WWE RAW HOLT REPORT
MARCH 5, 2018
REPORT BY CHARLIE JOECKS, PWTORCH CORRESPONDENT
I’ve been visiting the PWTorch website since 1999. I have been watching wrestling since 1980. (I started watching very young.) With that said, this past Monday was the very first wrestling event I have ever been to. My friend, who just started watching a few years ago, got us incredible tickets. We were centered just above the floor seats opposite the hard camera, so we received some time on national television (albeit in the background). My friend is big on John Cena, so she had to wear the lime green shirt with the wristbands, of course. As this might be my only chance to do so, I give you a review from a live perspective. I apologize if I get a little too descriptive and long, but it was quite the experience and I was very excited to be there.
We were both coming from work, so we made it to our seats just as they announced the show was going on the air in 30 seconds. Kurt Angle came out just immediately after the “Then, Now Forever” intro aired, so I’m not sure if they started the show with him already on the way to the ring or not (haven’t had a chance to watch a replay yet). Thoroughly enjoyed chanting “You suck.” (By the way, Angle’s back looks to be in very bad shape considering the way he stands; it doesn’t look right at all).
Huge groan when Stephanie McMahon’s music played instead of Triple H’s. Judging from the pop she received and the chatter after she came out, it was a pretty big surprise that Ronda Rousey was there.
Since neither my friend nor I are big on the Ronda Rousey storyline and we had just arrived, we were caught still taking everything in and snapping some photos, so when everyone started chanting, “Yes!” after Rousey said she wanted to face Stephanie McMahon, there’s a quick crowd shot of everyone with their arms raised chanting and the two of us dead in our seats (a friend showed me the clip on YouTube). Great start to being on national TV.
Even though Rousey completely mistimed her “You!” to Stephanie, everyone knew it was coming, so it didn’t affect the reaction.
Great to see Triple H did come out. Laughed to see Stephanie scurrying away to one of the exits only to come back and get taken out by Rousey. Both Stephanie and Triple H really milked their beatdowns on the way out, Triple H started to jaw with some fans near the stage. Many of the main lights had shut off at that point, which I immediately realized that it meant they had gone into commercial. By the way, I don’t know how it came across on TV, but when Rousey yanked Stephanie thought he ropes to get her back in the ring, it looked pretty ugly. Stephanie went down pretty hard on the mat.
My favorite woman wrestler, Asuka, was next and got a nice pop. My friend liked her robe. The match with Nia Jax wasn’t getting much of a reaction until Jax started swinging Asuka above her head. Then the crowd picked things up, although I’m not sure how it came off on TV.
Asuka vs. Jax was a great match despite the number of times they have already wrestled. Jax got great applause after the match, which I’m told made it to TV, apparently a first step into turning her into a babyface.
The Bar vs. The Revival was the most entertaining match of the night. For being heels, Sheamus and Cesaro were completely playing to the crowd for the first few minutes. Cesaro even got such a big response from our side at one point that he had to keep himself from laughing. Lord help me, but I couldn’t help but notice that their wrestling shorts really do look like they’re just wearing regular underwear. I thought about trying to start a “Fruit of The Loom” chant, but thought better of it.
I went to get drinks during the break and was coming back just as John Cena made his entrance. I purposely walked into the entrance that led out directly to the stage, so I got a good look at the entrance. Kind of strange to see Cena go over and give Coach a handshake, especially considering what had been reported earlier in the day. Cena is who my friend was waiting for and I guess he pointed to her once he got in the ring, acknowledging she was wearing his gear, so she was beyond excited when I arrived back at our seats. I pointed out to her that all of the children around us were just as excited as her and no one else, so she looked around and started laughing because there was no denying it. However, his entrance was one of the biggest pops of the night.
Seeing Goldust come out to confront Cena was very unexpected. I’ve always liked his entrance and he has always played his character very well. Right after he sucker punched Cena, I took a chance and tried chanting “Goldy!” Wouldn’t you know it, it picked up and I had started my first chant at a wrestling show! Unfortunately, I think they went to commercial just as it was starting to pick up. Dammit! It lasted a good 15-20 seconds and then suddenly morphed into the, “Let’s Go Cena / Cena sucks!” dueling chants. What a complete mess of chants, but the crowd was completely riled up at this point and I’m pretty sure it was entirely missed on TV! I know that wrestling reviewers didn’t like the point of the match, but it was great to see two veterans who had never really gone one-on-one after so many years do so. (By the way, I recommend watching the interview with Goldust after this match which was shot for YouTube (and the WWE Network, of course). Great response to his loss.
They didn’t air the backstage segment between Elias and Angle in the arena or I was completely zoned out and somehow missed it.
They did show that the Mizzies would be happening which got a nice pop, as did the notice that Paul Heyman would be there. My friend was hoping Brock Lesnar would show up, but I already knew that it wasn’t happening, correctly guessing that they needed to stretch the buildup for this storyline.
It was great to see Bayley’s entrance live. I had noticed earlier that “Hugger Section” signs had been placed under all of our seats. Not many people used them when she came out, so that novelty has worn out. Not good for Bayley.
During the Bayley vs. Mandy Rose match, Paige ended up getting the most attention, as she was really getting into it with fans at ringside.
The attack on Bayley and the save by Sasha Banks was done really well. It was interesting to see the cameraman that Bayley was following back up the ramp putting his hand out in front of her, indicating that this is where she should stop and look back sorrowfully at Sasha in the ring. Talk about choreographed.
The Bliss-Jax exchange backstage got some oohs from the crowd every time Bliss “inadvertently” insulted Jax. They really stayed on Jax way too long. I was filming at this point and the lights had gone down again. I thought they had gone into a commercial, but immediately noticed that the lights at the announcers booth had stayed on and that Coach, Graves, and Cole were standing and had their backs to the ring, so they must have been talking about the segment.
A 50 man battle royal in Saudi Arabia? I so hope that have it one gigantic ring. Ha!
There was a group of almost 20 stagehands scrambling on stage to set up all of the musical instruments for Elias-Strowman during the commercial, and I mean they were frantic to get it all set up in time. By the way, I’m with everyone else with the words on the screen during promos. That’s ’80s Rock n’ Wrestling “cheesiness” right there (nice of me to get that word in, since we are in Wisconsin).
Elias is going to be a huge babyface eventually with his “Walk With Elias” phrase. Even though it was an considered an insult, it was something of a novelty to hear the Brewers and Bucks get acknowledged in his song. ESPN is always avoiding Milwaukee and its teams, but not Elias! Go Brew Crew and Fear The Deer!
The crowd was pretty live when Elias went outside and got into his vehicle, but more so because we were getting a shot of the outside of the Bradley Center (I’ll explain why we were all so hype about this in a bit and why we knew it was pre-taped).
I have seen a YouTube clip of Elias hitting Strowman with the guitar and the sound it made live in the arena with the powder flying didn’t do it justice on TV. Ouch! Good camera angle by Kevin Dunn when Strowman slammed the piano on Elias. There was absolute daylight from where Elias was positioned underneath it from any other position.
I laughed at Heath Slater’s entrance graphics when he and Rhyno came out to face Bray Wyatt. I decided to try and start a “He’s got kids!” chant and it might have worked but the match was over so quickly.
Hardy’s announcement that his match with Wyatt would be at the Hardy compound got a huge response. I know that this storyline has been lagging, but this is what everyone was waiting for. Lots of “Delete!” chants. Poor Wyatt. He had to kneel in the ring, stay in character, and pretend to be despondent even after they went to commercial. Once he got to the top of the stage, he must have said “Screw it” and lightly jogged into the back. That, or he had strayed too long and had to hustle before they came back from the break.
The Miztourage was very entertaining. Curtis Axel is a lot more animated than he used to be, as he was playing to the crowd a lot. Miz was great on the mic, as always; I can’t believe this is the same guy who had to read a phone number off his hand so many years ago.
I think it was around here they came back from commercial and they showed an exterior shot of the Bradley Center. It was snowing heavily outside and I’m not sure if you could hear it on TV, but we all let out a collective groan, as it was just going to be a huge mess leaving the arena later (and it was). We had been getting spring weather for over a week and were hoping we were out of the woods for the season, but it was not to be. We’ll still get snow in May! Anyway, it had been coming down for awhile, so that just confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the outside segment between Elias and Strowman was pre-taped.
Seth Rollins got the cheap pop, mentioning Milwaukee. We expected a bit more interaction between Seth and Miz, so the Balor entrance came out of nowhere but was great in itself. This was a very entertaining match as well, with the highlight being the Rollins dive onto the Miztourage. This three-way match at WrestleMania could very well be one of the top matches of the night. We’ll see.
Heyman got a nice pop. As he was walking down the ramp, the Universal Title was glittering from all of the jewels on it. It’s not surprising considering there’s a boatload of diamonds on it, I just have never seen it do that on TV. Heyman always does a great job in buildup, but he repeats the same thing in different ways a lot. I showed my friend what he did to that couple when that wedding proposal took place live on Raw during his promo with Brock recently. It’s now her favorite clip.
Considering WWE is still in the “PG fun for the whole family” phase, it was a bit of a shock to hear him utter, “bulls—“. Of course, we heard “bitch” last week and several more times from Heyman here, so maybe just putting a “little” bit of attitude back in? I’m all for it.
When Reigns came out, my friend had to get as many pictures as possible because her mother is a fan. Reigns has been doing a bit better on the mic lately, but I still see the long awaited heel turn for him at WrestleMania in order to win the title. When Heyman told Reigns that Brock would be in Detroit next week, I shouted, “TONIGHT!” As Heyman left the ring, I started shouting it again and this time he stopped as he was getting out of the ring and looked right at me. I didn’t back down and the rest of my section noticed that he was looking right at us, so they started to join in, but we were drowned out by the music.
The split second that Heyman disappeared in the back and the show went off the air, Kane’s music hit and here comes the dark match! It only lasted about three minutes, but it was still great see Kane live. Reigns got the win. Once Kane went back up the ramp and Reigns finished celebrating, everyone was packing up. I noticed Reigns had grabbed a mic and he started talking, stopping everyone in their tracks. He wanted everyone to know that all of the wrestlers had enjoyed performing over the years at the Bradley Center and that they all knew that this was it for them here, as the next time they are in Milwaukee, they will be at the new arena next door, which is just about completed. He informed us that he got to see see it earlier in the day and, “it looks really, really cool in there.” That got a nice pop from everyone. He wished a good night and to be safe.
I had a complete blast. My friend and I went celebrating afterwards. She had bought a program, which is the highest quality program I’ve ever seen for any event, sports or otherwise. Put together really well. It was great to see how everything operates and the production value is incredible. The technology they have compared to even the Attitude Era is amazing! The LED light posts, which is pretty recent, is an awesome idea. The angled screen on the stage that flashes everyone’s names as they are announced is made up of three screens and is just “Awesome!” (sorry Miz). I would love to have that in my living room if it would actually fit. The arena was completely packed, even the upper rafters. For some strange reason, there were a few empty seats to the right of the hard camera, which was pretty strange but that was it. Finally, the ring is completely mic’d up, so when anyone hits that mat, there is a thundering boom throughout the arena. Television makes the effect sound very weak.
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