Every WWE fan should attend many live events in your lifetime. It certainly changes your view of the product. It takes something that is larger than life and brings it back to reality. I have always had a first time live event fan say, “This looks so much smaller than on television.” A live television show is certainly a unique event in itself and one that must be viewed by all WWE fans.
I have attended ten events now. That would be four Raws, three Smackdowns, two live events and No Mercy 2008. That would be the pay-per-view with a Jericho-Michaels ladder match. We in Oregon seem to get about one show a year so it is certainly something all true Oregon WWE fans will attend.
I had good seats and looked forward to seeing Hulk Hogan’s birthday celebration. My parents, who had a bad fan experience at last December’s Smackdown wanted to try the experience again. I bought us three tickets for a fun end of summer trip to the big city. If you see two very neon yellow Oregon Duck jerseys in the crowd, well that is My dad and I.
Thankfully, I had no really annoying fans this time. Sure I had my favorite kind of wrestling fan, the guy who hates everything you love, but it was really entertaining to watch him argue with a lady sitting next to me that proclaimed, “No real wrestling fans like Sheamus.” They argued in very childish ways about the awesomeness/terribleness of Sheamus throughout his match. It was fun.
I am always amazed by how much alcohol people will buy during a four-hour show. Who wants to spend eight dollars on a Coors Light? The lady next to me must have spent fifty dollars on Coors and was nice enough to spill part of one onto my shorts and bare legs. But hey, she did offer me french fries as a peace offering later. So the fan experience really is the matter of who you sit by.
So I am going to share some thoughts about the three-hour show and how it gets even the most dedicated wrestling fan impatient:
Superstars Loved By All
I am one of those crazy fans who regularly watch “WWE Superstars”. I like the fact it actually gives lower card wrestlers, especially the Divas, some time to actually work a regular match. You are guaranteed to have fan involvement; we are excited to see people we actually know.
The first match was Emma versus Alicia Fox. I am surprised how many fans do the silly Emma arm thing since she has done nothing on the main roster of any importance. She was actually given some time against Alicia, which is kind of sad since WWE Superstars and WWE NXT are the only places where you can see decent length matches.
Next was Adam Rose versus Fandango. It is battle of guys who have little more than catchy theme songs. The guy who hates everything really hated Adam Rose. I have never heard such venom dedicated towards Adam. The guy behind me must be a lemon.
Wrestlers Sure Love to Talk
Paul Heyman did a great job of hyping Summerslam’s main event. He got a lot of laughter for the “Advocating Jew” line. I remember very clearly the applause Heyman got from the older fans after he completed his rap. It was good but it was also a sad harbinger of things to come. We the Portland fans, getting another show before a PPV, would get a whole lot of talking. That gets old real fast for a fan in attendance at a show.
What is one of the best advantages of being at a live show? I don’t have to hear the stupid discussions of 9.99 during the entire show by Cole, Lawler and JBL. I used to miss not hearing the announcers when I attended live shows. Those days are now over.
But fear not my readers, the WWE brainwashed us throughout the commercial breaks. I saw no less than five ads for the WWE Network during the breaks. Sure it was annoying but at least I saw a fun one with a collection of famous catchphrases over the years. Who would have believed Funaki would make the cut?
I don’t think many WWE fans are buying a lot of Blu-Rays these days so I don’t think we needed to see an ad for a Paul Heyman, Triple H and Shawn Michaels video. I will just wait for them to show up to the Network.
We saw the first of the series of Hulk Hogan birthday videos. People like Larry King, Flo Rida and Florida Georgia Line were met with indifference. Athletes like Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees were booed. We don’t have an NFL Team in Oregon and we are bitter. What was one of the biggest cheers of the night? It was for “Weird Al”. As well it should be America, as well it should be.
I hate when annoying fans jump on the littlest mistakes. Kane mistakenly said “six weeks” instead of “six days” before Reigns’ match. You would assume, based on the reaction of the guy behind me, that Kane just murdered a puppy. It is a live show and people fumble words. Shocker.
Roman Reigns is a very popular guy and seems to hold a lot of appeal with a live audience. The younger fans around me seemed happiest to see him second to only John Cena. Despite this fact, Reigns still has some work to do in the ring and on the mic. However, his popularity was very clear with the Portland crowd.
Sure I missed a majority of the Seth Rollins versus Rob Van Dam match. You cannot turn down Sizzle Pie, some of Portland’s best pizza, when you have the chance. If Roman Reigns is very popular with younger fans, Dean Ambrose is the pick of the adult fans it seems. He was popular with the beer-drinking crowd around me for sure.
Next, we had the Megan segment. If it was terrible enough the first time, we saw it again lot during the show. While we did enjoy Stephanie getting attacked we didn’t react much to Brie Bella herself. That should tell you something WWE.
My mother ran into Megan after the show in the bathroom. She was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses and a fake beard. Yes, a fake beard in the ladies room doesn’t stand out. Poor Megan, the WWE hated the segment so much they wouldn’t even let her use the bathroom downstairs with the WWE superstars.
I will admit this is the point realization set in: a three-hour Raw is simply too long live. It isn’t like at home where I could walk around, look at my laptop or get a snack. I am stuck in a tight seat for over three hours and the WWE sure likes filler.
One of the most upsetting exercises of attending a live event is who I didn’t see live or saw only briefly. Sure the Swagger-Cesaro match was fun live but then I only saw Lana for about ten seconds. Sigh. Bray Wyatt gave a really solid promo with Chris Jericho. But the Portland crowd started a loud “boring” chant during it. Why? Because we forced to stare at a giant screen as opposed to seeing Bray Wyatt, Chris Jericho and the Wyatt Family in person. I brought my sheep mask for nothing!
I am still outraged I saw AJ Lee loses to Eva Marie in person. That is the sort of mental trauma I cannot undue.
You have to hand it to John Cena. As much as I am beyond sick of his gimmick, he knows how to work a crowd like no other. The crowd was more than willing to play along with his call for certain chants and Cena seemed to enjoy it as well. Imagine what he could do on the mic if he were a bad guy?
Portland Loves Heath Slater
One of the best things about live shows is you never know who the audience will latch onto. One of the favorite wrestlers of the night was Heath Slater. I think Slater’s natural goofiness and strangeness is a good fit for a Portland crowd. During the long breaks as Slater waited alone in the ring, a loud “Slater” chant started. He seemed to enjoy it. It continued during the match, we cheered as he beat Ziggler by count out and his biggest applause of all was when he was leaving during the commercial break. He stopped to acknowledge the crowd, which got him more applause, and he seemed generally touched. It is nice to someone who won’t ever be at the top of the card getting a supportive crowd. A look at Slater’s Twitter shows he enjoyed his loud Portland reception.
The last match between Randy Orton and Sheamus had the most crowd involvement. Both guys can really go if given a chance and the last few minutes were met with loud approval by the crowd. The ending with that perfect looking RKO? That was one of the louder responses of the night. If only we could have gotten more matches throughout the show.
Nostalgia is Loved By All
The part that was the most loved was the Hogan’s birthday celebration. It is funny to see whom the fans reacted to among Hogan’s special guests. Ric Flair got a major reaction and a bunch of woos. Piper got one of the loudest reactions of the night; he is an Oregon man after all. Poor Mr. Wonderful, we don’t know who you are.
I’ll admit I got excited when I heard the NWO music. I never thought I would get the chance to see them together live and to hear Scott Hall do a “survey”. That was nostalgic fun enjoyed by the older fans.
Hogan acted different then you were used to him being. He seemed generally touched by our response and by all the WWE superstars watching from the top of the ramp. The joy on their faces was very apparent. Well except by Erick Rowan, he was wearing a sheep mask.
After Brock left, we got the traditional WWE fun with a cake. Has there ever been a cake in WWE history that wasn’t destroyed? First, Slater Gator destroyed their cake and then confetti and balloons destroyed the real cake. It was a lot of yellow and red balloons. My mother kept one of each. I was amazed by the amount of fans leaving the arena with about a dozen balloons. What are you suppose to do with those after the show?
The only thing that wasn’t shown on the Raw or the WWE Network was Vince McMahon coming out to celebrate with Hogan. It has been a long time since I have seen Vince on television and it was nice to see him celebrate with Hogan. I hope to see Vince start to make peace with a lot of former wrestlers.
So that was my experience watching my first three-hour Raw in Portland. It was certainly a unique night and one I look forward to doing again as soon as possible. I would like to see the WWE break up the exhausting nature of a four-hour night with a few more matches. I know it is the week before Summerslam but we fans don’t want to hear hours of talking. It is about the wrestling people.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, I have my Twitter account, WWEBNRL as well. I would love to hear your thoughts about attending a live WWE event. Is sitting through a four-hour show just way too long?