TNA Slammiversary A Huge Success On Several Different Levels
I’m still recovering. Sleep was an impossibility, my throat is torn to shreds, and I’m still having a hard time getting my head around everything I saw. I know this: It was an honor and a privilege to have been a part of the live viewing public for TNA’s 10th anniversary show, Slammiversary. It was an honor to have been a part of the largest crowd to ever see a TNA live event. It was an honor to see some of the greatest performers in the industry giving their all for a cause that may very well be on the verge of paying off in a big way.
Plenty will do a match review for TNA’s Slammiversary, giving readers a blow by blow account of something they very likely already watched. Personally, I don’t need anyone to tell me Jeff Hardy did an insane dive off the top rope to the floor. I was there, I saw it. I don’t need anyone to tell me Samoa Joe and Austin Aries put on yet another awesome match. I was there, I saw it. Me, I’d much rather try and corner the market on the emotional aspect of the show, and give you something to think about the next time you’re sitting in front of your television or laptop, complaining about the product.
I was so very proud of how the fans in attendance treated the wrestlers last night. On so many different levels, Slammiversary was a very big deal for TNA. Not only was it their 10th anniversary show, it was also a pivotal PPV with regards to where they’re going with many of their angles. Add to all this the fact the show was put on in front of a new market for TNA, the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, a place they have been reluctant to visit over the years, and it is plain to see that much was riding on the event.
I had a feeling we were in for something pretty special before I even got inside the building. Rather than stand in the sun waiting to get inside, I stood off to the side under some shade, talking with a few good people and watching the scene unfold. People were engaged from the very start, thousands of them chanting, laughing, talking wrestling, having a great time, all under a pretty intense Texas summer day. Once inside, the vibe only got more palpable. I sat ringside, five rows back, on the other side of the ring facing the ramp. Once Jeremy Borash came out to get the crowd going, the place just went crazy. The arena was packed to the rafters, and the overwhelming majority of us felt like screaming our heads off. As a local to the area, I can’t lie: I felt a great sense of pride. Yes, I’m fully aware of the obnoxious “Texas Pride” of which so many native Texans seem to possess in abundance, but I don’t mean ‘pride’ in that sense. I mean it more from the standpoint of what the crowd brought to the show. The chanting, the booing, the engagement in the matches, it just left me with a wonderful feeling, not as a Texan, but as a wrestling fan. This particular market, despite its size, often gets overlooked, so to have been a part of such a rabid crowd is a nice feeling and reminded me of the times my parents took me to see old World Class Championship Wrestling events.
I know I’m not the only one who felt that rush from the crowd either, as you could tell by the looks on their faces that many of the wrestlers knew they’d stepped into something pretty fantastic as well. It was heartening to see how Samoa Joe, Sting, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles reacted to the massive crowd response. These men, along with many others, have given so much of themselves, not only to the business in general, but specifically to TNA, and after so many years marred with questionable booking, ho-hum live crowds, and indifferent IMPACT Zone audiences, seeing five thousand strong come out and scream their collective head off did not go unnoticed by any of them. While our appreciation as fans for what they were doing (and have done for years) was made resoundingly clear, their appreciation for us was also plain to see.
Seeing Slammiversary live opened my eyes to something that I think I’d lost sight of over the last several months: The wrestlers passion for what they do. Watching pro wrestling on television is a completely different animal, as you’re given match, commercial, segment, match, commercial, segment, ad nauseum. Seeing the show live, you see what goes on in the ring in between matches. You get to see guys like Devon and Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe look out into the crowd, make eye contact with the fans, and thank them for what they brought to the match. These men and women love what they do. We don’t ask our pro baseball players to bat .1000, we don’t ask our NFL Quarterbacks to complete 100% of their passes, and I’m pretty sure Michael Jordan missed half the shots he ever took on his way to being the greatest of all time, so why do we get bogged down over-analyzing pro wrestlers? There will always be things that don’t go according to script, always things that could be improved upon, and yes, the ‘botch’ is going nowhere, but when you’re moving at those speeds, jumping from those heights, taking those punches, sometimes you’re gonna make a mistake and take a fall. Seems to me we’d all be a lot better off, and enjoy the product a lot more, if every now and again we’d all just shut up and watch.
I don’t know if a corner was turned in TNA last night, that remains to be seen. I do know Slammiversary left plenty of people, many of whom likely showed up just to see what TNA is all about, very happy. I have always maintained the Dallas/Fort Worth area has a strong pro wrestling fan base. TNA, for whatever reason, has been reluctant to come to Dallas, considering it, according to what Sting was told, “a weak market.” If nothing else, last night proved to not only TNA, but to the entire wrestling world that DFW, home of WCCW, some of the greatest storytelling in the history of the industry, will still come out and make one helluva racket for a quality professional wrestling show.