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   September 02, 2014



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Raw Richmond delivers a tale of highs and lows
By NOLAN HOWELL - SLAM Wrestling


RICHMOND, Va. -- There is perhaps one place where the light shines brighter than the limelight of pay-per-view. In the business of professional wrestling, this moment comes only days before the show itself. This moment is the "go-home show," where a neat bow is tied on to the package that has been signed and sealed over the past few weeks. This show tells the whos, whats, whens, wheres, and hows that will be answered that weekend. Most importantly, it shows the fans the whys, answering why the fans should be tuning in to the big show.

On Monday night, Raw in Richmond, Virginia, had the job of bringing it all together for Sunday's Battleground pay-per-view. Though the Richmond Coliseum is small and nearing half a century old, the intimate atmosphere packed a very enthusiastic crowd with a thirst for wrestling.

For the first hour or so, the crowd was more than happy to show their approval or lack there of for whomever stepped in between the ropes or walked in front of a camera. The first two matches of the night were recorded for Superstars and featured a run-of-the-mill Divas match between Naomi and Rosa Mendes that saw the crowd still loudly support Naomi. The other match featured a shock of a match of the night candidate as R-Truth and Ryback traded close nearfalls that had many oohing and awing in anticipation of a victory.

The start of the live show still brought out the best in the Richmond faithful, as WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena and Roman Reigns drew strong reactions, though quite obviously differing in reception. Their scheduled tag partner, Dean Ambrose, drew perhaps the most comparable reaction throughout the night, despite being taken out backstage by The Authority.

From there, the show had dramatic ups and downs that reflected both in the ring and in the stands. The in-ring action didn't manage to capture the imagination of the Richmond audience and the reactions generally waned.

However, there were still some shining moments that brought the crowd to life. The debate between Zeb Colter and Lana with the muscle of Jack Swagger and Rusev respectively standing behind them brought about deafening chants of patriotism. Though Bray Wyatt earned some stark criticism from the audience, Chris Jericho was well-received as he tongue-lashed and escaped unscathed from the Wyatts. Perhaps the biggest ovation of the night brought about some of the biggest boos of the night, as a preview of WWE 2K15 featuring Sting brought the crowd to their feet and promptly put their hearts back in their seats when it was revealed to be a promotional tool.

Finally, the main event and the man who introduced it sent the crowd home happy. "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair came out to ovations and bows from the crowd as the legend returned to vintage form before the main event set itself up. From there, Cena and Reigns worked the crowd into a positive frenzy for their side as Seth Rollins, Kane, and Randy Orton were booed. The boos didn't deter them, however, as they took home the win. Still, the crowd was not disappointed as Cena and Reigns disposed of The Authority's team and fought off Luke Harper and Erick Rowan as the cameras were shut off. As folks headed for the exits, Cena and Reigns took turns trying to ignite the crowd, with the latter receiving a far less mixed reception.

Taking the good with the bad in a nearly four hour live experience, going to a WWE television experience is something that should be on every wrestling fan's bucket list. From there, it may or may not be the cup of tea of choice. The constant breaks filled with commercials on the Titantron or the dead air can suck the life out of an audience if not properly timed. However, the glitz of the booming pyro and the volume of the crowd cannot be replicated anywhere else.

Seeing is believing and experiencing the dynamics of the WWE television product live, while wont to be hit or miss by nature, will always be an eyeopener that is worth the time and the money.

RELATED LINK

  • RAW: John Cena and Roman Reigns team up heading into Battleground

    Nolan Howell can be reached at nth993@gmail.com for any questions or comments.