WWE: "Escape the Rules"
Worcester Centrum Center Exhibit Hall
July 10th, 2004
There are no pictures of Randy Orton’s crotch contained herein. Sorry.
Justin Shapiro randomly mentions Worcester MA in his last Heat report at WO.com. A subtle shout-out to me? Could be (or not).
After drawing a dismal 1,500 in the Centrum (which seats 10,000 and house the Backlash ’03 PPV) last November, the WWE held this house show at the Centrum Exhibit Hall, which is basically a huge warehouse. They set up the ring and a dozen or so rows of folding chairs, and it looked very similar to a lot of recent Ring of Honor shows. The good news is that while they drew about 1,500 again, there was a nice atmosphere and the crowd was very into the show. We had seats in the last row but we were still only fifty feet away from the ring.
This was our first Raw brand show since they split the brands. No card was announced beforehand, but with a PPV the following day, I figured they’d do final runthroughs of the announced Vengeance matches. That prediction was quickly disproved as zero PPV matches occurred and a lot of guys had the night off.
The crowd was your usual eclectic group of humanity. I saw one guy in a Rhyno shirt. I didn’t even know the WWE made a Rhyno shirt.
Howard Finkel and a local DJ from WAAF introduce the show (I later find out the guy’s name is Paul Marshall. Sorry, I haven’t listened to the radio in years). They don’t do the ”Please don’t throw things/Don’t rush the ring” speech, although they probably should have.
1. Batista vs. Val Venis: I (heart) me some Batista. Early on I thought he sucked (remember when Flair called him Dave and said he was angry because he grew up in an orphanage?), but now he’s not half bad. And even when he’s bad in the ring, at least it’s an entertaining bad. Early in the match Batista roars at Val in the corner, and Val retaliates by implying big Dave has bad breath. So Batista actually checks to see if he does. That’s awesome. Batista controlled a good portion of the match and the crowd was definitely behind him, although they popped for Val’s comeback. Venis does the ten punch in the corner, but gets shoved off and pinned after a clothesline. Yes, an ordinary clothesline. Batista gets on the mic and tells Val he sucks. If that wasn’t bad enough, Val then has to be helped to the back by the refs. Sucks to be him.
2. Steven Richards vs. William Regal: I was happy because I have never seen either guy live before. Then I remembered I saw Richards in 2000 when he headed up the RTC (God, remember those days?). Richards draws decent heat for someone who really hasn’t done anything in the past several years. Anyway, this match was fine as Regal worked over Richards’ arm with some wacky chain wrestling early on, until Richards turns the momentum and works on Regal’s arm. Regal mounts a comeback and wins with a knee to Richards’ head as he’s doubled over. That’s two weird finishes in a row.
Five dollars for a snow cone? Screw you Centrum.
3. La Resistance vs. Hurricane & Rosie (Tag title match): Someone threw a bag of cotton candy at Conway and got booted. Hurricane then gave a mask to someone in the crowd, who I think was ragging on the champs, because Conway had a spasm of anger about it. Lots of USA chants early. I think Conway’s pretty damn great and I wish they’d get him out of the “evil foreigner” gimmick and just let him be Rob Conway. La Rez work over Hurricane until he makes the hot tag to Rosie. Rosie goes to splash Grenier in the corner but Conway pulls his partner to safety and Grenier covers for the win. I think Conway was supposed to grab Rosie’s leg but couldn’t reach it in time. Oops.
4. Chuck Palumbo vs. Rhyno: Chuck was wearing jeans and a black baseball cap for some reason. He rambles on the mic before the match, the gist of it being that New England sucks (the sound system was really crappy—it was hard to understand anyone all night). Rhyno comes down and Palumbo stomps him before the bell. He poses to the crowd, but turns around and gets gored for the pin. Lasted maybe a minute. I bet the guy in the Rhyno shirt was happy.
The Coach comes out to let us bask in his evilness. He calls out Eugene, who was the most over guy on the show. Coach says he’s got a little warmup for Eugene before his big match tomorrow, and calls out Conway and Grenier. Coach reassures Eugene this isn’t an ambush, then ambushes Eugene and all three men stomp on him.
5. Eugene vs. Coach & La Resistance: Eugene gets beat down but makes a comeback using retard strength. He hits a Stunner on Conway and Grenier, then a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow to finish off the Coach. Not the greatest thing ever, but they kept it short and the crowd was certainly into it. I liked Coach’s shorts that had “Coach” written on the ass.
Then Fink throws out some Kurt Angle T-shirts. Some guy near me catches one and I have to listen to him bragging about his T-shirt catching technique all throughout intermission.
6. Randy Orton vs. Tajiri (IC title match): Odd choice for the post-intermission match. Randy works a looong headlock in the beginning and controls most of the match. Tajiri starts him comeback, which brings Batista came down to interfere, but Tajiri disposes of him with a kick. Back in the ring he hits the execution kick on Randy, but Orton grabs the ropes. He dumps Tajiri outside, where Batista levels him with a clothesline. Randy then rolls Tajiri back into the ring for the pin. Started slow but picked up pretty well at the end.
Afterwards, Randy goes to attack Tajiri with the belt, but Maven (I guess he travels around and wears his wrestling gear in case someone needs to be rescued) makes the save. Batista comes back but Maven takes care of him too, only to walk into an RKO. Evolution wallows in their own crapulence before heading to the back.
7. Molly vs. Victoria: There was an awkward spot early when Molly applies a hammerlock and tosses Victoria into the ropes. Wasn’t sure if they screwed up the move because it looked weird. People even chanted “What was that?” The match slowed down as Fit Finley checked on Victoria’s arm, which pretty much told you it was a work. Indeed, Molly attacked and spent the match working over Victoria’s arm. But she misses the Molly-Go-Round, and gets de-wigged before Victoria hits the Widow’s Peak for the win. This was good stuff.
You know, I would gladly buy an Evolution shirt, but they need a better design. I’m not wearing something that says “Paid, Laid, and Made” or has a picture of a naked chick on the front. Maybe they need one with a picture of Batista wearing his women’s housecoat.
8. Chris Benoit vs. Kane (World Title Match): Benoit was the second most over guy on the show. Very similar to their other matchups. Benoit goes for the Sharpshooter several times early in the match, but Kane keeps powering out. Kane takes over for the middle portion of the match, and some moron threw something into the ring (looked like a plastic tube). The match ground to a halt while security looked for the guy. Fit looked pissed (which would scare the crap out of me). Benoit comes back with the Germans and flying headbutt, but Kane sits up. Benoit knocks him back down and locks on the Sharpshooter, but Kane makes the ropes. Benoit then manages to lock on the Crossface for the tap. Best match of the show, as Benoit leaves with the belt for the last time, although I wouldn’t mind being wrong in this instance.
It was a short show at 2:15, and it was disappointing that HHH, Flair, Jericho, and Edge were missing (maybe they wanted to catch a showing of Spider-Man 2). But overall the action was pretty good and it was certainly a different atmosphere for a WWE show.