By Sean McCaffrey (@NYCTHEMIC)
I have said this before on this site, and I’ll say it again. The biggest project the WWE is currently undertaking is their WWE Network, which you can get for $9.99 a month. If you’re a wrestling fan, it’s a must have. It gives you access to every PPV, tons of old footage, different first run material, in addition to getting every current PPV and even NXT.
Unfortunately for the WWE, the WWE Network isn’t selling the way the WWE thought it would. I think the reason the Network isn’t meeting expectations is because while the Network really caters to old-time fans, the current product today is geared towards kids. WWE promotes their network incessantly during their flagship show, Monday Night Raw, a TV show that is rated PG & for kids. They are not reaching people who have money or a credit card, that is required to get the Network. Kids are happy with the nearly 10 hours of free programming a week. The WWE is so worried about their silly Mattel toys deal, that they are hellbent on being PG, while the product that can make or break their stock, the WWE Network, is geared towards adults, with most of the featured content rated PG 13. Basically, it’s like advertising fancy cars on Raw, or advertising tampons during an NFL game. The advertising is not meeting their target market. Kids do not care about the WWE network, and that makes up a majority of WWE viewers. Even today, while at biggest WWE house show of the year, at MSG, kids made up 85% of the crowd. There was not one thing promoted or booked towards my interests.
Fortunately for me, the son of one of my close friends is a huge WWE fan. He’s 9 years old. He is at that age in life, where most males find pro wrestling. Many outgrow pro wrestling by the time they are in high school. However, I do believe a lot of my generation stuck with pro wrestling in high school because of the Monday Night Wars & the more adult product, with many people my age (I’m 32) falling out of wrestling about a year or two after WCW & ECW folded.
Attending this show with my friend’s 9 year old son gave me a different perspective of this WWE event. While former independent professional wrestler, Bison Bravado, (A former 2 time WXW World Champion & Hogan Knows Best Superstar, just ask him, he will tell you all about it) and myself found this event slow and boring, my friend’s son loved it. If you can accept the WWE is not for you and for kids, you can have a good time. If my friends son wasn’t with us, I would’ve never bought tickets, and if by some chance I did attend, I would’ve been long gone by the time intermission rolled around.
Let’s put it this way, we had MSG bridge seats. You get your own computer chair, a TV monitor and all the open space in the world. It’s a luxury to sit up there. While my friend’s son would be jumping up and down and enjoying himself, Bison fell asleep the second match at his desk and woke up mid-way during the Cena match. This was all the evidence you need to prove who the target member of the WWE Universe truly is. I would not recommend attending a WWE show live to anyone my age, unless they were mentally slow and had that Forest Gump mind, but to any parent looking to do something fun with their kid, the WWE is for you. Is this the best way to make a profit in today’s climate? WWE thinks so. However, their competition, like UFC, NFL, NHL, NBA, Netflix, HBO on the Go, concerts and the like, all think differently and market their product to people with money. I guess WWE just really enjoys what DISNEY ON ICE, when it rolls around once a year, is doing!
On to the show:
Before our first match, Tony Chimel was promoting some silly WWE app voting thing. We could’ve chose to see Fandango vs Swagger in a match or in a dance-off. Unfortunately, not having either one of them on the show wasn’t an option. More depressing, Howard Finkel wasn’t at MSG. I was hoping “The Fink” would be there, considering this is the biggest WWE house show of the year. Fink not being there seemed to be the trend, as there was not one surprise or bonus, that the MSG crowd usually gets.
For the WWE Intercontinental Title
(c) Dolph Ziggler d. Luke Harper
This was a good PPV quality match. These two really work well together. Of course, at a house show, results are predictable, even if my son’s friend thought Harper would regain the championship. I guess being older and knowing that the WWE will run this same show in 50 markets gives me a leg up on my sons friend, but for him, this was some real deal heavy shit! Again, it’s just who these shows are marketed for. However, WWE should really change titles from time to time on these house shows, just to give you a reason to attend and make little kids think they saw something truly important. Even the WWE Hardcore title, during its day, was a useful prop into making you think you saw something special when it would change hands.
This match was about 20 minutes long, in a bout where both men worked their asses off, with tons of false finishes. Ziggler wins with the Zig-Zag, a finishing move that doesn’t sound like one of a main eventer.
Seth Rollins and J&J security ran out to attack Ziggler. They kicked the snot out of him. Rollins said “Happy Holidays from the Authority.” I guess they did this to make sure the crowd would cheer Cena in the main event. I don’t think it would be a problem anyway, as this crowd was mostly kids. Even the losers in black T-Shirts, who did try to do “CENA SUCKS” chants, would quickly die out and just looked pathetic. Chanting “CENA SUCKS” is basically like telling little kids Santa is fake, you just look like a douchebag.
Ryback d. Curtis Axel
They had a longer than you would expect match. I figured this would be squash city, but this went about 8-9 minutes. Ryback is getting over with the little kids, because my friends son had to pee so bad, but said he wanted to wait until the match was over because he didn’t want to miss out on Ryback. Ryback wins with the shell-shock. After a long opening match, I thought this should’ve been a squash. I guess the thinking was these house shows gives Ryback time to develop and pace himself for longer TV matches. However, that’s great and all, but it just extended this event to over 3 hours. No house show should be that long.
For the NXT Championship
(c) Sami Zayn d. Adrian Neville
The black t-shirt crowd perked up for the entrances of both of these guys, while the little kids sought out cotton candy and bathrooms. Zayn wins with his big kick. Came off kinda blah because no one knew what his finisher was. Still, had to be great for both men to make their MSG debuts. WWE needs to start doing NXT recaps on Raw, because the majority of the crowd knew who neither were. WWE is so quick to rush up NXT people, thinking that because they are over in NXT, they will be over here. It’s two different fan bases. The NXT fans grew and nurtured wrestlers, while WWE is so quick to throw up NXT gimmicks like Emma & Adam Rose on RAW with no real push or idea.
Jack Swagger vs Fandango w/Rosa Mendes went to a no-decision
What a waste of time, and we didn’t even get a winner. Fandango attacked Swagger, during Swagger doing the “We The People” hand salute to “U Can’t Touch This”. Swagger is a wrestler for adult crowd, so the black t-shirt people enjoyed saying “WE THE PEOPLE” while the kids seemed restless during all this nonsense. Shit city here.
For the WWE Tag Team Titles
(c) Miz & Mizdow d. The Usos
Mizdow was over with both the black t-shirt people and the kids. He really hammed it up here. He must have supreme cardio conditioning, because he never stops moving. One thing I will say about this show, the wrestlers really worked hard and didn’t treat it as just another live event. This was your typical Raw match, and if you’ve seen one Uso match, you’ve seen them all. Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale on one of the Usos for the win.
Randy Orton d. Kane
Orton got the biggest pop of the night, up to this point. Quick match with Orton winning with the RKO. Perfectly booked. Orton looked in good spirits.
INTERMISSION was up next. I didn’t know WWE did intermissions during house shows. It was unnecessary because this show was 3 hours and 15 minutes long. House shows should be 2 1/2 hours. There was no reason to drag this show out, especially with no surprises or any moment that you would say “I SAW THIS LIVE.”
The worst part about intermission was WWE running their Connor Cause video, about that kid Connor who died of cancer or whatever he had. Try explaining to a 9 year old what happened to a Connor while he’s watching this video. Kind of depressing to show this at Xmas time at a show geared towards little kids. Save your self-serving charity (HHH & Stephanie were made to look like heroes during this thing) for the 10PM hour on Raw.
Emma & Alicia Fox d. The Bella Twins with Paige as Special Guest Referee
Horrible, horrible, horrible. Nothing about this match made sense. Isn’t Emma a face? Isn’t Fox a heel? Are the Bellas heels or faces? Paige, who really needs to learn how to use a toothbrush because her teeth look look buttery churned rocks, would fast count against the Bellas, and slow count in favor of Fox & Emma. Bellas are heels on TV mind you. Why Paige would even care to be a referee for this match and why she would choose sides was not evident either.
Just a terrible match in every facet of the game. Nothing made sense. I understand the principle and concept of popcorn matches, but this was just excruciatingly brutal. Alicia pins Brie after a fast count from Paige. Horribly booked, horribly executed, horrible match.
Santino Marella came out to read a poem. He got the “WHAT” treatment. Austin is still over in 2014. Big Show came out to set up the next match.
Big Show d. Eric Rowan
Just felt bad for the kids expecting Roman Reigns here, not knowing that Roman was in Chicago. The MSG house show is no longer all hands on deck. There was no Roman Reigns merchandise for sale either at the merch stands. While on the merch issue, as you would expect, Cena stuff sold the most, as there was a red shirt/red hat nation amongst the MSG crowd. The fat older people were wearing Seth Rollins shirts, and it just looks sad.
Big Show wins this match when seemingly Rowan blew a spot and just walked into the finish. Terribly executed. Another shit show boring match. How you put this on second to last is beyond me.
MATCH OF THE NIGHT
John Cena d. Seth Rollins w/J&J Security in a Street Fight
The second Cena’s music hit, the place erupted. I’ve heard big pops live and on TV before. Perhaps the biggest pop I ever heard live was HHH’s return at MSG. This wasn’t like that, but this pop came off so huge because no one else on the show is even 1/10th as over as Cena. And here’s the biggest problem. Until John Cena comes out, the whole show is filler.
I’m an 80’s kid. Every generation will tell you that their generation was better than the current generation, but I was very fortunate, when it comes to wrestling fandom. I grew up during the Hogan era, with guys like Andre & Savage around. I went to middle school with Shawn Michaels & Bret Hart. I hit high school with Austin & Rock. I went full circle in college with the returns of Hogan & HBK. I had big stars to watch my entire fandom. Today, the kids got Cena and that’s it. You can tell me Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan and whoever else, but I’m sorry, NO ONE IS CLOSE TO CENA.
I have done this speech before. John Cena is the greatest wrestler ever, in my opinion. I’m using the term wrestler very loosely here. He’s not Lou Thesz. He’s not HBK. He’s not Flair. However, Cena is the greatest all-around wrestler of all time. NO ONE HAS DONE WHAT HE HAS DONE. He’s been on top for 10+ years, with every restriction and handicap against him. He didn’t choose to wrestle in the PG era. Throw him in the Attitude era, and I think he gets bigger than Rock & Austin.
Look at Cena’s career. Sure he had Edge, Orton and Punk, but guys like Austin had the Rock and vice versa. Outside of Austin & Rock, you had Taker, HHH, Foley, plus Vince McMahon as the best heel in pro wrestling. You also had WCW that was hitting on all cylinders for a while. Going back, Hogan had Andre, Savage, Warrior, etc. Cena is not only a victim of the times, but he never had a near equal! He’s doing this all alone.
Expanding on this, other headliners never had the pressure or were ever given a chance to be over-exposed. Guys prior the cable TV generation hit your town once a month, or were just locals for the same crowd every week. Cena is on 10 hours of free programming a week. He has to sell a PPV every month. He’s the only one who moves rating points. When you hear CM Punk sound like a mark by saying “I EVEN OUTSOLD CENA IN SHIRTS”, it’s because Cena was hurt & Punk just released a new shirt, while Cena’s latest shirt was at the tail end of its run. Comparing yourself to Cena in this day and age is just the measuring stick.
Cena has been the number 1 guy for ten years with the most things against him in wrestling history. No one, to this day, even matches his merch numbers or ratings points. So when someone says “Cena is stale”, like my friend Sean Maxwell, do some fucking research! WWE is not geared for us, it’s geared for kids, and those kids got a sugar & molly shot the second Cena’s music hit.
Sure, I worked in wrestling for 10 years, but I have no issues or qualms by saying Cena is the greatest thing in wrestling today and the greatest of all time. I’m a proud member of the CeNATION!
I could go on and on. How about the fact that Cena has made the most “Make a Wishes” out of any celebrity, EVER? I know someone whose son got to meet Cena through this. Everyone said he was genuine. He doesn’t do this for the cameras. He’s the one who even put the Susan Komen deal together.
How about the fact that he is over-the-top professional? You won’t be reading about Cena getting DWI’s, beating his drunken kid up, scratching limos, being pilled up, killing his wife, or anything else you read about wrestlers doing?
Want me to go on? How about the fact that unlike any other main eventer before him, he will put over anyone and try to get a good match out of anyone? You never hear about Cena burying anyone and if you do, (Ken Kennedy comes to mind), it’s usually because the other guy screwed up or was reckless. Can you imagine Austin or Rock allowing Lesnar to squash them at one of the biggest PPV’s of the year? No main eventer has tried repeatedly to get over new talent by doing jobs non-stop, while remaining as over as Cena has. Cena is a student of the business and always gives back.
Next time someone chants “CENA SUCKS”, tell them to fuck off.
As far as this match, this was another PPV level match. Tons of run-ins. J&J security got a double AA, a spot that Cena has done a few times before, but I’m sure JBL would call as “the first time I’ve ever seen that!” Kane ran in, but Randy Orton came out, deliving RKO’s to Kane & the stooges. Big Show then ran out and chokeslammed Cena. Ziggler ran out to play with Show but got herbed. Cena then AA’d Show. Rollins came back with curb stomp on Cena, but Cena muscled out. The finish saw Cena AA Rollins from the top rope through a table for the win. Good match, even with the ECW run-in booking stuff at the end.
Not a show for me, but kids loved it. The only real complaint I would have, with the kids being the audience here, was that the show was too long. Alot of stuff could’ve been cut out, like the intermission, Santino shit, length of Ryback/Axel, etc. I wouldn’t recommend these shows for anyone over the age of 14.
LET’S GO CENA!
LET’S GO RANGERS!
I’m going back to MSG tonight for Rangers/Devils, check back here at DOINOW.com for a report on that game.
Thanks for reading,
@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter gimmick