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WWE Smackdown/ECW house show report
September 30, 2007
Report by Seth Berger, PWTorch.com correspondent
Party of five to the Civic Center.
I’ve reported on a couple of house shows from Valparaiso, but this is the first time that I’ve had the opportunity to bring you all the Smackdown/ECW fun from my own backyard. Also, for the first time, it isn’t just a twosome attending the festivities; there was a ‘party of five’ hanging from the pretty filled-up rafters of the old building. So, thanks to Zach, Klap, Doug and Tina for going.
We took a while to park, stood in line for a few minutes talking about the day’s events in the world of football and the last day of the baseball regular season, then hit the will call line. That line was very short and there was not much waiting at all. (This was the first time we were not given tickets; they gave us a piece of paper that let us in.) We found our seats and began to relax and enjoy the festivities that began a bit after 7PM.
After the National Anthem, ECW GM Armando Estrada came out to a loud round of boos. (The mic had a badly muffled sound to it, so a lot of what I picked up was based on the TV shows.) When a loud, low-toned buzz caused the building to shake, Estrada remarked ‘That’s the kind of reaction I’d expect to receive here in Hammond.’ The ECW GM announced the double main-event of former ECW Champion John Morrison (mid-level round of boos) versus the current ECW Champion CM Punk (cheering dang-near reached Hardy Boy levels, as Punk is a local favorite).
Then, the Smackdown main event would be ‘the self-proclaimed Silverback, Mark Henry (low-level boos, as most fans could care less about Big Mark) and the Great Khali (loud boos all around) versus – Rey Misterio (wow, the cheers. Did Matt Hardy come out?) and the Undertaker! (Nice surprise, maybe to make up for the lack of Ric Flair – which was the main reason I bought tickets in the first place. It’s not a true Hammond event without the ‘Nature Boy’, of whom I’ve seen every time the NWA/WCW would come to town in the late-80s/early-90s.) Let the show begin.
(1) Kane pinned Finlay. Finlay spent the majority of the first 5 minutes jawing at practically every fan sitting at ringside, while Kane meandered around the ring looking clueless. (He carried his shillelagh, but nobody had the heart to tell him Purdue owns that thing after whooping up on the Irish Saturday afternoon.) The fans were riled up when the Irishman picked a fight with a huge fan that could rival Mark Henry size-wise. After a while, the match finally hit the ring with Kane getting off a quick offense of punching. They spilled outside the ring where Kane slammed Finlay into the ring apron and guard railing. Finlay reversed a Kane whip into the ring post that sent the Big Red Machine flailing into the ring steps, injuring Kane’s left knee. The match got back into the ring, where the man ‘who loves to fight’, worked over Kane’s knee the majority of the match. A lot of ‘you suck’ chants came from all corners of the hallowed building (smattered with some ‘Go Kane Go! chants), which eventually built Kane up to hit a couple of clotheslines in the corner. After a side slam, Kane scaled the ropes and hit his flying clothesline, knocking out Finlay to the delight of the fans. Hornswaggle puttered to the ring to try and attack Kane from behind, but the big guy turned around and saw the former Cruiserweight champion. Hornswaggle begged off in a way to make the ‘Nature Boy’ proud, then Kane dropped to his knees to make the fight a little fair. He still towered over McMahon’s bastard son by a head. Hornswaggle tried to make peace by putting his green derby on Kane’s head. Kane stood up and kicked Hornswaggle away, then Finlay miraculously recovered and hit Kane with his shillelagh in the bad knee. After a quick two count, Kane popped up (still wearing the derby, mind you) and got mad. Between Hornswaggle and Finlay, each would try to distract the referee, but Kane eventually hit Finlay with a chokeslam for the win. Kane teased tossing the hat to the fans, then just kept it on, limping back to the curtain. Finlay stuck around to kick Hornswaggle in the boiler. The little guy popped Finlay in the ‘lower abdominal area’ (as Gorilla Monsoon would say), and scurried off.
(2) The Miz (with the Extreme Expose) defeated Balls Mahoney. Miz came out flaunting his ladies. Balls came out. They started a fight; a lot of punching and kicking. Since the first match involved a lot of legwork by Finlay, Miz decided to work over Mahoney’s arm, showing a lot of purple spandex by the big guy. (He’s a Hammond High Wildcats fan! Then again, my wife was the one who pointed out Balls had a huge rip in his behind; almost as big as that Lions player involved in the fumble recovery yesterday. Thank goodness Balls wore something under his shorts.) Fans chanted ‘Go Balls Go!’ in a similarity to the old World Class days of cheering Von Erichs. There were reversals by Mick Foley’s twin, the girls looked disinterested. Somehow, a teddy bear made it into play and the girls were fighting over who gets it. Kelly threw it over the ring, distracting Mahoney. Miz hit a beautiful reverse neckbreaker off the ropes to claim the victory and strolled away from the ring like a conquering hero with his harem.
(3) Jimmy Wang Yang beat Kenny Dykstra (with the lovely and vivacious ‘queen of the Smackdown divas’ Victoria). Kenny came out with his squeeze. I start writing my address down on a piece of paper. The wife caught me and said I better be writing my phone number for Undertaker. Victoria didn’t like how the ring announcer introduced Kenny, so she took over and called him ‘the future Hall Of Famer’ Kenny Dykstra, to a loud chorus of boos. Jimmy Wang Yang came out to a surprisingly loud cheer (which was odd to me) and did his yee-haw roping the calf gesture. Poor Kenny didn’t have much to his offense, considering Chuck Palumbo had been beating him handily over the past couple of weeks on TV. Maybe a couple of nice kicks here and there, but Jimmy held the majority of the upper hand, save for the few times Victoria made herself useful and smacking Jimmy around. The end saw Kenny scale the turnbuckles and leap over a waiting JWY, Jimmy ran up the corner and hit a gorgeous Asai moonsault for the three-count. There’s Jimmy, roping the calves again. There’s me, unable to move and pass my address along to Vicky.
(4) Big Daddy V crushed Tommy Dreamer. This match was over once the huge man stepped into the ring. It lasted about three minutes. Tommy got a nice ovation, but he also took about every bit of offense imaginable from the 500-pounder. After a Samoan drop, BDV his the Abdullah the Butcher elbowdrop for the pin. Tommy needed help leaving the ring, but walked down the aisle fine. For those of you scoring at home, ECW Originals 0, other guys 2.
5) Divas match: Michelle McCool beat ‘Torrie’s Mystery Woman’ Krissy Vaine. (I originally didn’t get the name but after a few searches on-line, I found her – she’s from North Carolina’s indie scene.) Michelle came out to a nice reaction in sparkly silver shorts and top; Krissy came out in practically the same outfit, but neon pink instead of sparkles. She announced herself as ‘Krissy Vaine, the woman who ran Torrie Wilson from Smackdown’. This match wasn’t anything special, but Krissy had a few nice arm and shoulder racks I’ve never seen done before. Michelle’s offense mainly consisted of clotheslines, off-the-rope clotheslines and (get this) more clotheslines. There was some kind of screwed up roll-up where the ref counted three, but ordered the match to continue. Michelle got on the mat with a headlock, punched Krissy in the head a few times, then covered her again for the three, and the ‘official end’ of the match. (Methinks somebody’s going to get chewed out for that awful and confusing ending.)
(6a) MVP & Matt Hardy have a push-up challenge. MVP does his bit about carrying Matt to the tag titles and being ‘better than you’, so he challenged Matt to a push-up contest. The first man who’s chest hits the mat, loses. They go to about 22 (Matt was doing improper push-ups, MVP had plenty of practice), before MVP swiped at Matt’s arms, causing him to fall to the canvas. They argued until Deuce & Domino came to the ring, quickly starting their tag title match.
(6b) MVP & Matt Hardy defeated Deuce & Domino (w/Cherry). Pier-six brawl to start the match, until it powdered down to MVP versus Deuce. The boys from the other side of the tracks did a lot of quick tags and beat downs on the US champion while Matt complained about him not tagging when he should. At one point, Domino was lying down while MVP mocked Matt Hardy’s legdrop pose and scream. Matt got in his grill in the corner, which cause Domino to get up and pop both title holders. One of the challengers inadvertently knocked MVP into Matt, which got an ear-splitting scream from every girl under the age of 19. Not long after the ‘hot tag’, Matt was getting pummeled while MVP complained in Matt’s face from the corner. Matt Hardy chants altered with ‘MVP sucks’ jeers resulted in another accidental ‘hot tag’ to the superstar. MVP cleaned house with big boots all around, then walked to his corner and dragged Matt by the hand to his own corner to tell him ‘just watch and learn’. MVP got Deuce in a front facelock, then yelled to attempt the Twist of Fate. Domino came in and floored the baller with a clothesline. MVP was bumped into Matt for another unintentional ‘hot tag’, Matt is on fire. He bounces off of the ropes into MVP, who goes flying into the guard rail. Matt, then, hits his own Twist of Fate on Deuce for the win. Cherry led the challengers back to the locker room, MVP was out on the mat. Matt Hardy grabbed both tag titles and held them high, then saw the US title on the ring apron and picked that up as well, walking off to a resounding squeal from the girls. MVP got up and threw a fit about how Matt Hardy stole his belts.
Intermission time. Get your new Undertaker T-shirts at the souvenir stand now! (Which my wife does. I head out to find the restroom. Line was all the way down the stairs and around the corner. Guess my MVP had to wait. I walk outside to see if the Mrs. was having a smoke, couldn’t find her. They stop me at the door, asking where my ticket stub is. I told her point-blank ‘My wife has the will-call piece of paper.’ The lady lets me through. Note to Civic Center personnel: This is why we need tickets or hand-stamps, not a piece of paper I could have printed out at home! If I knew of anybody who wanted to come, I could have very well just called them up and said, ‘Hey, come on down! Just tell them your friend inside has the slip of will-call paper.’ But, I’m not like that.)
(7) Chuck Palumbo defeats ”The Masterpiece” Chris Masters. Not really a lot to report on this match because this was the absolute perfect time to finally use the restroom and check out the crowd. You could pretty much walk around ringside if you wanted to. Fans were still jam-packed by the souvenir stand. Palumbo hits the Full Throttle after about 7 minutes of typical Chuck action that you’ve seen on TV against Kenny Dykstra.
8) ECW Main Event: CM Punk beat John Morrison to retain his ECW title. The rousing return of the unique and eccentric John Morrison was amazing. He looked a little naked. Oh wait, he’s not wearing a title belt. But nothing compared to local talent CM Punk’s ovation. Fans went ape-crazy. As far as the match itself, if you’ve seen these two in action before, then you know what they’re capable of doing in the ring. Punk surprises Morrison with a sudden GTS after about 15 minutes to get the duke. Local guy makes good, there’s a shock.
Ring announcer came back to thank everyone for coming out before they got to the Main Event. He mentioned the PPV in Chicago next Sunday and hope they will come back to Hammond really soon. (Yeah, come back more than once every 7 years. At least the NWA/WCW came around like 3-4 times a year, even at their peak in 1996.)
(9) Smackdown Main Event: Rey Misterio & The Undertaker defeated Mark Henry & The Great Khali. Mark Henry gets a blah reaction but has cool theme music. Khali had a whole arena of people dropping their jaws at how big this guy is. (A quick aside: Why did Big Daddy V’s handler come out for no reason, but Khali’s interpreter didn’t show? Then again, why was there no Boogeyman, even though he was on the list of talent to appear?) He keeps raising his hands, ’cause he’s Sure. Rey’s music hit, and I swear a Hardy Boy must have walked out with him, because the fans went ballistic for the guy. The Undertaker’s music hit and the reaction was about the same as for Rey. He did the slow removal of the coat and hat, then started off against Mark Henry, who pummeled him mercilessly. Tag to Khali and more beatdowns by the big, bad heels. Taker tried to fight back with a punch, but the baddies would just kick him back down into their corner. (You Stone Cold fans would call this a ‘mudhole stompin’.) Rey tried to get the fans back into the match, which helped the Undertaker fend off Henry, then knocking Khali for a loop.Taker grabs Mark’s arm and goes to do his rope walk, but as he came down with a forearm smash, Mark Henry held on and locked some sort of reverse dragon sleeper, then a bodyslam. A minute later, Taker finally tags Rey to a huge cheer. Rey hits the West Coast Pop on Mark Henry. Rey does a lot of dropkicks to the self-proclaimed Silverback’s throat, including a few off of the top rope. Rey was never really in any sort of trouble, except when Mark dropped him hard on the mat. Khali was tagged in and gave Rey a few reminders of what happened a couple of weeks ago. Rey crawled around under Khali’s feet and tagged Undertaker. Taker punched everybody and knocked Khali into the ropes, tangling his arms. Uppercut by the Undertaker dropped Mark Henry onto the middle rope. Rey ran in and hit a 6-1-9 on Mark Henry, flooring the big guy. Mark Henry gets up to meet the classic Undertaker chokeslam, while Rey ran over and hit the entangled Khali from behind with a 6-1-9 for him, knocking him out of the ropes and onto the mat face down. Undertaker tags Rey, who perched himself onto the top turnbuckle and hit a classic Jimmy Snuka flying body splash for the pinfall and the win. The heels quickly made themselves scarce while the good guys celebrated. Rey perched himself on every corner, thanking the fans and doing the sign of the cross. Undertaker met him mid-ring and shook his hand before Rey went out to a huge cheer. Undertaker dropped to one knee and celebrated – like only he can – before walking out to the aisle. He stopped and stood still for a few moments, then pumped his ‘American Bad Ass’ fist in the air, which sent the fans home happy.
Best Match: I’ll go with the two Main Events. Worst Match: I’ll pin onthe horrible Divas ending, but Chuck Palumbo vs. Chris Masters wasn’tanything special. I’ll give BDV vs. Dreamer a pass, because Dreamertook a beating.
If I had to choose, I would say Rey Misterio got the loudest andbiggest positive ovation, followed in order by Matt Hardy, CM Punk andthe Undertaker. As far as the biggest heel reaction, I think Khali andFinlay were neck-and-neck. MVP got a mixed reaction at the end, but wasabout 70/30 against him in the beginning, mainly due to all the MattHardy fans.
The good: The Undertaker was not scheduled to appear, so seeing him live was a very pleasant surprise. The boys put on a heck of a show. I like not having to fight US 30 to get to Valparaiso’s Athletic Center. If you get the chance to see a show in Hammond, please do. Trust me, there is not a bad seat in the place, and we were among the worst. The guys still seemed larger than life from the $20 corner balcony.
The not-so-good: They need to print tickets for everybody next time, that was my main complaint. If I needed a ticket to get back in, I would have been so screwed. I heard they couldn’t sell hot dogs because they were still cold, but I don’t go to events to eat. The ‘clear carbonated drink that’s sold by Pepsi’ I got from Mike & Doug was not very cold.