I made it out to the WWE house show the night before the Royal Rumble. I’ve been to Smackdown house shows and a couple in 2015 before the brand split, but this is my first RAW only house show (I went to Extreme Rules last year which was a RAW only pay per view, but I digress). This show had an interesting wrinkle in that Brock Lesnar was announced to defend the Universal Title against Kane. Having never seen Lesnar live and in person, this one was a no brainer to attend. So how did it go? Let’s take a look:
Bray Wyatt vs Matt Hardy
The Woken/Broken Matt Hardy is one of those either you’re in you’re out kind of things. It’s not really my cup of tea but if I’m in the building and the crowd is feeling it I can ride the wave. That being said it does play a lot better inside the building than on TV. They had a nice little opener, good back and forth before Hardy pulled off the win. The crowd was doing the Delete chant so if even if this thing drags on TV it works in person. Now before you get all ‘Bray is being buried again!’ remember that he won against Hardy on RAW, which is the one that matters since it’s on TV, and that it’s a freaking house show and faces tend to win more than the heels on them.
Triple Threat Tag Match: Heath Slater and Rhyno vs Gallows and Anderson vs The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro)
I’ve seen Slater and Rhyno at a few house shows now; the live crowds really dig them. Fun match with six real pros. Lots of tagging in and out between The Club and The Bar, as Slater played face in peril and took a beating from both teams. He eventually gets the hot tag to Rhyno who starts cleaning house en route to the six man melee that led up to Sheamus getting the Brogue Kick on Rhyno for the win. Good match, great effort by all involved..
Cedric Alexander vs Drew Gulak
Some cruisers action! Gulak comes to the ring first to do an extended riff on the mic and actually gets into the Power Point Presentation a bit before Cedric’s music hits. These two guys work together really well had and good match. Cedric was over with the crowd and got his name chanted a good bit throughout. His elbow strikes sound just as loud in the arena as they do on TV. Cedric got the win with the Lumbar Check, and did jump off the top rope a couple of times despite Drew’s pre match objections.
Universal Title Match: Brock Lesnar vs Kane
Yeah it’s weird to have the title match so early but it wasn’t the main event so why not. I got video of Lesnar’s entrance and introduction by Paul Heyman on my Stroke of Genius Facebook page here. They didn’t waste any time here. Kane jumped Brock at the opening bell, to no avail because it quickly became Suplex City Time. Kane got in shots, Brock goes for the F5 and nails the ref. And then…….BRAUUUUUNNNNNNNN!!!!! Strowman runs in and lays both guys out with powerslams. Another red comes out, we get some more action and then the F5 for the win.
Short match but everyone got their stuff in and the Braun run-in was pretty cool. Seeing Lesnar in person with Paul Heyman is a spectacle in itself. Getting him at a house show of all things was extra cool.
Curt Hawkins vs ????
Hawkins hits the ring and starts going on about his losing streak and how it’s going to end tonight, and issues an open challenge to anyone. I was expecting Braun to come back out and crush him but instead it was Goldust, and the crowd was pretty cool with it. This is Baltimore and a lot of us grew up watching his Dad so Goldust gets plenty of love here. The match was what it was, ok for those of us who didn’t get up during intermission but nothing to worry about missing if you did. Goldust wins to keep Hawkins losing streak going (he even has a T-Shirt for it now).
Elias comes to the ring after his stool and equipment are set up, and launches into his routine. He is clearly having fun with this as he had to try really hard to keep from smiling too hard during the whole thing. He gets through a whole song about the Royal Rumble, and people started waving their cellphone flashlights, rock concert power ballad style. Then he starts up a song about Baltimore after telling us to shut our mouths and threatening to leave if we don’t pipe down. As fun as the abridged versions we get on TV are, the extended versions of Elias are that much better. Of course you know he’s going to get interrupted at some point, it’s just a matter of who does it. Here we get…..Finn Balor! Finn’s music hits, he comes to the ring and gets on the mic for a bit to rebuff Elias before the match starts.
Finn Balor vs Elias
They had a good back and forth here, Elias has gotten much better in the ring since debuting. The finish was a bit of surprise. Finn went up top for the coup de grace but Elias knocked him off the ropes and then used his Fisherman’s suplex for the win. Elias with the shocking win over Balor here. Baltimore hasn’t been lucky for Balor in that he got choked out by Samoa Joe in the Extreme Rules main event here last June.
And now main event time!!!
Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Jason Jordan vs The Miz and The Miztourage
Miz and co. come to the ring first, and Miz does what he does best. The guy is just, dare I say it, awesome at going at it with the crowd before a match. He gets major heat here in an old school heel way. Then it was time for the good guys to come down. Jordan comes out first, then Seth, then Roman. Roman still gets better reactions at house shows than on TV and pay per views. One day those folks will stop ice skating uphill, I hope. More on that later. Seth and Roman did almost all the work for their trio, which makes me think Jordan must be hurting and is taking it easy for the Rumble match he and Seth have with The Bar, but they incorporated it into the storyline like pros by him acting disappointed and incredulous when Seth and Roman tagged each other and worked together on double team stuff. Say what you want about Jordan but he is doing a great job playing this role.
There were some cool signature spots here. Miz went for the Daniel Bryan kicks and Roman countered, as you see here:
And the finish came in a flurry of big hits, finishers, you name it:
And of course the good guys win to send everyone home happy. Now, to get back to the reactions. Yes there were some boos for Roman but the cheers were aplenty and his name got chanted by the crowd there a lot, and not with sucks after it. They’re not going to turn him heel no matter how much you complain. And yeah I know, Roman’s for the women and kids, yadda, yadda ,yadda. To which I say: 1) I’m 43 years old dude and a Roman fan and 2) even if he is just for the women and kids, so what? How many of you grew up watching Hulk Hogan or Sting? They were for the kids and yet you didn’t have 30 and 40 -something year old dudes booing them because they were for the kids. I don’t care how much you loved the Attitude Era or how much ROH you watch, stop being jackasses already. Stop harassing women online who are fans of his for being fans. They may actually like him as a wrestler, and even if they do just like to look at him, you do the same thing with you Alexa Bliss gif files that you got all over your phone or laptop. You’re not fooling anyone, ace.
If you want someone else on top, cheer for them and SPEND SOME MONEY on them. Watch their matches on the Network and watch their clips on the YouTube channel. Instead of sitting on your hands in disgust when they come out and booing Roman, support your guys or shut up. And let the kids have their heroes for crying out loud. If my Dad heard some jerk booing Luke Skywalker and yelling at me for having Luke as my hero even though Han was supposedly cooler, he would have gone up to the jerk and told him to sit down and shut up before he got shut up the old fashioned way. Consider yourself fortunate that their aren’t more dudes like my Dad at these shows today. Ok, rant over.
Anyhow, I had a really good time and enjoyed the show. My only knock is that there were no women’s matches. Hopefully they were just keeping them fresh for the Rumble and weren’t straight up excluding them. I always recommend house shows over RAW or Pay Per Views if you want to have a good time without dealing snarky people trying to get themselves over on camera. There’s lots of stuff that gets more reaction than on TV and PPV, and even the mid and low level guys get cheered and booed. Maybe that’s because you just came to see the matches themselves and aren’t focused on how the angle is going to be affected by a run-in or whatever. Either way, it’s all good and a fun time. You can find a full phot album of the show at my Facebook page. Until the next show…