WWE Raw Live: A night among wrestling nuts in Brooklyn, New York

A visit to WWE Raw with a pro-wrestling virgin

Around three minutes before the doors of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, are due to open, the crowd outside had reached fever pitch. Chants of "let us in" are being wailed by the hundreds - maybe thousands - standing outside. Men, women, and children of all ages, draped in t-shirts bearing their favourite wrestlers and holding replica championship belts wait in the freezing cold until they're allowed inside. A bemused passerby asks, "Is there a pop concert on tonight or something?" Nope, this crowd is here for WWE's weekly live show, Raw.

This isn't my first live wrestling event, so I'm reasonably certain of what to expect, yet I'm blown away once I make it inside the Barclays Center. As well as the many food stands, serving pared-down menus from some of Brooklyn's most well-loved favourites (including the excellent Fatty Cue) there's a branch of the Fellow Barber, for anyone who just has to have a haircut and wet shave before shimmying along to MGMT or cheering on the Brooklyn Nets.

I've brought along a friend who claims to have never watched wrestling in his entire life, so I'm ready to do a lot of explaining, but I also fear that he may not enjoy it or even find himself bored. I shouldn't have worried at all. By the time we find our seats, he's fidgeting with excitement. The atmosphere from outside has carried on into the arena, despite scores of empty seats as people still make their way in. "This reminds me of Liverpool vs Cardiff", he says.

Some crowds are more highly thought of than others by wrestling fans, due to the atmosphere of the shows in that city, and Brooklyn is known as home to some of the loudest and rowdiest. That's certainly the case tonight and they're making their presence felt as Raw goes live. A four-way bout kicks off the show and an audience member behind me is in danger of peaking too soon, imploring his favourite Superstar to first "break the legs" of his opponent, then pleading with him to "break his neck" and finally - just nine minutes into the live broadcast - to "kill him". That said, he's just one of the many passionate fans who are totally immersed in the action. Every pinfall is counted along to by the crowd and every clothesline is met with a distreíssed "oh!" - while the chants are increasingly loud as the night goes on. Hogan, perhaps the biggest star in WWE's 50-year history, is set to bring the red-and-yellow back to the sports entertainment behemoth and will host WrestleMania in New Orleans Hulk Hogan recently returned to the promotion (Picture: WWE)

The friend I've brought along sizes up the audience and points out that everyone sitting around us is disappointingly normal. I'm not sure what he was expecting, but he also points out that there's a lot of children here with their parents, which is true; it's unashamedly aimed at kids, though the WWE prides itself on being accessible to anyone. This factor is most patent when it comes to John Cena, the face of the company.

Every shot of Cena on one of the Barclays Center's huge screens is met with either jeers or screams of delight. Fans go back and forth with chants of "let's go Cena" or "Cena sucks" - the latter delivered at a much lower pitch than the former. On this particular night the majority of Brooklyn WWE fans are against the former WWE Champion and as such, are behind his opponent, Luke Harper. One of the moments of the night comes when Luke Harper and the Wyatt family are making their way to the ring, a huge number of the crowd clapping along to the theme tune and lighting up the dark arena with their mobile phones as if in a trance. It's an incredible moment and one which makes you realise that seeing a show like this live is all about the atmosphere, created by both the WWE's production team and the fans who've paid the money to get in.

In some ways that's both the beauty and the downfall of watching WWE Raw live: it's a TV show. It's well produced, everything is very slick and everyone knows what they're supposed to be doing, but it can feel like it's geared towards the viewer at home. There are multiple, frequent breaks which are unannounced in the arena, with the only indication it's an ad break being the lights, which are dimmed. You don't get the commentary that the fans at home get, either, but whether or not you see this as a negative is down to the individual. You're also at the mercy of the hard camera, so most of the action is pointed towards one side of the arena. If you're on the other side it can feel almost like sitting behind a stage while the actors face the audience, losing some of the nuances of the performance. Overall, a small price to pay for the atmosphere in the arena, but it can leave you feeling like you need to watch it all again when you get home, just to make sure you didn't miss anything.

Even without an appearance from Daniel Bryan, who a lot of the fans at Barclays Center were there to see, my friend came away impressed. Is he a WWE convert? Well, maybe - he did admit he's looking at tickets for the next time they visit Brooklyn, just a few months away.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect