This Saturday I'll be attending a WWE Raw brand house show or a live event as some would call them. Over the years I've formed the opinion that house shows are actually more fun to attend than a Raw or Smackdown taping. Why? There are a few reasons.
I know that some fans frown on house shows because "nothing exciting happens" or because storylines aren't progressed there. If you're a fan of wrestling, though, it's an experience you'll enjoy. Every house show lasts about 2.5 hours. While there are some promos, it's mostly about the in-ring experience.
If you ask most wrestlers (or sports entertainers—sorry Vince) if they prefer a house show over a TV taping, a lot of them would tell you that they enjoy house shows more because there are less time constraints. How often do you watch a match on Raw or Smackdown that gets three minutes and think how much better it would be if they got 10 minutes?
The Divas average about two minutes for a match on Raw. At house shows they get eight-to-10 minutes most of the time, which is what the average house show match runs. You'll usually get two, 15-minute main event-level matches too, which are typically the best on the card depending on who's involved.
Earlier today, a fan tweeted CM Punk complaining that they only got to see a house show next week, not a TV taping. The WWE champion replied by saying: "House shows are way better, trust me." Throughout the day Punk was tweeting fan memories of his hijinks at house shows ranging from elbow dropping an elbow to a Papa Shango hat or nearly causing a riot due to a promo in his Straight Edge Society days.
Why would Punk say it's way better? Because they are fun. Wrestling is supposed to be fun!
Wrestlers enjoy the freedom they get on house shows. During a live Raw, you have to follow a script. For example, let's say Generic Wrestler has 45 seconds for a backstage segment, three minutes for a promo before his match and then six minutes for the match. He has to make every second count out there.
Sometimes, though, another segment may run long. That would mean that before Wrestler got out there before his match, the ref or somebody else may inform him that he has 4:30 for the match. That changes things. The television show is all about change. A house show is a much more relaxed atmosphere.
At a house show, if you're in the main event match like CM Punk often is, the guidelines are much more simple. They'll tell you how much time you have; they'll tell you the finish and the rest of the 15-20 minutes is up to you.
No pressure. No worries.
In a business where the stress level of the performers is likely very high especially on TV days, you need to believe a guy like Punk when he says to trust him that house shows are better.
The reason Raw and Smackdown are considered the better events is because that's where storyline progression happens. Have you ever been to a Raw where there was about 20 minutes total of in-ring action? I have. While some performers can entertain the crowd with their promos, not all can.
I've left Raw tapings wondering why I paid $50 to watch the Titantron for half of the show. There's an unknown when you're at a Raw. Anything can happen, but anything isn't always a good thing. I'm still having nightmares from going to a Smackdown where they had to tape a Nathan Jones segment three times because he couldn't deliver a big boot without messing it up.
For arguments sake, I'd rank a PPV above a house show or a TV taping. They are better because they are usually good matches featuring top talent while also having over two hours of wrestling mixed in with everything else.
Keep in mind, though, that there are only 12 PPVs in a year (or more in past years) while there are 200+ house shows, 52 Raws and 52 Smackdowns, so the odds of going to a PPV are significantly less.
The main event of the show I'll be attending is CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler. They will likely get 15 minutes in the ring. We've seen how good they are over the past several months, so that match alone makes my $70 ringside seat worth it. Being able to see two of the best in-ring performers up close like that will be enough for me to say: "I'm glad I went to that."
The only other advertised matchup is Kane vs. John Cena. I'll probably encourage Kane to work an extremely safe match because Cena's health is very important for the WrestleMania main event.
That's the other thing about sitting close to the ring: perfect heckling range. I'm not the type to rip on any wrestler because I respect what they do, but I'm always in favor of starting a funny chant.
Others on the lineup include Chris Jericho, who wrestled Kofi Kingston at the house shows last week, so that's a match I'd like to see.
The Miz will be there to lose somebody because that's his new gimmick, right? We'll also see some undercard guys that don't make it on TV on Monday nights very often.
Maybe somebody will catch my eye. I'll never forget seeing Kurt Angle in person the first time at a house show in the fall of 1999, a month before he debuted on TV. When you're there live, you see things you may never catch on a TV broadcast.
It's not just a WWE house show that I recommend. I like TNA's house show experience, too. Because they have a smaller crowd, they often have a meet-and-greet with the wrestlers before the show as well as during the intermission period.
You also get to see Earl Hebner's "I Screwed Bret" t-shirt that he's been doing for a few years now, which is hilarious in a train-wreck sense. The wrestlers work hard, though. That's what matters.
In an average year, WWE will have over 200 house shows all over the world featuring the Raw and Smackdown brands. If you wonder why the brand extension still exists, house shows are a main roster.
If there was only one roster, then they'd lose two additional house shows per week, which means less money for the company and less wrestlers on the roster to make the money. While the brand extension may dilute the product a bit on screen, if you look at it from a business perspective, it's the best thing they can do for their employees and fans.
If there's a house show in your area, consider making the trip. If you'd rather see an hour of promos and video packages or try to get your sign on TV, skip it and go to a TV taping instead. For my money, though, a house show is where it's at.
The house show experience is a great time. You know what you're going to get, and chances are you'll have more fun while you're there, too. CM Punk agrees. I do too.
After all, professional wrestling is supposed to be fun. That's why we watch in the first place. Right?
John Canton is a regular contributor at the Bleacher Report that's excited about going to WrestleMania 28 in Miami. You can read more of his work at his website thejohnreport.net where he's currently reviewing every WrestleMania event prior to WrestleMania 28. Follow him on Twitter @johnreport where he tweets a lot about wrestling as well as other interesting topics.