Calgary -- It would be understandable that many in the crowd at RAW on Monday were a little sidetracked. The WWE had the misfortune of going up against came 7 of the 1st round Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it was evident where peoples minds where before the show, as the entire arena would frequently break out in chants of "Go Flames Go."
However when local boy Lance Storm took the stage to lock up with Stevie Richards, the chant quickly transformed into "Go Lance Go." The match was obviously not taped to air, as it would have been impossible to erase the giant grin on Storm's face while the crowd roared at everything he did.
Storm wasn't the only Canadian to be a part of the early evening festivities. Eastern indy star Bobby Rude, billed as from Medicine Hat, lost to Chuck Palumbo, while former Stampede star and current OVW trainee Wavell Starr lost to Grandmaster Sexay.
The crowd was red hot for the opener between Chris Jericho and Christian, seemingly close to blowing the roof of the ŽDome. Jericho was clearly enjoying being"home" (He was trained in the Hart Dungeon.) The fantastic match had the crowd in the palm of its hand through the ending, but when it was over once again"Go Flames Go" became the main focus during commercial breaks and slower matches.
Much like at Backlash, champion Chris Benoit received a standing ovation for his entrance, the crowd chanting in appreciation frequently interrupted his emotional speech. Michaels as expected received a strong heel reaction, until he challenged Benoit."First Jericho vs. Christian and now Benoit vs. Michaels? This is the greatest RAW ever!" one fan near me exclaimed. It was not to be however, as Bischoff set the match for two weeks away, legitimately angering many in the crowd over the tease.
Things seemed to grind to a halt during the middle portion of the show, with too many commercial breaks and on screen promos. Garrison Cade's entrance was met with total apathy, literally no crowd reaction, while fans were happy to see Tajiri.
Randy Orton did an excellent job in his segment ignoring the large portion of fans who were bowing down to him and chanting his name out of respect for his tremendous efforts against Mick Foley the night before. It's up to Orton now to capitalize on the momentum and turn that star-making performance into a star-making run.
Once again, the crowd loved Eugene, his shooting William Regal in the groin received one of the loudest pops of the night.
Fans were also ecstatic at Matt Hardy's face turn, saving Lita from Kane. It remains to be seen whether Hardy actually gets anywhere, as it is obvious that fans want to cheer for him. He and Lita were the only wrestlers who stopped at length and signed autographs for fans behind the building after the show.
The crowd may have been disappointed at that HBK vs. Benoit match didn't happen, but the well worked main event tag match had the crowd yelling and whooing themselves hoarse. Unfortunately at a slower part, some disrespectful fans once again chanted about the Flames, prompting others to chant"This is Wrestling." Once again, Ric Flair could do no wrong, and WWE is in a pickle as Flair is obviously a face everywhere he goes, but is a part of the hated Evolution. Speaking of hated, Shawn Michaels, earlier booed, won cheers for taking out HHH and allowing Edge to connect with the spear to win the tag titles for the tenth time. It appears that any SLAM! Staff member will do as a good luck charm. (Note: SLAM! Co-Founder Greg Oliver was in attendance for Edge's first Intercontinental and Tag Championship wins.)
When the cameras went off air, Edge told Benoit" This is my tenth title run, and I can honestly say that I have never been more proud to say someone is my partner as I am to say it is you." With that, Benoit made a speech once again remembering Stu & Helen Hart, as well as Owen Hart, prompting a loud"Owen" chant. Draped in Canadian flags, the champions challenged Evolution to come back to the ring, but HHH simply came out, made a few remarks on the microphone and left.
As fans, who have not seen a RAW brand event since the split, filtered out of the Saddledome the general feeling was "That was a really good show - where is the nearest TV, the game is on." WWE deserves credit for keeping the fans distracted from the impending Flames win by putting one a solidly entertaining show.