Just got home from the TNA show in Cape Girardeau, MO. It was my first TNA live event, and I was very underwhelmed by the event. The wrestlers tried really hard, but it was a disaster from the beginning.
First off, the crowd was only about 300 people max, with most of the arena empty. I was already kind of worried about the quality of the show, but my night of disappointment had only just begun.
Local radio personality Kevin Casey came out to play to the small crowd, and they gave him a vaguely positive response. Christy Hemme came out, and let me just say that she is absolutely jaw dropping in person. All of those compliments in your reports are spot on!
Then came the biggest bombshell of the night, aside from Christy Hemme. Some TNA employee named Pat (probably agent Pat Kenney) came out and announced that due to the MO Athletic commission (or something to that effect), certain superstars were not allowed to perform at the show tonight. They included Garrett Bischoff, Jay Bradley, Miss Tessmacher, Gail Kim, Wes Brisco, and the biggest shot to me as I'm a huge fan, no new champ Chris Sabin. The crowd was livid, giving what was unfortunately the biggest response of the entire night. They were all offered refunds if they asked for them by the end of the second match, but everyone who stayed for the full show would get a chance to meet and greet every single superstar backstage. It was also announced that the main event would be changed to Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Hardy, which drew cheers. I don't know what the situation was here, but it was extremely disappointing. Kudos for TNA for trying to make amends, but what was up with all the missing stars?!
The show got off to a hot start with James Storm coming out to address the crowd and challenge anyone to a fight. Storm noted on his Twitter earlier in the day that he wasn't injured so whatever happened at the Danville show the night before was not serious. Enter Bully Ray, who is just awesome in person. Actually, both he and Storm were exceptionally entertaining, which is good considering most of this show centered around them. After some good wrestling and nice comedy spots, Storm got pinned after Devon came out and distracted him, letting Bully Ray crack him in the head with a chain.
Next match was more Aces and Eights, as Devin fought Gunner in another fun match. I don't know if Devon was tipsy or if he always looks so sauced live, but he seemed kind of out of it. Funny, funny guy though. His facial expressions and mannerisms were great. Lots of stalling at first, but it quickly won over the mostly quiet crowd. Bully Ray runs out for the interference, and Devon steals another one for A&8's. After the match Storm runs in for the save and challenges for a "Cape Girardeau Street Fight" for the tag titles later in the show. Bully Ray started a Daniel Bryan "No!" chant, and Storm got the crowd to do the "Yes!" chant. Really funny stuff.
Samoa Joe took on Bobby Roode next. Roode got into it with a guy in the front row, and even though I know he was playing along, Roode looked like he was legitimately gonna kill the guy. Convincing stuff! Joe is a damn good talent, and exceptionally agile for his size. Really good match that saw Joe get the submission after a nice bit of chain wrestling.
Tag title match was next. Bully and Devon got into it with an elderly woman in the crowd, which drew a lot of laughs. They were playing heels but were getting great reactions based on their talent alone. Bully Ray, Storm, and even referee Earl Hebner took turns posing on the turnbuckle. Hebner got the best reaction, naturally. Lots of comedy wrestling here, including Bully and Devon not tagging each other in and arguing a lot until they hugged it out and made up. Both took broom stick rides, which looked pretty painful and funny. I noticed Devon cussed a lot during the event, even though Bully Ray told him not to when they were on the mic. A Storm superkick won the match for the tag champs.
At a little over an hour since the event started we got our main event of Hardy vs. Angle. Good reaction for both men, and they had a great bout. A USA chant started up for Angle, which was baffling. Hardy played along and they both got a USA chant. Hardy won with the Twist of Fate to make the crowd happy. Afterwards Angle thanked Hardy and the crowd and mentioned his TNA HoF induction, and thanked us for making it all possible.
They then had people line up to meet and greet the guys backstage. The entire wrestling portion of the show barely lasted an hour and a half, involved only eight superstars, and five matches with three involving the same guys. I was shocked by how short it was and the complete lack of TNA stars. I felt bad for the performers to be trying so hard for so few people, but it seems like everyone in the crowd had a good time.
It was a quick show where not a lot happened, but TNA still managed to put on a fun program with what they had. I wish someone could answer me why certain talents weren't allowed to perform, though. The lack of Chris Sabin really disappointed me.