Raw with laughter Raw throat, raw Of the crowd, etc

Breakfast at the hotel finshes earlier on weekdays, meaning after Sunday's marathon we have to get up sooner than before to get our mediocre breakfast. There's really no variation on offer, but I'm glad to rehydrate more and the cinnamon danishes are still lovely.

There's not much planned for Monday. The only wrestling event is in the evening back at the American Airlines center (sic) - Monday Night Raw. Tickets say it starts at 1830 so there's a whole day to kill first. Nothing had been arranged other than to meet at the Sheraton at some point. So I write up Wrestlemania to the background of the SCIENCE channel on TV. Much like History in the UK, this channel is named after an academic discipline which many of its programme subjects do not cover. Hello, chupacabras.

Come 11am and word reaches us that Del and Wooj are in the bar having fat burgers, and we have a bit of a text chat about whether to go visit the JFK assassination stuff this afternoon. We're gonna join them but aren't ready yet and it takes us over an hour or so to become so. While getting ready I attempt to belt out the Wrestlemania theme song and my voice totally gives out in a way that makes us both roar with laughter. I'm croaky and crackly and broken and it's fantastic.

Our Uber is a jeep and without surge pricing, a revelatory $9 ride. The driver tells us he's going to Raw that night too, also that he knew Shaq would be at 'mania because he's his mate, having been to uni with him. We ask him where's good to drink before Raw and he tells us to go to a bar named Clutch, which is near the arena. "You guys want the hot chicks, right?" "Yeah, though we're not sure the hot chicks want us"

At the Sheraton, neither of the resident two are in the bar. So we grab a booth and order some beer. The lack of percentages on the menu gets to me again, as my opening drink of the day, before 2pm, is an 8.1% bad boy. Yowser. It certainly is an eye opener.

Del arrives, and none of us know where Wooj is. Eventually he strolls in and we are quorate. Another round arrives and we talk again about going to see JFK but, well, since the show starts at 6.30pm and we've been late before, I guess we want to get there for about 5.30pm which gives us only 3 hours or so and... fuck it, shall we stay in the bar rather than go to JFK? Yes, yes we shall.

This is a decision I forget about 2 hours later. One of my beers is called Fancy Lawnmower, which seems preposterous. And we go, oh! Predictions! Time to tally up. Reminder: we predicted who would leave Wrestlemania in possession of the belts, or in charge of Raw.

Ian wins!

I'm surprised to come joint second, because I would've sworn blind that I predicted a HHH win rather than Reigns but apparently not. We do argue about the Divas thing, since technically no-one left with the Divas title because it was retired, but that level of pedantry doesn't go down too well with everyone.

More beer. More martinis. We're not leaving here until it's time to go to Raw, clearly. I am totally in the mood to get drunk what with having failed to do so for the previous two days. The bar fills up. We get food, I have a Cuban panini which is allowed under my "no chips" rule. There is some debate as to whether the nachos I hoover up afterwards are in truth a healthier option.

Arteries, I clog thee.

Another surge-free journey, this time 4 men in an S-Type Jaguar that is not really built for this many people and our Ghanaian driver drops us off in the central lane of a busy highway. Seriously lads, just get out here. Um, OK then! It's next to the arena and there's a queue, hurrah! But it's tiny, like 30 people or so, and soon enough we're in and at the bar.

The cans of beer are OK, I guess. Ian thinks we can't take them in because there's a sign which says "No alcohol to be taken inside", wilfully ignoring the words immediately following - "after the 12th minute of the 3rd quarter, or during the 4th quarter". We are fine with these.

I'd been worried most of the day that, since we were all on part of a package deal, my seatmate from 'mania would be my seatmate for Raw as well. Somehow, despite loudly protesting that I'm gonna take the aisle seat this time I actually end up at seat 4 of 1-4, but happily there's only one empty seat next to me so it can't be that guy and his mate.

Just before the wrestling starts, two people turn up. Everyone shunts up but my seatmates are not the people I feared. No, they're the couple who had sat next to Del at 'mania and spent the whole time complaining and being arseholes. Also, the bloke is the size of all 4 of us. I am squished again. The others laugh their fucking heads off and I am sick of taking these damn bullets (of course, I'm laughing too - this is proper schadenforeman).

Warning: spoilers.

As we'd sat down the pre-show panel was taking place in front of us. We gurned like idiots, and before Raw there was a Superstars match where Kalisto, your US champion, fights Bo Dallas of the Social Outcasts. The outcasts are meant to be hated and awful but they're totally doing this New Day-esque turn where their entertainment value is sky rocketing, and the Bo Train gimmick is hilarious. Mind you it really helps that I have a proper buzz on after an afternoon of drinking. Kalisto is a face but no-one really gives a shit about him here.

No-one gives a shit about Ryback either.

Then we're told we're going to go live, worldwide, with Raw.. and there's another superstars match. But THEN Raw starts, and here comes Vince McMahon. The boss! He slags off the crowd and bizarrely gives control of Raw to Shane O'Mac for at least tonight, making us wonder what the fuck that stipulation at 'mania was all about.

The Raw after Wrestlemania is always the best episode of the year on TV and one of the things we've all been looking forward to the most. The crowd are loud and boisterous and mostly European, though the chants for "Sheraton! Sheraton!" and "Travel packages! Travel packages!" leave me a bit cold.

The WWE's pyro bill must be huge.

It's Vince, telling us he hates us! Hooray!

Shane's still alive then.

It turns out that, against everything we all believed, New Day are still the title holders because the 'mania match wasn't for the straps. This changes our prediction scores massively!

Wait, no it doesn't. We all predicted they'd leave with the belts, so everyone gets a point and Ian stays as winner - and is bumped to a >50% success rate. Give this man a booking job!

Charlotte tries really hard to deliver her speech in front of all the other women, but the crowd totally aren't in the mood to let her do so.

The huge man next to me asks what I think about things. I ask, does he mean tonight, or in general? He says "after last night"; I pause, and say "I can cope wth disappointment" which makes him laugh. Hopefully he'll not be the miserable bastard I'm led to believe he is. But later, when Reigns comes out, he turns to me and says "Roman's gay" in some knowingly perjorative way, and seems offended when I say I don't care. Bleurgh.

I'm having tons of fun and shouting a LOT. In fact, I'm probably as annoying as the bloke I ranted about at 'mania. Except of course I'm really funny and awesome and not remotely a dick.

Razor Ramon touches Ryder's belt, and it's almost genuinely touching.

Post-mania Raw always has some debuts of new folk, either totally new or up from NXT. Much to I think everyone's surprise, it's Apollo Crews that comes up. Like, what? The match against Breeze seems one of the most quietly received of the night. Is no-one else coming up from NXT? Oh, HELLO, it's Enzo and Big Cass!!!

How you doin'?

Their promo work is fantastic. We go mental in the seats, shouting along with the intro and then Enzo goes crazy. He's smack-talker skywalker with his mic saber, he has the gift of gab and the gift of jab, and so on. Absolutely hilarious and on point and a massive highlight of the night. I love Enzo and Big Cass and want to be them.

In an earlier segment Sami Zayn ran away injured. I head to the bar buying some craft beer because unlike Wembley or in fact any other arena or stadium I've ever been to, there's a mind boggling array of different beers available here. While there, I apparently miss that there's going to be a fatal 4-way number one contender for the WWE championship later that night. We're told that Zayn should be in it, but now isn't, so there'll be someone mysterious.

I'm totally convinced it'll be Cena until OH MY GOD CESARO IS BACK.


Time to dish out some European uppercuts mate.

4 man suplex is bonkers. Tower of power?

The main event is comfortably the longest and best match of the night. It's almost like it's a main event worth of main event status. Remember those? We go home happy and all the inconsistencies of the storylines can fuck off because they don't really matter at the moment, especially given how drunk I am.

Another long walk back to the Sheraton and 3 of us are going to grab a drink, while I Uber Ian a cab. It takes a while to arrive, which is good because just before it does Wooj and Del come out and say, fuck it, they're doing one-in-one-out at the bar and it's only open for about another hour anyway so let's not bother. Ian's Uber turns into an Ian and Darren Uber, and the surge pricing is up at 4x so it comes to fucking almost $30 for the same ride which cost us $8 earlier. Fucks sake!

The forecourt shop is open and I get a bunch of liquids but fail dismally to pay for Ian's stuff, succeeding only in dragging him out of the place in his own queue. D'oh. I'm quite drunk and the 5.9% can of root beer I just bought isn't going to fix that. I hope that come the morning I am less obnoxious.

Created By
Darren Foreman

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