Thanks to Brian Reed-Baiotto for sending in these off-camera notes from last night’s RAW:
* A friend of mine works at John Wayne Airport in Orange County and he took a picture of the WWE jet parked at John Wayne. It’s only a 15 minute drive from that airport to the Honda Center up the 5 freeway. You can check it out above.
* Raw is about to start and Michael Cole’s music hits and he and Byron Saxton walk out to the announcer’s desk. Saxton was following Cole around like he idolized Cole, and Corey Graves was already at the table because he had done the two ‘Superstars’ matches with Tom Phillips.
* Enzo Amore and Big Cass’ music started off the show and it got loud. Amore came out and referenced old songs and then mentioned local baseball star Mike Trout of the Anaheim Angels, which surprisingly got a mixed, but loud reaction. Trout is extremely popular in Orange County, so hearing a lot of boos was odd.
The back-and-forth banter between Enzo-Cass and Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens went over very well with the crowd. The length of time that it took to do the promo and match seemed to catch the fans’ attention. By the time the match was done, 30 minutes of the show was already gone.
* After they went to commercial following the opening promo with Enzo, Cass, Jericho and Owens, many in the crowd seemed confused like “is this a match that’s going to happen now? Is it a tag-team match?” Anyway, when they went to commercial, for about 90 seconds, they all walked around in the dark and then one guy working ringside went up and handed Jericho-Owens mics, and then another man handed mics to Enzo-Cass. They did a funny back and forth for about another two minutes, in which Owens and Jericho would switch up the “how you doin'” to “how’s it going or how are you,” to which the crowd laughed several times. The two Canadians also worked in an “eh” a couple times to be more Canadian sounding.
* During a commercial after the Jericho vs. Amore match, AJ Styles music plays and the crowd was happy and stunned. He came out and said he was here because he was advertised before the brand split and that “Raw sucked as much as Anaheim.” He went on to say he came there to do what he does best and that was to “beat up John Cena.” Instantly, Cena’s music hit and the crowd erupted. When Cena got in the ring, Styles got the first several shots in, but Cena reversed Styles and dropped him with the AA.
* Cena and Styles got out of the ring area just in time for the show to go back on air and Braun Strowman came out and squashed a local wrestler from Anaheim in what seemed to be less than a minute, but the crowd still seemed into it.
* During the commercial, the W2K17 played and surprisingly, there was a loud and solid “Goldberg” chant.
* Both Titus O’Neil and Darren Young came out to almost silence. There was almost no pop for either, until Young got the win.
* Seth Rollins promo for his Summerslam match with Finn Balor was received well.
* The crowd was at its loudest when Cesaro and Sheamus had a great, back-and-forth match. There were several chants of “this is awesome,” after some of Cesaro’s athletic maneuvers.
* Next was a video package that highlighted the upcoming match between Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton at Summerslam. The crowd liked it and laughed when Lesnar said he “doesn’t give a f–k about Randy Orton.”
* The Dudley’s came out during a commercial break and waited in the dark. After they came back live, Neville and Sin Cara came out and entertained the fans with their acrobatic repertoire, and the Dudleyz seemed to get very little reaction.
* After the Lana-Rusev debacle, it took the ringside crew almost two minutes after they got back on the air to clear the ring area of all the cake and debris before Sasha Banks and Dana Brooke match could start.
* Banks got a really solid reaction after her win over Brooke.
* Mick Foley came out during a break and stood in the dark before they came back live and both Foley and Daniel Bryan were received well.
* The final match for TV between Rusev and Cesaro had the crowd invested throughout. Reigns’ spear of Rusev after his win over Cesaro looked legit and really got a loud reaction.
* After Raw went off the air, Randy Orton’s music hit and as he was walking in, Cesaro was walking out and they both nodded at each other in a sign of respect. Bray Wyatt came out to face Orton in the dark match that lasted somewhere close to 10 minutes and had a lot of back-and-forth, where Orton reversed the ‘Sister Abigail’ and hit the RKO for the win. It might surprise some to know that Wyatt had almost as much support and respect from the fans as Orton, who is back as a baby face.
* This Raw in Anaheim was 90-95% full, as compared to the last time they were there. I know some will say it’s because Summer Slam is just around the corner, but the last Raw there in Anaheim was a couple weeks before Wrestlemania, so the WWE should have been really happy, because that night it was 75-80% full at best back then.
* Many fans were talking about their disappointment that there seemed to be more promos and vignettes than actual wrestling matches. Balor wasn’t there, but did a video promo, Rollins was there, but only spoke in the ring. Charlotte was there, but didn’t wrestle, Rusev was out twice and so was Cesaro. Some expected to at least see Dean Ambrose in the dark match since he was supposedly there for his interview with Stone Cold Steve Austin. When walking in, some people hoped Austin would make a short appearance since they assumed he was in the Honda Center.
* Puff Daddy was in a backstage segment with the New Day and then twice more on the Titan Tron and he was booed heavily each of the three times, except for the part where the New Day came in when Puff Daddy was talking backstage with Foley.
* Some guy standing in the front row and leaning against the barrier that keeps fans out, was literally hitting on JoJo each time she left the ring after announcing the competitors for each match. She would look at him like “when are you going to give up, dude?” Any way, during the dark match, Orton threw Wyatt hard against the barrier and the same guy was literally knocked into his chair and made him sit down for the first time all night.
* Cesaro was by far the most appreciated act, and in fact, the crowd went crazy when Daniel Bryan told him he thought Raw was not utilizing him to the best of their ability in front of Mick Foley.
* The banter between Enzo and both Owens and Jericho was a highlight. You could tell how much their comedy/wit was appreciated and you could also see Jericho, Amore and Owens try hard not to laugh when the other said something funny.
* The little segment with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, in which they referenced Big E’s stones got a lot of laughs in the audience.
* Lastly, on the way out, you could hear a lot of cars honking their horns to the beat of “New Day Rocks,” so they are more over than they even know.
Tags: fan report, monday night raw, RAW, WWE