The blizzard in New York caused chaos for WWE's biggest house show of the year, their Boxing Day extravaganza at Madison Square Garden. According to Dave Meltzer of f4wonline.com, among the problems were:
- Alicia Fox, Gail Kim, Heath Slater, Sgt. Slaughter (scheduled for a Piper's Pit segment) and all but one referee missed the show due to the conditions, and their ring announcer Justin Roberts was late too, causing the show to have to be rejiggered a bit. Fortunately, Husky Harris and local WWE legend Tito Santana were able to fill in for Slater and Slaughter, respectively, at short notice, and James "Nunzio" Maritato was backstage visiting friends and agreed to referee for one night only. Unfortunately, the temporary substitute for Roberts was clueless.
- The atmosphere to the show coming off flat, partly due to the wrestlers being worried about travelling to Albany for Raw in the blizzard. Indeed, John Morrison was unlucky enough to get stuck in the snow.
- A significant number of fans ended up stranded near Madison Square Garden overnight when the Long Island Rail Road service was suspended.
I was among the fans who bought tickets to the show, but I chose to just eat the $100 I spent on them rather than risk getting stuck in Penn Station. I made the right call.
But WWE and/or Madison Square Garden most certainly did not. Going ahead with last night's show, despite the ample warning of a blizzard that threatened to knock out LIRR service seems short-sighted, irresponsible and even greedy.
Although I'm sure many fans would have been disappointed if the show was cancelled, WWE would have been wise to put the safety of its fans, and its workers, first by rescheduling the show - possibly until later this week when WWE returns to our area for an event in New Jersey. Alternatively, they could have run an afternoon/evening double shot in MSG during their next visit here.
WWE/MSG may have thought they did right by their fans by going ahead with the show, but I'd bet many fans still waiting in Penn Station for a ride home would beg to differ.
Of course, WWE spokesman Adam Hopkins was quick to disagree with that analysis and attempted to shift the heat onto MSG management:
"WWE tries its best not to let down our fans due to the weather. After weighing several factors and consulting with Madison Square Garden management, The Garden was in favor of us running the event as they have a good track record of doing so during inclement weather, rarely postponing them. Public transportation was running, and this is a show in which a significant amount of ticket holders live in the city. All top WWE Talent had made it in to New York for the event."
Hopkins added that WWE drew about 13,600 people to last night's show, "which was more than those that attended the respective Islanders and Devils games combined last night (according to attendance numbers on the boxscores of the team's official websites)."
Hopkins added that there were "minimal no shows" of ticket-holding fans, but added that WWE will accomodate fans who were unable to use their tickets because of the weather "on an individual basis."