I want to begin this column by stating a truth: I dislike TNA very strongly.Â Their product is usually overbooked and often unwatchable.Â I find that they never really do anything to entertain me and the voice of Mike Tenay makes Michael Cole sound like perfection.Â I saw TNA live in Nashville, TN in 2007. It was their Slammiversary show and it was the worst event I have ever been to.Â I attend the University of California, Irvine (Iâ€™m a Graduate Student getting an MFA in Stage Management) and I went to an autograph signing to meet Christopher Daniels on Thursday on campus.Â While there I was given three free tickets to the event.
Now this is troubling on multiple levels.Â TNA had to give away tickets to what is supposed to be their Wrestlemania.Â They were in a small 5,000 seat arena on a college campus.Â With better promotion, they may have sold it out, but even these autograph signings were not publicized.Â Some posters would have done the company wonders.Â They couldnâ€™t fill a 5,000 seat arena for free, while WWE fills 70,000 seats paid on an annual basis.
Going back to the signing, Christopher Daniels and Tara were there.Â They could not have been nicer.Â This was a stark contrast to what WWE wrestlers have been when Iâ€™ve met them.Â I was the first person their, since I arrived a little early on my lunch break at school.Â They talked to me for quite a while and even joked around with me.Â They signed autographs on 8×10â€™s for me and the production guy with me gave me three â€œTNA Entourageâ€ passes.
Onto the event itself.
The arena, which I have worked in as a Stage Manager before, looked awesome.Â Yes, it is a small place, but they made it look major league.Â The neon fluorescent lights in the entry tunnel looked great and the whole stage setup was different from what they normally present.Â That was a smart move.
I arrived at the event around 4:15pm.Â After stopping by my office to pick up the vouchers, and some earplugs for my amazing fiancee who is willing to accompany me to wrestling events on a consistent basis, we got our tickets and went inside.Â We sat on house left, the camera side, up in the stands.Â Itâ€™s only a single bowl arena and every seat was a good seat.Â The right side had basically no one on it and the floor seating was sparse.Â The people down there had plenty of leg room.Â I would estimate about 2,000 people there.
The night started with the Motor City Machine Guns vs Lethal Consequences.Â This was a great match to get the crowd going.Â It really should have been on the Pay Per View broadcast.Â These guys tore it up and worked some great spots.Â The MCMGâ€™s are hilarious as a tag team and should be Tag Champs very soon.
Then the event really began.Â The National Anthem was played and the super loud pyro went off.Â Then came the real fireworks of Ultimate X.Â The crowd was confused about the lack of Dinero, but no one minded Chris Sabin and Alex Shelly taking their place.Â This match was pretty spotty, but it also told a nice story.Â Suicide kind of awkwardly stood around a lot, but he was there for the big spots.Â These six guys were very fluid out there and the crowd was lively.Â The Daniels-Suicide bump was scary and the crowd was seriously concerned.Â The â€œPlease donâ€™t dieâ€ chant was serious.
A side note on the crowd.Â I have never been a part of a crowd that was this lively.Â This is the atmosphere that TNA needs at all of their events.Â This was sorely missing when I saw TNA Slammiversary in 2007.
I moved after the Ultimate X match to seats more in the center.Â I ended up sitting around the families of Daniels, Tara and Awesome Kong.Â That was pretty cool.
After those two matches, the crowd was hot and impossible to calm down.Â The Knockouts tag was short and painless, so Iâ€™ll skip it.Â Eric Young seemed to have the wrong kind of heat.Â People dislike him because they think he sucks, not because he is a quality heel.Â Hernandez was way over, but people loved Kevin Nash far more than either of the challengers.Â The fans bought the ending, although Nashâ€™s shoulder was about a mile off of the mat.
Full Metal Mayhem followed and this was possibly the least spectacular TLC match I have seen.Â There were just too many men to really get things going and make it meaningful.Â Team 3D was really over, as was Beer Money.Â Steiner got a huge pop when he hit the Frankensteiner and the suplex flurry.Â Booker T was Booker T and unspectacular.Â No one knew why he was taken out on a stretcher, unless being a huge jerk finally crippled him.Â The young teams were not showcased as well as they could have been, and there was no pop for Team 3D walking out with the IWGP titles.
Next came the best womenâ€™s match I have seen live.Â The three of these women pulled out all of the stops.Â The only low moment was Tara being hit by the random crowd member.Â That was not necessary.Â Kongâ€™s family and Taraâ€™s family were both behind me and engaged in dueling chants that were pretty awesome.Â They had a good time and increased my enjoyment of the match.Â The crowd popped for the end and this was the first time a womenâ€™s match was more than a bathroom break in a show for me.
The submission match was one of those where the crowd took control.Â Samoa Joe was the total favorite in this.Â Lashley was booed out of the arena.Â The crowd could not stand him.Â He seemed a little thrown by this.Â They had an okay exchange while it lasted and Joeâ€™s loss seemed random to the people in the audience, since they couldnâ€™t tell that he had passed out.Â And I agree with the crowd, Lashley does suck.
I have a lot to say about the Monsterâ€™s Ball match.Â Sadly none of it is good.Â Why was the big stage bump in the first two minutes?Â Why did they feel the need to slam a woman through barbed wire?Â This was a bloody disaster and made me sick.Â This style of wrestling has no place in todayâ€™s market place.Â Sometimes a rivalry needs blood, and I believe that it is okay in those situations.Â This match should have never happened (and Mick Foley should not be wrestling).Â There was no story in this match.Â The whole point was just to see a manâ€™s blood get spilled.Â I was embarrassed to be watching this match.Â The crowd might have been a little hot for it, but it was disgusting.
The night did recover from this disappointing low point.Â Matt Morgan, who was booed coming in put on the performance of a lifetime.Â I was chanting for Morgan within moments.Â Kurt Angle (although I dislike him and think his problems and addictions should keep him out of wrestling) showed why he is as renowned as he is in the wrestling world.Â These men played the crowd well and put on a match with very convincing near falls and great pure wrestling.Â No gimmicks, no interference, just pure professional wrestling at itâ€™s best.Â I canâ€™t say enough good about this entire match.
The main event came a little bit out of no where.Â I was checking my phone and noticed that the show was running long.Â I was surprised by the lack of video package though.Â It was probably the first main event of a show since 1998 not to have a video package before it.Â Sting was extremely popular, and AJ Styles was actually booed a little bit.Â This was a vocal and opinionated crowd.Â Jeremy Borash proved when he is the best ring announcer in the business.Â That man knows how to hype up a crowd.Â The match was cut short due to the time restraints.Â They knew they had to get to the Sting moment at the end.Â It was a nice short match and it put AJ over in a big way.Â I loved the stopping the count-out devise that they used.Â It was a unique way to tell the story.
Stingâ€™s big moment at the end was a lot of fun.Â He seemed genuinely into the passion the fans were showing.Â TNA did a great job making this moment feel huge.Â Stingâ€™s Bound for Glory streak may not have been like Undertakerâ€™s Wrestlemania streak, but it was well built up.Â As the fans were leaving, there was a Sting display in the lobby with some of his old robes and ring wear.Â That was a cool feature.
Overall, a great show.Â We had a blast and it was definitely one of the best I have ever been to.Â TNA would be smart to run small arenas like that constantly.Â They can have a small passionate crowd just like Sunday nightâ€™s.Â This show more than made up for my disappointing live experience I had with TNA in 2007.Â Nice work TNA.Â You may have actually won a bit of my affection.
Tags: Sting, TNA