Having met with Kofi Kingston and Gail Kim earlier in the day, and having spent Monday night in the company of the Smackdown roster, going to the Raw house show in Cardiff on Tuesday felt totally normal. Like… “Yeah, just going to knock a few bevvies back with the Raw boys. No biggie.” For the first time in about three days I was actually feeling completely cool about sharing the same space as WWE staff. Oh, how that was to change come the main event!
As I mentioned in Part Two, I was flying solo for this event. Not ideal without someone to chit-chat about the matches with, but I just couldn’t pass on the opportunity to be there. Thanks to some traffic issues and having to collect my ticket at the door from the slowest ticket clerks in history, I was a little late. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all the people with small children who were also waiting to collect their tickets. As I waited to be called forward to the counter I heard screaming coming from the crowd, Justin Roberts kicking the show off and Mark Henry’s music hitting. In my anger at missing the start of the show I quite audibly wailed “AHHH SHIT!!!!” in front of a bunch of kids. The kids themselves didn’t flinch too much. Their parents weren’t pleased.
I collected my ticket and literally ran to my seat, which was considerably more difficult to find now that the lights were down. I found myself on the floor but in the back row, which wasn’t the best place for a diminutive person in flat shoes. Several people seemed to be standing on the seats for the first match, which happened to be Mark Henry vs Chris Masters. I did the same. But security were losing their minds with all this chair surfing and ordered that everyone sit down. I complained that I couldn’t see and a particularly friendly steward invited me to sit with him closer to the middle, where the view was marginally better. I accepted his offer and moved. But then he saw my camera and became concerned that it was too professional. Here we go again. I looked pleadingly into his eyes and he gave me the benefit of the doubt. I think he liked me. But every time I tried to use it he looked at me like we were trying to pull off a drug deal and the cops were circling, so we came to an arrangement that he would let me get to the front row in between matches if I used my compact camera during the matches. DEAL! We kissed on it…….I kid, I kid! We just nodded on it.
Sorry, Mark Henry. Far be it from me to upset you. You’re scary. The average age of the crowd was significantly lower than it had been for Smackdown. Most likely because of John Cena and DX’s presence. The kids are NUTS for Cena. And so were the ladies. More on that later. The show also had a different vibe to it. Just as on television, Smackdown and ECW were the more classic wrestling shows, and Raw was a tad more about polish and showbiz. Not to say that one was more entertaining than the other, just different. Oh and the Raw matches were slightly shorter. The show as a whole was 30 minutes shorter than the Smackdown/ECW show.
Ok, ok. Don’t hurt me, Mark Henry. Actually, don’t tell the WSM but I missed a lot of this match with all the musical chairs I was playing. I think Mark Henry won though. After that Kelly-Kelly appeared on the balcony and did the same as Savannah had done the night before. She got a group of kids to answer an easy question and gave them front row seats. URGH! The balcony seats are the cheapest in the house. You get what you pay for. I paid £55 for this ticket and I can’t actually see the mat. Yeah, yeah. The children are our future. Blah-blah-blah.
From there we went straight into Jack Swagger vs Santino. I know Santino is annoying at times, but people love him. They love him loads. Much as I enjoyed keeping my eyes fixated on Jack Swagger (A LOT) everyone was just waiting for Santino to do his funny little hand swinging thing. Jack Swagger was wearing my favourite outfit of his….the one where the cut-out design looks as if he’s half-naked on TV. Unfortunately, in person that orange fabric doesn’t match his skintone so well. Sad times. But good times for Swagger, who won the match rather convincingly.
Next, Sheamus was up against MVP. Kind of a lacklustre match if I’m honest. But I was glad to see Sheamus. I’ve got a funny feeling about him. Noooooo. Not that kind of funny feeling. I just mean that I have a feeling they’ve got big plans for him, so I may have witnessed a star of the future. I think on TV they may dust him with icing sugar or something. It may have been the lighting, but in the flesh he looked considerably less pasty.
After that, Chavo Guerrero made his way to the ring, taunted the crowd and called for his opponent, which happened to be lovely Evan Bourne. Soooo cuuute! I could just pinch his cheeks and give him a lollipop.
Great stuff. One of the longer matches of the night and extremely entertaining. Every time Evan got up on the ropes the crowd held their breath waiting for the shooting star press, which he eventually delivered to take Chavo out. He also ran up the ramp draped in the Welsh flag. Swoon central.
Next we had an intermission, which seemed odd being that we were only an hour into the show. That was the first major indication that this would be a shorter show than the previous night. After a visit from the Honey Monster, who was accompanied to the ring by Kelly-Kelly, we were back to work with a Divas match. Jillian and Alicia Fox vs Melina and Gail Kim. It was odd seeing Gail back being her in-ring persona. She had been so sweet and demure when I’d met her early in the day. She was a completely different person her glittery ring attire.
Melina looked beautiful. Not that I expected her to be rough as a dog or anything, but in person she looked gorgeous. Her hair in particular is stunning. I bet she and JoMo have quite a few fights over the hair dryer round their place. And I’m certain they must fight over who has the prettiest locks too. Alicia Fox is a sexy girl. Like whoa! And Jillian is WAY better looking in person. But as it was suggested to me on Wednesday, when they’re right in front of you they’re not characters. They become real people. So it’s much harder to poke fun at them.
It was actually a great match. I enjoyed it immensely. Melina and Gail won and I managed to get a great shot of Melina at the end. Unfortunately, the flashing lights confused the camera and it came out like this.
By the time I’d messed about with the camera settings she was already on the other side of the ring. URGH! Oh well. Still great to be that close.
From there it was time for The Miz vs Kofi Kingston. The Miz actually is awesome. No, really. He is. He had the audience wrapped around his little finger, taking every piece of bail they threw out there in his opening gambit. It’s hard to appreciate how good he is on TV, but like him or loathe him he definitely gets a reaction. Of course, the crowd went crazy for Kofi. Another super match, which The Miz won, because the United States Championship was on the line. And I know several people have reliably informed me that titles have dropped at house shows, but not this time.
I started running the Raw roster through my head and figured the only people left to come out were Legacy, DX and Cena. I deducted that we’d probably get Rhodes and DiBiase vs DX, followed by Cena and Orton. But then Justin announced that this would be the main event of the evening and I realised that all six of them would be coming out together. OH. MY. GODDDDDD! Remember at the beginning when I was being all blasé about being in the same room as the wrestlers? Errrrm, yeah, that went flying out the window the second I heard the words “main event”. It was akin to the kind of hysteria I remember feeling when I went to see Take That in 1993. And Fall Out Boy this Spring. I grabbed my good camera (screw you, security) and ran to the front.
I heard the words “ARE YOU READY?” playing through the speakers and I lost the bloody plot. TRIPLE H! Holy shit! DX bounced their way to the ring, flinging glo-stix as they went. It was very surreal. Remember in Part One when I mentioned that I went to a WWF/WWE house show in Birmingham several years ago? Triple H was on that bill. If you’d told me then I’d be stood right in front of him all these years later and loving it even more, I never would have believed you. Yet, there I was. Magical.
A girl appeared next to me who was approximately my age and screamed just as loud as I did. She nudged me with her elbows as she ran to the front “Sorry!” she said. “But this is my man coming out. I’ve got to be close to him!” “Who, John Cena?” I responded. “Yeeeeah. Right, that’s enough DX, get John out!” she replied. I laughed and later kicked myself for not writing wrestlegasm.com down on a piece of paper for her. Clearly we share some common ground. At the time I didn’t think of it though. I MUST get some business cards printed!
Anyway, once DX had done their thing and the crowd had agreed to SUCK IIIIIIIIT! John Cena’s music started and if I thought I’d lost my mind for Trips and Shawn, it was nothing compared to the amount I (and my new friend) screamed for John. I actually felt something snap in my throat. It may have been a sprained vocal chord. It was two to three days before I stopped answering the phone at work like I’d just smoked 20 consecutive fags. Again it was surreal to see John right there in front of me. Like a real person. I wanted to poke and him to see if he was a real person and not a crash test dummy.
I composed myself for a moment while John, Shawn and Hunter prepared for the match.
But then my thumbs started pulsating again when I heard “I hear voices in my head…….” Randy. This is too much to take at once. Couldn’t they have spread this insanity out over two matches? Being Randy he took his sweet time getting to the ring and from where I was stood I couldn’t actually see him until he reached the ropes. Sweet mother of God. Randy Orton comes in for a lot of stick for all kinds of reasons, but he looks incredible. I actually bit my lip when he walked past. And I almost imploded when this happened.
After all that excitement security sent everyone back to their seats and I continued to snap away with the good camera. But then some new steward came up to me and said “Listen, love, you’ve got your pictures now put the camera away!” WHAT! ?!?! You don’t get to choose how many pictures I can take. Ok, he kind of can. But not for long.
The match so full of action I didn’t know where to look. Apparently, Ted DiBiase had his trunks pulled down. I think I may have been the only person in the arena who missed it. Probably because I was giving the yellow shirted steward evils. Fear not. Some eagle eyed (and very naughty) person in the crowd managed to catch it on film. Game on!
Legacy had a good go….
….but being that this was the DX Invasion tour, it was highly unlikely that the crowd’s sweethearts were going to lose. And they did it all with a little help from Hornswoggle. Gimmick infringement and all. Legacy skulked off but as this was the last match, John and DX hung around to press palms with fans. At one point, Hunter was just six feet away from me. I reached my hand out to give him a high-5 but my arms weren’t long enough. Having looked me straight in the eye a bit earlier…..
….. I think he was just feeling a bit shy about that special dream we shared. It’s understandable. It was pretty intense.
And then it was all over. Not just over the until the next night. Over. Full stop. I was still awake at 2:00am. And there begins the comedown, which I’ll go into in greater depth in part four.