I think I had referenced going to this show in one of the 2012 Scott sez rants, and I was trolling through my archives and remembered that sure enough I had done a review for Wrestleline back in the day. So just for fun, a May 28 2000 WWF house show report by ME.
Netcop House Show Rant – May 28, 2000
So anyway, after weeks of begging and pleading with Wrestleline and much built up in the way of hopes, I ended up being gravely disappointed, as David’s promise to call the WWF on Friday afternoon yielded nothing, not even an e-mail to let me know one way or another. So it was lucky for me that the WWF opened up some seats on Saturday, and ended up picking up a pair of darn good seats at the proverbial last minute (section 201, row 21, which is dead center and the very first row of the upper deck, and just about the best view in the place) so I could finally see Benoit v. Jericho live and thus die happy. Well, relatively. I can’t for the life of me remember if I went to the show in 1992 that featured the only Edmonton appearance of the Nature Boy (I probably did, because the only WWF show here I can remember missing was one from 96 where the main event changed about 4 times in the days before the show and ended up with Sid v. Bret Hart) but Benoit is more of a modern hero to me, rather than Flair’s legendary type of heroism.
By the way, if there’s any WWF people reading this, if this was 1993 and the show was being headlined by Yokozuna against Tatanka, you’d damn sure be ready to comp me and let me backstage, you cheap fuckers.
Anyway, with that out of the way, my only other complaint is the woeful lack of merchandise at the show. For a company that’s pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandising money, they sure didn’t bring much of it here. The only HHH shirt they had was the lame “Not for the Innocent” one, rather than the much better “I Am the Game”, so I went with my second choice – an APA shirt. Considering the amount of shirts they were moving today, I’m frankly shocked they didn’t have a bigger selection of them.
On with the show…
- Opening match: The Godfather v. Al Snow. As always, if you HAVE to use Godfather, the opening match is pretty much the best place for him, because he gets the crowd going and generally tries hard, despite his total lack of talent. Nice ladies today, too. This was your basic comedy match, with Snow making a play for the hos on two occasions and getting jumped both times. Godfather ran through his usual stuff and got the pin off the Ho Train about 5 minutes in. Crap match, but it amused the rubes. ¼* Crowd was VERY hot for both guys.
- Light Heavyweight title: Dean Malenko v. Crash Holly. Both guys get a babyface pop coming in, just because we’ve never seen either up here. Malenko quickly goes into the heel role by working on the knee and hitting a couple of low blows…and DRAWS HEAT. Wow, I had this one written off a lost cause in terms of crowd reaction before it even started. Match was a pretty good little mat wrestling run-through with the occasional “Elroy” chant for Crash. Just your standard Metal match, basically, as Malenko hits a tiger bomb into the Cloverleaf for the submission at about 8 minutes. *
- T&A v. Too Cool. Trish gets guaranteed heel heat by insulting Edmonton and letting us know she’s from Toronto. Too Cool are just crazy over, it’s pretty scary. T&A continue to impress with some good double-team work as Scotty plays face in peril for a few minutes (with the crowd gamely clapping along to encourage him the whole time). Funniest spot of the night comes in the early stages of this match, as Scotty is bouncing on the ropes while waiting for a tag…and he falls off, onto the floor. Anyway, skip to the ending, as we get the usual pier-six, and Scotty hits the Worm on Test. Swear to god, I’ve NEVER heard a louder reaction to one move in my life. The whole place literally was lit up by flashbulbs when he did that thing. I don’t know he manages to get through it without cracking up. Grandmaster follows with the Hip Hop Drop, but Test nails him with Trish’s boot and pins him. As T&A leaves, we get our dose of Memphis for the night, because Grandmaster Sexay points out that when Trish took off her boot, we could all see “her hairy leg” and proceeded to start a “Shave your leg” chant. Cute. We get a couple of dance moves from both guys, and when Sexay does his, Scotty yanks down his pants. Crowd ate all of it up with a spoon. Match was pretty standard stuff. ½*
- Bull Buchanan v. Bradshaw. No Faarooq for some reason, but Bossman was hanging around ringside and gets the award for “most stunned reaction” when the crowd spontaneously starts up a “Bossman’s gay” chant. Match was punch-kick all the way, as Bradshaw hits the Clothesline from Hell, but Bossman runs in for the DQ. Boring stuff. DUD
- Paul Bearer makes a surprise appearance, talking about revenge for Kane’s broken hand. Bossman returns to beat him up, and who should return but…
- Kane v. Big Bossman. This was about as bad as you’d expect, although Kane was just incredibly over. Bossman restholds us to death before Kane comes back and chokeslams him for the win. DUD
- Road Dogg, X-Pac & HHH v. The Rock & the Dudley Boyz. The crowd was chanting for Rock off and on for the first half of the show, so thankfully they put this on before the intermission to shut them up. Road Dogg just has NO heat left at this point – it’s pretty sad. The loss of Vince Russo pretty much showed how much Jammes needed him to maintain his following. The fans just mercilessly boo HHH during his intro and pre-match insults for the crowd. Now that’s some serious heel heat. And as you’d expect, Rock’s entrance just absolutely blows the roof off the joint. Still, it’s not as loud as Austin’s pop was when he was here last year. The pop (and sustained heat) that Steve Austin got last year is one of the loudest I’ve ever heard in wrestling. Rock is still suffering from a knee injury, so it’s basically Dudleys v. X-Pac & Road Dogg for most of the (long) match, with an occasional appearance from the Great One to lay some smack down and then step out again. No 3D surprisingly, as Rock finishes HHH clean with the People’s Elbow about 10 or 12 minutes in (to another monster pop, although less than the Worm got). Earl Hebner cleans house on the heels, and then Rocky runs through his usual speech, which of course the crowd eats up. Match was pretty solid. **
- Intermission, during which I go for a couple of hot dogs and witness a fascinating phenomenon first-hand: In the span of twenty minutes waiting in line, three lines merged into one and I got bumped back about 6 places during the course of my waiting. And of course, I get about 3 places from the front of the line when the intermission ends, and since I’m thinking it’s going to be the advertised Bulldog v. Blackman match, I just keep waiting. It turns out to be Eddie Guerrero v. Saturn, and I mentally kick myself as a result. It should be noted that I could hear the pop for Eddie all the way over at the refreshment stands, which is a good sign. Saturn didn’t sound like he drew any heat. Zenon informed me that Eddie finished it with a top rope rana about 10 minutes in, and it was a decent match. Well, fuck.
- WWF tag title match: Edge & Christian v. The Hardy Boyz. I get back in time For the Benefit of Those With Flash Photography. First time I’ve ever seen the Hardyz live, and the pre-teen girls scream just as loud live as they do on TV for them. Pretty darn spiffy tag match here, as Matt gets the beats put on him as Edge & Christian work in their now usual comedy spots to keep the crowd against them. Cookie-cutter ending, though, as Matt does the Twist of Fate to Edge and Jeff follows with the Swanton bomb, but Christian nails him with the title belt behind the ref’s back and puts Edge on top for the pin. Lots of hot near falls before the pin make this one a keeper. They’re gonna have to be careful with Edge & Christian, because they’re becoming so over and so dominant they the WWF runs the risk of another New Age Outlaws situation developing, whereby there’s literally no other teams left who can believeably hold the titles for any length of time. I’m sure they’re willing to take that chance, however. **1/4
- Kurt Angle v. Rikishi. Surprisingly, the crowd is sharply divided on Kurt Angle. I thought he’d be a total heel, but about half the crowd is completely into him. Rikishi gets a THUNDEROUS pop, and squashes Angle in short order, as Kurt literally gets no offense in. Rikishi Driver finishes after about a minute, and Too Cool run off Edge & Christian. Then they call for the dance-off, and OH MY GOD does the crowd explode. In a brilliant move, Too Cool teases facing in each direction, seeing which side of the arena provides the biggest pop. As a result, we spend about 10 minutes doing this, with the place just getting louder and LOUDER the whole time. Unbelievable. Finally, they do the dance, and it’s just an amazing, monster pop. Bigger than the Rock’s by far. Match was a DUD, but just listening to and watching the crowd during the whole thing is something to behold in itself.
- And finally…
- Intercontinental title: Chris Benoit v. Chris Jericho. I was wondering how they’d deal with the face-heel problem (Hometown hero Benoit is a heel, Calgary native Jericho is a face), but they went the obvious (and most effective route): Jericho, despite receiving the third biggest face pop of the night to that point, comes out and cuts a vicious anti-Edmonton promo and says “Calgary” about fourteen times, instantly turning the entire crowd against him. Nice to see him take one for the team like that. Benoit wears an Oilers jersey for good measure, and gets a monster ovation of his own. They proceed to have a REALLY good match, about on par with the title change on Smackdown a few weeks back. Both guys absolutely lay in the chops (although the crowd didn’t know to “whoo” for some reason) and go pretty much non-stop, with numerous “Benoit” and “Let’s Go Benoit” chants throughout the match. Benoit definitely seemed to enjoy the attention, too. Benoit gets the Crossface about 10 minutes in, but Jericho reverses to the Liontamer (HUGE heel heat for that), and then they do a triple-reversal spot on a tombstone, ending with Benoit hitting the move, and finishing with a diving headbutt to retain the title to a big pop. Surprisingly, he didn’t bust out the triple suplex, because that would have been way over, too, but the match was good as it was, and a fitting end to the evening. ***
The Bottom Line: Nice to see the WWF actually making use of all the talent they’ve got under contract now, and putting out all the Canadians on this tour. Given the usual “Let’s do this and go home” atmosphere that creeps into the workrate during Canadian tours, it was a refreshing change of pace to see guys like Malenko and Benoit busting ass out there and getting props from the crowd for it. The crowd itself was pretty much rabid for everything, too, because Alberta is an old school Stampede territory so we can enjoy both wrestling and “sports entertainment” on equal footing most of the time.
Anyway, despite the rapidly inflating ticket prices recently ($35 for upper level seating?!?), this was well worth the money and everyone went home totally happy with the product. Now if only we’d get that long-promised PPV here…