DETROIT — Though some wrestling pundits claim that WWE is losing touch with their fans, there was little evidence of that on Sunday night at the Joe Louis Arena, given the reactions of the live crowd in attendance for the Survivor Series.
The audience was loud and enthusiastic throughout the show, vocalizing their support for their heroes and contempt for the villains at crazy volumes. From the alternating “Let’s go Cena! Let’s go Angle!” chants that filled the rafters during their encounter, to the mega-pops that erupted when the Undertaker, Triple H, Batista and a few of the other favourites made their entrances, it was clear that the Motown crowd were there for no reason other than to be entertained and have fun.
For fan Aaron Bagnall and his father, that meant sitting in their customary front-row seat, where they have sat every time WWE have come to their home town. Aaron, 17, doesn’t pay credence to comments that the company has not been delivering quality product lately. “I still watch Raw and Smackdown,” he said, “and am still entertained.” The tickets, which he got from his dad for a combined birthday and Christmas product, were exactly what he was hoping to get. “I’m really looking forward to the show, especially the Last Man Standing match (between Ric Flair and Triple H, who he named as his favourite wrestler).”
Equally excited to be at the show were Josie Beaudette and her brother Louis Garcia. Though older than Bagnall (Josie is 45, and Louis is 50), their enthusiasm was clearly just as high as his about being able to see the show in person. “We started watching in 1984,” Garcia said, “and we’re still watching today.” Garcia, who tries to attend most of the pay-per-views that are held in Detroit (he was also at Wrestlemania III in 1987, Hallowe’en Havoc in 1994, as well as the last Survivor Series to be held at the Joe Louis Arena back in 1991), notes that though the product might not be exactly the same as it was back in the heyday of the ’80s, he still enjoys the programming. Beaudette, who was most looking forward to the Undertaker’s return, echoed her brother’s views, pointing out that they not only were attending the show live, but also were taping it at home so that they could watch it with full commentary later on during the week.
As mentioned, the crowd was on fire for the entire event — cheers and chants bounced off the ceiling of “The Joe” for nearly the whole night. The only exception being the GM encounter between Eric Bischoff and Theodore Long, the crowd seemed to enjoy everything that was offered in the ring (though, it should be noted that the Bischoff-Long segment was somewhat salvaged by the presence of the Boogeyman, who got his fair share of applause).
After the show, the buzz in the arena was quite positive, and it seemed that everyone was thrilled with how the evening played out. Nowhere was this more evident than on seeing the smiles on the faces of fans Keisha and Keishawn Brooks, seven-year-old twins who were brought to the show by their older brother, Lance. It was the first time either of them had been to a live event, and it was clear that the experience won’t be one that they soon forget. While both were sporting John Cena merchandise, they had also adorned themselves with other souvenirs of the night. From behind his Rey Misterio mask, Keishawn smiled widely. “It was awesome!” he exclaimed, about the show. Keisha, carrying a sign in support of Trish Stratus, and wearing an Eddy Guerrero tribute shirt, similarly summed up the night. “It was so much fun … I loved it. I can’t wait for the next one.”
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“Bloodthirsty” Bob Kapur also liked the Survivor Series, which was the perfect capper to his annual birthday weekend in Detroit. He finds it unfortunate, though, that while he was able to show up again this year, the Detroit Lions didn’t.