Something positively amazing happened last night.
A wrestling crowd made themselves heard.
Indeed, the crowd at last night's Survivor Series Pay-Per-View was absolutely phenomenal. This is no surprise, since MSG has been affiliated with WWE throughout the history of the company; both the arena and the company are an intrinsic part of each other.
Still, what was surprising was that the New York crowd outshone another recently celebrated contingent of fans, the Chicago crowd at Money in the Bank.
That isn't to say that the Chicago fans weren't good; to the contrary, their contribution to MITB was terrific and their participation in the Cena/Punk main event is still unrivalled this year. But in terms of overall participation, MSG shades the Allstate Arena because the New York crowd were consistently excellent.
Perhaps the only match to which they didn't react was the 'Lumberjill' contest, but even then they made apparent their partiality to Beth Phoenix.
When the contest was opened by Ziggler/Morrison for the U.S. Championship, it was pleasantly unsurprising to hear fans demand Zack Ryder make his presence felt; Long Island Iced-Z has seen his stock inflate rapidly in recent months, and is now a legitimately at superstar status rather than just a niche character.
His entrance was met with a great ovation. It was the first of the night, but certainly not the last.
What sets apart crowds like that in New York and Chicago is their astuteness; rarely do they allow WWE to manipulate them into cheering anyone they don't want to. Continuing this trend, they were very appreciative of Cody Rhodes during the 5-on-5 elimination match.
This, of course, is because they are appreciative of the elegant way in which he is being slowly pushed, and crafting a character for himself.
Likewise, in the World Heavyweight Championship match, Mark Henry had received some vocal support, much to the bemusement of Jerry Lawler, because the fans respect the way he has been pushed and how well he has performed during it.
Actually, the WHC match enjoyed some very unique crowd reactions, many of which were particularly heartwarming. In particular, the "thank you, Savage" chants is a reminder of how truly wonderful WWE fans can be. They may not like every decision that is made, but they are thankful to their heroes.
If the chants about the late, great 'Macho Man' didn't convince anyone of that, then the "HBK" chants that Big Show garnered with an improvised Super Kick surely did.
Certainly for this match they weren't entirely reverent, with a "boring" chant emerging at one point; that sort of blunt attitude can be uncomfortable to observe, but it is an aspect of pro wrestling fandom that will always exist.
Besides, the fans did show appreciation for other aspects of the match, particularly the bigger spots. Meanwhile, Vince McMahon and his fellow executives would do well to take note of the persistent "Daniel Bryan" chants that took place throughout the match.
Next, there was the WWE championship, which enjoyed more textbook crowd participation. Even Alberto Del Rio, a perennial struggler when it comes to earning heat, finally enjoyed those long awaited boos when confronted with the crowd at the Garden.
In a magnificent twist, the challenger CM Punk countered Ricardo Rodriguez with a special ring announcer of his own, WWE Hall of Famer and cult hero Howard Finkel.
Proving once again that they are a unique set of fans, the WWE Universe gave the erstwhile ring announcer a heroes welcome; in WWE, even the most obscure contributors are often acknowledged.
And the man who he introduced, CM Punk, received a predictably raucous ovation, giving the Doomsday contingent of fans reason for hope; his pop was equal to that of The Rock's, something which was unprecedented.
When he won the WWE Championship, the MSG crowd were jubilant; during the match, they carried on with their inimitable chants; something else that Vince McMahon should take not of is that Colt Cabana, currently working on the independent circuit, is more over with WWE fans than half his current roster.
Of course, the main cacophony of vocals were reserved for the main event, a match that had been billed as "Never Before" and "Never Again". The MSG crowd, more than anything else, were anticipating the in-ring return of The Rock
Pondering if The Rock would get louder cheers or is Cena would get louder boos was an interesting thought.
Certainly, The Rock was cheered with gusto, but on the day it may have been Cena who won in terms of crowd reaction. Frankly, the jeers he received were topped only by the aforementioned Chicago crowd at MITB.
Unlike the WWE creative staff, the crowd actually decided to acknowledge the other team in the match, which was good to see; The Miz in particular seemed very popular, eliciting several "Miz is Awesome" chants.
The reason this article has been written is because acknowledging the fans of WWE is something that can rarely be done in this time period of professional wrestling. On average, most crowds these days are sedate and apathetic, rarely acknowledging the efforts of anyone outside of main event level talent.
This has been attributed to many things; a change in the show's demographic, a shift in its product, even too the distraction of mobile technology.
Whatever the case, this new, uninspiring generation of fans pale in comparison to crowds of old, which is why when crowds like that of last night, who remember their responsibilities in creating an unforgettable event, play their part, they should be acknowledged just as much as the in-ring competitors.
Madison Square Garden, consider yourself acknowledged.
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