Arena Report - John Paul Jones Arena

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August 14, 2006

Tonight, Monday Night Raw comes to Charlottesville, Virginia as a stranger, having never visited the college town of the University of Virginia. It's not like the Superstars were never invited, it's just that up until two weeks ago, Charlottesville would not have been equipped to handle the masses of WWE fans that pack arenas across the country every week. This is because UVA was awaiting the opening of the brand new John Paul Jones Arena, a 15,219 seat, $120 million state-of-the-art arena that took more than three years of construction to complete and opened less than two weeks ago. Tonight's show will be just the second event ever held in the new facility, and the RAW Superstars are sure to be welcomed with characteristic southern hospitality onto the "grounds" -- not "campus," according to the student vernacular -- of what the locals call "Mr. Jefferson's University" after Thomas Jefferson, who founded The University in 1819.

The last time RAW was in the area was April 14, 2003 in Richmond, and WWE fans witnessed a different kind of long-awaited unveiling when Kevin Nash returned to the ring after a nine-month absence due to surgery. His return was bittersweet, as he found his friends Triple H and Shawn Michaels entangled in a rivalry and was immediately forced to step between the two and decide with whom his allegiance would lie. The crowd waited in eager anticipation until the main event, when Nash strode to the ring and stood face-to-face with The Game. In a tense moment, the two grinned at each other as Nash snatched a sledgehammer from Triple H's grasp, using it to pummel King Booker (who along with Gregory Helms had just defeated the team of Triple H and Ric Flair) as Triple H made his way out of the ring.

The grounds of UVA are filled with tradition, evidenced by the Jeffersonian architecture, southern customs like dressing up for home football games (sport coat and tie for guys, sundresses for the southern belles) and a special vernacular that, among other quirks, identifies UVA's sports teams not by their official name -- the Cavaliers -- but by their nickname, the "Wahoos" ("Hoos" for short will do).

Tonight, the RAW Superstars invade the John Paul Jones Arena to usher in WWE's own traditions of high-flying excitement, explosive action and shocking surprises. Hulk Hogan has promised he will be in the arena to challenge Randy Orton's claims that the Hulkster is trying to avoid their scheduled match at SummerSlam. How will he prove that he's ready for action just six days before the Biggest Party of the Summer? Also, DX must try to regroup after being divided and conquered by the McMahons in consecutive weeks. What statement will be made by either side in the final RAW before DX faces the McMahons at SummerSlam? To find out, you'll have to take hometown hero Dave Matthews' advice and "Stay, stay, stay for a while," as Monday Night RAW comes to you live from Charlottseville, Virginia, tonight at 10/9 CT on USA.

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