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Sunday, 29 April 2007

The Not-so-Hardcore diary: Part Two

Tuesday 24th April


After a day working in Wapping in the offices of The Sun, I arrive at Earls Court a little latter than last evening, as the prospect of buying drinks for £3.60 rather than getting them free from a table stacked with them rankles with me slightly.

I meet up with Stu and Rich, two guys I bumped into and shared a drink with post-show last night. Turns out that Stu is a fellow journo who I only met because he was sat directly in front of me at RAW, and noticed my furious pen-scribbling. He knows Simon in a convoluted way, and after conversations take many twists, it turns out that he went to the same university and did the same course as me. Small world.

The three of us hang around near the entrance to the backstage area, and get a quick glance at Smackdown GM Teddy Long, as well as all 5 members that beganh the night as the New Breed. Matt striker is startlingly small.


The show begins with a dark match which turns out to be probably the best match all night. And there are to be some good ones. Matt & Jeff Hardy take on Shane Helms (I can’t call him Gregory) and Chavo Guerrero, as those in our section mutter that potentially the four most talented athletes in the building are jerking the curtain in a mcth that no-one else will see.

The Hardys remind me of the Dudleys and The Road Warriors, in that they are so, so much better as a unit, although Matt & Jeff probably have more ability that either Hawk, Animal, Bubba or D-Von as singles wrestlers.

Oh, the Hardys won by the way.

Tazz and Joey Styles make their way out, as I spot Shane Warne, legendary cricketer in the front row, accompanied by loads of blokes with almost identical blond highlights.

After last night’s Cena/HBK main event, we now get another Wrestlemania rematch, as Umaga emerges to do battle with Lashley. Sans McMahon and Trump. Well, there’s no Vince to begin with, as The Boss does emerge later on, after Estrada interferes, drawing the DQ, then gets launched, and I mean really launched, by Lashley.

Several New Breed backstage segments are piped into the arena throughout the ECW taping, and are met with no reaction. Poor Punk.

A group of kids behind me begin a small “We want Divas” chant. Ah, start ‘em young, eh?

Snitsky, looking like an Anaemic Kane, squashes Balls Mahoney. Why isn’t Balls in the originals?

The main event of Eeseedubya is a 4 on 4 Survivor Series-style elimination match, with Burke, Brown (not Cor Von), Striker and White Fang (Thorn) taking on Sabu, RVD, Dreamer and Sandman.

CM Punk is instructed by Burke to take a seat and watch and ringside, and (shock, and indeed, horror) costs Burke the match, deliberately. So either this was a hastily conceived angle that they decided to rush through in two weeks, or they panicked at making Punk a heel and decided to switch him back. Either way, it shows just how painful ECW is right now.

Ropes change, commentator change, tron image change, and it’s time for Smackdown!

A cool spot opens the show as Batista is shown on the big screen fighting with Kennedy, before the cameraman gets bumped, cutting the feed. Big Dave then emerges, grappling now with Finlay, before being jumped by Mr K.

BONG! And the lights go out. When they come back on, Undertaker is in the ring. BONG! And the lights go out. When they come back on, Undertaker is no longer in the ring.

Teddy Long makes Taker & Batista v Kennedy & Finlay in a shocking announcement which shocked……well no-one, but it should be pretty cool.

BANG! Kane’s pyro is the loudest thing I have ever heard in my life, and when you are not expecting it, is even worse. I sense people laughing at my rather girly reaction, and brace myself Boogeyman’s pyro, which is right up there. Last night fireworks were at a premium, tonight its like Fawkes and Catesby have provided the goods they tried to in 1605.

And speaking of conspiratorial Englishmen here come Steve (not William) Regal and Dave Taylor, and a surprisingly good contest follows. The same pattern as last night is followed, with children who know no better (or have not been taught to be patriotic) cheer the face team, while the rest of back Regal and Taylor.

The Boogeyman is the most animated tag partner I’ve ever seen, bouncing around the apron like a lunatic. However, it is Kane that spends about 15 minutes in the ring, Boogey takes about 30 second, before the bizarre team in red do the business.

Next, it’s London……in London. Paul London that is, accompanying Brian Kendrick, who takes on One of Deuce or Domino……….the ring announcer suggests it is Deuce, although absolutely no-one near me can tell the difference.

Deuce (who used to be called 40-30, and will soon have his name changed to ‘Advanatge’) gets the W with a stiff leg lariat, in a match which I personally enjoyed, but I got the feeling that those who are not accustomed to psychological technical affairs.

Those that did enjoy the antics of the boys who evoke memories of Grease, will probably be Hopelessly Devoted to Wrestling, and will spend Summer Nights thinking it sThe One that They Want to see. Maybe.

More disturbing pyro as the ever-improving MVP hits the arena, and when announcing Scottish Champion “Hamlet MacBeth”, provides the line of the night. After a weak Braveheart gag, Montel informs us that Mr MacBeth can shoot lightening bolts form his Arse. Quality. If you don’t get it, go watch Braveheart. A cracking film, despite being historical bollocks.

MacBeth gets squashed (“out, damn high spot”) and wait……is this a US Champion I see before me? Out comes Benoit, and we have our third Wrestlemania rematch of the week. However, MVP does a walkout, which we kind of expected, seeing as they will fight at Backlash. Benoit was perhaps as over as any wrestler from any brand, up there with HBK, RVD and Taker, and the still Pro-Bret fans in the UK went wild for the Sharpshooter.

Next, it’s Jillian, sans Hall, and look at those……I mean her. She gets the stick and vocally hits on Prince William, calling Kate Middleton ‘trailer park trash’ and refers to the heir to the throne as ‘little Willy’. Hmm.

Anyway, her usual crooning, she is interrupted my Michelle, who comes out to a McCool reception, and actually the match proves that Jillian can work. Ironically, a crap singer wins the match with a modified X-Factor.

Major pop for Ken Kennedy. IN fact it reminded me of a Kurt Angle reaction. You know, pop like crazy as a reaction to his music, then remember he is a heel and boo him. Kennedy is the standout breakthrough star of the last 12 months. Like Brown is the new black, Money in the Bank is the new Royal Rumble. Kennedy deserves his title shot.

Mr Kennedy intersperses his normal mic work with a couple of cheap digs at Football (soccer) and then is joined by Fit Finley, both looking like Romanian players at the 1998 World Cup.

Batista gets a big pop – and so do my eardrums with his pyro. Although I was more prepared this time. Taker comes out, and I swear they put the air-con on in the arena, it genuinely got cold. Unless they were genuine goose bumps, which is possible.

Not a memorable match, made all the more annoying for me when they make a NO DQ stipulation……..but then make the illegal man wait on the apron. But it’s no-DQ, so why are you stopping him?

After a cracking ring exit spot, Taker walks the ropes, and for some reason the people shout for a Vince Vaughn film?

The ref is then distracted by Kennedy, to allow Finlay to hit a shillelagh shot……BUT ITS NO DQ!!!

Batista gets the pin after a Taker chokeslam, and then gets the mic and proclaims that he will win the belt back. This elicits boos, and Taker’s rebuttal is met with approval. This is where the shows ends.

So, there we go. The first time I’ve attended wrestling events for over 10 years. And the two most over superstars, the two booked as the most dominant on each brand, were Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. The two active performers who have been on the roster longest on the top.

What glass ceiling?

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