Credit: John Corrigan and prowrestling.net
The building was 85 percent sold out with lots of signs and shirts for Ryback, John Cena, C.M. Punk, and Daniel Bryan. Alex Riley defeated Michael McGuilliicutty to open the show in a dark match, with the fans pretty into the brief match.
JBL came out immediately after the bell rang to end the Main Event taping, which prompted a huge pop. Jerry Lawler was also insanely over as you could tell on TV. Michael Cole did not garner even half the heat as previous years.
As for Raw, I was worried the three hours would drag on, but fortunately I was mistaken. A fantastic live show. Although most of the matches were too short to matter, the constant entrances, video packages, and returns kept the crowd alive.
The Boogeyman shocked my section, but his lack of doing anything left us confused. The New Age Outlaws was a huge surprise and the crowd loved joining along with the classic intro. A bit disappointed for no “Suck It!” though.
Vickie Guerrero remains a heat magnet. It’s unbelievable that she is Eddie Guerrero’s widow. She’ll never be a face! The crowd went crazy for AJ’s kiss on Dolph Ziggler, and then popped even louder for Dolph wrapping his arms around her.
And then…the Nature Boy. My God, what a moment! The arena shook as that Woo echoed and Ric Flair returned to the WWE. Philly loves Naitch. Despite his endorsement of Cena, the crowd booed that Fruity Pebble bastard for a solid two minutes. Punk’s interruption sparked a huge uproar and he earned the most heat of the night. Seeing Flair, Punk, and Paul Heyman all in the same ring was magical.
But The Shield…currently, the scariest thing in pro wrestling. 3 Minute Warning had the same “run in from the crowd and attack” schtick, but there is actual concern from the crowd when those three NXT grads appear. Team Hell No making the save, and then Ryback was awesome. The crowd loved it and Raw should have ended this way.
Huge jeers for The Rock not even appearing via satellite to accept his Slammy award.
When Ziggler attempted to cash in the Money in the Bank, you could feel the electricity in the air. We all thought this was the night, but Cena somehow defied the odds and earned even more heat for screwing up our chance to witness a new World Heavyweight Champion.
A huge pop for Tommy Dreamer’s surprise appearance, and ECW chants (and even a Tommy Dreamer chant) provided the soundtrack to the longest televised match of the night. Miz was even over, somehow.
Seeing Mean Gene, Ricky Steamboat, and J.R. was special, but the best part happened off the air. An entire row of about ten guys dressed up as classic wrestlers and man, they looked good. “Hollywood” Hogan, Marty Jannetty, Mankind, Sting, Piper, Jimmy Hart, Bret Hart, all looked great. But this one guy was dressed as “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and during the commercial break, started a “Macho Man” chant which the crowd supported.
Steamboat heard the chant, saw this guy, and smiled from ear to ear. He even posed to throw his arms up for a grapple and the imitators loved it. They chanted “Thank you, Steamboat!” A truly special moment between wrestlers and fans, a legend, and the people who adore him.
Triple H earned a gigantic pop and so did his Undertaker mention.
Big E. Langston was not the way to end the show because nobody had a clue who he was, and we didn’t have Michael Cole to fill us in. Luckily, a brief tag match between Cena and Sheamus against Ziggler and Show sent the crowd home happy.
Overall, one of the best shows we’ve had in a while. Philly is an old school crowd who loves the legends so WWE did the right thing.