August 2, 2003
Show-stopper
McMahon set to raise the ire of the Saddledome faithful
By TJ MADIGAN -- Calgary Sun
In just a few hours, the world\'s most powerful wrestling mogul will stand in the centre of the Saddledome and revel in the jeers of the Calgary crowd as he gloats about how he screwed Bret Hart and became a billionaire in the process.

Yes, Vince McMahon is coming to town and, along with his usual theatrics and over-the-top attempts to stir a little controversy, the WWE owner is bringing the hottest untelevised wrestling show (on paper, anyway) Calgary has seen in years.

I slammed the WWE\'s house-show business in an article a few months back, blaming the declining ticket sales on weak lineups, the absence of headline wrestlers at untelevised events and an inexplicable lack of promotion. Of course, leave it to WWE to prove me wrong.

The Up Close and Uncensored tour is the company\'s most adventurous house show in a long time, not just because of the pay-per-view- quality lineup but because of the rare appearances by some of the biggest names in the business, most notably McMahon himself.

The WWE also really went out of its way to promote the Alberta leg of the tour, taping \'80s-style promo spots with McMahon and Rowdy Roddy Piper and running them like crazy on the TSN feed of Raw. Piper has since dropped out of the picture but McMahon will still appear tonight in an interview segment with Zach Gowen, which will undoubtedly end in fisticuffs and perhaps a one-legged moonsault or two.

The action kicks off at the \'Dome at 7:30 p.m. tonight but before I run through the rest of the lineup, please realize bookers can have whims, storylines can change, wrestlers can get injured and even superstars miss flights from time to time. So while I\'ve been assured the following bouts are the ones we\'ll see at the Saddledome, take the lineup with a grain of salt.

Outside of McMahon\'s heavily hyped appearance, the marquee match will feature new WWE champion Kurt Angle defending the title in a Wrestlemania rematch with Brock Lesnar. This will be Angle\'s first defence since he won the gold at the Vengeance pay-per-view last weekend.

The duo is setting up for a huge TV showdown at Summerslam on Aug. 24, so tonight\'s match will be used as an untelevised vehicle to test audience reaction before they do it all with the cameras rolling at the PPV.

The semi-main is a three-way for the newly resurrected U.S. title -- champion Eddie Guerrero will defend against Rhyno and local favourite Chris Benoit. In other matches, Billy Gunn goes up against John Cena, The APA takes on Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, Rey Mysterio battles Jamie Noble, Ultimo Dragon challenges Spanky, and Matt Hardy teams up with Shannon Moore to go toe-to-toe with the Basham Brothers.

Calgary will also enjoy a three-diva bikini contest, which will be less of a wrestling match and more of a posedown, featuring Sable, Dawn Marie and Nidia, with some lucky CJAY-92 contest winner helping out with the judging. Plus there\'ll be some special guests stopping by, including Edge.

\"It\'s going to be a great show but, of course, the big news is still that Vince McMahon is coming to non-televised events,\" WWE Canada president Carl DeMarco told the Sun, before dropping a bombshell.

\"We\'re definitely looking at the province for a pay-per-view in 2004,\" DeMarco announced, confirming Calgary Sun reports the WWE is considering bringing one of its biggest shows to Alberta for the first time in seven years. \"The event may reside in Edmonton, which means Calgary will finally be getting some big televised events, Raw or Smackdown. Both cities are great markets and Vince is really excited about going there this weekend, so 2004 looks like it\'ll be an even bigger year for wrestling fans in Alberta.\"


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