Now it can be told…
After years of dodging the pro wrestling bullet, I broke down Monday and bought tickets to the WWE Gangbang at Sprint. And I can now report, plenty has changed even since the not-too-distant days of the WWF, before to the name change from Federation to Entertainment.
Here’s what I saw and learned, starting with my suggestion that if you really like watching over-the-top, wrestling soaps and steroid-buffed out dudes, by all means have at it. However, save your ticket money and stick to the TV action – the live shows are way too long, with way too much between match silliness and way too little wrestling action.
It’s really that simple.
I was going to suggest arriving early because there was a massive line and bottleneck out front only 5 minutes prior to the 7:15 p.m. start. Worse yet, Getting in involves a double line deal. First you have to pass airport security check muster to enter the venue, then you have to stand in a second line to present your ticket and enter the seating area.
only to have to wade through 45 minutes of boring, non-televised matches before start of Monday Night Raw television program at 8 p.m. Thus my suggestion that if now, if you must go, arrive fashionably late. The two-hour show is plenty long enough.
For those of you who grew up watching local wrestling, the WWE setup is impressive. Lots of glitz, major fireworks and the biggest video screen you probably will ever see in a venue this small. Which by the way, with some curtaining, looked pretty close to being a sellout with 15,000 plus or minus.
My seats were excellent. Eye level about nine to 10 rows from the ring in the first raised section.
Meaning I could just about see everything up close and personal. So why was I constantly catching myself watching the action on TV instead? The answer is threefold.
First (and worst), the WWE encourages fans to bring giant signs to the matches and hold them up throughout. Which results in a large number of members of the as-seen-on-TV crowd being in a constant state of blocking other people’s views throughout most of the match.
Who are these sign people? It’s like a cult.
Second, pretty much anything that takes place outside the ring – which is a lot – is difficult to impossible to see except for the video screen.
Third, the WWE sets up its main camera bank on one side of the arena resulting in the majority of the mugging and action tilted that direction. In other words, facing away from the side I was on and from most people in the arena.
Another odd gripe; the WWE does a lousy job of rigging the ring for sound to catch the grunts, groans and body slam sounds so huge on the televised show. Sounds that are nowhere to be found inside the arena.
It was almost like watching a silent movie in the matches that didn’t garner much crowd noise.
WWE women wrestlers are long on pulchritude and short on wrestling skills.
Their matches are also shorter than my attention span, which past editor’s at the Star will attest is quite short. They can – and frequently are – over in a matter of what seem like seconds. Frankly, the WWE chicks are just too hot to allow themselves to get banged up like the girl grapplers of old.
Take Maxim magazine covergirl Kelly Kelly. While it’s entirely possible she could become the next Mrs. George Clooney, even money says The Mermaid could kick her butt. The "girl wrestlers" of old I remember wouldn’t even have made it as Three Stooges groupies lookswise, but they knew their way around the ring. Betty Nicoli, Jean Antone.
Most of the WWE girl’s moves, punches etc. look really poorly faked when viewed live.
A couple three matches into the live WWE experience at Sprint I found myself jotting down stuff like, "OMG, it’s all acting and vamping for TV with no real beef." Come on, movies are fake, too, but at least they make ’em look real.
As for the crowd, hard for me to put my finger on it.
It’s not quite as lowbrow as the Memorial Hall days gone by, but by no means would one refer to it as upscale. Think Poor Man’s Chiefs Crowd (similar to Arena Football), but without the wall-to-wall drunkeness. I mean, where else do you see grown men in their 30s and 40s sporting oversize, fake wrestling belts?
And I’m talking about straight dudes.
It would be remiss of me not to note the dearth of anything approaching a hottie in the crowd.
Not even among the moms. Sheesh, they even had a handful of hotties in the Mongolian Stomper days. Must be some pretty slim pickings in today’s wrestling groupie ranks.
Another thing missing in the live WWE experience, it’s kind of a dead zone much of the time. Very dead. In between the rare fireworks and odd superstar beatdowns, the crowd got so bored at one point it started a wave.
I will say that the music video action on the giant screen is fairly killer.
However, the WWE matches here were mostly very short with tons of boring between match banter.
All of which begs the question of whether a competing pro wrestling league might rise up one day and offer higher quality wrestling with fewer silly soaps. Less watered down Martin City Melodrama-quality storylines.
One that the WWE couldn’t merely buy up and eliminate the competition as it did with ECW
There’s just too much waiting around between commercials at the live event, which is not what I call riveting.
There’s also the beefcake factor in play for those with an appetite for that. Because most of the non-freakishly huge wrestlers these days are buff beyond belief. It’s like a mini male bodybuilding show with a buncha really corny, little kid stryle posturing and posing.
Hey, at least I learned something.
I learned John Cena has more Facebook followers than LeBron, Tebow and Kardashian. Well, duh.
Was I entertained? Sure, but it was a very long ride for a very small payoff in the way of actual wrestling.
So like I said, watch it at home on TV for free and don’t forget to DVR so you can skip the farcical filler.