Live event crowd: New York’s Madison Square Garden
Underdogs triumphant at WrestleMania XX
This post is highly in response to John Cena’s claim a few weeks ago on Raw that Chicago has a claim to be the home of WWE. Chicago is no question a great opinionated crowd. They even booed the Rock last time WWE stopped by!
Canada has also been home to some of the hottest crowds of all time (see: Canadian Stampede: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-ssC3C__LQ ). With their own cute tradition of yelling “twooooo” after every two count.
Japan has also been know to be the most respectful audience in the world, not cheering or booing mid match but giving a round of applause after every high spot.
But as Vince Sr used to say: “The Garden is the Garden.”
Back in the territorial days MSG was the home base of WWWF. Vince Jr has not forgotten this, coming “home” every ten years for Wrestlemania (though rumor has it they won’t be returning for 30 so they can go to a stadium arena that can fit more seats).
MSG has been home to some of the most important events in WWE history:
The last time Raw was at MSG
Hulkamania begins when Hulk pins the Iron Sheik to be world champion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9psdw86uAUg
The classic HBK vs Razor Ramon ladder match. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSc71hbc2BE&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLDC9A34E70DC25FC3
The (best ever?) Street fight: Cactus Jack vs HHH http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BGXUzk8SWc
The first Elimination Chamber. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJM23B_HVwY
And just recently the Rock returned to action after 8 years at Survivor Series. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDzWZbEJhsE
The crowds is MSG have always proven to be smart, knowledgeable, funny, eclectic and to take no bullshit. Its been said Vince uses the MSG crowd reaction as barometer of where his superstars stand.
This best proof of this is when I attended SummerSlam 98. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4r4cwXy_xk The top heel at that time was Rock (Undertaker was a tweener). Austin and HHH were the top faces. Ill never forgot how confused I was as a kid to why one of the loudest pops of the night went to Rock as he was hitting the Peoples Elbow. The crowd at times was cheering him more than HHH. As we all know the Rock soon turned face and the rest is history.
I attended Survivor Series a month ago and I can give many examples of MSG’s awesomeness:
The crowd very strongly booed Mason Ryan before he even hit the ring. And they haggled him by chanting “Batista”. The poor guy is too green. Being called up before he’s ready, and looking like a knockoff Batista is not going to help this guy get over, and the smart crowd definitely realized this and did not let him off the hook.
The New Yorkers gave a surprisingly loud face reaction for Mark Henry. The guy has been loyal and busted his ass for his decade plus WWE career. The poor guy had to deal with the single worst gimmick in wrestling history: Mae Young’s birth to a hand. A very strong “Sexual Chocolate” chant erupted that left many people laughing and Henry stopped in his tracks. His recent improvement with the Hall of Pain gimmick and refreshingly good series of matches with Big Show earned him a well deserved respectful face reaction.
Once the Elimination tag was about to start, the crowd erupted in chanting “Cody”. The kid has improved at the pace of a meteor since his program with Mysterio and the crowd made sure to thank him. It seems to me Cody Rhodes is a lock for a title reign in 2012.
Of course the top faces (CM Punk, Rock) and top heels (Miz, Truth) got their appropriate tremendous reactions.
The story of the night goes to Zach Ryder. I think it is safe to say he was in danger of being released about a year ago. His initiative is a lesson for anyone working in a large company. With nothing being handed to him (after all hes not a third generation superstar :-O). He took his own time and creativity and made a internet show and a twitter, creating his own following that WWE never gave him a chance to develop on air. From the line entering the building, to the concession stands to any boring moment in the undercard, even until the Rock off air promo after the show, the New Yorkers were consistently chanting for Ryder. The opening match was originally supposed to have Ryder challenging Ziggler for the title but Ryder was replaced wit Morrison last minute. The crowd didn’t even give Ziggler and Morrison a chance. They put on a great match, but there was nothing they could do short of Steamboat-Savage WM 3 that would ease the hostile crowd. When Ryder finally came out after the match the tremendous pop was on the level of Stone Cold during the Attitude Era. I have experienced both, its on the same level.
They are just a few examples from one event of the MSG’s crowd’s sense of humor, foresight, and respect. Any fan should attend one televised taping in MSG. It is an entirely different experience than other arenas.