May 5, 2009
Fans in Buffalo have apparently not Cena-nuff
By DAVE HILLHOUSE - SLAM! Wrestling
Here’s an observation made while scanning the crowd waiting to get inside the HSBC Arena in Buffalo for Monday Night Raw: few sports fans actually look like they belong in the sport they are viewing. Line up hockey fans, baseball fans, or golf fans, and you’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart. There’s something about wrestling fans, though, that makes them look like they could be wrestlers themselves.
Maybe it’s the near-constant outbursts of "Whoo," or the many fans toting replica belts over their shoulders, or the Jeff Hardy armbands. Maybe the tendency to dress up like their favourite wrestler that makes wrestling fans more like comic book convention attendees than sports fans -- and considering that wrestling is half sport and half-theatre, that actually makes a lot of sense.
So it was in Buffalo as the crowd arrived early and often, filling the arena to the rafters -- and, truthfully, the crowd looked and sounded bigger than it did when Armageddon was brought to town last December.
Starting at 8:15, Lillian Garcia announced to the crowd that there would be some taping for Superstars, and we were warmed up for Raw by watching Goldust versus Chavo Guererro and, in a match announced later on in the evening for the Superstars show that is technically still to come, Santina and Kelly Kelly taking on Beth Phoenix and Rosa Mendez.
Phoenix and Santina (and later Santino) drew two of the loudest reactions of the night. Both made sense, of course, as Buffalo welcomed Phoenix home and responded with tremendous support, and Santina/o had a boisterous cheering section right behind me as his brother and other members of his family were in attendance.
Another notable point is that, in the ever-changing assessment of where John Cena sits with the majority of fans, he was immensely popular with the crowd. When Cena hobbled out to confront The Miz, the crowd erupted. When he was decimated by The Big Show, the crowd was hushed. The fans had clamoured for Cena all night long, and, as it turned out, they were treated with a shocking surprise after Raw went off the air.
Once Shane McMahon had been safely delivered backstage, Batista, who had remained in the ring alone, challenged Legacy to come back out and try him in a 3 on 1 match. Legacy answered the call and were just about to enter the ring when Batista confessed to them that he had lied about the 3 on 1, and he had a partner.
John Cena’s music hit and ... well, I’m going to phrase this two ways. The first way is that despite the incredible injuries suffered at both Backlash and earlier in the very same Raw broadcast, Cena was able to persevere and show superhuman toughness to enter the ring as Batista’s partner. The second way to phrase it is that, in a slap to the face of any fan who is desperately trying to hang on to the idea that wrestling is best when it at least pretends to be real, Cena dances out to the ring and engages full-on in a match even though a mere hour ago he was apparently completely unable to defend himself. You choose how you want to read the situation.
The match featured Orton carefully choosing the times at which he would enter the ring, with the champ largely content to let Rhodes and DiBiase do the dirty work. Cena took the brunt of the damage during the match, but eventually managed to toss Orton from the ring, giving himself and Batista an opportunity to hit Dibiase and Rhodes with the Attitude Adjuster and the Batista Bomb, respectively.
Legacy sulked their way backstage, leaving Cena and Batista to play to the crowd. They seemed to be having a legitimately good time (except for a quick, barely noticeable incident of Batista giving the finger to a couple of fans who were holding their middle fingers up towards him).
The fans left happy, especially as evidenced by one teenage girl who squealed "Oh my God, that was the most amazing experience of my entire life" on her way out. The WWE is certainly banking on them having had fun, because they were already advertising the next Raw in Buffalo: October 6th, again at 8:15. Tickets go on sale this coming Saturday at 9 a.m.
Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and is so very close to becoming a fully certified teacher. He counts his opportunity to have seen Goldust live at least one more time as an unexpected treat -- and just barely managed to resist spoiling the outcome of the match on this week’s Superstars.