I have a confession to make.
I know this is The Baltimore Sun, but I actually live in Toronto. Yes, I know I'm letting several of you down by saying this.
Kevin Eck, who currently works for WWE and started this column, lived in Baltimore. I do not. Luckily, with the advent of television and the Internet, I'm able to be at the helm of this blog.
The reason I bring this up is because Raw was in Toronto on Monday, and I was there. Jerry Lawler doesn't call Toronto "Bizarro World" for no reason -- the crowd is always expected to be lively, bordering on self-indulgent, much like a "Raw after WrestleMania" crowd.
That's exactly what we got. Hometown heroes like Edge and Santino Marella were given thunderous applause (as well as a nice reception for my former on air co-host Renee Young, her first live televised appearance in her hometown since signing with WWE last year). Daniel Bryan was treated like an adopted son, as was Goldust.
We got the Pavlovian formula of crowd chants when the audience is bored with a match -- one, chant for the commentators (JBL, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Justin Roberts, in that order); two, chant for the superstars, past or present not involved in the match (on Raw we got Randy Savage, Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho and The Undertaker); three, chant for people in the audience (this happened on the Raw after WrestleMania when fans were chanting for the popcorn guy -- the matches ended in Toronto before this could begin).
Another phenomenon I uncovered -- these types of crowds love Fandango. He is their 1988 Hulk Hogan of 2013. They love to cheer in elation, pushing both fingers in the air.
It's no secret that a crowd's decibel level adds to the entertainment of the show. This was a red hot crowd enjoying their first Raw in three years (and first television event in two).
What you need to know
* Daniel Bryan finally looked strong to end Raw. This is great storytelling, from start to finish. Since SummerSlam, Daniel Bryan has looked like the odds are impossible, with Triple H and Randy Orton looking strong as villains to end every Raw. Now, the last image on Raw going into Night of Champions in six days is Daniel Bryan celebrating with the WWE title as if he had won it. This will entice people to buy the pay-per-view in hopes that Bryan will now actually win the title.
* AJ dug into Jerry Lawler on commentary during the Divas matchup, with zingers on watching the product and his love for younger women. I'd seek it out.
* Edge and Triple H had a great back and forth to start Raw. I thoroughly enjoy when WWE legends/Hall-of-Famers not currently employed by the company return and have a lot of time on the mic, because it feels unrehearsed and care free -- thus more genuine.
* Bray Wyatt beat Dolph Ziggler, who seems to have lost his mojo. He put on a terrific match with Alberto Del Rio at a live event I attended Sunday in Hamilton, Ontario, in the main event. He works very hard no matter how many eyes are watching and if there are cameras present.
* Santino Marella defeated Antonio Cesaro in his return. By the way, Sunday night I attended the grand opening of his new combat sports gym, Battle Arts in Mississauga, Ontario. It's a state-of-the-art complex for combat sport/professional wrestling training. A very impressive place. Several WWE superstars were on hand showing support.
* Randy Orton against Goldust was terrific. Goldust received deserved "you still got it" chants, and I wouldn't mind seeing him have a full-time WWE return. His counters were fun to watch, highlighted by a great near-fall at the end of the match.
* Another long entertaining match on Raw was Dean Ambrose vs. Bryan. I'm a fan of longer matches on Raw, which to be fair has been what we have been seeing since Raw went to three hours.
* Big Show destroyed a '90s TV set backstage. It was unplugged.
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