DETROIT — Just like old times, some may say when talking about the return of WWE’s Saturday Night’s Main Event. In person, though, this one did not feel the same.
The original aired at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday in place of Saturday Night Live, a comedy sketch show on NBC.
NBC (and later Fox) did air a yearly WWE event called The Main Event. This was to be the big build-up to Wrestlemania with a major angle usually taking place. The most memorable was in 1988 when Andre the Giant won the World Title from Hulk Hogan setting up the tournament for the title at Wrestlemania IV.
Detroit was the home of one of the most memorable Saturday Night’s Main Events when Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant were featured in a battle royal right before their face off at Wrestlemania III in 1987.
Kevin Baker of Detroit remembers watching that show. “I used to watch the shows as a kid, but the battle royal featuring Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan really sticks out as one of the best.”
The March 18 return did not really build much for Wrestlemania 22. The Wrestlemania matches were mainly set, and the night was being used to build the interest for Wrestlemania. The only surprise, which was really wasn’t a surprise to anyone following the storyline, was the turn of Mickie James on Trish Stratus, setting up a Wrestlemania match for the Women’s World Title.
The event was held at the Cobo Hall in Detroit. The Hall has been the home to many legendary matches in the past, as it was the home arena used for the NWA territory The Sheik ran. It was also the unmemorable home of the angle where The Giant (now The Big Show) was thrown off the roof yet still able to wrestle that evening against Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc ’95 at the Joe Louis Arena next door.
The Cobo has a unique look, as one side of the arena is a giant white wall. This wall came in use for the live crowd as the WWE projected any backstage interviews and commercials to the crowd off this wall. Imagine the Titantron but four times larger.
John Cena continued to get booed at the event. Although it was might not have across well on television, the crowd booed anything Cena did and even started a “Cena Sucks” chant for a brief moment of time.
The turn on the champion reminds older fans of the Shawn Michaels title run of 1996. The WWE stuck with Michaels as a face even though he was receiving a mixed reception at most events. The WWE has recognized some of the chanting against Cena in the past, but it is unknown if this will effect the future of Cena and his character.
The crowd was very into the night. A sold-out crowd of 12,000 fans were standing and chanting most of the night. This came one day after TNA ran a house show about 20 minutes west of Detroit. Many fans came from Canada and other states to attend both events, making Detroit a wrestling fan’s paradise for the weekend.
The opening was a good flashback the original opening, but the song change was disappointing to some fans. Also, throwing the main event first was in keeping with the original show.
The idea of bringing back a fixture from 15 years ago will only help the WWE. The exposure on NBC is much larger than any other form of media the WWE puts out. NBC and WWE will gauge the ratings and see if the event can become more frequent.
— with files from “Bloodthirsty” Bob Kapur