Big Dawg Does Vegas, Part Deux

Fans Unite

 

 

I walked away from Night Three of the Impact Wrestling TV tapings in Las Vegas feeling like the company is going to be just fine.  In fact, they’re going to more than “just fine”.  It’s hard to put into words but when you’re able to really feel the good vibes of the product in person for nine hours or more, like I did, it’s a totally different experience than watching it all unfold at home after the footage is cut up and produced and backstage segments are added in.  Ever the Impact optimist, I believe even more in their long-term success now than I have in several years.  With all the naysayers out there wanting to talk about false viewership numbers or the haters constantly trying to write Impact off, at the end of the day, none of that bullshit matters.  There will continue to be a place for Impact in today’s pro wrestling landscape, even with an increasingly competitive marketplace.  This current form of Impact Wrestling is unique and, in a lot of ways, its own distinctive entity compared to prior versions.  You could have literally started the promotion from scratch again when Anthem took over with all the challenges that they inherited and, in some respects, they did actually have a rebirth of sorts.  I’ve said it a thousand times, but this whole revitalization with Impact starts at the top with Ed Nordholm, Scott D’Amore and Don Callis.  That leadership group is doing a fantastic job and everyone else is following suit.

Honestly, I had a better overall experience in Las Vegas this time than I did in November.  The crowds were better and bigger and more into it.  The shows felt more crisp and the talent seemed more at home this second go-round in Sin City.  If you’ve never been to an Impact event in person, I highly suggest doing so because it’s difficult to get the full grasp of where things are heading with this promotion unless you can witness it close up.  My general observation is that the entire crew (from the top to the bottom) that goes on the road and makes the magic happen has a noticeable “team identity”.  Everyone seems to be on the same page and giving it their all.  Yes, there are good guys and bad guys on-screen and there are a lot of different, strong personalities to corral and egos to massage but you don’t have some rogue asshole out there backstabbing others to serve their own selfish objectives.  Now obviously I don’t know all the backstage politics or what’s exactly happening behind closed doors but when those performers come through the curtain, there’s nothing but professionalism exhibited.  They are operating well as a collective unit to put on the best show possible and I don’t think that we’ve always seen that from Impact (or TNA) in the past.  It’s a tricky thing with the nature of the professional wrestling business but this Impact team seems to really get along with each other and have a great rapport with one another.  It’s not like I’m presuming that they’re all best friends and everything is rainbows and puppies but it definitely comes across that they are all working towards the same collective goal of producing the very best wrestling product that they can.

Me Sams Town sign

I can’t say enough positive things about the fans that were in attendance at Sam’s Town for all three nights of action.  It may not always translate with the audio mixing of the show or how the audience was mic’d up, but I can tell you that they were tremendously engaged and rowdy.  Being the loudmouth that I am, I’ve always enjoyed starting chants at wrestling events and this time was no exception to that.  Clearly, as you will see in the pics that I took below, besides the section of seats directly below the hard camera (which every company tarps off so that the main shot isn’t compromised) the upper sections were mostly full.  Maybe in some of the upcoming Vegas episodes through late March they will turn the lights on a bit more and show the great crowd in attendance more fully?  We shall see, but for the most part, they kept the cheap seats mostly dark on TV on the Feb. 22nd edition (as they did for the November Vegas set).  That’s exactly why I’m posting the set of pictures that I am because I wanted to prove that it was essentially packed each night.  I could also show you shots of the crowd on the floor and around the ring but that’s mainly what was already shown on camera and it was obvious that those sections were also filled.  Now, Sams Town Live is not a massive venue but it does have a capacity of 1,100 for concerts.  I’m not going to pinpoint a specific number but given the fullness of the gathering it’s easy to be confident in a 700-800 range for each show.  So that means that more than two thousand people saw Impact in a 3 day span which is a significant increase from the November tapings (I’d say even double the collective total).

 

 

Here are our exclusive shots of each night.

 

Night One:

Feb Tapings Night 1

 

Night Two:

Night 2

 

Night Three:

Night 3

 

Briefly, I want to explain our policy on how we handle spoilers around here.  Look, we totally get it that spoilers are not everyone’s cup of tea.  I am not including any spoilers in this column.  In fact, I normally avoid spoilers myself unless I’m the one who’s actually going to the event and personally providing them.  However, it’s obvious that there is a need and demand for them.  If they are going to be available out there anyway (sometimes on sites that are unnecessarily harsh towards Impact), why not let those that want to read them do so in a place that is very Impact friendly?  We are not forcing them on anyone.  We have never once tweeted out actual spoilers results besides linking our Spoiler Discussion post where they are kept discreetly.  We make a huge effort to not have spoilers get into any other post besides the designated area for them.  Spoilers are not an enormous focus of what we do here at DiscussPW and we put them on a completely separate and isolated section of the site so that they are easily avoidable for those that prefer to not see them or hear about them.  A recent poll we ran shows that over half of fans report reading Impact spoilers at least sometimes: DiscussPW Poll

 

There’s a strange phenomenon that happens out there on the front lines of pro wrestling social media and the Internet Wrestling Community that has to do with Impact Wrestling.  Now granted, if you look at it objectively, it really boils down to a few dirtsheet writers and a vocal minority who regurgitate those reports.  However, the perception out there amongst a lot of pro wrestling fans is that Impact Wrestling is still “doomed” and that “they can’t do anything right”.  Others claim that Impact is basically irrelevant or that they can’t retain talent.  It’s mostly just negative talking points over and over again.  We all know that this has been going on for several years and we’ve all endured a lot as loyal Impact fans.  Even when Impact recently held a press conference about teaming up with the NFL Alumni chapter of Las Vegas and how they will be working with charities and providing tickets to families in need and other worthy organizations, it somehow got twisted up into a false story about Impact employees handing out free tickets in the Sam’s Town casino because they apparently can’t draw a crowd.  The negative and erroneous spin is mind-blowing.  I made sure to get to the venue early each night and watch what was happening around the entrance and surrounding area.  I never once saw free tickets being randomly passed out.  I did see the box office being busy and fans commenting on how affordable tickets were.

Also, the NHL’s Golden Knights mascot Chance was involved in managing the Rascalz for a match on Xplosion at these tapings.  The Golden Knights are the absolute hottest thing in Las Vegas and I didn’t see this mascot involvement mentioned hardly anywhere.  Everyone realizes that the NFL and NHL are two of the biggest sports leagues in the world, right?  Another aspect that Impact rarely gets recognition for is the “bang for the buck” that the VIP ticket holders get when they attend Impact events.  For a very reasonable amount of money you get a more than fair amount of time with the wrestlers and talent including autographs, pictures and merch.  Maybe someday Impact will get treated with more respect by the wrestling media, but for now, most wrestling journalists have their heads up the ass of AEW and the WWE so it is what it is.  Maybe that day comes when Impact gets to their 20th year as a company?  Will there always be this ignorance?  Who knows.  I am confident that Impact will keep putting out solid episodes and great pay-per-views because that’s what they’ve been doing for over a year now consistently.  Little by little, one by one, objective wrestling fans are starting to notice too and are giving Impact a look.  For instance, stuff like the in-commercial Twitch interactions with fans where wrestlers or broadcast staff are watching the show with us and giving shout-outs.  That kind of thing goes a long ways towards rebuilding the image of Impact Wrestling.

Impact slot machine ad

Impact signage

One item of news that was reiterated at that press conference by Ed Nordholm was that Las Vegas will be staying in the rotation of Impact taping locations for the future.  That’s great news and I will obviously be there every time that I can be when Impact tapes in Vegas.  They have found a nice little niche in Sin City, especially with the NFL Alumni charity work.  Where else should Impact find an additional couple of venues to also put in the regular rotation?  Most likely it would be in either Canada or the U.S., although I’d love to see them get back to taping in the U.K. when it makes sense to do so again.  I’ve got my opinions on this topic but I’d like to hear your guys’ suggestions.  Let me know in the comment section below.

Oh, by the way, if you’re a fan of the “Hot Shots!” movies, then you’ll understand the title of the column.  If you’re too young for that, go YouTube it sooner than later.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.  This Rascalz shirt may just be my favorite Impact merch item that I’ve ever owned.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that but if you’ve listened to our Spark the Discussion podcast in the last year, I’m pretty sure you already know why.  As always, thanks for reading my column and supporting DiscussPW.

Me in Vegas