There is nothing like seeing a live wrestling event, especially one that is sold out and high on energy. This show sold out within two hours of tickets going on sale, something that has been a rare event indeed for the house show circuit of late. I was fortunate enough to get one of those tickets, 10 rows back from the ring.
I got to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, waited amidst the throng of fans to get inside. Just as I was sitting down, the lights dimmed and the ring announcer entered the ring, welcoming all of us to the show. The crowd went nuts. He then announced that, due to personal issues, The Big Show would not be here tonight. Then the first match was announced:
Match #1: Rob Van Dam vs. Carlito
RVD came out to the roar of the crowd, he recently returned from the injured list, having been out for knee surgery for about a year. Carlito was announced second, to a chorus of boos. My big complaint with this match is that they spent way too much time on the floor outside the ring where most of us not in the first few rows cannot see. When the two were in the ring, they put on a good show. Lots of back and forth punches and kicks, each hitting signature spots like RVD’s Rolling Thunder and Carlito’s back breaker. At one point, Carlito went to spit apple in RVD’s face, and was met with a boot to the face. The match comes to an end when Rob hits his finisher, the Five Star Frog Splash. Good match, I just wish they spent more time in the ring. **.5
Match #2: The Spirit Squad vs. Val Venis, Viscera, and Goldust
The Spirit Squad is a five man group of male cheerleaders, they have only appeared on TV a few times, and never in a wrestling capacity. I believe they announced a few names, but I cannot remember any of them. They come out all hooting and hollering, cutting on the hometown crowd. That doesn’t last long as the good guys are announced. They come out to some decent cheers, particularly Goldust. The match starts out slow, but winds up moving pretty quickly. A number of hot tags result in either Goldust or Big Vis cleaning house. Lots of crowd interaction as the Spirit Squad leader would shout “Let’s Go Spirit Squad!” with a resulting in a resounding “You Suck!” from the crowd. The finish comes when Val goes for the Money Shot and gets knocked from the top ropes from one of the squad members that are not in the match, only to be pinned by one who is. This was a fun match, lots of comedic touches. ***
Match #3: “The Masterpiece” Chris Masters vs. Eugene
Masters comes out to a round of boos, flexing and posing down for the crowd. Eugene is then announced, he comes down shaking hands all the way around the ring. Eugene then gets a hold of Masters’ cape and “flies” around the ring, finishing with a mockery of his entrance. The match gets underway with Eugene taking control with a butt bite. There is some good back and forth action here. Eugene went for a finish by putting Masters in his own Masterlock finisher, but Chris is able to reverse it and force Eugene to tap out. ***
Match #4: Candace Michelle and Victoria vs. Mickie James and Trish Stratus
Time for a little bit of Diva action! Who cares about the quality of wrestling when these gorgeous ladies are in the ring? Not many, although the action was not all that bad, Candace being the weakest of the bunch. Mickie came out to “Psycho” chants, and she didn’t disappoint. They pull off some nice moves. Candace choked Mickie with her legs while leaning back over the ropes, Victoria did her standing moonsault, Mickie did a good heads scissors out of the corner, and Trish had her Matrix move. Trish and Mickie lost when Mickie took out the wrong opposition allowing Victoria to get as pin on Trish. Trish led the crowd in a “She’s a Psycho!” chant before leaving her stranded in the ring. ***.5
Match #5: Snitsky vs. Kane
Here is tonight’s big man match – nothing special to be had. Big boots and clotheslines fill most of the match. That is, until Tyson Tomko interrupts the match trying to get ahold of Kane. Kane turns around gives him a choke slam to him for his troubles, then turns around and give one to Snitsky then pins him for the win. Snitsky and Tomko then get into an argument, which lead to Tomko just leaving. As much as I liked seeing Kane, this match was rather dull. **
Break in the action.
Following the break, your teacher and ours, Matt Striker, comes to the ring to, presumably, educate us. Striker is a teacher turned wrestler who had called out sick so he could go to a tryout. Well, he has a guest; Ashley Massaro comes out to cheers, looking as hot as ever. Striker then goes on to question her about what kind of guys she likes. He then describes himself as a potential match, and continues by putting down New York. In my opinion, he should recheck his geography, as he cracked on the Bills, he should know this isn’t really Bills country. Ashley givers him a low blow and leaves him lying in the ring.
Match #6: Shelton Benjamin and Triple H vs. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair
Seems like an odd pairing, but it worked and made for what was probably the best match of the night, and the closest groupings of cheers for their entrances. The match is not dull, lot of action, with the bulk being carried by HBK and Shelton. Shelton’s presence elicited many “We want Momma!” and “Momma’s Boy!” chants. Early on Flair gets a hold of a mic and says that Shelton’s mom isn’t there because they couldn’t fit her through the doors. The blend of comedic action and good wrestling is very good. At one point, Triple H very nearly gets his tights removed by HBK, there he was attempting to wrestle with his bum exposed to the world, many laughs were had, then there was his much delayed Flair flop. The finish came when Shelton Benjamin tapped out to Flair’s Figure Four. Afterward, Shelton tried to blame Triple H, going so far as to mock his water spit take. That resulted in Triple H hitting the Pedigree on him and then doing his own water spew. ****
Match #7: Edge vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship
Edge comes out to the obligatory “You Suck” chants, gets on the mic and says that Lita was not here tonight, that led to more Lita oriented chants. He would go on to talk himself up on how he is the rightful champion, the crowd really ripped on him for this. Then Cena was introduced, and I swear I thought the roof was going to get blown off, the response was deafening. It had to be the single most deafening cheer that I had heard at any wrestling event there. This match started slowly, but it to a feverish pace towards the end. Early on, Edge controlled the match; he was just tossing Cena around. Cena got in a few rounds of his own, but it did not seem to be enough to hold back the onslaught. Just as Edge was poised to win with a spear, Cena got out of the way and then leap frogged Edge who speared the ref. With the ref out, Cena was able to lock in the STFU, but it was no good with no ref, he released it and Edge was able to knock him down and slingshot him into an exposed turnbuckle, followed with a shot from the title belt. Edge then called out a second ref, but Cena kicked out. Edge responded by knocking out the replacement ref. Cena gets up and lands the FU as the original ref comes around and counts Edge down 1,2,3. John Cena retains his belt. ****
Cena remained in the ring, got on the mic and thanked the crowd. He went into how this was one of the original Raw homes and how they always feel the love from the NY crowd. It was a nice speech to close out the evening.
This was a good show. The wrestling action was entertaining, and the star power was there. I particularly liked that I got to see HBK and Flair. I recommend that if you have the chance, go see the show live, you won’t be disappointed.