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!
First off, I've never been to a live wrestling event before. When WrestleMania was announced at the Meadowlands, I was like, "Pssh, this is a once in a lifetime thing; I need to get tickets." I was at work, so my sister had to get them for us. I believe the tickets went on sale at either 10 or 11 AM, on a Saturday morning months and months ago.
At 10/11:07, she called to let me know that the website was saying that all tickets were sold out.
We were bummed, but knowing that Raw would be either at MSG or in Jersey the next night, we resolved to get tickets to that. Section 101, Row E, behind and slightly to the side of the announcer's table.
* * *
The Usos vs. Primo and Epico
The first WWE Superstars-taped match was "The Usos vs. Primo & Epico". The Usos did their war dance entrance, but the crowd really wasn't too into it. I found that surprising, because at least on TV (when the Usos are on TV), people seem a little more into it. Primo & Epico really didn't get much of a reaction. Rosa Mendes got a bunch of catcall whistles, but that was about it. It was a solid back-and-forth affair; not too much airborne stuff, except for the ending that saw one of the two Uso twins jump over Primo/Epico and land the splash finish.
Darren Young vs. The Great Khali
The next dark match saw the Primetime Players come out first. They didn't get much of a reaction, either. (Aren't they supposed to be Internet darlings, or is that just a cSs thing?) Either way, the general nonchalance and apathy towards them was much better than the ire directed at their opponent. Who wouldn't boo The Great Khali, though? "Black John Cena", as a bunch of chants labeled him, got some token offense in on Khali, but in the end, the Giant prevailed. If Titus O'Neil had gotten involved, we probably would've seen a different ending. Not too much else to take away from this match, other than Natalya looks even better in person.
The show started, and boos rained down on John Cena. I don't know if the audio does it justice or not (later in the week, I need to watch Raw's rerun). No more of that, "Let's go Cena/Cena sucks" nonsense, either. All boos. And to his credit, Cena handled it great. Ignoring the boos, I can't stand when they do that. I do think that Cena could've been better, though. A little character development would be nice. I understand that his character is a generic happy-go-lucky, never-say-never, classic good guy, but being booed mercilessly, acknowledging it, and then going about your business seems so superficial.
He joked around and got the audience involved his "heel turn", but he technically shouldn't be getting all those boos. I'm not saying to turn him heel (although, I'm not saying don't), but add an extra wrinkle to his character. Turn the fact that, outside of a few smatterings of younger fans and women (for the most part), the face of the company, the top good guy, is hated. Does that not concern him? Bother him?
He doesn't have to become bad, or even become a tweener: acknowledge that the fans dislike him, and in-story have him perhaps try to do something about that. They recognize that first part, but haven't progressed to the second. Mark Henry got a decent sized hand, but that was mostly in response to him opposing Cena, and the fact that it gave everyone the opportunity to chant "sexual chocolate", which we all did in spades.
Justin Roberts announced before the show that The Rock tore a muscle and wasn't going to be there. I don't know if the smarky WrestleMania crowd was planning on cheering him beforehand, but the building turned on him completely. He didn't get booed as much as Cena, but whenever his name came up, he was booed. During TV commercial breaks, when they showed his movies/WWE ventures involving him, he was booed.
They probably won't do anything with it, but it'd be cool to see the WWE use that somehow -- have The Rock come back as a heel, and say he chose to go film movies over wrestle. Doubtful, but hey.
Daniel Bryan vs. Big E Langston
The crowd was hot going into the match. It wasn't made totally clear who was wrestling who at first, so I bet a lot of people thought it was going to be Bryan vs. Ziggler (Big E doesn't have his own music yet). That Ziggler wasn't in the match made it easier to figure out who to cheer for, though. The crowd was behind Bryan 100%. All in all, it was a pretty generic match, outside of the spot where Langston chucked Bryan at Kane. Bryan got some good height and airtime, which was impressive.
A pretty quick one, too. I didn't quite get why Ziggler didn't wrestle at the time, but it would become clearer later (obviously).
Wade Barrett vs. The Miz (C)
Barrett got a surprisingly big pop from the crowd. There was a big group from England that obviously had his back, and because everyone was probably pretty indifferent to Barrett and The Miz, the crowd went along with them. As far as matches typically go, it was surprisingly long (or seemed it). For as long as it was, though, it was pretty vanilla, which I guess is a testament to the two wrestlers involved.
The Miz botched his spot where he does that neck breaker that transition into a back breaker. Don't know if it was caught on TV or not, but Miz basically missed catching him on the way down. The crowd let him know, chanting, "You fucked up". Don't know if he was acknowledging the crowd, or was just pumped up, or whatever it was, but when he was "hulking up" and posing for his corner clothesline splash move, he was really intense.
The fact that Barrett didn't tap after the Figure Four was put on was really surprising. The fact that Barrett actually won was even more surprising. What was the point of The Miz winning the belt to begin with? Anyone?
Again, the crowd was firmly behind Barrett at the end, and not fully in that ironic way, or the smarky-cheer-the-heels way. A combination of a title change happening right there, and the English cheering section.
Jack Swagger & Zeb Colter vs. Alberto Del Rio (C)
Colter demanded that we be patriotic, but he wasn't patriotic himself. During the commercial break, nothing happened. It would've been a completely in-character thing to do to have led a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Interestingly enough, Swagger/Colter were more over than Del Rio, which I found pretty odd. Quite a few "USA" chants. It did feel weird, though -- a lot of people, myself included, probably felt a bit uncomfortable with the chant, given how it was supposed to be used against Del Rio (as in, xenophobic and/or racist).
When Colter was tagged in, he got a nice little reaction. Speaking of ‘little reactions', Ricardo Rodriguez didn't cause too much of a pop. I was expecting a lot more.
The match itself, I thought, was pretty good. Swagger got a lot more offense in on Del Rio's leg than Del Rio got on Swagger's arm; Swagger tapped out too fast, I thought. It doesn't matter, though, because nobody was really too interested in what was going on in the ring.
People wanted Ziggler.
I don't know if anyone thought he'd cash in going into tonight, but after the match, when Del Rio was lying in the corner being attended to, the air was electric. Everyone was on edge, wondering if he'd show up. When his music hit, the place exploded. Definitely the biggest reaction of the night for anyone.
When Ziggler hit the Zig-Zag, everyone thought that was it. Del Rio getting out in time caused the largest swing in emotions by thousands of people at one time that I've ever witnessed in person (and, I've seen quite a few Mets games in 2007/2008, where the bullpen blew leads in new and unexpected ways).
When Del Rio started fighting back, I think everyone and their mother figured that Ziggler was going to be the first one to cash in and lose (ignoring Cena and what he did over the summer).
And then when Ziggler fought back, hit his finisher, and won? Crazy. Huge pop. Ziggler ate it up (and rightfully so). He, AJ and Big E spent a few minutes celebrating in the ring, and the cheers and applause didn't let up. Deservingly so, too. I'm not Ziggler's biggest fan, but he deserves the cheers and recognition that he got.
Next, the Undertaker came out. Honestly, I don't think the cheers he got were as loud as Ziggler's. His entrance didn't seem to take too long, either. I guess he either sped it up, or it looks longer on TV than it is in real time. I was interested in seeing what he'd say, but he didn't get far.
Paul Bearer got a nice hand, but then it was time for The Shield.
Big pop for them, and playing fantasy booking is probably why. A member of The Shield taking out The Undertaker's streak would set them up for life. The Shield getting involved with The Undertaker, when he just came off of a victory against Punk, you put two and two together, and you get The Shield + CM Punk + Paul Heyman.
As it should be.
Kane and Bryan making the save was awesome. It would've been cool to see a brawl, but whatever -- let it brew slowly. Probably won't mean anything, but again, fantasy booking was what brought a pretty cool moment to an even higher level.
Ziggler was on the Titantron being interviewed, another big pop.
Zack Ryder/R-Truth/Santino vs. 3MB
The 3MB come out to no real reaction. R-Truth, Santino, and Zack Ryder come out to no real reaction. Not that people love these guys, but the timing could have probably been better if they had their match before Swagger/Del Rio. Hard to be into a jobber battle right after a successful Money in the Bank cash-in and The Undertaker. I was a little disappointed that Ryder didn't get much of a pop, but he was kind of an afterthought in the match. Good guys won, see you all next week.
Sheamus vs. Randy Orton
Sheamus' music hits, he's pissed off that Orton tried to get a match with Big Show. Not too many cheers. Orton comes out; he gets a lot more cheers. They say they're going to decide it via Twitter poll (which is ignored, so what was the point?)
This next part is important:
During the break, Justin Roberts and the camera scan the crowd for the best (or most acceptable) signs. To their credit, they did highlight a lot of different ones (pro-Cena, anti-Cena, pro-Rock, anti-Rock, Undertaker, HHH, and so on. Someone had a sign of a referee. After showing it, the camera showed Mike Chioda, a real referee, who would be doing the upcoming match). A Mike Chioda chant broke out.
They return from TV commercial break, and it is decided that Sheamus and Orton are going to wrestle to decide who can wrestle Big Show. It starts out slow, and people start chanting about how it was boring. Randomly, the Mike Chioda chant returned. Then JBL got a huge chant (which was acknowledged on the Titantron to a huge pop). Then Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, and Justin Roberts, and things went crazy...
RVD chants. Macho Man Randy Savage chants (which looked like they pissed off or confused Randy Orton). An ECW chant. Apparently, X-Pac was in the audience, and he got a chant. Foley chants. CM Punk chants. HBK chants. Y2J (which my sister started in our section, which was pretty awesome). Then the "camera guy" got chants. The "pretzel guy" got chants. "Cotton candy" got chants.
The entire place -- not just a section, or a few sections -- started doing the wave. All while the match was going on.
Everyone was trolling Sheamus and Orton, and trolling them hard -- and it was great! When Big Show came out, he got a big "Thank you, Big Show" chant. Thankfully, he put that match to an end. I don't really know if it was good or bad, because nobody was into it and paying attention. We were all amusing ourselves. When Big Show threw the chairs, he got a "you fucked up" chant because they didn't land in the ring. The crowd wanted "one more chair", but ever the heel, he refused.
Fandango vs. Kofi Kingston
Fandango came out and got some ironic, smarky cheers. Kofi didn't get booed or cheered, really. I think everyone was expecting Jericho and were let down that he wasn't formally fighting.
But then Jericho came out and beat the hell out of Fandango, and all was right with the world. Walls of Jericho got a big pop, Codebreaker not as much. A "lionsault" chant started, but sadly, Jericho didn't bust that one out.
People might've been indifferent to Fandango going into the match, and cheering for him (A) ironically, (B) snarkily, (C) because they like Kofi less; but when Fandango had the wits to correct Justin Roberts, he became a fan favorite. With that, he got over.
And then something spectacular happened. Something last seen about a year ago, on the Raw right after WrestleMania, when "YES!" became a thing. I noticed the English section doing it first, but I don't know if it started there; people began humming the Fandango theme, doing jazz fingers. And then more people started doing it. And then more, and more, and more and more. A new WWE meme was born.
Fandango; verb; to express disinterest and that absolutely no shits are being given by humming a cha-cha while gesticulating with the index finger of both hands. Used in a sentence: "Wow, Sheamus and Orton got Fandango'd pretty hard."
Heyman trolled everyone while being interviewed by Josh Matthews. I have to say, it really was disappointing knowing that Lesnar and CM Punk wouldn't be there tonight. It definitely took something out of the crowd, and probably added to the insanity of the new meme, which was spreading like fire.
The Rhodes Scholars & the Bella Twins vs. Tons of Funk & the Funkadactyls
Cody and Sandow didn't get much of a pop, which I thought was surprising. Neither did the Bella Twins, or Tensai/Clay and the Funkadactyls. Everyone was too busy Fandango-ing. The match was nothing too special, though Naomi hit a few spots that were unexpected, and as such, pretty cool.
Brodus Clay reacting to being Fandango'd was pretty funny, too. Outside the ring on the apron, he was grooving to the sound of Fandango's theme being sung by us. The match ends in a chaotic brawl, whatever. The best part was probably when a "We want puppies" chant broke out. And, honestly guys? The match could've used some puppies. Just saying.
Mark Henry vs. John Cena
The crowd was more into Henry this second time; a bit less cheers for him just because he was opposing Cena, I thought. Cena, of course, got lots and lots of boos. Not as bad as earlier in the night, though. The match was kind of crappy, and felt like it took all of two-seconds to end. The crowd was entertaining itself, though.
Then Ryback came out. He was booed by a large percentage of the audience, but as soon as he started chanting, "Feed me more", suddenly everyone was chanting it. It was pretty weird, going from general unhappiness to being completely into it within a few seconds. They did a nice tease about him attacking Cena, and when he didn't, I thought that would've been the end of it.
Ryback attacked Cena and that got a decent pop from the crowd. Not over-the-top loud, but decent. A lot of people are probably unsure how the feud will go, probably. Heel turn? Good guy fighting good guy? We'll see.
After the taping ended, Cena got back up and jawed some more with the fans. He said something along the lines of "I heard a whole bunch of cheers tonight -- JBL, Jerry the King, Michael Cole, Justin Roberts -- but I didn't hear any 'Disco Stu the camera guy' cheers". A "Disco Stu" chant started, and they showed the cameraman on the Titantron. The he said, "But, seriously you guys -- Fandango's theme?" The humming and jazz fingers started back up.
He then said that the crowd was amazing, and that they made a great moment -- like Dolph Ziggler cashing in -- even greater, and that Ziggler deserved that, since he was such a hard worker. Before leaving, he said that, "[we] were awesome" and that the WWE Championship title belonged to, "all of [us]", since we make the shows better with our participation, etcetera.
"Usually, we leave by playing someone's music. Well, I'll let you guys sing your own music". The humming and jazz hands once more, and the crowd became a giant party. They put Fandango's music over the speakers a little bit afterwards, and everyone was reenergized.
Leaving the IZOD center, I tried to start a "Let's go Mets" chant, didn't work too well. You know what was working well, though? Fandango's theme. Leaving the building, people were humming and dancing. In the parking lot, people were humming and dancing. I kid you not when I say every car in the lot had Fandango's music playing on their radios.
Raw was an amazing experience. Gets an 'A', easily. If Punk/Lesnar/RVD/some surprise return showed up, it'd get an 'A+'.
Greatest Raw ever in the history of Monday Night Raw? Felt like it.
[Pictures to follow. It's 5:00 AM and still too pumped to sleep]