HOUSTON – I’ll be honest, I did not grow up watching WWE.
Maybe it’s because I am from Indiana and we were focused on basketball, but WWE wasn’t a huge part of my childhood. I knew the obvious parts; it used to be called WWF, Hulk Hogan ruled, “give me two claps and a Ric Flair,” the basics. But covering my first WWE experience opened up my eyes even more.
The Royal Rumble is the second biggest WWE event of the year, surpassed only of course by Wrestlemania. Fans flooded Minute Maid Park to watch the showdown. Royle Rumble took place on Sunday, meaning the news of Kobe Bryant’s passing was very fresh. I saw at least 20 Lakers jerseys/shirts, which I thought was a cool nod to the Mamba. After a long day of breaking news, I actually hadn’t eaten anything. Usually, you don’t eat when you’re covering a live event, but I felt like I was going to faint, so I bought peanuts and a Diet Coke. More on that in a minute.
There were eight matches, including the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Before the matches even started, fans were rowdy and Minute Maid had edgy energy that doesn’t exist at most events that take place at the park. Neon lights, black shirts, Ric Flair costumes and a lot of smack talk! I ran into front-office executives from the Astros and Texans. It truly was a cool environment.
Royal Rumble at Minute Maid Park! pic.twitter.com/4SPNXxiTyh— Vanessa Richardson (@KPRC2Vanessa) January 27, 2020
Naomi, former Divas champion, came into the ring with applause so loud you could barely hear. Fans told me this was due to the fact that she hasn’t been in the media lately and had taken a hiatus. Charlotte Flair ended up winning the women’s portion.
There was a lot that happened during the matches, but my personal experience was thrilling (and slightly scary).
As Roman Reigns led King Corbin through the crowd, it became obvious they were coming towards the media table. I had out my phone to record, and my coworker Ari had our station camera recording for our Sports Sunday show. It was incredible to see it in person, even as someone who doesn’t closely follow WWE. Then, Roman Reigns and King Corbin got closer and closer, until -- down goes my Diet Coke and some of my peanuts!
Almost got taken out by Roman Reigns! 😂 Lots of people on hand at Minute Maid Park for WWE’s Royal Rumble pic.twitter.com/exPponQISS— Vanessa Richardson (@KPRC2Vanessa) January 27, 2020
I was able to escape without injury, but the video is hilarious (check it out on my social media pages). I had a picture taken above the mess, and I love it because it totally sums up the event: lively, messy, action-packed and just plain fun.
This is me last night covering my first WWE event at Minute Maid Park.— Vanessa Richardson (@KPRC2Vanessa) January 28, 2020
Turns out sometimes the stars fight in the crowd and knock over your SEVEN DOLLAR Diet Coke 😅 pic.twitter.com/jCX4irGl8Y
Full results from the event can always be found online, but the real story here is the zest and excitement felt at Minute Maid Park. It made me reflect on the different sporting events this city has the ability to host: the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Rodeo, etc.
What event would you like to see Houston host next? Why do you think Houston is the best place to have these huge, monumental nights in sports? Comment below and let me know!