26 October 2013

I'm Feeling Salty

October 24th was a very odd day for me.  Not to be a drama queen, but I kind of went through a roller coaster of emotions.  After investing a lot of time and energy in promoting the show here locally in Salt Lake City, the confirmed news came from TNA that they were going back to the Impact Zone.  That thought alone was depressing to me on a personal level as I have been such an advocate for taking IMPACT on the road.  This day had turned into a microcosm of the last 8 months in TNA history.  Even with the aforementioned news fresh on my mind, I had an IMPACT to attend......and MAN, what a show it was.

Now, something that you need to understand is that I didn't know exactly where I was going to be sitting upon my arrival to Maverik Center.  My contacts with TNA had left me a couple of tickets at Will Call and much to my delight they ended up being on the 1st row ringside.  I had sat on the front row for the Vegas show in June, but at that time I was on camera.  These seats were actually on the hard camera side.  My friend Scott had never been to a pro-wrestling event before so it was extra fun in that respect.  Ok, enough of the embellishment of my awesome tickets, let's get to the show.

For those of you that have not attended a TNA event, and in particular an IMPACT taping, you need to realize how important Jeremy Borash is to these shows.  It has become more evident recently just how many hats each one of TNA's employees wear.  In my opinion, JB wears the most hats out of anyone.  He is a ring announcer, a hype man during commercials, a broadcaster for Xplosion, a production team member, an interviewer, and probably has like 5 other responsibilities (and that is just during these IMPACT tapings).  Borash is such a vital utility man for the company, and it's tiring just watching him work.  This has become more and more evident with each TNA show I've attended, as he serves as the glue that holds everything together. 

One draw-back (as others have pointed out before) of TNA doing a double taping is that it ends up being 4 hours of tapings.  After 2 Xplosion matches and 2 full IMPACTs the crowd naturally loses some gusto by the end of the 4 hours.  Some of the crowd also leaves after the 1st taping which is kind of disconcerting.  Despite that being the usual pattern, the SLC crowd was very vocal during 80% of the 2nd show.  I would highly suggest making sure you see the Halloween episode, even if it's on DVR or YouTube as some important things happen. 

With IMPACT being held in the Mountain Time Zone, it meant the show would be 100% LIVE for the 1st time since the inception of the road tapings (as far as I recall).  There was no room for error, and that did show through a few times during the night with a couple of technical difficulties and Christi Hemme snafus.  All in all, those things didn't really matter.  Now, if the crowd would have been an arena full of corpses, sitting on their hands then maybe those things would have stood out more.  Instead, the crowd became a tangible character during IMPACT and the world took notice of it.  We chanted, we cheered, we booed and we all thoroughly enjoyed a true pro-wrestling event.

I had a sense that the show was going really, really well and that the crowd was hot, but I didn't know that the response on social media was so positive and reflected that until later in the night.  It was undeniable that the SLC crowd brought noise and rowdiness.  Damn, I was proud that my hometown delivered like this.  It was so validating and it totally shut up the haters that had been trolling TNA for the last few weeks and months, even if it was just for 2 hours.  Can you imagine if the Salt Lake crowd would have been like Wichita Falls, Texas?  The IWC would have grilled IMPACT Wrestling even more than ever before.  Thankfully that wasn't in the cards.

I feel fortunate to have attended such a pivotal set of IMPACT tapings.  The 2 newest TNA talents (EC3 & Lei'D Tapa) came across very well and were prominently featured.  Yes, there was lots of talking and promos, but it all set the table for the next few months and was necessary.  Not to mention the crowd ate it all up.  This was the first ever TNA show in the state of Utah, yet the crowd was very savvy to the storylines and individual wrestlers.  The heat on Dixie Carter was so intense that I only heard about half of what she said through-out the night, despite her standing about 10 feet away from me for most of it. 

AJ Styles has finally turned a corner.  He is a different person when that World Heavyweight Title is in his possession as his new swagger was so noticeable in person.  I know that Bully Ray comes across as a great heel on TV, but until you see in person how worked up and angry a sizable crowd reacts from his antagonizing  ways, you can't fully appreciate his talents.  It literally puts over whoever he works with, no matter who that is.  While Bully's time with the World Title is done for now, he will prove to be a vital part of TNA's product going forward as he has now turned into the Gollum-type figure...........PRECIOUS!!!

The new direction of TNA that was displayed on Thursday night is invigorating.  Gone are the days of ignoring the Tag Team & KnockOuts Divisions.  Gone are the days of focusing on older talent like Hogan and Sting.  Don't get me wrong, I respect everything that those 2 legends have done for the business but this is the time where the best talent must shine, and they are so far.  The show in Utah was brilliant, but it's just the 1st chapter in a long, must-read novel.  The pieces are almost all in place as they are nearing a precipice.  I just wish that all of the LIVE IMPACT crowds would take notice of what happened in the Maverik Center and follow our lead accordingly (whether it's in the IZ or somewhere else).  The next 12 months are going to be the most pivotal time in TNA's history. Enjoy the ride!

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