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WWE House Show on-site report
Posted by Jared "JHawk" Hawkins on Aug 24, 2002, 14:17
WWE On-Site House Show Report: Youngstown, Ohio (8/23/2002)
by Jared "JHawk" Hawkins
I got a WWE wall poster from Time Warner Cable that included the not-so-subliminal message of "Buy SummerSlam", and it also included the dates for the next eight WWE pay-per-view events. Interestingly enough, WrestleMania XIX will be on March 30, and Backlash will be April 13. The obvious question: "They can barely build up SummerSlam with five weeks to do it in, and they're supposed to get Backlash ready in two?"
As you've probably figured out by now, your friendly Raw recapper went out to the Beeghly Center on the campus of Youngstown State University to attend the Raw Brand house show. I'm sure this is probably going to seem rushed, but with sixth row ringside seats, it gets very hard to see the ring. Not only because you have a lot of heads in front of you, but because of the guy in front of you who stands 6'6" if he's an inch and stands up on his freaking chair to see the action in the freaking ring. I mean, shit dude, I can barely see over you when you're seated, and then you have to be a jagoff and hop onto a chair! Between that and the three guys who could play offensive line for the Pittsburgh Steelers standing up for every high spot, it's amazing I saw any of the action at all. But all that aside, they did put on a pretty decent show as part of their dry run before SummerSlam, so I'll cover it as best I can.
The Beeghly Center can fit a little over 8,000 for wrestling, and I'd estimate the crowd at about 4,500, as it looked a little more than half full. Not bad since there's no syndicated WWE show airing in the Youngstown area, but disappointing since it's the first WWE show there in about four years. Still, the crowd was fired up.
One of my biggest pet peeves with house shows is the tendency to sell merchandise of guys who aren't even on the card. Most of the merchandise was for The Rock, Triple H, and Kane. But the most annoying thing of all was the merchandise stands selling Hogan foam fingers...and he's not even a Raw wrestler. Unless I missed it, the only merchandise on sale for a wrestler who was actually in the building was RVD's T-shirt and foam hands.
The Fink makes his way to the ring at 7:31 to give the rules. No camcorders, no laser pens, don't throw small children to the ring. After the National Anthem, the show begins.
One fall: Li'l Spike Dudley vs. Johnny Stamboli
Nice pop for Spike, and a surprising pop for Stamboli as well. This was your typical Spike match, as Stamboli used power moves to throw Spike around like a rag doll. Spike got some near falls with some roll ups, and eventually won the match with the Dudley Dawg at 6:32. Decent opener.
One fall: Justin Credible vs. Shelton Benjamin
Not much in the way of applause for either man, as some people still haven't seen Benjamin and Credible hasn't been on TV more than once a month since the split. Before the match ended though, the crowd was firmly behind Benjamin. The finish saw Benjamin go up to the top rope for a picture-perfect flying bodypress, but Credible rolled through it with a handful of tights for the pin at 6:42. A little chinlock heavy, but perfectly acceptable.
One fall: Raven vs. D'Lo Brown
Unless this is the pre-SummerSlam Heat match, this might be as close as you get to a blowoff for this feud. Nice pop for Raven, real nice pop for D'Lo. D'Lo charged the ring and went after Raven, who ducked to the outside quickly. Another standard but good match, with D'Lo blocking the Raven Effect before hitting Raven with the Sky High for the pin at 6:41.
One fall for the WWE Hardcore Championship: Steven Richards vs. Tommy Dreamer (champion)
Richards refused to enter the ring unless Dreamer put the kendo stick out of the ring, which pissed Dreamer off since it's a hardcore match. And Dreamer brought out the old duct-taped hardcore title belt for some reason. The match was a standard wrestling match for about 30 seconds, before Dreamer threw in some weapons. He used a pair of salad tongs on each of Richards' nipples. When Stevie covered his nipples, the tongs then went right to the testicles. And all the men turned their heads. Stevie nearly got the win off of the Stevenkick, but it was Dreamer using a baseball slide into a trash can lid for the win at 5:25. Disappointing after a couple of their recent TV efforts, but not bad.
Charles Robinson comes out (to a lot of "WHOO"s from the crowd) to inform the Fink that Eric Bischoff has declared the next contest a no disqualification match.
One fall no disqualification match: The Big Show vs. Rob Van Dam
In one of those sad but true moments...RVD gets the biggest pop of the night, with Show getting the second biggest pop of the night. I wish I was making that up. This was very similar to their match on Raw, with Show seemingly throwing RVD around at will, but with RVD getting in a lot more offense, including a plancha with Show hanging over the guardrail to an incredible pop. The finish came off the Van Daminator at 7:08. Better than any Big Show match has any right to be.
Finkel then shills some merchandise and we take a 20-minute intermission. I proceed to get in the restroom line and get the shit beat out of me by two little kids wearing their foam Rocky hands. You see now why I get annoyed when you sell merchandise for people who aren't on the card. And no parents anywhere in sight, apparently just to piss me off.
The arena isn't nearly full after intermission (there's only one concession stand and one souvenir stand), so Finkel buys time by announcing the winner of a JVC Kaboom Box (which wasn't me). Then we do a contest courtesy of local radio station 93.3 FM to see who has the best spinnaroonie in the area, with the winner meeting Booker T backstage. The first of the two contestants nearly got booed out of the arena. Finkel refuses my request to do a spinnaroonie himself.
One fall for the WWE Women's Championship with special referee Victoria: Molly Holly (champion) vs. Trish Stratus
I will say that TV does not do Trish proper justice, as she is absolutely stunning from six rows back. And Molly's ass also looks better from six rows back. A very good match, with Victoria calling the match right down the middle. The line of the night from the crowd comes as Trish begins her comeback. Trish is using backslides and cradles for near falls, and the crowd is counting along with Victoria, and one guy yells "Jesus Christ, you know she's not going to win!" The finish had Trish going for the Stratusfaction, but Molly countering it with a bridging back suplex. She puts her feet on the ropes, Victoria stares right at it...and finishes the count anyway at 5:52. Trish gets her revenge after the match and gets Stratusfactions on both Molly and Victoria.
One fall: William Regal and Christopher Nowinski vs. Bradshaw and Jeff Hardy
This was listed as Regal vs. Bradshaw and Hardy vs. Nowinski, but we get this tag team match instead. Regal grabs the mic beforehand and says he finds us disgusting. Bradshaw counters by saying he wants to drink and can't until Hardy hits the Swanton. It's on. Bradshaw apparently doesn't hear my comment of "Don't bend over with Justin the ring, Chris!" Typical WWE tag team match, as Jeff gets treated like Regal and Nowinski's bitch for at least five minutes. Nowinski looked especially impressive, breaking out a hammerlock bodyslam of all moves. Eventually all four men are in the ring, and it's Bradshaw hitting Nowinski with a Clothesline from Hell, followed by a Swanton Bomb as Hardy pins Nowinski in 9:10. Slow but a hot finish.
Finkel tells us we're the absolute best fans ever, which I'd like to believe except they say that in every city they go to. It's still good for a cheap pop.
Main event for the WWE Tag Team Championship: The UnAmericans (champions) vs. Booker T and Goldust
Separate entrances for the challengers despite there being no pyro. Storm gets us on the mic and says Youngstown fans are bad, even for Americans, and that the match is unfair because Storm just arrived half an hour ago after being detained at U.S. customs. Standard tag team match with Booker playing face-in-peril Once all four men make it into the ring, the usual clusterfuck occurs. Finish comes when Goldust gets the Shattered Dreams on Christian, but Storm pulls Nick Patrick out of the ring at 2. Booker goes after Storm, which distracts Patrick long enough for Christian to hit Goldust with the belt and get the pin at 8:33.
As fans are filing out of the arena, Booker T says Storm and Christian stole one, but they won't be as lucky at SummerSlam. The show is over at 9:42 p.m.
The Good: Even the worst matches of the night were entertaining, and the crowd was hot for everything. There was no Triple H, no long boring promos, and no Test! Plenty of high spots, plus a rare appearance of the Van Daminator.
The bad: No Rocky, no Undertaker, no Jericho (damn that Fozzy concert), no Flair, and no Five Star Frog Splash. Plus, Trish missed the roundhouse kick by at least three feet, and the second half of the show seemed like a 40 dollar advertisement for SummerSlam.
The scary: People popped for The Big Show?
Nothing really mind-blowing to be the match of the night, but I'd have to go with either the women's title or the tag title if asked.
Overall a fun evening and a very good show, but too many matches were similar to each other, and that has to be the first WWE show I've ever seen that didn't hit the two and a half hour mark.