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   Tue, April 20, 2004



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Fans flock to Calgary Raw
Wrestling faithful appear in thousands despite Game 7

By TJ MADIGAN -- Calgary Sun




WWE bosses must have breathed a sigh of relief when the 'Dome started to fill up for Raw last night.

Faced with the unenviable task of going up against Game 7 of the Flames-Canucks series, Monday Night Raw rolled into Calgary for its first live TV broadcast from the city since 2001.

About 12,000 mat fans packed the 'Dome, aware they would miss the first period of playoff action, to witness the aftermath of Sunday's Backlash pay-per-view from Edmonton. Given the NHL competition, it was a solid turnout for what ended up being an above-average episode of Raw.

The crowd got into it right away, when Calgary's Lance Storm made a surprise appearance in a match against Steven Richards. The bout wasn't taped for TV, so Storm got to revel in the adulation of his hometown crowd, instead of trying to turn them against him, since he is supposed to be playing the heel.

Once the cameras started rolling, WWE recorded matches for Sunday Night Heat on Spike TV this weekend. Rob Conway defeated Rosie, Shelton Benjamin pinned Rhyno and Chuck Palumbo bested a jobber who was billed from Medicine Hat to get the crowd behind him.

Grandmaster Sexay (Brian Lawler) made his second appearance since returning to WWE, which is ironic because it was here in Calgary he was fired two years ago after he was arrested for drug possession on his way to the 'Dome.

At 7 p.m., the scene was beamed out live on Spike and TSN.

The show was built around triumphant world champ, Edmonton's Chris Benoit, who defeated Triple H and Shawn Michaels to retain the title at Rexall Place the previous night.

Benoit teamed with Edge in the main event. Not only did they beat Ric Flair and Batista, they won the WWE tag-team championships in the process. The win came with an assist from Michaels, who superkicked the interfering Triple H.

After the show went off the air, Benoit and Edge stayed in the ring to give a special tribute to Calgary's wrestling legacy.

"Now, I know everyone here wants to go home and watch the Flames kick the Canucks' a--," Edge said as the crowd erupted in more of the Flames chants which sporadically overpowered the show, "But right now, I think it'd be fitting to say hi to big Stu."

With that, Benoit and Edge paid tribute to the wrestling legacy and some of the names that have died, including Stu and Owen Hart.

Other notes from the show:

* Christian defeated Chris Jericho after interference from a mystery man.

* Shawn Michaels did an interview playing up the heel reaction from the Calgary crowd.

* Victoria beat Molly when the bald diva refused to break a submission hold mid-ring.

* Randy Orton tried to do a promo over the Go Flames Go chants and had a scuffle with Edge, setting up their feud.

* Garrison Cade, newly turned heel, beat Tajiri.

* Matt Hardy saved Lita from a beatdown by Kane, switching back to being a babyface. Kane then demolished him in the ring.