On Monday night, I took a much overdue step in my professional wrestling fanhood and attended my first ever live World Wrestling Entertainment event. Until this point, my live wrestling experience had started and ended with a live developmental show here and there. Florida Championship Wrestling had served as a filler for a gaping deficiency.
I was in for a treat.
As I stepped into Orlando's Amway Arena, my anxious excitement quickly turned into a youthful fascination. The entire mass production that is an episode of Monday Night Raw now seemed strangely personal.
I sat anticipating the action as I took in my surroundings. The last time that Raw was in this building, Ric Flair gave his emotional retirement speach after losing his epic Wrestlemania matchup with Shawn Michaels on the previous evening.
Now, during any down time or temporarily quiet moment, fans filled the arena with Flair's trademark "WOOOO!" as a celebratory tribute.
It all began with a dark match between Drew McIntyre and Sheamus. This was the only match of the night that the otherwise vocal crowd treated with indifference.
On the other hand, this was a match that I truly enjoyed because I feel that these two have bright futures as stars in this industry. Sheamus is beginning to get his push now, hopefully McIntyre's is soon to come.
Sheamus won the match and seemed to be working as a face. This was interesting to me as Sheamus has worked almost exclusively as a heel during both his time in FCW and now his early days on SyFy.
As the live broadcast of Raw began (I will not spoil the Superstars taping for the anti-insider site types), the primary curiosity that filled my mind was how Seth Green would fare as the guest host. Hearing of the move a few days earlier, I had at first detested the decision and thought that it might lead to absolute failure.
I could not have been more wrong.
Green brought an interesting spark to Raw with his efficient humor and ability to just be himself. Even better, he managed to bring back the sarcastic and witty side of Triple H that has been gone for far too long as his "Cerebral Assassin" gimmick grows stale.
Some of Green and Hunter's humor even grazed the boundaries of the line between TV-PG and TV-14, a decision that was not favorable amongst a number of the Beaver Cleaveresque families in the audience.
Green's effective comedy seemed to run contagious amongst the Raw roster. There were numerous funny segments, a pleasant metamorphosis from the usually poor attempts at comedy.
The skit that began with Santino playing with action figures, and ended with the sudden comedic genius of John Cena, was great and had the crowd rolling in laughter. The look on the face of Chris Jericho when Mark Henry started hinting that they were not going to be tag team partners was priceless.
I know that many people will complain about Chavo getting buried, but I honestly enjoy the Hornswoggle segments now that Goldust is gone. Not to mention, a solid half of the crowd was kids under the age of 13, and Hornswoggle seems to be ridiculously popular amongst them.
If the young demographic is that prevalent at every show, then it wouldn't be wise of WWE to do away with someone like Hornswoggle who is way over with the little kids.
Speaking of the crowd, I have read many reports about how lively and vocal last night's audience was. The fans in attendance seemed to be overwhelmingly casual wrestling fans. I heard a good amount of people ask where Batista was, and many seemed shocked when the news of Edge's injury was announced.
With that said, I must say that it was an extremely refreshing pro wrestling experience because of the crowd.
Watching at home, I tend to look further into a wrestling show than I probably should and become over-critical. Here, I found myself watching each match like the 9-year-old that got hooked on wrestling during the Monday Night Wars. It was a nice change of pace.
I was entertained, and that was my primary concern. The energy of the raucous crowd spread rapidly and I found myself sucked into every match. I saw the Big Show wrestle three times and enjoyed each match, there was definitely something strange in the air.
Regardless of my sudden return to the fourth grade, I still couldn't stop myself from questioning the upcoming main event. The writers would surely do something awful with this match. Nightmares of Seth Green mysteriously beating Randy Orton rushed to my mind. Green had been great, but this could end abruptly if the main event suddenly became David Arquette Part II.
Once again, I was proven wrong (I sense a pattern here). The booking in the main event was tremendous.
Green was given his brief moments of rather pathetic and comedic offense which drew huge pops from the crowd. However, it was all handled to keep him as a humorous figure and refrain from making Orton look like a paper champion, which was nice to see.
The no-contest was a good way to end the match, and we even had a slight moment where it looked like Triple H might take out John "Superman" Cena, which sent the young ones into a brief panic-ridden hysteria.
It all ended with a short dark handicap match which included an Attitude Adjustment to the Big Show to send the kiddies home smiling.
I found the show incredibly entertaining. I learned that Kofi Kingston is way over with the crowd and got some of the biggest pops of the evening.
I also learned that I was the only person in attendance who likes The Miz (shocking development). I was verbally unloaded on by armies of third graders for daring to cheer on the purple feauxhawked one. The Miz is too talented to be wasted, and needs a storyline soon.
Some will say that last night didn't build up to Night of Champions enough to be praised as a successful show. I think that they lightly touched on that issue but, knowing that next week would be all NoC promos, the WWE shied away from it, and went for a simple entertaining Raw instead.
For me, it was a long-awaited and excellent experience.
Smackdown comes to town December 20th...