The post-Wrestlemania Monday Night Raw crowd is generally the best of the year. It basically consists of all the die-hard fans that came out to see the Showcase of the Immortals the night before, with most of the mommies, kiddies, and casuals filtered out for a more intimate setting, at about one-fourth the audience size from the stadiums ‘Mania fills. It is unlike the crowds that WWE brings in throughout the rest of the year in that it draws out the real fans; people who buy tickets not because they like or enjoy wrestling, but because they are passionate about it.
This crowd following Wrestlemania 29 was especially raucous, perhaps even topping last year’s cries of Daniel Bryan’s “yes” all night. Of all things, they wanted to make sure they made themselves heard loud and clear to WWE that they wanted Dolph Ziggler as champion. (and apparently that they love Fandango’s theme music, too.)
Throughout the title rematch that featured Alberto Del Rio defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Jack Swagger, the crowd clamored for Ziggler, and after Del Rio won but clutched his ankle in pain, and as the audience roared ever so more for Dolph, it became apparent that not only might we be, but we had to be moments away from him cashing in his Money in the Bank contract for that title match. WWE has been known to not come through, but no way here, right? Thankfully, after months of teases, Ziggler finally did cash in that briefcase.
For whatever reason, I have always felt that the Money in the Bank should be cashed in the way Rob Van Dam did it, which was basically: “I’m cashing in at the pay-per-view. Be there.”
However, if it is going to be cashed on by surprise on a downed champion, Dolph’s is the way it should go, where even though it is apparent the challenger will win, the reigning champ puts up a hell of a fight and sort of a mini, unexpected match to at least make us think twice. It was good booking, Del Rio sold it well, and Ziggler was amazing in victory and celebration.
Let’s also not overlook that WWE was smart to wait until Raw. Sure, the exposure by all the extra eyes on Wrestlemania would have been nice for Dolph, but that Del Rio/Swagger story needed an end point on its own at the big stage considering how personal they made it, whether it was entertaining or not. Not only that, but knowing that the Raw after ‘Mania houses such a heel-loving crowd that the best possible reaction would have been that night and that night only.
Overall, and I will be the first to criticize the product when something is done poorly, I believe that this was a job well done by WWE. So rarely does it seem that they look out for the true fans who have and will stick with the business, but allowing Dolph to win the World Heavyweight Championship in front of the only crowd that would cheer him as heavily as we do at home wasn’t only awesome for him, but it was a nice little love letter and a wink and a nod that they know we’re still here. I feel you have to appreciate that.
That, and of course the excellent television and wrestling in the main event that we are about to embark on that we hope lasts us long throughout the summer. After an amazing title win, here’s to an even better reign.
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