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   Mon, January 17, 2005



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Raw tag belts switch in Winnipeg
By ELIZABETH SOTO - For the Winnipeg Sun


WINNIPEG -- Trash-talking, body slams, cowards, heroes, massive egos and biceps -- put them all together in a wrestling ring and you've got the first wrestling event at Winnipeg's new MTS Centre. Then add in a tag team title change.

From the moment WWE Raw is War started Sunday, the arena was electrified with the energy of the fans as they relished every match and cheered for all their favourites.

However, it was the actual tag team title change -- La Resistance won the titles from William Regal, who was partnered with Coach for the evening with Eugene out with an injury -- that shocked the crowd. When Regal went for the tag, he elected to clock Coach instead. Eventually, La Resistance wore him down to score the pinfall. TV cameras were at the show to record the title change.

Ric Flair was still going strong yesterday and he was the wrestler the crowd loved to hate. The pinnacle of Flair's performance had to be when his pasty, geriatric rear-end was revealed during his tag-team matchup, causing the entire arena to erupt into wild jeers and uncontrolled laughter. Flair and Batista fell to Shawn Michaels & Randy Orton.

But the outburst didn't compare with the fanfare for another wrestler. The crowd favourite was by far local wrestling hero, Chris Jericho.

From the moment Jericho entered the arena, the sound level tripled and the crowd started cheering "let's go, Jericho, let's go." Fans held up homemade signs saying "Winnipeg is Jericho" and "Y2J is home."

Jericho returned the love by saying that Winnipeg fans are the best fans, causing the fans to go insane. He won his match and as he left he took longer than any other wrestler to exit, stopping for pictures, autographs and high-fives with his fans.

Seventeen-year old Graeme McCosham is a huge Chris Jericho fan. He came to the show wearing his "sexy beast" T-shirt autographed by Jericho. He's matched this up with his favourite souvenir, a replica of the Deluxe Intercontinental Championship belt signed by Randy Orton and John Cena. He was among a swarm of fans eagerly waiting his turn to buy WWE merchandise.

"I've been to every [event] since I was six," McCosham said as he pushed his way through the crowd trying to get to the booth to buy merchandise. "I pretty much buy everything," McCosham said.

Harry Schoones has been a wrestling fan for more than 20 years. He now shares this love of wrestling with his eight-year old son, Dylan. "I remember going to see a match 19 years ago when Ric Flair fought Nick Bockwinkel," said Schoones. "It's a legacy and now my son gets to see it."

Grandfather Tom Gustafson was also willing to tussle with other fans so he could buy a souvenir for his grandson, Trevor, who was at his first WWE event. Gustafson, who has been a wrestling fan for over 40 years, didn't need many words to sum up how he felt about the event. "It's a great show. Capital S-H-O-W."

In other results:

  • Christian & Tyson Tomko defeated Hurricane & Rosey
  • Victoria defeated Molly with Val Venis as the special referee
  • Shelton Benjamin beat Maven to keep his Intercontinental belt
  • Kane pinned Gene Snitsky in a hardcore match
  • Chris Benoit defeated Edge
  • Chris Jericho beat Muhammed Hassan to qualify for the Royal Rumble

-- with files from SLAM! Wrestling