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   Mon, September 13, 2004



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Small WWE crowd only real surprise
Only 1,300 show up at Corral for non-televised show
By TJ Madigan -- Calgary Sun


Charlie Haas and Miss Jackie.
-- photo by Jason Clevett


John Bradshaw Layfield is still the WWE champion, defeating Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle in a triple-threat match at the Stampede Corral yesterday afternoon. It was the WWE's first visit to the city since Monday Night Raw was taped here in mid-April and the first time in many years a major wrestling event in Calgary was held somewhere other than the Saddledome.

Around 1,300 fans showed up for the non-televised Smackdown show, a disappointing number for what is traditionally considered one of North America's stronger wrestling markets.

Advance interest in the event was weakened when big-name stars such as the Undertaker and John Cena were excluded from the lineup but little did fans know Eddie Guerrero -- by far the most popular wrestler at yesterday's show -- almost didn't make it either.

At Tuesday's Smackdown tapings in Oklahoma, Guerrero collapsed in the ring soon after the cameras stopped rolling, suffering what was believed to be a stress-related blackout.

As late as Thursday, WWE wrestlers and executives were privately expecting Guerrero to be pulled from the Alberta events, allowing him time off to recover from the episode.

Of course, Guerrero was eventually cleared to go on the road and he put on a strong showing at the Corral, going 15 minutes in the three-way main event for the heavyweight strap.

It wasn't going to be a mat classic and the title certainly wasn't going to change hands at a poorly attended house show, so the trio focused on making the match as entertaining as possible instead.

As usual, Guerrero came to the ring in his trademark Lowrider car. Layfield was driven down the aisle in a Texas-sized limo. Not to be outdone, Angle burst through the curtain on a bicycle and clumsily cycled down the runway.

They experimented with some fun spots, including a sequence where Guerrero taught Angle some illegal moves, using a semiconscious Layfield as the crash test dummy.

The bout ended with Layfield hitting Angle with the 'Clothesline from Hell,' getting a clean 1-2-3 and retaining the belt.

Earlier in the afternoon, the action kicked off with the FBI defeating the Basham Brothers, Heidenreich squashing Funaki in less than two minutes and Luther Reigns going over Charlie Haas.

Calgary was then treated to a sneak peek at an upcoming storyline, as Billy Kidman turned heel on his former tag-team partner, Paul London.

This would have been a big deal had it aired on TV but house show happenings are a test run with a live crowd, not part of the bigger picture. In other words, expect yesterday's events to be completely ignored on Smackdown Thursday night.

The former partners engaged in an impromptu match, at the behest of Smackdown general manger Theodore Long, which ended with Kidman pinning London after a low blow.

Scotty 2 Hotty then got an upset win over Mark Jindrak with a roll-up pinfall and cruiserweight champ Spike Dudley cheated his way to victory over Rey Mysterio.

After the intermission, Torrie Wilson beat Dawn Marie and tag champs Kenzo Suzuki and Rene Dupree got the duke over Bob Holly and Rob Van Dam.

Overall a decent show, which suffered from the small crowd size and the absence of pyro, lights, big screens and the rest of the bells and whistles WWE only seems to use when the TV cameras are present.

No return date was announced, although the company is likely to run TV tapings here next year.