Kendall and I attended last night's WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Sprint Center, along with Crap Archivist Alan Scherstuhl. I'm an old school fan from the days when Jake "The Snake" Roberts tried to wipe the smirk off "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase's pampered, ugly mug. Hell, I even stuck with them through the Doink the Clown years. And though I admit that recent shows have been less than compelling, any chance to see The Undertaker chokeslam someone must be taken. He is to pain what Bob Dylan is to music.
The crowd snaked from the doors to the tail of the semi trucks parked along Truman Road when we arrived. Viewed as a whole, you can tell professional wrestling does not attract "fashionable people," which is a good thing for reasons that we don't need to go into now. The crowd also provided us with the only real unplanned scare of the show. We figured out pretty quickly that most of these people had tickets and were standing in the ticket buyer's line for no reason. We tried walking to the doors without arousing suspicion, but a security guard started screaming about the entrance being somewhere else, and we started to run to beat them to the gate. As soon as they saw us running, they figured there must be a reason and should probably run too, and for a moment we were being chased by 1,000 chubby legs.
"We almost started a stampede," Kendall said when we were secure in line.
The Sprint Center was surprisingly full (possibly even sold out) considering ticket cost and the shitty economy. Then again, it's only two weeks until the Super Bowl of pro wrestling, WrestleMania, so you have a good chance of seeing something really vile happen. Most weeks, the bad guy wins, which is fine with me, because the idea is that if you keep coming back, sooner or later the bastard is going to get his comeuppance and you don't want to miss that when it finally happens.
In this case, the rule held true since legend hater Chris Jericho confronted the great Ric Flair. Jericho, who has been a pretty big dick lately, mercilessly beat bloody the old man, methodically stripping off Flair's clothes and smashing him in the face with television camera. The culmination of this was removing Flair's gold watch and stomping on it while the former champ lay prostrate before him.
"Not his watch!" Kendall recoiled in terror.
"His grandson probably gave him that you son of a bitch!" I added. "The emotional value is priceless!"
The 60-year-old Flair later needed 11 staples to close the wound in his balding head. Let's see Tom Cruise put himself on the line like that to promote a movie. It apparenlty didn't do much for the woman in front of us though, who loudly complained about having to sit through the event with all this "white trash." At this point, the sadly snobbish among you may be mocking how stupid this wrestling thing is, though if you're doing that, I don't know why you've bothered to read this in the first place. Because yes, clearly larger than life characters settling their disputes with acts of brutality and performing soliloquies that focus on themselves and their antagonists physical and spiritual weaknesses have no place in the history of legitimate theater. Stop reading now and go do something ironic.
Sorry about that. OK, back to the show.
Other highlights: There were two touching tributes to the military men and women serving in the Middle East. These videos of our nation's finest were apparently cues to take a bathroom break or buy more really big nachos since the fans cleared out as soon as one played. The second featured a message thanking the WWE and the soldiers from former President George W. Bush. The mere sight of Bush elicited thunderous boos -- even more jeering than the maniacal Randy Orton, who dropped Triple H's wife, Stephanie, on her head and kissed her while a handcuffed Triple H could only watch. Then Orton hit him with a sledgehammer. I'm going to repeat that again, just to be clear: To wrestling fans, George W. Bush is worse than a sledgehammer molester.
If you really cared about this show, you would've seen all of this on cable last night. But what you missed was the final main event match. The Big Show had challenged The Undertaker to a match to prove to his wheelchair-using paramour that he was a man worth loving. Personally, I think it was a mistake. There's one rule in the WWE, and it's that you don't ever, ever, pick a fight with The Undertaker. The guy's undefeated at 16 WrestleManias. He's buried people in casket matches, crippled Shawn Michaels for five years and threw "Mankind" Mick Foley off the top of a steel cage. He's pure evil. But, no, of course the Big Show wanted the Dead Man, so guess what happened? Even with the forgone conclusion, I have to admit this match was somewhat lethargic as was the rest of the evening, and I have to wonder if they were trying to save themselves so close now to the big pay-per-view. Undertaker won by locking Big Show between his legs with one dirty claw on his face, forcing the giant to tap out.
Overall, it was a good time. Maybe not quite worth the cost of the tickets, but I'm not going to miss an opportunity to watch The Undertaker hurt someone. And if the goal was to get me hyped for WrestleMania, mission accomplished. I can't wait to see Chris Jericho and Randy Orton get their comeuppance. It's going to happen, and I want to see it.