The Standard of Refereeing In Wrestling – An unusual WWE house show experience.
What follows is an account of a rather interesting exchange I heard between 2 fans at the WWE Raw house show in Newark, NJ back in August. As far as I could tell, they were deadly serious…
Let me set the scene: It is a beautiful day in New Jersey, thousands of WWE fans are queuing outside New Jersey’s Prudential Centre for the evening’s Raw house show and some guy is trying to sell his ticket to people outside the arena for 50 bucks. Good luck with that one, brother.
It is my first WWE live event for over a decade. The last time I went to a wrestling show the Attitude Era was in full swing, Vince hadn’t been forced to tap out by a giant panda and my favourite wrestler, Shawn Michaels, was on the verge of becoming the first ever Grand Slam Champion. Kudos to anyone who can name the ppv which I attended in the 1990s from the above information! Anyway, my mood and expectations were somewhat different before the Newark house show. I was looking forward to seeing some of WWE’s new breed in action, with the likes of The Miz, Sheamus, Evan Bourne, John Morrison and Zack Ryder on the card. Ok maybe not so much Ryder, but you see my point. What I was not expecting was to be sitting behind 2 fans (grown men might I add) who definitely fell into the caterogry of ‘It’s still real to me, dammit!’ and were very vocal about their feelings on the standard of officiating in the WWE these days.
The 3rd match of the evening was The Miz vs. Evan Bourne and I had earmarked this one as a potential show stealer. AWESOME!!! As Miz’s entrance music hit the crowd went nuts. A good mixture of cheers and boos could be heard, not dissimilar to the kind of reactions The Rock was getting in the late 90’s. After a short promo in which Miz had the crowd in the palm of his hand and managed to convince me that he really was going to be the next big thing, the match got underway. The in ring action was very good and the crowd were getting quite caught up in all the nearfalls etc. when Alex Riley nailed Bourne with a cheap shot behind the ref’s back. What followed was an exchange which I will not forget in a hurry.
The 2 guys in front of me were rooting very loudly for Bourne all match and were absolutely incensed when Riley blind-sided him and started to boo loudly. Good for them, they’re clearly getting into the spirit of the match, I thought to myself. Then they both turned to each other and just yelled:
‘It’s a disgrace!’
Riley’s cheap shot had clearly caused major offence to these guys. They spent the rest of the match bemoaning the fact that the ref had become distracted until one made the following suggestion to the other:
‘Why don’t they use video replays, ya know, like they do in the NHL.’
‘Yeah, that’d be great, the standard of refereeing has been declining steadily for years now, those officials need some help.’
They were 100% serious. The next 5-10 minutes were filled with an intense back and forth debate about how Vince McMahon should introduce video refereeing and I believe they came to an agreement on using a system much like the one used in Tennis, where players are granted a limited amount of challenges to official decisions in a match. Good work guys.
Both of these men appeared to be in their late 20s and also seemed to have been wrestling fans for a considerable number of years judging by their conversations throughout the event. I have no idea how the fact that it is scripted has eluded them for so long but a part of me kind of wishes it had eluded me as well.
That part of me quickly stopped wishing when I saw them go nuts after Sheamus retained his WWE title in a steel cage match against John Cena thanks to a huge assist from The Nexus!
Happy Holidays All!