Thanks to WrestlingINC.com reader Cory D Holland for sending in this report for yesterday's Royal Rumble fan fest:
Yesterday the fan fest was pretty much a huge CF. It was raining pretty hard for Phoenix just about all day. The event itself was delayed over an hour. It was supposed to start at noon and people didn't start getting in until after 1. It appears that the delay was due to the weather and the WWE and the US Airways Center trying to work out an alternative on the fly. It seems like really poor planning on both of their parts as the forecast had been calling for rain for several days in advance, so in my opinion they should have already had their "back up" plan in place rather than trying to figure it out the day of.
The result was that the ring was moved into the smaller lobby area inside the arena. Not to where the actual event was going to be, mind you, where there would have been plenty of room for the fans to spread out and grab seats so they could actually see. No, they put it in the lobby and created a huge mess. It was standing room only. There was no access to the restrooms inside the facility. Even though it was raining like hell outside and they moved the event into the lobby, they would not let anyone use the restrooms in the facility. You had to go back outside in the rain to where the portable toilets were set up. The other problem was that the fire marshal showed up and deemed that the crowd exceeded the safety capacity of the lobby area (no shock there and yet another reason why they should have moved inside the actual arena) so some people who had tickets were told they had to exit and watch from outside and other people who had tickets that hadn't got inside yet were told they'd have to remain outside in the rain and watch through the window.
Many people who were "walk ups" were told that the event was sold out, when it really wasn't, simply because moving the event into the lobby meant that there was not enough capacity for everyone that was there. I saw several families, children, etc. who had been waiting in the rain for a few hours turned away at the gate. Many patrons complained that they had called that morning and the day before, specifically due to the weather situation (i.e. they wanted to know if the event was going to be canceled due to rain and if so they were going to stay home) and were told that the event was going on as scheduled and that they could get tickets when they got there. Other patrons who had purchased tickets the day(s) before, who were going to pick their tickets up at will call, were also turned away at the gate because the organizers hadn't set up any access to will call that they could get to without going through the ticket checkpoint. Eventually these folks were admitted to will call after the organizers set up a pathway for them to get to the will call window without going through the gate to the event itself, but that was an even longer delay and yet another sign of how unprepared US Airways was for the event and the rain.
By the time my family and I got in we were pretty much soaked from the rain but we were able to get inside the lobby. We didn't move from our spot because we saw other people who went outside to use the rest rooms who were then refused reentry by the fire marshal. There were basically no sight lines to the ring itself because the crowd was huge (several hundred to a thousand or more), there were no seats so it was totally standing room only and if you did find any place that you could stand on (like the bottom of the stairs or escalator) you were quickly told by building staff that you were not allowed to stand there and in some cases patrons who tried were ushered outside. Add to that the number of parents who hoisted their young children up on their shoulders so they could see and you'll hopefully understand why we couldn't see very much of the ring.
The WWE apparently also decided it would be better to start the matches right away while 1/3 or more of the crowd was still filtering in from the lines outside. I guess because they were already delayed over an hour, that was the best they could do. By the time my family and I got inside the first of the NXT matches was already over. We also couldn't really see what was happening in the ring too much, i.e. the moves and who did what to who, but here is a report of at least who was wrestling and who won, from what we could tell:
* Xavier Woods vs Leo Kruger - Winner Leo Kruger by pinfall
* Kofi Kingston then came out and did a promo
* Bo Dallas vs Luke Harper- Winner Bo Dallas by pinfall
* Zack Ryder then came out and did a promo
* Oliver Grey vs Connor O'Brien - Winner Connor O'Brien by submission
* Layla then came out and did a promo
* Next was The Miz Show with Antonio Cesaro with a brief knockdown of Cesaro by the Miz at the end
* Semi-Final - Adrian Neville vs Leo Kruger - Winner Leo Kruger by submission
* Ryback then came out and did a promo
* Brodus Clay, Cameron and Naomi then came out for a promo. 3MB interrupted and then they had a "dance off" with the crowd choosing Clay and co. over 3MB, though there were a lot of people cheering for 3MB.
* Semi-Final - Bo Dallas vs Connor O'Brien - Winner Bo Dallas by pinfall
* Then AJ Lee came out and did a promo, touting "Ziggy" and how he was going to win the Rumble.
* Then Team Hell No came out and did a "hug off" with the crowd.
* Final Match - Bo Dallas vs Leo Kruger - Winner Bo Dallas by pinfall, who then cut a promo about being in the Royal Rumble and how great that was going to be.
After that final match the announcer said that the "Montreal Screw-Job" panel would be beginning soon and many people started to exit. I should say that during the matches, right around the Woods/Kruger match, Triple H came out on one of the upstairs lobbies to watch the action. Some of the fans noticed him and waved, but most of the fans followed Triple H's desires and paid attention to the matches instead of him. Bad Ass Billy Gunn and Bill DeMott were also in the production booth near the ring, but many fans also just said hello quickly and then went back to watching the in-ring action (at least as much as they could). At one point Triple H threw an empty water bottle from the balcony down toward Billy Gunn, which was pretty funny for those of us near enough to see it happen.
Anyway, the announcer also said that the fan fest would continue with additional matches and an appearance by Alberto Del Rio, for those of us who weren't going to the "shooting straight" panels. Again, getting into the panels was a pain because some people who didn't know about them wanted to buy tickets but were told the fire marshal said no more tickets could be sold. Other people who had tickets purchased had to stand in line again, only to be told later that their tickets were still at will call, then they had to fight through the rest of the crowd to get to the will call window, then got a hassle from building security when they tried to "re-enter" (which basically meant going through the hastily set up 'barrier' of black cloth that was set up between the ring and will-call) and so they ended up missing a good portion of the expensive event they had purchased tickets for.
I didn't go to the panels, but I also didn't stick around to see all of the rest of the matches. I needed to get a quick breath of air and use the rest room, so since some of the crowd thinned out when the panel started I decided to take my chances and head outside to use the portable rest room. I was able to get out and back in, but not before some other matches had happened. It looked like one of the matches had Kofi Kingston and Drew McIntyre, one of the other matches had Natalya but I didn't see against who. It looked like Luke Harper had a match as well. Then I made it back inside and saw the wrap up:
* NXT Match - Bray Wyatt vs Jake Carter - Winner Wyatt by pinfall, who had cut a pretty substantial promo to start the match
* NXT Divas Tag Team Match - Paige/Sasha Banks vs Emma/Summer Rae - Winner Paige/Banks by pinfall and I think Paige scored the pinfall on Summer Rae
* Team Rhodes Scholars came out and cut a promo, which was funny because the crowd booed them big time. Sandow had some kind of feather pen that he said he was going to sign autographs with but since the people of Phoenix were too ignorant, no autographs.
* Alberto Del Rio came out for his promo with Ricardo. They basically said they were going to beat Big Show.
* The announcer then came back and said there would be one last match.
* Final Fan Fest Match -Sheamus vs Heath Slater. 3MB tried to interfere but all of them got the "chest slams" from Sheamus while the crowd counted to 10. Slater then got White Noise followed by the Brouge Kick, which got the remaining crowd to go nuts!
All in all it was a good time and I'm glad it wasn't just canceled, which it could have been given the weather. It was definitely worth $10 though, to see all those matches and superstars even though it was standing room only. My only criticism is that they definitely should have known well in advance that the weather was going to be an issue and had their back up plan already thought out. They did give $5 off any purchase from the WWE t-shirt trailer with your ticket stub.