On Friday, October 21st at the Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I attended a WWE “super show”. Both RAW and SmackDown superstars shared the home of the UNM Lobos basketball team, and they tore the house down.
TODAY’S ISSUE: Dual-brand house show in the ABQ.
Last week I blasted Vince McMahon and the WWE for their treatment of the legacy of the Ultimate Warrior character. This week, I have nothing but kind words for the E (well, almost).
I’ve been to WrestleMania and RAW in LA, SummerSlam in Phoenix, SmackDown here in the ABQ, and a few other house shows here and there. The super show last Friday night was just as fun, just as exciting, and just as satisfying as any other show I’ve attended.
I’m certain the hyped-up crowd of 5,952 had something to do with the excitement of the event. Hell, the first time the lighting went down for the show to start, the crowd popped huge! Then, we were off and running…
Match #1: WWE Champion John Cena vs. Kurt Angle. Angle came out first, and the “You Suck” chants during his music rocked the Pit. They put on a solid match that included a nifty hiptoss reversal sequence, and Cena even pulled out a fisherman’s suplex. Of course Angle slapped on the ankle-lock at one point, and the well-trained crowd actually gave me nasty looks when I cheered Angle! The end came when each grappler countered his opponent’s finishing maneuver twice, and it came off very slick. Cena finally hit the F-U to successfully defend his Bling-Belt.
I was surprised to see Teddy Long and the Coach (on Bischoff’s behalf) come out next and run down a very pleasing card for the night. They exchanged the usual RAW vs. SmackDown banter, and the crowd loved it.
Match #2: Snitsky vs. the Big Show. I know what you’re thinking, but I wasn’t hungry for nachos this early in the show, so I stuck around. Actually, Show’s “shhhh-chop” was fun live, and VERY loud. Also, Snitsky showed a lot of fire in this match, and worked harder than I’ve ever seen him perform. He moved quickly around the ring and bumped his ass off for Show. He looked aggressive and wrestled a smart match, until Show caught him in the generic-big-man finisher, the choke slam.
Match #3: JBL (with Jillian Hall) vs. Rey Mysterio. The first thing I noticed, JBL was intentionally messing with the poor ring announcer as he tried to announce JBL’s arrival. Bradshaw was “warming up” by running the ropes, but he purposely gave the announcer nowhere to go, and then bumped into him in an unnecessary display of assholeship. Bradshaw stole the microphone and taunted the New Mexico crowd before the two SmackDown superstars met in a No Mercy rematch. JBL’s image consultant Jillian Hall hit all the classic heel manager spots. She did a great job of distracting the referee, attacking Rey, and revving up the
Pro-Mysterio crowd. Rey endured a hell of a beating before reversing an attempted powerbomb and rolling up JBL for the pin. After his loss, JBL was compelled to show the crowd double middle fingers.
Match #4: Intercontinental Champion Ric Flair vs. Carlito. The Nature Boy used the “nut-grab” we saw a few weeks ago on RAW, and also debuted the “reverse nut-grab”! There were calls of wooooooooo all throughout the arena as Flair gave us a fun match. He bled from the HHH sledgehammer wound, and Carlito smartly worked the cut, which was in the perfect place on Flair’s head for CCC’s big left hand shots. Once again, Slick Ric actually hit his top-rope attack, and then took Carlito to school with the figure four leglock for the submission victory.
Match #5: SmackDown vs. RAW Battle Royal. Mr. Kennedy, Matt Hardy, Christian and Brock Lashley from SmackDown tangled with RAW’s Shelton Benjamin, Chris Masters, Rob Conway, Viscera and Kane (hmm, four days after Kane’s big return to RAW, during which he won a battle royal. Guess who’s gonna win?). Oddly enough, the Coach saw fit to enter himself in the match as well. He started out trying to direct traffic, but none of the wrestlers were buying what he was selling. They hoisted him up and tossed him to the floor, and Mr. Coachman actually took a decent bump. The last two combatants were Kane and Lashley. Kane did a great job of making Lashley seem like a threat, and allowed him to look like a real powerhouse, which he is. Kane won the match, of course.
Match #6: United States Champion Booker T. vs. Chris Benoit. Although I’m a member of the IWC, I always try to avoid spoilers. I feel I can get a better perspective on a show if I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. Since this show started at 7:30pm and SmackDown airs at 7:00pm in Albuquerque, I was shocked to see Booker wearing the US strap around his waist. I literally had NO IDEA Booker was going to defeat Benoit for the title on television right about the same time he defended that belt live in the Pit. This caused me a moment of confusion, and took all the mystery out of the televised match that I watched on tape when I got home from the live show. Personally, I’d rather they ensure house shows align with current storylines. As far as episodic weekly viewers knew in the Pit that night, Benoit was the US champ. I’m sure the average fan wouldn’t have read spoilers from the Tuesday night tapings. As for the match, Sharmell cheated and Booker T. slithered away with the belt, very much like the match in which the title changed hands on television at right about the same moment in time.
Match #7: Interpromotional 6-Diva Tag Team Match. Torrie Wilson, Victoria and Melina vs. Trish Stratus, Ashley, and Christy Hemme, with Candice Michele as the guest referee. So why didn’t I get to see the other two thirds of MNM? And where was the president of Trish’s fan club, Mickie James? This was truly the bathroom-break-before-the-main-event match. Christy won with her unique split-legdrop thing. Whatever.
Match #8: WWE Heavyweight Champion Batista vs. Randy Orton vs. Eddie Guerrero. I was surprised to hear the nice pop RKO got from the pre-programmed crowd, but Big Dave’s was Hegstrand-esque. When Dave climbed the ropes to receive accolades from the crowd, Eddie climbed the opposite ropes and pointed to Dave, ensuring the crowd recognized their special friendship. In fact there was a strange dynamic going on throughout this match, highlighting the unusual angle between Dave and Eddie that I wrote about recently. First, the two would appear to work together against Orton, but then one would sneak-attack the other. When caught, the offender would offer his hand in apology. Twenty years ago, I’d be willing to believe in two friends who both want to be champion, but not at the expense of their friendship or their personal honor. In today’s environment that just doesn’t ring true. I STILL believe Eddie will turn on Dave at some point.
Back to the action. Randy spent tons of time knocked out of the ring and groggy, allowing Eddie and Dave to play their strange game of cat-and-mouse. In a unique spot, Eddie “anchored” Dave by holding him so Randy couldn’t hit the RKO. That was clever. Later, when Dave had Randy in position for a power bomb, Guerrero made a run at the champ. While keeping Randy locked between his legs, Batista lifted Guerrero into a one-armed hip toss. Batista pinned Orton after a weak-looking Batista Bomb, but the real fun was in the post match activity. Eddie got Dave dancing, and they played to the crowd. When the music cut off before Batista wanted, he screamed over the house mic, “Put the God damn music back on!”
Overall, this was a very enjoyable event. It was a nice touch that the ring apron was RAW on two sides and SmackDown on the other two sides, although black ropes would have been more appropriate than the red RAW-style ropes. Still, I give them an A for effort.
Unfortunately, it’s one step forward and two steps back. As much faith as WWE restored in me as a fan that Friday night, not three nights later they did ten times worse damage during that ridiculous Jim Ross surgery segment. Seems I can’t win with WWE these days. Praise Allah for TNA…
We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.
p.s. – Is prevent what you do before you expose something to the air?