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See also: Photo Series #12: WWE visits Halifax

WWE SmackDown! for 05/08/2003
(Taped 05/06/2003 in Halifax NS at the Halifax Metro Centre)

[Sorry this is late, guys - to accommodate my friend's guerrilla filmmaking schedule, I had to take my stepfather out for groceries a day earlier than usual.]

Results: Eddie Guerrero def. Matt Hardy via pinfall, Brian Kendrick def. Jamie Noble via pinfall, Torrie Wilson def. Dawn Marie via pinfall, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas def. Tajiri and Rikishi via pinfall, Rhyno def. John Cena via pinfall, Big Show def. Chris Benoit via pinfall.

Memorable: Tajiri can really get it done in the ring. ... That Big Show is such a meanie! I get madder and madder at him every week! Thank you WWE, for putting my $60 lower bowl seat (9 L 9) towards not letting me forget Backlash!

The Good: The wrestling action was good enough, and I guess that's what we're all here for. Tajiri, Cena, Eddie Guerrero, Team Angle, and even Rikishi (Rikishi!!) delivered in the ring. Halifax sets the record for most "You screwed Bret!" chants in a single night. ... Piper, where are you?

The Bad: It was kind of a sleepy night - I mean, it wasn't terrible, but we've seen better. Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan and Mr. America did a little too much grandstanding. There wasn't enough genuine excitement in the air - the Halifax crowd was burnt-out from the live RAW the night before the taping. ... Kurt, where are you? Rey, where are you? (That absence was certainly preventable.)

The Ugly (besides Sable): Didn't like the Mysterio boogie board slam from Backlash? Didn't like the replay last week? Well, you'll *really* dig the EXTENDED replay this week! Right?


For a change of pace, I decided to tape / archive the WSBK (UPN 38, Boston) telecast since it's full-screen and the ads are more exciting. Also, I saw this show in person, so I can attest that the black curtains were out in full force - the entire "behind camera" side of the upper bowl was cordoned off. For RAW, this section was full of screaming people with signs. Anyway, we go to air with a review of last week's Mr. America shenanigans. After the intro video, Mr. McMahon comes out to a chorus of boos. It's amazing how they popped for him last night when he came out during a commercial break in this very same arena to shill for SmackDown! Vince McMahon comes into the ring and announces that he'll present Hulk Hogan. "Those of you who think I've had a change of heart - Stop with the Hogan chant already, kid - Those of you who think I've had a change of heart about Hogan..." ("Hogan! Hogan! Hogan! Hogan! Hogan!") "Are you done? You finished? You're through?" Vince tells us that he hasn't changed with regards to Hogan - he's paying Hogan to stay at home and rot. Vince announces Hogan via satellite from his home in Tampa, FL. So that's why they ordered a satellite feed for a taping. "Booo!" goes the crowd, who justifiably have a complex where they feel that nobody wants to make the trip up to Halifax. Vince says that since Hogan won't be there, Mr. America won't be. Vince verbally reviews last week's events, and says the whole world knows that Mr. America is really Hulk Hogan. "Why even, even you Canadians-" Vince begins as the "Asshole!" chant heats up, "... even you Canadians, some of whom I've been told are mentally challenged; even you know damn well that Mr. America really is Hulk Hogan. You might ask yourself, 'How, Mr. McMahon?' - Shut up and listen!" Vince says people might ask him how he got into this mess. "You screwed Bret!" catches on like sex at college. Vince smiles and says, "Yes, I did!" and that he'll screw all of us, given the opportunity. "So how was Hogan signed to a contract to begin with?" He summons Stephanie to answer this question. Stephanie walks out to a mild pop (she got a bigger pop during a commercial break at RAW, also coming out to hawk SmackDown! tickets). Vince tells the monkeys in the truck to cut her music. "I'm not gonna let the music play and watch you prance out here in front of all these people." Vince asks Stephanie why she signed Mr. America to a contract. She says she did it for the fans; she wanted him, "the biggest superstar on the horizon," and she got him. "Congratulations," Vince reproaches her, "because I didn't want Mr. America. You didn't consult with me..." Vince demands to hear the terms and conditions. Stephanie says he knows the conditions. Vince forces her to spill them anyway, for the benefit of the millions of new fans that join SmackDown! on UPN every week. (Guys, there's no more casual fans, so leave the recaps to us professionals (j/k), okay? When wrestling gets cool again, we'll start to care enough about things like Moppy 2 Hotty going through the wood chipper to sit comfortably through replays over and over and over and over and over and over again. And again on Heat before the PPV.) Stephanie says that she made it an 'immunity' contract to entice him not to go to Eric Bischoff. I love it how they remember the brand extension only when it suits them, and it's always in the most boring angles. Vince asks Stephanie how he can get out if this contract. (How *he* can get out of this contract? Isn't this supposed to be Stephanie's show?) Stephanie says that the only way is to prove that Mr. America is Hulk Hogan - that and only that will void the contract. Vince dismisses Stephanie and says that she's thinking about how Vince can break the contract. "Asshole!" picks up again and Vince says that he considers it a compliment, coming from us Canadians. (??) Hogan appears via satellite from Tampa FL. Vince asks how Mr. America and Hogan are these days. Cheers and "Hogan Hogan Hogan" erupt. Vince wants to know why Hogan risked his financial security by showing up on SmackDown! as Mr. America. Hogan doesn't know what he's talking about. He says he doesn't enjoy sitting at home, he wants to perform. He feels like he has "a big 'ol dose of leprosy." He says he enjoyed watching Mr. America kick Vince's ass, dude. Hogan denies that this is a charade when asked. This segment goes a little too long, but it gets good when Hogan says that he'd like to meet Mr. America, shake his hand, tag with him, etc.. Hogan says that they look similar, but that Hogan's pythons are bigger, and that Hogan's better looking, brother. Vince says that since he's "3000 miles away," here's an idea - why don't we see Mr. America here tonight? Vince asks if he's afraid Mr. America wouldn't be welcomed here in Canada (no, only Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner are not welcome here in Canada), or if it's because Mr. America and Hulk Hogan are one and the same. Hogan: "Well, to quote one great American, George Washington, 'I cannot tell a lie, brother.' There is a good chance that Mr. America just might show up there tonight, dude." (this looks hilarious played multiple times on videotape - Hogan can still be an engaging character when used properly) Vince doubts that Mr. America will make it, and says that George Washington was an old fool and that Hogan is a fool for keeping up this charade. He says that if Mr. America dares show up, he will expose him to be Hogan. "What'cha gonna do when Vincent Kennedy McMahon rips the Red, White, and Blue off of you and destroys you?" Okay, enough grandstanding already. I mean, I could hardly keep my eyes open through the Velocity taping.

During the break, WSBK shows a Stacker 2 commercial featuring the Big Show. It's a funny ad, but what's funnier is that the Big Show has a belly, yet he's promoting a "fat-burning" product. Someone next to me in the arena made this remark during the "Burn of the Night" clip later on. We also get a royally stupid ad from the Office of National Drug Control Policy / Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Okay, so, "In a roadside study, one in three drivers who were tested for drugs, tested positive for marijuana." That doesn't say that marijuana was a direct factor in the accidents, and it certainly doesn't says that marijuana is involved in one of three accidents, but that's the impression they're trying to leave with people. The people they were testing for drugs were probably into alcohol / heroin, anyway. Anyone trained in scientific reasoning must laugh cynically at ads like this. Anyway, it's not like I particularly enjoy being driven around by stoned people ("Whoa, where'd that come from?!"), and I'm not going to say anything about drugs one way or the other - my point here is that WWE needs to find better sponsors to fill up their commercial time. This is as bad as those stupid ads from the tobacco companies telling kids not to smoke. T.r.u.t.h. is also funded by tobacco companies. Whatever happened to nice, wholesome, non-subversive ads for cars and condoms? I want these ads off TV, off WWE.COM, and I want WWE to tell the world that they're through cow-towing to Right Wing Special Interest Groups and tobacco companies who want to tell us that tobacco is whacko - if you're a teen. But they certainly won't listen to my complaints about tobacco companies talking about tobacco - these are the same people that make Confidential to report on their own product (which, thankfully, no one actually watches).

Cole and Tazz come back to promote the main event of Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit vs. Big Show and A-Train. A lackey approaches Vince backstage and says that Mr. America is in the building. Vince thinks he's playing a trick on him, and he dismisses the lackey with a boot in the rear.

We're twenty minutes in, so that means it's almost time for our first match. Ha-ha. Los Guerreros come out to a good pop. They've still got the medals. Eddie will be wrestling tonight. Replay of belt return and medal theft from last week. Matt and Mattitude followers come out to a decent pop. Today's Mattitude facts: Matt hates waking up before noon. Matt eats slowly to savor his food. Cole talks about Matt's diet to stay cruiserweight is assisted by the great sushi up here, and Tazz explains how eating slowly also helps keep the weight off. Man, if Creative would make every angle this legit...

Matt Hardy vs. Eddie Guerrero: "Eddie!" chants erupt early as Matt and Eddie connect and tumble. Matt and Edie stand off - Eddie gets the Hammerlock, Matt tries to trade holds. Matt lays into Eddie in the corner, Eddie gets the comeback (forearm shiver), goes for a pin, but Matt kicks out. Matt lays into Eddie in the other corner, Eddie comes back and tosses Shannon off the ropes; Matt gets the Side Effect and really starts digging in. Matt is bleeding from the lip while he has Eddie in a surfboard-like manoeuvre. "Eddie!" chant up again. Eddie gets out of the hold and hangs on top of Matt in a sleeper hold but Matt gets out, chokes him on the ropes, and plants him to get a "twooooo." Matt takes Eddie for a suplex and Eddie kicks out. Crash holds up the Hardy book outside the ring. Matt picks up Eddie for a Full Body Slam, and he climbs up the ropes; but Eddie finds him and gets him off the top rope with the leg scissors. He lays some clotheslines and blows on Matt. Eddie takes Matt for three vertical suplexes (VERY clean), then goes for the Frog Splash (Crisp Version). Cole says that Halifax is getting behind Eddie Guerrero. Tazz says that he thinks we're freaky, silly, and nutty. Somehow I don't think that's a worked sentiment.) Anyway, we're eating this up. I take a picture. Eddie misses the Splash. Matt goes for the pin (Oklahoma Roll), but Eddie kicks out. Matt goes for the Twist of Fate, but Eddie gets out. Matt gets the leg drop, and covers, but Eddie just kicks out. Matt removes his shirt (seemingly, his answer to Kurt's practice of taking down the straps) and the girls scream. Matt goes for a suplex, but Eddie fends him off and takes him for an underarm spin into a roll, and Eddie gets the win. Nice match; good antidote for Vince / Ho- I mean, Mr. America.

Matt attacks Eddie while Team Angle jump Chavo at ringside and grab the medals. Team Angle leaves to a chorus of "You suck!" We see the FBI and Big Show back stage. A few fatboy techs walk by (don't these idiots know that they're interfering with live TV? j/k), then two guys go through the shot headed to the right, carrying a large screen. Mr. America walks towards the left behind it. No one in the arena really noticed this. (In fact, I think the portion of this shot showing Mr. America was kept from the arena audience - there was a very abrupt cut in the middle of it, just as the screen appeared.)

After the break, Kendrick comes down to the ring and gets on the mic. He talks about his "rap-off" with Cena last week. "And you know what he did? He kicked my butt." Mild cheers. He gets the "Cena Sucks" chant going and out come Jamie Noble and Nidia. If you think these two are good on television, you simply must see them live - they impressed the heck out of me, and Jamie Noble was involved in the best Velocity match as well.

Jamie Noble vs. Brian "I refuse to call him Spanky" Kendrick: "Trailer trash!" chant gets going early. Noble and Kendrick trade holds. Some interesting moves here - Kendrick, while being held upside down, gets a kick to Noble's midsection that sends him reeling. Kendrick puts Noble face first into the second turnbuckle. Crowd starts chanting "We want bubbles!" Okay, I was THERE, I participated in this chant (I participate in every chant - you do not want to sit next to me in a WWE arena), and I didn't get it, either. Kendrick goes for a top-rope move, but Noble gets out of it. Nidia attacks Kendrick on the outside. (Forget Maven, forget Jackie, forget Linda - it's all about Nidia!) Noble puts Kendrick back in the ring. Cena is watching backstage. Noble lays it on Kendrick; suplexes, covers twice, two kick outs. Noble has Kendrick in a hold, and the crowd starts clapping and thumping. Kendrick comes up. Kendrick goes for the Crucifix, but Noble counters into a half-crab. Nidia tells Kendrick to tap in a sweet way, but Kendrick turns himself out enough to kick Noble back to the ropes. On the ricochet, Kendrick gets the roll-up but Noble kicks out. Noble comes back and clotheslines Kendrick. Kendrick's down, Noble beats him around some more; "Trailer Ho!" chant takes off. Kendrick's offence is shut down, but he comes back with two leg shots, the second a single-leg drop-kick. Noble starts to get off a suplex, but Kendrick lands on his feet. Kendrick gets a drop kick but Noble kicks out. (By the way, Cole and Tazz are identifying Kendrick as "Spanky." No, I'm not going to call him "Spanky," but I imagine I'll be expected to before long.) Noble takes Kendrick for a wicked slam and gets the cover but Kendrick gets the shoulder up for the "twoooooo." Noble puts Kendrick on the top rope, and goes for the Superplex, but Kendrick tosses him and goes for the Moonsault - Noble gets out of the way, so Kendrick lands on his feet. Kendrick gets the Sliced Bread Number Two and the pinfall.

Cena is mildly incredulous backstage. Mr. America steps up and takes a look as well. Tazz and Cole have been wondering if this is really a Mr. America impostor (we haven't seen his face yet). Anyway, again, no one in the arena notices this. I think they cut off the shot just before Mr. America appears in it - just as the FBI shot was cut off abruptly as soon as the screen appeared. It seems like they may have been deliberately keeping things from us, which really isn't cool.

They try to sell WWE Divas Desert Heat to people without girlfriends. <sob> They announce tonight's main event, then they replay the Stupidest Spot in Wrestling History (well, I've only been watching since Unforgiven 2001, but it looked pretty bad to me). The best part of Rey Mysterio vs. Big Show at Backlash was Tazz yelling "1857!" We see the EMTs come out... blah blah blah... guys, we've been over all this before! You really really want us to be outraged, don't you? Well, I just think this spot and this whole angle is f*****g stupid, and I don't want to see anything about it - no replays, no promos, no matches related to it - ever freaking again. Stop it stop it stop it! The part I hate the *most* about this angle is how they are saying Rey has nerve damage, blah blah blah - This is a waste! Why do they have to keep him off television to put over The Big Slow? This show would have been great it Rey was in it! Josh Matthews comes up to Brock. This is where Brock should have grabbed JM by the throat, knocked him on the floor, and then done his ringside dance on top of him; this would have gotten a HUGE (positive) reaction! His replacement: Funaki - the new EXCLUSIVE backstage announcer! JM becomes Sable's s*x slave, and Sable uses him to make Torrie envious. Hmm... probably not. Anyway, Lesnar makes his match with BS at Judgement Day a stretcher match. Wow, way to legitimize the WWE Championship, guys!

Funaki approaches Vince at the coffee maker. Funaki says that Mr. America is headed to the ring right now. Vince says he's mistaken, it's an impostor, and directs Funaki to make him a cup of coffee. "Now, stirree; stirree coffee..." Man, that's just condescending. Vince says he's going to go watch "Mr. America's" appearance on television, and then he says, "Not bad for Canadian coffee." That was funny, but what's funnier is that during the commercial break (not that I can decipher why they should have repeated and long commercial breaks for a TAPED show, but anyway), some nutbar raised a hand-drawn sign saying "You've always got time for Tim Horton's," with an authentic logo. This got a good pop. Then he turned the sign around to say, "Help is close to Home," (again with a carefully-drawn logo) and we all booed him. I shouted, "You Sold Out!" Later in the break, the arena staff confiscated the sign, to a chorus of boos.

We come back from this silly break to... review 2002? 2002 was an AWFUL year! Let's see, Hogan wins Undisputed Championship, most of the PPVs b**w chunks, WWE swerves Billy and Chuck who were getting them more mainstream publicity than they've had in years, Brand Extension bombs; oh, and don't forget Necrophilia - I'll pass, thanks. I mean, there were lots of good things happening in 2002, but most of the high profile stuff kind of stunk. I wonder where they get people to buy this sort of merchandise. Anyway, out comes Mr. America. The monkeys in the truck screw with the camera angles - all the shots of Mr. America are from far off, the idea being to artificially create tension about whether or not this is Hogan, even though the people in the arena are without a doubt. LAME! Hogan has us on our feet for a while, they actually cut out most of the cheering, which is okay, I guess. We were going on long after the music was up, but on tape, they cut out parts of where we were just cheering Hogan. The cuts are really easy to see near the end. Anyway, they show us the one last hurrah where he gives the mic back and teases to do a second pose-off. "Well let me tell you something. Brothers!" Vince, watching telly with Stephanie, finally sees that the WWE camera monkeys found the zoom feature on their Mini DV camcorders and identified Mr. America with a close-up. (As if "Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan," wasn't enough evidence.) Vince storms off in a huff. Mr. America: "Well let me tell you something, brothers! I came here to the Great White North to make a simple point. Like I said last week, dudes, I am not Hulk Hogan!" ("Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan Hogan") See the problem with this angle? Now if they took it a little less seriously, it would be funnier. Or, uh, do whatever Dan Lovranski says - he can probably book better than I can. Or ask Paul Heyman.

"A long time ago, I was a 165-pound accountant working in Hoboken New Jersey when I decided to buy WrestleMania. That's when I saw him: Hulk Hogan. There was just something about Hulk Hogan. Maybe it was the way he battled and would never quit. Maybe it was the way, at WrestleMania, in the Toronto SkyDome, all the Hulkamaniacs were just going crazy! And after I saw WrestleMania, I decided to quit my day job, and I started training, I started saying my prayers, and I started eating my vitamins, and I became Mr. America! And I know right now, Hulk Hogan is at home watching, and I've got one thing to say to you Hulk Hogan, and that's, 'Thank you, Brother!'" Actually, this was pretty funny. It was like he was doing an infomercial. Vince comes in (sigh, again).

The "You screwed Bret!" chant takes off. I wonder if it's directed at Vince or Hogan. I could transcribe the dialogue, but you can just use your imagination. blah blah blah... "... rip the mask right off your face!" "Asshole!" takes off for a bit. Vince summons Stephanie, who comes out to no music, but a decent pop. He's going to prove that this man is Hogan. He whispers something in Stephanie's ear as she steps into the ring. "Asshole!" takes off again. There's a stand off, and Vince is mumbling something. He suddenly shouts, "Steph! No, Steph!" and he tosses his jacket in Mr. America's face and gets the low blow. He gets Mr. America in a neck hold and starts trying to pull off the mask. ("Hogan Hogan Hogan") Mr. America knocks off Vince, causing Vince to collide with Stephanie. Vince turns around and looks to Stephanie while, in the words of Tazz: "Mr. America is Americaning up!" Crowd is into the "Youuu!" and comeback haymakers, which are pretty good. With Vince laid out, Mr. America rescues Stephanie and carries her off like the hero he is. After Mr. America's gone, Vince rises and "You screwed Bret!" takes off again. We don't really mean anything by it - it's just something fun to yell when we're bored. Someone even brought a "Bret Screwed Bret" sign to the show.

Backstage, Vince comes in to Stephanie's office and doesn't really care that she's hurt. He tells the techie to go find Hogan, who has reportedly left the Metro Centre. Vince notices Stephanie's cheek blemish (I guess it's too much to ask for her to blade), and asks her what Hogan did to her. Stephanie: "He didn't hurt me, Dad. You did." Vince tells her not to try and put the blame on him - it's all Hogan's fault. I'm waiting for this to turn into a Stephanie / Vince feud.

Sable comes out and sits at ringside. Torrie comes out. They air footage from last week's Divas tag match that had pleasantly wafted its way out of my brain. Dawn Marie comes out.

Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie: This is a very short match, but like the 88¢ hamburger and fry plates at Maxwell's Plum (when you buy a drink), I'm not complaining. Torrie is kind of distracted by Sable sitting at ringside, and Dawn pushes her down right away. Torrie slaps Dawn, then Dawn gets the tackle on a ricochet. They start rolling around. The ref (Mike Sparks) pulls up Torrie, getting his hands well around and under Torrie's breasts (there was some serious breast migration in this spot - and I'm sure lots of fanboys will be watching this segment to see if they can spot a nipple. Um, <cough> I didn't see anything). Note to Gail Kim: Ask them if they'll put you on RAW. Dawn gets up and attacks Torrie. Dawn lifts Torrie in the air and goes to the centre of the ring to do something (The F-3?), but Torrie scoots her over and gets the roll up and pinfall.

Sable tells Torrie that it must have felt great to break her losing streak. She says she held the Sable Invitational to see which Diva would match up against her physically - she says Torrie lost because she was bloated. She fixes herself against Torrie in a bikini contest. "THE playboy centrefold against A playboy centrefold." "Do you really want to find out if your body is as hard, voluptuous, and - Oh! so Sablelicious as mine?" (Oh, shut up.) LAME!!! Crowd *does* get into Torrie taking her outer top off. So a match or contest or something is made, but I'm left wondering for WHEN? Tonight? Next week? Judgement Day? No time for this contest is mentioned. (It turns out to be for the PPV, which begs the question - why pay $39.95 for a bikini match when you can order the Playboy back issue with Sable and this month's issue with Torrie - see both of them NAKED - and still have enough money left over to go see The Real Cancun? I'm not saying that WWE doesn't have a place for Divas, but I think they should leave porn to the professionals.)

The "Kurt Angle: Persistence Pays" video airs. I've got tears of joy in my eyes. Kurt! Get well soon! We miss you, Kurt! The product hasn't been any better without him, at any rate. We come back to Cole putting over the city and arena - too bad they didn't tape this during the day, both shows missed our beautiful waterfront and the Citadel, though they did shoot a glimpse of the Town Clock on RAW (which didn't show on TSN because they ran their hockey updates and commercials too long).

Team Angle comes out with Kurt's portrait and medals. Rikishi and Tajiri come out to face Team Angle. Tajiri copies Rikishi's "raise the roof" gestures as they come out. They show the end of Eddie's match where Team Angle gets the medals back.

Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas vs. Tajiri and Rikishi (non-title tag match): Tazz: "You know what Tajiri and Rikishi have in common? Absolutely nothing." But this is a surprisingly good match. Rikishi and Haas are up first. Rikishi and Haas trade arm holds. Rikishi tosses Hass out on a sideways bounce. He threatens the butt drop on Benjamin, but he actually gets it on Haas. Benjamin breaks the subsequent count. Tags both ways and we have Tajiri vs. Benjamin. *Great* kicks and moves by Tajiri - Benjamin kicks out to a nice, juicy "twooooo!" Charlie Hass cheapshots Tajiri. Benjamin tags in Haas. Hass gets off the belly to belly, and Tajiri kicks out. Tajiri ducks a clothesline and gets off a *monster* kick. Both guys are down. The crowd is into this match. Both make tags - it's Benjamin vs. Rikishi. Rikishi takes down Benjamin, Hass comes in so Rikishi gets off a double clothesline, then a Samoan drop to Haas and a belly-to-belly for Benjamin ("a page out of Team Angle's book!"). Rikishi tosses Hass into the corner, Benjamin & Haas get ass-bumped in the corner. Hass stumbles out, and Rikishi choke-slams him while Benjamin takes the Thump from Hell. Rikishi backs it up, but Benjamin gets the low blow. Tags both ways. Tajiri gets the handspring elbow on Hass off a ricochet, then he does a handstand and kicks Benjamin off the apron. Haas clotheslines Tajiri, but Rikishi gets in and gives him a good superkick to the face. Tajiri swings into the corner by Haas. Rikishi shoves Haas into the corner in front of Tajiri, who is climbing up for... the Tarantula! This is great stuff - what's Tajiri doing on Velocity when he could be headlining PPVs? Hey, who says split PPVs will be a bad thing - this matchup would be great on a SmackDown!-only PPV. During the Tarantula, Benjamin nails Rikishi and he's reeling (if you blinked, you missed it). Haas reverses on Tajiri and lifts him up so Benjamin can boot him in the face, and Haas rolls Tajiri up for the pin.

With the Team Angle victory, Los Guerreros music plays. We see Los Guerreros sneaking off into the crowd with the portrait and medals. Team Angle looks to the ramp, expecting an encounter, while Los Guerreros pose in the crowd with the portraits and medals. This was funny live. Team Angle finally notice as Los Guerreros don the medals. Team Angle gives chase and Los Guerreros run off. We see Benoit and Lesnar backstage getting ready for their match against the Big Duo, then we go to break.

The Team Angle vs. Tajiri and Rikishi match was probably the match of the night, but a strong case could be made for Kendrick vs. Noble or Matt vs. Eddie. I knew the medal angle wouldn't be resolved when I saw Chavo come out for his Velocity match wearing the medal.

We come back with Kendrick at ringside with Cole and Tazz. Cole congratulates him on his victory earlier. Kendrick says that it's great to be here. Cena comes out to a good pop.

Tonight's Cena rap:
"Yo yo yo... So tonight, John Cena's gotta fight a rhinoceros. / I'll rip his crotch out and make him see a gynaecologist. / You're half man and half beast; is that supposed to impress me? / Man, my fist will swell your face; you'll be the white Dizzy Gillespie. / I bet you fans think Rhyno's gonna give me the Gore? / I'll beat his ass so sore, it's like he did a prison tour. / Yo, this is thugenomics; I excel beyond sports. / He rocks a horn on his head; I rock a horn in my shorts. / And to that kid Spanky, imitatin' my flows. / I' me glad I broke his nose and ripped off his friggin' clothes. / He had the whole crowd chantin' 'Cena sucks!' ("Cena sucks!" mixed with "Cena! Cena!" - pretty cool) / You think I do; well, F-U, 'cause I just don't give a -" and the Metro Centre crowd did have an answer for him, but the monkeys in the truck cut directly to the Rhyno entrance.

Rhyno vs. John Cena: This match is okay, but people are only a little behind Rhyno. Rhyno carries this to a good contest. This starts with words, and Cena gives Rhyno a hearty shove. Rhyno comes back with some big rights, driving Cena back into the corner. Rhyno applies some kicks. Rhyno swings Cena into the opposite corner and gives him a shoulder to the gut. Rhyno lays into Cena and has him crouched down to pick up the boot in the head (I figured he'd go for a scissor-kick, but I guess that's Booker T's move). Cena crawls to the ropes, where Rhyno gives him another kick in the head, and Cena tumbles onto the floor. Rhyno goes to put Cena back in the ring, but Cena battles back, driving him into the apron a few times before putting him back in the ring. Cena goes for the cover but only gets "twooooooo!" Cena kicks, punches, takes Rhyno for a suplex, covers and gets another two count. Cena puts Rhyno into a hold. The crowd sometimes goes "Cena sucks!" and sometimes "Cena! Cena!" Rhyno gets up and starts walking and collapses again with just the right timing to send Cena into the turnbuckles. Cena goes in for a punch, but Rhyno blocks and gets off a good right. Rhyno gets some more rights. Cena misses giving Rhyno the clothesline on a ricochet. Rhyno comes back and gets a good one. He knocks him down again and gets the cover, but Cena kicks out. Rhyno picks up Cena, but Cena counters and punches him in the back. Cena goes back to the ropes, ricochets, and goes up and over and down with a neckbreaker, getting another "twooooooo!" Then he goes for the F-U, but Rhyno counters. Rhyno plants Cena with a monster Spinebuster. Both men are down. Cena crawls to his steel chain in the corner to the tune of "Let's Go Cena, Let's Go!" Kendrick, though, gets up from the announce table and they have a little tug-of-war with the chain. Cena lets go and Kendrick flies back into the wall. Cena stumbles back enough for Rhyno to get the roll-up and the pin. Rhyno wins this match, but no one really notices - this is all about Cena.

Cena hits Rhyno from behind after the loss, then he hops down in front of the announce table and chases Cena around the outside. Kendrick heads into the crowd. Cena climbs over the wall to give chase, but Rhyno picks him up before he can get anywhere. Rhyno plants Cena face-first into the apron by the steps. Rhyno goes for the Gore but only finds the steel. Cena goes off to mild cheers.

We see the FBI backstage. "Everybody comes to the Full Blooded Italians because they know we get the job done."

Tazz and Cole come on and announce a few matches for Judgement Day - the Ladder Match with Los Guerreros and Team Angle, the World Heavyweight Title match with Triple H and Kevin Nash, the (yawn) Bikini Contest, the Battle Royal for the Intercontinental Title... oh, right, and the Stretcher Match. Guys, this is for the WWE Championship - the most prestigious title in the business. Right? Anyway, Judgement Day should be a fine PPV provided you leave the bar at 11:15 (10:15 EDT) and miss the WWE and World title matches.

Brock is walking backstage - he runs into Nunzio, who says he wants respect. He says that what he said earlier about his friends the Big Show and A-Train was very disrespectful. If he disrespects them, he disrespects the FBI. Brock nonchalantly pushes him away and continues on. Nunzio whacks Brock from behind. Brock turns around and chases Nunzio. I shouted "It's a trap!" but Brock didn't hear me. Brock is baited into a room, and Nunzio steps in and bars the door. Palumbo drives a forklift into the door. CEER-ASH. I shout something like, "Those stupid Halifax construction workers can't build for s**t!" and then I explain to the construction worker in front of me that I'm only kidding.

A-Train emerges and he exchanges fives with the FBI. Big Show comes out and says that the (now singles) match with Benoit will be his - he shows A-Train his Boogie Board with the names "Mysterio," "Benoit," and "Lesnar," and Mysterio's name is crossed out - Benoit is next. Oh, I hope not. But I hoped that we'd see Ottawa vs. Vancouver for the Stanley Cup, but then Vancouver blew a 3-1 series lead, and now they're gone (boo!). And now Maggie likes New Jersey! (Keep in mind that Maggie predicted Anaheim would beat Detroit, then she followed that up by predicting Anaheim would beat Dallas. Now she says we'll have New Jersey vs. Anaheim for the Stanley Cup. So if you want to see something (or not see something) in wrestling or any other sport, go talk to Maggie the Monkey, at a zoo somewhere in Ontario. Anyway, this was a good promo.

Out comes the Big Show with A-Train. BS holds his boogie board high in the air. Benoit comes out to a good pop... not a Jericho pop, but a good pop nonetheless. Benoit is said to be alone, since Rhyno and Brock can't help him. I actually like the decision to keep Lesnar out of this match, because it gives us an opportunity to get behind Benoit.

The Big Show vs. Chris Benoit: Benoit opens with some chops, but BS comes back with his own big chop. "Benoit Benoit Benoit!" BS tosses Benoit into the corner. As BS approaches, Benoit lifts his legs and kicks Benoit in the chest. Benoit lays in with the chops, then goes down and kicks BS in the knee. Benoit gets up and goes on the offensive again, he comes out with some rights, and he goes to the ropes, but BS picks him up on the way back for the Sidewalk Slam. BS keeps his foot on Benoit's chest near the ropes. Cole says that the last Stretcher Match was 17 years ago (Gee, guys, there's probably a REASON! But to think about it, there are ways they could make this match work.). "Let's go, Benoit, let's go!" erupts briefly. BS tosses Benoit into the corner sternum-first, and Benoit is down. BS stands on Benoit again, with one foot on the rope and one foot on Benoit. Benoit falls out of the ring. A-Train takes it to Benoit at ringside, and a "Shave your back!" chant erupts. A-Train puts Benoit back in the ring. BS has Benoit up up up for a vertical suplex, which is executed. BS walks over Benoit. "Benoit Benoit Benoit!" BS takes Benoit up and head-butts him down again. Benoit climbs to his feet at the ropes and comes back with some chops and the crowd goes "Whoooo!" He goes to the ropes again but comes back into a Bear Hug. Benoit screams loudly. Crowd gets noisy. Benoit fights out of it by biting BS' face. Benoit gets off the Jawbreaker, but BS elbows him in the head on the ricochet. Benoit is down. BS misses a leg drop. Opportunity knocks. Benoit comes in with a drop-kick to BS' head, and then Benoit flies - he gets a good flying head-butt into a standing BS. Benoit crawls into the cover but only gets "twooooooo". Benoit kicks BS in the head a few times but BS gets up and is about to take Benoit for the choke slam. However, Benoit counters in mid-air and gets the cross-face on BS, but Benoit has to get off of BS to fend off A-Train, who approaches with the boogie board - Benoit puts a drop-kick on it, laying out A-Train on his back outside the ring. Benoit comes back to a standing BS and gets the armbar, but BS roars up and gets the choke slam with his other (right) arm and the pin.

A-Train jumps in the ring and they both start beating on Benoit. A-Train gets off a vicious looking Bicycle Kick, and BS gets off another choke slam. A-Train puts the Boogie board in the ring, and Benoit is strapped to it. Everyone's going "Benoit Benoit!" then they switch to "We Want Lesnar!" *I'm* shouting, "This is the stupidest spot in wrestling! I write the SmackDown! reviews for Live Audio Wrestling; you're getting an F for this!" Okay, I was abusing my Journalistic Privilege, but I was hot. And Lesnar did come out, and this show isn't getting an F (and it wouldn't anyway - I wonder what kind of show it will take for me to give the dreaded F?). Lesnar comes out and takes care of A-Train, and gets a double-leg takedown on BS, then takes A-Train for a good-looking F5. BS gets in and kicks Lesnar, then takes him up and down with a chokeslam. BS roars and we go off the air. In the arena, Brock and Benoit hung around and Brock even waved the Canadian flag.

Ideas for Mr. America angles: When Kurt comes back, turn him heel (if we have to turn him heel, I'd rather they don't for a change) by having him tell Mr. America that *he's* the real American (Olympic) Hero. Actually, that one might backfire big, a'la Kevin Nash. Scratch that. Here's another idea: Make Mr. America and/or Kurt Angle the focal point of a really hot Stephanie vs. Vince feud. Like, don't pussyfoot it - take it all the way! Ideally this feud would end with Mr. America making part-time appearances in nostalgia matches, Kurt and Jericho as World Champions, and Vince off television for a few years (the storyline will say he is declared insane and committed to a mental hospital - over the months we can have occasional entertaining vignettes where he keeps telling the doctors that he once ran a huge sports-entertainment empire and the doctors go, "sure, sure"). Heck, this could spin off into an Eric Bischoff coup while Vince is weakened, and Eric could take over RAW while Austin retreats to SmackDown! and he and Shane and Steph run things there - it'd be like the "rebel" show against Eric's tyranny. This does the Hard Split, gives us some fun (and not overly frequent) Mr. America moments, and - we get Vince off TV! That sounds like a winner! Kurt Angle could face Triple H or Jericho in a RAW vs. SmackDown! match at WrestleMania XX to either end the brand extension or just keep SmackDown! out of Bischoff's hands - whatever is best at the time. I'm not saying WWE creative doesn't have any imagination - okay, yeah, that's what I'm saying.

RAW versus SmackDown!: I'll call it a tie. Each show had its respective strengths and weaknesses - RAW had a hotter and bigger crowd, and the show was very entertaining live. However, RAW was less overtly exciting on television, and the wrestling, while good (especially Booker T. vs. Lance Storm - I want to see a best of seven series with these two!), wasn't emphasized enough. SmackDown! had more wrestling, but the show was kind of tiresome. This show, though, stands up better to repeated viewings better than RAW does, but I suppose I could be saying that because I had to watch this show many more times than I "had" to watch RAW.

Grade: (B) Considering it was the second show in a small city, I think it was just about as good as it could have been. Everyone was kind of burnt out, and I think they should have sent SmackDown! to St. John's NL - they need love too. There was nothing really wrong with the wrestling, but the overall feel of the show was missing something - it just didn't have the "big time" feel that RAW did. There was almost too much of Hogan, which is hard to do in Canada since he's so over.

Starting next week: Shorter reviews!

See also: Photo Series #12: WWE visits Halifax

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