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Fans slam pay-per-view
Toronto audience voices objections to WWE's less-than-stellar Summerslam
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


Randy Orton may have won the world championship at Summerslam last weekend but the real stars of the show were the 16,500 Toronto fans who packed the Air Canada Centre for the event. Clearly frustrated with the misguided scripting of the pay-per-view, the ACC crowd threw the audience-participation rulebook out the window and turned heel on the WWE writing team.

The conventional routine of cheering the good guys and booing the bad guys was discarded midway through the show, as Toronto sent Vince McMahon a loud and clear message about what real wrestling fans want to see.

Wrestling fans respect solid ring skills. Kurt Angle, who is supposed to be Smackdown's most devious villain, was cheered so loudly the commentators were forced to acknowledge his inexplicable popularity on the broadcast.

Boring main events are no longer acceptable. Rather than pay attention to the plodding Undertaker vs. Bradshaw snooze-fest, the audience entertained itself with a series of hilarious chants -- 'End this match' was my favourite -- then started a Mexican wave, which circled the arena at least 10 times.

Wrestling fans don't buy into cartoon characters anymore. Eugene, arguably the hottest babyface on Raw, got as many jeers as cheers from the ACC faithful during his grudge match with Triple H.

Wrestling fans want to see well-developed characters, not one-dimensional caricatures. Edge was heavily booed by his fellow Torontonians, despite being booked as the babyface hometown hero.

Of course, negative crowd responses are bound to happen from time to time in any form of entertainment but it takes a lot to turn an entire audience against the show they paid to see.

Overall, Summerslam was a solid and entertaining event but some of the booking ideas -- cramming five bouts into the first hour and setting up the heels to win seven out of nine matches -- just didn't make any sense.

The show also was marred by several other crowd-killing mishaps.

Minutes before the planned finish of the WWE title match, a fan jumped the barricade and climbed up on the waiting limo. Security quickly tackled him but not before he accidentally tore the gimmicked roof of the vehicle, through which Undertaker was supposed to slam Bradshaw as the grand finale.

The ending was ruined, the audience absolutely hated the match and to cap it all off, Undertaker clumsily slipped off the limo as the camera zoomed in for one final shot.

Diva Dodgeball was also a disaster, as WWE decided to let the women play for real, instead of fixing the outcome. The diva search finalists, all actors and models, completely destroyed the wrestlers in an embarrassingly one-sided ball game, taped earlier that day at the Toronto Raptors training facility.

Wannabe diva Carmella DeCesare didn't even show up for the pay-per-view, telling WWE bosses at the last minute she had another commitment.

DeCesare, a former Playboy model, is the girlfriend of Cleveland Browns QB Jeff Garcia. It's believed she no-showed the PPV to make media appearances to defend Garcia's sexuality, which was recently brought into question by his former 49ers team-mate, Terrell Owens.

WWE's next PPV will be the Raw brand's Unforgiven event on Sept 11, the same day the Smackdown superstars touch down in Calgary for a non-televised house show. Floor seats for the Calgary event, which will feature appearances from many of the Summerslam MVPs, were still available at press time.