Review: WWE Raw at Vector Arena

By Troy Rawhiti-Forbes

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It was always going to be a moment among moments for the fans.

The hulking behemoths and lithe starlets of World Wrestling Entertainment have made New Zealand a regular fixture on their tour schedule since 2006, but it took until last night for the two biggest names in the business to find their way to New Zealand's shores.

And when they stood in the ring together, the Vector Arena roof almost couldn't handle the roaring of the thousands-strong audience.

WWE veteran Triple H and relative new-kid-on-the-block John Cena, arguably this generation's answer to Hulk Hogan, faced WWE Champion Randy Orton and the Big Show in the main event.

The result was neither here nor there - HHH and Cena won, for those keeping score - for the spectacle was above all else.

Cena, eight years into his WWE career and one of the company's biggest merchandise-movers ever, has a white-gangsta persona and a never-say-die attitude which was the perfect hook for the innumerable amount of children who turned up with his t-shirts, gimmick chains, wristbands, baseball caps, styled championship belts and all sorts of other 'Cenation' branded miscellanea.

Triple H, for his part, doesn't do too badly in the merchandise stakes either, but is more popular for his old-school influenced brand of wrestling.

No flashy moves cribbed from the Mexican and Japanese wrestlers, no flying leaps of faith from the top rope - as he always does, he kept last night's efforts clean and simple with a tried-and-trusted array of grapples, slams and melee attacks.

The Big Show is another story altogether. At 213cm and 220kg, his size has drawn inevitable comparisons to the legendary Andre the Giant. (And indeed, he was once marketed as the late Frenchman's son.) Big Show doesn't need to do much in the ring since his size is the attraction, but he works hard for his money.

Priceless moment: The Big Show bails Cena up into a corner of the ring, raises his finger to his lips and warns the audience to shh. He raises his humungous hand high into the air, and brings it down onto Cena's chest with as much force as he can muster.

The sound makes some of last weekend's thunderclaps sound like a kitten's sneeze.

Show tries it again, but this time, Cena's too quick for him and ducks under his arm before unleashing a flurry of punches as the crowd roars into life once again.

Earlier in the night, England's William Regal - a sort of modern day feudal lord with a very refined upper class accent - told the derisive audience that he didn't suck because he wasn't from New Zealand. The Miz, a punked-up brat from Los Angeles who once was a fixture on reality show The Real World, had some less-than-kind things to say about the quality of our women.

If his opponent, MVP, didn't already have the fans' favour because of that, he sealed the deal when he walked to the ring wearing the Vodafone Warriors jersey the club had presented him with last year.

The Miz won the match, but MVP won the war because after all, it's not about who wins and loses, but whose moves and personality are better received by the audience. It's a physical soap opera with an amazing amount of call-and-response from the wrestlers to the crowd, and vice versa.

That's how it was at Vector: bang, crash, cheer, applause, and repeat. It seems a simple formula but it's so effective. Just ask WWE's accounting department. The company should be pleased with this most recent foray into Kiwi territory.

The fans certainly were.

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