Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend Monday Night Raw with my younger brother and an acquaintance of mine. I had received the tickets as a birthday present and initially planned to take a closer friend of mine, but he had unfortunately already made plans to attend the Home Run Derby with his father, and so I had to find somebody new. I settled on a friend of his whom I also knew and knew to be a professional wrestling fan. We met in Penn Station and took the subway there. We had never taken the subway to the Barclay's Center or been to the Barclay's Center in the first place, so we were deeply indebted to the wrestling fans wearing wrestling shirts on the subway to guide our way.
We arrived at the Barclay's Center around 7 p.m., and set to entering the arena and getting our seats. In the lobby, there were already "Let's go Cena/Cena sucks!" chants, as well as a "Yes!" chant, which was measurably louder than the Cena chants. We made it through security with no trouble, and went to our seats in section 209. The arena was still less than half full, and in the seats to our right there was a group of smarks already dedicated to starting the random chants. We heard chants for Generico, Punk, Bryan, TNA, and ROH (the last of which failed to spread even a little bit). We also decided it would be good to get our food & bathroom breaks out of the way before the show started, and we took care of that. It bears mentioning at this point that the concessions were heartily overpriced, even for a stadium. A mediocre, overcooked burger with strings for lettuce and a seedless pickle strip cost $9.75 and a bottled water cost $4.50.
Anyway, the Superstars taping started at 7:30 (spoilers ahoy! (for the 5 people who watch Superstars)). I missed the beginning because the dastardly villains at the concession stand told me there was lemonade at Nathan's, which had an inexplicably slow moving line, but there was none to be found. Back on track again, Ted DiBiase and Alex Riley were introduced as the announcers, the latter of whom got surprisingly loud boos, followed by the Prime Time Players and Tons of Funk, none of whom got much of a reception.Tons of Funk won, and we moved on to the next match. The Brooklyn Brawler was introduced, to the delight of the crowd (which my friend had actually predicted). Ryback came out next to little reaction. Ryback won, and that was about all there was to it. Next came 3MB, who were booed surprisingly vociferously, and The Miz, whom the crowd unsurprisingly booed. The Miz beat Heath Slater and was booed some more.
The announcers came out before the start of the show. Cole was booed; JBL was cheered and was surprisingly energetic, running to the ring and posing on the steps. King came out last and was surprisingly well-received, getting good cheers and a "Jerry!" chant. JBL and King both got chants before the show started, and both stood up and waved in response.
The show started with the blast of pyro (pyro is very loud, by the way), and Maddox's entrance. I was surprised by the boos he got, personally, especially considering how happy everyone seemed about his nomination last week. John Cena's introduction sounded mostly negative, but there were still plenty of cheers (I watched Raw on TV this week, and the boos sounded stronger than in person). When he mentioned that he could wrestle a Bella twin, I shouted that he already did, which none of the mics picked up on, sadly. Randy Orton was very well cheered, as was Fandango (we were even happy to see his entrance thingy descending over the stage). On the subject of Fandango, "Fandangoing" is tougher than it seems, as the chant consists of only the first two bars of his theme, and trying to chant his theme as his theme moves on is rather confusing.
The Orton vs. Fandango match itself didn't come off nearly as well live as it did on TV, seeming instead slow and plodding. The randomly chanting crowd was in full effect, with "Randy Savage" chants, "We want Ziggler" chants, the wave, "Ole!" chants, even a "Summer Rae" chant. The group of smarks mentioned above even tried to get a "Chris Benoit!" chant going, but thankfully it didn't take. For the record, I would like to state that I was actively opposing the random chants that were occurring, and refused to participate in the wave. The match-ending RKO got a good reception, as it usually does.
During the commercial break, the group of smarks also started chanting "Brian Gerwitz". Seriously, Brian Gerwitz, ex-head writer got chants at Raw. I don't know what to say.
Our section was split on Dolph Ziggler breaking up with AJ Lee. We did, however, appreciate Mark Henry, and were suitably interested when The Shield made their entrance. Speaking of The Shield, it's very difficult to tell the three of them apart from way up in the seats. The beat down of Henry was fun to watch, especially Henry nutshotting Rollins and Rollins whipping Henry with his jacket. The "Holy shit!" chants seemed halfhearted from where we were sitting.
It definitely sounded like Alberto Del Rio got more boos live than he did on TV, and Ziggler's pop was suitably large. Ziggler's bumping was insane, as per usual, and the crowd stayed behind him for most of his match, even though I confess I remain skeptical about him as a face. It was kind of hard to tell what happened with the bell-ringing, considering that AJ is not a large individual and wasn't dressed in outstanding colors or anything like that. The audience stayed on Ziggler's side during Langston and AJ's attack.
R-Truth remains surprisingly over, and the crowd was very much into the Wyatts. There were small clusters of "Husky Harris" chants, but they didn't last long (as a point of fact, I yelled at somebody chanting Husky Harris to shut up. The person in question was most likely a 12 year old girl). I must admit that I found Wyatt's promo kind of underwhelming, even though the delivery was great. It was just him rambling nonsensically about heroes and the world and it didn't really seem to have much substance. Or was that the point? Ah, well, I was underwhelmed by the second Wyatt vignette too, and the rest were definitely awesome. Willing to write it off as a one-time thing.
Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro didn't get much of a reaction, and the Usos were only a little better, but Zeb Colter's promo got some solid boos and the match wasn't too long, so they didn't really have a chance to get the crowd going. Damien Sandow was cheered pretty well, and the crowd was pretty surprisingly quiet for Christian. The crowd was very much behind Cody Rhodes, and the "Cody" chants were great. He will make a great face once he shaves the ridiculous-looking moustache.
Nobody cared about Naomi-Brie Bella, but there were some "We want puppies" and even a "We want Paige" chant. My friend and I tried to get a "Daniel Bryan" chant going, but it sadly didn't take off. And they were even chanting for him throughout the night.
C'est la vie.
CM Punk quite possibly got the pop of the night, and there were almost 10 "CM Punk" chants during his segment. Great stuff. I was begging for Brock Lesnar the whole segment, and I was overjoyed when his music hit, even if the pop wasn't quite as crazy as I'd expected. Lesnar is a beast, by the way, and he has this indescribable aura that makes you want to watch him hurt people. That whole segment was a high point for the show.
Maddox-McMahon-Helmsley got pretty decent reactions, and Great Khali-Cena didn't get much of anything. At some point in here, 1-800-Fella aired. Didn't get much of a reaction either way. I personally liked Sheamus's nervous backing away after he kicked the guy.
The crowd also loved RVD-Y2J. I once again confess to initially not loving it as much as everybody else, but I did like it more on the 2nd viewing. I probably needed a cooldown segment, which Bryan-Barrett would have helped provide. It would also have allowed me to watch Bryan in action (even though the payoff for no Bryan was probably worth it) and see Wade Barrett. Back to the match, Y2J took a pretty crazy bump from the top rope to the entrance ramp, which apparently happened on commercial. Oh, well. The crowd rooted for both men, although it did seem to like RVD a bit more.
Surprisingly enough, a lot of people started to leave after the Y2J-RVD match. Mostly kids, but there seemed to be a decent mix of people leaving. You'd think they'd want to find out whom Cena was facing at SummerSlam, especially smarks, considering that it was likely Bryan.
The ending segment was quite good live. 3MB and Sheamus got crapped on, Orton had a decent response (once again, came across more negative on TV), and RVD and Y2J got good cheers. The crowd was crazy for Bryan. It was awesome. My throat was on fire and I still chanted "Yes" out of sheer obligation.
DANIEL BRYAN IS FACING CENA AT SUMMERSLAM!!
Sorry. I had to.
Anyway, we, unfortunately, couldn't stay for the dark match as we had to catch a train or be stuck in Jamaica until almost 2:00 A.M. Cena probably beat Ryback in their tables match. Just a guess.
The show as a whole was pretty great, even though I wasn't 100-percent sure how to judge it, given that it was my first. I've certainly set a high bar for any future shows (the next possibly being either a Barclay's Center house show on September 7 or Raw at Nassau Coliseum on November 25).
Random thoughts: The entrance looked a lot shorter in person, but only a little shorter on TV. Did anybody else notice a difference, or is it just the angle? Brock Lesnar has this indescribable aura that makes you want to watch him hurt people. Swagger has no presence. Cena does, no matter what you think of him. The Bryan-Sheamus 18 second match is really the Butterfly Effect in pro wrestling form. Gave us the "Yes" chants, made Bryan a constant fixture, which in turn rescued AJ and Kane, which in turn helped guys like Ziggler, Langston, and Kaitlyn, and even the Rhodes Scholars and The Shield. Also, I shared my usual live-blog snark with my viewing partners, lest you all be worried that I didn't get in my weekly snark.
DANIEL BRYAN IS WRESTLING FOR THE WWE TITLE!