Stacey/BookSavvy/Super Cool Lady went to this taping, and was kind enough to send over a Best & Worst report from the first show outside of the Impact Zone. Thanks Stacey! This is rad. I’m all done here, so please, play us out.
Full disclosure: I really only attended Impact because of Danielle & this column. When TNA made their big tour announcement and that the first stop was Chicago, I felt it was my duty as a WithLeather fan to attend. My family has always been a diehard WWE one and until I was old enough to go to Indy shows on my own, WWE live events were it for me. So I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit excited to finally see Sting in person.
Best- SUPER NO VACANCY KINDA SORTA!
My Twitter feed mentioned how full the Sears Centre arena looked. Weeeeeeelllll about that. Watching after the fact, TNA did a great job of camera angles and lighting to make the arena look bigger and more full that it was. The upper deck on camera side was completely empty, the uppermost parts of the other decks were sparse and the arena was ⅓ roped off with the ImpacTron. So in an arena that fits 11,200 (to put it into perspective, the AllState Areana where RAW is held has 18,500 capacity), they probably had room for maybe 8,000. I don’t know the numbers, since they didn’t announce it like WWE does, but I’d say around 7,000? Remember, this is STEINER MATH at best and nothing to scoff at considering the capacity of the Impact Zone in Florida is 1,400. So good on them for making the most of what they had and they really made it look like a much larger crowd on TV. They’ll have to do a better job next week, which I’ll get into later.
Worst- A thing that probably only annoys the locals
Please, please, for the love of God, stop showing Chicago when we’re in Hoffman Estates, (which is a suburb of Chicago… Excellent.) We are about 40 miles away from the spot in the City that you’re showing at this moment. WWE is guilty of this too (or showing a “live” shot that is totally not weather appropriate in January and obviously stock footage of Buckingham Fountain in May) but at least Rosemont is only about 6 miles from the city limits. Everyone in the arena is rolling their eyes at you and yes, we know the people at home don’t know any different but we do and it annoys us. And ask Joseph Park what happens when you assume we all like the Cubs. (Booooooo!!! YOU SAID A TEAM WE DO NOT CARE FOR AS MUCH AS YOU DO! BOOO!!!)
Worst- “HEY! THAT’S NOT REALLY THE LEGION OF DOOM!!” Thank you, Captain Obvious
A perfectly acceptable show can be made a million times worse by a “bad” crowd. In my section, I was surrounded by the type of fans that Eamon Paton talked about at The Mandible Claw. They wanted nothing more than to be heard on tv or to “entertain” the people around them. Choice chants of the night included FEED ME MORE, WHAT?, CENA, CM PUNK, an attempt at BORING that thankfully died, THAT’S SO GAY, and my personal favorite, WE WANT PUPPIES during the Knockouts. They were the epitome of everything that is horrible and stereotypical about wrestling fans. Now, maybe others had a better group where they were, but from where I was sitting it didn’t seem like our situation was unique.
Chicagoland is known for our audience: we get involved, we chant, we cheer and it can be deafening. I’m sure it’s why TNA chose us for their first road show. But usually it makes… sense? The crowd was all over the map and I think a lot of that was the fact that many people (like myself) don’t watch the product on a regular basis and just wanted to watch some wrestling and have a good time (and maybe see Sting in person.) There is nothing wrong with enjoying the show and cheering or booing along but think about the people around you for a second before you choose a random chant. Does the guy in front of you really want to listen to you scream the chant or gimmick of every WWE superstar you can think of in his ear? Yes, Velvet Sky did a move(?) that Aytch does. Yup, that guy did The Code Breaker. Others use these moves too. Who are you, Kurt Angle? They are not unique to WWE or TNA for that matter. It’s called wrestling. We get it. You know stuff about things. Why don’t you Tout about it. And please, please… Sting punching Aries is not “awesome.” You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
A Best goes to the guy sitting next to me who was there by himself and was awesome and laughed and talked a bit with me. So, if dude who was sitting next to the nerdy librarian with the “Dusty Sucks Eggs” shirt is reading this, thanks for being the only cool guy around us.
Worst- WHY ARE YOU SHOWING NOTHING BUT TAPED SEGMENTS?!
I know this is TNA’s first foray into live shows away from the Impact Zone in the States, so here’s some constructive criticism. The commercial breaks and vignettes KILLED the crowd. While you guys were watching replays and Popeyes commercials, we had… nothing. Nothing but blue flames on the ImapcTron to stare at and guys around us talking about what they wanted to do to Velvet Sky. It killed any momentum. There were so many vignettes and it was obvious that they were all pretaped, so the audience started to just tune it out. The audio in the arena was horrible and we could barely hear anyone talking in the ring and it was the same during the taped segments. The crowd just died a little bit more each time as the night progressed. Like my soul.
As much as we get annoyed with WWE for running matches through commercial breaks, at least the live crowd is kept in the moment. When there isn’t action in the ring, breaks at RAW have product commercials or other clips showing on the Tron. Even if it’s for Cena’s new RAPADOOOOOO shirt or something, the crowd can boo/cheer at the screen and stay engaged. There was nothing shown on the Impact screen during the whole night, just the logo with the blue flames. What a waste of a giant screen (there weren’t any other mini screens in the arena either.) It really felt like there was no reason for the show to be live and cool guy next to me even said as much. We could just as easily taped on another day and aired it without the looooooong breaks. Which brings me to…
Best/Worst- MORE WRESTLING! WAIT IS THIS NEXT WEEK’S SHOW?
After the melee in the ring where Bully attempted to goad us into throwing things at him (NO! Stop doing this. Organic disgust is one thing, this is just lame), the crowd started to leave. I don’t know if they’ve never been to any wrestling events before, but usually there’s at least one dark match or something to send the crowd home happy (see CENA if WWE). Since RAW went 3 hours, we don’t always get it, but this crowd had no idea what was going on. Thankfully, the jerks behind us left right away, as did probably ¼ of the audience. Christy Hemme finally mentioned they would be right back with “8 more matches!!” But there was no mention that it would be taped and would be next week’s show. In fact, it wasn’t until someone (I’m going to try to remain spoiler free) finally did an in-ring interview and mentioned “last week” in reference to something that happened 20 minutes ago, did everyone realize we were taping next week’s show right now. Towards the end of the taping, Mike Tenay finally mentioned this would all be on next week. Take a look next week, they’ll be trying even harder not to show the upper decks or the back of the arenas. There were some pretty big holes on the floor too. So maybe it would benefit them to mention that as soon as the Live portion ends.
But to be honest, the people that left right away were the ones who only wanted to be on TV and just yell WWE things at the ring. The crowd that stayed was great. They cheered, chanted and we had a lot of fun. A few little kids moved in front of me and turned back to ask me things and started chanting whatever I chanted (when I cheered for Samoa Joe, they started a Joe’s Gonna Kill You, chant which was kind of awesome). It was more of a house show feel and since they didn’t have any vignettes or commercials to show us, the pacing was much better without the long, awkward breaks.
Best- TRIFECTA OF LOVE
With the exception of the Angle beatdown (which was the lamest beatdown ever so no one could really get upset about it), Joseph Park, Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe were so over that everything they did got a reaction. I’ll add Jeff Hardy in there too, but that’s kind of a given at this point. The Hardy kids rivaled Cena kids in their devotion. Two young boys near me lost their ever loving minds whenever he came out, lost their voices and STILL tried to scream for him and hugged their parents so sincerely when he won a match that even I wanted to cheer for him… OMG WHAT AM I SAYING. We only got to see Tara once, but she got a huge pop since she’s now a Chicagoan. She even got to plug her new restaurant in the City, aptly named The Squared Circle.
BUT the crowd LOVED Samoa Joe and my heart grew 3 sizes that day for the Impact crowd. I won’t spoil next week’s show but we got more Joe, Angle & Park and actually very little Aces & Eights… thank you wrestling gods. Kurt Angle got a great pop, as did Tara, and Samoa Joe seemed almost in disbelief at the number of JOE chants. D-Lo (another pseudo-Chicagoan) did not do a head waggle for me, which gave me a sad, but I guess disappointment is par for the course when you’re an Ace and/or Eight.
All in all, my first non-Indy, non-WWE event didn’t start out the greatest but it ended a lot better than it started. I don’t know if I’d go again without more Wrestling Bros as a buffer from any of “those guys” but at least I got to see Sting, cheer for SAMOJO & Joseph Park, and Tara.
Very Secretest Four Star Diary of SamoJo, Day 2831:
Still not Champion. F**k this shit man. Does Dixie see how over I am here in Chicago? I could shit on a photo of Harry Caray and they’d still f**king love me. But nooo kids want Hardy to be the champ. God dammit. At least I’m not stuck staying in the shitty Marriot near this dump. I don’t think I’ll even shower before I sleep in Punk’s bed. That’ll teach that prima donna to not have any real food in his house for his friends. What the f**k is this Kefir stuff, man? Ugh. And why does Impact think we want to have an afterparty with the fans at some restaurant? I don’t wanna spend the rest of the night watching some doofus stare at Velvet’s boobs while dripping pizza sauce on his Cena shirt. Ugh. Stupid Punk, Stupid Dixie, Stupid Impact.