Monday, August 06, 2007

House Shows Test WWE's Direction

On Saturday evening, I headed down to the WesBanco arena to get a glimpse of "Raw"'s Biggest Party of the Summer. I think that house shows can be a great indicator of things the WWE is testing out or thinking about. So here is a little report to let you in on all the action.

The show began with Sylvan and Maryse coming to the ring. Sylvan's hair is very blonde, but not a bleach color like Flair's. It looks like dude has been abusing Sun-In. Hopefully it doesn't absorb into his brain and make him go crazy, because the media would undoubtedly blame roids. Eh, ok, dude is probably abusing roids, because he looked big in Wheeling.

He wears like black spandex biker shorts, and he is a really ambigious character at the moment. He wrestled good old Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who probably got one of the biggest pops of the night. It was strange to me that I saw my first live show in 89 at the same arena and saw Hacksaw wrestle then too. Duggan got the duke in a largely forgettable match, but there is no denying that he was mad over for the live show. I don't think that translates much to TV, however. Maryse is very hot, by the way.

William Regal was out next, and he got a tremendous amount of heat. Regal defeated Super Crazy in a pretty good match. Afterwards Regal challenged guys around ringside to come and get a peice. A guy behind me told me that he would be more than happy to run in. I told him to go for it. He didn't. He introduced himself to me as the guy who ran into the ring during a local Black Diamond Wrestling show. He took a pummeling from then BDW Heavyweight Champ Nikita Allanov. The man informed me that he was on his way home after the incident to get his gun and shoot the Russian independent wrestler. Now that's heat...

Daivari had a great deal of heat as well. While I don't believe he should be pushed on "Raw", I do feel that he is underutilized. The man's character is a heat generating machine, and people still remember when he was getting a lot of face time with Muhammed Hassan.

He should probably be the Cruiserweight Champion as we speak. He wrestled Aaron Stevens, who was billed as hailing from Wheeling, WV, but we all know better. Stevens actually had a run on Smackdown, but that run was not enough to prove to fans that he wasn't from Wheeling. Stevens looked good, but eventually lost to Daivari. I expect Stevens to break out sometime before the end of 2007.

Cade and Murdoch defeated the Highlanders in a pretty standard tag team match. Not much more to say about that one.

Cody Rhodes entered and cut a pretty good promo about wanting Randy Orton in the ring tonight to pay for kicking his father in the head. Instead he got King Booker who was actually wearing flaming Booker T tights. Subtle hint? King Booker got the victory in a very good matchup. Before the match began, Booker told Rhodes to kiss his ring, but put him over as a future World Champion. I think that's putting the cart a bit before the horse, as Rhodes did botch a clothesline spot early in the match.

Any rumors of a planned push for one of my personal favorites, Val Venis are largely unwarranted. Val was over in Wheeling, but he came out as a special referee for a Candice/Jillian Hall showdown.

The match wasn't bad, and had a lot of false finishes, but I think it went too long. Many in the crowd hoped the false finishes would actually be the end. Candice hit an Unprettier to get the victory. Take that Christian Cage.

Santino Marella was one of the more entertaining guys before getting totally decimated by IC champ Umaga, who was actually over as a babyface. Marella appeared to have injured his shoulder during the match, so don't be suprised if he is not wrestling on "Raw" tonight.

Now for the kicker. I have seen Austin, Hogan, Savage, Rock, Triple H, HBK, Flair, Angle, Sting, and just about anyone you could want to see live, but I have never heard a pop like the one for Cena in Wheeling. It was deafening. There were pockets of Cena haters, but they could not overcome the thousands in attendance wearing his merch, and I am not exaggerating. Often I think the internet is too hard on Cena, as I feel his in ring style is booked by agents, not by him. Still, I couldn't imagine him being that loved.

If his match with Orton on Saturday is any indication of the quality of what their SummerSlam encounter will be, you guys are in for a great match. This house show match was the best Cena match I have seen since he wrestled HBK on Raw. It certainly trumped Cena's WrestleMania match with Michaels.

I would have preferred some Carlito or Mr. Kennedy, but you have to take what they give you. Still, if you are looking to find any indications of direction for the company from this show, the keys would have to be the Sylvan/Maryse duo we have all read about, the expected push of Aaron Stevens, and the capability for an amazing Cena/Orton match at SummerSlam.

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