WWE wrestling Monday Night Raw at Rupp Arena in Lexington Ky

When people think of professional wrestling, they likely think of superstars that come from times when wrestling was at its peak in popular culture.

When Hulk Hogan caused full-on Hulkamania in the 1980s.

When people were spouting out catchphrases (some NSFW) and donning “Austin 3:16” and “N.W.O.” shirts during the WCW/WWE “Monday Night Wars” and WWE’s “Attitude Era” in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.

If you are a former WWE wrestling fan and you talk to any current wrestling fan, they will likely tell you that it’s a great time to follow the WWE. If you ask Chad Gable, WWE superstar and member of the fan-favorite Alpha Academy, he said whether it’s culturally, creatively, or athletically, the sports entertainment brand is almost bigger than ever. And some of those bigger names are coming to Lexington, like “The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes, World Heavyweight Champion Seth “Freakin” Rollins, Rhea Ripley and more.

“Wrestling itself always goes through what you would like to call ‘boom periods.’ We’re in one right now,” Gable said. “Over the past 18 months or so, we are firing on all cylinders.”

As WWE sets the table for its 40th marquee event, Wrestlemania, this April in Philadelphia, its popular “Monday Night Raw” broadcast is riding equal parts momentum and intrigue as it takes over Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center in Lexington on Monday, Feb. 12. The live broadcast on the USA Network on started in 1993 and is the No. 1 cable TV show on Monday nights.

Bright lights illuminate the ring during the WWE “Monday Night RAW” event, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Boston. The popular live TV wrestling event will be broadcast from Rupp Arena Monday, Feb. 12.
Bright lights illuminate the ring during the WWE “Monday Night RAW” event, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Boston. The popular live TV wrestling event will be broadcast from Rupp Arena Monday, Feb. 12. Charles Krupa AP

Wrestler Logan Paul, right, kicks Seth “Freakin” Rollins during the WWE “Monday Night RAW” event, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Boston. Rollins, the World Heavyweight Champion, is scheduled to make an apperance in Lexington on Monday.
Wrestler Logan Paul, right, kicks Seth “Freakin” Rollins during the WWE “Monday Night RAW” event, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Boston. Rollins, the World Heavyweight Champion, is scheduled to make an apperance in Lexington on Monday. Charles Krupa AP

As someone who has seen his fair share of camera time inside the ropes, Gable talked to the Herald-Leader about his own rise in popularity and what makes seeing one of wrestling’s most popular shows live so different than watching it at home.

Chad Gable and the Alpha Academy

Chad Gable’s wrestling career is experiencing its own sort of take-off. He recently completed a feud and stiff challenge to WWE’s Intercontinental Champion Gunther that elevated his career. Along with his real-life friend and wrestling partner Otis and recent team additions like Maxine Dupri and Akira Tozawa, the Alpha Academy has become one of the more comedic factions of the Raw roster.

“You’ve got, like, almost this band of misfits that should not work,” Gable said. “It just does and it works and it clicks and it resonates with people.”

WWE’s Chad Gable was in the Olympics

Gable, who competed on another grand wrestling stage at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as an amateur wrestler, moved up from WWE’s developmental NXT brand to wrestle on the main roster in 2016. While he made his first big appearance on Friday Night Smackdown before becoming a regular on the Monday Night Raw roster, he is still taken aback by what goes into it.

“I’ve been doing these things for 10 years now and I still get blown away by the production value,” Gable said. “It’s enormous in scale and you wonder how you can do this twice a week, every week, endlessly for a year.”

Jan 29, 2022; St. Louis, MO, USA; Rick Boogs (bottom) and Chad Gable during the Royal Rumble The Dome at America's Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Chad Gable, top, during a 2022 Royal Rumble match. Gable’s career in the WWE has been taking off recently. Joe Camporeale USA TODAY NETWORK

Jan 26, 2024; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Chad Gable during the WWE Media Junket at Hilton Carillion Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 26, 2024; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Chad Gable during the WWE Media Junket at Hilton Carillion Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Joe Camporeale USA TODAY NETWORK

What happens on Monday Night Raw during commercial break?

Because Monday Night Raw is live television, Gable said it gives fans a chance to see stuff they don’t usually see that happens in the building during a commercial break.

While viewers at home may be watching an ad for a show on the USA network, fans in attendance will be treated to a bit of darkness and some promo videos where the wrestlers in the ring do…well, not a whole lot, at least until the cameras come back on (Gable said he and Otis might even talk about old horror movies in the ring on occasion).

“We’ll just kind of hang out a bit and wait and then maybe interact with the crowd if we want,” Gable said.

But Gable said when the cameras go on, the crowds are more excited than they are even at some of the untelevised WWE live events held throughout the year.

“There is nothing that compares to being there in the building,” he said. “Our crowds are just more into it than they’ve been in 20 years.”

Wrestling fans during the WWE Monday Night RAW event, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Boston.
Wrestling fans during the WWE Monday Night RAW event, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Boston. Charles Krupa AP

Bright lights illuminate the ring during the WWE “Monday Night RAW” event, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Boston. The RAW show started in 1993.
Bright lights illuminate the ring during the WWE “Monday Night RAW” event, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Boston. The RAW show started in 1993. Charles Krupa AP

Why go to Raw when you can watch on TV?

Gable said everything about attending Monday Night Raw in person (minus the absence of live commentary) is exactly the same, only much, MUCH bigger than you realize, whether it’s the lights, the screens or the pyrotechnics. That, combined with a deep roster of male and female WWE superstars ranging from “The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes and World Heavy Weight Champion Seth “Freakin’” Rollins to “The Man” Becky Lynch and Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley, makes for a fun night out that potentially scratches all of your live entertainment itches.

“You get music at a concert. You get an athletic contest at a basketball game. With us, you get all of that boiled into one,” Gable said. “It’s something for everybody…not that. It’s everything for everybody.”

WWE Monday Night Raw

When: 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12

Where: Rupp Arena, 430 W. Vine St.

Tickets: Prices start at $23.50

More information: 859-233-4567 or centralbankcenter.com/rupp-arena

This story was originally published February 9, 2024, 10:41 AM.

First appeared on www.kentucky.com

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