DBSM’s Live WM Report

“Live” as in “back home four hours after the show has ended” Hey, Scott, this is BonzaiDBSM somewhat fresh from WM31. I figured I’d throw in some observations from being in the Wrestlemania crowd if you’d be so kind to post them; why listen to random Meltzer crap on the BoD Daily Update about how the crowd was when you have a top-5 BoD commentator, a BoD C-List Champion and three-time BoD fantasy sports champion right in the thick of it? This was my fifth PPV and second Mania (the other being 21, 10 years ago), but my first stadium show. They couldn’t have picked a better day for it, it was about 70 degrees all day even the sun right on us. It also made for a cool spectacle to have most of the show drenched in sunlight WM9-style (although some entrances suffered for it), only darkening for the main event. Sounds weird to say, but I wish I had brought sunscreen for Mania. My sis bought me the ticket as a Christmas present and got me a decent middle-pavilion seat. Although I was directly facing one of the ring support pillars, they at least had the foresight to make them semi-transparent; while the action got obscured a bit at times, it could’ve been worse (I imagine it was the first few years they did it), but I hope in the future they figure out a way to not block people’s views. I don’t know if it was a kickback from the Reddit stuff about security removing the dressed-up fans a few weeks ago or the usual enthusiastic Mania goers, but you could barely walk a few feet without seeing someone dressed up head to toe as a wrestler (even CM Punks!). In the row in front of me, there was a group of folks who were dressed as Daniel Bryan (complete with homemade Bryan trunks and shin guards), Bray Wyatt (with natural long hair and beard to match), Taker, a girl dressed as Paige (with fishnets!), and the clear winner, LANA, with blonde bun and red skirt-suit. Fans and little kids were posing with them throughout the day, and it was such a cool sight to see that I hope Kevin Dunn loses a lot of sleep over it. Also got a ton of compliments on my Finn Balor shirt from folks sporting NXT shirts themselves (and nearly every major player there was covered by somebody in the vicinity). NXT really feels like this weird “secret handshake” among fans now, which is friggin’ neat. Pre-game stuff were fun clusterfucks that got the crowd nice and riled up; Nattie’s sharpshooter got a bigger pop than most of the male combatants got. Mizdow easily had one of the biggest reactions of the night finally turning on Miz, but of course, WWE can’t let us have too much of a good thing and not enough of a bad thing, and you could feel the air go out of the place when fucking Big Show won. What is it about frying pan hands that gives Vince such a stiffy for this guy? Not that an ARMBAR win would’ve helped Sandow anyway; just ask Cesaro how that worked out for him.  Crowd favorite in the IC match was clearly Bryan, but it did seem a little muted than when I was at Summerslam 2013 (could’ve just been the stadium space too). Ziggler and Ambrose are still big fan favorites despite WWE saddling them with dumb shit, and crowd went dead silent for Luke Harper’s entrance; I don’t still get why they split off him and Rowan from Bray, as they both have zero heat without him. Crowd loved Ambrose being dumped into the splitting ladder and the Bryan/Ziggler finish; hopefully they may actually do something worthwhile with this run. Crowd was a bit torn with the Orton/Rollins, they kinda wanted to cheer for both guys (only J&J got a lion’s share of heel heat) and wound up hesitant backing either. Didn’t really pick up noise-wise till the finish, but the Curb Stomp to RKO reversal got everyone into a tizzy. As someone who was also at 21, I feel like I can lay claim to seeing the two best RKO reversals ever with that and the chokeslam reversal 10 years ago, although someone can vouch for the Shooting StaRKO on Bourne a few years ago. Say what you want about the Sting/HHH match having little significance or the silly brand synergy for the Terminator entrance, but the place was definitely going apeshit for this from jump street. DX got one of the bigger pops of the night, but nWo blew that away because no one really expected THAT. It was a good way to overbook it to mask the limited capability of this matchup and the fan pandering worked (even I was going nuts seeing DX square off against the nWo). Crowd was kinda stunned HHH won; it definitely seemed like Sting was going over when he broke the sledgehammer, but the crowd at least didn’t rebel against the finish. I hate that Sting/HHH handshake in hindsight; if HHH was going to heel up later in the Authority segment, then don’t fucking try to get the respectful pop here. It harkens back to the revolving door HHH stuff pre-WMXXX and it’s dumb; commit to being the bad guy if that’s what you’re doing. As insufferable as Stephanie can be in her role, at least she stays in that zone, but HHH wants the cake and eat it too.  I bet the 30-minute stretch of concert-Divas-HoF was death at home, but I will actually defend it. With the recent WM strategy of quality over quantity on the card, there are hardly any blows for the crowd to go to the pisser or grab food, so this stretch was very welcome. I was able to put some charge in my phone (seriously, phone charging stations should be mandatory at all arenas), go to the urinal, grab some more food and got back just in time for Rusev’s entrance. It must have been hard sitting through it if you’re at home, but I liked that they stacked it for the people in attendance; it was like a super-sized hockey intermission, and I think I prefer that over doling out smaller breaks throughout the show. Crowd was definitely dead as a doornail for the Diva match; if they’re serious about Hashtag Give Divas A Chance, they need to start by cutting bait with the Bellas and start bringing up the girls from Full Sail who know how to pop a crowd with ring work.  For Rusev/Cena, crowd started about 75/25 in Rusev’s favor; it felt like they cranked up Cena’s theme a little louder than the others, and it needed to to drown out the giant JOHN CENA SUUUUCKS chant set to his theme. To his credit, he was able to swing the crowd heavily in his favor by the end (around the time of that nifty little springboard Stunner), even though it kinda felt like the crowd was saying “the only thing we hate more than Cena is Russians beating Americans.” Still, it was probably nice for Cena to get a win and get the hero treatment from the crowd. While the pre-show panel was recapping some of the earlier events, Triple H and Steph came to the ring. The crowd gave a Triple H a solid NXT chant (and gave Itami a nice HI-DE-O chant earlier in the royale); even though he was about to heel it up, that had to be a feather in his cap. Steph and HHH did their usual Main Event Promo thing but everyone knew someone was coming because a cameraman was perched on the ramp the whole time facing the entrance, so everyone could smell (heh) something was coming. Rock easily had the best pop of the night, truly nuclear stuff (I have a feeling the Bray/Taker video package got audibled out because of how long Rocky soaked up the cheers, pushing them to 7:10 local time). I was marking out like mad because I’d never seen him live before and now have completed my wrestling Mount Rushmore by having seen Hogan, Austin, Flair, and Rock in the ring, in person, albeit with only Flair wrestling and that was in 2002. Ronda also got a mega pop of her own, and whenever she wants to stop killing bitches dead and snapping arms like twigs, she could easily come be the female Brock in WWE if the NXT ladies are populating the main roster down the road. As you mentioned in the rant, Rock and Ronda’s pops easily dwarfed most of the roster’s, although the crowd did boo that Ronda didn’t really do much to Steph. She couldn’t fake a Kimura for us? Come on, someone — whether if it was WWE’s or UFC’s call — let us down on that. Bray and Taker easily were dud of the night if we’re discounting the Diva match. Here’s where the daylight atmosphere really killed them; both entrances need a darkened arena and effects-laden lighting, but in the daytime, you can’t see the cell phone “fireflies” and the zombie scarecrows just looked silly, and Taker lacked a certain je ne sais quoi in the sun, kinda like Batman. I don’t know if the crowd was burned out from the Rocky/Ronda segment, if Taker has no pull with the crowd post-Streak, or if the crowd just didn’t care for this feud (likely a combination of all three), but the crowd flatlined for this. The usual Taker spots and near-falls didn’t get a rise out of anyone; the pre-show stuff with half the stands full got a bigger response. The crowd came alive a bit at the Crab Walk/Sit-Up spot and finally popped for the final Tombstone, but this was a clear sign that they’ll need to figure out something special next year for Mean Mark if they’re gonna use him. It’s pretty telling that an eight-year-old kid in my section said aloud, “If Undertaker wins, this should be his last match.” It was kinda stunning how little the crowd was into it, even during the entrances; it didn’t help that the match just felt like a WWE video game Story Mode match with objectives (“Hit Old School” “Tombstone Bray twice”) with no real psychological flow.  There was no mistaking who was heel and who was face in the main event (hint: it wasn’t what WWE wanted). To Roman’s credit, the little fan support he did have, man, they really supported him to a fervent degree. It was almost like an affront to them that someone could boo Roman, but boo they did. The Brock match formula is still golden; suplex guys dead and let the crowd revel in the destruction. Counting the suplexes was fun for everyone, but I think alcohol was taking control because people in my section started adding on two or three more out of thin air like a week in Goldberg’s undefeated streak. They made a fantastic call in sending Rollins out there; I think everyone knew a cash-in was coming, but feared Roman would still get a moment in the sun a la Bryan at Summerslam 2013, so props to whoever decided to send Rollins out there before the match was decided. He came out to 100% crowd approval before the cash-in and after the win; WWE couldn’t script a better way to finish it if they wanted to end the show with crowd support but the title off Brock. Post-signoff, Seth posed with the belt for minutes; Brock stared off in a dazed “WTF just happened” manner, but Roman looked like he was tearing up, like “Maria Menounous trying to finish her Backlund speech amidst the booing” tearing up — could they make this guy any more of a puss? He got booed on his way back up the stage too. All in all, for the second straight year, a bad product didn’t stop them from putting on a hell of a WrestleMania, and this one is more impressive – maybe not better, but more impressive — considering the lowered expectations and given it didn’t have the Bryan story of last year. Despite all the shitty builds, the crowd was hot for pretty much everything sans the Divas and Taker match, and I think WWE can all pat themselves on the back here for delivering the goods. It is worth noting most of the biggest pops of the night went to part-timers and no-timers; with a bigger stadium slated for next year, expect a heavier dose of it as long as they’re not interested in putting any of their current guys on that level. That said, Bryan, Cena, and encouragingly Rollins still have a lot of crowd support on the main event stage, Ambrose, Ziggler, and Sandow are still very over, and Reigns can still be salvaged, so hopefully they give these guys the ball in the next 12 months. I also dug that the crowd was really into enjoying the show, I never got the sense that they would turn on anything Rumble-style except for a possible Roman win, and WWE deftly dodged that. Everyone was pretty much smiling and chanting (lots of ROLLINS chants on the way out) going home, and that’s how it should be leaving WrestleMania. All in all, I had a fucking blast and hopefully you folks at home did too.

Live Report From the WWE Sioux Falls House Show 12/20/14

The following was submitted by poster mdh1985:

Dolph vs Harper- sluggish start but over time got some wheels **1/2 – Dolph wins

Cesaro, Titus, Tyson, and Hornswaggle vs El Matadors, Sin Cara, and the other midget- some truly nice stuff unfortunately overshadowed by the comedy act **3/4-
The faces win

Adrian Neville vs Tyler Breeze- Good stuff here, seeing Nevilles finish live is pretty cool **3/4 Neville wins

Miz and Mizdow vs New Day- a few nice spots and some creative comedy with the stunt double thing **
New Day wins

Naomi and Emma vs. Sasha and Cameron- Emma is pretty good looking in person 1/2* Emma and Cameron win

Rusev vs Swagger- * 1/2 Rusev crush

Reigns vs Kane with Flair as ref- Long match, I’m guessing they are doing that to get Reigns comfortable having full matches as a solo star. Nice ending with Flair getting involved – *3/4 Reigns wins

Overall an entertaining show

On-Site Report: WrestleMania On-Sale Party @ Levi’s Stadium

Some
say the “Road to WrestleMania” begins with the Royal Rumble. Others,
the night after, on RAW. For the California Bay Area, the Road to
WrestleMania started on Friday, November 14, 2014, when WWE rolled into
Santa Clara’s brand-new Levi’s Stadium for the WrestleMania On-Sale
Party. Danielle and I attended the event, took some pictures, met some
of the stars, and partied the night away.
Here’s how things went…

DANIELLE
When
we learned that WrestleMania was coming our way, Matt just snapped his
head my way and said, “We’re gonna find a way. There’s got to be a way.”
I had agreed with him — at least in spirit. We live about 15 minutes
from Levi’s Stadium, in the southern portion of San Jose, California.
The problem was financing and where our seats would end up. Initially,
we looked toward maxing out our credit cards…but, ultimately, we
decided that this couldn’t be the way to go.
MATT
The
event was on StubHub for months, taunting us with ambiguous “floor
seats” and promises of first row grandeur. I had resisted the urge to
buy anything the site had advertised and waited for WWE to release an
official ticket package. We were hoping, by then, we’d happen upon some
funding. Then, it happened: Danielle was on the verge of closing a huge
sale — one that would not only get us through the holidays and some of
next year, it would also give us the opportunity to go to the event. It
wasn’t until October when WWE began advertising their WrestleMania
travel packages. Unfortunately, Danielle’s sale was delayed due to
unforeseen complications. Initially, we were going to go big with a
ringside seat deal, which included Axxess, the Hall of Fame and tickets
to next night’s RAW…but our hopes were dashed as her sale was delayed
into the first week of November.
DANIELLE
Yep,
sale was delayed and that really put a lot of stress on our everyday
lives. There were times when both of us were ready to call it a day and
give up on the prospect of it going through. Then, lo and behold,
everything clicked and the sale was finalized. Two days later, I had gotten
part of the money. Since the whole deal was out of another state, we had
to wait about two weeks to get the full amount in our accounts. I had
done work to make sure that, when the money had arrived, I had
everything siphoned toward the necessary priorities. As WrestleMania’s
tickets were going on sale in about a week, it had quickly stepped up
the ladder as something we needed to afford. The Travel Packages had
gone dry. I started searching the 3rd Party ticket re-sellers as I had
told Matt that this was, most likely, not going to happen here again for
another few years at the very least. “Let’s do it up big,” I had told
him. He was unsure. The two of us both wanted to do this but we also had
a budget to keep.
MATT
Danielle
has a knack for nicknames. Our goofy apartment agent’s name was
Chiquita. No shit. I’m not kidding here. Fucking “Chiquita”. Danielle
thought she was sorta phony and slightly condescending. So, in her
typical style, she dubbed her “Banana Bitch”. We had missed the WWE
Travel Package thingee and Danielle had found a third party deal which
included towncar service to Levi’s, ringside seats and a VIP Party to
boot. The whole thing was pretty expensive but not wildly unheard of as
far as WrestleMania was concerned. Since there were several of those
tickets left, I told Danielle that I would hit up TicketMaster’s
pre-sale first. After a full day of waiting for TicketMaster’s system to
work as it should (it wouldn’t allow us to simply choose the fucking section we wanted, regardless of price),
we decided to cut our losses and go for our 3rd Party Tickets. Danielle
wasn’t happy with the process and had dubbed the thing “TicketBastard”.
Needless to say, her and I will be at ringside for the event. Our
tickets will also have other badass undisclosed perks. We don’t have the
itinerary yet nor will we have the tickets until about a week prior to
the event — but Danielle and I are going to be at WrestleMania. The
other thing that had been sent my way was a little event at Levi’s
Stadium called, “The WrestleMania On-Sale Party”. Apparently, if you
hadn’t gotten your tickets yet, this party would have them on tap.
Having had our tickets, we went for the benefit of meeting some of our
favorite WWE superstars. Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Hart, Daniel Bryan, Booker T,
Rosa Mendes, Tyler Reks, Charlotte Flair, and Wade Barrett were all
advertised to be there.
DANIELLE
Matt
had found us free tickets to this event several days before. After WWE sent us our
confirmation, we were notified of a change: the event was still free to
the public — but WWE was now selling VIP tickets for this event as well. Being a VIP
included a much more intimate Meet and Greet with photo ops, food and
three alcoholic beverages. All this could be yours to the tune of $175 a
head. When Matt initially tossed the idea my way, I balked. We already had
our WrestleMania tickets and we had spent a little more on them than
planned. However, we ended up having a little extra money this week when
a bill came out a lot lower than we expected. Thus, we decided to
invest in the VIP experience and I am so glad we did.
The
Wrestlemania On-Sale Party produced some of my favorite wrestling
moments since I began watching it as a young girl. The VIP portion
allowed us to park in the VIP Red Lot which was moot for Matt who was
arriving on foot after taking our local VTA Lightrail to work and then
to the stadium, but wonderful for me.
Having
totally missed the ridiculously well-labeled and lit up VIP lot (Matt
will tell you my ability to get lost or miss landmarks while driving is
legendary), I got to see the impossibly long line of people waiting with
general admission tickets as I drove around to take a U-turn back to
the right lot. Despite this, I had a fast entrance through the VIP
check-in at Gate B.
At
VIP check-in, I was given an autographed photo of Hulk Hogan, a VIP
wrist band to get into the party we paid or and three drink tickets(!).
Thanks to Matt reading up about the stadium rules in advance, I knew
just what we needed to get in easy – a clear NFL-approved tote (as the
event was subject to NFL rules). While others whined as they were told
to put back their unapproved over-sized non clear totes and backpacks, I
easily got through the line and made my way to Intel Gate A — which
made wrestling fans feel at home.
When I got in I stopped at the main stage where Daniel Bryan was getting interviewed. 

He
was not facing the crowd, so I snapped only a few photos and went to
the VIP area upstairs. The two “official”-looking guys told me I was at
the right spot.
Once
there, I couldn’t believe my eyes: Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart were
posing for photos and, upon hearing that they’d only be around for the
next 15 minutes, I hopped in line to get a photo with the two of them.
All the while, feeling sorry for Matt who got stuck at work due to a
network emergency and a train that was later than usual. 
When my turn arrived, I was pleasantly surprised when Hogan engaged me in a quick conversation:

HOGAN: I like your shirt!
ME: Thanks!
HOGAN: He’s right over there, you know…did you get a photo with him yet?
ME: Oh, I will! I wanted to get a photo with you first because you’re legendary and old school.
HOGAN (smiles and nods): That’s a good answer!

After
my photo was taken, Jimmy Hart, in characteristic fashion, said “Thank
you, baby! Enjoy the rest of your night!” and I was off to schmooze with
the other superstars in the room. Daniel Bryan, Booker T and Bad News
Barrett were a bit busy, giving interviews to the local press. 

Of
the three, I managed to grab a quick photo with Barrett. He’s very tall
— taller than he looks on TV — and, as I’m petite, the photo was
hysterical. Had he not been doing a series of interviews, I would have
asked him to tell Matt (who was still on his way to the event at this
point), that he had bad news for him. However, due to the time crunch I
was lucky to just get the photo. 
I
waited for the other two (Booker T and Daniel Bryan) but the press
hogged most of their time and I couldn’t get to them. A few VIPs
remarked that it was weird that they had the press and the VIP room
combined. Having worked as a photojournalist for a few newspapers many
years ago, I agree. I cannot remember anything like that happening to me
when I covered sporting events. I guess it’s because these are athletes
who have not been to the Bay Area before, and the event is rare (and
huge), so that’s most likely why. 
MATT
I.
Missed. All of this. I got caught up at work on a high priority case
and couldn’t escape. THEN, the printer that I wanted to use to print up
my VIP ticket wasn’t taking any jobs. It was a brain fart on my part: I
should have done it sooner. I’m usually more organized. I didn’t get to
the Cisco Way Lightrail station until about 5:30 and had to transfer to
the Mountain View train at the Tasman station to get to Levi’s about
mid-way. All the while, Danielle was sending me the above pics and
telling me how awesome the whole even was. I DID get to see about five
minutes of Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart doing a spot on the stage next to
the Intel Gate A entrance, so it wasn’t a total loss but I was bummed I
had missed a photo op with them. I went to the VIP gate and made my way
into the Club section to have some dinner and drinks with Danielle.

DANIELLE

I
haven’t even mentioned the food and alcohol yet. The three drink
tickets we were given entitled us to wine and beer and the selection was
nice. For my last glass, the bartender finished the bottle for me so it
was poured almost to the rim. Matt jokingly asked if I had flashed him
for that. I hadn’t but you never know what will happen at WWE events, I
guess. The food was buffet-style and featured some amazing little pulled
pork sandwiches and even cheese including Purple Moon which apparently
Safeway no longer carries much to my dismay.
Matt
finally arrived as I was enjoying my food sitting at the club area
overlooking the seats of the stadium. It’s easy to see there will be
many great seats for Wrestlemania XXXI. 
MATT
The
VIP passes paid off here. We got to sit and eat in the Club section,
overlooking the lower deck and field. In case you’re curious, the
surface you’re seeing is a white tarp, not snow or ice. It’s not that cold
in California. In any case, the sandwiches were good. Salad was a bit
crappy but the antipasto platter ruled with aged salami, pepperoni,
pastrami, and various cheeses. 
We ate and enjoyed some video entertainment in the form of the party below us and matches from last year’s ‘Mania.

And, of course, we made sure to be in line for Daniel Bryan’s autograph (he was signing from 6:30-8:30).
DANIELLE
The
autograph line area was a zoo. The people running this event really
could have done better as I took several tries to find the right line
(and since he was signing only for the first 150 entrants and VIP ticket
holders, all of whom had gray paper bracelets on, it should have been
easier to find the right line. 
In
any case, as we got closer to the line, the WWE official asked what we
wanted him to sign (one item only). I asked if Bryan would sign my
Respect the Beard shirt. She cringed and said that he might but that she
didn’t know. When we got there, Bryan was very warm. He shook our hands
and said it was nice to meet us both. He asked if there was something
we wanted signed. I hesitantly asked if he’d sign my shirt and, without
so much as a hint of hesitation, he cheerfully, and at once, agreed to
sign my shirt, doing it so fast Matt missed the photo moment. I guess
that’s just as well: another WWE official was barking at people and
telling them not to take photos. Well, they aren’t as fast with
their warnings as they think, Matt and I both snagged photos of him
signing stuff. 
MATT:
And Booker! We got him, too!
DANIELLE
Of
course! They were all nice. Matt and I told Bryan to get well and that
WWE needed him. Bryan gave us a wide grin and said, “I’m trying!” Maybe
I’m all kinds of naive here, but I still think he may be AT WrestleMania
in some capacity. Maybe not wrestling, per se, but as a guest referee,
announcer, etc.
Afterwards,
Matt took a photo of me doing the Yes, Yes, Yes chant and of the
signature. I’m planning on framing the shirt along with the photos Matt
took of me and the shirt and Daniel Bryan signing the paper. And I put
together a collage because I’m that sorta chick.
All
in all, it was an amazing magical night. I was reminded of this when I
started to complain about the way the autographs were given out. Matt
had pointed out that we were lucky and, compared to others, our
experience was probably better than most: he had seen a mother talking
to security at the VIP entrance who she felt that she had not gotten a
lot out of the experience and that her kid was upset because he wanted
to meet Hogan and Daniel Bryan and they had already left. It put things
in perspective.
MATT
Speaking of fans, we did have some great interaction with some of the goofier ones and got some great pics.

I
can’t wait for WrestleMania. I’m very excited. It had been a hectic
week and a hectic month with the sale just sitting there like a giant
gorilla you couldn’t get to move, so it was also nice to sit in the Club
section of the new place (I haven’t been inside the stadium since it
was opened up this Summer) with Danielle, on a Friday night, and enjoy
tons of great food and wine and just relax. 
We leave you with this shot…
 
And, of course…
Er…that’s it.

SummerSlam Retro Report with “Mean” Gene Okerlund

Yeah, a bunch of people already e-mailed this thing.  WHY WAS THIS NOT ALL OVER RAW FOR WEEKS?!?

Real answer:  Because they kill ratings and that’s why they stopped doing them in the first place.  But goddammit, I’m a wrestling fan, I want the hard sell!  Convince me to spend my $9.99!  Kudos to Vince for pulling out the old intro voice as well.

Wrestlemania Axxess Report

I
took in Axxess earlier today after having wanted to go for the last
14 years or so. There was a lot of good stuff but some of the things
could have been done better. I took a ton of pictures which I’ll
post when I get back home and get to my camera cord. There were some
VERY nice surprises there though and I met some people who weren’t
advertised.

My
session started at 1pm and ran for four hours. I got there about 50
minutes early and there were already hundreds of people in line. The
line moved FAST though and I was in maybe three minutes after 1.
This brings the first major problem: it’s a crap shoot as to who is
at which booth. You can find out on the WWE App, but NO ONE TELLS
YOU THIS. Even the staff didn’t know what was going on.

Anyway
I got in the second line I saw which had a big WWE 2K14 sign behind
it. I passed on the Scooby Doo booth which had Santino Marella as
the guest. I asked one of the people next to me who the guest was
and then I see none other than Dolph Ziggler (in an NWO shirt for
some reason) take the stage.

Despite
having maybe 50 people in front of us, it took an hour and fifteen
minutes to get through the line. This was partially due to Ziggler
stopping to talk to the disabled/handicapped people in a separate
line (nothing wrong with that and something that happened all day
long). The other reason was Dolph doing a TWENTY MINUTE INTERVIEW
while we waited in line. The cool thing about this: I might be on
Wrestlemania Today on the Network. The camera pans over his line and
I was at the front at the time. Ziggler was very nice and kept
eating Pizza Rolls (sponsor) between meeting fans. He shook my hand
and posed for a picture while signing the back of my Axxess map.

After
that and with ¼ of my time gone, I ran over to the NXT booth to try
for Dusty Rhodes. On the way I saw about five seconds of Ascension
vs. Jason Jordan/??? for the NXT Tag Team Titles. While I was in
line for the NXT booth I could hear Paige retaining the Women’s Title
over Charlotte and the start of a Sami Zayn match against I believe
Corey Graves.

Unfortunately
I didn’t get to see Dusty as the first two hour session was already
up and a new set of guests came in during the second hour. To
Axxess’s credit, they told us we wouldn’t get to the front of the
line with nearly half an hour to go. While in line I was given a
little NXT gift bag with some very nice trading cards made by Topps
(big company in the trading card industry if you’re not familiar), an
NXT poster with the roster on the front and mini bios on the back and
a bag which came in handy for carrying all my stuff around.

While
I was in line, Bob Backlund of all people came casually walking
behind me and went behind a curtain. I waved at him and got one in
return but he was too far away for a picture or autograph. You could
hear him giving one of his ranting promos in the NXT ring while I was
in line.

Since
the NXT thing wasn’t happening, I ran over to the legends booth to
find…..Lanny Poffo and the Wild Samoans. Not exactly a thrilling
lineup but Lanny is from Lexington, Kentucky so I got to chat with
him for a few moments about that. However, I didn’t get their
autographs because the lineup changed again. In their place, and
with me fifth in line: Paul Orndorff and RICKY STEAMBOAT. Orndorff
looks great all things considered but he’s grown a mustache that
would make Hulk Hogan jealous. Both guys were serious but friendly
with Steamboat hyping up the crowd while they changed places.

The
interesting thing here was the cast of people walking around from an
entrance in the back to their booths. From there I saw Eva Marie,
the Funkadactyls (all being filmed for Total Divas), Darren Young,
Norman Smiley, Damien Sandow and Mick Foley, with a bad limp.
Backlund walked right back into the crowd while this was going on as
well. He has that goofy look on his face the entire time as well.

After
that I walked around to look at some exhibits and to try and find the
shortest line. I came across the Legends House booth and saw Hacksaw
Jim Duggan signing on a Legends House set. The line took awhile as
there was a professional photographer who gave you a card where you
could access your pictures online for free. This would have been a
great thing to do all over the place instead of just with Legends
House but whatever.

This
was a very efficiently run booth as I got through the line in about
40 minutes and got to chat with Duggan. I was wearing a Cleveland
Indians shirt and he asked if I was from Ohio. I said I saw him
wrestle in Lexington about twenty two years earlier and he said I go
way back. He asked if it was my first Wrestlemania (it is) and he
said once I go I’ll never want to miss another one. Very nice guy,
as was everyone else.

Something
interesting about the Duggan booth is while he was getting up to go
meet the handicapped people, he would always start a USA chant or get
us all to shout HOOO before he went down to meet the people. You can
see the old guys know how to keep a crowd going instead of just
focusing on the people in front of them. It’s a dying art but it
worked well here.

After
that I was running low on time and started to head to the 30 Years of
Wrestlemania exhibit but opted for Undertaker’s Graveyard. It’s a
cool concept with a bunch of Undertaker stuff and a tombstone with
the Wrestlemania logo, date and name of the opponent engraved.
There’s also a cased urn, a bunch of caskets, and an open grave with
a tombstone for Wrestlemania 30 minus a name. I wanted to hit the 30
Years thing though so I cut out in the middle. The biggest problem
here: it’s right next to the Superstar entrance booth so when the
organ music was restarting, you could hear LET’S LIGHT IT UP!

So
I run back over to 30 Years of Wrestlemania with fifteen minutes to
go….and it’s closed. Like EVERYTHING ELSE. The idea is to get the
fans out in time for the next batch to come in, but it’s cutting off
a part of the time the people paid for. Why they can’t just have a
30 minute buffer in between is beyond me, but a lot of people were
annoyed as the exhibits would take about ten minutes to get through
and there was plenty of time to go. I don’t blame the guards as they
had orders, but that’s stupid planning. I walked through the store
(you have to as you leave) but the stuff was your usual overpriced
weekend event stuff. They had a TON of merchandise though.

Overall
it was fun and I’d definitely go again, but man alive were there some
issues with how it was set up. For one thing, have a sign up that
says who is going to be at your booths later in the day rather than
just making it a guessing game. Also, and I’m not sure how you go
about doing this, they need to cut down the wait time. Spending an
hour to get one signature is eating up too much time. I would think
maybe having everyone in a line and you can meet them and then go to
booths, but it would get REALLY annoying standing there while
everyone got pictures etc. It’s more than worth the $50 to get in
and see everything and meet people like Steamboat and Duggan though.

TNA House Show Report – June 15, 2013, Lexington, Kentucky

So
as you may have heard, Becca (girlfriend) and I took in the TNA house show tonight
in Lexington at the baseball stadium. More details to come, but the
conclusion: I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun at a wrestling show
and that includes going to a WWE pay per view.
First
of all, the stadium is less than 15 minutes from my house so driving
was no issue. The tickets were $15 each and include a voucher each
to any Lexington Legends baseball game this season. The seats were
along the third base line with a view of the ring at home plate. For
you non baseball fans, we had good seats and were looking down on the
ring. The ring is clearly smaller than a WWE ring but it doesn’t
look bad at all.
We
got there at about 7:00 for a 7:30 show. At about 7:25, JB announced
that you could purchase a VIP pass and meet James Storm, Gunner (tag
champions as of this writing), AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Bully Ray
(world champion) and D-Von at intermission plus get a photo in the
ring with a TNA superstar to be named at the end of the show. All
this was $50 for two people so we were down there cash in hand and
got the first pass handed out. This was instantly more fun than the
WWE house show we took in a few months ago. Can you imagine WWE
offering a chance like that to its fans?
More
on that later. On with the matches.
X-Division
Title: Chris Sabin vs. Kenny King
The
first interesting thing was the way the wrestlers came to the ring.
They came out of the right field wall and rode golf carts to the
ring. There’s something amusing about that and it made me chuckle
every time. Also, you have to love TNA breaking its own rules as
this was a one on one X Title match instead of a triple threat. The
fans didn’t care about King but gave Sabin some polite applause. The
champion (Sabin) stomped his foot to get the fans to clap. King
tried the same thing and got silence in a funny bit.
The
match was fine and about what you would expect from these two. Sabin
worked on the arm to start but the most notable thing to start was
how loud the ring was. Every time they hit the mat it sounded like
cymbals crashing together. The ring mic was turned way down for the
rest of the night and it was an improvement. King snapped Sabin’s
neck across the top rope to take over and swung a bat like a home
run. Kenny missed something off the top, Sabin hit some kicks, and
Hail Sabin ended it in about 8:00. It was a good fast paced opener
and the crowd was into Sabin.
Before
the next match, Earl Hebner got his own entrance. He took off his
regular referee shirt to reveal his YES I DID (screw Bret) shirt. He
even pulled out some Bret glasses and did Hart’s poses in the ring.
Knockouts
Title: Mickie James vs. Velvet Sky
Velvet
limped to the ring to sell the knee injury from Impact. Mickie is
fully heel, but you would have no idea that was the case tonight.
Surprisingly enough, if you have a gorgeous brunette in Daisy Duke
shorts and a sports bra with theme music talking about being a
southern girl in Kentucky, the fans are going to cheer her a lot.
This match didn’t do much for me although the view was very nice.
Mickie
worked on the knee and took the tape off of it and the fans booed
her. Yes, she attacked an injury and people booed without some
complicated backstory, long winded story, or any heavy handed
explanation. A heel did heelish things and the fans booed her.
Mickie won with the MickieDT in about 5:30. Not much to see here.
AJ
Styles vs. Garrett Bischoff
This
was long and all about AJ Styles. Bischoff got no reaction from the
crowd, but AJ got a standing ovation. There wasn’t much to see here
but Garrett didn’t completely embarrass himself, meaning he’s
improving. AJ worked on the arm and Garrett shouted OW in a funny
bit. Garrett took over with a spear and beat on AJ for a long bit
but AJ came back with a dive to the floor and the springboard
forearm. They rolled out of the corner and AJ got the Calf Killer
for the tap out at 11:45. It was a better match than expected but AJ
completely carried it.
Tag
Titles: James Storm/Gunner vs. Bobby Roode/Austin Aries
As
you may have heard, Storm is wrestling hurt and it’s very clear if
you watch him for a few seconds. Storm was introduced as the Cowboy
instead of the Tennessee Cowboy to keep the Kentucky fans from booing
him. Just before the bell the challengers (Aries/Roode) went to the
pitcher’s mound with Aries pretending to pitch as Storm caught and
Gunner took a batter’s stance in the ring. Storm got bored and
picked up some cotton candy from a vendor to give to fans.
Roode
and Aries wanted quiet from the crowd but Brian Hebner couldn’t get
the fans to be quiet. It was a comedy match to start with the
champions sending Roode into Aries’ groin. The challengers went to
the floor with Roode shaking his head and Aries doing squats to
stretch things out. Everything spilled onto the floor with Storm
throwing a bunch of beers into Roode’s face while Gunner and Aries
spent a good 45 seconds trying to suplex each other next to the
pitcher’s mound (Gunner won with a front suplex).
They
finally got back inside and Storm played Ricky Morton. It was clear
that he was moving in slow motion and doing basic stuff while the
other guys did the heavy lifting. Gunner finally got the hot tag and
everything broke down. Roode got a beer but walked into Closing Time
to spit the beer everywhere. Aries took the Last Call (more beer
everywhere) followed by a torture rack from Gunner for the win at
about 20:00. This was the best and by far the most entertaining
match of the night. Aries was very impressive and Becca was very
entertained by him.
Next
was intermission and we got to go meet the previously mentioned
wrestlers. Before we got to the wrestlers, Austin Aries popped up in
street clothes and waved over some people he knew. I got a fist bump
and said hi to him and got a polite hello. Aries is shorter than he
looks on television but seemed to be a nice guy.
There
were two sets of tables set up with Bully Ray and D-Von on one side
and everyone else on the other. I told D-Von that I loved the TLC
matches and he gave a quiet but distinct thank you and gave me a fist
bump (no handshakes for him apparently). Ray signed his name with
WHC underneath it and basically punched my fist when I reached it out
to him for a fist bump. He’s either playing a great heel or a huge
jerk in real life but it fit very well.
Next
up was Jeff Hardy. A girl in front of me was one of the biggest Jeff
fans in the world and was crying her eyes out from getting to meet
him. Jeff took a quick picture with her despite the security guard
asking us to take pictures as Jeff signed. His match was first up
after the intermission so the rush is understandable. I told him I
went nuts when he won the world title and he gave a very curt thank
you and shook my hand. He was very quiet but not rude or anything.
James
Storm and Gunner were next and both were very nice. I told Storm I
had been a big fan of AMW and he smiled and thanked me. Gunner will
almost crush your hand when he shakes it so the intensity thing
really suits him. I said I enjoyed his match and he said he was
really enjoying teaming with James. He sounded professional for lack
of a better word, but it was an odd visual to see him still in his
trunks and a t-shirt. As I was talking to him, a kid in a New
Orleans Saints jersey was talking to Storm and Storm asked who the
Saints QB and coach were. The kid said something I couldn’t hear and
Gunner asked Storm what the kid said. Storm said he had no idea and
didn’t know the answers either and laughed.
Last
up was AJ Styles who was in a hat and looking down a bit. He signed
my paper and I told him I had been a fan since TNA started. He
looked up and gave a polite thank you and shook my hand. That
Georgia accent comes through on every word he says just like it does
on TV.
After
this we literally ran back to catch Earl and Brian Hebner signing
pictures and Hebner’s shirt for $20 total. Earl asked if we liked
the VIP signing and was happy we enjoyed it. Becca is a huge Earl
Hebner fan (I don’t get it either) and freaked out when he shook her
hand. He asked if we had a camera so I got a quick picture of them.
Earl was a nice guy and I got to ask him which referee was the evil
one when Andre and DiBiase cheated Hogan out of the title in 1988
(Earl said he was the evil one, like always).

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Jeff
Hardy vs. Mr. Anderson
Hardy
got a big pop once people realized it was his music playing. Jeff
went around the front row and high fived fans while Anderson did what
looked like a Nazi goose step and salute. I didn’t get a good view
of it but he was definitely doing the high step. There wasn’t much
to this at all but Anderson did Hardy’s dance in a funny moment.
Anderson controlled most of the match but Hardy came back with his
usual stuff. The Mic Check was countered into the Twist of Fate for
the pin at about 7:30. I had never seen Jeff wrestle live so this
was a bit of a treat. It looked like he had an ice pack on his elbow
after the match but it didn’t look serious.
Bully
Ray/D-Von vs. Sting/Kurt Angle
The
world title belt is very shiny as you could see the reflection from
across the field. Sting and Angle came out to Sting’s music and both
were introduced as Hall of Famers. The fans were WAY into both guys
so the star power was rolling here. Angle got beaten down to start
and the Dudleys hit a kind of botched reverse 3D (the one where Bully
does a belly to back suplex into a D-Von neckbreaker. For some
reason D-Von was doing Bully’s part and then they seemed to realize
they had it backwards).
Angle
clotheslined D-Von down and D-Von did a Spinarooni to get back up.
Sting got the hot tag and eveyrthing broke down with Angle and D-Von
going outside. Sting hit Stinger Splashes on everyone but the
referee was bumped just before Sting gave Ray the Death Drop. Ray
hit Sting with the chain for two and the Angle Slam set up the
Scorpion Deathlock for the tap out from Ray at about 7:00. The match
was nothing special but I had never seen Sting or Angle wrestle live
(Becca is a lifelong WWE fan and had never seen a Sting match period,
which blew my mind).
After
the main event JB talked about Angle being inducted in the Hall of
Fame and Kurt was cheered to the back. JB told us that for $30 (or
for free to those that bought the VIP pass) your entire group could
get a picture with Sting with no limit on the amount of people. For
a large group of people that’s a great deal. The line took a bit to
get through but it was an amazing feeling to walk through the ropes
and get inside a ring. The fact that Sting is one of my favorite
wrestlers ever made it even better.
The
mat is a lot softer than I expected and actually has some give to it.
I was surprised at how hard a turnbuckle felt too. I got my picture
taken with Sting and was surprised at how tall he was. I’m 6’0 tall
and I was looking up at him. As I was leaving I told Sting I had
been watching for 25 years and he was the first thing I remembered
(Black Scorpion). He said wow that’s awesome and said thanks for
being a fan.
We
were given a copy of our photo as we left and a card telling us how
we can get digital copies of them in a few days. That’s really
efficient for such a short amount of time.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

As
we were leaving a guy from TNA asked us if we had a good time and
seemed very pleased that we enjoyed ourselves. He jokingly asked us
to tell people about it on the dirt sheets and smiled when I said I
ran a wrestling website.
Overall,
this was VERY fun and probably the most entertaining wrestling show
I’ve been to, which covers a lot of ground. The show felt like it
was very personal and focused on making sure the fans have a good
time. The $80 combined for all the autographs, meeting the wrestlers
and tickets was more than worth it as we were back home in just over
four hours.
We
were at a WWE Smackdown show a few months ago and it’s a very
different feeling. WWE feels like a big spectacle and was certainly
fun and affordable (tickets were the same price and about the same
distance from the ring) but the star power was nothing compared to
this show. The biggest stars I saw at the WWE show were Orton,
Sheamus and Del Rio. Tonight I saw Angle, Sting and Jeff Hardy which
pretty much crushes the WWE roster.
The
other main difference is how accessible things were tonight. At the
WWE show it felt like there was a huge divide between the fans and
the wrestlers. Tonight they made us feel welcome (not to say WWE
didn’t) and like we were in a much more intimate setting. The vibe
is completely different here too. With WWE it felt like you were
getting an entertainment show whereas tonight was about kicking back
and enjoying two and a half hours of wrestling. There were no
Twitter polls, promos to hype up matches, or pointless filler
matches. Tonight was entertaining, fast paced, and above all else:
FUN.
If
you ever have the chance to go to a TNA show, make sure you take the
opportunity and spring for the VIP package. The show feels so less
polished (in a good way) than a WWE show and doesn’t walk you through
everything. The WWE show had a better quality to the matches
(Barrett vs. Del Rio and Sheamus/Orton vs Shield) but tonight was so
basic (one heel wins in six matches) and focused on the fans that it
was a blast.
If
Impact was like this every week, WWE would be in trouble. It made
Becca want to watch Impact for the first time in years which is the
right idea for these shows. The difference between the live events
and Impact (read as no Hogan and WAY less stupid stuff) is remarkable
and the show was definitely worth the time and money. Check them out
if you get the chance and want a completely different wrestling
experience from a WWE show.