AEW made a statement on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021; a statement best surmised by Yonkers native, Eddie Kingston: “New York is now AEW’s town”! The first wrestling event held at the largest tennis specific stadium in the world was a groundbreaking moment in wrestling history and serves as clear and present message to fans and detractors alike. It’s a uniquely special feeling to know that you’re walking into the presence of history and over 20,000 of us did exactly that.
“Hey You! Mei!!”
There were many questions to be answered as I boarded my Port Washington bound train at Penn Station. Would the show live up to expectations? What was the venue exclusive merchandise? Which match would be my bathroom break? It was a short ride from Penn Station in Manhattan to Mets-Willets Point in Flushing, Queens and to my surprise, a sizable line had formed. There were signs, painted faces, authentic replica belts, spontaneous outbreaks of wrestling related noises; the line that had formed was sizable and buzzing with excitement. That’s when it hit me; this might actually be a big deal.
My ticket was scanned and I made my way through the grand concourse of the US Tennis Center. Meet and Greets were underway, Kip Sabian was wearing a cardboard box on his head, attending to fans, certainly nothing unusual for a wrestling event. As I made my way to the security checkpoint, I’m tapped on the shoulder by event staff. “You cant bring that bag in here”. I ask for a second opinion and while I’m waiting I hear in the distance “Hey you! Mei!!” Running in a straight line towards me are AEW wrestlers Emi Sakura and her protégé Lulu Pencil. I was shocked, surprised and quite flattered that Emi and Lulu took the time to notice to talk with me briefly. I was wearing the same bright red Mei Suruga t shirt I wore to Double or Nothing in Jacksonville, earlier in the yet. Mei noticed on Twitter, greatest moment of the year until this picture was taken.
“You knew that history was unfolding right in front of you”
The gates had opened and I was shown to the special entrance that would allow my bag to be searched. Shortly after that I was inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. I had been once for opening round matches of the US Open tennis tournament, but the atmosphere was noticeably different. It was a rare opportunity to live through history. Being in that building and walking into the stadium seating, you knew that history was unfolding right in front of you. The lines for food and merch were hideously long, the stadium concourses were surprisingly small and narrow and seemed to be a limited number of exits to the lower levels. Minor inconveniences that didn’t take away from the overall experience of being in the venue, but certainly something to note for next time. Hopefully, there will be a next time.
Shortly after 7pm, it was finally showtime. Matches for AEW Dark: Elevation were taped in about 35 minutes. At.8pm the AEW’s flagship show Dynamite went live. Around 10:15pm tapings for AEW Rampage began. Normally a one hour show, this Grand Slam edition of Rampage was a 2 hour show that ended around midnight. Unfortunately, midnight was too late for me and I called it a night shortly after 11pm. I wasn’t the only one making my way for the exit as the clock hit 11. Several dozen and I were heading for the trains back to Manhattan, satisfied if equally tired.
Overall it was a great show and a great experience, but being in the venue, on a work night from 430 pm until midnight is too much for me to endure. I guess this was a rare occasion of there being too much of a good thing,
Watch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights and AEW Rampage Friday nights both on TNT! For more info, check out on AEW go to Allelitewrestling.com