Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Monday Night Raw episode at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. As per usual, there were a number of things that the Raw television audience did not see on-air that we the in-person audience did. Some examples:
There was an opening match for Main Event between Heath Slater (with Rhyno) and Curt Hawkins. Following the Slater-Hawkins match, there was a pre-show cruiserweight match between Gran Metalik and The Brian Kendrick.
During the commercial break of the match between Big Cass and Enzo Amore, Cass cut a long promo on how much he hates New York; the cheapest of cheap heat when considering that he has “Queens” written on his trunks.
During most commercial breaks when there is not a match going on, the audience watches WWE-themed commercials and videos.
In lieu of a dark match following the event, John Cena cut a promo on how much he appreciates the crowd — calling them “family” — and how they had a great time. Cena also hammed it up a lot more with the booing reactions and the beach ball stuff than might have come across on-air.
Lesnar surprisingly hamming it up off-camera when he was in the ring and knew the camera was not on him.
As I write this, the hot topic related to Raw is the almighty beach ball; the full arena reenactments of the wave do not seem to be getting much coverage, nor do the Roman Reigns reactions, presumably because they have been seen before. It seems to be focusing on how the fans are immature. How the fans are disrespecting the product. How the fans are disrespecting security. Full-on negativity towards the fans.
I would advise this to those criticizing the fans of the beach ball: Put yourself in the shoes of the fans in the arena. The broadcast not only goes over three hours each week, but a Raw episode also has pre and/or post-show matches and you know you have to arrive early to clear through security. When spending four to six hours doing just about anything that isn’t sleeping, how do you feel? Especially if you are attending a live Raw after a day of working, isn’t it exciting to see things that are unexpected? There is only so much wrestling that you can watch consecutively without taking a break or changing it up. A sign that three hours is too much Raw to digest without a DVR.
Another cause beyond the length of time is that the Raw after a major pay-per-view is “supposed” to have excitement in it. Excitement within WWE, these days, seems to come in the form of surprises. Arguably, last night’s episode did not have any surprises. Or at least there were no call-ups to the main roster, no returns of prior talent, no returns from injury, no cameos by legends, no vignettes for new talent, and no title changes. In turn, when your main event features John Cena and Roman Reigns, do you really expect a Brooklyn live crowd to do what they are supposed to do and cheer?
To those mad at the crowd and/or the beach balls, I ask this: Do you remember back in school when particular teachers were able to keep your attention no matter how dry the content was? How were they able to keep your attention when you were tired, disinterested in sitting for hours, and not wowed with lights or pyro? Because those teachers were prepared, had charisma, worked the audience, and kept the content relatable.
So while every assembly of thousands of people is bound to have its fair share of idiots out to ruin it for others, perhaps it is time to realize that sometimes those “students” need to be “taught” in a different way…unless beach balls are welcome.