Huracanrana and I are fortunate peeps, both because we live in a hub of independent wrestling (Tampa, FL), likewise within walking distance to a terrific venue well suited for bigger stage offerings.
Thus, we had little excuse not to attend WWE’s Monday Night Raw earlier in the week.
Disclaimer: if you’re looking for a piece overly critical or sanctimonious about the WWE, this is not the place. We take pride in promotion objectivity.
I will state this, however: the WWE are presentation maestros. Sitting in the upper level, one has a bird’s eye view of the incredible pageantry and symbiosis with fan interaction that is the WWE live experience. It’s a beautifully orchestrated interchange – albeit with too many commercial breaks at times – that provides both emotional and psychological high and lows, in a terrific staccato rhythm.
Moreover, the fans – per above – are vital to the experience. They parrot talent mic work via chants, gasp at dramatic events, and are amazingly louder than the ear busting entrance music billowing throughout. They’re also very kind to each other, playfully dogging as favorites rise and fall.
Thus, the live, in-person experience is one of holistic presentation, where the wrestling match is akin to a conductor at an orchestra. Moves are married to crowd interaction also lights, smoke, and everything occurring from entrance ramp to announce table. A technical or powerful move sequence serves as a crescendo to an all encompassing and occasionally overwhelming live experience. A ‘good’ or ‘bad’ match, to the live event participant, is determined by its ability to mesh with experience symbiosis. Attendees are encouraged to take it all in.
Ergo, amazing is the stark contrast that is the live television experience. Simply put: Monday Night Raw on television is an entirely different show. Emphasis is now on momentary exuberance, of facial expressions, of quick encounters plus kayfabe. Camera switches averaging every 3 seconds ensures a spotlight only on those engaged in current combat…except in the rarest of instances (to signal an impending interjection into said match).
Perhaps even more striking is the contrast in ‘good’ or ‘bad’ match between venues. Almost like watching The Muppets with one’s children, the in-person and television viewer are having entirely different experiences. They’re simultaneously missing key caveats of the alternative presentation, thus satisfaction deduced from near disparate aspects.
To explain: There’s literally two versions of every match occurring simultaneously for in-person and television viewers. I can only imagine the difficulty in crafting storylines and matches capable of serving both masters!
This became glaring when comparing notes with those who watched this same Monday Night Raw on live television. Matches we viewed as highlights in-person…were seen as average to our colleagues viewing at home. Thus, ‘good’ and ‘match’ determinations were amazingly in reverse, depending on viewing venue.
As could be expected, the elitism of ‘being there’ – of firsthand experience – initially dismissed these alternate views. That is, until we watched the same event, on recorded television, the following day. It was astonishing how different the two experiences were…even having watched the entire show the night before (and knowing the outcome!).
Having amassed a sizable collection of DVDs/BluRays of our favorite promotions, we revisited the duality of the WWE viewing experience. Some promotions deliberately attempt a similar discrepancy, other to mirror the live experience at home…or in reverse. At the end of the day, the director/editor make this call.
Of course, WWE budget and technology literally afford them the opportunity and flexibility to create two universes of the same planet. Still, this realization is eye opening, to say the least.