Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Raw from Toronto

I was there! And I've read a lot of negative reviews of last night's show, and don't get me wrong - I am not so blind that I can't see why. But I can say it came off better in person than it might have on TV. Now for those of you who haven't experienced it, there's nothing like a live wrestling event, and it's very easy to get swept up in it and miss the details - the move-for-move analysis of in-ring goings on, word-for-word dissections of promos ... those details, logistics, semantics aren't easy to parse as they don't add up to the overall feel. So I'll just comment on the overall, 'big picture' experience of being there - my observations.

  1. One of the things that's been criticized on a few websites was the energy of the crowd. I can tell you the crowd was pumped - the place was all but sold out, and as this is the first wrestling event back in Toronto in about a year, the energy was good. Of course there were some down moments - I'd be lying if I said that the crowd was going wild for the Snitsky-hometown jobber dark match before the show - but overall the crowd had energy. And if that didn't come across on TV, perhaps the WWE, still nervous about the 'weirdness' of Canadian fan reactions, mucked with the audience mics.
  2. Lilian Garcia got herself some heat for most of the rest of the night - or at least thru Heat - by referring to the Air Canada Centre as the Air AMERICA Centre ... poor girl.
  3. The boo-age Shawn Michaels encountered - guys. It was 10 years ago. I am as Canadian as they come, and a huge Bret Hart fan, but it's time to move on. Bret (basically) has, Shawn Michaels CERTAINLY has ... that said, a good ole You Screwed Bret chant directed in Vince McMahon's direction is always much fun-ness. Yup ... y'all are north of the border Yanks. Welcome back! ;)
  4. William Regal's antics - I like that they furthered his push as a heel authority figure; one of the more interesting ones since the Mr. McMahon heyday. It was interesting to see him replace JR with Mike Adamle - although I have to say they dropped the ball by not having Jerry Lawler question Adamle on his walkout last Tuesday night (which I found out later, obviously not hearing the commentary in-house -- and I understand the logic here, that they want to have SOME things to make tonight's 100th ep of ECW interesting, I just think it's ignoring the elephant in the room).
  5. The downside though - the lights out thing has to be done sparingly and with caution. He went to the well twice last night alone (3x if you count the ending where Randy Orton RKO'd HHH out of nowhere). If they don't find other ways (like replacing a 'direspectful' announcer with a clearly incompetent one) of having Regal abuse his power, they are going to risk fans not getting emotionally involved in matches out of fear that it could be washed out by Regal at any time; not exactly a trend or feeling that encourages repeat viewing.
  6. Good the ECW roster got the win - more realistic than the last time they did a match like this, with Cena and Orton beating the whole Raw roster. Even though Triple H got the massive comeback and single-handedly cleared the ECWers out, they still got the official duke and Trips was layed out by Orton.
  7. Great work by Y2J and Shawn Michaels in building up the mystery of 'is Shawn or isn't Shawn' injured. I hope he actually IS playing possum - it would be more interesting than stoic, quiet Shawn of the last few months, who I'm starting to get tired of. I want my dancin' Shawn back!
  8. The dark match was an IC title match between Chris Jericho and Randy Orton - good stuff!
  9. Trish Stratus did a backstage appearance, which was great - but it would have been nice for her to come out to the arena, perhaps during the Divas match. We Toronto fans love us some Stratusfaction and I have to admit to it being a letdown - once we knew she was in the building - for her to not come out and at least give us a wave and a bow.
  10. Similarly - Cena's no-show. I understand he's making a movie ... but then he shouldn't be involved in a near-top-tier feud w/JBL right now. A lot of Cena signs and merch there, a lot of kids excited to see him, and he wasn't there. Casual fans don't know he's making a movie, they only know he's a top level guy about to fight another top level guy, and he wasn't at the show. That said ... it was neat seeing JBL's promo inside his limo as we watch the limo wheel in. It's just too bad that the Canadian Bulldog had to have his ass handed to him ... given he's a Canadian, fighting in Canada, they could have at least given him some small amount of offense before smacking him down.
  11. Also by the way - 'The Hart Foundation is dead' comment by JBL: given that Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith and Brian Pillman all are, this was perhaps not the best thought out comment in front of a Canadian crowd who's proven themselves rabid for their own. As Chris Jericho pointed out in a radio interview this weekend, it IS a difference between the US and Canada. No Texan is going to cheer or boo or enjoy or resent the portrayal of some Chicagoan or New Yorker or even Carolinean because "He's American" - there's no ownership there in that sense. But Canadians ... be they from the west, the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario ... are before a 'hometown' audience "a mari usque ad mare"
Again, in sum, basically I see where this show could get middling or even poor reviews ... which perhaps shows there's nothing like a live wrestling event. But *I* for one enjoyed it, and as long as they retire the 'lights out' routine VERY soon, I think the new direction WWE is taking is at least *interesting* and I'm still willing to give it a week or two before writing it off OR endorsing it. Enjoyable live performance though, as usual.


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