On January 13th, I cajoled Sarah Cass to come along with me on an adventure to eastern Washington in order to catch a WWE House show. “House Show” in pro-wrestling nomenclature describes an untelevised, live event. Not only do these tours keep people around the country interested in the spectacle of sports entertainment, they allow the wrestlers to work out rivalries and practice their move sets before the televised weeklies or monthly pay per views. It’s also a chance to see the WWE stripped of pretenses: no fireworks, professional lighting, special effects or long, poorly-scripted and acted “promos.” Traditional steel railings separate the crowd on the floor from the ring. Wrestlers generally don’t take big “bumps” during house shows, using more conservative in-ring work rather than propelling themselves out of the ring onto the floor below. After every bout in Yakima, the wrestlers, both heels and faces (“bad” and “good” guys), high-fived fans around the ring. It was an amazing show and I was happy to jeer with the best of ‘em. Do you know how good it feels to scream “BOOOOOO!” at the top of your lungs?

Most of the crowd consisted of working class Mexican families; Yakima is one of the largest farming communities in Washington State. The men in the crowd outnumbered the women probably seven to one. In fact, the line to get into the Yakima Sun Dome had an express line– for the women. Everyone was frisked for cameras with removable lenses (poor Sarah had to take hers back to the car) and, I presume, weapons and outside alcohol. Mostly cameras, though. Anyway, here are some of my point n’ shoot pics from third row ringside with commentary. Can you tell I had a blast?

The Yakima Valley Sun Dome at sunset on the Yakima Fair Grounds.

Jack Swagger put up a nice fight against R-Truth. He’s a big dude from Oklahoma with a speech impediment.

Tag Team champs, Air Boom, consisting of Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne, took on Epico and Primo, a Mexican tag team. Epico and Primo got a HUGE pop from the crowd and screamed insults in Spanish throughout their match. They temporarily won the tag team belt but the ruling was over turned as a bad call and the match continued. Kofi and Evan, the babyfaces, eventually won the match, retaining their championship. However, the next night in Oakland, Epico and Primo officially won the belts at a house show there. Evan was suspended for 60 days because of his second WWE Wellness Policy violation. Apparently, he was suspended after testing positive for “spice,” a type of synthetic marijuana that supposedly isn’t identifiable in drug tests. WWE had no other choice but to pass the belts to another team in order to keep the faltering tag team division viable.  The Wellness Policy is strictly enforced by the company after multiple national steroid scandals over the past two decades.

The ruling being overturned…

Chris Jericho came to the ring to say nothing, literally. This whole gimmick is so strange… I don’t know how I feel about it. Also, I missed the whole Jericho era, so his return means nothing to me.

Beth Phoenix is an original Buffalo bad girl. Awesome. She’s the “diva division” champ and she kicked Eve Torre’s ass. The women’s division is treated like a joke on the roster, matches lasting a couple minutes on televised weeklies, if that. This match, however, lasted just as long as its male counterparts and featured amazing feats of strength and acrobatics.  This lady is pretty effin’ rad. Her arms are HUGE.

The Kane and Cena rivalry… meh. Not a fan of super-cena, though I appreciate that he’s essentially the face of the company. I just find his character flat and his wrestling style, boring. He’s a total bro and his neck is pretty much thicker than his head.

CM Punk is my favorite wrestler and Dolph Ziggler is quickly becoming a close second. CM Punk started out in the indies, wrestling in barns and high school gyms before signing a contract with the WWE in the mid 2000s. Since then, he’s almost been future endeavored several times and came damn near to quitting this summer. Without CM Punk, I can pretty much say my interest would have waned in the WWE months and months ago. He’s a great talker and a talented wrestler, a combination of skills rare in WWE’s current line-up. Plus, he’s like 6 months older than me, so I feel connected to the sport in ways that I didn’t when I was a kid or a teenager. I mean, he wears Misfits T-shirts on television and he’s a legitimate straightedge, rockin’ the X’s on his hands in ways I haven’t seen since 1995. On his Twitter account, he takes instagrams of the comic books he’s reading on tour and generally takes the piss out of the idiots that tweet him. In fact, I don’t really think that CM Punk likes wrestling fans at all. Basically, he’s my meta-wrestler dreamboat.

Magic? I think so. I can’t wait for the next show.