On yesterday, I attended my first TNA Impact Wrestling live event. It was held in the annex of the Lawrence Joel Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Winston Salem, NC. I’m sure it was nostalgic for longtime fans since LJVM was the longtime venue for WCW’s Fall Brawl pay-per-view spectaculars in the 90s.
Before I continue further into this report, I’d like to bring up how North Carolina has become a wrestling hotbed as of late. While the Mid-Atlantic region (Carolinas and Virginias) have always enjoyed a rich tradition of wrestling history dating back to the days of Jim Crockett Promotions and World Championship Wrestling, it seems as if the tar heel state is getting some serious love from the pro wrestling community over the next couple of months.
TNA is hosting another live event today in Raleigh, WWE is coming to Charlotte on 10/29 and 10/30 in Fayetteville, before returning to Raleigh on 12/30 for their holiday tour. Keep in mind that WWE already held a PPV in Raleigh on 5/30 and a Monday Night Raw in Greensboro on 5/7(which I attended). I recently found out that an independent show, WrestleCade, featuring current and former talent from TNA, WWE and other promotions, will be held on 11/25 in Winston Salem. I can’t ever recall a time so much major league wrestling action took place over such a short period time in my own state. I’m trying my best to attend as many shows as possible.
I just want to share a few notes of what I took away from the show. Hope you enjoy:
- It was a very intimate and interactive atmosphere. Throughout the evening there were several fan giveaways of merchandise. The wrestlers were constantly throwing their t-shirts out to the crowd and doing funny things to entertain us throughout the matches.
- Jeff Hardy is far and away their biggest star. In a sense, he is very similar to the role John Cena plays in WWE as both heavily appeal to children and female fan base (though Jeff gets support from the 18 and older male demographic that Cena never does). Almost every kid I saw had on Hardy merchandise. During the main event, there was an empty seat beside me and the lady in the next seat over invited this little girl to sit there because she could tell how big of a Hardy fan she was. The girl literally went crazy for every move Hardy did and she likely went home hoarse from screaming so much. Once the match ended fans could go into the ring to take a picture with him for $20.
- Jeff’s brother Matt was backstage at the show. I had a feeling he would be close by since both live in NC.
- There was a preshow meet and greet session with various wrestlers that was pretty cool. I got to meet Magnus, Robbie T, Rob Terry, Gail Kim, Eric Young and Crimson. They were all super friendly and Gail was just as attractive in person as she’s been in all the years I’ve watched her on television.
- Rob Van Dam got the second biggest response of the night. This was my first time ever seeing RVD in person and he’s still good at pulling off all of his acrobatic spots for a guy who is 41. Now that I think about it, it was my first time seeing Jeff since he became a major star in wrestling. An old friend from church and I saw the Jeff and his brother Matt wrestle at a small show in 1998 before both became major stars in WWE a few years later.
- The security guy outside of the ring was constantly threatening to kick people out that were videotaping the event. He was hilarious.
- I was very fortunate to meet some great fans. I normally don’t like attending shows solo, but this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Plus I figured I wouldn’t be able to have anyone attend being at such short notice. I arrived about two hours before showtime and spent a good portion of that time hanging out this older guy. As we were talking about old school wrestling, he stopped and asked about my age. He must’ve figured I was pretty young to be talking so vividly about stuff from 20 years ago. I told him my age and that I had literally been a fan for my entire life. He found it funny.
- Sitting to my right was a man and his young son. It wasn’t until the show was just about over that we found out we‘re both from Rockingham county. He even delivers milk to several grocery stores in the area including the one I used to work at. We spent a while talking about some of my old coworkers. Always good to meet some home peeps!
- The highlight of my night was the lady who sat on my left. She was in her early forties and was one of the coolest fans I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting (since I’ve also met obnoxious fans who make me embarrassed to be a fan). She was a dental hygienist and has been watching wrestling since the early 80s. She attends every major show that comes to the state and showed me some pictures on her phone she had taken with various wrestlers. We were able to pick up on many things that were happening throughout the show and it made for a very entertaining experience. More than anything, it was just fun to meet an older person who I had so much in common with as it related to our love of wrestling. I was also happy for her because she was unable to attend the meet and greet session due to a prior emergency. As favor would have it she knew a person that worked security and they were able to take her backstage for autographs during intermission.