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WWE overloads PPV for unforgiving audience
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


WWE is bringing its big guns to Canada next weekend.

Not to Calgary, mind you.

WWE skipped its usual late spring TV taping at the 'Dome this year and may not be back in the province until 2007 -- a move designed to refresh the Alberta market after years of regular visits.

But for local mat fans with a few Air Miles to spare, a big-time pro wrestling experience is only a hop, skip and a couple of time zones away.

Toronto's Air Canada Centre will host the Unforgiven pay-per-view next weekend, and while single brand pay-per-views usually aren't much to write home about, this event is a glaring exception to that rule.

WWE bosses have loaded the Unforgiven card so heavily, it's as if their pay cheques depended on this show's success. And in a way, maybe they do.

With UFC breathing down their neck and domestic pay-per-view buys dipping lower each year, Vince McMahon's team need to make every show a must-see event or face a dwindling North American fan base that can find better things to do with $40 each month.

To cement Unforgiven as a B-level show with A-list status, WWE has booked not one but two violent gimmick matches in the main event slots.

The Hell in a Cell structure is being dragged out of the WWE warehouse for a tag-team cage battle that pits the men of the McMahon family against DX.

And a TLC match between Edge and John Cena will not only clean out the tables, ladders and folding metal chairs from every Home Depot in the Greater Toronto Area, it'll also test Edge's mettle as the best heel in the business.

Can Edge turn his own hometown crowd against him?

That could be a chore especially given fans' lukewarm response to Cena as wrestling's resident leading good guy.

Unforgiven will also feature some more local content -- Trish Stratus' retirement match. The 30-year old Toronto native is hanging up her wrestling boots in favour of married life and some mainstream media side-projects.

Rounding out the loaded PPV: Jeff Hardy faces Johnny Nitro for the Intercontinental title; Carlito continues his ascent to main-event stardom against Randy Orton; Kane battles Umanga; and the Highlanders challenge the Spirit Squad for the tag straps.

The full card was announced almost two weeks in advance -- a rarity for WWE's last minute, on-the-fly Creative team -- and all seven matches have a build up, a back story and a logical direction.

As always, it seems a little competition -- and some sliding revenue streams -- is all it takes to bring out the best in McMahon.

But the pay-per-view isn't the only reason for fans and media to trek across the nation next weekend.

The day after Unforgiven, Montreal hosts a joint Raw and Smackdown supershow -- four hours of first-run WWE TV, taped in a single night at the Bell centre.

Wannabe wrestlers will also be flocking out East, as WWE holds open tryouts in Ottawa at the end of the Canadian jaunt.

Around 20 Canuck up-and-comers will get to strut their stuff in the ring in front of WWE talent agents and producers, hoping to land a developmental deal with the company.


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