This Monday gone I had the pleasure of popping my live wrestling event cherry by attending Monday Night Raw in London at the O2 Arena. Now, readers of this blog, friends of mine and Twitter followers will know how much I’ve been getting into wrestling and WWE since last year so you can imagine how excited I was. Technically my first live event was this years Royal Rumble (I’m guessing that 80/90s pay-per-views don’t really count…) but to see it all go down in the flesh? Excited was an understatement.
I was kindly invited to join what was an annual boys night out by my boyfriend’s friend who had also managed to score us some VIP tickets. An hour later in the VIP bar and we were watching Mr Excitement himself John Laurinaitis roll into the room Zack Ryder, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, Sheamus, the Bella twins, Teddy Long, David Otunga and Alex Riley for autographs and photos. Now, on television, these guys don’t exactly look small but its not until you see them in the flesh that you realise just how big their physiques really are. For all the arguments about it not being real due to written story lines and fixed outcomes, these men obviously work extremely hard to maintain a level of fitness that allows them to do what they do. And their performances in the ring did not disappoint either. It’s not until you see a match in person that you realise just how physically demanding and energetic they are. My respect levels certainly increased a notch after Monday night.
I don’t need to recap the details of Raw, most of you wrestling fans will have seen it! But seeing it all happen before your eyes with a live crowd has such a buzz that you don’t get from other live events. The crowd were electric and the reactions to CM Punks entrance, the reveal that Chris Jericho was in the building and Daniel Bryan’s entrance and eventual win over Kofi Kingston can only be described as insane! As was my fangirl scream during the after show dark match when my personal favourite Cody Rhodes appeared. All I can say is sorry to my boyfriend and his friends and I promise next year I’ll be more restrained… Raw aside, here are this months current wrestling musings…
#10) ALEX RILEY
Entering this months Top Ten on sympathy reasons, Riley gets this month’s ‘Person I Most Want To Hug Out Of Sympathy’ award for two reasons. Firstly, for putting up with chants of ‘WHO ARE YA?!’ during the opening dark match. Secondly, for blatantly hearing this exchange between a young boy and his Dad in the VIP bar during a quiet moment; ‘If I put a hat on him can I pretend he’s John Cena?’.
#9) BRODUS CLAY
Whilst other wrestlers have been growing on me, one is failing to make any positive impact and that is Brodus Clay. I really hope WWE are going to take his character somewhere because it is running the risk of becoming stagnant incredibly quickly, if not already. it wouldn’t be so bad if he could throw some moves but every week he appears clumsy and half hearted. It’s embarrassing that his two dancers aren’t even in time with each other each week. Either take him off the air to get his skills up to scratch or drop the gimmick completely and move on.
#8) ZACK RYDER
‘WOO, WOO, WOO! We know it!’. Whilst it’s great to see Ryder back, I wish he’d go all bad guy on Eve and give that Hoski the hard time she deserves after she cost him his Wrestlemania moment. Broski’s before Hoski’s, Zack! Oh, and, good luck trying to avoid Kane…
#7) SUPER SMACKDOWN SHOW
I adored the Super Smackdown show that aired the other week and loved seeing some of the old school legends come back to shake things up a little for the current crop of wrestlers. Being a big Million Dollar Man fan, I was content just hearing his infamous laugh but it was also entertaining to see Cody Rhodes have a lisp-off against his father Dusty, Sgt. Slaughter back in the ring, Roddy Piper giving Daniel Bryan a verbal bashing and seeing Kane floor Randy and Cowboy Bob Orton. Great stuff.
#6) DANIEL BRYAN
One word, three times. ‘YES! YES! YES!’. Enough said.
#5) KOFI KINGSTON
If there’s a wrestler that’s been growing on me since I started watching WWE it’s this guy. No one else in the ring is as aerially accomplished as Kingston. His drop kicks are some of the best I’ve seen since Mr. Perfects and his rope jumps and dives are always clean and precise. There’s no other wrestler delivering this consistency with the type of moves he does every week. Keep it up.
#4) JOHN CENA
Whilst the highlight of this year’s Wrestlemania was The Undertaker versus Triple H, The Rock versus John Cena came a close second and it was brilliant seeing Cena make sure that The Rock worked hard to secure his victory. Cena completely won me over with his passion and there’s no denying that in the war of promos, John totally beat Dwayne to the ground. I can’t wait to see where this new feud with Brock Lesnar will go but I’m sure we’ll see Cena back on top in no time.
#3) CHIEF JAY STRONGBOW
This month sadly saw the passing of wrestling legend Chief Jay Strongbow. An active wrestler since 1947, Strongbow would continue to have a career in the ring until 1985. Even after his retirement he continued to work for the WWE and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994. RIP.
#2) CODY RHODES
Ignoring my little crush on the guy completely, Cody (along with Kofi Kingston) is another wrestler that is consistently delivering the goods week after week. Lineage aside, Rhodes has the talent and technical ability to go far and have a long career in his own right. Whilst he may have lost the Intercontinental Champion belt to Big Show (lets face it, it was obvious Big Show wasn’t going to go home empty handed at Wrestlemania), Cody has bought back some credibility to the belt which hasn’t had much of a spotlight on it compared to the others in the past few years. A young wrestler who will go far and deserves to.
#1) OWEN HART
Major kudos of the month has to go to Mick Foley for his nod to the late Owen Hart in last weeks Super Smackdown show which saw ‘Owen Hart’ become the number one trending topic on Twitter (not that WWE will admit it…). Now those of you who are going to say that people need to forget about Owen because he was always going to be overshadowed by his older brother Bret need to step aside. The Hart family in their entirety are famous and respected for the wrestling achievements and history, not just those of the Hitman. Owen was a good wrestler in his own right and displayed a technical ability and execution that I’m struggling to see in quite a few of the current crop of wrestlers. I understand that the debate surrounding his death is a complex and sensitive one and completely sympathise with his widow’s strong stance against the WWE. I hope that in time, this will change and that she will allow the company to use his likeness and sincerely hope to one day see him inducted into the Hall of Fame. It most certainly will not be closure for the family but I dream of a day when they, his fellow wrestlers and the fans can publicly celebrate, acknowledge and remember his career.