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Low turnout mars Alberta supershows
By JASON CLEVETT - SLAM! Wrestling


Hannibal and Samoa Joe after their victory over the New Karachi Vice in Calgary on July 5th. Photo by Jason Clevett



Calgary used to be considered a wrestling hotbed. During Stampede Week, Stu Hart would pack the pavilion with fans eager to see some of the biggest names in professional wrestling. If this past weekends shows in Calgary and Cochrane are any indication, that is no longer the case.

Promoter Devon Nicholson, who co-promoted the shows with the Prairie Wrestling Alliance, seemingly did everything right. Radio spots ran on the local rock station, newspaper ads ran in the Calgary Sun and 24 Hours free paper. The promotion heavily postered the route for Friday's Stampede Parade, giving exposure potentially to 300,000 people. The end result? An estimated 150 people in Cochrane and 250 in Calgary showed up to see Tatanka, The Honky Tonk Man, and TNA Champion Samoa Joe. With the costs associated with bringing in three major talents, advertising, and venues, the shows lost a ton of money.

Who knows exactly why shows that were so loaded, with talent from three major eras, effectively failed? One can take into account factors like running opposite a UFC pay per view, it being Stampede Week, cost of gas, summertime, or any one of a thousand other reasons. It is all speculation, and shows what a roller coaster business professional wrestling is.

Those that did attend were treated to some high quality wrestling, for the most part. From a show standpoint, these were excellent cards. It was also very evident how much of an impact an audience makes -- the fans in Cochrane pretty much sat on their hands for the duration of the show, taking away from the product itself. Calgary's fans, on the other hand, were rowdy, loud and obviously having a great time, which made the show more fun for everyone.

The Honky Tonk Man was in town visiting relatives on vacation, and took the two bookings in addition to a show in Lethbridge for Power Zone Wrestling. With Honky you get what you would expect -- singing, some arm bars, and a shake rattle and roll without a whole lot of rattling and rolling. Ravenous Randy was his opponent in Cochrane, and you could tell by the expression on the face that Randy was having the time of his life in there with someone he grew up watching. While Friday went great, Saturday did not start well, as HTM's wife, seemingly heavily intoxicated, hijacked the microphone and refused to return it, rambling on in an attempt to get people to come to Honky's table for $10 Polaroid and autographs. Honky had also obviously had indulged a bit as well, if the bottle of Jack Daniels on the table was any indication. What was supposed to be a shortish match with Sgt. Hazard turned into a 30-minute-plus epic where HTM told stories, sang, rambled, and finally wrestled. At the end of the match, his wife once again hijacked the microphone and turned the intended 10-minute intermission into an extended in ring photo session. While Honky Tonk Man can be regarded as a legend in the industry, his behavior on Saturday night was disgraceful, and really makes you question why any promoter would book some of these wrestlers who embarrass themselves in such a manner.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum was former WWF wrestler Tatanka, who was a complete professional. Not only was he gracious to fans, but in an era where "name" wrestlers use three moves and their name to get over, he busted his ass to entertain the fans and make his opponents look good. In Cochrane he teamed up with PWA's own First Nation's superstar Red Thunder to take on Slammer and "Butcher" Bill Yates. The two teams put together a well-worked formula tag match that was one of the few things that got the Cochrane crowd active. Tatanka scored the win for his team by pinning Slammer. In Calgary, Ravenous Randy had the honour of facing Tatanka in Calgary and came out looking stronger despite his loss.

Everything that can be said about Tatanka also applies to Samoa Joe. The TNA champion received the loudest ovation on each show and had great matches -- a singles bout with PWA champion Gama Singh Jr. in Cochrane and a tag match teaming with Nicholson against Junior and Tiger Raj Singh in Calgary. Wrestlers like Samoa Joe and Tatanka add a great deal to any show they are booked on.

"Supershows" have a massive list of benefits. Fans get to be up close and personal with stars, an opportunity they don't really get at a WWE show. They can actually meet them, get an autograph, have a good time. It is also a huge boost for the locker room. The talent actually working against the international stars get a boost in the eyes of fans as well as for themselves, and for younger up and coming talent, just having someone in the locker room like Samoa Joe is an important step in developing and learning in the business. Unfortunately if these shows are any indication, the audience isn't there to support these efforts, which is truly a shame. Because as fans that do attend, as wrestlers in the locker room, as a promoter, we are the ones that lose out. This may end up being the last show of its kind in Southern Alberta, at least run by Nicholson. I guess Calgary isn't a wrestling hotbed anymore.

Supershow Results

Cochrane Chaos - Friday July 4, 2008. Cochrane, AB

  • Punishment defeated Camikaze
  • Superfly Dan pinned Strife
  • Chucky Blaze won a Falls Count Anywhere Match over Scotle Crue, Brandon Van Danielson and Alex Plexis, pinning Plexis.
  • Honky Tonk Man beat Ravenous Randy Myers
  • Tatanka and Red Thunder defeated Slammer and Butcher Bill Yates
  • Hannibal pinned Tiger Raj Singh (With Abdul Weasel)
  • TNA Champion Samoa Joe defeated PWA Champion Gamma Singh Jr. by Disqualification when Gamma Singh Sr interfered.

    Retribution - Saturday July 5, 2008. Calgary, AB

  • Red Thunder pinned Butcher Bill Yates
  • Superfly Dan defeated Chucky Blaze
  • Amazing Grace defeated Japan's Aliyah w/ Dr. Kyoto
  • PWA Cruiserweight Champion Brady Roberts defeated Scotty Putty by DQ.
  • Honky Tonk Man pinned Sgt. Hazard
  • Tatanka beat Ravenous Randy.
  • Samoa Joe and Hannibal defeated The New Karachi Vice when Joe pinned Tiger Raj Singh with the Muscle-buster.

    RELATED LINKS

  • Photo gallery from the Calgary show
  • Photo gallery from the Cochrane show
  • Promoters ponder pros and cons of big names
  • Nicholson bringing wrestling back to Cochrane
  • PWA's Website
  • Wrestling Supershow Website

    Jason Clevett is a jack of all trades. Over the weekend he was a ringside photographer, drunken fan ejector, gopher and official polaroid taker for Tatanka. Yup, he's more than just a writer folks! Look for some interviews coming out of the weekend soon.