‘Surviving’ a WWE live event

Roman Reigns and Big E in the main event of WWE Survivor Series  

Lights, camera… and wrestle.

After decades of watching WWE icons like The Undertaker, Triple H and others on television, there I was, at the stunning Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, ready to witness the 2021 Survivor Series!

WWE’s tie-in with Netflix’s recent Red Notice sparked excited rumours of The Rock, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds being in attendance. Though this sadly didn’t come to fruition, several other celebrities and movie stars were among the spectators, the most popular of them being HBO’s Succession’s Kieran Culkin — he really is the most riveting thing on TV these days — who waved to fans from the Jumbotron’s big screen.

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, hosted the event

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, hosted the event  

A crowd of nearly 16,000 — most of them unmasked — engulfed the sprawling arena, under a psychedelic spectacle of lights, bangs and fireworks. This was exhilarating and terrifying all at once, as my double-masked self from India tried to come to terms with the new.. old normal (?) in another country. Those seated around me even found my levels of paranoia funny, especially when I politely — and wistfully — turned down beer and appetisers, unwilling to lower my N95 (I did manage to pick up a shawarma — how could I not? — from a downtown food truck later on in the freezing New York night).

Onto proceedings then. The kick-off pre-show featured a mini-concert and match between Shinsuke Nakamura and Damian Priest; the former won thanks to a disqualification result.

The actual pay-per-view opened with Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch taking on SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair. Easily one of the best matches of the evening, with two of the most gifted performers in wrestling history pulling out all the stops, this featured some spectacular moves such as the Top Rope Moonsault and Figure Four Leglock, but ultimately Lynch reigned supreme.

Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair

Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair  

Another exciting match-up pitted tag team champs RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle) against the Usos (Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso), which ended with a mid-air RKO from Orton, and the crowd going absolutely bonkers. Some of the loudest cheers were reserved for Orton, a true-blue legend of the sport, who at 41, still commands incredible technique.

Randy Orton in action

Randy Orton in action  

With the US having recently opened its doors to vaccinated travellers from other countries, the audience comprised people from various nationalities. Imagine my surprise when I suddenly heard Telugu slogans behind me.

During the course of the event, several video montages paid tribute to The Rock, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Dwayne Johnson’s WWE debut at the 1996 Survivor Series. Cue “Rocky! Rocky!” chants throughout the arena every half hour.

Finally, the start of the main event — between WWE Champion Big E and Universal Champion Roman Reigns — brought the house down. Reigns, one of the most marketable athletes in modern sport today, was in sensational form, as he showcased his array of skills, finally landing his epic finishing movie — the Spear — to emerge victorious. Given his global fandom nowadays, Hollywood surely awaits this star.

WWE fans of all ages and nationalities filled the arena

WWE fans of all ages and nationalities filled the arena  

The next day brought with it some hobnobbing with WWE’s finest (Drew McIntyre, Rhea Ripley and THE Stephanie McMahon herself) and a visit later to Monday Night Raw where two championships changed hands. An exhilarating ending to a surreal experience that lived up to its billing. And then some.

Sony Sports Network is the official broadcaster of WWE in India, and Survivor Series 2021 was aired on Sony Sports Channels. Watch WWE SmackDown LIVE on 11th December 2021, and every Saturday at 6:30 am on SONY TEN 1 (English), SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) & SONY TEN 4 (Telugu & Tamil) channels

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 11:42:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/surviving-a-wwe-live-event/article37898755.ece

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