Your favorite IP columnists, Gloomchen and myself, attended the Smackdown and ECW tapings on 7/11/06 in Minneapolis, MN at the Target Center.
First up was a dark match between two tag teams, one claiming to be from Minnesota, the other from Wisconsin in an attempt at cheap crowd reaction. The Wisconsin team won in a very slow plodding match.
Smackdown started with a promo by King Booker (with William Regal stuck in “Omlet Du Fromage” mode ala Dexter’s Lab with the inability to say more than “All Hail King Booker!” Decent promo and the local crowd really hated G.I. Bro. But the crowd pretty much reacted almost unanimously along face/heel lines. Hey, these people were born and raised on Verne Gagne’s AWA. You pretty much have to expect that.
Eventually Rey came out and they hemmed and hawed and they played up Regal vs Rey Mysterio as the taping’s main event.
Next up was Ken Kennedy vs. Matt Hardy. Decent see-saw matchup. Matt attacked Ken before the bell denying the crowd the “Mister Kennedy” schtick. Lots of reversals and chain wrestling, but Matt hardy got the surprise win (at least in my opinion) when Kennedy got cocky and Hardy suckered him in with a small package for a quick 3 count.
Jamie Noble vs. Paul London was next. Oddly enough, pretty much everyone in the crowd around us thought the Pitbulls was a highly original gimmick and had no clue about the original ECW tag team. Ah, Minnesota. Kind of a boring match really with Noble pinning London after ye olde “tag team partner of the heel attacks face when ref is distracted” bit. Of course, Brian Kendrick was at ringside to, so I’m not sure how that was able to happen…
Next came the Diva boot camp. Not a single girl was able to do a jumping jack correctly. The Boot camp consisted of doing ten jumping jacks, getting over a 2 ft high ramp, running through tires crawling under a net, sack racing, jump rope and running through tires again. Layla was the winner by a clear margin time wise. Sgt. Slaughter the ex AWA and WWF world champion, who hosted the boot camp with “The Miz,” who clearly needs to come out of the closet far more than Lanny Poffo’s old WWE character did, got arguably the second loudest pop of the night.
US Title Match was next and was a pretty decent match. Fit Finlay became your NEW United States Champion after beating David Lashley in true Irish fashion – with help from a leprechaun hiding under the ring who through Finlay a Shillelagh. Big heel heat for Finlay.
Horrible long boring dueling promo between Khali and Undertaker came next. Davari and Khali stood on the ramp talking about how great Khali is as he recieved no crowd reaction. Blah blah blah, lights went out and Undertaker stood in the middle of the ring and just stared. This went on for minutes and finally Khali and Davari left. Good god.
Another awful promo came next in which we witnessed the worst contract signing of all time. Batista vs. Mark Henry. Teddy Long said if either attacked they would be barred from a world title shot, so both men behaved. Yawn. They talked and signed. For some reason, the Minnesota crowd resurrected the “What” chant for whenever Henry spoke. Highly stupid, but Henry got really flustered several times and was noticably pissed after his guffaws while Batista, if you had so much as poked him, would have burst out laughing.
Non Title Match between Rey Mysterio and William Regal ended the Smackdown part. Mysterio won with a 619 and frog splash. Pretty tepid match compared to the one they had over the WCW TV title way back when where Regal looked like he had murdered Rey and just continued to pound away on his corpse.
After the smackdown tapings came ECW. The fans really had no idea what to expect here except to occasionally chant “ECW” or “RVD” when Paul Heymen came out.
I know ECW was covered live last night, but some things that were probably missed via the show.
1. Big Show killed Flair. The reason they kept showing you the ending over and over again is because Flair was pretty f*cked up at the end, needing help from several people to get back to the dressing room, and he even had to sit down for a bit. If it was a work, it was some of the best selling I’ve ever seen Flair do, but he looked legitmately out of it, whether from blood loss or a concussion.
2. They DQ’d Sabu. DQ’s in an ECW match? Even the Minneapolis crowd knew this was not right and in one of the loudest chants of the night “Bullshit” broke out for about two minutes straight. Not good Vinnie Mac, not good at all.
3. Half the crowd cheered for Sandman, half thought he was a Steve Austin rip off. Yes. I know. It makes me shake my head in sadness too.
After the ECW taping, we were treated to a Triple Threat match between King Booker, Rey, and Finlay. Paint by numbers match with Rey pinning Booker after a frog splash. As my friend Chris who came with us, and who has only watched wrestling once before proclaimed, “Why have Rey pin Booker now when they have a PPV match soon? Wouldn’t it be smarter to have pinned Finlay?” Wouldn’t it, indeed.
2. Dead Eddie Guerrero
3. Rey Mysterio
Biggest Heel Heat
1. William Regal
2. King Booker
3. Fit Finlay