City of Angels saves Raw from Denver devil
In the City of Angels, one man's halo emits a slightly stronger glow today -- at least in the eyes of the WWE Universe.
Ousted from its original home in the Pepsi Center this Memorial Day, Monday Night Raw is headed to Hollywood and the open arms of the STAPLES Center and its fast-acting general manager, Lee Zeidman, who orchestrated WWE's west coast corral to Los Angeles.
"We were obviously aware of the situation that was taking place in Denver and we have a great relationship with WWE," said Zeidman, senior vice president and general manager of STAPLES Center, Nokia Theatre and L.A. Live. "We said, ‘Listen, if you're looking for a place to perform and you don't consummate a deal with the Pepsi Center, we're open. And we'd be more than willing to host you.'"
Despite offers from clear across the nation at New York City's Madison Square Garden and other metropolitan venues, WWE officials took up the STAPLES Center on its proposal, averting the Pepsi Center's pitch to host Raw on Sunday night in Denver. Now, the internationally televised Monday Night Raw will indeed be live this Memorial Day.
Additionally, the Superstars of SmackDown and ECW will also travel to L.A. to perform live on Tuesday night -- a rare occasion of back-to-back WWE events within the same city.
"We're always looking to put more content in the [L.A. Live] campus and the district as well," Zeidman stated. "I know that we're going to get some dynamite entertainment out of WWE on both nights. There [will be] outstanding performers at both shows and I'm hoping that the city embraces it."
Having hosted WrestleMania 21, No Way Out 2007 and countless editions of WWE's various television programs, the STAPLES Center is a familiar acquaintance of the WWE Universe.
A product of irony's unyielding grip, it is also home to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Denver Nuggets' opposition in the NBA Western Conference Finals game that Kroenke Sports Enterprises double-booked for Monday night in Colorado's capital, initially jeopardizing Raw.
"I don't know what the Pepsi Center management did," Zeidman added. "I can tell you that [the STAPLES Center] followed the instructions from the NBA in August and we held all the appropriate [playoff] dates."
Though it would seem an effective strategy to employ against the Nuggets amid the nationally documented controversy and conflict in the "Denver debacle," according to Zeidman, the extended welcome to WWE by the STAPLES Center is based solely on WWE's strong relationship with the arena.
"This was strictly STAPLES Center reaching out to a partner of ours, WWE," he said. "It has nothing to do with the rivalry in terms of the series going on right now."
Still, the intense contention between the two competing NBA teams, Zeidman explained, will behoove WWE and its fans.
"[WWE] will be able to capitalize on the excitement in Los Angeles because of the Lakes/Nuggets series," he said. "And I think that in this economy right now … WWE and STAPLES Center have provided those people who are staying close to home this Memorial Day weekend another opportunity to be entertained at a very affordable price."
Entertainment, in fact, is guaranteed by Mr. McMahon, himself -- a time-tested pledge by the WWE Chairman that on which he has never failed to deliver. At Thursday's press conference, McMahon revealed that in addition to WWE's version of the Lakers' bout with the Nuggets (a 10-Man Tag Match featuring Raw's top Superstars), the Chairman will personally collide with E. Stanley Kroenke, live on an unforgettable Raw.
"I'm rooting for a clean, safe and bloodless fight," Zeidman commented after expelling a spirited laugh about the imminent confrontation.
He continued, "We're very appreciative of the fact that WWE has expressed confidence in STAPLES Center to host these events. We're looking forward to more continued shows including SummerSlam this summer, with WWE."
If you're in the Los Angeles area, be sure to get your tickets to this very special edition of Monday Night Raw and SmackDown/ECW on Tuesday. Otherwise, tune in live to USA Network as Raw comes to you LIVE as scheduled at 9/8 CT this Memorial Day evening.