10 YRS AGO – WWE in Louisville, Ky. (3-1-08): Orton vs. Hardy, Hardcore Holly & Cody vs. Santino & Carlito, Mickie & Maria vs. Beth & Jillian

Beth Phoenix (art credit Grant Gould (c) PWTorch)


The following report was published on PWTorch.com ten years ago this weekend…

MARCH 1, 2008

I attended last night’s WWE Raw show in Louisville, Ky., at Broadbent Arena. It was sold out, according to event staff. For those who have never attended a house show before (and I hadn’t, prior to last night), it’s much different than a television taping. The entire visible crew consists of one guy on a sound and lighting board, a spotlight guy, someone running a stationary video camera, the referee, and some medical personnel stashed back in the corner. The wrestlers have their entrance music (cranked to the maximum volume, I might add), but there are no fancy lights, videos, or even a stage – they drape off a concourse entrance in black and the wrestlers just stride right out. It’s very old-school and refreshing, in a way, to see the set dressing stripped down and get back to the roots of what the show is about.

The crowd was rambunctious and greeted William Regal with a resounding chorus of boos when he came out to open up the proceedings. He announced a divas tag match, a Chris Jericho/Mr. Kennedy bout, and the main event of Randy Orton defending the WWE title against Jeff Hardy. The crowd was strong all night, but then again it’s been a long time since a WWE live event has been through the area.

I’m going from memory, but I’m pretty sure these are in order:

(1) Super Crazy & D.H. Smith defeated Charlie Haas & one-half of the Lance Cade/Trevor Murdoch tag team. I’m not sure who was tagging with Charlie Haas – I think it was Lance Cade, but the guy had sideburns down to his armpits and I thought that was Trevor. Anyway, Super Crazy actually got a pretty good pop from the crowd. D.H. Smith looked great physically and not as big as he came off on TV during the brief time he was on air before the medications story broke. Nothing special here, although Charlie Haas disappeared under the ring for a while and came back out in a mask and a completely new outfit. It confused the people around me as most of us thought it was a different guy, until Smith pulled his mask off and beat the crap out of him.

(2) Paul Buchill (w/Katie Lea) defeated “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. Can you believe Hacksaw is still wrestling? I remember watching him on TV as a kid. He got a nice ovation. No one cared much about Burchill or Katie Lea until she got the microphone and declared the British’s genetic superiority over Americans. Burchill didn’t have much trouble here, as you can image. For some reason he reminds me of Val Venis from a distance. Katie Lea is mastering the art of walking around the ring in high heels.

(3) Snitsky defeated Brian Kendrick. Poor Brian Kendrick. Nobody recognized his music, no ovation from the crowd, and he got to wrestle Snitsky, who actually doesn’t look that ugly from a distance. Not much to this match, as Snitsky shut down Kendrick’s every attempt at a high-octane offense and he spent most of the time seizing on the mat. The guy can sell, definitely, but he didn’t have much opportunity to do anything else. Nice brush your teeth chant for Snitsky, who apparently has two facial expressions – menacing heel and slack-jawed yokel.

(4) Hardcore Holly & Cody Rhodes defeated Santino Marella & Carlito to retain the WWE Tag Team Championships. Carlito and Santino both entered to the latter’s music. Santino is quite a ham, and he spent quite a bit of time running down Kentucky in his pre-match promo. Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes got a great pop, and the match was a lot of fun. Holly and Rhodes in particular looked good in the ring.

After a brief intermission, the action continued with…

(5) Mickie James & Maria defeated Beth Phoenix & Jillian. Third-biggest pop of the night (and biggest to this point) went to Beth Phoenix’s entrance music, and the crowd on the floor almost swarmed to get closer to the ring. Jillian offered up a few measures of Oops! I Did It Again before Mickie James interrupted, and she was followed by Maria in a pair of tights so low-rise they were about an inch away from sliding completely off her ass. This match was actually pretty good, although a lot of it might have been the novelty of seeing the divas live and the fact that it was not so much wrestling as softcore porn (Maria’s bronco buster, anyone?). She played the face in peril and was rescued by Mickie James. Phoenix was just getting the upper hand when Candice Michelle rushed in for the distraction, leading to a rollup by the faces. Candice was preceded by her music, which was a good thing as I don’t think the crowd would have recognized her otherwise. She looked ring-ready but stayed on the apron.

(6) Chris Jericho defeated Mr. Kennedy. Great ovations for both. Mr. Kennedy did his full in-ring schtick and has terrific presence. After a solid match, Jericho locked in the Walls and Kennedy tapped. Kennedy exited pretty quickly, while Jericho took time to greet all of the fans at ringside, take pictures and sign autographs.

(7) Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy to retain the WWE Championship. The reaction to Hardy was just spectacular, and the crowd rushed the barricades in an attempt to get closer to him. He took his time coming to the ring and greeted many of the fans. Orton got a great reaction, too, and I discovered a previously unknown demographic for him when the nine-year-old girl next to me squealed, Randy Orton! I’m going to pee my pants! Orton and Hardy have a great chemistry and each had an opportunity to hit his signature moves. They brawled into the crowd at one point, which was fun, and they did the spot where Hardy gets drop-kicked off the ring apron to the floor in mid-leap, which looks very cool live. Hardy got thrown around a lot in this match, as Orton tossed him outside the ring again later and he crashed into the ring barricade, sending them back a good two feet into the first row. They had a great, rapid-fire finishing sequence that bounced back and forth between teased finishers from them both before Orton got the pin off an RKO. Hardy recovered quickly afterwards and nailed the Swanton, sending the crowd home happy. He also spent at least ten minutes with the fans afterwards, and was still in the arena taking pictures when the house lights came up.

Fun show, and I look forward to seeing them in Louisville again.

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS TEN YEARS AGO FLASHBACK: 10 YRS AGO – WWE in Los Angeles, Calif. (2-16-08): Michaels & Triple H in main event against team you’d never guess, plus Jericho, Cody, Hardy, Flair, Mickie, Orton, Snitsky

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