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ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds 2017 in Toronto: 5 Live observations

From a personal perspective, this ROH/NJPW show was fantastic.

Top 5 / Top 10 10 May 2017, 12:40 IST
It was a rare opportunity to see some of wrestling’s most high-profile stars up close and in person

On May 7th, 2017, I had the honour and privilege of attending a fantastic show hosted by Ring of Honor (ROH) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). The show, which was part of their combined War of the Worlds tour, was the second show as part of the ROH/NJPW tour to come to Toronto.

Because of that, it was a rare opportunity to see some of wrestling’s most high-profile stars up close and in person.

Seeing a wrestling show live is always a different experience from watching it on TV. You’re in a more intimate environment, the acoustics are completely different, and you’re closer to the action. As a result, your experience as a wrestling fan changes considerably.

NJPW and ROH aren’t necessarily accessible to many parts of the world, especially since WWE does far more international tours and travels to more countries overall. That said, their wrestling products and even their approaches to dealing with wrestling fans are fundamentally different from WWE’s nonstop entertainment machine.

I arrived for the show a good hour before the doors first opened, and a good three before the first match started. The line to enter the building stretched well around the corner. Given what I experienced at this event, it wouldn’t surprise me if this happened again next year.

#5 Smaller does not mean less popular

A smaller building changes how you enjoy the wrestling.

The War of the Worlds Show emanated from a small community centre in Toronto called the Ted Reeve Arena. It had a maximum capacity of about 1,000 people, though it didn’t look like that many people showed up. As the matches took place, there were some parts of the ‘General Admission’ section that were still empty.

But that didn’t mean that the show wasn’t ‘bad’ by any stretch of the imagination. On the contrary; the smaller venue gave those of us in attendance, a better view of the ring. Even those in the worst possible seats or those that were standing (like myself) saw everything very clearly, down to the smallest details of what was happening in and around the ring.

Shows like this are something of a throwback to wrestling’s heyday when it took place in smaller venues of louder and more loyal fans. Because of this smaller environment, fan chants were louder, we could all hear when wrestlers shouted at the fans without microphones, and the sounds of wrestlers hitting each other (and the mat) were all MUCH louder than what you hear on TV.

This made the matches more exciting and made even the weakest of wrestling moves look like they hurt much more than they probably did in reality.

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