The Spotlight On The Survivor Series- Pt. 5-2011

I’m going to jump ahead a bit here on the survivor series retrospective and look back at Survivor Series 2011, a show I attended live at Madison Square Garden.  2011 was one of the more interesting times to be a WWE fan.  CM Punk was going through a period of time in which he was the most popular man on the roster following the summer of punk, Daniel Bryan had become world champion for the first time, the Rock had returned to the company and Zack Ryder had an absolute breakout year.  This was also the year that I attended the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania and the Survivor Series so it was a pretty big year for me as a fan, you could say.

The 2011 Survivor Series was held live from Madison Square Garden and my buddy from work and I were planning on attending the event since the day tickets went on sale which was a first for me as I’m naturally a last minute planner.  I remember on the Friday leading up the Survivor Series there was a huge WWE party in the city, I believe it was in Penn Station.  CM Punk was there for a meet and greet and there was contest running that you could go to the event and win a private bus tour around New York City with Zack Ryder and Jimmy Hart.  My buddy and I were huge Ryder fans as we watched every Z True Long Island Story the day it came out while at work.  Being that our job only had so many employees, however, it was difficult for us both to get the day off together so we agreed to skip the party, though we did spend the day wishing we were there and scouring twitter for updates and photos from the event.

On survivor series Sunday, I remember my girlfriend at the time, begged me not to go.  There was a big time NY Giants game that night and she made up her mind that despite me dropping about $100 on tickets to the event with my friend, she didn’t want me to go to the show.  Though it was a hard decision,  I went to the show and we ended up breaking up two weeks later.

As for the show itself, this was also, to the best of my knowledge the last pay per view to be held at the Garden, to this date and it was a really big deal for us.  There’s something about going a show at MSG that is like none other.  I remember my buddy and I getting there at Penn Station early enough to grab a bite at Roy Rogers and then went down to wait online with the thousands of fans in attendance.  From the second we got there this crowd was all about Zack Ryder.  There were “We Want Ryder” chants in the lobby as many were frustrated that Ryder was not given a US title match against Dolph Ziggler on this show despite both men petitioning for the match on youtube and twitter, and instead John Morrison was given the match on his last night with the company.

In many ways it’s odd the crowd was so into Ryder as this was also the Rock’s first time back in New York and first match back since his return to the company in early 2011.  That said, When Ryder finally did make an appearance to run off Ziggler, this wasn’t only the biggest pop of the nght but the biggest pop I’ve heard in MSG with the exception of John Cena’s Royal Rumble 2008 return.  In fact, after the show when the Rock was making his speech to the live crowd, the Ryder Revolution, was still out in full force as the crowd chanted over the Rock’s speech until the Rock himself had to say “ Hell Yeah love Zack Ryder Woo Woo Woo and all that stuff!” It was probably the pinnacle of Zack Ryder’s career in many ways and it’s a shame he never really took off to the extent, at least that the New York crowd wanted him to on this night.

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Me and my buddy following the Survivor Series 

Follow the show, I remember my buddy and I racing out of the arena, past the idiot fans who were almost arrested for having a hardcore match taking unprotected chair shots to the head with the chair they got from the floor seats of the show, and down the street to a small theater.  We had tickets to a Mick Foley comedy show that were on sale for only $5 the week before.  This was still during the period of time where Mick just wanted to show people what he can do as he was still pretty early into his comedy run.

Mick was really good that night, he’s gotten better since, but with a bunch of diehard WWE fans in attendance following the Surivor Series, he was on fire. I remember there was a small VIP area that had a few Superstars there to watch like Dolph Ziggler and John Morrison.  Unfortunately, in New York City when you’re taking the long island railroad at least on the Port Washington line the trains leaving Penn station run on a schedule of 11:15, 12:15, 1:15 and then 3:15.  Thus, with work the next day, my friend and I agreed that we had to catch the 1:15 train.  What we didn’t think was that Mick would still be on the stage come 1AM.  This led to an embarrassing moment where my buddy and I had to run out of a small theater in an attempt not to be noticed only to have Mick say “Ladies and Gentleman, I’m so bad people are actually running out of the theater. “

When I was getting ready for bed that night, I checked the twitter feeds of some friends I knew were in attendance at the Foley show and at 2:30AM one of my friends tweeted that he was on line waiting to meet Mick.  Two thoughts crossed my mind, 1) Damn I missed a free Mick Foley meet and greet and 2) We probably wouldn’t have gotten out of there in time to catch the 3:14AM train!

All in all though another really fun experience that actually is probably most remembered not only for Ryder’s huge night but also for the first night of CM Punk’s 400+ day title reign.  I’ll end by saying that by reminiscing about this show, above all else, it makes me hope WWE runs the Garden for a pay per view again someday because there really is nothing like it. New York City is a great WWE crowd.

The Spotlight On Raw for 7/13/2015

First off I like to apologize for being off the grid these last few days. I’ve been a bit under the weather really since last Wednesday and it just got worse until finally kicking my ass all weekend. I’ll get more into that on tomorrow’s Daily Spotlight but thankfully I started feeling a bit better just in time for a great Raw (and an awesome Home Run Derby, which I’ll also get into tomorrow morning). As for Monday Night Raw, it emanated live from Atlanta, Georgia and was the final stop of the road to WWE Battleground. Without any further ado, let’s get right into some of the highlights of the show… 

Highlights: 

1) Divas Get Their Chance- Tonight’s Raw didn’t only see one call up from NXT but rather saw three call ups as Charlotte, Becky Lynch and NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks all made there Raw debut tonight. The segment was probably the greatest womens segment since Paige debuted and beat AJ Lee for the women’s title the night after Wrestlemania 30. This was really a relaunch for the women’s division in WWE as Stephanie McMahon showed up to introduce the three ladies from NXT. What made the segment even more special was that the crowd absolutely exploded with “This Is Awesome” chants and showered the ladies with praise. It was really a telling sign as to how far NXT has come that the NXT women were instantly reconized and admired for their athleticism and past accomplishments. If you only have time to check out one segment from this week’s Raw, its this segment right here. 

2) The U.S. Title Open Challenge- What else is new? These segments are great every week and it is nice to see that each week more and more people continue to come out and challenge John Cena. The U.S. Title has become the most prized possession in WWE & it’s great to see how John Cena has brough prestige back to that belt. Cesaro continued his streak of having the best match on Raw as he and Rusev (and for a little while Kevin Owens) had a great, nearly , 24 minute match. It was great to see that Rusev is back showing his aggressive side and it was nice to see him, not only, getting a big win over Cesaro but also to see him getting a DQ victory over Cena. Kevin Owens costing Rusev the match ,after taking himself out of the three way, added some heat on Owens. Owens is obviously respected and, by a certain percentage of the audience, adored. The problem with that is that he’s being counted on to be a top heel in the company so by having him taking himself out of matches and then also costing the fans the opportunities to see clean finishes, (with Cesaro and now Rusev) the crowd may be more inclined to boo him. WWE has done a good job over these past few weeks of adding Cesaro and Rusev to the Cena and Owens story. They’ve used a hot feud like Cena-Owens to create new contenders for the US title in Cesaro and Rusev and giving both of those guys a rub in the process. Good stuff all around. 

3) The Champ Stands Alone…Confidently?!?– This week Brock Lesnar continued his destruction of the Authority by taking out Kane after previously taking out J & J Security. This set up the showdown between Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins well in that now, theoretically, Rollins is all alone to face Lesnar. In the process, however, I felt that Rollins cut his best promo to date in that he claimed not to be afraid of Brock Lesnar while also rediculing  Kane.  He  also, correctly, pointed out that while Lesnar had gotten better of all of his past challengers, he never did get the better of Rollins. I felt the end of Raw did a good job in setting the stage for the Battleground main event and a number of possibilities moving forward. If Seth Rollins proves he doesn’t need anyone and defeats Brock Lesnar retain the championship, he’s a made man. If Brock Lesnar wins back the championship and Triple H doesn’t come out to help Rollins or fails to help when he does, this starts issues between Rollins and Triple H. Lastly, it’ll be interesting to see where Kane goes from here after being verbally undressed and humiliated by Rollins to end the show. 

4) Stardust Returns- While I was surprised to see Stardust return as a heel (presumably to continue his program with Stephen Amell), it was great to see Stardust back on Raw for the first time since the untimely death of Dusty Rhodes. I thought Stardust cut a great promo to hype his return prior to his match with Neville and seemed incredibly passionate. It was nice to see him get such a warm reaction from the crowd and it’ll be interesting to see just how long WWE will be able to keep Stardust a heel. 

Closing Thoughts

Overall, I think Raw was a really good show, perhaps the best since the Raw the night after Wrestlemania. The show did a good job in building towards Sunday’s Battleground and even beyond. It’s interesting to note that with only Smackdown remaining before the Battleground show, Dean Ambrose (who’s main evented the past two pay per views), Cesaro, Rusev and the Divas are not on the Battleground show. I’m sure some will be added but since Battleground is, likely, part of the larger Summerslam picture, it’s ok not to have everyone on every pay per view. 

That’s going to do it for me but I’d love to hear your thoughts on tonight’s Raw. Until then keep your eyes pealed for a new Daily Spotlight in the morning, updated Tough Enough power rankings prior to tomorrow’s show and a whole lot more right here on thedailyspotlight.com!

The Spotlight On WWE Raw Live 05/25/2015

This pas Monday night WWE Monday Night Raw was held live at the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, Long Island New York for the final time ever.  While the show probably doesn’t rank on my top live shows of all time with the likes of the Wrestlemanias or Royal Rumbles I’ve been to live, this was really a lot of fun.  It was such a nostalgic show for me filled with memories of the many times I had been at the Coliseum before.  Rather than doing a usual live thoughts on the show, I’m going to instead some thoughts on the live experience which will be intertwined with some highlights from the show itself.

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The Live Experience–  The last few events I’ve been to live for WWE have all been pay per views, with the exception of  Raw on my birthday (October 6th) in Brooklyn.  I will say the way that they have the merchandise truck set up outside of the arena with streaming videos of the outreach that WWE does is great and gets you really excited for the show.  As far as merchandise for the show they only had shirts for the superstars who were at the show like Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, The Bellas, Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Kevin Owens, Ryback and of course John Cena.  I really liked this because there may be fans that want to get a Brock Lesnar shirt or a Triple H shirt but this guaranteed that the guys people bought merchandise for were on that show later that night.  The John Cena “US Champ is Here” shirt was the most popular superstar shirt I saw purchased with Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose right behind him.  However, for me the coolest piece of memorabilia that I saw, and bought, had to be the commemorative final event at the Nassau Coliseum T Shirt.  They also did a great job in making sure that the live crowd was never bored during commercials by playing never before seen video packages which included some of the music stars who performed at the most recent Wrestlemanias talking about their Wrestlemania experiences as well as video highlight packages from the past.  In particular they showed the famous Stone Cold Steve Austin “Austin 3:16” promo from the King of the Ring 1996 and the crowd said every word in unison along with Austin, it was so cool.  The matches taped before Raw (I believe for Superstars) featured Adam Rose taking on Heath Slater and Harper & Rowan vs. the Meta Powers.  I’ll say this Mandow & Axelmania got some of the best reactions of the night, the people love them.  From there, before the show started we were all treated to a surprise appearance from Vince McMahon who talked about the history of WWE at the Coliseum and mentioned how he thanked every superstar who had ever competed in the ring and all of the fans who attended over the years.  It was a touching tribute to the Coliseum and while I wondered if it may have been even cooler to have Vince come out at the end of the show, his appearance at the start made the crowd get into the show right from the start.  At the end of the night, it was really cool to then see a main event for the live crowd pitting Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt.  This was cool because neither man was on the show and I don’t believe we’ve ever seen that match before.  Both men also worked very hard getting the steps involved as well as the announce table.  Orton won the match to send the crowd home happy and to finish the final match in Nassau Coliseum’s history.

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First Shows are always fun– One of the really cool things about this show for me was that I got to take my girlfriend’s brother to the show and be there with him as he took in his first wrestling show and had a ball doing so.  He saved up his allowance money and went to town ordering everything from a Dean Ambrose T Shirt, WWE Pop Toys and the souvenir cup.  He really enjoyed checking out the different cameras around the arena trying to get on TV.  Then after the show, he was excited to wait and see the superstars as they left while pointing out all of the different production trucks in and around the arena.  I’ve been to a lot of WWE shows throughout my life but will never forget my first and I’m glad I was able to take him to his first show.  It’s always amazing to see just how much goes into a WWE production of Raw.  There are so many people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make that show work.  For an example while waiting to watch the superstars leave, we saw a number of (I’m assuming interns) who ran to the lot to retrieve the different cars bring them back down into the tunnel and then run back up the ramp to get the next car, they did this time and time again.

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Memorial Day- As always the packages that WWE showed for Memorial Day were really well done and classy as can be.  This really felt like one of the more patriotic shows as everywhere you looked someone was holding an American flag.  Just next to us there was a family that brought a huge flag with them that stretched across four people.  It was really nice to see and the whole show just made me feel patriotic.  I’ll point out that wrestling fans have come a long way.  There was not a single person to interrupt the ten bell salute or not take every Memorial Day tribute very seriously.  I used to go to shows all the time where people would do What chants during the national anthem and it’s nice to see the crowd showing respect.  This almost made me wish there was a WWE event nearby ever memorial day or fourth of July, perhaps atop the USS Intrepid?  Any one?

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The John Cena US Title Open Challenge- Another week, another great John Cena US Title Open Challenge that I found to be the highlight of Raw.  Everything about this segment from the time John Cena’s music hit to the time he was laid out by Kevin Owens, this segment was great.  Say what you will about John Cena but whether you love him or hate him he elicits a reaction like no one else.  The crowd was louder than they were anyone save for maybe Dean Ambrose or the great Lana-Rusev segment earlier in the show.  I thought it was really cool for Zack Ryder (who is beloved in Long Island and who people were chanting for all night long) to get the shot at Cena and the people who are complaining about the way Ryder was used, really shouldn’t be.  Ryder was brought out to the ring by the cast of Entourage for a US Title match against John Cena in his home town at the last show at Nassau Coliseum and got to hit his finisher on Cena, He was not going to win the US Title nor should he but, in particular, with John Cena giving Ryder the rub this may have been the rebirth of the Ryder character.  It’s funny because Kevin Owens came out from the back corner of the arena just a few sections over from us.  I thought his attack on Cena was so well done and already, whether or not Owens defeats Cena on Sunday, this is a great introduction for him and great exposure for NXT.

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Closing Thoughts

All in all I thought this was a really fun show that had a hot Nassau Coliseum crowd there throughout the show.  The show did a great job in building the Elimination Chamber pay per view as it should have done being that it was the last Raw before that show.  Every match from Neville-Dallas to both Chamber matches to Cena and Owens was built up over the course of the show and made that show Sunday out to be a can’t miss show.  I also really liked the continuing story between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose throughout the show as it reminded me of the old Austin-McMahon stuff from back in the day.  In the end though it was fun to be a part of the final show in Nassau Coliseum’s history and to take my girlfriend and her brother to show.  I was able to point out different areas of the building and show them where I graduated and even take them around the town after the show to show them the different areas near Hofstra that I used to go to while I was a student there.  It was a fun night that I’ll remember for the years to come and another memory to long list of memories I’ve had at the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.

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The Spotlight On WWE Payback 

  
WWE Payback was presented live tonight on the WWE Network and on pay per view from Baltimore, Maryland. The show kicked off a four week stretch for WWE in which they have four different live event pay per view style events on the WWE Network with WWE Payback, NXT Unstoppable (Wednesday night at 8PM  EST), the Elimination Chamber two weeks from tonight and then Money In The Bank on June 14th. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of WWE to say the least. With that said lets get into the highlights of tonight’s show in chronological order. 

For those looking to avoid spoilers Id stop reading now as the show has already aired. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I’d suggest going out of your way to watch the show. The show was a lot of fun with no match being bad & everyone making the most of their time. With their only being 7 matches I felt that every match got time to develop & kudos to the superstars & divas who did the most with that time. 

 1) Ziggler vs Sheamus- Lets be honest the build for Ziggler & Shemus has been a bit silly with all of the kiss me arse stipulations. The truth is the kiss me arse stuff just isn’t necessary as these guys have good to great matches every time out. Tonight was no exception as the two gave 110% and had a great match to start off the show. The finish where Ziggler legitimately spilt his head open by head butting Sheamus & taking a Brogue Kick was brutal. Since each guy got a win I actually hope they are both kept out of the Intercontinetal title match at the chamber & we get a rubber match.   2) The New Day Vs Kidd & Cesaro- To me this was the second best match on the show as both teams looked so strong. All four men worked so hard to put on an exciting 2 out of 3 falls match. The New Day are also continuing to do a great job in their role. Having the New Day go out there and trying to encourage the Baltimore Orioles to finally win a World Series, made them even more hated in Baltimore and was a great way to utilize the players in attendance. I just hope that Kidd & Cesaro stay together as a team. They are both so strong in the ring & should be big single stars but have worked hard to perfect their tag craft that they’ve become an integral part of the tag team division. I personally can’t wait for the tag team elimination chamber match.   3) The I Quit Match- I figured that the finish here would have either been Lana quitting for Rusev or Lana in on it with Rusev all along and the two getting one over on Cena. In the end, Lana did in fact quit for Rusev but I didn’t take it that she was screwing Rusev at all. Rather, I took this to mean that she was actually in love with Rusev and couldn’t stand to see him suffering in the STF, I could be completely off by the way. Regardless this match was great! Total brutality that you would expect to see in a match blowing out off the feud, as I assume this was the end. Both men came off strong in that neither man quit and, as unpopular as this may be, John Cena continues to have great matches week in and week out while helping to make younger stars shine so kudos to him. The only thing I thought was a bit off was that I would loved for one guy to get a clean win & thought Rusev winning by knock out would have been cool as that’s how the feud started. Regardless if Cena winning means more Open Challenges than sign me up because those have been great.   4. What a Main Event!- I do these chronologically but if I had to pick one match that stood above the rest it would have to be that main event. There was so much that went on in that match, it was just so much fun. Even though I feel some of the interferences make Rollins look weak, WWE is doing a great job in making him absolutely hated in that he continues to find a way to keep the title. (Though I will say that this has to be the end of whether Kane is going to turn because he’s made it clear he’s loyal to Triple H).  Moment of match for me had to be the shield reunion and the return of the triple powerbomb through the table. (Especially since it was at Payback last year when the Shield had their defining win, as a unit, in sweeping Evolution) It was also nice to see Ambrose & Reigns going at it without one turning on the other. As we saw in the shield documentary these guys are friends & so it would make sense for them to work together and then admirably go at it. I felt this was another strong showing for Reigns, who’s gotta be winning over even his most passionate of haters at this point. In the end Orton is the right guy to take the pinfall here as he’ll always be a bonafide main eventer, so it’s good to protect Reigns & Ambrose. 

Closing Thoughts

Overall this was a really fun show with a strong main event that had everyone I was watching with jumping with every near fall. I try to limit these posts to three or four highlights but if I extended it to one more I would have added Wyatt & Ryback, those guys also worked hard especially with Ryback pulling out a version of a frog splash. In the end they also had me excited to see where they go from here and interested to see who Rollins and Cena defend their respective titles against in two weeks at the Chamber. However, before we even get that far, the guys & gals on NXT have one helluva show to follow. I can’t wait!