WWE brings new energy to Diddle Arena

WWE Champion Randy Orton was one of the featured superstars at WWE Live. Orton went up against AJ Styles and Baron Corbin for title match to be the WWE Champion. He ended up winning the match on Tuesday at Diddle Arena.

Rebekah Alvey

Diddle Arena was packed with people of all ages cheering, booing and chanting. Rather than a typical WKU sports team, these fans were celebrating their favorite WWE wrestlers. 

WWE Live made its return to Bowling Green after four years Monday night. The two and a half hour event didn’t lack energy or enthusiasm. Fans came out with mock belts, face paint and posters. The main headliners were Naomi, AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler and Randy Orton.

For 31-year-old Bowling Green resident Carlos Greene, Monday night’s event was his seventh time seeing WWE live. Like other fans, Greene had traveled previously to other events in Nashville, Louisville and Indianapolis.

Greene said he was excited not to need to drive this time and was looking forward to seeing Shinsuke Nakamura, who won his match against Dolph Ziggler.

Greene said he enjoys watching WWE because of the theatrics and excitement associated with it. He said at live events, there’s a good energy in the crowd.

This energy was on full display during the top fights when titles were on the line. These matches included a fight between current US Champion Kevin Owens versus Sami Zayn and Tag Team champions,  the Uso’s versus American Alpha. Kevin Owens and the Uso’s maintained their respective titles from these matches.

One of the night’s highlights was when Women’s Champion Naomi faced off against five other women including Becky Lynch, Natalya, Tamina, Carmella and Charlotte. Naomi emerged with her title intact.

The night’s main event was a match between WWE Champion Randy Orton, AJ Styles and Baron Corbin. After an intense thirty minutes, Orton was victorious and kept his title.

Some people, like freshman Jim Loos, were at their first WWE live event. Others have been watching on television and attending events for years.

Freshman Drake Kizer said it was his tenth live event. He said he is a lifelong fan, and started watching when he was about four years old and attended his first live event when he was eight.

Kizer said WWE is a way to connect with his family and bond, especially with his dad. Kizer said he was most excited to see Randy Orton “The Viper” who holds the WWE championship belt.

Bowling Green native Marcia Gilliam, 60, attended the event with her son and brother and was excited to see Orton’s match.

Gilliam has been to seven live shows and has seen WWE stars like The Rock and Stone Cold at shows like WWE Smackdown and Raw.

She said she likes the pure entertainment and hype about WWE. With a smile,  she also admitted the male wrestlers weren’t too bad to look at either.

Gilliam was glad they brought WWE back to Bowling Green and said the crowd this year was a lot bigger than previous years. In a previous Herald article, it was estimated that 3,500 tickets were sold in the last WWE live event in 2012.

Director of campus and community events Rachel Goodman said approximately 3,600 to 4,000 tickets were sold this year, priced $15 to $95.

Goodman said the increase in ticket sales may be attributed to the four-year break at WKU. The high turnout of families on a Monday night after Easter impressed WWE, she said.

For some people, coming to these events are like reliving their childhood. Junior Zach Miller said he had been watching since he was a little kid.

“It reminds me of the good old days,” Miller said.

Goodman said through a partnership with Ticketmaster, more people were able to find out about the event at WKU. She said hosting events like WWE provide the university with financial benefits and increased exposure.

Senior Tyler Olson said these events attract the community and bring  in more people than basketball.

Olson said when children come to WWE Live, they associate WKU with the experience and are more likely to attend.

Goodman said putting the event together involved a lot of moving pieces. She said many departments helped, including the police, ticket office, athletics and facilities management.

Goodman said she also approached Charlie Pride to find organizations to provide volunteers.

Junior Kyle Smith and other members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity were able to volunteer at the event.

Smith said he had never attended a WWE live event before  but was excited for the experience. Goodman said the WWE promoter was pleased with the event and is hoping to make Bowling Green a regular spot on tour.

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]