While others were watching WWE SmackDown this past Friday night, I was busy attending the WWE Raw live event at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT. This was the first WWE event I attended since the Raw house show last October, which was short on star power due to a majority of the wrestlers being on tour in Japan.
With it being the Road to WrestleMania, WWE pulled out all the stops at Friday's Raw event. Although advertised stars such as Dolph Ziggler and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No didn't make appearances, I still felt satisfied with what we ended up getting.
I attended the show with my father, brother and friend, who were all equally as excited as I was for the show. We arrived at the arena an hour before the show at 6:30 p.m., which left us more than enough time to shop for merchandise, get food and set up camp so to speak.
Set up outside of the arena was a giant merchandise stand, which sold shirts and such for superstars such as CM Punk, John Cena, Ryback, The Miz, The Rock and others. I desperately wanted Chris Jericho's new shirt, but they weren't available for some reason.
Nonetheless, the merchandise stands inside the arena actually featured less merchandise than the one outside, which was strange. We waited in line for a bit before realizing that there was nothing worth buying, despite the fact I anxiously wanted to buy something to remember the night by.
Since my dad had connections with someone who worked at the arena, we were able to score VIP seats up top, which gave us an excellent view of the action. The show started roughly around 7:40 p.m. and the night full of entertainment began.
Matt Striker kicked off the show by introducing representatives from a local radio station, who accompanied him to the ring. They pulled their station before leaving shortly thereafter, so at least it was kept short and sweet.
Brodus Clay and Tensai def. 3MB
The standard WWE video packages aired (including the awesome Raw intro) before Brodus Clay and Tensai made their way down to the ring for their match against 3MB. Striker worked as the ring announcer for the remainder of the night. Maybe Justin Roberts was busy?
Clay and Tensai received a mild pop from the crowd, but nothing ear-shattering. Clay's act has grown quite tiresome over the year, although I did find myself dancing along to his entrance music as he entered.
The match was pretty formulaic for the most part, with Clay and Tensai obviously picking up the victory. It wasn't bad by any means, but the outcome was never in doubt and it went on a bit longer than it needed to.
Clay and Tensai (along with the Funkadactlys) invited children into the ring to dance with them for a few minutes before making their way to the back.
Zack Ryder def. Darren Young in a "Special Attraction" match; The Shield attacked Ryder
Matt Striker billed the next contest as a "Special Attraction" match, which was odd. Zack Ryder was out first and received a nice pop. It's still mind-boggling to me as to why he isn't being pushed at the moment despite being so incredibly over with live crowds.
Darren Young was introduced next, entering to his "One, Two, Three" entrance music that he used back in late 2010 and early 2011. Due to that, hardly anyone recognized the music when it first hit aside from me.
Upon entering the ring, Young grabbed a microphone and claimed that it wasn't his entrance music. He demanded they play his current entrance music and then waited outside the ring, but re-entered the squared circle once it wasn't played. Ain't nobody got time for that!
Surprisingly enough, Ryder was on offense almost the entire matchup. It seemed as though he scored more offense in that bout than he has in all of his matches over the last year combined.
The match was over within minutes after Ryder hit the Rough Ryder for the victory. During his post-match celebration, the Long Island Iced Z was attacked by The Shield from behind before being on the receiving end of a triple powerbomb.
Dean Ambrose grabbed a mic and cut a promo, but I could hardly hear what he said due to the humongous amount of heat they garnered from the live crowd. The audio was pretty bad anyway from where I was sitting, but the loud jeers toward The Shield didn't help either.
From what I heard, they challenged John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus to a six-man tag team match later in the night. A pre-taped video package featuring Ryback accepting the challenge on behalf of his team aired shortly thereafter.
Divas Champion Kaitlyn def. Tamina w/Vickie Guerrero
Before Striker could announce the next match, he was interrupted by Vickie Guerrero, who also received an extremely loud reaction. She was definitely amongst the top three hated heels of the night, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
Guerrero introduced Tamina Snuka first, which apparently means that the two are still linked. Kaitlyn was out next, entering to new entrance music and a pleasantly surprising reaction from the audience.
Guerrero interfered toward the end of the bout, but was inadvertently knocked off the apron by Tamina. This allowed Kaitlyn to follow up with the spear for the win. Fine match by Divas standards, but nothing out of the ordinary.
United States Champion Antonio Cesaro def. The Miz and Kofi Kingston in a Triple Threat
Striker announced earlier in the evening that the fans had the option of choosing whether the United States Championship match would be a one-on-one match or a Triple Threat. I didn't bother texting in due to the fact that it's almost always rigged, so why bother?
Of course, the Triple Threat match was chosen, which meant that Antonio Cesaro would be defending his U.S. title against both The Miz and Kofi Kingston. It was great to finally see Cesaro's entrance, which hasn't aired on televised in recent weeks.
Miz was out next and received a pretty loud reaction, which goes to show that he is definitely getting over as a face. Kingston received a nice pop, but nothing nearly as loud as Miz's.
Some shenanigans were involved in the first few minutes of the match, but the bout finally got underway once Miz and Kingston disposed of Cesaro to ringside. Miz and Kingston had an entertaining exchange before Cesaro re-entered the fray moments later.
Each participant took turns staying at ringside, but the action really got exciting down the stretch. Everyone hit their signature spots and everyone developed great chemistry with one another.
The finish saw Miz connect with the Skull Crushing Finale on Kingston, only for Cesaro to pick up the scraps. The match could've been structured a bit better, but it was still the undisputed match of the night.
After Cesaro made his way back up the ramp, he turned around and rushed back to the ring to ambush the Awesome One from behind. He got a few moves before being double-teamed by Miz and Kingston, with both men hitting their finishers, respectively.
During the intermission, I made my way back to the merchandise table to buy a CM Punk foam finger. Unfortunately, someone bought the last two just as I approached the front of the table, so I bought a Ryback "Feed Me More" shirt instead, which was a nice consolation prize.
R-Truth def. Titus O'Neil
Because I had waited so long in line at the merchandise stand, I missed the first part of the match between R-Truth and Titus O'Neil. However, it wasn't anything special anyway, as it was a mediocre match for the most part.
The finish was abrupt, with Truth connecting with the Little Jimmy for the victory. After the match concluded, Truth remained lying on the mat before being approached by a referee, who threw up the recognizable X sign with his hands.
Truth rolled out of the ring and was helped to the back by the referee and someone else. It looked like he might have tweaked his knee or something, which would be unfortunate, given the fact he just recently returned from injury.
CM Punk and Paul Heyman mocked The Undertaker
Following the match, Striker mentioned how you'll never know who will show up at a live event. I wasn't sure what he meant by that, since neither R-Truth nor Titus O'Neil were anyone special.
Moments later, the unmistakable gong hit and the arena became unglued. As Undertaker's entrance music began to play, I found myself jumping up and down like a giddy schoolgirl, but I know I wasn't the only one.
It was no more than a minute later that "Cult of Personality" began to play and I broke out in laughter. CM Punk walked out with Paul Heyman in tow and succeeded in trolling everyone in Bridgeport on Friday night.
Not only that, but he had the urn that he stole from the Brothers of Destruction on Raw in hand as well. As he made his entrance, he played catch with the urn with Heyman and pretended to fumble with it, which was hysterical.
A Road to WrestleMania graphic appeared on the large tron up above as Punk's promo began. He, too, received monster heat from the crowd, which just goes to show just how good he truly is at what he does.
He briefly talked about Paul Bearer and how he will be ending Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania 29. The promo was excellently executed, and I was glad that his mic was actually working and I managed to hear most of it.
Once he was finished, he mocked Undertaker's signature pose and made his way up the ramp, dropping the urn several times. At one point, he and Heyman even chased the urn down the ramp, which had me in stitches.
John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus def. The Shield by disqualification
Striker announced that it was main-event time and introduced Ryback first. Ryback received one of the bigger pops of the night with his "Feed Me More" chant being way over with the crowd.
Sheamus garnered just as big of a reaction as Ryback, but nowhere near as loud as John Cena. I may not be one of Cena's biggest supporters, but you have to respect the fact that the reactions he receives are near-ear deafening almost every single time.
The Shield entered through the crowd, which was cool to see since they came through the stage arena when they first appeared earlier in the evening. Before they could make it inside the ring, they were ambushed by Cena, Ryback and Sheamus and briefly brawled at ringside.
The match itself was solid for the most part, but nothing all that exciting. Cena took a brutal beating at the hands of The Shield and made the hot tag to Ryback in the latter half of the bout.
Ryback dismantled each member of the sadistic stable before everyone began brawling with one another. One of the members of The Shield (I can't remember who) brought a chair into the ring and attacked the faces with it, which caused the referee to call for the disqualification finish.
Although the match was officially over, the action didn't end there. Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Roman Reigns before Cena and Ryback hit their respective finishing maneuvers on Ambrose and Rollins as well.
Cena, Sheamus and Ryback closed the show by standing tall on each of the turnbuckles before walking off. Matt Striker thanked the crowd for coming and wished everyone a good rest of the night.
Overall, I found this to be an extremely enjoyable show and had a blast. Sure, my friend and I were a bit disappointed that Ziggler and Jericho weren't present at the event, but we were still satisfied with who else we got.
If you're contemplating going to a live event near you, I strongly suggest attending. Sometimes the fact that it's not televised makes it even more fun, due to the fact it allows the superstars to be a bit more interactive with the fans.