July 9, 2003
WWE lays Smackdown! on Toronto
By STEPHEN LAROCHE -- SLAM! Wrestling
Wrestling fans in Toronto came out in full force to attend a Smackdown! taping last night at the Air Canada Centre. Since SLAM! Wrestling\'s Dale Plummer normally covers the broadcasts, I\'m not going to steal his thunder and only offer you my own twisted insights into what you\'re going to be watching anyway in a couple of days.
In a nutshell, here are the matches you can expect to see on Thursday night without spoiling anything. Keep reading on if you want a quick breakdown of what happened last night.
- APA versus FBI (Johnny Stamboli and Chuck Palumbo) versus Billy Kidman/Rey Mysterio versus the Basham Brothers in a Fatal Four-Way where the winner takes on Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas for the tag team title at Vengeance.
- Matt Hardy Version 1.0 and Shannon Moore take on Rhyno and Chris Benoit.
- Eddie Guerrero throws his name into the U.S. Title tourney and takes on Ultimo Dragon
- Billy Gunn and Torrie Wilson battle Jamie Noble and Nidia.
- The Big Show, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas take on Brock Lesnar in a handicap match.
- Oh yeah, and there\'s something about Zack \"Strange Animal\" Gowan... I mean, Gowen signing an official WWE contract. If past signings are any indication, this will go smoothly!
For those of you that aren\'t here to read spoilers... feel free to visit the rest of SLAM! Sports, including SLAM! Collectibles (sorry, but I had to give myself a cheap plug in the Mick Foley tradition).
It should be noted that while it was advertised that the gates were to open at 6:30, they didn\'t let people in for another half hour. We were treated to the always-great WWE Desire video and the crowd really popped for Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart while I popped for Kamala. Representatives from Bell were handing out large pieces of paper and markers with their corporate logo so the good folks in attendance could make signs. While I was tempted to do one that says \"This is Wrestlecrap\" or something, I\'m just too lazy to do that.
Strangely enough, no one sang \"O, Canada\" and the action started with Tyson Mooney facing Mark Bartelucci (forgive me if the spelling is incorrect. They really need to show their names on screen.). Mooney, who wrestles on the indy circuit as Tyson Dux got a big pop and was announced as coming from here in Toronto. Despite a \"boring\" chant, the action was fairly solid and Mooney reversed one of Bartelucci\'s moves into an awesome DDT.
From there, the Velocity announcers hit the floor. The crowd really tore a strip off Josh Matthews (hmm... wonder why?) and popped for Ernest \"The Cat\" Miller. First match up was Funaki going up against A-Train. It looked good at the beginning when the crowd was screaming \"shave your back\" to the hirsute wonder as he threw some chairs into the ring and chased Matthews around a little. Albert ended up taking this one with the De-railer. Not much else to say here...
Nunzio and Spanky had the dubious honour of following that mat classic and there were some really nice spots in it considering that this is a Velocity bout. Even with chants of \"where\'s my pizza\", Nunzio managed to ignore the crowd and hit that Little Rascal (sorry, couldn\'t resist the pun) with the Divorce Court.
Next up was a little more interesting for me since Sean O\'Haire was taking on what seemed to be an everyday jobber. Well, since this jobber happened to be Bobby Rude, I was immediately reminded of the last time I saw him. It was about three years ago and Rude faced the legendary Jake \"The Snake\" Roberts at an indy show. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jake that night and stood right beside the ring taking pictures during the match. Jake hit him with the most beautiful DDT I\'ve ever seen and the interview was the first article I ever wrote for SLAM!
Back to the match, Rude sold O\'Haire\'s offense like a pro and got in a DDT - go figure. It all ended with a Samoan Drop-type thing and the crowd. Cool, but it makes you wonder what they\'re going to do with the guy over the next little while.
Velocity\'s unofficial MVP, Kanyon, locked horns with Orlando Jones and it was well... enh. It seems as if they re-shot one of the sequences, but I could be wrong. There was a neat maneuver to finish and O.J. got the duke.
Since Dale\'s going to go into great detail about what gets shown on television, I\'m keeping this really simple. Tazz and Michael Cole came out together (probably to avoid a rousing chorus of boos for the weaker part of the team... you know, the one who kinda resembles Lanny Poffo when you squint your eyes...) and Kurt Angle hit the floor not to wrestle, but to \"make a point.\"
In good conscience, I can\'t spoil parts of this for anyone. There are priceless moments that make it feel as if wrestling was still somewhat fresh and original. John Cena interrupts the fun and I will say is two words... Angle raps.
Naturally, this sets up an opportunity for the Big Slow... um, Show... to come in. Cena gives Angle an F-U from behind and Andre\'s Kid gets in a chokeslam. Yes, I know he\'s not really Andre\'s son... just appreciate the reference. Following that display is the Fatal Four-Way. All I can say about the Bashams is thank God they\'re wearing pants this week. Oh yeah, and those highlights are real manly, Bradshaw... stupid Internet hating guy...
Basically, part of the match degenerates into a brawl towards the back between the FBI and the APA. The other two teams do a bunch of cool stuff in the ring, but it\'s neat how the action slowed down while they showed the other teams duking it out in the back. Nunzio nails the APA with a chair and that\'s probably going to set up a match at Vengeance.
Back to the real action, these guys just put on a great show. Kidman hit a Shooting Star Press and Rey got in a 619 (which looked awesome from my angle) and the rest of the match writes itself from there. After the match, they did a funny little thing where Kidman put on the Cruiserweight belt and Rey took it back. You probably won\'t see it on the telecast.
Brock Lesnar and Angle did another one of their one-up vignettes as we were \"treated\" to a replay of last week\'s main event. Stephanie\'s music then hit and I woke up. She was holding a clipboard as if it was a championship belt... gee, I wonder what\'s on there?
Surprisingly, Gowan... sorry, Gowen... came out to some boos and the deal was sealed without any problem. Who am I kidding? Vinnie Mac and Sable came out to actual cheers before a rousing \"You Screwed Bret\" chant broke out. VKM sold it well and announces that there will be a handicap match for Lesnar tonight. Why he decided to do it now, I\'ll never know.
He also tried to put Zach in his place by telling him that his first match will be against him at the upcoming Pay-Per-Snooze. The climax to the whole thing was when he said, \"You may have survived cancer, but you won\'t survive me!\" and then Sable laid Stephanie out with a clipboard shot.
After the \"break\" (well, everyone sitting around in a quiet arena), we see Vince and Sable about to get \"down to business\" when Daddy\'s Little Employee comes screaming (literally) in and attacks the Official WWE Cougar. Meow! We can all see where this is heading and they will face off at... you guessed it, Vengeance.
Rhyno and Chris Benoit then defeated Matt Hardy Version 1.0 and Shannon Moore in a nice little match. Crazy finish, but the crowd was really into it. We\'re treated to more All-American fun with Brock and Kurt before Eddie Guerrero and his ride hit the scene.
Even after last week\'s turn on Tajiri, the crowd was totally into Eddie. The chants were LOUD and no one seemed to care that he\'s supposed to be a heel. He entered himself into the U.S. Title Tournament and his opponent, Ultimo Dragon, came out. Without spoiling the action, this was a hot match and Guerrero yanked the tights to move on to face Billy Gunn next week.
Speaking of Mr. Ass, he\'s up next with Miss Ass (Torrie Wilson) to face everyone\'s favourite trailer-trash couple Jamie Noble and Nidia. Their pop was huge, but it made you wonder who the people were really cheering for. Match was a little slow to start, but Nidia missed a spear on Gunn to bring in Wilson. Oh, that\'s who the people were cheering for! Anyhow, Torrie hits a DDT (enough of those tonight, huh?) and gets the pin.
After the match, Noble offers Torrie $10,000 to sleep with him and Gunn comes to her honour after she refuses. For good measure, she rips off Nidia\'s Daisy Duke\'s and wrestling fans everywhere stop sobbing uncontrollably due to this match being bad on so many levels. Not Jackie Gayda bad, but pretty brutal.
Angle gets called to Vince\'s office as Brock heads to the ring. Haas and Benjamin are now to be called \"The Greatest Tag Team Ever\", but I think Los Conquistadores might have something to say about that. Match was evenly-balanced for both sides although there seemed to be a lot of rest holds. Towards the end, Brock is just dominating his opponents and even started to get creative. He put the \"steel\" steps in front of the announcer\'s table and teased F-5\'s for the former Team Angle members. Finally, he tried to get the Slow One up, but it was stopped and turned into a chokeslam instead. A few seconds later it was all over and basically nothing of note happened after the broadcast.
Quote of the night: \"You know John, I didn\'t think it was possible but I think I found somebody in the company that\'s whiter than me!\" - Kurt Angle