Those of you who watched WWE Monday Night Raw this week saw an empty arena promo with John Cena, who sat in the loge section of the TD Garden in Boston talking about his WrestleMania XXVIII match with the Rock.
I couldn’t help but think way, way back to when Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka did a much different, far more effective interview in an empty arena with Vince McMahon. I believe it was Snuka’s first appearance on TV after the Magnificent Muraco busted him open with a microphone in the angle that started their memorable feud in 1983.
The back story is that when Muraco approached the ring, he was yelling stuff at Snuka. Although it was never really explained what was said, it was clear that Snuka took offense to it. Muraco also spit on him before Snuka jumped over the top rope onto Muraco and ripped his clothes apart, after which point Muraco pulled the mic right off the overhead wire and cracked the Superfly with it.
During the empty arena interview, the usually mild-mannered Snuka exploded — it may have been the first time he ever yelled in a WWF promo. Then, while McMahon tried to calm him down, Snuka started throwing around the folding wood chairs that surrounded the ring.
That interview had intensity and left you with a feeling that things were getting out of control.
By comparison, Cena’s promo in Boston was dry, with overly scripted language that he had a hard time delivering. Cena’s promos generally have been strong for the Rock match, but this one felt contrived, and also was marked by the silly “wrestler stares at the WrestleMania banner hanging from the ceiling” spot, as if it was the cross.
The irony of Cena’s promo was that he noted he does not want to lose the Mania match and be known as second best, because no one remembers second best. But in the big blowoff between Snuka and Muraco in the steel cage at Madison Square Garden, Snuka lost. But nobody remembers he was second best that night, because just after Muraco won, Snuka gave him the Superfly splash off the top of the cage, which became one of the most famous moments in WWF and WWE history.