Editor's Note: This FanPost has been mildly edited for promotion to the front page and various sections within Cageside Seats for your enjoyment, Cagesiders!
So, I attended a SmackDown taping! The WrestleMania Revenge Tour show last Saturday (Apr. 27) in Mannheim, Germany. I was accompanied by three others (their names have been altered for the sake of anonymity).
My primary cohort in this venture was "Mr. Smark", a fellow wrestling enthusiast and a valuable repository of wrestling history. We are approximately the same age and share mostly the same views on all things wrestling. The other two members of this expedition were "Mr. Pants", a fair-weather wrestling fan, a few years younger than me, who has watched WWE off and on since his grade-school days, and a "Ms. Sarajevo", someone who was aware of WWE, but never actually watched it before.
As stated in the title, this was my very first WWE show, ever. However, I have attended numerous independent shows, most recently those put on by the Virginia based promotion Vanguard Championship Wrestling (VCW).
In the days of my childhood, I would spend my summer vacations walking from my grandmother's house in Piedras Negras, Mexico to Arena De Toros or El Gimnasio Municipal to watch regional lucha libre loosely affiliated with Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre or Asistencia Asesoría y Administración. Mr. Smark, on the other hand, had attended WrestleMania's 18 & 28 as well as various WWE and WCW events around the northeast.
The venue was about 45 minutes from our collective place of residence, Mr. Smark and I used this time to educate Ms. Sarajevo on the more memorable events and storylines that happened around the time of the Attitude Era (aka Mr. Smark's and my formative years). These events included:
Brian Pillman pulling a gun on Steve Austin on live TV, the Katie Vick angle, Stephanie McMahon's crucifixion and various non-consensual marriages, Mark Henry and Mae Young's love "child", Mick Foley's infamous Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker, and the I Quit match against The Rock made famous by the wrestling Documentary Beyond the Mat.
When we arrived to the arena, Ms. Sarajevo, incredulously uttered perhaps the most entertaining line of the night, "People are bringing their kids to this?"
Our seats weren't the best, since we waited until the Friday before to purchase tickets, but the arena (about 10k seats) was configured in such a way that practically all seats had a clear line of sight to the ring. Shortly after our first beer (with the exception of our designated driver, Mr. Smark) the show began.
Lilian Garcia came out to welcome the crowd and was met with a warm reception.
Match 1: Fandango vs. Ted DiBiase (Singles)
Fandango came out first, sashaying to the ring with his lovely dance partner, and much to our surprise, was booed. DiBiase's music hit with a small, default pop for the face. Try as we might, the four of us couldn't get a large contingent of attendees to do the Fandango, there were isolated pockets of Fandangoing fans, but never more than a dozen or so.
The match was entertaining enough, with both wrestlers playing to the crowd whenever the match tempo slowed. Fandango ultimately beat DiBiase with his variation of the side-Russian legsweep, followed by a guillotine legdrop from the top rope.
Once the match was over, Fandango did the usual berating of the crowd for their collective mispronunciation of his name.
Match 2: Santino Marella and Alex Riley vs. Primo and Epico (Tag Team)
Mr. Pants and Ms. Sarajevo were unfamiliar with Santino, but I had been talking him up as the greatest comedic wrestler currently on the roster... and he did not disappoint. The three of us were in stitches watching Santino's antics in and out of the ring. Mr. Smark was never too keen on comedy wrestling, but he did enjoy the generic Alex Riley getting beat up by Primo and Epico.
My favorite spot in the match was when Santino attempted a leaping tag but fell short only to be dragged back into the match by Primo (or Epico). Ultimately, Santino landed the Cobra, much to my delight, on Epico (or Primo) and won the match.
Match 3: Layla vs. Aksana (Divas)
The Divas were up next, much to Mr. Smark's and my chagrin, but to the amusement of Ms. Sarajevo and Mr. Pants.
Without a doubt, this was the longest singles Diva's match I have witnessed in quite some time. Excruciating as it may have been for the technical wrestling fan in me to watch, I did enjoy chanting non-sequiturs during every rest hold (and there were many). Of all the cliché wrestling phrases, I yelled--- "WE WANT TABLES" -- by far got the largest reaction, literally seven people laughed out loud.
Eventually, Layla won with the standard Diva's roll-up. Oddly, Ms. Sarajevo wanted more Diva matches.
Match 4: Mark Henry vs. The Usos (Handicap)
WHEN WE SAY "U", YOU SAY "SO"... U, SO (lame)! So Mark Henry beat up the twin sons of Rikishi. Nothing memorable here, but least Mr. Pants came to the realization that Mark Henry was once "Sexual Chocolate".
Match 5: The New Age Outlaws and Sheamus vs. The Shield (Six-man Tag)
The New Age Outlaws came out first, and having been snotty teenagers during DX's heyday, Mr. Smark and I marked-out incredibly hard, so hard in fact, that we startled both Mr. Pants and Ms. Sarajevo, and probably everyone within a 10-seat radius.
Regrettably, Road Dogg Jesse James and Bad Ass Billy Gunn are no longer in peak wrestling shape. Even from our vantage point near the rafters, we could plainly see that Jesse James was pudgier than ever (hence the shirt), and although Billy Gunn looked in shape, his cardio was nowhere to be found. He was huffing and puffing so hard after his entrance, he had trouble getting his two lines out; and if you're not down with that, we got two words for you: SUCK IT!
Even more unfortunate than their less than spectacular entrance, was that they were teamed up with Sheamus, who got a HUGE pop from the crowd when his entrance music hit. Mr. Smark and I, as Internet wrestling community (IWC) members could not stand for this, so booed as hard as possible (with the help the other two members of our crew), but it wasn't enough.
Then, The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns) came out through the crowd -- who was largely against them. The match itself was good, with Sheamus shouldering the load of the match, hitting all the major spots, the rolling slam, chest clubbing, white noise, and finally the brogue kick to set up the final pinfall.
The Shield, in their devious fashion, had Roman Reigns hit the spear, followed by a chair shot from Rollins that lead to a DQ loss, instead of an official pin/submission.
Match 6: Wade Barrett vs. Justin Gabriel (IC Title)
I knew there was no way in hell that there would be a title change on a SmackDown house show. Once both Barrett and Gabriel were announced, I left for a pee break and to get some more beer. When I came back, the match was over, Barrett retained of course.
Match 7: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger (No DQ)
When Lilian Garcia first addressed the audience, she mentioned that there would be a twitter poll using two hashtags to determine if Zeb Colter would be ringside, or remain backstage during the match.
Mr. Smark had convinced our group that Colter would do something similar to JBL goose-stepping and that the poll was rigged to have Zeb say some inflammatory things.
Sure enough, the poll fell in favor of Colter and he had an open mic. He equated America's immigration problem to Germany carrying the bulk of the economic load for the European Union and urged the German crowd to break from the unbalanced partnership.
This was the longest match of the night, the two Superstars and their corner men (Colter and Rodriguez) can certainly work a crowd.
Being a No Disqualification match, Mr. Smark and I hyped up the possibilities to the two non-smarks that had joined us. Trash cans, thumbtacks, road signs, barbed-wire bats, kendo sticks, chairs, ladders, and tables, were just some of the foreign objects we hinted might be secretly placed under the ring.
Without fail, Colter delivered, he lifted the ring apron while Swagger was in a devastating cross arm-breaker and delivered a kendo stick. Swagger ferociously smacked Del Rio until he released the hold. Swagger now had the upper hand; he discarded the kendo stick in favor of his own wrestling arsenal, an atomic drop, gutwrench powerbomb, and Swagger bomb, all used in an attempt to get the pin.
Rodriguez, not willing to let his best friend and employer be finished in such a way, found a kendo stick of his own and handed it to his Jefe and now Del Rio had the upper hand. Two broken kendo sticks later and both wrestlers are down for the count.
Del Rio rolls out of the ring and finds the strength to pull a table from under the ring, now the crowd (including my crew and me) are rabid, and he had just enough time to get it in the ring before Swagger attacked. Swagger is on the offensive and takes the time to set up the table in a corner of the ring -- it's begging to be broken. While Swagger is concerned with the table, Del Rio finds a third kendo stick and does not hesitate to use it.
There aren't anymore implements under the ring, both wrestlers are spent, the crowd is going wild, and from deep within, Del Rio finds the strength to whip Swagger into the still intact table. This was the end for the "Real American", and Alberto Del Rio gets the pinfall victory.
Match 8: Randy Orton vs. The Big Show (Singles Main Event)
Now, for the main event. The Big Show is first to be introduced, and Mr. Pants understandably was marking out, he has been a fan of The Big Show since he was The Giant back in WCW. As was I, but I had a strong feeling about the outcome of this match. Ms. Sarajevo on the other hand, had a differing opinion and had quickly become enamored with The Viper's physique.
Try as we might, Mr. Smark and I could not convince Ms. Sarajevo that Fandango was objectively the more attractive wrestler, and she continued to root for The Apex Predator. A few Vintage moves later, The Big Show was set up for the RKO, and without fail, Randy hit his signature move -- the match was over, Orton prevailed.
The night was over, and the four of us had just experienced a great night of wrestling. But all for entirely different reasons:
For me, I got to attend my first WWE show, Mr. Smark had attended a show with a blend of smarks and marks, Mr. Pants had his passion for pro wrestling rekindled, and Ms. Sarajevo was exposed to the wonderful world of hot dudes and chicks in skimpy outfits who populate the WWE roster.
Thank you for your time.
(Side Note: I don't mean mark or smark to be terms used in a derogatory manner, just as a way to denote different attitudes found within WWE crowds)