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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

WWF lays the smackdown on the ACC
By JOHN F. MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling

 TORONTO - I've been a die-hard Toronto Maple Leaf fan since I was six and as long as I can remember I always dreamt of sitting in the press box, otherwise known as the 'Gondola'.

 It took me 21 years to reach my dream, but I finally did it tonight as I watched the WWF's live broadcast of Smackdown! perched on a seat in the Foster Hewitt Media Gondola high atop the Air Canada Centre.

 After a somewhat disappointing RAW is WAR show last night, the WWF tried to make it up to the fans by providing a 'dream-match' main event: 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin vs. Rob Van Dam.

 I won't give away the results as I'm sure some of you taped the show and haven't had a chance to see it yet (for the rest of you, the full results from the show, including dark matches and matches taped for Heat can be found at the bottom), but suffice to say the WWF put its best foot forward and entertained the sold out crowd that jammed into the ACC.

 What follows are the observations of a crotchety, cynical and old-school wrestling fan who tried his best not to examine the WWF's production with a jaundiced eye.

 At 8:00 p.m., the lights were dimmed and as the opening theme song of Smackdown! blared over the p.a., the gigantic stage and ramp-way became bathed in a colour of bright light. The pyro display was a sight and sound to behold, as the thunderous explosion of fire was so hot, it felt as if the flames singed my eyebrows clear off my face.

 I couldn't help but be impressed and awestruck by the WWF's television production. You hear WWF employees say it enough times that it's become a cliche but it really is true: a live WWF event is like a sporting event and a rock concert all rolled into one.

 It made me reflect on how wrestling has changed from the days when a wrestler walking out to music was considered revolutionary. Wrestling has come a long way from the era of smoke-filled, dingy union halls and auditoriums and cigar chomping men and fat women sitting ringside. Today, it's huge hockey arenas with stages and fireworks and teenagers with cell phones.

 Bob Dylan said it best: 'the times they-are-a-changin'.

 But I digress.

 Even before we went live to air, 'RVD' chants filled the arena. The guy is over folks, and I was amazed that the pops he received tonight equalled or bettered those of the Rock, Kurt Angle and Steve Austin.

 Anybody who doubts that Austin is the best working heel in the business today should watch this show over again. The guy is a textbook heel, using old-school psychology in getting heat from the fans. I was impressed by the way he sold for RVD during their match and how he was able to elicit such hatred from the fans throughout the show. And he's got a truckload of charisma on top of all that.

 And speaking of charisma, the Rock is 'Mr. Charisma'. Long-time SLAM! Wrestling readers know of my constant criticisms of 'The Great One' but I have to give the guy his due: he absolutely had the entire crowd eating out of the palm of his hand during that great interview with Lilian Garcia. I'm convinced he could go out in the middle of the ring and read off numbers from the phonebook one by one and still make it entertaining.

 Best sign of the night? "DDP Rapes chickens".

 Best moment? I have two. The Billy Gunn vs. Test match. Not because the match was any good - it sucked - but because the fans were so bored, they chose to start a loud RVD chant in the middle of the match. That'll teach the writers to book crap like that again.

 But the best moment: the thunderous 'You screwed Bret' chants when Earl Hebner made his way down to the ring. Absolutely priceless! And then they started it up again a minute into the match. Elephants and wrestling fans: they never forget.

 Nicest surprise? No Stephanie McMahon. There is a God.

 If the crowd reaction tonight was any indication, the WWF have their next great heel in Rhyno. He was over pretty big with the crowd and it's a shame they don't work him more into the main event picture because I think he could contribute something if given the chance.

 The same could be said for Chris Jericho. I've followed his career since his days in the early '90s in Japan's WAR promotion and Mexico's EMLL outfit - and I fulfilled a professional high this afternoon when I conducted a one-on-one interview with him - and it's a shame the way the WWF have dropped the ball with him. He was over huge tonight, proving he is the future of the company. Message to Vince: give Jericho the ball and he'll run with it.

 Who was the most over tonight?

 In order: 1) RVD, 2) the Rock, 3) Chris Jericho, 4) Steve Austin and 5) Kurt Angle.

 All in all, a good show and not a bad way to spend a Tuesday night. And for one short evening, the crotchety cynic in me disappeared and I was a fan again. No small feat these days, let me tell you.

 

 SPOILERS

 

 You've been warned. If you don't want to know what happened, turn back now. Check back later this morning for a full report and description of Smackdown! from SLAM! Wrestling TV reporter Aaron Henry.

 Dark match: Saturn pinned Hugh Morrus.

 Heat tapings: Tajiri pinned Tommy Dreamer, Kanyon beat Scotty Too Hotty, and Chuck Palumbo defeated Spike Dudley.

 Smackdown! results: Hardy Boyz beat Justin Credible and Raven when Matt Hardy pinned Credible.

 Steve Austin beats up Chavo Guerrero Jr. backstage for showing up late to an Alliance meeting.

 Christian delivers a promo in the middle of the ring, calling last night 'the greatest night of my life' and challenging Edge for the IC strap at 'Unforgiven'.

 Shawn Stasiak brings Austin a cup of Tim Hortons coffee to cheer him up but 'Stone Cold' burns the roof of his mouth drinking it and throws it in Stasiak's face.

 Steven Richards comes out and baits the Undertaker prior to their match, setting up a Pearl Harbor attack by Kronik, Brian Adams and Bryan Clark. Say it ain't so, Vince. Why on earth would you sign these guys? Note to self: disregard previous statement about God.

 Shane McMahon visits Steven Regal's office and books a handicap match with him and Booker-T against the Rock at 'Unforgiven'.

 Test pins Billy Gunn.

 Austin delivers a promo in the middle of the ring and is interrupted by Angle.

 Lilian Garcia interviews the Rock in a classic promo. You'll be reading about this one for months, folks.

 Austin and RVD come face to face backstage.

 The Big Show beats The Hurricane by DQ when Lance Storm runs in.

 The Dudleys, Rhyno and Booker-T defeat the Rock, Chris Jericho and the APA when Booker-T pins Jericho.

 RVD pins Austin in a non-title affair. Best match of the night. Both guys worked their butts off.

Smackdown! - September 4, 2001

Aaron 'Hank' Henry's Smackdown! Report

  • It is a rare edition of Smackdown! live from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, the city that will be home to WrestleMania X8. Last night we saw Kurt Angle gain the sweet taste of revenge as he returned the favour to Stone Cold Steve Austin for throwing his Olympic Gold Medals in a river. Let's head to the ring and get the evening rolling.
  • As the show opens we see Angle rooting around a cooler searching for a quenching beverage. Angle finds a bottle of water and takes a few swigs as he awaits the arrival of SCSA.
  • Match Number 1: The Hardy Boyz, with Lita, versus Raven and Justin Credible, with Terri. Jeff Hardy's ribs haven't slowed him down any as he took on both Credible and Raven early on in the match. Jeff had a cover, but the referee was distracted by Credible on the outside saving Raven from a sure pin. As the match continued Matt Hardy was tagged in and joined Jeff on the beating of Raven and Credible. Credible went for a devastating Twist of Fate, but Matt would not fall to his own move and pushed Credible into the ropes, knocking Raven off the apron. Matt hit Credible with the Twist of Fate and Jeff put him away with the Swanton Bomb. After the match, Terri got into Lita and the Hardyz face. Terri attempted to slap Lita, but she ducked it and hit Terri with a Twist of Fate.
  • SCSA and his wife Debra are walking down the hall heading into The Alliance's suite. SCSA is embarrassed about what happened last night and feels he can't talk to the boys. SCSA storms in anyway to come face to face with The Alliance where several members have their heads down. SCSA tells them he did it for them. Suddenly, Chavo Guerrero Jr. rushes in and apologizes for his tardiness. SCSA didn't want to hear any excuses and demonstrated some tough love as he pounded on him. SCSA gathers up his belt and Debra and storm from the suite.
  • Christian heads to the ring to address the crowd and maybe even answer the question of why he decided to turn on his brother, Edge, last night. Christian tells the crowd that last night felt good, almost as good as when he moved to Florida and became a United States citizen. He has even turned his back on his home country. Christian goes into detail of how he has been living in denial as of late. He has heard all the talk around him and he agrees with how true it is. Edge is the one who has been jealous and resentful of Christian their entire lives. He then backs this statement up with how his brother has always had top billing, a total contradiction to his argument. Christian is saddened that his brother was nowhere to be found last night as he took on The Rock in attempt to win the WCW Title. As the crowd chants obscenities at Christian, he continues saying he doesn't need Edge and that he and city of Toronto go hand-in-hand since they are both selfish. Christian states he no longer needs Edge, but he does want the Intercontinental Title. He then lays out the challenge for the night of Unforgiven. This is the end of a great run by a great tag team.
  • SCSA continues to rant on about Chavo's tardiness. Sean Stasiak comes in in an attempt to calm down SCSA by offering a cup of coffee. SCSA takes a sip from the scolding hot coffee and throws it into Stasiak and then throws him to the floor. SCSA orders Debra to call the paramedics, but not for Stasiak. It is for him because he burned his mouth on the coffee.
  • Steven Richards is out to answer the burning questions of why he challenged The Undertaker to a match and why he Steven kicked him. Richards simply has one thing to say: I hate you! It seems that 'Taker is the sole person to take out and dismantle Right To Censor. Richards calls out 'Taker telling him to come out and get some.
  • Match Number 2: The Undertaker versus Steven Richards. Richards taunted 'Taker and lured him outside the ring. And being the courageous soul he is, Richards picked up a chair as 'Taker went back into the ring. Richards goaded 'Taker to atop the ramp where Richards charges, but is sent down with a devastating right. Bryan Adams, from the tag team Kronic, who was expected to be there as a the Kronic sign adorned the ringside area, appeared next to 'Taker's bike. Adams knocked over 'Takers bike right in front of him. As 'Taker charged Adams, out jumped Adams' partner Bryan Clarke and the two pulverized 'Taker. Richards came down to direct traffic as Clarke and Adams threw 'Taker back into the ring to deliver High Times. Richards seems to have figured out a way to get revenge on 'Taker.
  • Commissioner William Regal is in his office watching Richards sign his death warrant, when Shane McMahon and Booker T come in to wondering who The Rock's next opponent will be. Commissioner Regal begins to go down the list of possible opponents, but Shane stops him and reminds Commissioner Regal that the WCW Title falls under his jurisdiction and he is now going to use his power. Shane tells Commissioner Regal The Rock will wrestle Booker T and himself in a Handicap Match for the WCW Title.
  • Debra tries to calm down SCSA and check out his burn from the coffee. Debra tells him he should talk to the public. SCSA begins to act like a baby and tells her he doesn't want to. He then reluctantly agrees to think about it after Debra tells him they are foreigners. Guess she didn't realize they are the foreigners tonight.
  • Match Number 3: Billy Gunn versus Test. Early on it looked as if Gunn might actually pull out an upset as Test was on the defensive. However, Test went into a frenzy placing Gunn on the defensive as he just picked away at Gunn. Test tried to put Gunn away with a Pump Handle Slam, but Gunn reversed it into a Neck Breaker. After a few near falls and reversals, Gunn went for the Famasser. The only problem is that Gunn didn't stun Test as long as he would have liked as Test hit Gunn with a huge Boot to the Face as Gunn came off the ropes.
  • Debra keeps hounding SCSA to talk to the crowd. A fire is suddenly lit in his rear and SCSA tells Debra he will go give them foreigners a piece of his mind.
  • SCSA walks out, to a chorus of "boos" and middle fingers, to address the masses. Actually his music wasn't cued so he decided to leave and reenter. SCSA is still feeling the affects of last night and is visible shaken by everything. He comes to grips with reality and addresses what happened last night. SCSA is having trouble getting his message across as "suck" chants fill the arena and people asking him "What?" He doesn't understand why the crowd cheered on Angle as he threatened to throw him off a bridge last night. He also didn't appreciate the people booing Debra as she begged for his life. SCSA calls the Toronto faithful pathetic and continues to refer to them as foreigners. He then asks the crowd that if they want him shackled and thrown off a bridge to give him a "hell yeah." The crowd responds with "hell yeah" as SCSA counters with "what?" After trading chants, SCSA gets to the point and says Unforgiven is the perfect pay-par-view for Toronto, as they won't be forgiven for how they treated him and his wife as well as Angle not being forgiven for his actions. SCSA tells them he will not be shackled or blind folded and lose the WWF Title in three weeks. Angle has heard enough and comes out to give SCSA the business. Angle doesn't care if he will be forgiven for what he did last night. He then makes SCSA relive his nightmare as he presents footage of SCSA begging for his life. Angle follows this up with footage of SCSA crying right before being pushed into the pool. SCSA denies both accusations, even with video proof. Angle then asks SCSA what the heck he was doing on the side of the road flopping around like a fish out of water. Angle gets a smile on his face as he tells SCSA he had fun last night. He then leaves SCSA thinking as he promises to show SCSA how "Stone Cold" he can be when they come face-to-face at Unforgiven.
  • SCSA goes back to the Alliance suite to cry. He storms in and exclaims that Angle has embarrassed him for the last time. SCSA is simply livid and claims he needs to whip someone's butt. He looks around the room and comes to the conclusion that the next person to walk through the door will be his guinea pig.
  • Lilian Garcia tries to get a word in with The Rock about having to face Shane and Booker T at Unforgiven. The Rock feels she was rude and disrespectful to him because she didn't ask how he was doing. The Rock tells her to let her feelings go since she has an infatuation with him. He tells her of the dreams she has about becoming Lillian Rock-cia. The Rock poses the question about how she feels about The Rock's strudel, not pie. Lillian says she wants it more than anything in the world. The Rock is irritated that all she can do is think about The Rock's strudel after he was informed about his handicapped match at Unforgiven. He then takes the microphone and pokes fun at Shane and Booker T, telling them to get married and have a kid, who's first words will be -- in a high pitched voice -- "Can you dig it, sucka?" The Rock ends the segment by finally answering her question: he feels electrifying about the match at Unforgiven as well as the Eight Man tag match later tonight.
  • SCSA and The Alliance are still waiting for someone to come through the door to become SCSA's personal rag doll. SCSA gets tired of waiting and decides to seek someone out himself. As he opens the door, Rob Van Dam quickly greets him. SCSA tells RVD he needs to talk to his buddies because they have some insightful information for him.
  • Match Number 4: The Hurricane versus The Big Show. Before the match, Hurricane Helms expresses pity to the fans of Toronto since they don't have a super hero. The closest person they have is Vince Carter. Hurricane tells Show it is honorable what he is doing since he answered the challenge Hurricane laid out earlier. Hurricane did not fare well in this match as he called in his super hero sidekick Lance Storm. Storm blind-sided Show causing Hurricane to be disqualified and allowing him to keep the WWF European Title. Show wasn't appreciative of Storm's run in and sent Hurricane and Storm for a ride in the Double Choke Slam.
  • Match Number 5: The APA, The Rock and Chris Jericho versus Rhyno, Booker T and The Dudley Boyz, with Shane McMahon. Illegal tags. Key match-ups, such as Booker T versus The Rock. Double and triple teams. This match was total chaos as it unfolded. Y2J pounded on The Alliance. The Dudleyz delivered the 3-D to Faarooq. Bradshaw hit Bubba Ray with a Clothesline From Hell. With seven wrestlers laid out, Y2J dragged Shane into the ring and placed him in the Walls of Jericho. However, Rhyno was quick to his feet and Gored Y2J allowing Booker T to make an easy cover for the win. Oh yeah eight man tag matches irritate me! The next person to walk through my door will now be forced to watch SCSA cry over and over since I have RAW and tonight's Smackdown! recorded. . . what?
  • Hardcore Holly is at WWF New York laying out challenges to any members of The Alliance. Hardcore says he is in the best shape of his life and is getting antsy as he awaits any Alliance challengers.
  • Guess what? It's time for the casting for Tough Enough 2. Tazz and Michael Cole take the opportunity to plug the casting call for the next edition in the Tough Enough series.
  • SCSA is frantically pacing the locker room when RVD rears his ugly head. SCSA makes sure his Alliance brethren have informed him what is going on. RVD has heard and can't wait. SCSA says he can't wait till Unforgiven, so tonight RVD will play the role of Kurt Angle. RVD thanks SCSA for the opportunity, but he cockily reminds him that he is Rob Van Dam and not Angle.
  • Main Event: Stone Cold Steve Austin versus Rob Van Dam. It was a relentless assault by SCSA on RVD. Inside and outside the ring, RVD found himself on the receiving end of punishing blows from SCSA. During the entire match, we saw SCSA mock RVD and Tazz kept blaming the beating on Angle. SCSA pulled every trick out of his bag of tricks, but RVD would simply not give up and allow SCSA to pin him. SCSA goes for a Stunner, but RVD counters and whips SCSA into the ropes and Drop Kicks him on his return. The momentum begins to shift RVD's way. SCSA retrieved a chair, but he could not use it on RVD as RVD hit SCSA with a Spinning Kick into the chair that sent SCSA to his back. RVD tried to hit SCSA with the Five-Star Frog Splash, but SCSA crawls out of the way. SCSA gets to his feet and Stuns RVD, but doesn't pin RVD. Rather he opts to finish him with the Ankle Lock. Suddenly Angle's music plays and SCSA calls him to the ring. RVD sees the door open and walks through as he rolls a distracted SCSA for the pin and win. I guess the time ran over, as Angle started to walk out, but was cut off as the local news came on. Well, this was a pretty fun Tuesday night. SCSA and Angle are taking their feud to an all-new level. Well, I know it's Tuesday so don't miss me too much this Thursday. That's it, I'm outta time, I gotta go!



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