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   Sun, August 3, 2003



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That's boss


A one-legged star is born.

More than 9,000 wrestling fans left the Saddledome last night talking excitedly about the awesome visual of 20-year-old amputee Zach Gowen flipping from the top rope on one leg and crashing down on WWE boss Vince McMahon.

It was the highlight segment of the Up Close and Uncensored event -- WWE's first visit to Cowtown since a disappointing house show at the 'Dome last October.

Playing up his evil 'Mr. McMahon' alter-ego, Vince strutted to the ring to cut an interview with Brother Love. Of course, Gowen quickly interrupted the promo and, after some back-and-forth mic work, a brawl erupted that ended with one-legged Gowen hitting a moonsault on McMahon to a huge cheer from the Calgary audience.

Overall, Up Close and Uncensored was an average-to-good house show, with nothing particularly worth writing home about. The set was basic, the sound system was terrible, there was nothing surprising or innovative and, despite a huge effort from most of the wrestlers, a lot of the matches came off as filler.

The action kicked off with Ultimo Dragon making his Calgary debut against Shawn Michaels' protege, Brian (Spanky) Kendrick. Both wrestlers are babyfaces but Dragon got both the bigger crowd pop and the victory in this short opener.

Next up was a surprise showing by Calgary's own Lance Storm, breaking away from the Raw roster for one night only to challenge Eddie Guererro for the U.S. Championship. Latino Heat managed to hold onto his title after hitting a frog splash on the former Impact Player.

A fun four corners match was next, with Matt Hardy teaming up with Shannon Moore to take on the Basham Brothers, The APA and tag champs Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. Everyone was impressive here, especially headliner-in-waiting Hardy and the lightning-quick Moore but Haas and Benjamin were the ones who walked out with the gold.

The ensuing three-diva bikini contest was exactly what it was supposed to be and the crowd loved it. Dawn Marie, Nidia and Sable (the eventual winner) all stripped down to the barely-legal level for the posing competition, which surprisingly didn't erupt into a catfight.

A lot of the bouts on the card seemed to be mis-matches but one booking that was right on the money was between cruiserweight champ Rey Mysterio and Jamie Noble. Although it was pretty clear the title wouldn't be changing hands last night, the two put on an exciting 10-minute spot-fest, with Mysterio getting the duke after an awesome sunset flip spot.

Edge then came to the ring to cut a thank-you promo for the Calgary fans, and while he didn't say anything particularly earth-shattering, he made me realize WWE will be dropping the ball in a big way if they don't bring him back to television as a mega-star when he's back at full health.

Billy Gunn vs. John Cena was impressive, mainly because Cena has the potential to be a star of Rock or Austin calibre. Gunn lost the match when Cena used the ropes for extra leverage.

The semi-main of the evening (after the McMahon-Gowen confrontation) was a submission match between Rhyno and Edmonton native Chris Benoit. It was a strong showing from these two, with some clever spots, including a well-received sharpshooter from the Crippler. Benoit eventually went over with the crossface.

Main event saw WWE champion Kurt Angle take on Brock Lesnar in his very first title defence. Both guys got their finishers in and, after 10 minutes of solid action, Angle rolled Lesnar in an inside cradle for the 1-2-3.