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   Thu, March 6, 2003



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Raw deal for the fans
By TJ MADIGAN -- Calgary Sun


They were two hours of my life I will never get back -- and I hold Vince McMahon personally responsible.

Raw\'s 10th anniversary X special was supposed to be a spectacle.

The WWE had hyped it for months across its network of programming, which is more than the company has bothered to do for most of its pay-per-views.

An invite was to be sent to every wrestler who ever strutted his stuff in the Raw ring and the show was extended by an hour just to fit it all in.

It was a set-your-VCR extravaganza just waiting to happen and only the most incompetent production team could mess this one up.

Enter Vince...

The first sign of disaster came a few days before the show.

The press got wind Bobby (The Brain) Heenan, who the WWE had announced as a guest presenter for the show, had not yet been contacted about an appearance.

In fact, no one outside the current WWE roster received an invitation.

Still, logic suggested it was just a case of the guest-list being kept top secret to add an element of surprise to the loaded lineup.

The Raw anniversary show came and went, without a single appearance by anyone remotely resembling a special guest.

No Steve Austin.

No Mick Foley.

No Bret Hart (although Bret confirmed he wouldn\'t be there a few days earlier).

Even The Rock, who showed up in San Diego for an untelevised house show last week, didn\'t bother to appear in person.

Instead of a tribute to a decade of fond memories, we got a lame awards show paying homage to the current crop of WWE talent.

The broadcast came off as a low-rent Slammy Awards.

There was no emotion (except for the touching tribute to wrestlers who had passed away), no atmosphere and the entire night felt as though it was thrown together at the last minute.

The sad thing is, they could have played two hours of vintage clips and most fans would have walked away happy.

Instead, the WWE chose to create a two-hour pat on the back for itself, which only showcased how deep its denial runs when it comes to the decline in business.

Since Tuesday, wrestling fans have bombarded Internet sites and newsgroups with negative feedback on the anniversary special.

From what I understand, the WWE is just as disappointed as the audience.

No one in Titan Tower has defended the show and the general consensus seems to be the finished product was a major letdown.

Luckily, most Canadian viewers were spared. TSN pulled the show from its lineup at the last minute, meaning the train-wreck was only seen by those who knew the American TNN feed wouldn\'t be blocked in Canada.

If you\'re one of the millions who missed it, count yourself lucky.

What should have been a vibrant look back at the TV show that put the attitude in wrestling turned out to be a sad reflection on the current state of the WWE product. What an absolute waste of airtime.

In other news:

* It\'s been confirmed Bill Goldberg and Vince McMahon met in person for the first time.

The meeting took place Jan. 8 in a Los Angeles hotel and was described as \"positive and productive.\" Goldberg is currently in Japan, getting set for the massive W-1 Tokyo Dome show, where he\'ll team with Keijo Muto to battle Kronic.

Goldberg and The Rock have both expressed interest in co-headlining Wrestlemania in March.

* About the only interesting thing to come from Raw this week is the storyline in which Eric Bischoff has 30 days to turn the show around or he\'ll be fired.

As it stands, the plan is for Bischoff to fail miserably, which means Shane McMahon will be taking over the Monday-night reins.

Based on his solid performance, Bischoff will probably continue to work in another capacity but his WWE contract is open-ended, so he can technically be released at any time.

* Contradictory rumours are circulating as to whether The Undertaker will return with his \'dead man\' gimmick or in his more recent persona.

The company seems to be veering back towards his biker character but the audience clearly wants a revival of the old-school \'Taker gimmick.

We\'ll find out at the Royal Rumble tomorrow night.

* According to an ESPN report, Jesse Ventura is considering returning to the ring for a showdown with Brock Lesner.

The article claimed Ventura has hired a personal trainer and would be willing to sign on the dotted line if Vince McMahon \"puts the decimal point in the right place.\" I wouldn\'t take the story too seriously.

* HWC storms The Palace tonight for one of the biggest indie shows Calgary has seen in quite some time.

Doors open at 7 p.m., with Rick Vain taking on Gary Williams in the main event.

Tomorrow night is Royal Rumble night at Famous Players theatres throughout the city.

The action kicks off at 6 p.m., live from the FleetCenter in Boston.