Earlier this year I took my 7-year old son to his first wrestling matches. It was a great show featuring a mix of talented local guys with some wrestling legends who still know how to put on a good show. It was a fun evening and a perfect warm up for what was to come as I had already bought him tickets to WWE Payback.
I think I should drop a little personal history before I get into our trip. There was a time when I was a huge wrestling fan. I loved the fun 80’s wrestling, the bad early to mid 90’s wrestling, and the massively popular late 90’s to early 2000’s wrestling. I used to go to shows every chance I got and I loved every show I ever went to from tiny gym shows to WCW house shows to Wrestlemania. In fact the last show I went to before this year was Wrestlemania 17 in 2001, and even though I absolutely loved that show, at some point not long after WM17 I burned out. I can tell you what happened on shows and pay-per-views all through the 80’s and 90’s, but I have almost no clue what happened between 2002 and 2014.
That’s actually turned out to be a good thing. I got a fresh start without all the baggage that comes with being a wrestling fan on the internet these days. I actually enjoy watching for the fun of it without trying to over analyze everything. Sure there are some things I don’t like about today’s WWE, but for the most part I’ve enjoyed it since hopping back on board with Summerslam last year.
Now fast forward to May and WWE Payback in Baltimore. I was actually pretty pumped to be at my first big show in almost 15 years. Sure, Payback is no Royal Rumble or Wrestlemania but these “Sunday Night Raw” shows as some people call them can be just as fun, and being at Payback this year was a real blast.
It didn’t come across so much on TV, but the crowd was really loud and pumped, maybe more so than at any Attitude Era show I attended and that era is famous for excited live crowds. The New Day Sucks chants started out on the street before the doors even opened and lasted throughout the night, well after New Day retained their tag titles against Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (who the crowd loved).
Charlie, my 7-year old, was in awe of everything about Payback from the huge Titan-tron (is it still called that?) to the pyro, and of course to seeing John Cena live in person. Now I know Cena gets plenty of hate and I’m not the biggest Cena fan in the world, but I think he can really work (did you just see Cena vs Owens?! Those two rocked!) and I have no doubt Cena loves the business. I also think he’s good for business. He is the reason my son watches and he may make a lifetime fan out of Charlie.
Speaking of Cena, Charlie and I both liked his match at Payback. I’m a Rusev fan and though he lost I thought they both put on a fun match and Charlie absolutely loved it. That kind of match is made to please kids like him and sometimes I think we grownups forget we aren’t the only ones who watch wrestling. I also think we forget that we might enjoy it more if we just let it be as fun for us now as it was when we were kids.
It should be obvious by now I’m not here to give a complete run down of Payback, but I will add some notes on things I noticed.
I mentioned New Day being way over and getting some great heel heat as well as Tyson and Cesaro getting some great noise from the crowd, but Macho Mandow got a nice pop on the pre-show and Ziggler really got some cheers too. Bray Wyatt, who is one of my favorites, got the crowd behind him, but they were also chanting Ryback’s “Feed Me More” really loud even though he didn’t quite get the pop Bray did. Pretty much everybody in the main event got a big pop with Ambrose and Reigns both receiving some massive cheers. Seriously, both of those guys are way over and I thought people were hating on Reigns these days. The live crowd sure loved him and they went nuts when he teamed up with Ambrose to take on Seth Rollins together for a bit.
Charlie liked Ambrose and Reigns too so it was fun to be able to cheer for the same guys for once, and even though it ended kinda quick and on a downer for Reigns and Ambrose, they’ve both kept the ball rolling in their favor and I can hope things keep going that way as I have really enjoyed watching all three former Shield members become some of the guys the WWE is building around.
As for myself and Charlie, I’m looking forward to continuing on with the WWE. It isn’t the wrestling that I grew up with, but that’s ok. It can be the wrestling that Charlie grows up with and I am glad to go along for the ride.