I was privileged enough to be at Monday night's Raw episode from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J. It is certainly a different experience than catching the three-hour show on television.
For one, it does not give me the ability to hear the commentary, which used to be a thrilling point to make. Nowadays, with Jim Ross and a less-annoying Michael Cole, it does feel like an element of the entire program is missing. Nothing seen by me from Twitter seemed to center around the commentary too much, so I guess that's a good thing.
The night began with the taping of Superstars with Josh Mathews and Scott Stanford on commentary. They showed the updated intro video for Superstars, which I hate to admit I had seen for the first time.
Directly following that, The Usos were already on stage and made their explosive entrance to the ring. The two were going to compete in a tag team match against The Primetime Players. I won't give you any spoilers to the action. You'll just have to read spoilers elsewhere or wait until the match gets released later this week to see.
The other match that took place in the Superstars portion of the night included Jinder Mahal, who arrived with fellow 3MB members Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre, taking on Tyson Kidd, who came out to an incredible pop from the crowd.
Mahal entered with his regular Titantron but seemed to enter to new music, perhaps, the new music for 3MB. It sounded somewhat decent, but I joked that it would be getting The Corre treatment and have seven remixed versions of it. Kidd entered the match without Justin Gabriel at his side, though we know what Gabriel would do on Raw. Again, no spoilers of the outcome.
The actions taking place on Raw don't really need to be explained to anyone who saw the show, though, there was something definitely off about the crowd. I have always defended the crowds in New Jersey, especially with all of the great shows the IZOD Center has seen over the years.
The crowd at No Way Out certainly was disappointing, but so was the pay-per-view, so it certainly got a pass. For the last Raw before either the end of CM Punk's title reign or Ryback's undefeated streak, it was underwhelming. The crowd filled in before the start of Raw, but it wasn't a fantastic crowd.
Signs in the crowd were hard to come by, especially in key areas to be seen on television. It really makes one wonder how someone can spend so much money to sit in seats with television exposure and not feel the desire to get themselves seen with a sign on cable television.
Without signs, clever or not, it only feels like those people are uninterested, which really felt like it was the case. Looking directly at them for three hours was hard in person. At least, someone disgusted from home could change the channel and be disgusted at the Detroit Lions instead.
Chants also seemed kind of hard to come by at certain points in the night. While some were strong in certain sections and seemed pretty powerful in the arena, not many of them translated well onto television.
So, if East Rutherford didn't sound interested at times on Raw, they really weren't. There were, however, some pretty powerful chants going on throughout the night. During the McGIllicutty/Kingston match, a chant about Mr. Perfect, the late father of McGillicutty, sparked up for a minute.
As AJ Lee spoke in the ring about growing up near the arena, a chant of Union City, Lee's hometown that is two towns away, started up.
When Vickie Guerrero was announced as the Managing Supervisor, the loudest boos of the night took place. It literally was difficult to hear Guerrero speak on the mic, but she did not hesitate during this segment. It left a lot of fans confused on what she had actually said to Paul Heyman.
Easily the best match in the fans' eyes was Dolph Ziggler against Daniel Bryan. Dueling chants of Daniel Bryan and "Let's Go Ziggler" surrounded the arena.
The chants for Ziggler were more powerful and reminded me a lot of the same chants which were able to be heard when WWE was in this arena for No Way Out just months earlier. A moan came out of the crowd after the nasty spill Ziggler took to the outside and collided with Bryan after he dived to the outside. Chants of "This Is Awesome" were heard for a brief time following that.
Any momentum that match brought on was thwarted with the Newly-Tag Game that never happened and The Big Show/ Kane match that never should have happened.
The match moved way too slow and got so many uninterested that not even a chant for it being boring could be sustained. Zack Ryder helped win the crowd back with his huge ovation, which is pretty standard in an arena in the Tri-State Area. The same could be said about the main event between Sheamus and CM Punk.
It should be noted that chants talking about Randy Savage were probably heard throughout the main event lumberjack match. That wasn't all in reference to Punk's elbow drop, though it did help to generate the chants for some initially.
In something that anyone at a live event can attest to, certain fans decide to dress up like a wrestler. Especially given that Halloween is getting closer, it is more common at this time of the year. A large group of friends all decided to dress up as characters of the past, from Mankind to Jimmy Hart and everyone in between.
I hate to give acknowledgement to these guys because they were obnoxious and got talked to by security a few times. If ever there was a week for Punk to run into the crowd...
Getting back to the point, there was a Randy Savage in this group of wrestler imitators, and he was among the most popular and most annoying of the group. The group of imitators alone had the numbers to get a chant off the ground and moving. As others helped them out by joining in, they were able to get noticed, much like those same people who always start a wave at a baseball game.
It almost seemed like Punk and Sheamus took a hint from the chant, which wasn't really about the match at all, as Punk delivered the elbow drop later on in the bout. That same group did spout off a "Ziggler's Better" chant a few times as well, which may be heard on TV, but did get a smirk from Ziggler at ringside.
Following the ending of Raw, Sheamus made it back into the ring for the dark match main event. He grabbed a microphone and told The Big Show to come out for their scheduled Last Man Standing match for the World Heavyweight Championship.
The Big Show came to the ring and said that he wouldn't be proving anything by knocking out a guy who just lost a match minutes earlier. He tried to turn away but ended up getting into it with Sheamus anyway. After a heated exchange, Sheamus got The Big Show up for White Noise and actually hit him with a Brogue Kick. The match never officially started, but Sheamus walked out defiant anyway.