WWE Universe, you are amazing.
Initially, I was going to write up this post following the WWE’s weekend trip to Columbus, Ohio for NXT and Money in the Bank. However, technological and personal issues put it on the back burner. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I could digest and evaluate the upcoming WWE events through my refreshed lenses.
I have been to my fair share of wrestling shows over the years. From local promotions to the WWE. In fact, the only major promotion I have missed over the years has been ECW. But prior to this year, I had not been to a WWE event in over a decade nor a WWE PPV since 1996. I had forgotten what the live WWE experience was like, and I got used to hearing the weekly crowds through television speakers. I, like many, have become accustomed to only respecting the crowds in hotbed areas such as Philadelphia.
I romanticized the independent crowds that I was a part of in the 2000’s. It was fun, but the interaction also leads to several crowd members thinking the show is about them. Regardless, the fun out of those top tier independent shows superseded the few unpleasant crowd members. These crowds became my benchmark.
It was unfair to the WWE. Independent crowds are hardcore professional wrestling fans. The WWE’s scope is far wider reaching every demographic and a mix of casual and hardcore fans.
Without question, the attitude and psychology of the WWE crowds have changed over the years. ECW helped shift this prior to the Attitude Era, and independent promotions such as Ring of Honor continued to alter how crowds participated at events. The Japanese influence also permeated these crowds. The current WWE crowd showcases their influence on a weekly basis. Now, we hear “This Is Awesome” chants start up from the most mundane spots that we see every week, and the infamous “What” chant is still around years after Stone Cold Steve Austin has left us.
Things of that ilk soured me on the crowds I heard on the WWE’s programs. It grated me. But after that weekend, and subsequent weeks of watching, I have to say I am reinvigorated as a fan.
The Columbus NXT crowd was everything great about an intimate crowd. It was interactive, but without fans wanting to make it about them. For each and every match, they were hot. They showed respect to the talent and were engaged from start to finish. It was phenomenal.
But, NXT has grown into the darling of the hardcore fans. The crowd reaction was to be expected. While it did get me pumped it also left me concerned for the next night – Money in the Bank.
I wasn’t prepared for how awesome the crowd in Nationwide Arena would be. It echoed the NXT crowd from LC Pavilion, but on a scale ten times as large. I have not watched it back on the WWE Network, and do not know how it came off on screen but live it was incredible. The highlight was the fantastic John Cena vs. Kevin Owens rematch. A great match made greater by the fan reactions.
The WWE Universe makes the live events so much more special than you can imagine by watching on TV. The WWE’s recent Beast in the East network special even showed how the WWE Universe is a worldwide phenomenon. The Tokyo crowd was exceptional.
By consuming so much sports entertainment on a weekly basis, we become jaded. It can be homogenized at times, and it makes us lose the appreciation for something we all so dearly love. That can be regained by attending a WWE event live.
The sense of community you get from that experience is well worth the price of admission, and it brings you back to being the childlike fan you are supposed to be. You live and die with the action. You are out of your seat in excitement, and sweating from all the excitement. And everyone around you is the same way.
If the WWE is in your area – GO! I nearly forgot how special it could be, and I’m not about to let that happen again. It is a credit to the WWE Universe.