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Austin rules in Gretzky's town


By DAVE "Tundra Man" CAMERON -- For SLAM! Wrestling

Stone Cold Steve Austin brandishes his championship belt before in Edmonton. -- Brendon Dlouhy, Edmonton Sun

We've got photos of the event in our Gallery:
BLUE ARROWSteve Austin shows off the WWF title.
BLUE ARROWSteve Austin knocks the spit out of Bossman.
BLUE ARROWX-Pac nails HHH.
BLUE ARROWHardcore Holly has Val Venis upsidedown.

  When you're hot, you're hot.
  The last time I went to a WWF match here in Edmonton, it was at the Agricom, a 5,000-seats or-so rink that was far from full.
  Bret Hart was in ascension and Diesel was a no-show.
  This time, there were 18,000-plus at the Skyreach Centre. The House That Gretzky Built became the House That Austin Ruled.
  No "no-shows" this time. No "who-cares-it's-only-Edmonton". This time, the Empire That Vince Built played all its cards - all except the McMahon family itself.
 
  Act One
  Al Snow vs. D-Lo
  Before the match, Al Snow and D-Lo Brown did a rope dance back and forth trying to see who's the "over-est." Kind of signifies what's going on with WWF these days - everybody's over! Whatever happened to "bad guys"? Once the match started, the favour went Al Snow's way, but just. Didn't help him though. It was a decent warm-up act as both performers played up their goofiness. Bitch slaps were exchanged and Snow did a top-rope drop that had D-Lo down. Al could've had the pin, but went for Head instead. When he turned away, D-Lo splashed him for the win.
  It was all over but the crying. And arguing. "Look at me when I'm talking to you!" said Angry Al, before slapping her around.
  But guess what? They kissed and made up.
 
  Act Two
  DOA vs. Acolytes
  OK, so not everybody in WWF is over. You're either over or out. What to do about DOA? Maybe they need a Ministry. The Acolytes at least got some noise. But that may have been more in anticipation of the Taker. Certainly it wasn't in anticipation of the match.
  You'll never guess what happened? DOA lost.
 
  Act Three
  Ivory vs. Jackie vs. Tori
  Then came the ladies.
  Ivory came out to some noise, but is it for her, or for her costume? You be the judge. She worked the mic for a bit. She's better than Sable, at least. Then came Jackie, charging the stage after taking an insult from Ivory. Man, she's tiny! Height, I mean.
  Then came Tori
  Then came the barrel of canola oil ... well, OK, at least I was hoping. Ivory wins. Best Buns. And the match.
 
  Act Four
  Val Venis vs. Hardcore Holly
  In light of his character, Venis seems a natural for the Hardcore title, right?
  OK match, but just by making it a hardcore match, doesn't make it great. Likely, Hardcore Holly's reign will be a short one. (Can you say Backlash, boys and girls?) Maybe they can trade Holly to the WCW. He could easily become the "new" Fit Finlay. The table got the biggest reaction.
  Guess what happened? Al Snow saved/ruined the day. The Big Valbowski got a little Head. Hardcore Holly lives to suck another day.
 
  Act Five
  Ken Shamrock vs. The Undertaker
  Looks like Shamrock's the next one to go over? Still can't get past being an A-card jobber, though. No matter how "evil" they try to make him, no matter how long he's been around, the Undertaker remains a huge draw. Decent match, although Sham's manic approach doesn't quite gel with Mark's, uh, methodical movements. Still. Nothing like a good boot to the head, huh?
  Guess what? The Acolytes did a run-in. Sham got Tombstoned. Taker made a pyro-bomb. No sacrifice, though. Kenny wins and jobs at the same time.
 
  Act Six
  New Age Outlaws vs. The Brood vs. Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart
  The first real shake-the-rafters roar. Mr. Dogg and Mr. Ass are in the house.
  The New Age Outlaws are as good as it gets.
  The Brood are ready for more. Owen Hart, surprisingly, still has a strong following here. (Sure he's a Hart, but he is from Calgary!) On the other hand, nothing seems to work for Jeff Jarrett. Maybe they can make a 2-for-1, him and Holly to the WCW for Jericho.
  Great action in the early going, but the the Brood went out too early. Things slowed up a bit, but at least Owen and Jarrett are always willing workers. Billy and Owen (or was it Jarrett?) went outside the ring and somehow the Dogg got pinned. Nuggets win.
  (At the end, they played out the "is-there-tension-in-DX?" angle, again.)
 
  Act Seven
  Tiger Ali Singh vs. The Godfather for the Intercontinental championship
  Tiger called us "an illiterate cesspool of human waste." Hey - and that's our good points!
  The guy next to me was shouting "30 seconds! 30 seconds!"
  He meant that the match would be over in 30 seconds.
  Guess what? Didn't even last that long. Still: The Godfather is nothing without the Hos. (Don't know if they were local Hos.)
 
  Act Eight
  X-Pac and Kane vs. Triple H and Test for the Tag Team championship
  X-Pac works real, real hard to get a reaction. He gets a good one. But nothing like the Outlaws'.
  Kane and X isn't so much a Tag Team as it is an Angle Waiting to Happen. This wasn't so much a match as it was an Angle Slowly Unfolding.
  Yes, she was there, but she didn't do much. (I'd still let her crush my bones. What a way to go.) Highlight of the match was when the ref punked Triple H!
  Chyna and H left early. Test took the tombstone.
 
  Act Nine
  Goldust vs. Mankind
  Why don't they just drop the whole Mankind thing. Does Mick Foley need a gimmick anymore? Is there a better gimmick than being Mick Foley? It was an emotional day here in Edmonton. Mick, wearing the number 99 scribbled on his back, announced that yes, he's made up his mind - this would be his "last match."
  Of the weekend.
  Poor ol' Dusty. Being Dustin Runnels proved to be the weakest gimmick of all, so he reverted. The Duster was pure genius just a year or two ago. Now, it seems more like The Artist Formerly Over As Goldust. A hoot of a match. White dust in Goldust's face culminated in a reverse-Shattered-Dreams on Blue Meanie.
  Guess what? A sock got a standing ovation.
 
  Act Ten
  The Rock and Big Bossman vs. Stone Cold and The Big Show, Rattlesnake Rules
  "This ain't Karoake afternoon with The Rock!" So we shut up our Rudy-Poo Candy-Asses (are those trademarked?) and listened to the best Mic man in the business.
  Let's support the Bossman. Sometimes he's dangerously close to being a nominal member of DOA, but WWF desperately needs its "bad" bad guys.
  Did they turn Paul Wight over too quickly? Should they have stuck with the Corporation Thug thing a little longer. Probably. But he does go over fairly well. And you have no idea how big this guy is until you actually see him!
  Just when you thought that The Rock pretty much had the rafters shaking, out comes Stone Cold. The sound system at Skyreach had been been on maximum-distortion for the best part of the afternoon. Didn't really matter, though. All that needs to be heard is the shattered glass. This arena hasn't been this loud since Wayne left.
  The fight? Predictable, of course, but no less satisfying. Rock got a few shots in, Bossman "cheated", Paul took a groin shot, but tossed a couple of rag doll slams. Even did a Grind. (Funny, but not as funny as Meanie's!) And Stone Cold whooped ass.
  And what's up with that ref? He was talking trash with The Rock!
  Then it was over. Almost. Stone Cold's Beer Bath seemed to last as long as the match did.
 
  P.S. Shortly after his match. Mick Foley changed his mind and officially un-retired.

Dave Cameron is the automotive editor at the Edmonton Sun be emailed at dcameron@sunpub.com. He has written two other columns for us: March 30's Does PPV + HBK = WM15?, March 19's Another justified kick at WCW and January's Ipso facto lame-o.