The wife of my gaming buddy Doug has some way of occassionally scoring comp tickets to the local arena and she managed to snag a pair of sweet seats for the WWE Raw house show this last Saturday. Doug is one of those weirdoes who prefers 'real' sports, so he passed the tickies along to me and I took my pal Pat. This was the fifth wrestling card I've ever seen live and it ranked right up there with the WCW show I took in at Springfield with Paul Pomykala and Don McKinney's son Michael.
The opening match was a fifteen man over-the-top battle royal, with the winner get a title shot against the champ in that night's main event. Pat and I were shocked when "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan came out to participate in the bout. That guy is awesome. He's big, loud, and stupid. I pretty sure I saw Curt, one of the many cops in my lodge, working security near the wrestler's entrance. Dude stopped Hacksaw and shook his hand as he exited the room. Curt's quite a character in his own right. I'm told he has the Punisher skull emblazoned on his kevlar vest. The battle royal went to Jeff Hardy, who I had seen wrestle a couple of matches in TNA. He was new to Pat, who dubbed him 'Hot Topic Lad' based upon his ring attire. Most of the gusy who wrestled in the opening match later performed again in singles competition. We were thrilled to get a double dose of Duggan when he went mano-a-mano with a fellow named Daivari, who plays the role of Evil Arab. I'm not a big fan of the Heel Foreigner gimmick. It often smacks of racism and blind nationalism and this particular version came with a heaping side order of religious intolerance. But this Daivari fellow did a helluva good job with the limited character palette available.
I was shocked that the most technically sound match of the night was the Women's Championship bout. Candice Michelle managed to defend her title against Beth 'the Glamazon' Phoenix. Both ladies did a great job wrestling, but I was extremely impressed by the Glamazon. She had Haughty Heel charisma on the mike and in the ring she pulled off a very credible array of powerhouse moves. Women's pro wrestling has a long history of hair-pulling, catfighting, and screaming but all that nonsense was very subdued and instead we saw a lot of power moves, high flying stunts, and legitimate grappling. Great stuff.
The match before the main event was Carlito versus Triple H. Both of these guys have an amazing amount of charisma. They wrestled a sound if relatively unspectacular program. The match was really built around the lavish Triple H entrance sequence and pushing the cage match between the two of them on tonight's episode of Raw. Look for Carlito to wear the big belt some day. I've only seen him a couple of times while flipping through channels but he clearly has that special something. One segment I've watched he didn't have a single line but still owned the scene. His performance Saturday night only cemented my impression that this young man will one day be at the top. Question for people more familiar with WWE: Does Lemmy sing Triple H's entrance music? It sounded a lot like Lemmy to me.
The main event was a bit of a bait and switch. The Jeff Hardy/John Cena title match ended early when battle royal sore losers Cade and Murdoch (I think that's their names) stormed the ring and beat on Hardy. Quick DQ win to Hardy, no title change. So Cena talks some trash at these two dorks and proposes a tag team competition. What followed was a mostly by-the-numbers tag team match, but the crowd was really into the two babyfaces and ate it up. I had never seen John Cena wrestle before. On the internet he's often said to be the kind of champ who is long on looks and short on wrestling. I thought he acquited himself quite well. He wasn't up to Jeff Hardy's level in terms of high flying spectacular moves, but he was more than sufficient to wrestle the two dweezels on the other team.
All in all, a heckuva a good show. Thanks again to Doug and his wife. It's annoying the crap out of me that I can't remember her name. I'm sure Doug has mentioned it more than once, but I've never met her myself. I feel really stupid thanking her as 'Doug's wife'.
Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes
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