Arena Reports 11/21 Hulkamania Tour in Melbourne, Australia: Second Report - Heavy juicing from Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, Mr. Kennedy vs. Val Venis
Nov 22, 2009 - 12:05:46 PM
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Hulkamania Tour house show report
November 21, 2009
Melbourne, Australia at Rod Laver Arena
Report by Steele Saunders, Torch reader
Arriving at the show, I was surprised to see how many people were there. The word was tickets were not selling too well, but the place seemed 60 percent capacity with a lot of the upper seating curtained off. So while the place was far from full, I dreaded it would be worse. The merchandise table featured maybe six different Hogan t-shirt designs, plus sweatbands, key rings, the new book, etc., but not one item non-Hulk related. Having decided that if there was a Flair t-shirt, I would pick one up, this was disappointing. Easily the most popular item was the $20 screen-printed bandana. Every fourth person seemed to have one. The amount of red and yellow in the crowd would indicate the merch side of the tour would be quite profitable, especially considering how much a screen-printed cotton square would cost to produce in China.
Some minor pyro and the "Let the battle begin" video started things off. Like the previous report stated, the entrance set-up had a narrower screen on either side with an early 2000s Raw look. The ring announcer was a pony-tailed goof that continually tried to get chants going all night.
(1) Pimp Fatha (The Godfather) & Nick Dinsmore (doing the Eugene character under his own name) beat Rock of Love. First thing of note was that for introductions the next wrestler's name would appear on the big screen way before the wrestler would appear or the announcer would introduce them. I figured this might be an opening match glitch but it happened all night right up to the main event, this definitely affected the reaction each wrestler received. Every wrestler's entrance clip was their name in front of fire, no effort spared there. No one had time to at least scan in a photo of each guy in?
Dinsmore being the first guy out and doing the familiar Eugene routine got a great reaction. His poem pulled out of his tights initially went well but the Rugby reference was met with boos with Melbourne being an Australian Rules football city rather than rugby one. The match itself was pretty clunky. The highlight of the match was the "put your shirt on" chant directed to the flabby member of the Rock Of Love who by the way I've never heard of before and hope to never again.
(2) 'Spartan 3000' Matt Cross beat Shannon Moore. The announcer let us know that this was a best of three match series for $25,000, which was met with total indifference for good reason. Spartan 3000 came out to a similar response that the $25,000 match series received. His gimmick reminded me of what Jim Herd infamously had planned for Ric Flair; he looked like he was off to do battle with Asterix the Gaul. Shannon Moore got a great reaction. As far as match quality goes, this was probably the highlight of the night. A nice lightweight mach with both guys routinely flipping out of arm bars, Shannon doing a dive to the floor, and Spartan winning the crowds approval with a Shooting Star press for the pin. Nice.
(3) Nasty Boys (Brian Knobs & Jerry Sags w/Jimmy Hart) beat Vampire Warrior (Gangrel) & Black Pearl. If a snail had made his entrance it would have been quicker and to a better reaction than the Black Pearl's. He made Randy Orton's entrance seem like a sprint. Gangrel's blood spitting entrance got a great pop. I'm not much of a Nasty fan, but they are fun live. This was a classic early 2000s lazy hardcore match. The nastys both went to the back at separate times during the match. The highlight was one of the puffy shirts chasing Jimmy Hart only to be met by a Nasty Boys mop assisted double close line snapping the mop.
(4) Brutus “the Barber" Beefcake (w/Jimmy Hart) beat John Heidenreich. Wow this was bad. Brutus hit the sleeper on Heidenreich a move the crowd was in for the entire match. I have fond memories of the Barber from the WrestleMania years but this pretty dead. Brutus went to cut Heidenreichs hair but the pony tailed (lots of ponytails on the payroll) ref grabbed the sheers allowing Heidenreich's escape. Brutus got the sheers back off the ref and responding to the crowds demands got the ref on the mat for a haircut... only to pull out some tiny scissors from his boot to cut a inch of hair off the ponytail. Lame. At least get a ref with a fake ponytail to cut. Surprising to have this before the intermission, as it was not a real positive note to send people back to the merchandise table on.
(5) Lacey Von Erich won a Bikini Challenge against three girls I'd never heard of. But the real winner was feeling awkward watching strippers while surrounded by 8-year-olds.
Ric Flair appeared on the big screen to cut a promo about how he's sick of being in Hogan's shadow. Great classic Flair, a highlight of the night. The other report stated this got a standing ovation. Trust me, there was not a point in the show where over half the people here were standing including Hogan.
(6) Mr. Ken Anderson (Mr. Kennedy) beat Sean Morley (Val Venis). Sean Morley got a great reaction coming out in the Val Venis towel. After toying with the crowd that he was going to throw his towel out for several minutes he ended up hanging it on the turnbuckle turning him heal instantly. He then followed up with a weak promo about how the crowd is inbred. Ken Anderson was met with a great pop the best of the non-main eventers. He looked to really enjoy being back in action. Perched up on the turnbuckle, he did his new "Anderson...Anderson" mic work but the crowd filled in with "Kennedy" to which a cracking up Anderson said, "Kennedy is dead," laughing. This really endeared him to the crowd. A disappointing showing from these guys in my opinion, too many restholds. Interesting to note that whenever a "boring" chant was starting the guys would kick it into gear in response with some nearfalls. Mic Check for the win.
(7) Junior Fatu (Rikishi) & Brian Christopher beat Orlando Jordan & USO Fatu (Umaga). Could X-Pac heat be renamed Orlando Jordan heat? I have to say Rikishi and Christopher are entertaining house show acts. That post-match dance routine got old quick on TV but live it's pretty fun. Lot's of various Booker T chants for Jones and "Jerry's Kid" chants for Christopher. Maybe sticking to one pants dropping per night next time Grand Master... just saying.
(8) Hulk Hogan beat Ric Flair. Flair obviously got a huge reaction as he came out to pretty bad version of the 2001 theme or a sound-alike of it. Several notes just sounded off. It was then it hit me that this is the first time he's walked the aisle for match since the Mania match with HBK. It was kind of sad to think the retirement was about to be broken in less than stellar circumstances.
Hogan appeared on screen to cut a classic Hogan promo. This is what most of us had paid to see, not so much the match, but the promo and entrance. The video screen followed Hogan backstage where in a hilarious moment Hogan recreated the classic Spinal Tap scene getting lost on the way to the stage... embarrassing. As I said I paid to see the entrance that I grew up loving, sadly Hulk came out to a sound-alike to the "Real American" theme. "American Made" may have been the name. "Sucking" was definitely the genre. But the ovation was huge, no doubt. But how the previous report could claim it was a bigger pop the Rock at the Global Warning show is laughable, though. The opening bars of "American Made" and around 8,000 (at best) people vs. "Can you smell what the Rock is cooking" and 55,000 people? Yeah right.
The fact that Hogan got through this match shows how much a master of the "art" he is as his body is shot. When he attempted to climb to the second rope to give Flair the ten punches (with the crowd counting along), Flair visibly had to help lift him up to get on to the second rope. Another warning sign was how hard a time Hulk had when he was simply rolling out of the ring. The match looked like it might come to an awkward end when Hulk's knee brace came loose and Hogan signaled for Flair to back off (he was on the outside at the time). He spent a long minute or two desperately trying to fix the straps before giving in and tossing the brace into the crowd (not quite the "message" to the wrestling industry the other report implied). Funnily enough the pony-tailed announcer then went into the crowd hoping to recover the brace.
For no reason, Lacey came to the ring while people debated such questions as "why?," "who is she with?," and "who is she?" She ended up distracting the ref for Flair to hit Hogan with some brass knucks. Hogan juiced then Flair REALLY heavily juiced. We got the Hulk Up and the finger point much to the crowds delight. The end came when Hogan went to a knocked down Flair's trunks (yeeech) to grab the knucks, punch, 1,2,3. No leg drop. I can't imagine Hogan ever wrestling in TNA after this showing.
We then got a extended posing routine sadly to the "American Made" track... again contrary to the other report, a good amount of people started leaving immediately at the bell. With the show finishing an hour late this was no surprise.
All in all a fun night, I knew not to expect too much from the main event and was there to see the spectacle of the entrances and the first and safe to say only chance to see Hogan live in Australia. But after seeing Hogan roll out of the ring so badly it was scary to watch the rest of the match. I wouldn't want to see the main event of the fourth show, that's for sure.
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