WWE returned to Richmond this past Monday with an eventful evening of Monday Night Raw. If you were there, you know you caught a truly memorable night of squared circles antics. If not, well… you should regret missing it. RVA Magazine writer Doug Nunnally and 8 News reporter Tim Wronka were on hand to take in the full spectacle that is World Wrestling Entertainment.
WWE returned to Richmond this past Monday with an eventful evening of Monday Night Raw. If you were there, you know you caught a truly memorable night of squared circles antics. If not, well… you should regret missing it. RVA Magazine writer Doug Nunnally and 8 News reporter Tim Wronka were on hand to take in the full spectacle that is World Wrestling Entertainment. The two are no strangers to talking about wrestling as they hosted a podcast entitled The Wrestling Crossfire years ago. Here are their thoughts on Monday’s Raw from the Richmond Coliseum:
Doug: So I guess the biggest news to start was the Sting commercial that aired live for the crowd.
Tim: While Sting didn’t actually appear, being there live for the announcement of his inclusion in the new video game gave me chills. Real chills. The video WWE ran was fantastic and the crowd was really into it. I’d say it got one of the best reactions all night, matches and promos included. Hearing Sting’s WCW “Crow” music in a WWE setting was surreal and I won’t lie: I checked the rafters several times hoping to see him. Plus, as others have said, Sting looked more like a star in that one promo than he did in his nearly eight years in TNA.
Doug: Sting was in TNA?
Doug: The cheers once Sting appeared were insane, but what was even better was the level of booing that occurred once the crowd realized that’s all we were going to get: a video game commercial. It was just surreal and one of the best moments I’ve ever had in attending wrestling events. What was also cool was that in hearing fan reactions and what-not, apparently the full crowd reaction came through on TV, which is just hilarious. On the video itself, it was actually really well-done, and it’s scary that they put more effort into a video game commercial than a vignette for a debuting/returning star. And yes, Sting in that video was better than anything he ever did in TNA. Yes, even Joker Sting.
Tim: The Flair return was awesome too as he had a great reaction and was very funny with Renee Young, but all he did was help sell Battleground and then the segment went nowhere.
Doug: That was just absurd. Flair is Flair and he’s goddamn awesome even if he appears drunk every time they give him a mic, but they built Flair returning all night long. The crowd was literally on the edge of their seat waiting for him, and he was out there for maybe five minutes. Richmond is Flair country. Why have him out there for so little time and to only shill the PPV?
Tim: Let me just say – Nikki Bella getting more air time than Flair. That should never happen. Ever.
Doug: And Eva Marie!
Tim: Ugh. Seeing Eva Marie wrestle. Thank goodness AJ was in there with her or it would’ve been a complete disaster. To my knowledge, Eva hasn’t had many singles matches on Raw–and it should stay that way. It may have come off better on TV with Paige on commentary, but watching that in the ring with no cutaways was just awful.
Doug: She has absolutely no business inside the ring. None.
Tim: Like Great Khali.
Doug: Jesus Christ, why in the hell is Great Khali still wrestling? My wife Sarah even asked me, “Why is he walking like that?” The guy is so broken down that I’m deathly afraid something bad is going to happen. Shame, too – Bo Dallas was awesome.
Tim: One of the weirdest moments of the night was probably the crowd booing Bray Wyatt, one of the hottest acts in the company in years.
Doug: And the internet collectively pissed their pants out of anger over it. People were really mad at Richmond.
Tim: That whole segment, two promos and the beatdown, was good. Jericho’s promo was a lot of fun, but the crowd was definitely mad they didn’t get to experience the Wyatt’s entrance. I think that’s what led to those boring chants at Bray Wyatt and ultimately hurt the segment.
Doug: Completely agreed. I really hoped to hear him say “Richmond, we’re here” followed by that amazing music. The crowd was ready too. Everybody had their phones out to add to the visual and there were tons of sections singing “he’s got the whole world in his hands.” I think the boring chants are a culmination of a lot of things though. Bray wasn’t doing his entrance, but he’s also been going nowhere for months now. The feud with John Cena gave him the main event rub, but did little else to help, and cooled him off at a time when he really shouldn’t be cooling off. For God’s sake, there was no reason to put him in that ladder match last month, and it really made him look like just another guy as opposed to the special attraction he should be and actually is. Really, chanting “boring” at a bad guy is not the end of the world and the segment was really good.
Tim: Besides that segment, one of my favorite moments of the night was the Russia-USA detente. At a time when WWE is struggling to find heels with legitimate heat, Rusev and Lana fill that void extremely well. No segment got better crowd heat than this one last night.
Doug: I still can’t wrap my head around how the booking for Rusev (and the character itself) is not only working in 2014, but excelling. He’s a legit star on the rise.
Tim: Lana and Rusev work perfectly together too. Lana plays her role very well, but so did Zeb Colter here. From Lana insulting the crowd to Zeb defending the President (a tall order from a largely conservative wrestling audience, I might add), this segment was a lot of fun.
Doug: That Obama reaction was the only true eye-roll of the evening from the crowd in my opinion. Yes, I know politics are divisive and I’m sure 50% of the crowd didn’t vote for Obama, but come on – that’s not the point of what Zeb said, and it ultimately made those booing the current POTUS look like complete jackasses. Besides that though, the segment, which seemed stupid on paper, was a home run.
Tim: I’m personally a big fan of Zeb/Swagger being faces and I was glad to see them live.
Doug: Considering how loud the “We The People” chants were, you were not alone.
Tim: The spot where Rusev went for his kick only to have it reversed into an Ankle Lock left me wanting more action from those two; which is exactly what the segment should do and sets up the Battleground match nicely.
Doug: Well, WWE’s been perfect about Rusev not selling too much, so when he does sell, it means everything. That’s why a simple arm drag the week before was good too. Swagger getting the upper hand was exactly what needed to happen and it was pulled off perfectly heading into Battleground. Rusev is clearly going to win, but we need to at least believe Swagger is on his level and has a chance – otherwise, what’s the point of the match on PPV?
Tim: What did you think of Cesaro-Big E?
Doug: I can’t believe we didn’t get Paul Heyman live in Richmond. It just sucks. Also on that, it’s pretty clear Cesaro’s going to win the IC, which I know is very backwards considering he’s on a major losing streak. The match was pretty good live though.
Tim: Yeah, I got into the physicality of it. The main event though…
Doug: Kind of a let-down.
Tim: I’m only saying this since there was a lot of hype for the match and it fell flat. I was disappointed that Ambrose was taken out of the match.
Doug: So was the Richmond crowd. Those chants for “We Want Ambrose” were ridiculous and it’s so cool to see that all three members of the Shield post-breakup are all major stars.
Tim: Seeing Roman Reigns live was great too and you can really tell from a live perspective, that the crowd is into him and he has a great future ahead of him.
Doug: Oh, definitely. Judging by Richmond, the fans are ready for him to be the top guy. It’s just a matter of when, which I’d imagine is him winning the title at WrestleMania 31.
Tim: Rollins got “hurt” in the main event.
Doug: And the internet again lost their minds over another star potentially being out with an injury. But it did look as real as possible for a staged entertainment show.
Tim: It really seemed to hurt the finish too.
Doug: Yeah, Orton, Kane, Cena, and Reigns looked a little lost in the end, at least from my perspective. Basically put, the way the match ended and the rest of the night played out made complete sense if Rollins had actually hurt himself. With it being scripted, it just made zero sense. Why in the hell wouldn’t you bring Ambrose back out to attack Rollins and run wild? That would have rivaled the reaction Sting got, even if it is “Wrestling 101” booking.
Tim: Crowd just wasn’t that much into the action and clearly wanted Ambrose in there.
Doug: Well, the reaction for Reigns was great though, like you already mentioned. I do think the main event was just kind of there, but the crowd was hot for everything Roman Reigns did in that match, especially the Superman Punch, and that’s extremely important for WWE right now.
Tim: We’ve mentioned the crowd a lot here. This was my second time seeing WWE Raw in Richmond and of all the shows I’ve been to in several arenas around the country, I can honestly say Richmond always has a great crowd.
Doug: Oh definitely. I could gush on the Richmond crowd for hours because I think it’s honestly one of those perfect crowds for WWE. It’s a smart crowd, but it’s not a smarky crowd that would hijack a show for no reason but to get themselves over. There were still smarky chants like chanting for WWE alumnus CM Punk (it’s official) at AJ Lee, but the crowd was biting at the bit for everything all night, even reacting big to matches like RVD and Alberto Del Rio. It’s the perfect crowd to gauge how things are going in WWE and while the Bray Wyatt thing is strange, I still maintain it makes sense on a whole. It was a great crowd.
Tim: We’ve dissected most of the night, but it was really a very enjoyable show with some very fun segments. In terms of wrestling action, there wasn’t a lot to offer at all, but it had most of the big names and an exciting atmosphere the whole time.
Doug: Definitely. There will always be moments at WWE that make even the most hardcore fans scratch their heads, but you can’t beat seeing the WWE live and for a Raw show, the biggest wrestling promotion in the world did not disappoint one bit.