There is nothing like going to a live wrestling show; it’s not a play, not a movie and it’s not a sporting event.
No one said this better than Mike Quackenbush in his recent speech on the art of wrestling. Wrestling is a strange bird indeed; it’s the rare live show where the crowd actually matters in more than just a gimmicky sort of plot device way. Nothing demonstrates this better than actually going to a live independent wrestling show.
The Intercontinental Belt and I had the good luck of going to Full Impact Pro Fallout 2015 night one but unfortunately couldn’t make it out for night two. However, we purchased night two on the WNN website for some at- home viewing. And the result was interesting, to say the least.
While not a perfect blind double test, as one night we were in the crowd and the next night we were on the couch, there was a clear difference in the crowd energy. Both nights the quality of wrestling was amazing: how could it not be with talents like Team IOU, Tier One and Viking War Party in the room?! However, night two was missing something, and that was crowd participation. It might not seem like much, but a genuinely “hot” crowd can be a difference maker.
I say “genuine” because I believe this part is oft-overlooked. A hot crowd is great…but one that is about their own 5 minutes of fame, is irritating, jarring and ultimately distracting for the wrestlers and the actual fans who came to see them. The difference in genuine and navel gazing becomes obvious when watching a wrestling show TV taping, ala’ Ring of Honor, and/or a TV taping of NXT.
On the latter, there is nothing much genuine going on when seeing the Full Sail crowd. They almost feel like they have been rehearsing all month for their 5 second cameo…and it shows. Their chants are over loud, over long ,and so distracting that I typically end up muting the show or just turning it off. That being said, the NXT crowd for the recent pay-per-view in London, TakeOver, was also loud but displayed genuine enthusiasm which added to the event rather than serve as a distraction. Similarly, watch any episode of Ring of Honor and you will see how an excited, spellbound crowd adds to the spectacle by just being there and in the moment.
Maybe it’s the disease of our time: too many of us seem distracted and/or overly self conscious. Just be there folks; have fun and enjoy the ride. As fans, know that you are the X factor , “the 10th man” and that your support can mean the world if you can just get out of your own head.