As a longtime professional wrestling fan, I have gone to more live events than I could possibly recall. The most recent event I had the great pleasure to attend was Ring Of Honor Wrestling live in Dayton, OH.
From the very onset of the evening, I could feel an electricity in the air. The crowd was small, no more than 500 people in attendance, but this was a different group of fans than I have ever seen at the larger scale events. They were passionate wrestling fans looking to see what I believe is the last true wrestling company put on a show.
As the time for the show drew closer, I looked around the arena, which was a throwback to a different time. No concessions, only one small table with various collectibles, and a very small budgeted entry way leading to the ring, which also appeared to be very used.
Still, I couldn't help but notice the enthusiasm of the meager crowd. They were seasoned fans who knew what they were about to witness. A fan sitting behind me pointed out the "regulars," the people you see every time an event is staged in a particular venue. He mentioned how they were always seated in the same place and always had a distinct quality to set themselves apart in the audience. Evidence of this would be the three young men seated across the aisle from me wearing Mexican Luchdore masks. I was sure that I was among friends.
The event began about 10 minutes prior to the announced belltime,which was fine by everyone. After a couple of dark matches which were forgettable, the main show was set to begin. This would mark the moment that professional wrestling would change forever in my mind.
Ring Of Honor brought out some of their biggest stars. Men such as Claudio Castagnoli, The American Wolves, Dark City Fight Club, Colt Cabana,and Austin Aries gave their heart and soul to this small audience, and we showed our great appreciation. Chants of "That was awesome" and pounding of the metal ring barricades were deafening. Each move was greeted with approval.
The main event of the evening was a tremendous match between Chris Hero and the soon-to-be WWE bound "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson. Before the match, these incredibly knowledgable fans began chanting "Thank you Dragon" and "Best in the World," a token of admiration for one of the best pure wrestlers today.
After 25 grueling minutes and seemingly hundreds of near falls, Chris Hero won the main event. It was a surprising result, which seemed fitting of the entire evening. I realized during this nearly four hour live event that this was, without a doubt, the best wrestling event I have ever attended. I will most certainly be returning when ROH is back in town next April.
After the final bell, Bryan Danielson came out to thank every one of these wrestling fans for spending their hard earned money to come and see he and his colleagues perform. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who left the arena thinking it was money well spent.