Here’s my take on WWE Raw from my seat in Greensboro. Apart from a few house shows over the last few years, WWE Raw hasn’t been in Greensboro for a while. I definitely haven’t been able to go to a go-home show for a pay-per-view.
As last night rolled in, I was looking forward to attending. I can be a bit harsh on the WWE product, especially Raw, but there’s just something about attending in person that still gets me pumped up.
Over the past few years, I’ve been able to attend television tapings or live pay-per-views for Ring of Honor, TNA/Impact Wrestling, and television/internet shows for local independent promotions. I loved each and every one of those shows, but there’s just something different about attending WWE produced shows.
They have the art of producing live wrestling down to a science. Whether it is the interchanging of entrance effects like smoke, hiding Ember Moon for her rising entrance, or cutting to commercial breaks during entrances, WWE produces every detail so that the home viewer isn’t taken out of kayfabe.
I’m not sure how many matches cut to commercial breaks while action was going on, but from my perspective, I could only guess 1 time during live action. It was during the Ember Moon/Alexa Bliss match where the ladies spent an an extended period of time outside of the ring with no contact.
Overall, I had a blast. In terms of loudest pops of the night, Ronda Rousey, Kurt Angle, Finn Balor, Paul Heyman, and Braun Strowman seemed to be the most over with the entire crowd. Of course, Dean Ambrose got a big reaction, but by the time he came out the crowd had dwindled as a lot of the families with young children left during the Sasha Banks and Ruby Riott match.
Brock Lesnar got a big pop, but he also got booed. It was like the crowd said: “We’re excited you came, but we don’t like you.” Roman Reigns also had a pretty loud split reaction as usual.
What I did find interesting is that a lot of the boys in the crowd who were in that 10-12 range really booed Reigns. Apparently he appeals to the moms and the youngest of the young in the crowd.
Speaking of Reigns…
When you watch in person you get to see the things that don’t get shown on camera. You get to see how the stars interact with the crowd when the camera’s not on. It was clear to me Braun Strowman was having fun out there. Finn Balor, Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens, and Seth Rollins all looked like they were eating up the crowd reactions. Here’s a picture taken by Finn Balor himself on the way back to the back after his match. Brian Myers, a local resident and referee on the independent scene, took his daughter to the show. This interaction had to make her night.
Roman did not do anything of the sort. When you see Roman, it looks like he thinks he’s doing you a favor by coming out. It’s hard to explain. John Cena got similar reactions but he interacted with the little kids wearing neon t-shirts.
Roman didn’t even really do that. The promo he cut last night about being raised in this business seemed to be one of the closest things to real emotion I’ve heard from him. It’s like he thinks just because he’s from the Samoan wrestling bloodline, he deserves his spot without having to do all the other stuff to get over. I think the fans boo him because he just does not connect or does not seem to want to.
Things you probably didn’t catch on TV…
Raw had an attendee who didn’t purchase a ticket and a bat found its way into the arena last night. It kept flying by the entrance ramp and was attracted by the LED board. At one point, it dive bombed the announcers desk getting extremely close to Renee Young. I’m not sure if they reacted on TV or not, but they definitely all ducked for cover in person. Not to worry, some lady in the front row caught the bat right after it flew over their heads bare-handed. She quietly put it in a napkin and security escorted it from the building.
The dark match of the night was an 8-man tag. It featured Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, and Kevin Owens. Ambrose got the pinfall after all of his team members hit their finishers.
What happened to Bobby Roode? No pop from the crowd. Instead of the entire audience singing ‘Glorious’ it was a very, very small portion of the crowd. When he won, it was crickets in the audience.
Matt Hardy seemed to have a send-off after his match. His family was ring-side and his wife, Reby, consoled/congratulated Matt after the match. He did a bow at the entrance ramp on his way out and mouthed a big thank you to his home state crowd. Bray even went out of character encouraging the fans to cheer for him.
It’s hard to make fake fighting look real 100% of the time without camera angles and purposeful camera cuts. Jinder Mahal, Sasha Banks, and Alicia Fox all had some really bad moments last night. Sasha Banks looked particularly sloppy when being thrown into the stairs and during her dive to the outside.
Ricky Roberts was over with the independent fans in the building. He’s actually known as “The Southern Savior” John Skyler around North Carolina. He is wrestles a lot for PWX and AML Wrestling. He’s been seen on NXT, ROH, and on Raw/Smackdown previously. There was a subtle “Let’s Go Skyler” chant in the building and several fans popped when he hit Bobby Lashley.
Dana Brooke is fit…I’ll just leave it at that. She’s definitely fit. So is Finn Balor for that matter.
There were no CM Punk chants, No Rusev Day Chants, and no beach balls.
Wrestling fans are awesome…
They just are. Wrestling fans proudly let their freak flags fly. Whether it’s being 3 40 something year old men who all dressed in matching Cena gear, jorts included or trying to get a ridiculous chant to catch on, we are an enthusiastic bunch who love to have a good time.
Included in the Greensboro crowd was a Bayley cosplayer, who I actually though was Bayley from distance. She got her ticket right on the entrance ramp hoping to get a hug and got one. The fans around her made sure Bayley couldn’t miss her.
photo by Brian Myers
There was a man dressed exactly like Broken Matt Hardy. He also was near the entrance ramp and the entire section was trying to get Hardy’s attention on his way out to give the man some love. Unfortunately, Matt was too caught up in what appears to potentially be his last match in NC to notice. More likely, he just couldn’t hear over the blaring of whichever WWE promo video was playing at the time.
Then there was the lady who sat about 5 seats to my right. She apparently is in love with Roman Reigns. I’m not sure she is in on the fact that wrestling is pre-determined. She was swept up in the story line and got emotional when Roman’s eyes were sprayed. She shouted encouragement to not let the crowd get him down. She let him know she had his back. She was invested long term.
All-in-all, my $50 ticket to sit fairly far away was a good investment. I got reminded about why I love wrestling. It’s not always about being a critic or arm-chair booker. It’s about getting caught up in a story like the lady mentioned above. It’s about being invested in an outcome. It’s about connecting with someone you’ve never met because you both want to see Brock Lesnar destroy Roman Reigns. If you haven’t been to a WWE event in a while, go. As I told the guy on Twitter last night, going to Raw in person is definitely more enjoyable than watching at home. Not because WWE is so good, but because wrestling fans coming together make the experience. Well that, and I didn’t have to listen to Michael Cole…