When watching any wrestling event on TV, a hot crowd makes it that much better. The adulation the crowd is giving their favorite stars is infectious and contagious. WrestleMania X-Seven, ECW One Night Stand 2005 and 2006, Money in the Bank 2011 – these events were already off the page, thanks to the emotions and efforts of the wrestlers. But the crowds at these events gave that emotion right back to the superstars and it elevated their game even more.
But a bad crowd just makes everything worse. Luckily, the wrestlers are the utmost professional performers and seldom let bad crowds get to them, but one would assume that once these stars got to the back, a bit of complaining might be done. It has to suck to pour your blood, sweat, and tears on the mat and have crowds not even tell you that you’re boring, as that would at least elicit a response and it’s worse for a crowd barely make a peep for most of the night. Especially during a show that is actually pretty good. The viewers at home want to heel the crowd for not realizing they’re watching something great.
In a lawsuit filed by WWE, trying to stop outside vendors from selling bootleg merch outside of WrestleMania 31, it was also revealed that WWE gives out letter grades to cities they visit. While it’s not explicitly said, one could surmise that the lesser crowds don’t see as many return visits as the big markets.
While there are some shows on this list deserving of having terrible crowds, a lot of these shows were also off the charts good, those crowds stunk for not knowing it at the time.
15. Any Crowd Still Chanting What?!
Look we get it, Stone Cold Steve Austin is the man. Once Austin 3:16 hit, everything this guy said was gold, except that one time he turned heel in his home state of Texas. During this time as a heel, Austin joined his roots in the WCW/ECW Alliance and thanks to a prank phone message he left for his buddy Christian, the “What” chant was born and it was good. After all, when a big burly man threatens your life and your response is “What?” any crowd would erupt with adulation. But it’s time to go, Austin retired 12 years ago. Does anyone still chant “We Want Hogan” when faces are getting trounced? Wake up WWE Universe.
14. Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA – Royal Rumble 2015
Philadelphia has long been a place where wrestling fans can air their malcontent. However, they have the capacity to go a little overboard. Whether it was the fault of WWE wanting to go in a different direction or the building wanting Daniel Bryan and only Daniel Bryan to win the Rumble is debatable. When the Bearded Brawler made his triumphant return, the already rollicking crowd went insane and when he was unceremoniously heaved out, the crowd went full–tilt and booed everyone not named Daniel Bryan, including The Rock, who the smart Philly crowd knew was only there to try and sell his cousin, Roman Reigns, as the next big star. This was the most riotous Philly has been since the old ECW.
13. Tupelo Coliseum, Tupelo, MS – WCW Uncensored 1996
If you have never seen Sting & Booker vs. the Road Warriors in a Texas Tornado match from WCW Uncensored 1996, then you owe it to yourself to find it on the Network or YouTube (the video above), we’ll wait…
It was an awesome brawl, right? It was also a coming out party of sorts for Booker T, as it was one of his first matches without his brother, Stevie Ray. The Tupelo crowd however must have been wearing blindfolds that night since the place was just plain dead for most of the contest. To be fair, except for a Konnan / Eddie Guerrero match, the rest of the card could put even the most ardent of fan to sleep.
12. Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NY – WrestleMania XX: Lesnar vs. Goldberg
Angry crowds don’t make good crowds and it can ruin a dream match. Since Brock Lesnar debuted only a few short years earlier, the comparisons between he and Goldberg were similar to the comparisons between Ryback and Goldberg. The stage was set for these two to meet at WrestleMania XX in a marquee matchm but when the fervent NYC crowd found out Goldberg wasn’t re–signing and the future Beast Incarnate was quitting, the crowd took the proverbial dump on this match and booed the heck out of it. So much so that neither man brought their A game and one of the dreamiest of dream matches ended up being a backdrop to Austin stunning both men.
11. American Bank Center, Corpus Christi, TX – Elimination Chamber 2015
Did you see Elimination Chamber on the Network? Wasn’t it one of the best PPV’s in recent memory? Then why was the crowd in Corpus Christi acting like a bunch of corpses? Only 7,000 people showed up, but if you’ve ever been to an indy show that seats 150, you know that’s no excuse for the poor reactions of the crowds. Cena/Owens and Ambrose/Rollins got the loudest pops of the night and even those were lackluster. To be fair, this was a house show up until two weeks prior, but do any kind of search involving Corpus Christi and “worst WWE crowds,” and this city consistently appears on the list.
10. Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, In – WrestleMania VIII
A PPV that starts with HBK vs. the severely underrated Tito Santana and ends with Hulk Hogan’s “last” match, with Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage in the middle, should have any crowd feeling raucous and rowdy. Well, it seemed like the 60,000–plus people in Indianapolis were taking a nap for this one. To be fair, this was right around the time of the steroid trial and interest in the industry had fallen off, but still, if Indy fans can root for cars going around a track for hours on end, they can certainly go nuts for good wrestling.
9. Pensacola Civic Center, Pensacola, FL – Battlebowl 1993
Battlebowl was one of WCW’s better ideas – names would be pulled at random and paired together as partners for tag team matches and the winners would advance to a battle royal, where the winner would get the prestigious Battlebowl ring. The event started out with the unlikely tag team of Vader and Cactus Jack, fighting each other as much as their opponents. However, if it wasn’t for actually seeing the crowd in attendance, you might think there were about five people there instead of the 7000 or so that came to see the event. Early WCW crowds were similar all around and nowhere near as interesting as some of their future Nitro crowds.
8. Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex, Birmingham, AL – Evolution Reborn Raw 04/14/2014
Batista returned in January 2014 to less than a hero’s welcome. Several months later, The Shield were quickly becoming super–hot baby faces in need of a unit just as badass as them to feud with. Triple H would let both Batista and Randy Orton know that The Shield was reminiscent of a group they used to be a part of and Evolution reunited on RAW. The crowd was hum–drum at best, but considering this was two weeks after WrestleMania XXX, Alabama should have been going bananas. Even the “Hounds of Justice” chant for The Shield seemed bored and the crowd was dead silent by the time Evolution arrived.
7. Nutter Center, Dayton, OH – The Animal Returns Raw 01/20/2014
Was it a case of WWE miscalculating or Dayton just sucking. Usually, when a big star returns, they are given an ovation befitting of Caesar. However, Dayton didn’t get that memo and Batista was received with a “meh” kind of applause instead of the kind of pop that you can feel at home. WWE blames Dayton for the lackluster response and most likely every response “Bootista” got afterwards, so it is a distinct possibility that the Birthplace of Aviation has lost its PPV rights..
6. Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ – WrestleMania IV/WrestleMania V
George Carlin once said he didn’t like performing in Las Vegas, because when you work on the strip you’re not the main attraction, you’re an afterthought. That philosophy can be seen in action during two of the best WrestleManias. ‘Mania IV and V, which both emanated from “Vegas East”–Atlantic City, NJ. Granted, both WrestleMania IV and V had sub–par cards, but the Atlantic City crowd remained mostly silent for both events, except for when Hulk Hogan hit the ring. It’s WrestleMania, you need to up your game New Jersey.
5. Allstate Arena, Chicago, IL – Raw 03/03/14 #HijackRaw
When your hometown hero leaves the company and that same company seems to have little interest in anointing white–hot Daniel Bryan as “the guy,” you might feel a little slighted. WWE walked into a figurative War Zone in Chicago with a few weeks left until WrestleMania XXX, when Daniel Bryan still didn’t even have a match announced. With the exception of the show’s opening, the Chicago crowd would use “CM Punk, CM Punk” not as a calling to their hometown messiah, but as a show of malcontent for anything this crowd didn’t like, which included an inter–gender tag match, The Authority, and John Cena.
4. Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, NV – WrestleMania IX
WrestleMania IX has got to be the worst WrestleMania on record and the crowd in attendance couldn’t agree more. A little over 16,000 people came to see…does anyone remember any of the matches that took place here? The event was the last ‘Mania to feature Hulk Hogan for nine years and this was Jim Ross’ first event for the WWE (which meant the first utterance of ‘slobberknocker’). The ending was ridiculous (the whole Hart/Yokozuna/Hogan angle) and the fans did not seem impressed.
3. Izod Center, East Rutherford, NJ – “We Are Awesome” Raw 04/08/2013
The Raw after WrestleMania normally gives us the nuttiest crowd of the year. On this night, with fans from all over the world in attendance, Raw could feel like Monday Nights of old, with a riotous crowd and an anything can happen attitude. That doesn’t mean the crowd is always a good one. The Izod center was rocking the day after ‘Mania 29, chanting for Ziggler when he cashed in, but also inane chants to fill time like “Randy Savage” and “JBL.” Even Cena prompted them to chant “Disco Stu” and “We Are Awesome.” Nothing spells out a bad crowd like one that has to point out how great they are.
2. James Brown Arena, Augusta, GA – ECW December to Dismember 2006
The worst PPV WWE has ever produced was not coincidentally the last ECW PPV. The backstage drama between Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon has been well documented at this point, but besides the abysmal main event, which saw Lashley pushed down our throats, the event only had two matches advertised, the main event and the fantastic Hardys vs. MNM. Unfortunately, the rest of the night was pretty forgetful, along with the crowd interaction.
1. MCI Center, Washington, DC – Starrcade 1997
This was supposed to be the crowning achievement of WCW, the culmination of over a year’s worth of storytelling with Sting and the nWo. Perhaps the crowd in attendance knew how badly the Hollywood Hogan / Sting match would go down and decided to sit on their hands for almost three hours, which is a shame, considering the event was firing on all cylinders until the botched finish. However, that wasn’t enough to get the crowd going and clearly they were waiting for the ending (which WCW couldn’t even get right).
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