This past Saturday night I (along with my girlfriend and best friend) had the opportunity to attend a RAW/ECW house show from the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey. We arrived about 45 minutes early, and within minutes the line at the doors had stretched around the corner.
The 8,500 seat arena was a legitimate sellout for the event. With the ringside floor seats added in, attendance was probably in the area of 9,000 to 9,500. I missed the opening of the show while on line for drinks, but I could hear Howard Finkel welcoming everyone to the show from "here in Tren-Ton."
Finlay (w. Hornswoggle) defeated Mark Henry (w. Tony Atlas)
As I said, I missed the opening because of being on line at the snack stand. I came into the show just as Finlay was being announced the winner. I didn't really sweat missing this match because we've seen it many times on TV.
After Henry and Atlas left, Finlay walked around ringside and brought six young children into the ring to run around with Hornswoggle. It was a very heartwarming and wonderful moment and I'm sure gave each of those kids a memory they'll never forget.
Finkel stepped back into the ring to plug ECW, as well as the various souvenirs stands in the lobby. He then tossed the show to Kelly Kelly, who was up in the stands with the fans. She played a round of "WWE Trivia" with a couple kids, and they won four ringside seats for the rest of the evening.
Kane defeated Kofi Kingston
Kofi was out first to a decent pop, followed by Kane, who came out to a massive pop. The contrast in styles between the two men made for an extremely entertaining match. Kofi hit all of his trademark spots, as did Kane. One excellent point came when Kingston came off the top and was caught in mid-air with a big boot.
Kane set up for a chokeslam which Kofi escaped. Kofi looked like he was going for the Trouble in Paradise, but Kane countered into a huge chokeslam for the victory. Kane received virtually no heat, and it seemed as though the crowd couldn't really decide who to root for during the match.
Beth Phoenix (w. Santino) defeated Melina to retain the Women's Title
Melina came out first to a decent pop, followed by Glamarella, who really didn't get much of a reaction at all. The match wasn't really much to write home about; Beth dominated throughout. Melina built up a head of steam towards the end before being caught in Beth's "Glam Slam." I was hoping for Santino to get on the mic, since New Jersey is his home state, but the most I got to see was him arguing with a few kids at ringside.
John Morrison and the Miz defeated Cryme Tyme to retain the World Tag Team Titles
This was a great match that featured a lot of both sides playing to the crowd. Miz and Morrison drew a lot of heat from the start, while Cryme Tyme came out through the crowd and had a lot of momentum throughout the match. Both teams had their respective hot tags, and the team of Miz and Morrison got in their double-teaming spots in on JTG.
Shad came in and cleaned house before getting caught in Morrison's flipping neckbreaker (as he always seems to in these matches). The match came off very well and the crowd was really behind Cryme Tyme.
Matt Hardy defeated Jack Swagger to retain the ECW Title
Before I continue, I must confess I stopped watching the "new ECW" about three weeks after it started its run on the Sci-Fi Channel. That said, I knew nothing of Jack Swagger when he made his entrance. Matt Hardy on the other hand, got one of the biggest pops of the night.
This match was probably one of the longest of the night, and Matt carried most of it. When Swagger would get the upper hand, he spent most of his time either doing push-ups or arguing with fans. Hardy eventually won after a well executed Twist of Fate, and then played to the crowd very effectively before tossing out his shirt and leaving.
Howard Finkel then re-introduced Kelly Kelly, who came to the ring to thank everyone for coming out. Jillian then showed up (much to everyone's dismay), and told Kelly how everyone came out to hear her sing. As I sank further and further into my seat and prayed to God to strike me deaf, the Boogeyman thankfully made the save by scaring Jillian off. Afterwards, officials plucked a kid from the front row to sweep up the worms from the ring.
William Regal (w. Layla) defeated CM Punk to retain the Intercontinental Title
Punk comes out to a big pop, followed by Regal and Layla, who come out to some heat. As much as I love CM Punk, this ended up being the worst match of the night. Regal and Punk are not a good mix in the ring at all, and that fact was painfully obvious during the match.
Regal was able to keep Punk from building up any kind of big momentum, but never capitalized on that fact. Punk hit the high knee into the running bulldog, then went to the top for a flying clothesline. Regal ducked the shot and covered Punk for the win.
Shawn Michaels defeated Randy Orton (w. Cody Rhodes and Manu)
Legacy came out first to so much heat you could see Rhodes and Manu getting a little nervous. Welcome to Jersey, rookies. HBK came to the ring to possibly the biggest pop of the evening.After the two men got in the ring, the crowd got almost silent. I (quite vocally) directed a few well placed jabs at Orton, who turned and gave me his best evil eye before hooking up with Michaels.
This match really stole the show. It went back and forth between the two, with both men hitting all of their signature spots. At one point HBK was knocked from the ring, and the fans on the floor nearly pushed the guardrails over. While on the floor, Rhodes and Manu double-teamed him off of a distraction from Orton.
Orton began getting the upper hand before Michaels hit his flying forearm into the atomic drop and bodyslam. The arena came unhinged when HBK hit the diving elbow, and as he set Orton up for the superkick, Rhodes and Manu tried to get involved.
Rhodes snapped Michaels's neck off the rope thanks to a distraction from Manu, which allowed Orton to set up for the RKO. Michaels shoved Randy into the ropes and caught him with the superkick on the rebound for the win.
After the match, security really had to back up Legacy, who were taking serious heat from the fans. I know some people have been thinking Orton may be turning face in the near future, but the Trenton crowd was about as anti-Orton as possible.
John Cena defeated Chris Jericho to retain the World Title
Both men came out to very mixed reactions. The place was about a 50/50 split for each. Before Cena's entrance, Jericho got on the mic and riled up the crowd, saying that we "weren't worthy to be called Chris Jericho fans". I tried to get a Fozzy chant going, but it didn't catch on.
As Cena got in the ring, some little kid ran down the aisle and tried to give him a hug. Security grabbed the kid and started dragging him to the back, so Cena grabbed his title belt, chased after them, and gave the kid a hug before they took him away.
Jericho played up his heel character very early on, getting out of the ring to blow on his knuckles and check his wristbands. The match was pretty standard between the two men early on. Jericho knocked Cena out of the ring at one point, and decided to lay himself out on the top rope in the corner like it was a hammock until Cena got back in the ring.
Jericho hit the Lionsault for a near fall, followed by Cena hitting the shoulderblocks into the protoplex and Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena went for the F-U, which Jericho reversed. Jericho attempted the Walls, and Cena flipped out of it. Jericho finally locked the Walls in and really sat back on it before Cena reached the ropes.
Cena got up into a Codebreaker for a near fall, and Jericho began showing the frustrated "crybaby Chris" side of him from his days in WCW. Cena hit another running shoulderblock, and as he went to pick Jericho up nearly got caught in a small package. Somehow Cena stayed on his feet, lifted Jericho up, and threw him onto his shoulders for the F-U and the victory to end the evening.
All in all the show was absolutely incredible. I'd go out on a limb and say that I had a more enjoyable time at the house show than I would have at a RAW or Smackdown taping. Eight matches and only one brief promo in almost four hours, and aside from a few dull spots the entire show was very exciting.
Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, John Cena, Kane
Legacy, Miz and Morrison, Chris Jericho, Mark Henry
Event Photos (shot by my girlfriend and I):