Two nights ago, I got to see Raw in action on their 2007 Survivor Series tour in Brisbane.
And let me just say it was ABSOFUCKENLUTELY FANFUCKENTASTIC!!! Ahem. That is to say, it was a wonderfully jolly evening and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Actually, I think the first way says it much better!
I'd been hanging out for this for months and with each passing month I was looking forward to it more. First, Trips was back from injury, so I could hope he'd make it back downunder. The HBK came back, lookin' sexy as hell in the beard and cowboy hat . . . more drool-related problems!
And Cena's out with an injury - apologies to the Cena fans, but I was delighted with that bit of news!
And Raw started to grow on me again. London and Kendrick are frickin' brilliant, and I'm enjoying Cade and Murdoch too - they beat the hell outta Deuce and Domino in terms of tag team heels, in my opinion.
Jeffy is always brilliant, and HBK and Trips are just at the top of their game right now. Even Orton is growing on me . . . kinda.
Then there's Beth Phoenix - man, if there was ever a case of art imitating life or vice versa, she is how I always pictured Dacey, my OC in the fic-in-progress, "It's not over". Possibly not quite the same heel performance, but yeah - she rocks!
I watched the beginning of Monday night Raw (which is only shown here on Wednesday - we get a delayed telecast) the day before the live show, and I was delighted and amused no end by the one night only DX reunion. It's so damn obvious how close Trips and Shawn are in real life, and just how much fun they have at work.
And when Shawn said to Trips something about the writing, and Trips cracks back with, "No one writes this stuff - they're all on strike!" I almost fell off my exercise bike laughing. Then he gave that damn grin and said, "But we aren't!" Man, talk about the best fuckin' job in the world!
So I was pretty pumped going into the show. The merchandise was a bit light on, but seemed to be doing a brisk trade when we went into the arena. Half an hour before the show, that had ballooned to monster trade.
I did succumb, buying myself a set of temporary tattoos. I plan to wear one to work on Tuesday morning, just to give everyone a laugh.
Little side note here: at work, they're utterly stunned by how someone like me (former mid-level executive, contracts expert, administrative dynamo) can possibly be a wrestling fan. Moreso, how I can discuss the business in a rational manner - when Chris Benoit died, the topic went round the office because they knew I was a fan.
We discussed what had happened after Eddie Guerrero died - how Vince had announced that they were going to introduce an independent drug testing program and offer their people all the support they needed to get over any drug issues that came up. I was able to speak knowledgeably about how hard it must have been for WWE HR to have to scramble to get that policy and procedures in place to back up what Vince pretty clearly wanted.
And on a tangent from that, how sad that the British Bulldog's son got caught by that drug testing program barely two weeks after debuting on Raw.
But my original tangent was this: Fox8, the cable channel that carries the wrestling here, has the greatest series of ads running at the moment, featuring Kamahl. Now, for the non-Aussies among you, and for the Aussies who are youngsters, Kamahl was and still is a family variety entertainer from the 70s. A lovely man of Indian/Sri Lankan heritage, with a beautifully modulated speaking and singing voice.
The tag line of the ads is "WWE fans - they're everywhere", and the ads are Kamahl talking about the WWE superstars just like a fan will. Like saying, "and if Melina gets tired of that pretty boy John Nitro, she knows where to find me", complete with big cheesy grin. Man I love those ads!
So anyway, yeah, had great seats for the show - grandstand, just back behind the rows of floor seating. We were close enough to see facial expressions in the ring clearly, and were high enough up that folks in the floor seating standing up and rushing the crowd barriers posed no problems for our view.
The pyros that started the show were HUGE, and the smoke really lingers in the Entertainment Centre!
The first entertainer was William Regal, who is a damn fine looking man in a suit and tie. He announced that they would again run the Brisbane Cup, which was a trophy he carried into the ring, and that they'd hold a 15 man Battle Royale to determine the winner, who would also go on to wrestle Randy Orton for the championship later in the night.
Well they had almost everyone in there for the Battle Royale, including Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who provided some great comic relief. And Jeffy and Trips as well - who provided me with the first of my two stand out moments of the night.
Jeffy was sitting on the top of the turnbuckle that was back left as I looked at the ring, and Trips came over to talk to him, obviously setting up something for the match, and kinda nodded and patted Jeffy's hip as he walked away. It was just one of those moments when you think, hey, these guys really are mates, and it was nice to see.
I have to say, Battle Royales and Royal Rumbles are not my favourite matches, because I never know who to watch! This one was kinda fun though, and it came down to Jeffy, Trips, Umaga and Mr Kennedy (I think - not real sure about who the fourth guy was). Trips took out Umaga, who then hauled him out of the ring and they battled back up the ramp, and Jeffy defeated whoever it was to win the Brisbane Cup. Made me happy to know he'd be back for a singles match later too!
He's absolutely gorgeous in person - and that body . . . -whimpers-
They next had a three way Divas match, and I groaned to myself. It was Jillian, with the worst looking hair extensions in creation, Mickie James, who got a huge crowd reaction, and my gal Beth Phoenix.
I was prepared for the worst but the match wasn't that bad. Jillian can't wrestle for shit - she's there for the T&A and the compulsory hair pulling, but Mickie's got a small amount of talent and could hold her own against Beth. Beth on the other hand is fucking AMAZING - she pulled out a vertical suplex on Mickie and seemed to hold it forever before giving her the slam. Perhaps I won't be fast forwarding through all the Divas matches from now on.
The rest of the matches - let me think. Brian Kendrick versus Shelton Benjamin was cool - lots of great floor work and serious wrestling, as well as some of Brian's great quick arm drag throwovers. Brian's a real cutie, too!
Mr Kennedy versus Cody Rhodes was up next, and that was another solid match, though hardly awe-inspiring. Cody's got the goods, but whether he's really got what it takes in terms of promos and personality to be a main eventer, who knows? Kennedy got heat but that's mostly cos us Aussies can't stand big-noters -snickers-
Intermission, and then there was a tag team match with the Highlanders against Cade and Murdoch, who had some great crowd heat against them. The Highlanders had the crowd firmly in their corner, and it was cool to read on the WWE blog for the tour how the Superstars were inspired to lead the crowd in Sydney on the second night of the tour in a rowdy version of "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!" . . . because we taught them that during the Highlanders match the night before!!
Randy Orton versus Jeff Hardy was next, for the championship belt - you didn't have to be Einstein to work out that Jeff wasn't gonna walk away with it, unless he dropped it again the following night. But Jeff got another huge pop - the crowd adored him. He actually got to use his entrance music this time - no one in the Battle Royale did earlier in the night.
Orton got a huge crowd reaction too, and he played it just right. Kid's got his heel motivation down pat - must have been teaming up with Naitch and Trips in Evolution that taught him that! Another of those much love moments came as Orton was coming to the ring - Jeffy took a fan sign that said "Jeff Hardy WWE Champion" and was using it to taunt him.
That was a brilliant match which could only have been improved by seeing Jeffy do a Swanton Bomb - which some dizzy broad was yelling for in the beginning of the match! Don't she know that's a finisher? Jeffy again got a huge pop just for leaving the arena!
The last match on the card was Trips versus Umaga in a no DQ match, which William Regal announced at the last minute. Hands down, biggest pop of the night was for Trips - we nearly raised the damn roof!
He played the crowd like such a pro, and I tell you, he is just in fantastic physical shape.
Umaga, well hey, I gotta give the guy credit for improving outta sight since starting as part of Bisch's Three Minute Warning. But he and Trips put on a good match, which featured a steel garbage can and a microphone - which made such a great "bonk" sound every time Trips hit Umaga's head with it.
The crowd went wild when Trips got a chair, and ended up face planting Umaga into it, but we went utterly berserk when Trips went looking for - and found! - a sledgehammer!
Trips took the match with a Pedigree, and the roof damn near came off again. And then he had a little fun, playing the crowd off one another - he was doing the Hulk Hogan "I can't hear you" thing, to get us to scream louder, and then he was pointing from one side to the next to see who was loudest.
Hey, I got suckered in - I was laughing and cheering on cue with the rest of them!
When he left the ring, I have another one of those moments - he went right around the crowd barricade, shaking and touching every hand extended to him, smiling the whole time. He looked so good, and it was so obviously not a chore to him - he knew that every one of those people had paid serious money to get that close to the ring, and he was paying them back with a little extra.
And when I say he went right around the crowd barricade, I mean right around it. Not just the ring and the entrance ramp, but along the barriers in front of the stage, even up to the first row of raised seating. He made damn sure that wherever he could get to, he went.
I was just so stoked afterwards. And it was fun to listen to conversations around us as we walked back to the train station, where we faced a long wait because in true public servant fashion, knowing a big event was on at the Entertainment Centre, the railway people cancelled the first train back to the city after it finished.
But again we could listen to folks talk about the evening, and reminisce. Unfortunately, we got into a discussion with two guys who knew fuck all about the business, and were dumb enough to believe that the personas were the real people. Oi, listening to them babble on about how Triple H and Shawn had a list of people who were going to pay for touching Ric Flair, and how they forced Candace Michelle to clean up her act . . . sheeeeesh! I felt like I'd fallen into FF.net for real!
This is the official WWE tour blog - Days 1 and 2 were in my town (or in the case of Day 1 at least nearby). And you should check out the photos - the link is at the bottom of the page. The pics of the guys at Australia Zoo are great - even Mr Kennedy being kissed by a kangaroo! But for me, the two pics of Trips at the crowd barrier in Brisbane really are the best possible memories for me.