Here's a run down of how the TNA weekend festivities went in San Antonio:
From someone who has purchased travel packages for the last two Wrestlemanias WWE has put out, it is safe to say that TNA has something special when it comes to their fan interaction events. In fact, when it comes to meeting greeting and SOCIALIZING with wrestlers, WWE can't even hold a candle to what TNA offer. For $930, i was:
- put up in the same hotel that TNA were staying at for 3 nights: This meant that interacting with TNA talent was hard to avoid. To say that there was many nights spent drinking with the likes of Christopher Daniels and Austin Aries was an understatement. Furthermore, TNA President Dixie Carter joined us after TNA LockDown and spent almost an hour meeting fans and taking pictures with her husband. Would you ever see Vince McMahon go to that distance to meet with his fan base?
- Given a casual reception and a breakfast with TNA superstars: For the most part, all TNA talent were easy to talk to and loved chatting and taking photos with fans. They also sat down and ATE with us, as buffet dinner and breakfasts were offered. Bad Influence, however, "stole the show" at the reception, cracking jokes about how "Sting, Hogan and Hardy wont be joining us tonight...so we are the best you've got" and stayed in character for the whole event. Definite entertainment all round
- Given tickets to "TNA FanFest": The lines were nowhere near as big as WWE Fan Axxcess, which made it easy to see everyone that was available for each autograph signing. Crowds for the most part consisted of an older MIXED demo of males/Females (18-25). That is, it certainly felt like an old school WCW crowd from the 90s. Not too many kids in sight. JB and SoCal Val hosted the event and did a great job making people feel important while we waited for our favorites via interviews and contests. Bully Ray, Storm and Aries were the biggest stars of Session 1, while Hardy, Angle and Chavo/Hernandez (Surprise,Surprise) were the popular wrestlers of Session 2. It needs to be said that Angle came off very dissonant and distant (almost as if he was on something heavy) which was a shame. Other disappointments included the absence of Roode (explained by previous F4W Posts) and Sting (who had appeared at previous fan events). Each of us were given 2 autographs plus a photo op assisted by staff (which craps all over WWEs 1 autograph deal with NO photo assistance). The "Main Event" was a chance to meet Hulk Hogan as well as Brooke Hogan. The wait for this one was long (close to 3hrs). However, Hogan insisted on staying until every single person got their time with the Hulkster. He was gracious and engaging to the very end. He even cracked a promo for a fan on the fan's Iphone which got everyone going.
- invited to a dinner and a chance to be on a live version of "TNA Spin Cycle": After a fine buffet dinner, JB hosted the tapings of 4 "TNA Spin Cycle" episodes. Highlights included Jeff Hardy, the TNA World Champion, painting a picture for the new "Jeff Hardy Gallery", JB leading in a big cheer for an unsuspecting Jessie Sorenson, Taren Tyrell defeating fellow TNA stars in a HULA HOOP CONTEST and fans buying Tyrel margaritas to get her "ready" for the contest. The atmosphere was great and JB was a tremendous host. A great, interactive night spent by all.
- Access to a personal suite for TNA LockDown: In terms of view, the suite was a perfect birds-eye perspective for the PPV. Everything was very visible and not too far away. In terms of facilities provided, TNA out did themselves with burgers, hot dogs, chicken strips and choc brownies on hand in our lounge area. In terms of fan interaction and FEELING the PPV, it was ok. If your a fan of being amongst the action and the feel of a live crowd, aim to buy separate tickets closer to the ring. This time around, the suite felt detached from the action in the ring at times.
Compared to what WWE offers, TNA offers something much more affordable and much more hands-on as it relates to its fans. I definitely leave San Antonio feeling like i was part of a community, not just a fan attending a wrestling show. Great fan interaction combined with an affordable price. When it comes to an important event, TNA takes care of its fans.