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   Mon, August 4, 2003



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COMMENT





Sweatin', slammin' and trash-talkin'
By SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun


The fans have sent a loud message to Vince McMahon. No, it wasn't the potty-mouthed chant they directed at the World Wrestling Entertainment's owner, chairman of the board and in-ring performer last night at Skyreach Centre.

They want more from the WWE. They've seen RAW. They've done Smackdown!

And after a poor house show last year, the fans came back this time around. A good-sized mob of over 5,000 was on hand - the number less impressive than the enthusiasm and passion the fans showed for the brawling, showmanship and high-flying acts.

This was the type of crowd the WWE wanted to see and as a result, likely put good ol' our town on the map for a pay-per-view extravaganza in 2004. Because as the real wrestling fans know, those are the shows where the action is super-sized - much like the talent itself.

"I hope so," offered McMahon backstage of Edmonton's shot at a significant show.

McMahon got in on the act himself, interrupting a chat between Brother Love and one-legged phenom Zach Gowen, who spent the day enjoying the rides at Galaxyland in West Edmonton Mall with fellow grappler, Spanky.

Of course McMahon being the evil heel, couldn't escape unscathed as Gowen literally put the boot, and prosthetic leg, to his chief adversary.

The boss had to come away with nothing but positives from last night's house (non-televised) show on the Up Close and Uncensored tour that concludes tomorrow night with a Smackdown! taping in Kelowna.

This is a knowledgeable wrestling crowd in these parts. They showed appreciation for the complicated manoeuvres of Ultimo Dragon, Jamie Noble and Rey Mysterio.

McMahon couldn't help but see the fans' fervour from behind the curtain as they rooted home-town hero Chris Benoit to victory over Rhyno in a submission match.

Heck, the fans were on the money giving Rhyno the business for stealing Bret Hart's signature sharpshooter move and were bang-on supporting Benoit as he put the same submission on Rhyno soon afterwards.

"There are a lot of moments that stand out in a 17-year career, but the ones I remember the most are coming home," said Benoit.

"This is where it started. This is where the Wolverine was made."

Benoit was put over big-time by his faithful legion of sign-waving followers.

But this being wrestling, Edmonton also had to take its lumps. Enter rappin' John Cena.

"Everybody here should be wearing a bag on their face. Even Wayne Gretzky himself got out of this place," was the beginning of Cena's rant.

"You people here can't spell. Even the Eskimos are the disgrace of the CFL. I can't even get a burger because I might get mad cow disease."

Ooooh, that's gotta hurt.