these things can be 'ruined'!
I dress up like a fool every year when we go to this show now. The first time I bought a plastic kids' John Cena chest that was too small for me and wore that over my t-shirt, the next time I wore a furry coat I bought for £3 and sunglasses with crosses drawn on the lenses with liquid paper in a budget John Morrison style, and last year I wore a cape and a mask in some sort of lame tribute to Sin Cara. Generally I just try to embarrass the guys I go with as much as possible and make kids look at me suspiciously. I'm old enough that I no longer have any shame, especially after a few beers - it's very liberating!
This year I made a Sheamus costume out of cardboard and orange fur, which earnt me a "YES! YES! YES!" chant from a crowd of people by the entrance to the O2, which was pretty awesome. The wwe.com camera crew caught me at the end of the show but I’d had a bit too much to drink by then so didn’t do much other than shout excitedly. "What was your favourite bit of tonight’s show?" "Er, I can’t remember any of it". They put a clip on the site yesterday but it looks like it’s already been taken down! Ha. Here it is.
My signs this year included I SAW PUNK IN THE PUB, which I waved when they showed the clip of him going in and out, the hilaaaarious CENA'S SOCKS, which I got told off for running around with during Cena's match with Lord Tensai and an orange speech bubble saying OI'M A BIG EEJIT! which I held by my mouth when Sheamus came out.
We got to our seats as they were shooting some Superstars. Not sure if they started the show more promptly this time or if we were just later arriving but we missed most of whatever had happened. Alex Riley was being defeated – I didn’t know by whom at the time but just read elsewhere who it was… will keep it quiet for now in case it’s a spoiler. Normally they’ll bring out William Regal or someone else with a bit of local flavour for a pre-show dark match but with Punk v Henry at the top of the show I guess they didn’t need to this time.
Punk v Henry was a great match and really good to hear the crowd on top form. Normally in London the crowd loves the heels – Jericho, Punk, Ziggler… these guys have had the biggest cheers in recent years, but everyone was still on Punk’s side this time around (though also cheering a lot for Henry). UK sport crowds also generally go pretty quiet a lot of the time and loudly cheer individual bits of skill – US crowds seem to make a lot more constant noise no matter what’s going on, but this time around there was less of a silence during big spots. Live wrestling without the commentary can be a pretty quiet affair over here but the crowd was definitely in the mood for noise – the "Yes!" chant has given everybody a nice simple way to join in whenever they feel like it. There's a real heritage of spontaneous humorous songs at football (soccer) and cricket matches here so after a few drinks everyone's up for getting fun chants started.
Big cheer for Jericho – loads of people love him over here, and the drinking/pub angle plays straight to drunken UK sensibilities. Pure confusion in reaction to the Chicago Street Fight revelation – a chant of "What is that? What is that?" went up near me. Did Big Johnny then come out and say it too? Again, there was no reaction to it, so during an ad break Punk reiterated it to the crowd again doing a Big Johnny impression. Again, no reaction. I’ve still got no idea what a Chicago Street Fight is.
Hated the tag match. Khali and Big Show are both sad to watch, so seeing them squashing up-and-coming champions like that was embarrassing. We thought it had to be a taping for Superstars so were surprised to learn it was actually part of Raw. Funkasaurus is funny and all that but they’ve got to do something with him and quickly – a song and dance number and Dolph Ziggler being made to throw himself around the ring in order to make him look good is just a waste of time. A friend who’s missed the last few months of WWE looked utterly baffled by him.
Surprised to see so many grown men in green Cena shirts. He’s been booed loudly for a few years over here, so now much of the rest of the world has joined in the booing I’m not sure why so many Londoners were there for him (other than the kids). Are they trend-setters or just idiots?
Lots of love for Daniel Bryan here. I’m a little concerned he may be running a bit too hard with the "Yes!" thing though… don’t want it to be something he does constantly until we’re all totally bored of it in a couple of weeks, but for now it’s great he’s getting the attention he deserves.
The ending was even odder live than on TV, I imagine. We couldn’t really tell what had happened other than Cena had a green face, and we only knew it was the end of the show because we spotted the little WWE logo in the corner on the big screen. Left everyone a bit flat but they naturally did a big dark match to finish things off. It was Punk vs Jericho ‘for the title’ but it soon descended into a precession of big-name run-ins and finishers with Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Cody Rhodes, Big Show, Del Rio and Orton, ending with the faces waving everyone goodbye.
At one point, while heading to the bar for more beer, we spotted a green screen and lights and I stopped off for a quick photo with a massive (heavy) WWE belt. It's turned up on Facebook as one of about 3,000 versions of this upcoming DVD box - I reckon they'd get more sales with me on there than the real Sheamus!
Overall I had lots of fun but the show felt shorter than usual (probably just because we got there later, to be honest) and there were a number of matches that didn’t really do it for me. The crowd was great though and I had fun running round dressed as Sheamus shouting at children and saying "Dobblya dobblya oieeeeee!" a lot.