After attending back-to-back nights of WWE television, I'm exhausted, but I'm also thankful that I had the opportunity to do so. It was a lot of fun, and it's something I would love to do again when I have the chance. You experience so much that you wouldn't get to if you were just watching on television, but that number grows exponentially when you're sitting up close and personal like I was lucky enough to be.
I've already written a column about getting to witness Seth Rollins have a night for the ages, but with over seven hours of events that I sat through in two nights, I have a lot of non-Rollins thoughts to talk about. Some of these thoughts will be about things that took place off-camera, and some of them will be about things that everyone got to see at home, but they will all be things that have crossed my mind as I sat there in my seats and witnessed everything that took place in front of me. I'll try to keep things in as close to chronological order as I can. Here we go...
1. I owe Finn Balor an expensive Lego set, and I brought it upon myself. At one point during the Gauntlet Match on Raw, Finn was sent to the outside and landed right in front of me. As he sold his pain, I leaned over the guardrail and told him that I would buy him some Legos if he got back up and fought back. In case you're unaware, Finn is a gigantic fan of Legos, and has said that he enjoys putting Lego sets together as a way of winding down. Anyway, I said it to him, not even really expecting him to do anything more than possibly look at me and maybe crack a smile or something. Instead, he turned his head to look at me, and while still selling pain and agony, asked me which set I would get him. I told him that I would get him whatever set he wanted. As he got back up and began making his way back to the ring, he turned to me again and simply said "Millennium Falcon", then got back in to continue the match. It was a fantastic moment, right up until I pulled out my phone during the next commercial break, and searched for said Millennium Falcon Lego set on Amazon, seeing the price tag of $800. I am a man of my word, though, so I will be getting in touch with the man about getting it for him.
2. I challenged Curtis Axel to a match at WrestleMania, but that coward didn't accept. During another spot in the Gauntlet Match, Curtis Axel was right in front of me. Without saying a word, I pointed at myself, then at him, and then at the WrestleMania sign. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that I was challenging him. In case he was too shocked to get it, I did the pointing rigamarole again. He refused to accept my challenge either time, and that was the end of it. I'm pretty sure that he's afraid of me, but hey, I was just trying to get him a bigger payday. Sure, he had his back to me when I challenged him and he didn't see any of it, but my point remains. I'm calling you out, Axel.
3. Cesaro nearly killed me with a t-shirt, and he could probably be a Pitcher for a Major League Baseball team. During the entrance of Titus O'Neil and Apollo for their match against The Bar, I held up a "Push Apollo Crews" sign (the sign was made before his last name was dropped, and there wasn't time for a change to be made). Cesaro saw my sign and threw his t-shirt at me as hard as he could. I happened to be looking to my right at the time, over at Apollo and Titus, while Cesaro was on my left. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an object flying at me and turned just in time to get smacked by the shirt, which then flew back and smacked my wife. It felt like I was shot with a BB gun. If you missed it on the show, I even sold it like I was shot, slumping to the ground before finally struggling back up. Just a freakishly strong throw from a freakishly strong human being. At least we got to take the shirt home, so I guess that's something positive out of nearly being murdered on live television.
4. It's hard for me to believe the "Women's Revolution" will ever truly be accepted because of how some male wrestling fans act. During the six-woman tag match on Raw, I heard Paige receive numerous taunts and chants from male members of the crowd. I don't think any of them were loud enough to be heard on air, but let's just say references to different porn sites, Xavier Woods, Brad Maddox, and semen were made. During the match itself, I heard multiple taunts from males in the crowd about how ugly they think Ruby Riott is, how big Bayley's butt is, how any combination of two women in the ring at any time should kiss instead of fight, and how sexy they think Alexa Bliss is. I get that women's wrestling isn't everybody's cup of tea. I'll be the first to admit that there are some pretty bad women's wrestlers out there (more on that later), but there are also some pretty bad male wrestlers, too. It just stuns me to hear some of the stuff that comes out of the mouths of some of these fans during matches and segments involving women. There are plenty of female fans that are huge fans of the way guys like Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, etc look, but you don't hear their nonsense at live events. You might see some vulgar tweets from these women, sure, but it's not like they're yelling about Balor's dick during a Raw main event, you know? We've come a long way towards accepting women as equals in wrestling, but my goodness, we still have a long way to go.
5. The person who is writing comedy for AJ Styles needs to be fired. If you've seen AJ on things like Xavier Woods' UpUpDownDown YouTube channel, you would know that he is a pretty funny guy. He has a good sense of humor, isn't afraid to make himself look silly to get a laugh, and is generally different than the cool character he often plays on television. Why, then, would someone in charge feel the need to write jokes for AJ to use on television? The "Kami" stuff he used with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn was painfully bad. The line this week about Sami being a boil on Owens' back was another in a long line of jokes that Styles has said that didn't exactly get a crowd reaction. If you're unfunny in real life and funny on television, I understand that. If you're funny in real life and unfunny on television, someone is screwing up and being paid a lot of money to suck at their job. Just let AJ be himself already.
6. Bobby Roode, Randy Orton, and Jinder Mahal feuding with each other is the stuff of my nightmares. Sitting through Jinder's WWE Title reign was bad. Really bad. I don't care what anyone says... Jinder is still tough to watch in the ring, and his promos are just as bad. How do you make that worse? By having him feud with two guys who are on my personal list of wrestlers that are solid in the ring but don't do anything to make me care about them. I don't particularly want to watch Randy Orton or Bobby Roode wrestle, nor do I particularly want to hear them cut promos. Now that these three men are feuding with each other, we'll be getting a bunch of matches and promos with all sorts of combinations of them, and it's like I'm living my own episode of Swerved.
7. Sarah Logan has no business being on the WWE main roster right now. This isn't about her looks, sex appeal, or particular body part, so don't worry. I've been paying close attention to the main roster runs of the women in Absolution and Riott Squad, just to see how they handle what most would call random call-ups from NXT. I think Ruby Riott is more than ready to shine on a bigger stage. Sonya Deville is still green, but her character is something unique for the main roster (until Ronda Rousey arrives, that is). Mandy Rose isn't ready, but she has come a long way in a short amount of time. Liv Morgan lacks in-ring skills, but more than makes up for it with a character that commands your attention, much like Alexa Bliss when she first got started. Sarah Logan, on the other hand, still goes through the motions looking less like a pro wrestler and more like what someone would look like if they were pretending to be one. Her selling borders on comical most times, with her arms flailing around and her body staggering the same no matter what move she was hit with. Her Kentucky Knee finisher might be the worst in all of wrestling right now. You know what the weirdest thing about her is, though? When she was known as Crazy Mary Dobson on the independent scene, she wasn't bad at all, in my opinion. It's like she went to the Performance Center, trained there for a year, and became an entirely different wrestler... just not in the way she's supposed to. I want to like her. I really do. I just haven't seen any reason to yet.
8. AJ Styles might not enjoy his long hair as much as some people think he does. After AJ made his entrance for the main event of Smackdown, the show cut to a commercial, so he had some time to kill. He left the ring and went around ringside, shaking hands with fans, hitting them with the "Too Sweet" hand gesture, and generally talking it up. After he hit my wife and I with a "Too Sweet", he moved two people to my right, where a fan that many of you will recognize was standing. The fan is in the front row of damn near every WWE event, it seems. He has really long hair and looks like a young Peter Steele (from the band Type O Negative). Anyway, AJ walked over to the fan, shook his hand, and immediately started talking about the fan's hair. Young Peter Steele's hair looks like he takes tremendous care of it, as there doesn't appear to be any split ends, it looks to be very shiny almost, and is very evenly groomed. AJ mentioned that he wants his hair to look like that, but instead, he has hair that is a mess. He went on to say "Even now, my hair is already in my mouth", which made everyone around us laugh. He talked about how much of a hassle it can be, and by then, it was time to get back in the ring for the end of the commercial break, so that was the end of the talk. Just a little something to think about when you look at the mane that AJ sports. I wish I had those problems. When my hair gets long, it doesn't grow down. It grows out, and then it gets curly, giving me a curly afro of sorts, but now, this is turning into an entirely different type of column, so let's get back on track.
9. Shinsuke Nakamura seems to be having a blast these days. He didn't compete on Smackdown, but he was in the dark match main event, teaming with Bobby Roode to face Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. His entrance went normally, but when he got in the ring, he did the thing where he starts heading to one side of the ring, only to turn back quickly to the other side to do the "YeaOh" pose against the ropes. This time, as he was walking to one side, he immediately turned back and ran towards us, nearly bumping into the referee (I believe it was Mike Chioda, but my memory isn't 100% sure on that). At first, it looked like an accident, but then you quickly realized that he did it on purpose, to prank the ref. Chioda (let's just go with that) grabbed his heart as if to say Nakamura nearly scared him to death, and they both had a big laugh. Fast forward a bit during the match, and there was a big "we want tables" chant from the crowd. Owens, being the master heel that he is, kept hopping off the ring apron and flipping the announce table over in an attempt to prevent any table spots from happening. As he'd go back on the apron, the ring crew would flip the table back over, and Owens would just run back and toss it again a minute later. As he's doing this, Nakamura is trying his best not to laugh out loud, but he isn't very successful. Then we get to the post-match shenanigans, with Nakamura and Roode celebrating in the ring. Roode begins walking to a turnbuckle to pose for fans, but then Nakamura goes to the center of the ring and begins to do the "Glorious" pose. As the fans yelled "Glorious", Roode turns around, sees Nakamura, and Nakamura begins laughing again before rolling out of the ring. Then, as both of them are going around ringside and talking to fans, Nakamura is graciously signing autographs, giving hugs, and not only posing for pictures, but he's taking people's cameras and taking the pictures selfie-style with anyone who asked. He just seems to really be enjoying himself, and it's great to see. In another Nakamura-related note... you know how everyone thinks it sounds stupid when WWE announcers call him "Shin" on commentary? Well, everyone does it, apparently. During the dark main event, Mike Chioda would call him "Shin" when doing his job and asking if he wants to give up during submission holds, etc. When Bobby Roode needed a hot tag, he called for "Shin" to tag him in. It still sounds weird, but I guess it's acceptable now. Maybe. Perhaps.
10. Sitting in the front row spoiled me. Call this a "humble brag" if you want, but I don't know if I can go back to not sitting in the front row for WWE events again. I've had pretty good seats to shows before. I've had front row seats to a few different independent events, and have had really good floor seats for WWE shows. I've never had the pleasure of being dead center in the front row on the hard camera side before this week's shows, though. It was too much fun for me to go back to sitting further away. Just look at the things I mentioned in this column alone. If I wasn't in the front row where I was, I wouldn't have had the encounter with Finn Balor. I wouldn't have been on television getting mollywhopped by a t-shirt that Cesaro threw at me. I wouldn't have heard AJ Styles having a conversation about his hair with Young Peter Steele. I wouldn't have been able to challenge Curtis Axel to a match at WrestleMania, only to have him refuse. Coward. If you ever have an opportunity to get front row seats, even if it's at a house show, I fully recommend doing it. It's certainly not going to be cheap, especially if you're going to a televised event, but it's an experience that you won't forget. I fully intend to find a way to be sitting front row again when WWE returns here for the Royal Rumble, and maybe I'll see if I can swing front row seats for the NXT Takeover special the night before, too. I guess that all depends on how much that damn Millennium Falcon Lego set damages my bank account.