Last week, I had the honor of attending a teaching seminar in New York City. It was my first time in New York and I got to see a lot of places I had dreamed of seeing. It was an amazing opportunity. As I found out I would be wrapping up my seminar on last Friday I wanted to see if I could see a show at Madison Square Garden. And behold, the WWE was having a live event when I was in town. Amazing.
As pro wrestling fans we hear about the mystical Garden constantly on WWE programming. Its impact on the WWE is without equal. The monthly shows, the first WrestleMania and the first Summerslam occurred in this arena. It is a special place.
Throughout the night we got more unique references to the arena. They showed highlights of the Undertaker vs Austin match from Summerslam 1998. They had a trivia contest of Summerslam 1988 where Honky Tonk Man lost to the Warrior in thirty seconds. You had to guess who he was facing to win the prize. Then I remembered that those events occurred in the same place I currently was. If I needed more reminders of the history the arena is littered with displays to Ali-Frazier, Gretzky’s retirement, the 1992 Democratic Convention and WrestleMania I. This was an arena that lives up to their name as “the most famous in the world”.
The arena itself is glorious. It had a $1 billion (yes, billion with a b) renovation in 2013 and it shows. There doesn’t seem to be a bad spot in the arena to watch the show and has a lot of room to easily get fans in and out of the arena. It helps that it is directly above Penn Station. I have never had an easier time leaving an arena. Since this house show had an impressive audience bordering 10,000 people, it was one of the louder shows I have attended.
With that in mind I wanted share a few moments for my first MSG show. An experience every wrestling fan should experience in their life:
The Usos defeated Gallows & Anderson
It was the perfect hot opener for the rowdy MSG crowd. The Usos (who had a hype video before they came out) were really over with the crowd. In fact, the faces were generally quite popular with this crowd. It was your standard, tag match with the Usos winning with the splash. I was fine with it because I was done with the guy behind me yelling “Bullet Club” over and over again.
Apollo Crews defeated Sheamus
Do you notice they always put the least popular match second? Besides noticing that Sheamus enjoys annoying the crowd, this was a brief match. Just as it was picking up, Crews got Sheamus with the Rollup of Death and quickly left. It was a bit disappointing.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Zack Ryder by submission
Have you ever seen Alberto get a massive face reaction or a loud “Si” chant? Well I have thanks to a loud, Mexican flag waving section of Madison Square Garden. Del Rio seemed to get a kick out it as he went mid-match to celebrate with the fans. Poor Ryder, the Long Island native, forced to tap out in front of the hometown crowd.
Jack Swagger & Mark Henry defeated Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas
Hey, Mark Henry still exists! Obviously the star of the comedy match was Bo Dallas. He played a cowardly heel who was afraid of Mark Henry, but pretended that he wasn’t. Naturally Mark Henry squashed the poor Social Outcasts.
Chris Jericho defeated Neville
For me the highlight was the Jericho promo before the match itself. Giving Jericho a live mic without a script is a good plan. He demanded we be quiet and proceeded to insult New York. I learned New York City is the anus of America. Good to know Chris. As Chris was giving us the gift of Jericho, we got Neville’s return. He certainly hasn’t lost anything because of his injury. The match was a solid ten minute affair that was quickly paced. Jericho won because why not? It allowed him to be more annoying. Few people are better at being heels then Jericho.
John Cena defeated AJ Styles
The match of the night. Gallows & Anderson helped Styles play the cowardly heel until they were kicked out. Then the match evolved into a very fast-paced, exciting contest between two people who have good chemistry. It was the equal of their Money in the Bank match with many near falls and kicking out of finishers. In fact I think it was longer then their PPV encounter. The crowd and I loved it. Naturally, Cena won the match and celebrated with the crowd as we went to intermission.
(We had intermission complete with trivia. WWE is coming back for a live event on Monday, December 26th. I guess we are actually running house shows opposite Raw shows now?)
Becky Lynch defeated Natalya by submission
Sadly most of the crowd wasn’t back for the match. Becky and Natalya’s match was all too brief. I hope they have a better stage at Battleground.
The New Day defeated The Wyatt Family
People love the New Day, a lot. I see no drop off in their popularity on this night. The match itself was pretty brief. I don’t know if Braun actually wrestled in the match at all. The New Day won pretty easily, but Bray seems to enjoy mugging to the crowd.
Dean Ambrose defeated Seth Rollins & Kevin Owens to retain the WWE Title
They hyped the main event with videos from Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens talking about the importance of Madison Square Garden. Owens in particular seemed to be relishing in the fact he was main eventing at MSG.
Ambrose was likely the second most over person of the night. The match itself was a lot of fun. Owens played the opportunistic heel while Rollins and Ambrose beat each other up. We had chair shots and a brutal looking table spot with Ambrose flying back first into a table. I don’t know if I would put my body on the line in a live event, but the crowd was appreciative of their efforts. Ambrose won with a pin on Owens.
After the match, Dean Ambrose slapped the hands of the fans at ringside and took a ton of selfies. He sure makes a silly face when taking a picture with you.
This was one of my favorite WWE live events I have ever seen. The arena is special and the crowd was bigger than most television tapings I have attended. It was a three hour house show with three high quality matches during the course of the night. We had multiple videos from the stars discussing how much they loved the Garden. After experiencing it for the first time, it is easy to know why.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, I have my Twitter account, WWEBNRL as well. I would love to hear your thoughts on seeing a show at MSG.