The Spotlight On Monday Night Raw Tampa 1/2/2017

WWE Monday Night Raw just went off the air a few minutes ago, emanating live from Tampa Bay, Florida and I thought that for the most part it was a pretty good show. I know a lot of folks I spoke to believed that Triple H would be returning to television tonight with this being the first Raw of the New Year and Monday Night Football being finished, but I’m glad that he didn’t. Raw already had Goldberg promoted for tonight and so they already had the audience coming in with him and it makes sense to stagger out some of these bigger headline attractions. There was no reason to bring back Triple H yet and I actually don’t expect him to be back into the thick of things until at the earliest The Royal Rumble as we are still a ways away from Wrestlemania and the focus right now should be on the Royal Rumble and filling up that 60,000 seat arena at the Alamodome. I feel that tonight’s Raw did it’s part to kick things into high gear as far as the Royal Rumble is concerned and with four weeks left of television until that show, that’s a pretty cool thing. Let’s get right into my highlights of the show tonight.

Goldberg On The Kevin Owens Show
– The biggest promotion of the show tonight was all about the return of Bill Goldberg to Monday Night Raw. While I’ve really enjoyed Goldberg’s return to WWE over the past few months, he’s really only been involved with Brock Lesnar. This is clearly the big money match for Wrestlemania, or somewhere down the road, and there is still a lot to do between the two. That said, Goldberg has entered the Royal Rumble now and so it makes sense to see him in there with some of the other bigger names on Raw like he did tonight. I felt that Goldberg’s faceoffs with both Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns made them both feel like bigger deals and makes fans that are tuning in specifically for Goldberg, take notice of the Raw main event scene outside of Brock Lesnar, who isn’t there every week. There were people on twitter clamoring for Goldberg to destroy Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho upon coming out for the segment which I didn’t get at all. Owens and Jericho have been carrying Raw since Finn Balor’s injury and you don’t want Goldberg to come out an destroy all of their credibility that they’ve built up, instead, he enhanced it further.

BRAUN
!!!- Another big story coming out of Raw tonight was the continued push of Braun Strowman. This guy is really starting to grow on me and I think WWE could have their next monster heel on their hands here. Braun looked like a beast in his destruction of Sami Zayn (who may need to go to Smakdown) in their Last Man Standing Match and then even more so during the post match beatdown. His showing up and destroying everyone recently have reminded me of early Stone Cold Steve Austin (to a much less extent) in that he’s unpredictable and doesn’t give a damn. Braun showing up at the end of the night with the three top guys on Raw and Bill Goldberg brought him up to that level and established him as a real threat to win the Rumble. This was made even more apparent during the awesome double spear as it took both Bill Goldberg (the guy who took out Brock Lesnar in less than 2 minutes) and Roman Reigns to take Strowman out. Sami Zayn did a ton to establish Braun as this monster and it’s exciting to see where Strowman goes now that he’s past Zayn.

The Ratings War
– Last week for the first time since the brand split, Smackdown Live defeated Raw in the ratings. Tonight on Raw they actually acknowledged this with Stephanie McMahon returning and telling off Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho and Mick Foley proclaiming that Raw was now at war with Smackdown Live and that it was basically time to stop messing around. I thought this was real cool and added to the hostility between the two brands. Wrestling has always been better with competition and so it’s nice to see some internal competition within WWE. While it will never be the Monday Night War, there was legitimate competition between Raw and Smackdown within WWE back in 2002-2004 when Paul Heyman was overseeing Smackdown. Smackdown at the time was consistently better than Raw and would compete for better ratings with Raw from time to time so it’s good to see WWE getting back there.  

Match Of The Night-
Each week as we do these post Raw columns we’ll have one section reserved in the end for the match of the night. If you don’t have much time and can only see one match, this is the one that you will want to go out of your way to see. While Sami Zayn and Braun Strowman had a really fun Last Man Standing match, the best match of Braun’s career to this point, I have to give the nod this week to Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho. Jericho and Reigns had a really good match for the US Title with the stipulation being that if Reigns were to get counted out or disqualified then he would lose the title. This led to a good amount of intrigue throughout the match that maybe Jericho would find a way to weasel his way to the title. The best false finish came when Jericho channeled his inner Eddie Guerrero and threw the belt Reigns only to fall and take a bump while the ref’s back was turned. Of course when the ref turned around and saw Reigns with the belt in his hands and Jericho down on the mat, he would believe that Reigns laid him out. It was wild to see the crowd doing the YES chant over the potential of the title change but it was not to be tonight as Roman Reigns retained the US Title. I was a little disappointed as I was hoping we would get a few weeks of Team Kevin and Chris running around with both Raw singles titles and I don’t think Roman needs the US Title especially if he is in contention for the Universal title belt.  
That’s going to do it for me for now but be sure to come back tomorrow where I’ll break down the highlights of what looks to be a loaded Smackdown Live show. Also be sure to check out “The Rumble of The Royal Rumble”, a series in which I will look back at every Royal Rumble for each day of January leading right up until the 30th Royal Rumble on Jnauary 29th. Later today will be the third part of the series, looking at Royal Rumble 1990! 

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 Attitude Era Raw- 12/29/1997

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the spotlight on Attitude Era Raw where each week we continue our journey through every episode of Monday Night Raw that took place during the famous Attitude Era as listed on the WWE Network’s Attitude Era Raw section.  Remember the hope is to have these listed for you as you’re waiting for this week’s Raw so that if you’d like to wet your wrestling pallet prior to Raw, you can go back and watch this episode.  This week we journey back to December 29th, 1997 in which Raw took place in the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.  For what it’s worth, the Nassau Coliseum is my favorite venue to watch a wrestling show, at least it rivals Madison Square Garden.  I have been going to shows at Nassau Coliseum since I was all but five years old in 1991.  With that said, however, I hadn’t gone to any television tapings until the late 1990s so I was not present for this Raw taping. Regardless, this was a really fun and eventful episode of Monday Night Raw so let’s get right into it with the highlights of the show.

Highlights
1) Crapper 3:16-   The highlight of highlights on this show has to be the opening segment featuring the brawl between The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (Coming to a Do you remember section of this blog near you) and Stone Cold Steve Austin.  TAFKA Goldust comes out as the single most annoying character back then, dressed as the new year’s baby as this was the final Raw of 1997.  This leads to Stone Cold Steve Austin showing up and lowering a porta john from the rafters before throwing Goldust into said porta john.  It’s one of the great Stone Cold Steve Austin memories that I feel gets overlooked because it took place early in his run pre-McMahon feud but to me it’s one of my favorite memories of the Stone Cold character, well worth going out of your way to track down.
2) Jim Cornette’s Rant-  This is an interesting episode of Monday Night Raw because in many ways it’s a transition episode.  This being the final episode of 1997, a year in which WWF lost mostly every week in the Monday Night War and lost Bret Hart in well documented controversial fashion, this is right before the WWF started one of it’s most successful year’s in history, that being 1998.  Thus, in this episode you get a heartfelt thank you from Vince McMahon thanking the fans for sticking by the WWF and also to expect big things from the WWF in 1998.  Also on this episode, in a similar vein, you get a pretty controversial promo from Jim Cornette about the state of wrestling of 1997.  It’s worth taking a few minutes to check out and I’ve embedded the video for you guys above.
3) Shawn Michaels Vs. Owen Hart- The war between Sgt. Slaughter and D-Generation X continued this week as Triple H pulled out of his title match with Owen Hart, due to injury, only to have Sarge declare that Shawn would now have to defend his world title against Owen instead.  This is really a packed show as this was also the night that The Undertaker’s casket arrived to scare Triple H only to have Shawn pop out of the casket dancing to start the build for their match at the Rumble.  As for match quality, I’m trying to give you one each week and, even though there’s a screwy finish, it doesn’t get much better than Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart.  Owen was still super hot at the time as it seemed that perhaps he would be getting that major push towards the world title following the Montreal Screwjob.
Do You Remember…
Chainsaw Charlie?!?!?- This episode of Monday Night Raw won’t only be remembered for the great DX and Stone Cold Steve Austin segments, oh no!  This stacked Raw will also be remembered for the night in which Chainsaw Charlie made his debut.  If you don’t remember Chainsaw, this was the character portrayed by Terry Funk during the time period where Mick Foley (Now Cactus Jack) was searching for a partner to help him out in his battles against The New Age Outlaws.  So yes that man with the pantyhose over his face in the picture above is WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk!
Closing Thoughts
Overall, this was obviously a stacked episode of Raw that’s worth going out of your way to check out.  I really like that not only did they start to put such an emphasis on the Royal Rumble (In December) but they also started to cement some of the seeds for Wrestlemania that year, three months out.  It’s because of long term booking like this that midcard matches at Mania that year like Owen Hart Vs. Triple H and The New Age Outlaws vs. Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie meant so much more.  That’s going to do it for this week, I’ll be back early in the morning with the spotlight on this week’s Raw and back next week looking at the first Raw of 1998!