The SmarK Rant for WWE RAW House Show – Saskatoon 08.20.11
Originally I was going to tack this onto Smackdown as an extra, but my DVR ate the show, so this is all I got now.Â There was an interesting path to this show, as WWE has been trying to come here since 2004 and keeps failing.Â The first attempt, in 2004, saw the show get cancelled due to a low advance (despite Chris Benoit on top of the card).Â They held off for another 3 years before scheduling another one in 2007, which was then cancelled due to Benoit’s suicide.Â Then they tried another one in 2009, but the ridiculous situation with RAW getting moved out of Denver due to basketball meant that it was cancelled yet again.Â Finally, we got yet another crack at it, and with CM Punk and John Cena on top of the show you’d think people would be rabid to finally get a show here.Â However, ticket sales were pretty slow, and it looked like maybe 2000-2500 people total, resulting in the entire upper deck being tarped off and a whole section of the lower bowl being removed.Â So this led to an adventure with the ticket booth, as my seats were ones that were “relocated”, as we were informed by the ticket taker at the doors.Â We were told to go the front of the box office and get the new tickets, where we were met by a bitchy employee who sent us to the end of the ticket sales line instead.Â The end of that line was all the way out the door and down the stairs again, it should be noted.Â So after another 20 minutes in line, we got back into the building and discovered that there was actually a second, shorter line for us poor relocatees, which no one had mentioned to anyone in line.Â So back to the front of the line again and we got our new tickets (about 2 sections over from where we would have been) and away we went.
The merchandise:Â Tons of John Cena, Rey Mysterio and CM Punk stuff, plus a Zack Ryder shirt and some really expensive Sin Cara masks.Â I kind of wanted a Punk shirt, but $35 is just too much.Â I was thinking about stopping by at the end of the night after thinking on it, but literally every piece of Punk merch was gone by the end of the show.
I’m not a notebook and stopwatch guy, so this is mostly from memory.Â The photos are provided by my lovely wife, who didn’t know who anyone but John Cena was and decided to take lots of photos and let me watch.
Non-title match: Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne d. Mr. Perfect Jr. & Mr. Jennifer Hudson.Â One of the best matches of the night, actually, as the crowd was JACKED early on and reacted big to everyone.Â Formula tag matches are great to open for a crowd like that, and they did the same basic match as on RAW this past Monday, with Bourne getting the heat and then finishing McGillicutty with the Shooting Star Press.Â I’d go about *** for it.
Zack Ryder d. Drew McIntyre.Â Not much reaction for Ryder, although people liked him well enough as a babyface in general.Â Another very basic house show kick-and-punch match with the Rough Ryder finishing.Â *1/2
Kelly Kelly d. Beth Phoenix to retain the Divas title.Â Kelly was VERY over with the crowd, and worked in her gymnastic spots in the early going before Beth settled into beating the crap out of her for the heat.Â Went fairly short before Kelly got a surprise rollup for the pin.Â Not bad, all things considered.Â **
John Morrison d. R-Truth.Â Truth’s promo was great, as he raged against Little Jimmy and told a little kid “Shouldn’t you be home watching Nickelodeon?”Â Very chinlocky match, with Morrison rallying out of nowhere and hitting Starship Pain for the win.Â Nothing wrong with it.Â *1/2
Alberto Del Rio d. CM Punk to retain the WWE title.Â This was announced as the first half of the main event, with the winner moving on to defend against John Cena at the end of the night.Â Punk was the total babyface here, and Ricardo Rodriguez was hilarious in his role as general irritant.Â The early part of the match saw Punk throwing leg kicks and Del Rio bailing for a leg massage from Ricardo after each one, which was a fun little segment.Â Obviously they had it dialed WAY down for this, as the usual “chase the manager” sequence led to Del Rio getting a cheapshot and working Punk over until the inevitable comeback.Â Rodriguez did a bunch of heel manager stuff, leading to the finish where Punk went to the top and got tripped up for the Del Rio pin.Â ADR is my hero because he WEARS THE BELT rather than slinging it over his shoulder like a prop.Â **1/2
Eve Torres does a dance competition with four fans, for a chance to go backstage and meet people.Â Hopefully the little kid who won knows to shake everyone’s hand so he doesn’t get bitched out on Twitter by Goldust.
Santino Marella d. Jack Swagger with the COBRA.Â This was a typical post-intermission comedy match, as the Cobra deal is way over and Santino is milking it for everything it’s worth.Â My personal favorite spot was Swagger blocking the Cobra and attempting to force it back on Santino, who acted terrified of his own hand.Â After pushup and situp competitions settled nothing, Santino dodges a blind charge and finishes with the Cobra sock.Â Silly but fun.Â *
Dolph Ziggler d. Alex Riley to retain the US title.Â My second-favorite match of the night, as Riley was crazy over as a babyface and Ziggler pulled out all the cheap heat about how Canada sucks and he’s awesome and such.Â Your basic house show match with Ziggler doing a lot of sleeper attempts, but the last couple of minutes had some awesome near-falls from Riley, with the crowd actually buying that he might win the title on a half-full house show in Saskatoon.Â Riley was interesting to watch, because his big, goofy babyface comeback sequence reminded me a LOT of young Mr. Rocky Maivia.Â He’s not ready for prime time right now, but man I saw a lot of potential there tonight.Â Ziggler overcomes the big comeback and wins clean with the Zig Zag.Â ***
Main event:Â John Cena d. Alberto Del Rio by DQ.Â Let me tell you, there was no conflicted crowd here.Â This was a 100% pro-Cena crowd, and they were rabid for everything he did.Â Pretty solid match, with COOHHH banning Rodriguez from ringside (with a note sent via the referee), leaving ADR to work on Cena’s arm all by himself.Â Nice spot saw Del Rio’s armbar attempt turned into a powerbomb by Cena,and of course we got all the greatest hits from Cena.Â The ref gets bumped to set up the STF, and of course Ricardo runs back in for the DQ and heel beatdown before CM Punk returns to make the save.Â The Megapowers it was not, but everyone went home happy.Â **
Nothing I’d call bad, and for my $20 I’m totally happy with the evening of entertainment I got, although it was obvious everyone had it in cruise control all night.Â No one was expecting PPV-quality stuff (and nor should they have), and there was enough babyface victories to keep the young ones happy and things were kept short enough to make sure no one was bored.Â Hopefully they don’t take another 9 years to come back again. Â Although keep this in mind when thinking about the value of titles: Â Years back, Honky Tonk Man used to headline defending the IC title with no other title matches. Â Now, we get 2 WWE title matches, a US title match, and a Divas title match, and they can barely fill the lower bowl. Â Then they advertise Night of Champions, the only night you can see all the titles on the line! Â Except for tonight, I guess.