Monday, November 22, 1999
The Rock's a riot in Montreal
This past Sunday, at the Montreal Molson Centre, the WWF was in full force, short only Steve Austin as a result of the previous weekend's attempted vehicular homicide.
Now, I don't think there's even one other re-capper out there who cares, but to me, the atmosphere of a wrestling show counts just as much as it does at a hockey or baseball game. For example, nice as it is, a baseball game at the SkyDome just isn't the same as a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. To be fair, though, both experiences top a game at my local ballpark, the Big O, but you probably didn't need me to tell you that. Equally, one of the reasons the Olympic Stadium bites so much is that between fifty and sixty people show up to watch our Expos play.
But that's another story. The setting was the Montreal Molson Centre, a nice and new, but still classy arena in the heart of downtown Montreal. None of the top grey seats were even offered, but everything else seems to be pretty much sold out. My initial estimate was about fifteen thousand, and The Rock would agree with that figure later on.
The atmosphere was a fun one. Absent were the laser pointers, I'm happy to say, and I think most Montrealers have started to realize that if the show isn't televised, not many people will see their signs, and that it may be best to leave them at home. As a result, the few people who did have signs made more of an impact, with individual wrestlers reacting to each.
The crowd was very pro-Rock, as if that needed to be said, but they chanted his name before every single match, and almost seemed to boo when anyone other than him was introduced. The cheers surpassed anything I'd ever heard in duration and frequency, but the relaxed nature of the show made them dimmer than usual.
The show started with three incomprehensible French rappers, who someone decided would add something to the show. It didn't, and I didn't catch even one word from their 'song'. They say no publicity is bad publicity, but I didn't even catch their name.
The crowd reacted with chants of 'Rocky, Rocky.'
Opening match: The Godfather, who of course was booed until he summoned his ho's, delivered his new series of catch-phrases. Apparently he's pimping nation-wide, now. That's great. People neither booed nor cheered Steve Blackman, who looked even buffer and more boring than usual. He used some very cheap tactics, though, and insulted the fans and the city to get 'ass hole' and 'Blackman sucks' chants going.
It was a short match, and The Godfather made short work of Blackman with his new combination of a turn-about leg drop and Ho Train. Easy 1-2-3.
The next match saw Prince Albert take on Sean Stasiak, and I swear, it wasn't that bad. Sort of a nothing match, and there were a few mistakes, but it wasn't boring. Nonetheless, the crowd chanted 'boring.' If nothing else, pro wrestling teaches us speech in unison. Prince Albert won with his finishing move, the airplane spin driver, whatever it's called.
Two more 'Rocky' chants later, the crowd was disappointed to discover that The Rock would not be fighting until much later in the card. They would be disappointed to discover this before each and every match.
D-Lo Brown, though, would have to do, in his match against The British Bulldog. In a strange coincidence, the Bulldog mirrored a match I'd seen him fight against Bob Backlund years ago, in which there was no action for the first ten minutes as they stalled. It worked here, too, and I'd also call this one of the worst matches I've had the pleasure of seeing live. The only highlight was Bulldog pointing out a rather plump guy with a sign that read 'Mr. McMahon: I want to be a wrestler' and mocking him, then going down to near where the man was sitting and taunting him some more. Oh yeah, the match. D-Lo misses a splash, resulting in an Oklahoma slam and a win for the Bulldog.
The fourth match of the night pitted Val Venis against Test, both of whom got a good face pop. I found myself surprisingly excited to hear Test's entrance music, his push must be rubbing off on me. They fought a really great, fast-paced match, which ended with Venis knocking Test out with a foreign object for the pin.
Following that, the match which I considered to be the highlight of the night and will probably, somehow, end up the subject of this week's column: Too Cool and Y2J grappled with Edge and Christian in a handicapped match.
Solid and innovative wrestling here, with the kind of combination between psychology and spots only really possible in tag team matches, combined with the entertaining antics of Too Cool and Y2J. Edge and Christian kick butt until the heels start using the classic 'double-team behind the ref's back to incite the victim's partner, who only distracts the ref further.'
Highlight of the match, perhaps: Scotty Too Hotty, who annoyingly bounces up and down on the bottom rope incessantly while waiting for a tag, bounces too high and falls to the ground. Fifteen thousand laughs ensue.
In the end, it would take equalizing outside interference -- in the form of the ninth wonder of the world, Chyna -- to even the odds and allow Christian to make the pin on Scotty.
Just as it had been in Toronto, the title fight took place next, in the sixth position on the card. This time, though. The Big Show decimated, er, fought the Big Bossman. Bossman's only offense was cheap and short-lived. He needs to cheat to make the match longer, not to win. The chokeslam is inevitable, even after Prince Albert interference. At least we got to see a Giant drop kick.
The seventh match, and second candidate for match of the night, was a four-way elimination tag team match featuring The Hollys, The Dudleys, The Acolytes, and Mankind & Al Snow. Prior to the match, there was some really sweet interplay between Mankind and a young lady who made a sign he called the best sign he'd ever seen, but which was slightly too vulgar to repeat here. Apparently, though I didn't catch all of this, she also made a 'Mrs. Socko' puppet, which he was more than happy to use for the match.
Great, great action in this match, including a really creative spot where Al Snow gets the Dudleys to bring Crash Holly into his corner, where he and Mankind position a microphone to amplify the sound of a Ric Flair-esque chop. Great stuff. Some really good two-man combos here, too. In order, Faarooq pins D-Von, Crash pins Faarooq w/Dudley assistance, and Al Snow pins Crash w/Head.
In the eighth match of the night, Kane reversed a Bronco Buster into a choke-slam to destroy X-Pac in about a minute.
In the second to last match of the night, The New Age Outlaws successfully defended their tag team titles against the Hardy Boyz. A slow match with some great spots, and a hint of Outlaw dissension at the end as Road Dogg said 'there are so many asses here, Mr. Ass, I don't think we need to see yours,' and left. We still got to see Mr. Ass' ass. Well, we had the chance -- not everyone took it.
Of note: D-X really isn't trying to be heelish, at least not before the match. Way, way, way too much catering to the crowd. Take a cue from Triple H.
In the main event, The Rock defeated Triple H, and with the help of Kane and Big Show, the rest of D-X, too. Rock Bottom, People's Elbow, you know the story.
More interestingly, since it was just a house show, The Rock was going to get right to the match without uttering a word, and the crowd booed him heavily for it. Boy, would it ever be easy to turn him heel. After the match, though, he did his usual spiel -- that is, until he heard someone near ringside chanting 'Rocky sucks.' An entertaining segment followed, as The Rock brought the guy to the ring:
'You paid for your ticket, so you can root for whomever you like, but you have the gall to chant Rocky sucks while The Rock is celebrating with the millions (and millions) or The Rock's fans without even introducing yourself?'
You know where that goes.
All in all, a good show. I can't help but wish that Montreal, which gets at least three house shows a year, and which supplies at least fifteen thousand people to each, would get better play with the live shows. I don't see why it wouldn't be possible to do a RAW in Toronto and a taping here or vice versa. I hope they do.
A good time was had by all, especially me, and I was really glad to just cheer and boo my lungs out for a change, instead of pondering the specifics of inter-federation politics for once. Woohoo! See you Friday!