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Alberta tags out next month


If you\'re itching to get tickets for a live Raw or Smackdown this summer, you should check to see if Westjet has a seat sale before you go dusting off that \'You Screwed Bret\' sign.

For the first time in years, WWE has decided not to run back-to-back TV tapings in Calgary and Edmonton in May.

After years of sellouts in the Saddledome, there were quite a few empty sections when the WWE recorded Smackdown here last summer. By the time the company returned for an October house show, they couldn\'t even unload enough tickets to fill the floor area. Granted, business is soft right across the continent but the sight of 10,000 empty seats couldn\'t have been much of an incentive for Vince McMahon to come rushing back with TV cameras in tow.

Instead, the WWE has opted to run tapings in Halifax next month, and so far, the company is delighted with the decision.

Every seat for the May 5 Raw at the Halifax Metro Centre was snapped up within an hour -- the fastest sellout for the Monday-night franchise in a long time. Because Nova Scotia hasn\'t been as saturated as larger Canadian markets, the fan base is hot enough to tape Smackdown in the same venue the next night and run a head-to-head house show in nearby Sydney.

Of course, that doesn\'t mean Calgary is being left out in the cold. In fact, the impression I\'ve been given is the WWE is just taking a break from the Alberta market to build interest for something huge down the road. Inside sources suggest there\'ll be an untelevised house show here in early August, but according to the president of WWE Canada, Carl DeMarco, that\'s just the tip of the iceberg.

\"Calgary is an unbelievable market and you\'re going to be very happy with what we have in store for the 2004 season,\" DeMarco told the Calgary Sun on Wednesday.

\"We have some big plans for Alberta next year. We know our fans want huge TV events, not just Raw or Smackdown.\"

Not just Raw or Smackdown? Could the WWE\'s Canadian kingpin be hinting that a pay-per-view might be on the way?

\"Nothing is finalized,\" DeMarco said. \"But let\'s just say we\'re working really hard on something big. Calgary\'s always been a great market and the more the fans get behind it and let us know they want it, the easier it is for us to argue the case.\"

The last time a WWE pay-per-view emanated from Calgary was the In Your House event during the 1997 Stampede. Widely considered one of the top three PPVs of all time, the show\'s headliner was a spectacular 10-man tag with Bret and Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, Jim Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith taking on Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust and The Legion Of Doom.

RAW GOODS: The ratings dip Raw is experiencing south of the border hasn\'t been mirrored by Canadian viewers. According to Nielsen Media Research, the live Raw on TSN last Monday drew an average of 740,000 viewers, peaking at more than 876,000 for the return of Kevin Nash. When you factor in replays of the show, Raw was watched by more than a million Canadians, placing it at the top of the cable ratings for the entire country.

FIGHT CLUB: Goldberg and Chris Jericho got into a real-life scuffle backstage at Raw, when Y2J confronted the newcomer about some comments he made earlier in the day. Things quickly got out of hand and the two began throwing punches before they were pulled apart by road agents and wrestlers. Goldberg, who has done little to eliminate his prima donna reputation since arriving on WWE soil, quickly left the scene of the fight to record a satellite interview with The Rock, which will air on Raw next week.

SNAKE RATTLED: To update the condition of Steve Austin\'s neck, it looks like The Rattlesnake will need a second fusion operation, which will probably end his in-ring career. As it stands, Austin (Steve Williams) is holding off on surgery and returning to WWE TV but only in a non-wrestling capacity. He\'ll be booked as a rival GM for the Raw brand, battling for power with Eric Bischoff. His first act in the new managerial role will be bringing back Jim Ross to the announcing booth.

FREE FANATIC: The WWE Fanatic series of pay-per-views will be available on free TV in Canada over the next few weeks. The specials will be airing in the old Sunday Night Heat timeslot on Sportsnet each weekend, replacing the Heat broadcast, which now goes out on TNN. In other TV news, it looks like Raw isn\'t going to be pre-empted for the NHL playoffs as originally expected but keep your eyes on local listings for last-minute changes.

NAME GAME: The WWE has trademarked several names for use in upcoming storylines and merchandising, including The Tenth Ring, Retribution and Evolution.

There\'s no official word on what purpose the trademarks will serve, though Evolution is obviously going to be used when Triple H reforms his heel stable and Retribution has been a UK-only pay-per-view for the past three years.

DREAMER IS OVER: After just a few weeks in power, Tommy Dreamer has been dropped from the Raw writing team but will remain on the roster as an active wrestler. Dreamer had been hired to give a wrestlers\' perspective to the booking committee for Raw. The former ECW champion has been replaced by Chris Bell, a booker and agent for the Californian UPW group. Bell came recommended by The Rock.