In the arena, each match had its own personality for the crowd.
Rob Van Dam vs. Zema Ion
Rob Van Dam and Zema Ion provided a hot opener. Ion wasn’t well known, but he was immediately given the heel treatment because he was facing Rob Van Dam. The crowd was 100 percent behind Van Dam from the moment he walked out and when won the match they responded in a big way.
Samoa Joe vs. Magnus
Television champion Samoa Joe had the entire building behind him, and you could see the pleasure on his face as we chanted “Joe’s Gonna Kill You” towards Magnus.
James Storm vs. Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode and James Storm each got a big reaction from the crowd, as did their match. The hardcore elements were obvious crowd pleasers, even if I personally feel thumbtacks are a little cliché in 2012.
I was initially surprised at how early this match went on, but it made sense with the Aces and Eights vs. Sting and Bully Ray being a no-disqualification match. The only man who got a surprisingly poor reaction was King Mo. The live audience didn’t seem to care about him, his MMA career or his role in the match.
Al Snow vs. Joey Ryan
Despite Ryan’s claim of a “hometown advantage,” the crowd was completely behind Snow. Matt Morgan got a good reaction as well. Joey Ryan did manage to draw some heat, but the live crowd treated this like a nostalgia match for Snow.
Tag Team Championship Triple Threat
All three teams got a good reaction. Christopher Daniels and Kazarian are so good in their heel role, and Daniels even got an “Appletini” chant from the crowd. Kurt Angle’s entrance was met with a big pop, but AJ Styles actually topped that. This match was spot-heavy, which was welcomed after the two matches before it.
The title change got a decent reaction, but it was the Eddie Guerrero mention by Chavo Guerrero, Jr. that really got the people behind the new champs.
Tara vs. Miss Tessmacher
Both women got solid reactions from the crowd, including Tessmacher. Tara’s WWE past is obvious to even a casual fan, but not all of them will remember Tessmacher’s run in the WWE. Tessmacher’s offense was a hit with the fans, but the reveal of Jesse Godderz as Tara’s “Hollywood Boyfriend” was a total flop live.
Aces and Eights vs. Sting and Bully Ray
The crowd was obviously hot for Sting, and Bully Ray was treated as a face as well. Aces and Eighths was a tough sell locally, but since they had no identity, it’s hard to expect the crowd to get into them. Joseph Park breaking free and tackling the Aces and Eights member got a great reaction, though.
Obviously Hulk Hogan got a tremendous pop, but my immediate reaction was that it wasn’t as loud as what I heard for AJ Styles. It was still a fun nostalgia moment for the fans.
There was very little reaction for Devon’s reveal. The crowd delivered a very entertaining moment in chanting “This Is Awkward” as Hogan, Sting and Ray stood in the ring as Aces and Eights made their exit through the crowd.
Jeff Hardy vs. Austin Aries
Thanks to this crowd, Jeff Hardy now knows what it feels like to be John Cena. I would say the crowd was 60 percent behind Aries and 40percent behind Hardy, but women and children cheer louder than everyone else.
Aries’s entrance reaction was louder than Hardy’s, and inside the arena you could not hear Jeremy Borash’s introductions over the Aries chants from the crowd.
I did speak to a few fans around me who weren’t as familiar with Austin Aries, but they were fans of his after the match. Lost in the title change was the stellar performance he delivered. If TNA crowns someone the MVP of the card, it would have to go to Austin Aries.