This past Sunday, I attended a WWE Raw live event at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. Since I missed out on meeting Eve and David Outnga last month at an autograph signing, I was promised tickets to this particular Raw event and I couldn't have been more excited.
The last WWE event I attended was Fan Appreciation Day 2010, which occurred almost exactly two years ago at the very same location, ironically enough. That being said, I was absolutely ecstatic to attend my first WWE event for the first time in nearly two year, especially to see some of favorite Superstars live for the first time (i.e. Ryback, Brodus Clay, etc.).
Prior to leaving to the Raw event on Sunday evening, I packed my signature DX wristbands, classic Zack Ryder shirt, and Nexus armband. My little brother, who tagged along with me, sported a 2009 Chris Jericho shirt and Save Us Y2J hat, despite the fact that the inaugural Undisputed Champion wouldn't be at the event for obvious reasons.
Sure, it was quite a random collection of wrestling memorabilia, but I was planning on buying merchandise there anyways, so it didn't matter. Oh, and I also brought my Jakks Pacific Intercontinental Championship belt, which has been signed by a total of six Superstars over the years.
It took only about 45 minutes to arrive at the arena from where I live, and we (my step-father, brother, and I) had enough time to kill upon our arrival. We checked in and immediately made our way over to the enormous merchandise table.
They were a handful of shirts and various merchandise to choose from, but I opted to with the gray CM Punk shirt he used to wear. The yellow one didn't do much for me, although I saw many people wearing one throughout the night.
Sadly, they were sold out of Punk shirts in my size, but I bought a pair of wristbands custom made for the WWE Champion instead, which meant I no longer had to walk around with my lime green DX armbands that were vastly outdated. Lucky me!
On one side of the merchandise table was an area to play WWE 2013, which was very cool. The line was too long to play, but I noticed there were ring ropes separating those in line and those playing the game. Very cool indeed.
On the other side was a small set-up of WWE action figures, where you could take a picture with a John Cena inflatable. I passed on that opportunity and progressed further into the area.
Luckily, there was a slightly smaller merchandise table along the way where I bought the highly desirable CM Punk shirt. My little brother ended buying a Zack Ryder wig, which I saw no one else wear at the event, so he received quite a few "broski" comments from others.
John Cena's green and pink shirts were flying off the shelves followed by Punk's (new) shirt, Ryback's shirt, Daniel Bryan's shirt, and even Santino's. There were many more Feed Me More shirts than you'd expect, so it's awesome to think Ryback is rapidly getting over the WWE Universe.
As we took our seats, WWE allowed you to send in texts and tweets that could've possibly been shown on the Titantrons throughout the night. Two of mine got on the screen, but they flashed for two seconds, so I was unable to get a picture of it.
The arena was about two-thirds full, with an entire portion of it non-accessible. Most of the floor was occupied with seats, while there was hardly anyone in the nosebleed seats up top.
Prior to this event, I had never been to a live event before (only a Raw and SmackDown taping), so I found the setup and environment to be very cool. I was in row 104 on the side where the Superstars normally looked, so my view was absolutely awesome.
After marking out during the Raw opening theme song, Raw General Manager AJ kicked off the show. I sang along to her catchy entrance music (don't judge me), but before she could say anything significant, she was interrupted by WWE Champion CM Punk (with no "Cult of Personality", which angered me) as he made his way down to the ring.
With Paul Heyman by his side, Punk announced that John Cena wouldn't be there because he put him on the shelf (refunds were available by the start of the second match). AJ literally sat in the ropes during Punk's entire promo, which I found both humorous and adorable.
Of course, AJ booked Punk to defend his WWE title later in the night against Ryback. The match was originally advertised as a Last Man Standing match, but I can understand why they pulled that stipulation.
Brodus Clay def. Jack Swagger
Decent match from these two. This was Swagger's second appearance in a WWE ring (aside from the other live event the night before) since taking time off last month. Nothing was really new about him other than a new slicked back hairstyle, but that was about it.
Brodus Clay's entrance may grow tiresome on television, but it's very fun live. I was signing the lyrics to "Somebody Call My Momma" the entire entrance and the children next to me stared at me in disbelief. Funny stuff.
The contest only lasted a few minutes before Clay won the splash. He invited some kids in the ring afterwards to dance with as always.
Damien Sandow def. JTG
Sandow came out to good heat that only intensified when he began talking and bashing the audience. While others booed loudly, I laughed. This guy is an absolute riot and a gold mine for that matter.
JTG came out to hardly any pop whatsoever, probably the smallest of the night. Wasn't he a heel the last time he appeared on WWE television? I can't remember.
My brother asked, "JTG is still employed?" That was a common question amongst many people in attendance, I assume.
Crowd was pretty dead for this match other than Sandow's usual spots where he engaged the audience. Sandow won with his usual finisher and followed up with his impressive cartwheel after the bout concluded.
Divas Champion Eve def. Layla
Prior to the match, they aired a breast cancer video that involved Layla that was shown on Raw last week. In spite of that, she came out to a decent pop.
Personally, I thought it was cheap way to get a reaction, but it was smart on WWE's part. Also, I can easily tell you that Layla is even more gorgeous in person than she is on television, which I thought was impossible.
Eve entered to good heat as well. Pretty standard Divas match that had some average action, and the crowd even chanted "Let's go Layla" at one point, which I found pleasantly surprising.
Eve won with her finisher to retain the title. Layla stuck around for a few minutes afterward to embrace the fans for a moment.
Michael McGillicutty def. David Otunga
Otunga entered first with a shortened version of his entrance music and posed in the ring Chris Masters-style for a minute or two before being interrupted by Michael McGillicutty. McGillicutty was seen standing at the production table and cut a brief promo to get himself over with the fans, which apparently turned him face in the process.
Everyone in my section was asking who McGillicutty was, and I don't blame them. Since I was wearing my Nexus armband, I attempted to start a "We Want Nexus" chant since both former WWE Tag Team Champions were once a part of the stable, but I failed miserably.
Otunga attacked McGillicutty before the match, but the second-generation star fired back by connecting with his finisher and scoring the victory out of nowhere. I'm glad McGillicutty is a fan favorite now, but I surely hope they change his name back to Joe Hening at some point.
WWE Tag Team Champions Daniel Bryan and Kane def. Primo and Epico
Once Daniel Bryan's music hit, the crowd immediately erupted into "YES!" and "NO!" chants. While I chanted "Yes!", the two kids on both sides of me chanted "No!". Great moment.
Bryan was cheered was he made his way down the ramp, but got instant heat once he ripped up a "YES!" sign at ringside. Classic heel move that worked to perfection.
Kane, however, entered to a huge pop. Instead of pyro, smoke was incorporated into his entrance instead, which was equally awesome.
At the start of the night, fans were able to vote whether Rosa Mendes would be available at ringside. The voting was obviously rigged, as it was split almost down the middle, but she was booted from ringside by AJ after it was revealed she lost the poll.
The action was pretty good, but the true highlights on the match were the comedic antics performed by both teams. Toward the end, Kane and Bryan refused to aid one another, which lead to an intervention in the middle of the ring also involving Primo and Epico.
Kane signaled for a hug, but Bryan wouldn't have anything of it. Primo and Epico hugged one another as an example, before Kane hugged each one of the former WWE Tag Team Champs.
A few moments later, Kane embraced in a hug with Primo, Epico, and the referee all at the same time! It was absolutely hysterical, and the crowd was laughing throughout the entire thing.
Team Hell No eventually double teamed Primo and Epico, which lead to Kane hitting the chokeslam on one of them (can't remember which) for the win. Kane took both belts and proclaimed he was the tag team champions, which Bryan wholeheartedly disagreed.
It took a few minutes, but Bryan finally hugged Kane, only for the American Dragon to run off with both straps. This was easily the most fan-interactive portion of the night that everyone (myself included) got a major kick out of.
Following the bout, there was a brief 15 minute intermission. I rapidly sent in tweets in hopes of getting on the tron once again, but I had no such luck.
During that time, I spotted a man dressed as Iron Shiek making his way up the staircase. His costume was absolute perfection, and Punk even addressed him at one point at ringside later in the night.
Santino Marella def. Tensai
Santino came out to one of the louder pops of the night. As much as I dislike his character, he was extremely over with the children (and quite a few attractive young ladies, who were wearing his shirt during the course of the night).
Tensai came out to minimal heat without Sakamoto in tow. The match was better than you'd expect that included some fun comedy which made both guys look good.
At first, Tensai blocked the Cobra, but subsequently missed his finishing splash. Santino followed up with the Cobra for the victory.
United States Champion Antonio Cesaro def. Sin Cara
Surprisingly enough, Sin Cara entered to the second loudest pop of the night. Following his entrance, one of the trons stopped working for some reason, so the various videos that aired throughout the rest of the night were a bit harder to watch.
Antonio Cearo didn't enter to as loud of a reaction, but still garnered some heat. He wore a black beret, which I thought fit his attire nicely.
The match didn't start off all that hot, but it woke up the crowd down the stretch with some awe-inspiring maneuvers. From what I noticed, Sin Cara hardly botched at all, and he and Cesaro's respective styles meshed greatly.
At one point, but I thought for a brief second that Cara would actually win the star-spangled prize, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. Cesaro hit a sweet-looking Neutralizer on Cara to successfully retain his title.
Before the main event, a Raw recap video aired. I heard a few people say, "It's main event time already?" and I was thinking the same exact thing. I was wondering why so many top stars were left off the show, but I'll get back to that shortly.
Ryback def. WWE Champion CM Punk (w/Paul Heyman) by disqualification
Punk came out first to the loudest heat of the night by far. While everyone around me booed, I screamed my head off for the WWE Champion as "Cult of Personality" played in its entirety.
Punk took his time getting to the ring and teased doing his "It's clobberin' time!" routine, but continued to walk along instead. What a damn heel.
Ryback entered to a major pop, which was easily the loudest of the night. Ryback is absolute beast in person, and I proceeded to yell "I believe in you, Skip Skeffield!" toward the ring.
They dimmed the lights for the introductions and had both competitors stand in their respective corners, so that gave it a nice fight feel. Punk argued with various fans at ringside before the match actually kicked off, and I eagerly anticipating for him to say something derogatory to someone, but no such thing came to fruition.
The match itself was actually pretty good. It was never one-sided and both guys scored a ton of offense on one another. Punk made Ryback look great, and I noticed only one botch that occurred of the entire contest.
Punk went to the top turnbuckle numerous times throughout the bout and applied a number of rest holds as well. As he went for the GTS, he mocked Ryback by marching around the ring, which I thought was comedy gold.
As Ryback was pinning Punk, Paul Heyman interfered, which disqualified the Second City Saint in the process. Ryback stood face to face with Heyman before slamming him to the mat, as he was unable to lift Heyman up for the Shell Shocked for some reason.
He hit his finisher on Punk as well and celebrated with the crowd to end the show. Sure, the finish was predictable, but I still managed to enjoy it.
Overall, a very fun time that I throughly enjoyed. It was about two and a half hours long, and it went by quickly. I later discovered that guys such as The Miz, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler and others weren't there due to touring in Egypt, so that's understandable.
As previously stated, this was my first WWE event in nearly two years, and my first-ever house show. Just because it's not taped, doesn't mean it's not fun, as there's a lot more fan interaction at house shows than at the television tapings.
Of course, I strongly suggest purchasing tickets to a live event next time they're in your area. It's an entertaining time that you surely don't want to miss.
Visit my website at Next Era Wrestling, like me on Facebook and listen to my SAVE US GSM radio show every Wednesday night at 10/9c for more of my thoughts and writings, along with WWE/TNA news, reviews, recaps and more.