PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
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WWE BACKLASH PPV ON-SITE REPORT
MAY 6, 2018
NEWARK, N.J. AT PRUDENTIAL CENTER
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REPORT BY SEAN, PWTORCH VIP MEMBER
– The crowd really was hot and up for it at first, especially for the second half of that excellent Seth Rollins vs. Miz match. I was also in the same building (as you were) two years ago for Seth’s return after that mammoth pop to close the show (also with Roman Reigns booed in the main event against A.J. Styles, but I digress).
– After the mediocre Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax match, the crowd audibly groaned and turned to boos after the forced corporate speak “Be a Star” post match interview by Nia.
– The crowd was flat after the entrances for Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy, very quiet. I ran up to the bathroom and grabbed a soda since I didn’t want to miss anything else.
– The Elias/New Day/No Way Jose/Bobby Roode comedy segment was actually enjoyable live. At the time we didn’t know how the rest of the show was going to go, and also how very late either.
– Daniel Bryan received a huge welcome, the match was just okay, seemed like a quick tap out, then the post match beat down ended any kind of jovial feelings in the arena.
– Charlotte came out to a smaller than expected pop, but did get the usual “wooo’s.” Carmella seemed to be much more over, in our section and the surrounding sections, especially with women and young girls. I’m not sure if just because we were in the Tri-State area she was so popular, but I don’t think her in-ring performance was much to be desired. This is the first time the crowd seemed to get bored, the beginning of the restholds that night. Everyone around was really surprised on the finish, both that Charlotte lost cleanly, and that it was after Asuka’s streak ending at WrestleMania.
– When the video package for A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura came on, there was much grumbling about how Roman would be closing the show again, and the negativity really grew. After a great match the crowd quickly turned incredulous after the finish. When the two referees ran down the aisle, most people thought the match would be started up again. Loud “bullsh–” chants were starting and they quickly played A.J.’s music to cover that. They then played the cheesy dual brand PPV promo clip where everyone is in the studio singing which didn’t really help.
– Braun Strowman’s entrance pop was greatly diminshed by the mood permeating after the countout finish at this point. I’m sure he would have been much more over if this was earlier in the night, or if the A.J. vs. Shinsuke match didn’t end like that. It was quite late at that point, and some people began trickling out actually. Bobby Lashley received little reaction also. Turning the match into a glorified comedy bit without any gravitas also soured the mood further. Once the after match beatdowns continued with it 11 p.m. people were beginning to yell “let’s go already” “I have to work tomorrow” etc.
How do you feel about WWE PPVs lasting past 11 ET? #Backlash #WWE #WWENetwork
— Pro Wrestling Torch (@PWTorch) May 7, 2018
– Samoa Joe received a decent pop, but there really was just a negative feeling at this point. Roman had his usual huge amount of boos, then things turned a bit positive with the prematch beat down. That was lost with the absolutely baffling length of restholds. At this point large numbers of people began filing out and the chants began. The 20-30 second videos I’ve seen online show people filing out, but in person it really was incredible, because it was constant streams.
You could see large numbers of empty seats throughout the previously full arena. There was palpable anger then just incredulousness that the restholds kept coming, everyone felt they were being trolled. There were shouts of “Are they serious?!” amongst all the chants you probably heard on the broadcast. “This is boring,” “C.M. Punk,” “Rusev Day,” and my favorites “Johnny Wrestling” and “Beat the traffic” which people as they streamed past me were also chanting on their way out.
After it seemed as if Roman was actually unconscious, there was a glimmer of hope, then he started “Hulking up” which was the most amount of anger then just deflation I’ve ever heard, remaining people just went flat, as if beaten down before the finish. The people that were left couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Going down the stairs and escaltors and then out of the building, same things were heard: “I’m done’ “can’t believe we came to that,” etc.
I’ve never seen anything like that before, and I’ve been a fan over 30 years. I’ve been to two WrestleManias, a Royal Rumble, two Brooklyn SummerSlams, the last two Brooklyn NXT Takeovers, Raw 25th anniversary in Brooklyn, and the last MSG house show on top of countless other house shows across NY state over the years.
Obviously we all saw and heard the reaction at WrestleMania to Brock Lesnar vs. Reigns, but until I saw it in person the rejection just doesn’t register the same. This wasn’t just passionate male fans that were angry and left. It was couples, families as well. There were children behind us that were all into it, cheering for the faces, booing the heels, that were just out of it after A.J.-Shinsuke and then Roman. They left and all that was left in the row was literally one man that was asleep.
The person I took with me hadn’t been to a show in a few years, and won’t go again. I am actually taking a break from WWE for quite awhile after this. The event had a negative cloud after the crowd realized Roman would be on last, with no Joe win or a Roman heel turn it would be the definition of insanity to keep giving this company money for tickets and many hours a week at this point.
Plus the umitigated gaul to have the groin kicking progam and double count out in a no DQ match with two of the best wrestlers of the generation is just astounding.
WWE literally made me angry and just burnt out about something I really enjoy in my life. I watched hockey playoffs and Westworld last night instead of Raw, read your report, and listened to your podcast at the gym and on the way to work, and that’s all for me until things change. I know this is just my ancedotal experience, but there was 15,000 people there who also had a miserable time.
This was a passionate crowd in a strong market, being 15 miles outside of NYC. Hulu sponsored this show, if they had any execs there, why would they continue sponsoring this after seeing the reaction and thousands of people leave the main event? They have the Emmy winner for Best Drama. If the fan base they’re paying to advertise to had that reaction, wouldn’t the execs question what they’re doing? Why would stock holders continue to support WWE long term when they continue to make such baffling decisions against their consumers?
Just one of my many questions about how that night went, when we were really excited about it at first.
I know this was long, but thanks for taking the time to read. It really was something to witness… and not in a good way. I greatly enjoy being a VIP member, I crack up at your chemistry with Todd Martin, and your expertise, conversational tone, and viewpoints for your daily content are a great value. I enjoy listening to the PW Torch podcasts much more than the main roster WWE product right now. I’ll be sticking to your shows, some NXT, and New Japan for the forseeable future.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS REPORT: WWE BACKLASH RESULTS 5/6: Keller’s PPV report including Styles vs. Nakamura, Seth vs. Miz, Carmella vs. Charlotte, Jax vs. Bliss, Reigns vs. Joe