Two nights ago I attended Monday Night Raw at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. I remember being impressed with last year’s edition of Raw the night after SummerSlam. On that show (August 24, 2015) Brock Lesnar appeared, The Dudley Boyz made their return to WWE after being away for ten years, and Sting returned and attacked Seth Rollins, holding up Rollins’ WWE Title to close the show. After an eventful episode and an electric crowd, I thought WWE was going to try and make an effort to have the Raw following SummerSlam feel like the Raw following WrestleMania. Therefore, I decided that I’d definitely try my best to go to next year’s Raw following SummerSlam. That night was two days ago and I’m going to let you in on how the night went in regards to a live experience and if it lived up to the expectations I set one year ago.
I went with a friend of mine who is as hardcore of a WWE fan as they come. When we got to our seats I immediately noticed that the Raw stage was different. It was the same stage used for SummerSlam the previous night. I don’t know if that will now be the permanent setup for Raw every week, but either way it made last night feel a little more important right away.
Earlier in the day, I read the reports of Balor’s potential injury. At the time, it was still only a potential injury. Balor was also on ABC’s Good Morning America with Women’s Champion Charlotte, so I thought it wasn’t that serious of an injury, if he was even injured at all. While I was on concession and merchandise lines before the show, the talk from people seemed to be all about Balor and if he’ll miss time due to injury; so that was the big thing on most people’s mind going in. About 10 minutes before Raw started, my friend received a notification on his phone that said Balor was relinquishing the Universal Title tonight due to injury and that he would be out of action for at least six months. After instantly doing various searches to make sure it was true, I saw Foley’s tweet and knew it was official. This put a bit of a damper on the night before it even got started and lessened the buzz for me going into Raw.
For comparison, I also attended NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II during SummerSlam weekend and the buzz in the arena going into that show was terrific. The excitement before the show starts is a huge part of the live experience, and the Raw after SummerSlam should have a lot of buzz and anticipation going into it. However, the Balor injury had kicking off Raw feeling like waiting to hear bad news about a loved one instead of feeling like you’re getting ready to go on your favorite roller coaster.
Now, I’m not going to go over the whole show as I’m assuming you’ve all watched it or read John Canton’s Raw Deal (he taught me how to shill, am I doing okay?). Instead, I’ll just go over what I took away from my experience leaving the Barclays Center Monday night.
Things Felt Impromptu
The Balor injury really threw a wrench into the night from the get-go. You can sense things were thrown together at the last second due to the vagueness of the opening segment. After Balor relinquished the title, Zayn, Jericho, Owens, Reigns and Enzo & Cass all made their entrance. Foley said there would be a series of matches and the first one would start right now. The wording was strange there. You’d think they’d say a tournament or what the matches were, but they didn’t until the night went on. We also didn’t know there would be a Fatal 4-Way next week until after the Owens/Neville match. Everything just felt very on the fly and left me feeling like I didn’t know exactly what kind of night I’d be in for. Hearing the new Universal Champ would be crowned next week was a bummer too.
“We Want Slater” Chants
Of course the one night since the WWE Draft that Heath Slater hasn’t been on Raw or Smackdown was two nights ago, the night where during the Universal Title discussion chants of “We Want Slater” rang through the arena. There were only two instances during the show where “We Want Slater” chants were loud enough to take over the entire arena, but there were many smaller “We Want Slater” chants happening all night throughout various sections of the Barclays Center. I’m not the biggest Slater fan, but I think he’s funny and has potential. He wasn’t on my mind going into last night’s show, but I found myself really wanting him to make an appearance as he would have gotten a monstrous ovation if he did. I thought challenging Braun Strowman to a match after Strowman destroyed the jobber would have been a perfect time. Slater would have lost of course, but it seemed to be an appropriate time. It could have also been the night where Slater wins a match and a contract to boot. That could have made for a cool moment. However, what’s happening with Slater on Smackdown right now seems to be working, so we’ll see where that angle goes.
That Strowman match made me think of another thing that stood out to me…
“Let’s Go Jobber” Chant
I was super happy to be part of that chant during the Braun Strowman vs. (Insert jobber’s name) match. I don’t see an instance where I’ll ever be put in a situation to chant “let’s go jobber” on Raw or any WWE PPV again, so that was fun while it lasted.
My friend actually spotted this before it happened. Our seats were on the hard camera side, but we were higher up and had a good view of the stage. My friend pointed it out to me as it was happening, but if you were in attendance and looked at the stage during the commercial break time, you could clearly see people setting up Bayley’s “wacky inflatable arm flailing tube men” around the stage. It didn’t lessen the awesomeness of the moment as I popped just as much as I would have if I didn’t see people setting up the tube men. As I mentioned earlier, I was at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II on Saturday, so I got a nice dose of Bayley this past weekend in getting to see her NXT farewell and her Raw debut.
First New Day & Enzo and Cass Experience
This speaks for itself. Their entrances are just so much fun to be part of. My last WWE show before TakeOver Brooklyn II was a Raw in May 2015. The New Day were on that show, but it was before they came into their own and had the big entrances where people would shout with Big E and clap along.
Dudley Boyz WWE Retirement
I didn’t think The Dudley Boyz were actually going to retire. I kept thinking Bubba Ray would turn on Devon or that they’d pull a Mark Henry and tell us all that they still have a lot left in the tank. It didn’t happen though, and as the segment came to a close and The Dudley Boyz made their exit, it felt like I was really watching The Dudley Boyz last time in WWE. Apparently they’ll still be doing independent shows every now and then, but they’re done in regards to competing with WWE. I’m glad I got to be part of their WWE sendoff and take part in a “get the tables” moment.
Dark Match Main Event
After Raw went off the air, the dark match main event was John Cena and Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles and Seth Rollins. It was great getting to see Cena, Ambrose and Styles. The match went about ten minutes with Cena and Ambrose getting the victory. I’ve seen Styles before at independent shows (he actually wrestled a match at my old high school five years ago in front of 30-40 people), but this was my first time getting to see him live with WWE. Sometimes I still can’t believe he’s with WWE and as big of a star with WWE as he is. I’m so happy for him. He certainly deserves it.
Police Officer Doing Enzo & Cass Routine Outside of the Barclays Center
As we were leaving, there were several police cars parked outside the arena. One of the many police officers was having some fun and using the police car megaphone to do Enzo’s “Realest Guys in the Room” bit and Cass’ SAWFT chant. It was a lot of fun as the giant crowd of people that exited out of that part of the arena as I did were doing the chants with him.
Free Ultimate Warrior Posters for Everyone
Everyone leaving the Barclays Center also received a free Ultimate Warrior poster. I missed it initially since I exited out the side of the arena and they were being given out to those exiting through the front, but once I noticed they were being given out I made my way over to the front and got one. They were being given out to promote a new series of WWE action figures as an ad for the new figures were on the back of the poster. Cool looking poster, though.
In conclusion, I had a fun time at Raw, but it didn’t nearly come close to my experience at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II. With the new Raw stage, Balor relinquishing the Universal Title, qualifying matches taking place, Bayley’s Raw debut and The Dudley Boyz sendoff, it definitely did seem like WWE tried making this Raw feel special or have a post-Mania Raw feel to it. However, I don’t think it quite matched up to last year’s post-SummerSlam Raw. Maybe WWE had a few bigger and better things planned if Balor was healthy, but it still was a fun show to be at overall. Fun enough that I think I’ll try and go back again next year.
Picture used above is courtesy of WWE.com.