North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

House Show: Notes on seeing the WWE live in Oshawa

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I’m not really a pro wrestling fan. I enjoy reading about it, I like the personalities and I follow it a bit here and there, but I’m not the kind of fan who sits and watches Raw every Monday night, let alone Smackdown or the minor leagues.

So when I went to a WWE house show in Oshawa last Sunday, I was glad to go with my buddy Eric, someone who does all of those and more. It certainly helped me figure out who was who.

 

Let’s backtrack a bit. I went to the show with my buddy because it was only $20 for pretty good seats, I’m always up for seeing something live and I’d never been a pro wrestling show before. In the past, I’ve dabbled a bit with WWE, but never to any real depth. More like I had friends who watched it, so I watched it with them sometimes.

 

Eric’s that kind of friend. I remember many, many lazy afternoons in the college newsroom, hanging out and him showing me wrestling clips from back in the day. Kind of an education, in a way: good matches, bizarre characters and the time a big egg hatched into a wrestling character.

 

It was his idea to go to the house show, too. On Sunday, we met outside the GM Centre and prepared for an afternoon of Sports Entertainment!

 

It was a good experience and one I’d do again, but it wasn’t quite what I expected, either.

 

The card opened with Bad News Barrett and someone named Neville; a day later, Barrett would be strutting around with a scepter and comparing himself to the royal baby, but on Sunday he was fairly restrained. Neville’s gimmick was “the man gravity forgot,” and his intro video showed stuff from outer space, which made me think he was an alien or something. Nope: just a lot of jumping.
Oh, the card! I’m not ashamed to admit I barely knew who any of the wrestlers were, but I did know a few names. Which was part of the reason I wanted to go: a few people I knew and enjoyed watching would be there. Like:

  • Rusev, the “Russian” guy who cut a promo praising Edward Snowden, so of course I’m going to think he’s amazing
  • Ryback, a super-built guy who’s catchphrase (“Feed Me More”) is amazingly direct and sounds like a command; I think I saw him chokeslam a line of people once, which was super corny but I loved it anyway
  • Charlotte, who is Ric Flair’s daughter, was a guest on Grantland’s Cheap Heat one time and one of the rising stars of the Diva division, which is where the really interesting talent is right now
  • Dean Ambrose, who I’d describe as looking like a normal guy – jeans, t-shirt – but who can move super-quickly in the ring and I guess his character is supposed to be crazy or something? I saw a RAW segment once where he visited a shrink for some reason.

I was also under the impression Lana would be there, since she’s Rusev’s manager and can cut a hell of a promo. Although someone came out dressed like her, they also left without saying a word, so who knows.

A bunch of the matches featured people I’d never heard of: Heath Slater, who had a Macklemore haircut and played air guitar; Damien Sandow, who entered the ring in a shirt missing both sleeves and sides; The Ascension, a tag team featuring imagery that’s suggests a cross between Satan and the Illuminati, with a dash of ancient Egypt.

 

One guy I’d never heard of, but left impressed by was Sami Zayn. The lone Canadian on the card, this guy’s a relative newcomer to the WWE – they didn’t even have a sizzle reel for him like they did everyone else on the card – but he’s been around in the minor leagues and I guess everyone knows him, since he got a huge ovation when they announced him. Back to my notes: he won on “some kinda flip thing.”

 

Speaking of the crowd, the tag team The New Day got the most heat, as they say in the biz. The crowd jeered them right from the get-go and even though I think they’re supposed to be faces (their intro video is basically a church choir singing their praises), they lapped up the booing and “New Day Sucks!” chants like total pros, even encouraging them after a bit. They were disqualified after everyone entered the ring to stomp on someone, so maybe they weren’t good guys after all. It’s a shady line.

 

They weren’t the only wrestlers to interact with the crowd – I remember someone else got into a yelling match with a fan, but I neglected to write down who – but it was limited to taunting, shrugging, etc. You know: acting, very physical stuff. And again: these people are total pros, able to raise a reaction with a well-timed shrug.

 

But there wasn’t a lot of my favourite part of the event: the promo. I’m a sucker for these, I love seeing people mock the crowd, taunt other wrestlers and toot their own horn. There wasn’t a lot of that on Sunday. Could’ve been the PA, but as Eric pointed out, they don’t really do that in house shows. After all, promos help push along the storyline and they only work those on Raw and Smackdown, generally.

 

Still, it was a fun afternoon. Wrestling is scripted, but so is The Avengers and you’d look like a fool for complaining about that. And when you get down to the brass tacks, you’re just arguing over different forms of entertainment. Everyone, even the guy Eric called a “jobber” were pretty good in the ring, jumping off the top rope, selling punches and flipping all the time, often with one arm being held.

 

And it’s not easy work. In the last match, when Luke Harper took on Ambrose – two characters I’d describe as crazy people and I don’t really get why one is a good guy and the other isn’t – the were banging around the ring and the stage. Tables, chairs and a big rod were introduced; scripted as it may be, getting smashed through a table isn’t especially easy on the body and both guys took a turn at it.

All in all, pretty fun way to spend an afternoon. I’d do it again, even if I’m still not really paying much attention to Raw or Smackdown.

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Written by M.

May 7, 2015 at 10:00 am

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