May 29, 2005
Vancouver fans happy with RAW return
By ED LUDWIG -- SLAM! Wrestling
A beautiful Saturday evening did not hurt the attendance for the RAW brand house show at the PNE Agrodome in Vancouver. Over five thousand fans made their way through the turn-styles for what turned out to be a very entertaining show put on by the WWE Superstars.
A few hours prior to the event Canada's own Chris Benoit held an autograph session at Toys R' Us in Coquitlam BC. Fans were lining up at 7am and the scheduled time for Benoit's appearance was from 1pm to 3pm Saturday afternoon. An estimated one thousand fans braved the scorching heat for a chance to meet one of our own and the smiles on their faces as they left clutching merchandise and pictures showed it was worth the wait.
WWE Canada President Carl De Marco was in attendance at the event but went unnoticed my most. Due to the last few house shows in Vancouver flopping badly with terrible attendance perhaps the man himself was in town to see how it would do at the PNE Agrodome as opposed to the Pacific Coliseum where previous shows were held. All signs are pointing to the venue change being a success.
Fans at the arena were pumped up for things to kick off when the opening bell rang for the Viscera vs. Tyson Tomko match. Big Vis has won over a lot of new fans with his Ladies Man gimmick and after his victory he was given a standing ovation.
WWE newcomer Chris Masters defeated Tajiri in a very lopsided match that really meant nothing and the fans didn't care about. Viscera got more of a positive reaction from the young women in attendance than Masters. Having Tajiri job to Masters, weeks prior to the ECW Pay Per View doesn't make much sense then that is a frequent problem with the WWE.
Rosie and Hurricane are an odd choice for Tag Team champs yet their popularity in Vancouver soars and with William Regal busy promoting his new book it makes sense. The comic book heroes went over well with the young kids and adults alike. Rosie pinned Simon Dean and the champs retained the titles in a triple threat match over Dean and Maven and the Heart Throbs.
Vancouver fans are a fickle bunch and when Christy Hemme defeated Victoria nobody bought it. Victoria dominated and Christy looked lost in the ring. She has a long way to go. The former Women's champ received a much bigger pop then the Playboy covergirl. The Coach was the special guest referee for this bout but was knocked out early in the contest.
Chris Benoit defeated a returning Gene Snitsky in an ECW rules match that disappointed many. Much was expected going into the match and two garbage cans and a kendo stick were used. Benoit won with a flying head butt and after the match was over there was very little reaction from fans. With RAW in Calgary on Monday and the ECW One Night Stand coming up soon one can assume that no one wants to risk injuries so close to June 12th.
The surprise of the night came when Shelton Benjamin faced Christian w/Tyson Tomko in an IC Title match. Christian was over huge and Benjamin took an unbelievable amount of heat for a baby face. At one point Christian tried to take the heel role but the fans wouldn't go for it so the two men switched roles. The IC champ retained his title in the best match of the night, however things did not end there as he took the microphone and started ripping the fans and Canada. Christian came up from behind and gave Benjamin the Unprettier to the crowds delight.
In a short, painful match with no reaction whatsoever "Money in the Bank" Edge defeated Kane. This feud seems meaningless and fans are not buying the wife angle with Edge and Kane, instead focusing on chants of "Bring back Matt." Edge as a face or heel has always been popular in Canada but now nobody seems to care either way about him.
Chris Jericho having "Rowdy" Roddy Piper in his corner proved to be a huge success. In Jericho's match with Muhammad Hassan Piper counteracted Hassan's cornerman Daivari, allowing Jericho to snare the Walls of Jericho for the tap out. The fans erupted with surprise as Hassan has been on a roll and not many in attendance expected him to tap out. The writing team needs to throw some twists and turns into house shows so fans can be pleasantly surprised like they were in Vancouver.
When the main event began the show was almost at the three hour mark. WWE champion Batista defeated Triple H and Ric Flair in a handicapped match. This match was forgettable and carefully worked. Batista and Flair were over well and Triple H received very little reaction, positive or negative.
In the end everyone went home happy, however WWE should really do a better job with announcing lineup's for house shows. While this event did draw better then recent house shows, when fans don't know who is scheduled to appear most people will assume it is mid-carders and you can credit poor marketing to lousy attendance figures. With better marketing a move back to a bigger arena in Vancouver is a strong possibility.
Ed Ludwig is a journalist in Vancouver, who has covered professional boxing for 6 years and has worked as the West Coast correspondent on a Montreal based boxing radio show with Russ Anber. You can read his work at www.braggingrightscorner.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org