Minutes to Bell Time

I Was There – WWE Monday Night Raw

Chapter 8

I Was There – WWE Monday Night Raw (Washington DC)

Event:Β WWE Monday Night Raw – I Was There

Location:Β Capital One Arena

Date: March 9

Headline: 8-Man Tag Team Match: Seth Rollins, AOP, and Buddy Murphy vs. The Street Profits and The Viking Raiders

Miles from Home: 31.5Β Miles

I Was There - WWE Monday Night Raw - Marquee

Final Raw with Fans

When arriving at the Capital One Arena for this show, I didn’t expect it to be my last show of the week much less my last show of the month. This was the last televised WWE program with a live audience before all public gatherings were postponed or canceled. As people everywhere collect non-perishable goods and increase their television subscriptions, everything outside of your house has been canceled. The global spread of COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on our lives as social beings. As I write this column, WWE has run one Smackdown and one Raw from the WWE Performance Center. Both shows carried recycled pay per view content important to the build for this year’s WrestleMania. As for WrestleMania 36 itself, WWE has already announced that the show will go on from multiple locations on April 4th and 5th. Fans will not be allowed to attend.


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The number of cancellations across the sports, recreation, and entertainment industries is astounding. The big national wrestling companies will lose a lot of money, but independent wrestlers and small promotions will be challenged to survive. None of this can really be prevented, so all we can do is our best to be healthy and listen to the guidance from health professionals. If you have extra money, go to Pro Wrestling Tees, find an independent wrestler, and buy their shirt. Be safe everyone and hopefully you enjoy reading about the final WWE show with fans (at least the final show for a while).

COVID-19 Impact on this Series

Here is a current listing of canceled or postponed live shows where I purchased tickets and planned to report as part of this series.

  • MCW Spring Fever Night 1 – Postponed
  • MCW Spring Fever Night 2 – Postponed
  • AEW Dynamite Rochester – Postponed
  • WWE Road to WrestleMania – Madison Square Garden – Postponed
  • AEW Dynamite Newark – Postponed
  • AEW Dynamite Boston – Postponed
  • ROH Battlestar – Canceled
  • ROH Quest for the Gold – Canceled

Had I actually attended the above shows, this column might have expanded to twice per week. As of now, here is a listing of shows that have yet to be postponed or canceled that I plan to attend as long as they don’t get canceled. Some of the above postponed shows may also make the list.

  • Impact Rebellion – April 19
  • AEW Dynamite Philadelphia – April 22
  • Fozzy Concert – April 30
  • NXT Washington DC House Show – May 1
  • WWE Money in the Bank – May 10
  • AEW Double or Nothing – May 23
  • ROH Best in the World – June 19
  • Friday Night Smackdown – August 7
  • NJPW Dynasty – August 22 – Assuming I can get tickets
  • SummerSlam – August 23

Monday Night Raw

Back to the subject at hand. . .

The First Monday Night Raw and the Evolving Format

The first episode of Monday Night Raw occurred a little more than 27 years ago on January 11, 1993. Raw didn’t hit it out of the park in that first episode. It took them some time to hit their stride. Regarding the first episode, Dave Meltzer writes in the Wrestling Observer (1/20/93),Β “As a concept, the live show idea is good. This first show wasn’t.” He mainly points to the decision to put a non-wrestling person (Rob Bartlett) on the commentary team. Bartlett didn’t know anything about wrestling or the product. He mocked the wrestlers and the show. While a funny man on the radio, his act didn’t work on a wrestling TV show.

InΒ Totally Unauthorized 100 Things WWE Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, Bryan Alvarez refers to Raw as the “most important televised wrestling show in history.” Why you ask? Alvarez points to Raw’s longevity as the top show for the “biggest wrestling promotion that ever existed,” and I would add that it continues to pave the way for the rest of the industry. Just look at how television networks handle pro-wrestling these days.

The long term success of Raw (and then Smackdown) lead Fox to sign an enormous deal with WWE for the rights to broadcast Smackdown. Following WWE’s major contracts with Fox and USA, TNT become an amazing partner for AEW. Impact’s parent company Anthem was so high on pro wrestling that they bought the AXS network to put Impact on a better station in a good time slot. Faced with the prospect of competition in the marketplace, WWE struck a new deal with USA to get paid for a 2 hour weekly NXT show. This all happened in the third and fourth quarter of 2019.

The format of Monday Night Raw ebbs and flows with the time. It started as a live show, then it moved to being live only half the time, and now it is again 100% live. It has progressed from one hour to two hours to now being three hours. The changes all come in response to what competition dictated and what the market would accept. Who knows where Raw will be in 10 years. . . maybe it will eventually become a 24 hour broadcast on the USA network every Monday. Maybe USA gets renamed to RAW. No matter what happens, Raw is now and will continue to be the greatest television wrestling tradition in the country.


My First Raw

Before I write about the March 9, 2020 episode of Monday Night Raw, I feel compelled to say something about my own history with the show. While I have always watched pro wrestling, I didn’t have cable in the early days of Raw. I didn’t know about tape trading or pro wrestling newsletters. All I could do is watch WWF Superstars and anxiously wait for the pay per views to hit the local video stores. I do remember that one of my mother’s co-workers would occasionally tape the bigger pay per views on his VCR. I have no idea who did that, but thank you nameless tape provider as I watched the WrestleMania 10 VHS about 3,000 times. Cable television finally made its way to me in 1997, and Raw became appointment television.

Austin

The first Raw I ever attended in person was in Albany, NY the day after WrestleMania 14 (March 30, 1998). I was 14 years old and about as excited as one can be to attend a pro wrestling show. Stone Cold Steve Austin won his first WWF championship the night before with Jim Ross shouting the iconic line: “The Austin Era has begun.” At Raw’s opening Vince McMahon presented Steve with a brand new championship belt, they said I love you (they really did), and then Austin stunned McMahon. As Steve confirmed he planned to do things the “hard way,” Jim Ross let us know that Steve Austin would never be employee of the month.

DX

With Austin vanquishing Shawn Michaels the night before, the Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart era winged eagle belt was gone, but DX remained. Triple H took over leadership of the faction and added both the New Age Outlaws and a returning X-Pac to usher in a new era of DX. This new DX Army defeated Terry Funk and Cactus Jack in a cage match to end the night.

The Rock

Those two segments alone would have made Raw a super show, but that Albany crowd witnessed a turning point in the career of The Rock. After Farooq called him down to the ring for an “Ass whoopin,'” the two men brawled all over the ring until finally the Nation of Domination and WWF officials broke up the fight. With Rock retreating up the ramp, Farooq got back on the microphone to call him back to the ring. The Rock assessed the situation and raised his eyebrow. The Nation of Domination responded by turning on Farooq and crowing the Rock as the new leader of the Nation.

That first live Raw was incredible. I’m not sure I’ll ever go to another WWE show as impressive as that night.


Monday Night Raw March 9, 2020 – I Was There

So the good news is I love pro wrestling. The bad news is that Raw is far from the best wrestling show on television these days. The only thing this show had in common with that 1998 show I went to in Albany, NY was that both happened in March. As far as the wrestling goes, I didn’t rate any matches higher than a seven on this show. Since two of the seven matches lasted less than five minutes, I didn’t rate those at all. I don’t think anything caused me to stand up all night. Despite the average wrestling, this was one of the better nights for promos. These are the highlights for me:

WWE Women’s Division

WWE hasn’t featured their women’s division in the main event of Monday Night Raw in a long time. Well, Lashley and Lana did defeat Rusev and Liv Morgan on January 20th, but that feud hardly counts for anything. Having recognized the lack of female main events, I don’t believe wrestlers should covet the third hour of Raw. A huge portion of the audience tunes out. If not evident before the March 9th edition of Raw, this show proved that the women’s division is the best thing in WWE. I know we have Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania, but does anyone really find those stories more compelling than Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler and Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley.Β The promo work from those four women stole the show on this edition of Monday Night Raw.

While it may not have appeared completely obvious, WWE played to the strengths of their roster. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair can cut great live promos because they have five years of experience finding their voices. Their WrestleMania opponents, Shayna Baszler and Rhea Ripley, don’t have that experience. While they both have the capability of cutting good promos, they can’t compete in a war of words with Lynch and Flair. Understanding this, WWE wisely used pre-taped and edited video packages in place of live in-ring promos. Charlotte and Becky came to the ring and responded live to those promos. The interview segments were enjoyable and all four look like stars.

Becky Lynch Promo

This edition of Monday Night Raw came one night after WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay per view where Shayna Baszler ran through five opponents to earn her title opportunity at WrestleMania. This show kicked off with a great promo from Becky Lynch. Before Becky began her promo, she had WWE play a video package of Shayna’s work from Elimination Chamber. At the end of the package, Baszler addressed Lynch with a few intense words (called her a bitch).

In the span of about 30 seconds, The Man answered back firing insult after insult at Shayna calling her a “world class scumbag,” a “blackhole of charisma,” and the “constipated looking robot from NXT.” Lynch closed out the interview by saying, “Normal people like me don’t beat trained killers like you, except I did and I will again . . . You are discounting me, you are underestimating me, and I’m going to smash your face in for it”

Charlotte Promo

Prior to Charlotte’s promo, WWE aired a pre-taped package featuring an interview with Rhea Ripley on location at Raymond James Stadium (the location of WrestleMania). Charlotte’s follow up promo was great:

Ladies and gentleman, did you see that package? Meet Rhea Ripley, the next big thing, the new shiny toy, inspiring! I mean that package had me all fired up. You guys? So this is why I’m confused. Rhea – you said in order to be the best, you have to beat the best, Me. But you don’t want to be anything like me because you want to be yourself.

Make no mistake and don’t lose any sleep at night because I am going to make one point: You are not me, you will never be me, and there is only one of me. So you continue to be all shiny and the next big thing and enjoy all the hype that is surrounding you because its’ not going to last. I am here to remind all of you and Rhea why I am fighting for the NXT Women’s Championship and that is to teach you Rhea Ripley a lesson. It is one thing to stand in an empty stadium and talk about your hopes and your dreams, and it is another to stand in a stadium full of 90,000 people and be humbled by the Queen.

Rhea Ripley came to the ring, but Charlotte wouldn’t let her speak. “This is not NXT. This is Monday Night Raw, and this is my Kingdom. So you are excused.” Ripley then knocked her down with a punch and she left.

Asuka and Kairi Sane vs. Natalya and Liv Morgan

I mentioned before that Charlotte, Becky, Rhea, and Shayna stole the show with their promo work in the first hour, but I need to mention the promo work of Kairi Sane and Asuka. Neither one of them speak much English, but they stand in the middle of the ring and deliver these emotionally engaging interviews in Japanese. Their passion comes off as half comedy and half complete evil. They use just enough English to let us know what they’re discussing, and then they go back to screaming in Japanese. I love it. Their promo work is among the best in the company.

They then turn to having a match with Liv Morgan and Natalya. You could make a case that Asuka is the most valuable women on the roster. Whenever they need to give a champion or a challenger a big win before a program, they rely on Asuka. This particular match, with distractions by Ruby Riot and Sarah Logan, accomplished a few things as WWE positioned Natalia to continue a program with the Kabuki Warriors, and Liv Morgan can continue her program with Ruby Riot and Sarah Logan.

AJ Styles

AJ Style’s challenged the Undertaker to a match at WrestleMania, but the story of his in-ring promo was the use of ‘Taker’s real name (Mark Callaway). He also discussed ‘Taker’s personal life including his wife, Michelle McCool. While we all understand that Undertaker is a real person, WWE rarely acknowledges it so bluntly. The promo just made you turn your head a little. I’m not sure if it was good or bad, but it was something.

The Return of Edge

The highly anticipated return of Edge ended up somewhat uneventful. Edge didn’t say much, but he did get an RKO on Randy and a pair of con-chair-tos on MVP.

Monday Night Messiah

For months, the main event of Raw has been some variation of Seth Rollins, Murphy, AOP vs. Viking Raiders, Street Profits, Kevin Owens, and Samoa Joe. It switches from tag matches to six-man tag matches to eight-man tag matches, but its always these people. On this night, this crew took up the last 45 minutes of the night when you consider the Aleister Black vs. Seth Rollins match and the eight man tag. The match was fine, but the act is stale

Special Feature for the Live Crowd

While the television audience had to endure another Seth Rollins victory, the live audience got to see Drew McIntyre shut him up with a claymore kick. It was a pretty quick segment. He just came out, kicked Rollins in the face, and he grabbed a mic to thank the DC crowd. Drew is becoming an ambassador of sorts as we head toward WrestleMania.

Final Opinion

Everyone wrestling fan needs to go to a Monday Night Raw. Do yourself a favor though. If you’re one of the cynical people that hates WWE (I am sometimes), you have to get yourself in the right mindset. Check your ego, your predictions, and most importantly your expectations at the door. Let the show wash over you and appreciate it for what it is – a television show with some wrestling on it (in contrast to a wrestling show that happens to be on television). As time goes on, I’m starting to think of Raw as a television show closer to Glow (from Netflix) than it is to AEW Dynamite. If you don’t bring your negativity with you, I think the live show ends up being a lot of fun.

WWE Monday Night Raw Results:

Links

Recommendations and Tips

Commercials

Whenever watching a live broadcast of pro wrestling, the arena audience has to accept the existence of commercial breaks. Unlike when you’re at home watching on DVR, you can’t fast forward. In this way, the mid-match commercial breaks tend to work out best for the live audience even if the television audience is home curses. If the show breaks during a match, at least the live audience has something to watch. Having said that, the commercials make a good opportunity to get a drink, go to the bathroom, or head to the merchandise stand. This is obvious, but I’m always surprised by the number of people that do those things during the matches.

Travel to Capital One Arena

If you’re traveling into the DC area for a show at the Capital One Arena, I suppose it is important to remember that DC can be a nightmare for traffic. Unfortunately, the metro prices don’t really encourage you to use public transit. Your one way fare will be $5-$8, which means you have an equal fare going back. If there are two of you, then you’ve got $32 in train fare before you even consider parking at the train station (another $5 – $8). With no good train options where I live in Maryland, I always drive in and pay $30 to park in a garage right next to the arena.

If you do want to travel by train, that’s also convenient and easy. The Capital One Arena isΒ located near the Gallery Place/Chinatown station, which is on the Red Line, Yellow Line and Green Line. Gallery Place/Chinatown is also only one stop from Metro Center on the Red Line, which services the Orange Line and Blue Line. That means if you’re anywhere on the train line, you can get to the arena without issue.

One note of caution. Don’t assume your train ride is only 15 minutes. Check the schedules ahead of time. If you’re coming from outside the city (Maryland or Virginia), your train ride might be an hour. That’s good information to have if you’re trying to get somewhere on time.

Eating

I always like to eat pizza before watching live pro-wrestling. Since the Capital One Arena is just over 30 miles away, I try to go to as much wrestling there as possible. Eating at Matchbox has become the traditional pizza stop before going inside the arena.Β The Matchbox restaurant’s Penn Quarter location is an easy walk from the arena. The place isn’t too crowded, has a decent menu, and fairly good prices for the city. When we arrived before Monday Night Raw, we had no issues getting a table right away. I think we sat down a little before 5:30 and made it to the arena just after doors opened at 6:30, so you can count on them being pretty quick.

The pizza crust is on the thinner side, but not quite New York style. They’re also a little bigger than a personal size, so bring your appetite or plan on splitting one with a friend. My wife and I both had our own pizza and finished them. That was without appetizers or drinks. Anyway, its a good spot.

Venue for WWE Monday Night Raw – Capital One Arena

I took the below picture as WWE started packing up for the night. Capital One Arena is one of the nicer spots to see Pro Wrestling. Far more comfortable than Royal Farms (Baltimore) or Allstate Arena (Chicago). I would say it is pretty on par with Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia) if you’ve been there. Like all arenas, drinks and food is expensive. . .plan for it. Pro Tip – If you’re a soda drinker, you might want to go for a water instead. The water only costs $5, but the soda goes for about $10.

View From My Seat for WWE Monday Night Raw

I sat in section 211 for this event. Whenever I get up in the 200 level of the arena, I try to sit in Row A. In many ways sitting Row A in 200 is better than sitting high up in the 100 level. You can always guarantee that nobody will stand up in front of you. The seats provided a good view of the ring and entrance, so no major complaints.

I Was There - WWE Monday Night Raw - View from my seat

WWE Monday Night Raw:Β My Instagram Posts

The mandatory countdown posts before every show.Β Follow my Instagram and Twitter to see a lot more.

I Was There - WWE Monday Night Raw - Instagram 1Β Β I Was There - WWE Monday Night Raw - Instagram 2Β Β I Was There - WWE Monday Night Raw - Instagram 1

WWE Monday Night Raw Graphics

I Was There - WWE Monday Night Raw - Promotional Graphic

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