I’m back with something different this time. I actually get to do some up close analyzing for my Total Nonstop Analysis column. I know many of you go to wrestling shows all the time. Unfortunately I live in Louisiana. We don’t have many huge cities here like a Miami, a Charlotte, ect. Just New Orleans, which we all know what the town is known for! So wrestling shows coming around here don’t happen as much as I would like. But TNA ran a show Friday night in Monroe, so I got tickets a few weeks ago. I got the “top dollar” $50 tickets which guarantees front row seating and a meet and greet with the wrestlers. The last wrestling show I went to was a WCW show in Lake Charles in 95 or 96 I believe. Put it this way, there was no nWo yet, the Booty Man was new, and Arn Anderson was still an active wrestler. Yep.
So me & my girlfriend, Tiffany, get there at 5pm for the meet & greet at 5:30pm and there’s already about 50 people waiting to get in. Although I don’t get to many shows obviously, I can already tell that people who wear WWE shirts & bring WWE belts to a TNA show piss me off. Don West comes out and talks to us all about the show tonight, the meet and greet, and talks about the merch. He then pulls out a pretty nice looking guitar with an image of Jeff Jarrett on it. Looks like it was artistically burned into the wood. Very nice. Don then says he only has nine of these guitars and whoever buys one is guaranteed 3 trips backstage to meet all of the wrestlers there tonight as well as free swag, and no $20 fee that’s charges by some wrestlers for pictures. The price & benefits seemed fair ($175) so I popped for one, thinking it would be something unique for the wrestlers to sign. Plus there were only 9 and I like to be special.
The meet and greet wasn’t exactly what I expected. No pictures or posing, basically we just got to stand on the other side of the guard rail as some of the wrestlers came out, did a lap and signed things. I guess I was expecting something like the PPV FanFest that I’d seen on TV, where the wrestlers and fans are mingling in a big open room. Here is who came out and the impressions I got:
* Shannon Moore didn’t look miserable but he looked, well, “D.I.L.L.I.G.A.F about being here?” Frankly I wouldn’t want to be in this town either. He signed stuff but didn’t really talk or look at you.
* Jesse Neal was very fan friendly, joked around, was very interactive.
* Daniels was also fan friendly, especially towards kids. I told him it was cool to see him back in TNA, and he said “It’s great being back, I never should have been gone.” He was rocking the eye liner & black nails too.
* Matt Morgan came out with sunglasses on. He seemed like he was in a so-so mood. He just made the lap around signing stuff and then went backstage. No real “extra mile” stuff. The man is big.
* Tommy Dreamer was very fan friendly, taking forever to get around the ring because he kept talking and joking with people. Don West even joked on the house mic for him to move it along. Funny stuff.
* Kaz just signed stuff and seemed to enjoy his celebrity status among the rednecks.
That was it for the meet & greet. Then Don West announced that Abyss was signing autographs at the merch tables. Kids who bought Abyss masks could get pics taken with him. Don promoted this as something that rarely happens “due to the nature of professional wrestling.” Abyss is huge in person. He chose not to wear his newly acquired false bottom teeth tonight.
Then the show started. No JB tonight, but we got So Cal Val filling in. No issues here. She welcomed everyone to the show and then talked about giving backstage passes to the loudest fans. Cue the music of Abyss and a shocked Val. Abyss comes out to his new theme he’s been using for a few weeks, then gets Val in a corner and says “Immortal says there will be NO backstage passes tonight!” to a generous amount of boos. Kaz then comes out using the old Fortune theme. The Ric Flair/AJ Styles remix version. They have a pretty good match with Abyss dominating. Right before the finish, the entire ring bounces and the ropes go loose. Kaz quickly finishes Abyss off for the win, grabs the stick, and says “Fortune says YES to the backstage passes!” and gives some out to some kids.
Don West gets in the ring and tosses out a ridiculous amount of shirts, DVD’s, toys, ect to the fans to stall while the ring is fixed. Don is amazingly friendly and open during the show, he spends 90% of the show on the floor with fans. It took maybe 15 minutes to fix the ring. Val joked about the ring breaking on Friday 13th.
Next up is Tara vs. Miss Tessmacher. Both are insanely hot, and Miss Tessmacher is surprisingly petite. She has the body of Ellen Page but the “assets” of Elvira. She impressed, she had some good wrestling moves. They got the ref involved, with Tessmacher “accidentally” dropping her glasses and slowly bending over to pick them up right in front of the referee, which made his jaw drop. Tara tried the same thing to which Miss Tessmacher put her boot on Tara’s bum and shoved her down. Funny spot. Tessmacher mixed in a lot of stripper dancing too. Tara is playing a sympathetic face on TV but was a heel tonight, in what was a good match that saw Tessmacher win with a sexy stripper version of the Peoples Elbow.
Next up is Matt Hardy vs. Matt Morgan. Good match with some heel comedy from Hardy. My girlfriend is a huge fan of both Hardy boys, and got extremely excited when Matt took off his shirt and teased tossing it to the loudest side, only to drop it to the floor and laugh. Hardy worked the legs and took a nasty clothesline over the top rope. He got into it with some fans, got back in the ring for a good match. Dueling chants for Morgan & Hardy. Matt went for the Twist of Hate but Morgan pushed him into the ropes, Hardy bounced back into a Carbon Footprint and Morgan gets the win.
Intermission time and those with backstage passes and guitars get to go backstage. I’m wondering what to expect now after the lackluster meet & greet. Maybe the refs will be signing stuff? Nope, it’s Jeff Jarrett. Nice surprise. He is super friendly to everyone and signed anything, he took pictures, he made sure they came out good before calling the next people up, he actually grabbed your program out of your hand to flip through it to find his pic and sign it. He signed my guitar (so did the other Meet & Greet wrestlers) and I thanked him for giving us an alternative. He smiled and said “Growing every day thanks to you guys!” and everyone cheered. He then said he appreciated it, hoped I had a good time and shook my hand. Very cool.
Back in the arena and now Don West is barking that Miss Tessmacher is signing stuff at the merch table. The line is HUGE even though I’m sure 75% of the people there didn’t even know who she was. She’s all smiles and very friendly. West is in the ring tossing out goodies when he see’s a family of three. A dad wearing a Triple H shirt, the mom wearing an Undertaker shirt, and a kid (about 5 years old or so) wearing a John Cena shirt. West jokes “Whoa…who let you guys in wearing that crap? Here, you need these more than anyone else here! Especially you, kid, because we really dont want to see him!” which of course was a play on John Cena’s “You cant see me” schtick. West then gave them TNA shirts and a backstage pass.
In a bit of a news item, while Don was tossing out merch, he says something that caught my attention. Recently the word is that TNA is scraping those 3 letters and will be known now as just “Impact Wrestling”. Foley said it on iMPACT, Kurt Angle just said it in an interview earlier in the week and Hulk Hogan tweeted about “No More TNA”. However Don West says that at the merch booth, you can now buy the Impact Wrestling shirts. Go to TNAWrestling.com to see what the logo and blue coloring looks like, thats whats on the shirt. Don says “Let me stress though, as I’ve been getting this all week…we are NOT dropping the TNA letters, just changing the name of the show. It’s TNA Presents: Impact Wrestling!”. So I don’t know, make of that what you will. WWE is so against the word “wrestling” that TNA is taking the “we are proud to be wrestling” ball and running with it. And I think that is a good idea. Even Chris Jericho said this week that it will always be wrestling to him. Case in point, my first night back at work & my co-workers were asking me “So how was wrestling?” and not “So how was the sports entertainment?”.
Before the matches resume, people with passes and guitars can go backstage again. This time it’s Tara, Matt Hardy, Tommy Dreamer, and Kurt Angle doing autographs, pictures, ect. This was the open spaced meet & greet I wanted. Dreamer was very friendly again and awesome, but had the least amount of people swarmed around him for pics. I felt kinda bad for the dude. Matt Hardy was cool too, he signed everything happily and smiled for pics. Kurt Angle was the same way. Tara was over the top friendly. I almost couldn’t find her because she’s so damn short in real life. I guess it’s just me because I’m 6’2″. She gave me a hug & signed the guitar. Another small detail but a cool one, Tara actually looks at you when she’s talking. Everyone else just sorta looks down or doesn’t make eye contact. This will sound humorously creepy but when she hugged me for a pic, her hair smelled amazing.
Now it’s match time again and it’s a 3-way match between Bully Ray, Tommy Dreamer, and Christopher Daniels, who comes out to the Fortune theme that was just released on the TNA Shop site. Ray argues with the fans, tells one loud woman 2 seats from me to “Shut up, bitch!” and gets on the mic to tell Tommy Dreamer “Tonight you’re going to handle my work load! And if you do a good job, then MAYBE I’ll talk to Hogan about letting you in Immortal.”. Cool that their still playing the angle from iMPACT at a house show. Tommy and Daniels go at it while Ray stalks at ringside. He was wearing a Yankees beanie and a group of guys started chanting “Red Sox *clap*clap*clap*” Ray laughs and says ‘Whats-a-maddah? No Louisiana MLB team for you losers to root for?” Funny stuff. And no, we have no MLB team here. Ray slides in and it’s a double team on Daniels. Ray goes nuts on Daniels and Tommy pulls him back shouting “You’re taking it too far!”…..then turns and goes berserk on Daniels as Ray laughs. Daniels later comes back but Ray hits him with his chain as Dreamer has the ref distracted and gets the win.
Next is Beer Money vs. Ink Inc. Guess which team was super over in beer-swilling redneck Louisiana? Robert Roode has something. I totally support TNA grooming him for greater things. Shannon Moore wipes his ass with a Beer Money shirt & tosses it at Storm. Really great match, very fast paced. James Storm is hilarious. He came out drinking a beer (naturally) and when he took his corner, the fans chanted “CHUG, CHUG, CHUG!!” Storm laughed, Roode shrugged, and Storm chugged it. During the match, the crazy woman next to me shouts “Nice hair!” presumably to Jesse Neal, but James Storm flips his own hair in a metrosexual way and says “Head & Shoulders!” They do their “BEER…MONEY!” spot with the fans and hit the DWI for the win. Great match.
Main event time with Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Jarrett. Massive pop for Angle. Jarrett stalled forever at ringside. Kurt is every bit as high impact and fast paced at house shows as he is on PPV. A great match that showcased everything from the Ankle Lock to Jarrett doing his strut. Kurt went for the Angle Slam, Jeff hopped out of it, went for the Stroke, Kurt countered into an Angle Slam for the win.
Beer Money joined Kurt so everyone (with $20) could take a pic of all three of them inside the ring. Huge line. Because I shilled for the magical guitar, me and the GF didn’t have to fork over $20. Getting inside the TNA ring was fun. Makes me want to go back to my childhood ambitions of pursuing a career as a wrestler. They were herding fans in, 10 fans per minute., for pictures. Sadly I couldn’t get Beer Money to sign the guitar. I think I got everyone who was there to sign it but them and So Cal Val.
Overall it was a great show. I haven’t been to a WWE house show so I can’t compare, but TNA was so over the top fan friendly, giving everyone the chance to get pics and autographs with at least some of the stars. The guitar gave me access to everyone though, so it was $175 well spent. In a way though I would have felt ripped off if I hadn’t bought that guitar because I would have only gotten the ringside meet & greet with just a few of the more un-enthusiastic stars. Only those with guitars or backstage passes handed out by Val got to actually see the big names. To be fair though, after the show Kurt & Beer money did pics (no autographs) and Jeff Jarrett did both at the merchandise table as fans were leaving.
Overall it was a great night with a great show. None of the wrestlers were rude, and a big majority of them were very fan friendly. I liked the fact that even if you bought the cheap seats, you’d still get the chance for autographs and/or pictures with Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, Beer Money, Abyss & Miss Tessmacher. The meet & greet tickets are more for autograph seekers. But bring extra cash because I assume at every show, Don sells 9 or 10 special items that grant you all access to everything. This time it was the guitar and it was well worth it to me. I definitely recommend going to TNA when it’s in your area, not only to support them but because it’s just such an amazing time.