We arrived a little late to the arena, and missed the Hornswoggle/Torito match. I know, we were heartbroken. We were walking through the corridor and grabbing adult beverages while the match was going on. By the time we got to our seats Horny was already getting shaved. From what we could hear, people were cheering it for what it's worth.
The arena was not sold out. It was maybe 80-90%, and there were an unusual number of empty seats on the floor. There's a good chance those that bought tickets went to the Blackhawks game instead.
With the exception of when Heyman and Stephanie addressed it directly, there were no significant CM Punk chants. Some fans kept trying to start it, but they never really took off.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus: Poor Sheamus. The fans tore him a new one when he came out. But he did manage to win some over during the match as they popped for the win. Heyman's intro was great live and the fans "sang along" with the "My client BROCK LESNAR..." bit. Cesaro was way over with this crowd and they loved the swing. A lot of disappointment over Sheamus' win in my section. Very good opener.
Rhodes Bros vs. Rybaxel: Crowd didn't care early on, chanting for the Blackhawks. Cody and Goldy eventually got the crowd into it, but it was mostly just an OK match. EVERYone expected a Cody heel turn in the crowd, so the "you deserve a better partner" bit was a bit of a swerve.
Rusev vs. Big E: Easy, cheap, anti-USA heat for Rusev... but it worked like gangbusters. Big E got a decent pop. This was a lot more fun than expected and the crowd really woke up after the awesome spear through the ropes. That got a huge reaction. Kind of short and the fans actually wanted more of it. Really fun!
Kofi Kingston/Bo Dallas/Kane: This was extremely confusing. They made no announcement to the crowd about this match. To the point that when Kane came out, some people thought it was a three way (the bell rang when Kane attacked Kofi.) Bo's reactions to this on the outside were priceless. People booed Bo, a lot of people in the crowd were really into the gimmick with many doing his pose in the audience. Confusing segment, but Bo was really good here.
RVD vs. Barrett: RVD was super over with this crowd, but so was Barrett. As goofy as this Bad News gimmick is, the fans loved doing the catch phrase with him. There was a loud dueling "Let's go Barrett" "RVD" chant which was cool. There was even a "Boom!" from the crowd when he hit the bull hammer elbow. Solid match and a good spotlight for BNB, who won cleanly.
Stephanie/Daniel Bryan/Brie Bella: Holy crap, Stephanie has nuclear heat with this crowd. It was hard to hear what she said at times. Although we DEFINITELY heard the jab at CM Punk. Ouch! This and the Paul Heyman bit at the beginning were really the only super loud Punk chants. Also, Daniel Bryan for sure got the biggest pop of the night. Every single body in the arena was doing the Yes! chant. I was a little annoyed at first that they were doing an angle on a Pay-Per-View (sorry, special event), but this was a really fun segment live. The fans were really into it and popped huge when Brie slapped Stephanie. They were expecting a catfight and booed when Stephanie walked away.
Cena vs. Bray: Both Jonathan Murphy and I are conflicted here. On the one hand, the work in this match probably made it the match of the night. Phenomenal work with lots of drama and the fans were completely invested from start to finish. But the finish. Ehhhh. Not so much. Dueling "Let's go Cena" "Cena sucks" chants as always, but the "Cena Sucks" chants were way louder. And it was mostly kids chanting for Cena. Bray was wayyyy over with this crowd. Most of the arena took out their phones during his entrance to do the light gimmick, so much so that it ended lighting the arena a bit when most of the production lights were off. Again, great work in this match and when Cena threw the steps at Wyatt on the outside it looked awesome. Everything about this match was great... until that finish. People popped for it, but afterwards there was a general feeling of disappointment amongst those around me. Once Bray took that final AA, we all knew it was over.
Paige vs. Alicia Fox: Obviously the come down match. Paige got a nice pop and both ladies worked hard but the crowd was dead.
The Shield vs. Evolution: Absolutely awesome. Start to finish this was amazing. I don't know how it came across on the TV, but if the crowd seemed dead during the first few minutes, it's only because everyone split off fighting throughout the arena and the crowd couldn't watch them all at once. Once they centralized back to the ring, the crowd was really into it. The Shield got the best reaction from the crowd other than Daniel Bryan and Batista was Bootista as always. The work here was outstanding and Evolution made The Shield look like a million bucks. The sound of the kendo stick on Reigns' back was really loud and sick sounding. While Reigns was getting worked over in the ring, we noticed Rollins crawling to the back and we didn't know what was happening. A few minutes later, obviously, we saw that awesome spot from the top of the video screen. Lots of "Holy sh*t" chants throughout. Batista getting eliminated got a big pop. And once Randy was eliminated a few minutes later, there was definitely a buzz in the crowd about them shutting down Evolution 3-0. When that happened, the crowd went nuts. Awesome awesome awesome finish to the show.
Nothing of note happened when the show went off the air. The Shield celebrated, the crowd went home happy.
Overall thoughts: The work throughout the show was great. Everyone worked hard and busted their ass and the crowd was generally happy at the end of the show. This is contrasted to the March Raw were many people were disappointed that Punk did not show up. While didn't show up tonight, it seemed most people didn't care as they enjoyed the show. Again, a lot of people were disappointed that Cesaro and Bray Wyatt lost, but overall everyone in the crowd seemed to be pretty happy and I was as well. WWE returns to Chicago on September 29 for Raw.