I attended the live TNA Impact show last Thursday. I knew I had to attend that show when it was announced TNA Impact Wrestling was coming to the Sears Centre in Chicago. Like all wrestling shows, there was stuff the fans at home didn’t see or hear on TV so I’m going to talk about that stuff in this report. I decided the easiest way to do this report is by making bulletpoints of all of the topics I want to discuss.
- Dixie Carter talked before the show. She was talking about targeting Chicago as a city she wanted to bring Impact Wrestling to when looking at cities for the first night on the road. I think she mostly talked about how important being on the road is for TNA.
- There wasn’t a dark match.
- Aces and Eights were getting mostly booed when they entered the ring during Impact’s opening segment. Bully Ray got a mixed reaction.
- There was a small “Fuck you Bischoff” and “Shut the fuck up” chant during Bully’s opening promo.
- Sting’s backstage segment was shown on the titantron and it really looked like a pre-recorded segment. I’m not sure if all of WWE’s backstage segments are shot live, but they do a better job making them looking like they are happening live and not taped before the show.
- TNA played music during the commercial breaks and I liked that. They also played music before the show started. TNA does a much better job than WWE at keeping the crowd entertained during commercial breaks. I have been to three episodes of Monday Night RAW and during commercial breaks, nothing is happening. No music is playing, nothing is shown on the titantron except for the RAW logo, and the only people in the ring are people making sure the ring is ready for the next segment. It was nice to see TNA trying to prevent the fans from getting bored during the commercial breaks.
- Throughout the night, TNA ring announcers were saying that they were going to take the loudest fans backstage. That’s really cool, but I didn’t see anyone from the crowd getting selected. I’m guessing the fans in my section weren’t loud enough.
- The first match of Impact was the Knockouts match. Tara is from Chicago and there was a “Tag in Tara” chant during the match. I really enjoyed this match because I had a nice view.
- There was a small “Feed Me More” chant directed at Rob Terry during his match.
- I enjoyed seeing AJ Styles for the first time at a wrestling event. He got a strong reaction from the crowd.
- Joseph Parks got a lot of boos when he mentioned the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs haven’t won a championship in over 100 years so that wasn’t a good team to mention. He corrected his mistake mentioning the Chicago Blackhawks who are the most popular sports team in the city right now.
- The estimated crowd was between 6000 and 6500 according to several wresting websites. All of the lower bowl sections looked to be almost completely full except for one section which was used for the hardside camera. The upper bowl wasn’t full but there were more fans there than I was expecting. I would say the 6000-6500 fans estimate is very accurate. In the crowd was Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, Frank The Clown and Brock Lesnar Guy. I was able to spot all three of them in the crowd. Corgan walked right past my section at one point.
- One of the things I didn’t like is that TNA didn’t show any live in-ring action on the titantron. They used it for the entrance videos and the backstage segments. My seats were a little bit too close to the ring and I couldn’t see everything sometimes. It would have been nice to be able to look at the titantron and see what was happening whenever people were fighting outside of the ring. It’s not like they didn’t have the equipment to show live footage on the screen because I saw a cameraman testing his camera before Impact started and the stuff he was filming was appearing on the titantron.
- The main event match was great. I like both Austin Aries and Sting so I was happy to see that match-up. One of the loudest chants of the night was “Austin Aries/Let’s go Sting”. I think I heard some people in the crowd chanting “This is awesome”. I recently reviewed Sting vs. Samoa Joe from Bound for Glory IV and I liked the Sting vs. Aries match more. One of the best TV wrestling matches I have ever seen.
- TNA went to a commercial break during Bully Ray’s promo after Aces and Eights interfered in the main event and the TV viewers missed a great Bully promo. I’m guessing that one of the TNA guys went to Bully and said, “After you beat up Sting and tell him that you used him, we are going to a commercial break. During the break, I want you to try to get as much heat as you can from the crowd and we will come back from break when Hulk makes his entrance.” It seemed like Bully was trying to start a riot. His promo was directed at the crowd and it was a great promo because fans were booing and chanting for Hogan. Some fans threw trash into the ring and Bully said something like, “You’re starting this crap again?” Bully got great heat all night and he really impressed me. Adding Bully to the group makes Aces and Eights look a lot more interesting in my opinion. He’s a good choice for the president of the group.
- Hogan got a great reaction from the crowd like I expected. It was the first time I have been in the same building with Hogan. It’s been a long time since he came to a Chicago wrestling event. I think the last time (other than his appearance at the 2006 WWE Hall of Fame) was the RAW in Chicago in 2002 when The Rock challenged Hogan to a match at WrestleMania X8.
- After Impact went off the air, the Aces and Eights walked back towards the locker room. They exited through the crowd like they did the whole night. Before they got back to the locker room, Bully got into an argument with a fan and then he walked towards my section (Bully is the guy at the left in the photo below). He was talking with the fan to my right. The fan tried to give Bully a high five and Bully pulled his hand away at the last second. I don’t remember much of what was said because I was trying to get a photo of Bully and I actually got a little bit worried about Bully getting mad that I was trying to take a photo of him. That’s when I realized that Bully Ray is doing a great job because he got me scared that he might actually take my camera or something like that if I pissed him off. I think he’s much better as a heel than a babyface. I think some of the other Aces and Eights were near Bully and I think one of them threw water in the face of a woman sitting three seats to my right. The fan next to me ended up getting t-shirt that was thrown into the crowd. I didn’t see who threw it, but I think it was a member of the Aces and Eights.
- It was later reported that Bully almost got into a fight with one of the fans. It happened very shortly after Bully interacted with the fan sitting next to me because I can see the fan I sat next to catching the t-shirt I mentioned in the last bulletpoint in the video that was posted online.
- Next week’s Impact was taped after the live Impact. I won’t mention any spoilers. All I will say is that they did the whole show in about an hour. Instead of commercial breaks, they just went to the next segment. None of the backstage segments were shown on the titantron.
- I enjoyed the show. Some parts of my experience were better than WWE shows and some parts weren’t. I thought the crowd was really good. Not as good as some of the crowds I’ve experienced at WWE shows in Chicago, but I’m sure it’s one of the best crowds TNA has ever seen. I didn’t think the crowd was very good at first, but when the crowd was almost dead for the taping of next week’s show, I realized how high the energy was in the crowd during the live show. The crowd in next week’s show will look very different. One thing you might notice is that the fans on the floor were standing during the entire show during the live Impact show, but next week they will be sitting for most of the night. It looked like not many people left after the first show so next week’s show will have another large crowd.
- I think the episode of Impact was great, but not as great as people were saying it was going to be. I wasn’t disappointed with the show. I thought it was more entertaining than a lot of RAW episodes. If Impact’s episode can be that entertaining almost every week, they will have a very good show. TNA is still far, far away from being at WWE’s level, but they are moving in the right direction while WWE gets a little bit less interesting every week. It wouldn’t surprise me if in the future WWE needs to start worrying about TNA. It could happen especially if WWE continues to have boring storylines like they do now. I am really impressed with the Aces and Eights storyline on Impact and I want to see how it ends.
- I found a YouTube video of a fan’s Impact experience. The video has some ringside footage of Bully getting into altercations with the fans. Click HERE to see the video.