Just got back from the show in Winnipeg. The arena was pretty full, with only the very ends having empty seats. One of the upper decks along the side was open and filled up. I'd estimate probably 8000-10000 people attended the first WWE event in the new MTS Centre.
The show opened with Christy welcoming us all, and talking about how great it was to be in Winnipeg for the first time. Simon Dean interrupted to say that Winnipeg was full of Winnipigs, and he commented on how out of shape Christy was, before offering her some Fitno-Powder. She threw it back in his face and gave him a low blow before leaving.
The first match had the Christian Coalition (Christian + Tomko) against Hurricane and Rosey. Christian got a good reaction coming out, but it was of course dwarfed by the superheroes. At the end of the match, when Rosey was setting up for his finisher, Tomko delivered a big boot, causing Christian to fall on Rosey for the win.
Next up was Victoria vs. Molly, with Val Venis as the special referee. Molly asked Val to check Victoria for foreign objects before the match, which Val did with pleasure. He then checked Molly as well, much to her disgust. The match ended when Victoria crotched Molly on the top rope during the Molly Go Round setup, grabbing her from there to hit the Widow's Peak for the win.
Shelton Benjamin faced Maven next, with the IC title on the line. Maven did some more mic work before the match, jawing with the fans. Maven cheated for some offense, a bit more than he had in either of their last televised encounters, but Shelton came back with the Dragon Whip and eventually hit the Stinger Splash/T-Bone combo for the win.
Edge vs. Chris Benoit followed. Both men got good reactions for their entrances, but Edge started ducking Benoit once the match started to earn some jeers. Edge dodged several chops by ducking and running, but eventually Benoit caught him with some loud shots. After taking two chops, Edge turned his back on Benoit, who waited patiently. After about thirty seconds with Edge standing with his back to Benoit while the crowd laughed, he dared to turn around, only to of course eat another chop. Benoit got the Sharpshooter, only for Edge to make the ropes. After three german suplexes, Benoit missed the headbutt, and Edge set up the spear. Benoit tried to take him down into the crossface from the spear, but Edge blocked that and locked in his submission, the Edge-ucator, only for Benoit to turn it into the crossface for the tapout win. Edge complained after the match that he never tapped out, he was brushing his hair out of his face, and he whined that he should be the World Champion before leaving.
Snitsky faced Kane in a hardcore match. Despite Snitsky's prematch pleas that all of Lita's misfortunes weren't his fault, Kane still took out his anger on Snitsky, while playing up to the crowd all the while. Snitsky's big move was a hockey stick jab to the throat, but Kane was able to come back with some leather belt shots, followed by a chokeslam for the win.
After the intermission, The Coach made his entrance to be ring announcer for the next match. After introducing La Resistance and their opponent William Regal, Coach addressed the tag title situation with Eugene's injury. Because Eugene cannot compete, William Regal would have to defend the tag titles. It wouldn't be a handicap match, though, as he had a partner.. the Coach! And Coach took off his jacket to reveal he was wearing the tag title. The match began with Regal being double-teamed, but he refused to tag in the Coach. During his comeback at the end, Regal popped Coach off the apron when Coach reached for a tag, but that allowed La Resistance to catch Regal unaware and hit the Au Revoir, picking up the win and becoming the new Tag Team Champions. Coach badmouthed Regal after the match, saying that he blew it by not tagging in the Coach, and so of course Coach got beat down by Regal.
In a Royal Rumble Qualifying match, Mohammad Hassan was next out. He complained about the negative reception he received, saying that Canadians should sympathise with his plight, as they're viewed by Americans as being uneducated, slow and toothless. Hometown hero Chris Jericho interrupted to the ovation of the night, telling Daivari to shut the hell up, and promising Hassan a beating that he'll never, EVER forget again. During the match, Daivari cheated to get Hassan the upper hand, but Jericho rallied to hit the Lionsault. Daivari occupied the ref to prevent the count, leading Jericho to bring Daivari into the ring. Hassan tried to roll Jericho up, but Jericho kicked out at 2, before throwing Hassan into Daivari to knock him out of the ring. Jericho then locked in the Walls of Jericho for the tapout, to advance to the Royal Rumble.
Finally, the main event had Ric Flair and Batista facing off against Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels. All parties got large ovations, until Flair got the microphone before the match and slammed Bret Hart, calling him a Ric Flair wannabe. I'm guessing he badmouthed Bret to prevent the "You screwed Bret" chants from being tossed at Shawn, and if that was the intent, it sure succeeded. People still ate up everything Flair did, with a big ovation for the Flair Flop. Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music on Flair for the eventual pinfall. Even as Batista was leaving after losing, he still had this big grin on his face, as you can tell he's loving the reactions he's getting now.
All in all, it was a cool show, very well attended, and with a title change to boot. Hopefully they can bring some more TV back here soon.
Yeah, not bad for a house show. I was there too. There were several TV camera men running around all thru the show, so I don't see how the title change won't be recognized. Especially in the vein of "you have to come see our house shows, because you never know what will happen!"
Coach is just as brilliant live in-person as he is on TV. I'm glad he's brought out to the ring as an entertainer.
HBK did get booed the first time he was tagged in. It was very noticeable, but for the most part, he was cheered. I noticed a big difference between HBK and Orton in terms of how they dealt with fans. HBK went around the perimeter tagging hands after the match and actually looking at the people. In one case, he spotted a handicapped kid being held up in his dad's hands and went over to talk to the kid and give him a hug. Ten seconds later, Orton walked right by the same kid.
I was backstage before the show for a bit, and when Shelton Benjamin came in with his luggage, he was with a VERY young, skinny, blonde girl who looked no older than 17 years old. Scary stuff, especially since she wasn't even that cute.
I found Val Venis and Chris Benoit to be very friendly and polite. Benoit is almost bashful in person.
Very hot crowd from start to finish. From what I was told backstage, thanks to the big turnout, there is now going to be a live TV card as early in the summer as possible so they can return another time after that before the end of the year.
How did Chill get backstage? Was it because you won last year's The W Baseball Fantasy League?
WADSWORTH: The games up, Scarlet. There are no more bullets left in that gun. SCARLET: Oh, come on, you don't think I'm gonna fall for that old trick? WADSWORTH: It's not a trick. There was one shot at Mr. Boddy in the study. Two for the chandelier, two at the lounge door, and one for the singing telegram. SCARLET:That's not six. WADSWORTH: One plus two plus two plus one. SCARLET:Nuh, uh. There was only one shot that got the chandelier. That's one plus two plus ONE plus one. WADSWORTH: Even if you are right, that would be one plus one plus two plus one, not one plus TWO plus one plus one. SCARLET:(thinking) Okay, fine.One plus two plus one--(angered) Shut up!