The gates were already open when I arrived at 6:30, despite the advertised 7:30 start time. After staking out my seat (front row ringside, as my depleted bank account will attest), I wandered around a bit until I was able to persuade someone to let me look at the program he'd bought--I knew that at least two of the advertised matches (Konnan v. Hennig, Flynn v. Finlay) couldn't go due to injuries. Unfortunately, the program still showed them as being on the card. Oh, well. That's why I brought a notepad with me...
In a move that amazed me after all the times I've done concerts and such, the ring announcer (some random guy in a tux) came out and did the opening announcements at 7:25. I've NEVER seen any kind of show actually start at the scheduled time! One mystery of the card is cleared up for me by him, when he announces that Hennig will be facing Jim Duggan. Of course, this just creates another mystery, since Duggan was scheduled to wrestle Disco Inferno.
Match One: Chris Adams vs. El Vampiro
Billy Silverman is the referee. Vampiro is definitely the face here;
oddly enough, he's introduced as being from Mexico City. Bell rings to
start the match at 7:30:15 by my watch--amazing, something starts on time!
Not that much to talk about here; typical solid effort you'd expect for
these two. Crowd proves how intelligent it is by chanting "USA! USA!"
even though Vampiro's been referred to as the "Pride of Thunder Bay" on
television. When exactly did the US annex Ontario?
Hello, I stand corrected. We just had something to talk about. Adams hits Vampiro with a nice stiff clothesline, which Vampiro sells with a full 270 flip in mid-air. Superkick by Adams only gets two. Vampiro on the offensive again, hits the Nail in the Coffin, and everybody figures it's over... but Adams kicks out?!? Good thing this isn't on TV, or both guys' (limited) credibility would now be shot... Adams gets to complaining to the ref about something, resulting in a really nice rollup by Vampiro getting the pin after about ten minutes of action. Good match, and a better choice to open the show than the opener listed on the card.
Match Two: Lash "Larue" vs. Barbarian
Remember what I said about the last match? This was the scheduled opener.
"Li'l Natch" Charles Robinson is your referee. I hope Lash enjoys his
squash... I haven't yet mentioned that this is a really really hot crowd,
despite only half-filling the arena. Unfortunately, they're treating
Barbie like the face here. Heathens.
Actually, this doesn't turn out to be a total squash, as Lash gets in some offense that Barbie sort-of almost nearly sells before he turns around and hits the WEAKASS KICK OF MILD INTIMIDATION! for the pin. About five minutes of sheer torture for me as I watch someone with talent get squashed by the no-selling steroid monster.
Match Three: Dave Taylor vs. Jerry Flynn
This was originally supposed to be Fit Finlay, but what with his injury, Taylor is replacing him. Randy "Pee Wee" Anderson is wearing the stripes for this match. Very little of note here, as Taylor proves that he can't carry someone as bad as Flynn. I spend the match helping the guys next to me taunt Flynn ("Hey, if Corky Flair can get a personality, WHY CAN'T YOU?!?"). In the end, Leadfoot beats the former Squire with an armbreaker in about seven minutes. Actually, this is what the Netcop would probably call "Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling."
Match Four: Vincent vs. Disco Inferno
OK, I knew there'd be someone random brought out to face Disco when Duggan
got tapped to fill in for Gonnad, but they must not have brought a decent
number of scrubs for this weekend. Billy Silverman playing the zebra
Disco comes out in nWo Wolfpack gear for the first time in months, but I can live with it, particularly since he's apparently doing it to taunt Vincent. Another solid-but-unspectacular match that follows the standard formula, with Disco getting the early heat period, then missing something (don't remember what) to give Vince the advantage. Vincent rips Disco's shirt partially off and beats him for a while, while Disco plays the ragdoll like he's so good at doing. Fight goes to the outside, but I can't see it, 'cause, like EVERY time someone's gone on the outside so far, it's on the far side of the ring! Guys I'm with spend this period screaming out taunts to Vincent. My favorite two were "Hey, Virgil, DiBiase misses you!" and "Hey, it's Vinny-Mac on line two for ya!"
After a while, they take the match back into the ring, where Disco gets the upper hand again, and then pretends his family name is Bollea by ripping off what's left of his shirt. Spinning neckbreaker gets two, whip to the ropes, Last Stone Cold Dancing Chartstunner, and Disco gets the win after about 10 minutes.
Now, just to get a chance to A) kill some crowd heat and B) sell some shirts, we go to a 15-minute intermission. I spend it trying to find a working water fountain, since the #$&@*$% parking contractor had taken over every lot in town to gouge people for tonight's show and I couldn't afford a beer as a result.
We return from intermission and go straight to...
Match Five: Kanyon v. Saturn
"Evil Bumpmeister" Charles Robinson is the legal eagle for this match.
Before they ring the bell, Saturn gets on the mic. "Now, listen, 'Little
Natch,' if you screw me in this match, I'll beat the crap outta you, right
after I'm done beating the crap outta Kanyon!" Cue massive pop.
Kanyon looked to be about three-quarter-assing it tonight; the match was, like most of the card, solid but unspectacular, at least by these guys' standards. About ten minutes in, some of the design on the seat of Kanyon's tights started to tear off (and it looked like it took the underlying material with it). Saturn's punches look even worse live than they do on TV.
At about the 14 minute mark, Saturn goes for the DVD, but Kanyon wriggles free. Cue run-in. Well, lumber-in, since it's Bigelow. Bam Bam tries to interfere, but Saturn fights him off. Kanyon blindsides Saturn and is gonna whip him to the ropes for Bam Bam to clock, but Saturn reverses, Kanyon gets nailed, and Saturn rolls him up for the pin. Nice match. About fifteen minutes, too.
Match Six: Curt Hennig vs. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan
Randy Anderson is your man counting the falls for this match. Hennig gets
a mixed reaction as he comes out (amusingly, it's mainly the kids booing
him), but, of course, he's facing Duggan, so he's gonna be the heel
tonight. When Duggan comes out, the place just erupts. The reaction is
like a Goldberg entrance, frankly.
Bell rings, and it's time to see if Curt can carry Hacksaw to something watchable. Actually, the first five minutes are spent on posing and posturing and such, but it's not a boring stall--basically, every time Hennig gets into the ring, Hacksaw scares him back out. At one point, as Hennig goes by, the guy next to me yells out, "It's all right, Curt, nobody's Perfect!" Hennig responds with something unintelligible, and probably unprintable. Another guy who's been running ten rows up to the rail to taunt the heels all night takes a playful swing at Hennig (missing by a foot and a half) and nearly gets ejected by Security.
Eventually, Pee Wee decides to start counting Hennig out, and Duggan gets the crowd to count along with him. Hennig finally rolls in at eight, and the match actually starts. Pretty much your basic Duggan match, improved by Hennig selling like a champ.
About five minutes after first contact, Duggan hits the three-point stance and makes a cover. Two-count before Hennig gets his foot on the ropes, but Duggan doesn't notice and thinks he got the pin. While the entire crowd goes nuts trying to warn Hacksaw, Hennig pulls the straps down and retrieves an international object (which looked like an EMPTY ring of tape) from his tights. Duggan turns around and Hennig clocks him, covering for the three count.
But wait, here comes Gonnad(?!?) running in to make the save by telling the ref about the foreign object! K-Smog and Duggan clear Hennig out, and Duggan nearly beheads Gonnad with the two-by-four. Unfortunately, Gonnad gets the mic and convinces Duggan he did this to help the man out. Gonnad then proceeds to hit Catchphrases of Dumb #1, #2, #3, and #5 (no "somos unos vatos locos"), then leads the crowd in a "Hooo!" and "USA!" chant. That's ten minutes that were actually a hell of a lot more entertaining than they had any right to be. Say what you want about his wrestling, Duggan still knows how to work a crowd. Oh, yeah, the results. I dunno, honestly. They played Duggan's music afterwards, so I assume he got the win by DQ, but I wasn't able to hear the announcement.
MAIN EVENT: Diamond Dallas Page/Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Sting/Booker T. in a non-title match
Billy Silverman is your ref bump target for this match. DDP and Bigelow
come out first and do their usual schtick. Ironically, the person they
pick out of the crowd to do their "Your momma's so fat!" bit with DOES
have a rather... overweight mother.
When Booker comes out, DDP claims that Sting isn't here tonight, but, so that the fans didn't have to pay to see nothing, they'll put up the tag titles against Booker tonight. Of course, at this point, cue Sting's music.
The Triad members attempt to retreat to the back. Sting gets on the mic and comments that it's better that they leave, since he and everyone in Battle Creek is "allergic to jackasses like you." Of course, this pisses off the heels into getting into the ring. DDP and Booker start, and it's your typical mixture for them. One guy in the front row gets Sting's attention and shows him that he has an OLD Sting t-shirt, from when Sting still bleached his hair. Sting just looks at him with a "What the f***?" expression on his face.
After about five minutes of back-and-forth, DDP dares Booker to tag in Sting. With some cajoling from the crowd, he does, and, before Sting can get his hands on Page, Bam Bam is tagged in, too. Bam Bam's first move is an uppercut that knocks something from Sting's face to the mat. At first, I think it's a bit of makeup, but then I get a better look at it. It appears to be a mouth guard. Odd. I've never seen a wrestler wear a mouthguard before.
Fight spills out to the floor (and FINALLY we get some on-the-floor action on MY side of the ring!), then settles into Sting playing the Face In Peril. At about the ten-minute mark, I notice that DDP is busted open between his nose and his right eyebrow. Shortly thereafter, Sting makes the semi-hot tag to Booker, who cleans house for a bit before the double-team makes HIM the Face In Peril.
At about fifteen minutes, Booker gets sent to the floor after Sting breaks up a cover following a Diamond Cutter, and Bam Bam follows. Booker then gets whipped into the rail at the far end of my side of the ring... hard enough to knock that end of it back a good four feet. Glad that wasn't my side--it knocked MY end back a foot and a half!
At about the nineteen minute mark, DDP manages to hang himself up on the ropes in the corner, and Booker manages to make the hot tag to Sting, who fights off both the heels, sending Bam Bam to the floor. DDP tries for the Cutter, but Sting blocks it, and hits the Scorpion Death Drop! Cover, one, Bam Bam tries to get in, two, Booker drags Bam Bam out before he can make the save, three. Faces win in about twenty minutes. Then, even though the announcer had said it was a non-title match, they grab the belts and head for the hills. Page and Bigelow are understandably pissed, so Page asks Silverman who won the match. "Sting and Booker T."
Page: "Listen, Silverman, maybe you didn't hear me right. Did you see a Diamond Cutter tonight?" Silverman: "Yes." Page: "Then, WHO WON THE MATCH?!?" Silverman: "Sting and Booker T!" Page makes a "f*** it!" gesture, and nails Silverman with the Cutter, jaws at him for a couple of seconds, and then leaves with Bam Bam in tow.
Overall, it was a pretty good show. Overall, it was more entertaining than the next night's Nitro, I'd say.
The Good: Vampiro and Disco got clean pinfalls. The Kanyon-Saturn match and the main event were quite nice. Duggan was actually watchable, and they found a way to make the crowd happy by giving him a win without killing Hennig's credibility. I didn't have to watch Gonnad actually wrestle.
The Bad: Jerry Flynn getting a win. Barbarian getting cheered for squashing Lash. Gonnad being allowed to get on the mic.
The Ugly: The jackass security guard who was shoving little kids around before the show. Unfortunately, the crowd didn't gang up on him.