Some friends and I attended a local charity softball game last Saturday (11/7.) Among the celebrities playing were Evander Holyfield, Herschel Walker, Tom Glavine, Mark Wohlers, Ryan Klesko, and...Buff Bagwell!
The Buff-man strutted out just like on TV, making the transition to his game jersey last a while so all the women in the stands could get a good look at the Stuff. The women in my group were reasonably impressed, but others behind me were mumbling about how "wrong" Buff was and how many steroids he must have used. They obviously didn't know a true athlete when they saw one. Oh well, this is Atlanta, after all.
Buff kept busy in the pre-game warmups and introductions by engaging in friendly sparring and fake arguments with the other sports greats around him. He cut it up pretty good during the game, too. He played second base, and did it fairly well, making most routine plays and backing up the other infielders like he was supposed to. At the plate, he went 2-for-5 though all of his hits were weak grounders. He seemed to be a pretty smart baserunner, tagging and faking as necessary.
After the game ended, Buff stuck around signing autographs for a good half-hour. When the crowd had mostly thinned out, he finally split, getting into a big sport-utility which he'd parked in true Buff style: right up on the grass outside the stadium.
Live from North Florida with a "Silver King" update:
While on a "Honey-do" errand with my significant other to replenish the supply of nourishment for her Arabians (horses not terrorists), while unloading the sacks of feed I noticed that everyone's favorite jobber from south of the border has branched out once again. This time it's horse feed. Yes, that's right, the brand of horse feed she purchased was from a company called, are you ready for this? "Silver King".
It seems that not only is he into "Milk" distribution now he's also selling horse feed. Damn,this guy must be stinking rich by now...nah, he probably spent it all on tacos and Coronas. Just thought you'd like to know what he was up to now. How does he find the time to wrestle, oops, I guess I just answered my own question, didn't I?
- What is your age and how long have you watched wrestling?
- Do you have access to wrestling information such as the "sheets" or an online equivalent?
- Which are your favorite wrestlers and why?
- Which are your least favorite wrestlers and why?
I should note here that this was my first live show, and compared to the horror stories I've heard of some previous Nitros, it wasn't half bad.
When they let people into the building, the PA system was playing various selections of ring music--I noted DDP, "Steinerized," the previous version of the Horsemen's music, some of Benoit's old music(!), Public Enemy's music(!), Harlem Heat, and nWo Hollyweird A-team. Interesting note--the crowd was INCREDIBLY hot before the show. Even before half the crowd was into the building, when the nWo music played, the boos all but blew the roof off the building.
Around 7:45 or so, Penzer gets the first pop of the evening by coming to the ring to make the usual announcements--don't throw stuff in the ring, no laser pointers, don't stand on your chairs, etc.--and introduce the Usual Gang of Idiots in the announce booth. Mild "Larry!" chant. Then they brought out Wildcat Willie to do his usual schtick. Willie really oughta consider a heel turn. He's getting some heel heat already...
After a little bit, Penzer works the crowd up into a frenzy with the promise of the Nitro Girls. If DDP wouldn't kill me, I'd *love* to take Kimberly home with me... er, um, ahem, I'll take this moment of stills to note that I'm in the third row of the upper deck, in the corner opposite the Idiots.
First match: Enos v. Luger. Wow, what a way to kill a hot crowd. Nothing match, though the marks around me gave me some VERY odd looks when I was screaming and yelling for Enos and ignoring Luger. Luger with the Rack. *yawn*
Goldberg, Nash, and Gonnad in the parking lot. I later learn this was taped before the show. Interesting to note that this is the first indication that Nitro's live experience is improving--despite the crowd heat, I was able to understand most of what was said during it.
Scheme Gene out to interview Kidman. I almost get up to hit the concessions stand when Okerlund comes out, but decide it's too early and am rewarded with the Cruiserweight champ. Not a bad interview sequence, really.
Match two: Norman Smiley vs. Benoit. When Penzer announces Smiley, I pop, the crowd doesn't. Horseman music starts, and I'm praying it's anyone but Mongo. I must be living right, because Benoit comes out. Correction, I'm not just living right, I must have died and gone to heaven. Some rather nice mat wrestling, brawling, and then the Crippler blows snot, signalling that it's time for some serious ass-whipping.
Rolling German Suplex. The crowd pops. I mark out. Thumb across the throat, and then the Swandive, which is even more impressive in person. Crossface, and I nearly leap all the way into the floor seating. Whatever happens from here on out, I feel that my fifteen bucks are well-spent. Now, if only we could get Eric to give these two about half an hour sometime...
Next, to help kill the dangerous amount of heat that built up, we go to commercial, then dead time that I later find out was the Nitro Party video, then Squish-O-Vision stills from WW3 (which Penzer told us all the results of before the show), then ANOTHER commercial.
"Wolfpack is back causin' mass destruction..." Ah, here comes the cheap heat. I just sorta ignore this, though I note that Kevin Nash coulda been a standup comedian...
Commercial, then out comes Tokyo! Hot damn, this has been a good show! Oh, he's facing Kanyon. Eh, I can live with it. Wait, where's Kanyon hiding? The camera crew disappears in back and I can't see what's going on because the lighting structure hides the big screen from me. Oh, wait, here he is. Kanyon disappoints everybody by not asking the standard question. Nuts. Standard Kanyon match. Flatliner. Splat. Win.
Glacier comes out. I bellow "MORTAL KOMBAT!!" at the top of my lungs as the crowd goes mild. Bobby Duncum, Jr., comes out, and I head for the concessions stand.
By the time I'm close enough to the stand to see the TV they have tuned to TNT, the match is over and Big Tobacco's out to interview. Evidently, I'm not the only one who thought that last match would be an ideal time to get food. Decent interview interrupted only by my finding out that my order would take an extra five minutes.
Commercial, and we're halfway through Silver King v. Saturn and my order's still not ready. Oh, God, it's the Splat. At least I'm not actually in my seat watching this loser. About the time that Perry plants King, my nachos finally arrive. Well, I managed to avoid the biggest portion of the Suck Factor[tm], I think...
Match six: Rey Jr. vs. Kidman. Hot damn, I really HAVE died and gone to heaven! WAAAAAAAAAAAY too much action for me to call. Really nice face vs. face match until Eddie and Juvy come out. Oh, DAMN, so much for a clean finish. Well, at least it sorta makes sense this time.
During the commercial, Penzer tells us that, if we can stay as hot through the end of the show as we were early on, they'd be bringing Nitro back to Grand Rapids "as soon as humanly possible." I take it, therefore, that they won't be involving Scott "The Walking Steroid" Steiner in the next Nitro here, either.
Scheme Gene out again. And then Bischoff walks to the ring while still in commercial, as best I can tell. There goes the neighborhood. Bischoff blathers about Flair, but I can't hear it because a "Bischoff sucks!" chant is going loud enough to be heard in Detroit. Flair comes out, and the Van Andel Arena now needs a new roof. Flair is getting a pop for every word he says. At this point, he could suffer a fatal heart attack or piss on a fan and get a face pop. Why I said that, I have no idea.
Windham comes out, Bischoff talks, Flair talks, Windham pops Flair, Bischoff kicks Flair, Horsemen run in, nWo blindsides the Horsemen, crowd revolts, I think I'm gonna puke. But that may just be the fault of the nachos.
Oh, great. Gonnad's out. The crowd's insane. I'm catatonic. "Yes yes yes, no no no." I wake up. This goes on too long and Konnan gets WAAAAAAAY too much offense in. Here comes Stevie Ray for the screwjob. Joy. I make an unsuccesful attempt at getting a "Punk 'im out, Booker, punk 'im out!" chant going.
Okerlund out again to talk to the Hitman. Beyond a good pop for Hart, nothing special here. And another commercial.
During one of these commercials in this period, a fight starts in the upper deck about four or five sections to my right, but Security has it broken up before we go back on the air.
Wrath v. Nash. Blah. Not bad for this pair, but still blah. Nash has the weakest powerbomb I've ever seen.
After the commercial, Gene Mean is out to speak with Our Role Model and Paragon of Virtue, Chris Jericho. Jericho comes out with big hair and without Ralphus. Nothing special about the interview until Duncum comes out with a lassoed Ralphus and hogties him. Jericho spends the entire commercial break trying to untie Ralphus, except when he's looking pained at the section of crowd that's giving him the hardest time.
Hall v. Wright. This show is heading downhill after a very good start. I really want to see someone do something to fight the Edge without resorting to the backdrop method Goldberg used. Maybe hook the knees in Hall's armpits as he attempts to throw, or simply heel-kicking him in the kidneys while being held on Hall's back.
Horseman music starts, and I perk back up. Malenko v. Hart. This should be fun. Nice long match, good psychology and nice to see Deano trying to keep Bret from getting Penzer's chair. OK, when's the last time you saw someone disqualified for doing a move ONTO a piece of furniture? Here comes DDP for the semi-hot save. The crowd goes wild, and I admit to marking a little--until he gets the mic, at least. Gotta wonder what the chair was made of, though. It looked like plastic, but when DDP hit the ringpost with it, it didn't ACT like plastic...
Goldberg v. Giant is up next. Oh, God, here comes Buffer. I do a Road Dogg impression during the commercial, and those next to me laugh, but I can't convince 'em that we should all blot out Buffer with it live. The best we can do is an X-chop while blotting out "rumble" with "Suck it".
Giant gets no intro, coming out during commercial. Must be we were running late. Goldberg's music starts up, and Buffer introduces Wight. OK, now, that's just wrong, Michael. I can't tell whether the "Goldberg" chant is being piped in or not; if it is, they're only doing it to get it started in the crowd. Bill comes out to the biggest pop of the night. His entrance *is* rather impressive in person. Even the guys in front of me who hated him agreed on that. "Gotta love those war drums," one of them said. Buffer trimmed down his catchphrase to only one "Are you ready?". Typical Goldberg semi-squash, but the crowd's so hot that it seems much more exciting in person than on TV. A Goldberg match is a perfect example of mob behavior...
When Bam Bam comes out, the crowd is only semi-hot for him, because nobody recognizes him in that outfit; Nash, however, gets a huge pop when he runs to the ring. As they pull Goldberg and Nash apart, after fading out, a HUGE "Let them go!" chant starts, and they get at each other twice before Security drags Kevin out of the ring and into the back.
As Bill heads to the back, Penzer gets on the mic and begs people to stay for the Nitro Extra. Without much success.
The first match on Nitro Extra probably contributed to the number of people leaving early. Norton squashes Kaz Hayashi in under a minute. Norton's powerbomb must hurt. During commercial (yes, Virginia, they do sit out the commercial breaks when taping Nitro Extra--apparently so they can replace the pyros), Penzer makes a joke about thinking there's a dent in the mat now.
I may be forgetting a match here, but I think the second match was someone random vs. Disco Inferno. I dance with Disco's music. The people around me look at me like I'm naked or something. I forget who Disco fought (Putski?), but it was a pretty good match. Disco's piledriver doesn't look as good from the upper deck as it does on TV--probably because you can see the other guy tuck his head. Half the crowd spends the match chanting "Disco sucks!" Heathens. During the commercial, Disco gets Penzer's mic and invites the crowd to "...close your eyes, pucker your lips, and kiss my ass!" Disco returns to the back. Penzer gets the mic back: "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to apologize for that moron. I shouldn't have told him to say that." HA! Penzer gets in a good one!
During this break, apparently my attempts to get Penzer to notice my "Dillenger 3:16 sez I Just Took Yer Sign!" sign were successful, as he asks if anyone's seen Doug. After a while, though, he says he found out where Dillenger is, but he can't really say. Darn.
Next match: Prince Nakimaki vs. Juvy Juice. Joy. I take this opportunity to go downstairs and find out that they're not checking tickets for floor seating any more. Nakimaki via disqualification, I think, but I can't care less.
Stevie Ray vs. Someone Random. I don't even watch. Instead, I spend my time alternating between trying to get my sign on TV and taunting Vincent. At this point, I'd be surprised if even 2000 people are left. They started out with 12,000.
During the final commercial break, Penzer asks those who have stayed to come down into the floor seating and fill in around the ring, particularly the on-camera side. So, I get to see Extra's alleged main event from a third-row floor seat. In addition, I get Penzer to crack up on mic when he sees my sign and can, this time, actually read what Dillenger 3:16 says. The security guys in WCW shirts (as opposed to the arena-employed ones) crack up over it, too.
And what a main event. Horace vs. Wrath. Whee. Nothing special here, either, other than getting on TV. Meltdown. Splat. Win. Afterwards, Wrath absolutely PLANTS Vince with a Meltdown. That move looks painful.
After the show, I go out back to see if I can get any autographs, only to find that most of the workers left long before. Vincent came out and grinned at those who taunted him with questions about where the Million Dollar Belt was. Someone said Charles Robinson (who got married three weeks ago, according to Penzer--congrats, Charles!) was signing, too, but I didn't see him. Last guy out of the building was Horace. At that point, there were only four of us left hanging out back there, but when we yelled to see if he'd sign for us, he said to come over to his rental car and he would. He got a chuckle out of the Dillenger 3:16 sign, and was quite a nice guy from what little I saw--he agreed to get a photo with one person, asked if we enjoyed the show, and the like. One of the other people asked if he knew where Hogan was (I wasn't gonna bring it up, lest he appear out of nowhere and force me to listen to him for half an hour), but Horace said he didn't know, just that Hogan wasn't there at all tonight, even before the show.
Anyhow, overall, it wasn't as bad as I'd heard Nitros can be live, and I feel I got my money's worth.