'WWE Monday Night Raw’ remains a hit in Baltimore - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

‘WWE Monday Night Raw’ remains a hit in Baltimore

It was a wedding gift Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella will never forget

The lovebirds were being serenaded with a deafening chant of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” by the capacity crowd attending “Monday Night Raw” at Baltimore Arena on April 21 when Stephanie McMahon, the WWE’s chief brand officer dressed in a red dress accentuating all of her curves, ruined their moment.

She informed Bryan he’ll put his title on the line against the demonic Kane at next month’s pay-per-view, Extreme Rules.

What happened next caused many to jeer: Kane turned Bryan upside down and drove him headfirst into the ground with his trademark tombstone piledriver as Brie ran for her life.

Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan

But that wasn’t enough. Kane did the same move atop steel stairs, causing paramedics to rush to an immobilized Bryan.

“This-is-awesome,” a portion of the crowd chanted, apparently wanting Kane to pretend Bryan was Ben Roethlisberger.

Kane continued to feed the crowd’s appetite for carnage by knocking Bryan off the gurney so he could deliver one final skull-crusher to the champ atop the broadcasters’ ringside table before paramedics whisked him away.

“Kane, you bastard,” McMahon yelled.

Was Bryan injured? Of course not. But who cares if wrestling’s fake? Certainly not the millions who watch World Wrestling Entertainment programming every week who or subscribe to its monthly service to access every match ever scripted.

Baltimore continues to be a frequent setting for WWE’s drama, where the company’s biggest star – John Cena –  had half the crowd chanting “Let’s go Cena!” while the other countered with “Cena sucks” as he fought three guys in the main event.

For four hours, the WWE owned Baltimore. The Orioles’ win over the Red Sox had long been over. The Ravens wouldn’t make a draft pick for weeks. It was a cool, crisp spring night and downtown was abuzz as a line of fans snaked around the arena while ticket scalpers and street vendors hustled at every corner.

Brie Bella

Brie Bella

The scene of older men sporting Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage T-shirts alongside soccer moms in Cena shirts next to teenagers in Triple H gear is becoming quite common in Baltimore, which is hosting WWE events with greater frequency.

After spending years mainly hosting smaller WWE events, Baltimore Arena broke throughby landing pay-per-views in 2010 with “Extreme Rules” and in 2011 with “Tables, Ladders & Chairs.” Since then, wrestling has returned with weekly shows “Monday Night Raw,” which is the longest-running episodic TV show in history, and “Smackdown” every few months.

“People underestimate Baltimore’s position,” Frank Remesch, the arena’s general manager, said. “We are in a top 30 touring city in the U.S. and we often get overlooked because we are between Philly and D.C. It really comes down to our support.”

There’s no debating Baltimore rich wrestling tradition.

Consider:

  • It’s where “Superstar” Billy Graham took the title from legendary champion Bruno Sammartino in 1977, ending one of the most storied reigns in the industry’s history.
  • It’s where, a decade later, Sammartino, who would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, wrestled for the final time, partnering with future Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan in a tag-team match.
  • It’s where Ron Simmons became the first African-American to be recognized as a world champion, defeating Vader in Word Championship Wresting (WCW) in 1992.
  • It’s where basically anyone who’s anyone has wrestled, be it in WCW, WWE (or its predecessor WWF) or National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).

But more importantly, what’s next for WWE in Baltimore?

“Monday Night Raw” is returning on Sept. 8, but it’s time for something bigger.

How about WrestleMania?

wrestlemaniaWrestleMania 31 is slated for Levi’s Stadium, the home of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., on March 29, 2015, with the 2016 event booked for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

So how about M&T Bank Stadium in 2017? It’s not as crazy as you think.

If 75,167 packed the Superdome in New Orleans for WrestleMania 30 a few weeks ago, WWE should have no problem selling out the comparable M&T Bank Stadium, especially considering fans from all 50 states and more than 30 counties were in attendance in The Big Easy.

Santa Clara had a high of 63 and a low of 50 on March 29 of this year. Baltimore had a high of 60 and a low of 50 on that day, so weather isn’t an issue.

Baltimore has the infrastructure, with the convention center, which would host WrestleMania’s interactive fan experience, just blocks from M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore Arena, which would host the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on the eve of WrestleMania, is just blocks away from the convention center.

Those three venues are surrounded by bars, restaurants and hotels that would love to cash-in on the $100 million economic impact wrestling’s biggest event brings to a city.

Now, are you – and that includes you, Stephanie McMahon – a believer, hon?

 


About the author

Jon Gallo

Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game. Contact the author.
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