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   Sat, January 24, 2004



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Smackdown in Philadelphia







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Royal pain
Raw, Smackdown rosters ready to rumble in Philly


The road to Wrestlemania begins tomorrow with the Royal Rumble, airing live from the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. The feature attraction is the rumble match itself, with 15 stars from each side of the WWE house duking it out for a headline spot at 'Mania.

From the Raw roster, Bill Goldberg, Randy Orton, Kane, Chris Jericho, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Test, Matt Hardy, Renee Dupre, Spike Dudley, The Hurricane, Rico, Mark Henry, Christian and Scott Steiner will be taking part.

Smackdown entrants are John Cena, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Big Show, Matt Morgan, Nunzio, The World's Greatest Tag Team, Billy Gunn, Rikishi, The Cat, Tajiri, A-Train and Bradshaw.

One last entrant will be announced on the night and I'm thinking it could be Mick Foley, since WWE is teasing he'll be appearing at the event to comply with Steve Austin's storyline demands.

Goldberg is odds-on favourite to win the Rumble match, setting him up for a title bout with Brock Lesnar at 'Mania. If he wins, he'll be the first entrant to draw No. 30 and walk out victorious.

The dark horse in this year's battle royal is Chris Benoit, the No. 1 entrant, who could use the win to elevate him for his upcoming feud with Triple H.

Other matches announced for tomorrow's show include HHH defending (and retaining) the Raw title against Shawn Michaels in a last- man standing match and Brock Lesnar hanging on to his Smackdown gold against Bob Holly.

Eddie Guerrero will be taking on his nephew Chavo (this is expected to be a set-up for Kurt Angle's heel turn), The Dudley Boys will challenge Ric Flair and Batista for the tag belts in a tables match (look for The Evolution boys to win) and Rey Mysterio will fight with Nunzio over the cruiserweight strap (Mysterio should win to establish himself as a credible champ but I'm afraid WWE will be too tempted by the idea of having him chase the belt instead).

The action begins at 5 p.m. with a pre-game show on Spike TV, followed by Rumble at 6 p.m. on pay-per-view.

- - -

HELP WANTED: There are so many ways to squeeze your foot in the door of the wrestling business -- from strutting your stuff on the indie scene to making a fool of yourself on reality TV -- but the latest and easiest way to get your resume onto Vince McMahon's desk is to simply apply online.

It's not something I'd put a whole lot of stock in but WWE bosses are advertising multiple job openings for professional wrestlers on the company's corporate website.

Applicants must be licensed to wrestle with one year of experience at a recognised wrestling training facility or established promotion. According to the posting, the position demands a minimum 40 hours per week.

- - -

PPV CRACKDOWN: WWE won its federal court injunction against 37 Canadian bars last week, forcing them to stop illegally showing wrestling pay-per-views to patrons.

A WWE press release announced the establishments must pay monetary damages and each cover legal costs of $1,500.

Ed Kaufman, WWE's executive vice-president, said the case was part of a global crackdown on piracy and an effort to protect WWE's intellectual property.

Pay-per-views can still be shown at licensed locations in Calgary, including Famous Players theatres and Bottoms Up sports pub.

- - -

ORIGINAL SIN: The music press has been less than kind when reviewing the WWE Originals CD, which finally hit store shelves last week.

Falling firmly into the so-bad-it's-almost-good category, the CD features a cast of wrestling superstars singing, rapping and often just shouting along to generic music tracks from the company's in-house production team. It's a laughable effort but that's not necessarily a criticism.

WWE is plugging the compilation as its stars' first foray into the vocal arena, conveniently forgetting 1992's hideous Wrestlemania album.


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