Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What It's Like To Attend an NXT Taping

So, although I have gone to a couple of NXT house shows since moving to Florida, I still had yet to make it to the promised land. That, of course, being the Full Sail Arena where the NXT tapings and Takeover events take place. Although I wasn't able to get tickets for Takeover (those things sell out fast), I was able to get general admission tickets for the tapings of the next four episodes of NXT. Instead of going over the wrestling I saw, I wanted to go over the experience of seeing NXT live.

As I said, tickets for the Takeover events sell out super fast, but for the tapings, it wasn't too hard to get tickets. I think they had tickets up until about two weeks before the show. There is plenty of parking, so that was nice. Also, they allow you to bring in food and drink but no bottle caps. You would have a better chance of getting a gun in there than a bottle cap, but, like, don't bring a gun. Be cool, it's supposed to be a positive place.

The Arena
So I knew that the Full Sail Arena wasn't big, but it definitely looks better on the WWE Network than it does in person. The bleachers only go back ten rows, so it is impossible to have a bad seat. I thought the show started at 6:00, so we got in line at 5:15, thinking doors would open in 15 minutes, but it turned out doors didn't open until 6:00. We were still only about halfway up the line, but we ended up getting third row seats in the bleachers. Even had we shown up at 6:00, we still could have gotten quality seats, as it is a very fan friendly venue.

The Matches
Although I won't go into specifics on the matches, what I will say is that the show does a good job of going fairly quickly, considering they are producing about four hours of wrestling content (the backstage segments are not done during the tapings), as they go through matches fairly quickly, empty the ring, and start the next match. In between shows, there is maybe a three-minute break, so there is very limited down time. What I would say is that the matches were good, not great, as they save the big stuff for the Takeover shows. Still, the matches are fun, and as a fan of old school wrestling, it was nice to see a couple matches just set up to be the classic good wrestler vs. jobber squashes.

The Fans
The fans can basically be broken down into five distinct groups, which is more diverse than I would have expected. Anyway, here are those groups:

People Who Like/Love Pro Wrestling
This is the category I identify with and what I was expecting a lot more of. There were still a decent amount of these people who were just looking forward to watching some good wrestling, cheering the good guys, booing the bad guys and having a good time with it. We understand it is predetermined, but that doesn't mean we don't get lost in the moment from time to time.

People Who Like/Love WWE
I was standing next to an affable gentleman in line, and we got to talking about WWE, and it was pretty clear that we are very different wrestling fans. I like who I like, but this guy liked exactly who the WWE wants him to like. He's a Cena fan, and he thought his match against Rusev at Payback was the match of the night; I thought it was hot garbage. I liked the tag match from Payback, and I'm pretty sure this guy didn't give a shit about that match. Hey, to each their own. These are the fans the WWE wants, and they probably enjoy wrestling more than I do since their favorite wrestlers actually matter.

Super Smark
These people care about pro wrestling, but they, unfortunately, don't know how to love. Instead of embracing everyone for their individuality, these people are there to point out what is wrong. A wrestler got a "Headlock City" chant going, and someone near me yelled out, "That's a chinlock." Dude, the chin is part of the head, it's a form of headlock. There were also lots of people telling a returning wrestler who is not very skilled in the ring. Plenty of people told this guy how awful he was when he did anything, even when it wasn't bad, they had already predetermined that it was going to suck. These are not fun people to be around.

It's Still Real to Me, Damnit
The people who take wrestling way too seriously. I had one of these super fans right in front of me, and she loves Blake and Murphy. Apparently, one of them is dating Alexa Bliss. Also, apparently one of them will say that he is this lady's husband. She is, um, not attractive, so this is definitely not a genuine thing, but she acted as if it was. She was like a 35-year-old adult who defended those guys no matter what they did. Wrestling is very real, and if you say anything bad about Blake and Murphy, she will threaten to fight you and/or have them fight you. This woman was a treasure.

The last set of fans are Gronks. As in, Rob Gronkowski, because he was there. They show up late with 20 mostly gigantic people in Mojo Rawley shirts, where they sit in the front row that was blocked off for them as other people are forced to stand due to there not being enough seats because of Gronk. They wait for Mojo's match, cheer, celebrate, and leave to go Gronk up some other place.

Gronks are the worst, but really, everything else about the NXT experience is pretty great. If you happen to be stuck around Orlando for any period of time, I promise there is no better $10 spent than seeing NXT live.


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