My WWEekend: 6/19 Live Event at Madison Square Garden & 6/20 Fatal 4Way Pay-Per-View at Nassau Coliseum
It’s Go Time…
A few months back I received an e-mail from Ticketmaster alerting me of a WWE Supershow at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. I had already been to MSG for the November 16th Monday Night Raw, with Rowdy Roddy Piper as host. You might recall this as the night of the wild Kofi Kingston-Randy Orton brawl through the crowd. Anyway, despite the relatively recent WWE fix, I decided to see if I couldn’t drum up some interest in a Supershow. I hadn’t been to a WWE house show in almost 20 years, and I’ve always heard that the live events can be more enjoyable than a TV taping. Tickets were acquired, babies burped, flowers bloomed.
A few weeks after that, I received yet another e-mail from ticketmaster, this time regarding a pay-per-view at Uniondale’s Nassau Coliseum. I was intrigued, and thought to myself, “Why not make a weekend out of it?” I sent out some text messages, some e-mails, and was able to secure some running buddies for what would be my second WWE live event in 2 days.
The scene, as they say, has been set.
Saturday, June 19th, 2010.
While waiting to board the Long Island Rail Road and doing my best to Watch The Gap, I noticed how many little kids were ready to board the train. They were decked out in their John Cena gear and wielding home made signs professing their admiration and adoration for the leader of the Chain Gang.
(hold on a second, tangent coming)
For all of the hand-wringing and “hate hoo’ing” (c) Reneke, I’ve never had a problem with John Cena. When I was ages 6-11, if you told me I could have a billion dollars or meet Hulk Hogan, I’d have picked meeting The Hulkster 100 times out of 100. Hogan was my absolute hero, and “Train, Say your prayers, and Eat your vitamins” were my marching orders. *obvious segue coming* Not very different from the “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” mantra that John Cena espouses to his younger fans.
My point is this: I know that “smart” fans hate John Cena, but let’s break their complaints down, shall we?
1- “You Can’t Wres-tle!” As the aforementioned Reneke has pointed out in his Way Too Long reviews, Cena actually can wrestle. Sure, he has his 5 Moves Of Mediocrity, a sequence that even Mr. Suspension of Disbelief Rey kind of mocks, but for the most part his PPV matches are top notch. He tells good stories in the ring and his finishes are usually creative.
2- “Why does he always win the belt?” Well, there’s the breakdown of reason #1, there’s his ridiculous popularity, and the fact that he’s the face of the company. I know those are “smart” fan reasons, but if you want to take it to the “mark” reasons, I’ll indulge you. He never gives up, he’s stronger than the whiskey in Back to the Future III, and he’s ring-smart. So, you know, that.
3- “He’s the face of this TV-PG crap!” This might be my favorite of all the shouts calling for Cena’s head. I’ll keep this short & sweet. This era is better than the Rock’n’Wrestling period, and while the “main” storylines aren’t as “OMG I can’t wait ’til next week!!!!” as they were in the Attitude Era, the overall product is better. After perusing YouTube for old Attitude Era clips and going through a “WWF’s Funniest Moments” DVD, I think it’s safe to say that we are glossing over 75% of what actually went on back then while we reminisce over how great The Rock, Mankind, Stone Cold, and d-X were. Lots of random nonsense, lost of short matches, lots of run-ins, lots of repetitive moves, lots of juvenile innuendo, lots of “Seriously? That’s what you’re going with?” reasons for the switch to raunch, and an almost embarrassing reliance on catchphrases (I’m looking at you, Rocky). It’s time to let the Attitude Era go, as it’s getting a little ridiculous when anyone remotely connected to that time period gets cheered and a superior talent or personality from “Now” gets booed.
4- “Girls and little kids like him!” Ahhh, there’s the one! I don’t know what it is about a staggering number of male wrestling fans, but for some reason they just refuse to like anyone that small children or females like. To take it one step further, the contempt shown for WWE Divas and TNA Knockouts will one day make several psychiatrists very rich, and most likely be the jumping-off point for a new A&E reality show called “Mommy Issues”…but I digress. Yes, Girls & Little Kids like John Cena. The chicks think he’s dreamy, the kids think he’s a superhero, and you know what? I’m okay with it.
The fact is, Cena’s been on top for 5 years. At both events I’ve been to there has been a veritable sea of orange t-shirts, orange hats, orange headbands, and orange foam fingers. He’s the face of the company, the face of mainstream wrestling, and has to rank #3 behind Hulk Hogan & Stone Cold Steve Austin in terms of all-time popularity. He’s not going anywhere, and for the last word on that, I’ll defer to some loveliness that occurred last nite at the PPV:
Three Loud Drunk Guys, at several intervals before, during, an after the main event: “CENA SUCKS! CENA SUCKS! CENA SUCKS!”
One small boy sitting in the row right below them: “WE HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME! *clap-clap-clapclapclap* WE HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME! *clap-clap-clapclapclap*”
(okay, tangent over)
On to the show!
Match #1, Intercontinental Championship Match, Kofi Kingston (c) vs Drew McIntyre– Lots of loud “Kofi” chants during the match (all of which I participated in, as Kofi is awesome). Match was good, and Drew McIntyre got a ridiculous amount of heat for mocking Kofi’s hand-clapping “Boom!” shtick. Kofi got the pin with the S.O.S. to retain, but Drew attacked him post-bell. Matt Hardy ran out thru the crowd, attacked Drew, then escapes back thru the crowd. Drew goes back thru the curtain, only to have Hardy throw him back into the ring. Kofi hits the Trouble in Paradise to make everybody happy.
Match #2, The Straight Edge Society vs M.V.P. and Christian– The guys behind us (kinda d-baggy, but whatareyagonnado?) chant “Drink A Beer!” Masked Man (Joey Mercury, I believe) & Luke Gallows take the loss when M.V.P. nails the Playmaker. The crowd was hot and the match was a lot of fun. I’d say something about Serena’s rack being noticeable from 50 yards away, but that would be crass.
Before Match #3, Kelly Kelly was introduced as our special guest host– I didn’t mind this one bit, even if she was far away. Anyhoo, she came out to announce a contest to be the guest time-keeper. A little boy named Jason won when he correctly answered the question, “Where was the first WrestleMania held?” Nice little moment.
Match #3, C.M. Punk vs Kane– Tony Chimel announced C.M. Punk as being “…from the home of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.” Punk took his sweet time walking around the ring, most likely to egg on the fans. Once he got into the ring he smacked Tony Chimel with his own tie. *Daniel Bryan Joke*. The “Drink A Beer” chant came back for a bit during the match. In the end, Kane won via Chokeslam.
Match #4, Fatal 4Way for the U.S. Title, The Miz (c) vs Evan Bourne vs Mark Henry vs R-Truth– The Miz comes out and says the New York Knicks will never get LeBron or a Championship. Because I’m a diehard Knicks fan, I wish testicular cancer on The Miz. Because I’m a good person, I’ll say that figuratively. Another good match, with The Miz retaining the U.S. Title by pulling Evan Bourne off of R-Truth and covering Mr. What’s Up after Bourne hit the Shooting Star Press, which is even more impressive in real life.
Match #5, No Disqualification Match for the World Heavyweight Championship, Jack Swagger (c) vs The Big Show– This match was fun, and our first with some of the sillier House Show antics that I’ve read about. The Big Show had a blast. At one point he just plain sat on Jack Swagger (and, as a fat kid growing up, lemme just say that there’s nothing scarier for skinny kids than the threat of being sat on. take that, skinny guy!), and he also hit Swagger with the stinky-face, which I hope doesn’t become a permanent part of Show’s repertoire. Swagger tried using a chair and a belt but to no avail. Eventually, Kane came out and chokeslammed Show leading Swagger to the win. Post-match, Kane also chokeslammed Swagger. Show & Swagger both recover, and then The Big Show knocks out Jack Swagger just for living.
Kelly Kelly Returns– Double K, who I’m afraid might’ve had a boob-job (boo!), comes out to throw t-shirts to the crowd. Tony Chimel announces the intermission, and I stand up to stretch and do the Truffle Shuffle.
Match #6, 6 Diva Tag Match, Eve & The Bella Twins vs Maryse & Lay-Cool– I missed the first 30 seconds of the match because I was wiping the drool, but I was snapped back to reality by the “This IS Stupid” and “This Is Boring” chants. I guess the audience full of cool, hip, edgy, manly man fans couldn’t wait to get back to the sweaty mens in the ring. *emphatic eye roll* Anyway, the match was pretty good, but it did drag a bit with an extended resthold. Eventually Eve got the win for her team with her version of the Shake-Rattle-n-Roll neckbreaker.
Match #7, Edge vs Randy Orton– Crowd went nuts for both guys, but the majority of the “good guy cheers” went to Orton. Nice back & forth, but while neither man was on cruise control, neither really went hard. Orton got the pin with an RKO, but I missed the set-up because I was being reprimanded by my buddy Jon for being overly critical about these kids behind us chanting.
(you know what? it’s time for another tangent!)
I like chanting. I do. I chant all the time. Thing is, there are really only 3 different styles of chant that works. It has to do with syllables, and it goes a little something like this:
One 1 Syllable Name- You can either say the name by itself in conjunction with a stomp or a clap (Example- “Edge! Edge! Edge!”) or you can do the ol’ “Let’s! Go! Edge!”, also with percussion.
One 2 syllable Name- Now we’re in multiple clap territory. Similar to the first, you can either chant “Ko-FI! Ko-FI! Ko-FI!” or “Let’s Go Ko-Fi!” (clap-clap-clapclapclap).
One 1 syllable Name, One 2 syllable name- Two choices here. Either just stick with the last name (“Ce-Na! Ce-Na! Ce-Na!”) or add some claps. (“John! Ce! Na! John! Ce! Na!”)
Two 2 syllable Names- . Example- “Ran-Dy Or-ton!” (clap-clap-clapclapclap)
That’s it. Thems the breakdowns. You can’t do what the little bastard urchins were doing during the Randy Orton vs Edge match and chant “Let’s Go E-Edge!” It just doesn’t work. In fact, it was like nails on the chalkboard. In facter, it was as glaring as seeing someone type “YOUR” when they mean “YOU’RE.” Does this make me a Chant Nazi? Yes, Yes it does. I’m okay with it.
(okay, tangent is over.)
Match #8, WWE Championship Match, John Cena vs Sheamus– No real surprise here, but the MSG crowd booed the heck out of John Cena. In fact, a couple of ’06 “You Can’t Wrestle!” chants broke out, ironically enough, after a quick bit of swift hold-exchanges. The usual affair, with the lower voices booing everything Cena did (but still “singing along” when it came time for the ol’ “You Can’t See Me!”‘n’5 Knuckle Shuffle bit) and the higher voices (and mine) cheering. Eventually, the NXT rookies came out to beat up on Cena (causing a D-Q), and that was pretty exciting. The locker room emptied out to stave them off. Interesting note, Randy Orton came out to fend off the NXT guys, but then immediately left the ring afterwards. Not sure if this was a shoulder-preserving move, or a “Let’s not make him TOO facey” move. Either way, I thought it was interesting.
So that was it, Day 1. The train was ridiculously packed coming home and we were amongst several miniature members of the Chain Gang, all with proud parents who were raised on Hogan, Matured by Austin, and are continuing the tradition. I don’t care how corny it sounds, but THAT is the point, and anyone who insists otherwise has forgotten too much and is trying too hard.
I eventually crashed hard around 1am, with visions of Sports Entertainers dancing in my head. In less than 24 hours I’d be right back it.
Sunday, June 20th, 2010.
The road to the Nassau Coliseum is paved with, well, pavement. After spending the majority of Father’s Day 2010 with mine Papa catching up on Royal Pains (featuring The Big Show, whose acting skills are underappreciated, in my opinion), it was time to make tracks for Uniondale. This would be the 2nd pay-per-view I’d be seeing there, the first being SummerSlam 2002.
Needless to say, I was hoping I’d have a happier PPV experience than the last time, where the excitement of HBK defeating HHH in an unsanctioned streetfight was tempered by Hunter laying out HBK with the sledgehammer post-match. Plus, I still haven’t forgiven the WWE, or its fans for cosigning Brock Lesnar’s super, ultra, mega, rocketship-up-his-butt push, completed by defeating a departing Rock in the main event. Altho’, at the end, with people booing Rocky lustily, The Rock grabbed the mic and tried to send us home happy with the “Finally…” bit, only to get drowned out. Eventually, after trying a few times, Rocky said “You know what? It doesn’t matter where The Rock has come back to” and left the ring.
Anyway, we arrived at Nassau Coliseum, parked, and began the trek to the arena. It’s always fun looking at old t-shirts, random championship belts, and the parade of mutants that invariably show up to live wrestling events. I mean, look, don’t get it twisted: It’s great when you run into a fellow Sports Entertainment aficionado, but some of our brethren are really, really funny looking. Full disclosure though: I was wearing orange & blue Florida Gator Crocs-brand flip-flops that my Mom got for me. Still, that wasn’t going to top the guy dressed as a banana, holding a sign that said “I’m Bananas for Edge.”
We made it to our seats just as the dark match was underway. Our seats were pretty good, great view of the ring, and I was on the aisle so I wasn’t squished in-between people like I was the nite before at the Garden. We were facing the TitanTron, basically straight across from the giant “4” on the set. Anyway, we were seated in time to catch the warm-up match. Zack Ryder defeated M.V.P., and we cheered. I like Zack Ryder, and he’s a hometown boy, so it was cool.
On to the pay-per-view!
Vince addresses the crowd– Vince recaps what happened on Raw with Bret Hart, announces Bret won’t be here. A loud “Daniel Bryan!” chant broke out, and Vince smirked a bit at it just as he was turning to leave. Kinda cool to see.
Match #1, Intercontinental Title, Kofi Kingston (c) vs Drew McIntyre– Lots of empty seats on the side that the cameras shoot from. Kind of disheartening, I’ll admit. Kofi had lights in his boots, and I thought that was pretty cool. The match was very, very similar to the one they had the day before at Madison Square Garden, but the crowd was super-hot for it. Lots of Pro-Kofi chants, and lots of derision hurled at McIntyre. Well, except for this one screech owl of a girl a few rows up and over to the left from us. She loved Drew McIntyre, and had to express that at about 6,000 decibels. The finish of the match was great, and a “Teddy! Teddy!” chant broke out. Happy to see Kofi retain, and Smackdown might’ve earned a spot back on my DVR list, even though the post-production crowd noise hurts my feelings it’s so fake.
Interview with The Hart Dynasty– I could barely hear what they were saying, but what I could make out wasn’t very memorable. Those kids need to be heels. I understand why they’re not, but all of the smiling comes off as forced.
Match #2, Fatal 4Way for the Diva’s Championship, Eve (c) vs Gail Kim vs Alicia Fox vs Maryse– Lots of scoffing and attempts at “Boring” chants from the crowd. Sad to see because them girls work really hard in the ring, you can see how much effort they put into it. I appreciate the effort, but most folks don’t because, let’s face it, Misogyny is the coolest thing since someone invented the term “Epic Fail” (/sarcasm). Anyway, Eve nailed Maryse with a gorgeous moonsault, only to be thrown out of the ring by Alicia Fox. Fox covered Maryse, and we have a new champion. Decent match, but the moonsault by Eve was great. More Kurt Angle than John Morrison, and leagues better than Lita’s.
Backstage: Rey Mysterio & The Big Show– Again, I couldn’t hear what they were saying. In lieu of that, I’ll share a random factoid with you: I’m allergic to shellfish.
Match #3, Chris Jericho vs Evan Bourne– People freaked out when Jericho showed up. He could’ve alternately had sex with and then slapped around the mothers of everyone in attendance and he still would’ve gotten a “Y2J! Y2J!” chant. His promo talked a bit more about his past, and even tho’ his mic was low, I really only heard him drop one “Parasite”-esque comment. Methinks his impending DVD release is going to usher in a Jericho LoveFest, and I’m okay with it. Anyway, Evan came out, and the battle lines were drawn: Low voices for Jericho, High voices for Bourne. This match was really good, probably the best of the nite. Finish was Bourne pin Jericho after a shooting star press. Great look for Bourne, more-than-solid outing by Jericho.
Match #4, World Heavyweight Title Match, Jack Swagger (c) vs The Big Show vs Rey Mysterio vs C.M. Punk– Show got a good ovation. C.M. Punk was cheered, but the “That Guy”-O-Meter of the crowd was off the charts. Swagger was booed, and surprisingly enough? So was Rey Mysterio. Part of me wonders if Mysterio has reached that same “Women and Little Kids” like him point that Cena has. That’d be pretty surprising considering how Rey-Rey was around for the Monday Night Wars. Usually the “That Guy” contingency loves anyone remotely connected to wrestling in 1999. Anyway, another good match, but the finish got all dumb when a casket was brought down to ringside by Kane. Kane went to stuff C.M. Punk inside, which brought out Luke “Call Me Festus Again. I Dare You. I Double Dare You, MuthaF**ka. Call Me Festus One More G-D Time!” Gallows. Gallows rescues Punk, and during the brouhaha, Rey Mysterio capitalizes on a downed Jack Swagger and wins the belt. Rey got a big pop for winning the belt but, after he was booed on his entrance, I’m not sure if he got a pop for winning or if the crowd was just happy Swagger lost.
Match #5, U.S. Title Match, The Miz (c) vs R-Truth The Miz is out first mocking R-Truth’s theme music in a fantastic bit of heelery. Truth came out and didn’t seem to be too angry about the Weird Al’ing of his entrance music. This match was…not good. Kinda surprised me because, even tho’ people in the I.W.C. seem to hate Truth, he was impressive in the Fatal 4Way the day before…um…Fatal 4way. I was kind of surprised to see him and Miz stink the joint up. The Miz won, showing great focus after some guy in orange & blue Florida Gators crocs started chanting “Bath-room Match! Bath-room Match!”
Backstage: Edge with Todd Grisham who did not, in fact, write The Firm– Once again, I couldn’t hear much of what Edge said. In lieu of that, I’ll say this: Edge needs a nap. Him, Vince Vaughn, and Susan Sarandon all need naps.
Match #6, 6 Person Tag Match, The Uso Brothers & Tamina vs The Hart Dynasty– Let’s cut right to the chase: Natalya hits the Twisting Tornado Punch on Tamina for the win. This match should’ve been way better than it was. I can’t even blame time constraints because they seemed to have a decent allotment of minutes for this one. The Hart Dynasty will be okay, but the not-so-fabulous Uso Brothers are in big trouble after this clunker.
Match #7, WWE Championship Match, John Cena (vs) Sheamus vs Edge vs Randy Orton– Cheers for Edge. Cheers for Randy. Boos for Sheamus. Lots of hate for John Cena. The crowd at Madison Square Garden was split, but I’d say 65%-70% of the Nassau Coliseum was hoping Cena would suffer from an aortic dissection in the middle of the match. I thought this was a good match too, taking the score up to 5-2, Goodies vs Clunkers. An electric moment happened when Randy Orton & John Cena had a face-off in the ring. It was reminiscent of when The Rock and Stone Cold feuded going into WrestleMania X-7. Sure, we had seen the feud twice before, but there were new dimensions to the characters (specifically Randy), so it was like it was brand new. Kudos, WWE. Alas, we didn’t get much from Cena vs Orton this time around (a lament I never thought would’ve been possible 6 months ago). You all know the finish by now: The NXT’ers ran in, took out Cena, Sheamus threw the ref in the ring, covered Cena, then the NXT’ers chased after Sheamus. Cena made his impassioned speech, letting people boo the hell out of him. How this man doesn’t completely lose his sh*t and scream “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!?” like Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XX is beyond me. Cena was booed like crazy, and for the 10th time that nite, a “Daniel Bryan” chant broke out.
(and now it’s time for…a tangent!)
The problem I have with the whole Daniel Bryan thing is that, given the complaints some of the people in the crowd had, as well as the banter I caught and the staggeringly low level of intelligence some of my fellow Long Islanders used in formulating their quips and catcalls, leads me to believe that these people don’t actually know Daniel Bryan from Bryan Danielson, to Daniel San, to Brian Boitano. My guess is that they went online, read a bunch of people talking about how he was a big deal, and how held back he was, and decided to run with it.
In a way, it reminded me of how the entire country was batsh*t crazy over every ECW guy when, if they were really doing that well and were THAT well-known, maybe Paul Heyman wouldn’t have had to pay his wrestlers in Hugs and Positive Praise. In other words, the affectation is what bothers me.
Daniel Bryan was interesting on NXT, and was a shot of life that the promotion sorely needed. You know what tho’? Let’s call a spade a spade and admit that in terms of his impact, he didn’t do squat in WWE until he choked out what’s-his-face with his necktie and spat in Cena’s face. Maybe that’s all he needed to do for some of those chowderheads to declare their undying love for him, but it’s not nearly enough to act like he’s Andy Dufresne and Vince McMahon is the warden of Shawshank State Penitentiary.
So, again, affectation. I can’t deal with people thinking they’re “cool” or “hip” or “edgy” because they’re chanting the name of a future endeavored wrestler. That’s not cool, hip, or counter-culture. It’s just playing right into Vince’s hands because we all knew, from jumpstreet, that Daniel Bryan would/will be back in the WWE fold. Those same guys might as well chant “Count To 3! Count To 3!” at the referees and then take credit when, by golly, he does.
We waited a few minutes after the lights came up, took one last look at the ring and the set, and headed out on our way home.
I have to admit that the PPV was more fun than the house show. I mean, I enjoyed myself, but I think I liked the PPV because the results “mattered”, you know? It was nice to see some of the more relaxed’n’casual stuff of the Supershow, and I’m thinking the crowd was more hostile at the PPV because that’s a wrestling event to “be seen” at, whereas the house show is just a cool experience for fans, or for parents whose children are catching the wrestling bug.
The PPV, with the stakes, the sounds, the lights, the pyro, and the “We were there when…” factor, takes the cake tho’.
Monday, June 21st, 2010.
That’s the end of the report, my full account and opinions of my WWEekend. It was a lot of fun, and despite the fact that I wanted to choke a “smark” or two with my own danged necktie, I would do this again in a heartbeat.
Thanks for tuning in,