The WWE made a high-profile pit stop on theRoad to WrestlemaniaFriday night when it invaded Madison Square Garden for what is known as a “house show.”
A house show is a live WWE event that isn’t broadcast on television. The performers provide entertainment solely for those who happen to be “in the house.”
And last night’s show serves as proof that sometimes the best WWE events aren’t the ones you see on TV. Unhindered by commercial breaks and taped segments, WWE house shows give the performers a chance to take their time and show off their true range of talents.
Last night, the MSG crowd saw that range of talent and a whole lot more, brother.
The highlight of the night was an elaborate tribute to Hulk Hogan, who was honored by a cavalcade of pro-wrestling legends. Famed WWE manager Jimmy Hart (a.k.a. “The Mouth of the South”) kicked off the proceedings, followed by an appearance by two of Hogan’s most famous associates from his days in the New World Order faction: Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.
But before they could continue, the Garden shook with the strains of “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” which meant that the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair was in the house. For the rest of the night, you couldn’t go more than a few seconds without hearing a fan yell out “Woooooooo,” which is Flair’s famous catchphrase.
After Flair delivered an emotional tribute to Hulk Hogan, Triple H emerged with a Madison Square Garden executive who, after being savagely booed, announced that the Garden would honour Hogan’s legacy by installing an honorary banner in the rafters.
I speculated that one of the bad guys, otherwise known as “heels,” might interrupt the ceremony and disrespect Hogan and company, but the segment remained completely free of scripted angles. Even Triple H, who currently performs as one of the company’s top heels, broke character and showed genuine appreciation for Hogan. This is what’s known as a “shoot,” which occurs when performers break character.
However, the “shooting” ended with the Hulk Hogan tribute. The rest of the night was filled with exciting matches featuring the roster’s A-list talent. Top draws like John Cena, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, and Seth Rollins filled the card, which entertained the crowd for more than three hours.
Speaking of Rollins, I’d previously assumed that we might see “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart at the event. Rollins and Stewart are embroiled in a kayfabe feud, but alas he did not show. However, Stewart did suggest he might be in attendance at the next taping of “Monday Night Raw” this Monday in Newark, New Jersey.
Superstars like Chris Jericho have often vocalized their preference for house shows over televised events because of the freedom the performers have to try out more exciting maneuvers and “high spots” without the time constraints of live TV.
Last night provided hard evidence as to why the performers feel this way. TV tapings may have more prestige and visibility, but house shows are almost always guaranteed to be more fun.
Here’s the full card from the event:
Bad News Barrett defeated Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler in a triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship.
Tag Team Champions Tyson Kidd and Cesaro defeated New Day.
Divas Champion Nikki Bella defeated Paige.
Chris Jericho defeated Luke Harper.
John Cena defeated US Champion Rusev via disqualification.
R-Truth defeated Fandango.
Randy Orton defeated Bray Wyatt.
In the main event, Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns defeated Seth Rollins and Kane.