On-site WWF InsurreXtion Report
Well Folks, InsurreXtion has come and gone, so that must mean that it is time for my on-site account of the fifth and latest WWF UK-Only Pay-Per-View.
I arrived at Earl's Court at approximately 3-20pm, a shade over two hours before the doors were scheduled to open. Shade, as it were, was the one thing that was lacking... It was IMMEDIATELY clear that InsurreXtion (in terms of weather, at least) would be the HOTTEST UK PPV ever!!! I stood in blistering heat and sunshine for over an hour, waiting (in vain) to acquire the rather-nifty looking WWF InsurreXtion shirt. I was told that I could try one of the six merchandise points inside, as if that was some consolation for baking in the heat unnecessarily.
After grabbing a half-litre bottle of Sprite, which set me back £1-50 (representing a mark-up of 80p: theiving bastards) I set about joining the queue, which had lengthened considerably in the time I had wasted at the merchandise stall. However, unlike Rebellion, the queues around the facility were well marshalled by an extensive security team. At this point, I'd like to make a point about the facility. I seriously thought that the WWF should NOT take any external shots of the building in daylight, as it looks like a piece of shit. Of all the arenas I have been to in the UK, this one has to rank as the worst. I will have further observations on Earl's Court later. I joined the back of the queue, and began to wait. The doors opened somewhere between 5-30 and 5-50, but once they did, the queue moved *really* quickly. This was the complete opposite of Rebellion, where I took my seat only 20 mins prior to the show beginning. Inside the lobby, we were entering through turnstiles. This was not marshalled at all well, and there was a dangerous potential for crushing, as many people were just plainly pushing to get past you, and through the turnstiles as quickly as possible.
Having negotiated this throng of people, I took the escalators(!) to the upper level. At this point, I realised that I might be seated higher then I had bargained for... The sight of ANOTHER gigantic free-for-all at the merchandise area made be groan inside, and after calling my folks (who had been out all day) from inside the arena to check if they were back to tape InsurreXtion manually (as opposed to letting the VCR do the work), I made to take my seat.
I was confronted by a magnificent site upon assuming my seat. Not only had I a God-like (hence the slang term for the position: "The Gods", I suppose) of the arena and was SMACK BANG in the centre of the ring. Unfortunately, owing to the fact that I was level with the freakin' LIGHTING RIG, I knew that I had like a 3% chance of getting my "The Mark Fears CRZ" (amongst others) sign on TV.
I *did* feel sorry for those in the tier above me, who had to contend with HUGE concrete pillars, which had to restrict the view for some.
The stage set-up was exactly like Raw, with the two screens bookending the TitanTron. There wasn't a WWF.Com sign above the entranceway though, and I was keen to see if the two smaller screens would be used to show some of those animated graphical thingmys present at all WWF TV these days. I noticed that the ringside area had a LOT of exposed concrete, which I thought was pretty poor, considering that there was bound to be some ringside brawling.
At around 18-15, the lights dimmed at little, and the "One World Leader Attitude" bumper hit the TitanTron, to a HUGE pop. The sad thing was nearly ALL the marks thought that this was the start of the show, despite the fact that there was nobody ringside! Tsk.
*I* thought initally that the production team were just checking over the VT and the projection system, but eventually I realised what we were seeing. With the links of The King and The Kat, we were in fact being treated to the UPN special "Greatest Hits 2". I would REALLY like the WWF to start releasing these on Home Video in the UK. "Eve of Destruction" is only available for a limited time, IF you buy "No Way Out" and isn't available on its own. The Foley tribute piece was AWESOME, absolutely terrific. I couldn't tell you the music (I did keep hearing 'Thank You for the Memories: could this be the title?) but I was much better than the tribute on Raw the night after No Way Out.
As the piece concluded, a HUGE round of applause went round the building, and I have to say it sent a tingle up my spine, and had my hairs standing on end. We also saw: McMahon-Helmsely family history (set to some famous piece of opera whose name escapes me), Dudleys and Tables, Puppies, APA, "24-7: The Hardcore Championship", another TREMENDOUSLY well done piece, recapping Cactus v Triple H at No Way Out, a Rock package and a couple of Aggression music promos.
Is this how crowds are warmed up in the States, since this was a first as far as the UK is concerned? I thought that it was much better than having some of the night's talent come out and give a crappy warm-up match, and look to see it continue on December 2nd at Sheffield Arena.
At around 7-10, Tony Chimel came out to loud cheers, and gave the usual information. The King's music hit, and here was Lawler, met with huge chants of "Jerry, Jerry!" He basically promoed the Main Event, and started to talk about the arm wrestling match, when Mae Young's music hit, and she made her way (eventually) to the ring. After some inconsequential conversation, she tried to show London her puppies, which of course brought out the Fabulous Moolah. After a couple of minutes of being berated with 'old' jokes, the two combined to do the "I'll go down on all fours behind his back and you push him back" spot. They then rolled around the ring in the WORST 'comedy' skit I think I have ever seen. I was actually EMBARRASED.
Next out was Good Ol' JR, not to the theme of "Welcome to the Jungle" but the same theme that he and Michael Hayes had come to ringside with at Rebellion in October.
After Tony Chimel told us to make some noise, show our signs, yadda yadda, referee "Blind" Jim Korderas sprinted down the aisle to signal we were seconds from starting. Sure enough the house lights were killed, the "One World Leader Attitude" began to play and THIS WAS IT!!!
After the initial promos had aired and the broadcast cut to Earls Court, WE WERE LIVE!!! (Although *NOT* en espanol donde sea disponsible ;) ) The pyro that followed was EASILY the best EVER witnessed at a UK event that I have attended (admittedly the No Mercy UK PPV had some decent opening pyro), and I am looking forward to seeing this on TV. From checking the TitanTron, the panoramic shot of the building looked tremendous, and the place was certainly 'jacked'.
I will leave the more traditional recapping to the likes of Kirk and Martin, preferring to give more general opinions on what was occuring in each match.
First off Too Cool beat Saturn and Malenko when Grandmaster Sexay hit the Hip-Hop Drop for the pinfall. We had an early opportunity to behave like lemmings, when Scotty Too Hotty hit a double worm. This was a great way to open the show, getting the hot crowd involved in the action from the outset. Funny thing about the marks' lack of logic here. They clearly would have suffered an aneurism if the worm had not taken place, yet they were disapponted that Too Cool didn't get the three count earlier in the contest. They should have been GLAD that was the case, otherwise there would have been no worm (at least not in the *match*) Post-match, in a nod to the ongoing storylines, Malenko and Saturn blamed one another for the loss, and got into a pull-apart. It was funny seeing the zebras sprint out the 80 metres or so from the back to come and break up the melee.
Backstage, The Kat and Mae discussed tactics for the arm-wrestling contest. TitanTron played a commercial for Judgment Day: it's coming, you know.
Next out was Bull V Kane. I wanted to try to get my InsurreXtion shirt, but hung around for Kane's flashpots. Unfortunately Bull jumped him from behind, and I left to try my luck. The organisation of the merchandise area was still abysmal, and the women whom I would have surely been served after bought the last two InsurreXtion shirts in my size. During this time, I had missed Kane defeating Bull (and the flashpots, which sounded like the proper ones from the States) and Road-Dogg defeating Bradshaw.
I was taking my seat just as The Kat made her way to ringside for the Arm Wrestling Challenge. This segment ran waaaayyy too long for this fan's liking, and culminated in Kat winning after Mae Young squirted a water bottle over Terri (Terri had spat water in Kat's face seconds earlier) The post-'match' angle had each of the tandems brawl with one another, peaking with Terri pulling DOWN, but not OFF Kat's bikini top exposing the puppies to one section of the audience (yeah, NOT MINE).
From the TitanTron (a fact confirmed when I read the review of the PPV) this didn't air on TV, but was concealed by the use of some crafty camera angles. Next, it was time for the Dudleys to be (literally) squashed by ShowKishi (whatever) and Rikishi Phatu. The people who cried "WE WANT TABLES" throughout this match were very misguided, since they had failed to realise that:
a) Both opponents were too large to Buh-Buh Bomb through a table
Buh-Buh *did* tease a table-spot however, but I was relieved that they didn't do it. The table he pulled from under the ring was THICK, and then some. Embarassingly, Buh-Buh couldn't get the legs to open, so he propped the table against the apron. If they *had* used this table in a spot, I fear we would have seen someone get seriously injured.
The Show and Phatu won this one after Edge and Christian interfered behind the ref's back. (Edge spearing Buh Buh, setting him up for aaaahhhhhthechokeslam if I remember correctly)
Afterwards, in an embarrasing move(since the Dudleys are *supposed* to be bad-ass tweeners) the 'half-brothers' joined Too Cool, The Big Show and Rikishi for NOW IS THE TIME ON SPROCKETS (What *IS* that show?: us UK fans miss this reference) etc, etc.
Buh-Buh even prostituted himself further, doing a solo for Rikishi's benefit, worrying bumping and grinding pelvis to pelvis with the Phat Man, which Sexay wisely interrupted.
After some video recapping Kurt's adventures in London this past week, it was time for Kurt Angle V Chris Benoit.
Interview with Benoit has him with an UGLY swollen shut right eye. WTF is up with that? It looked too fresh to be from the belt shot on Tuesday's taping of Smackdown!, and anyhow, as far as I can remember, he didn't have it in his photograph in the Sun newspaper on Saturday morning (which I assume was taken in London on Friday)...Weird.
Sorry, he had the shiner on HeAT this week: therefore, the photos in the Sun must have been taken in the States prior to last week's Raw or Smackdown tapings, and *not* in London.
This is an OK match, but by the end of the encounter, Benoit's eye appears to be bleeding, making the injury appear even more gruesome. Lots of respect to Benoit for not pussying out of his first trip across the Pond.
Around this time, I think, the next WWF UK PPV (emanating from Sheffield) is shilled to the viewers at home.
Up next is an amusing vignette, where Edge and Christian charged fans outside Earl's Court for autographs and photos. This was shot outside the arena literally minutes after I joined the back of the queue, but I didn't feel it was worth sacrificing my spot in the line to watch it being taped. The 2Blondes come down the AISLE? (Oh, I see: after watching Raw which I didn't see until 48 hours later, I know why they're doing this...At the time, I thought that the arena security had vetoed their plans to do their normal entrance. WHOOPS!)
Hardys come down to a big pop. Funny story: I overheard two girls from Sunderland talking in the merchandise queue: turns out they'd made their way from the North of England, booked into an EXPENSIVE hotel, came to the arena and they DIDN'T have tickets!!! Yup, they had come to stay in the same hotel as Edge, Christian and The Hardys. When exactly did the World Wrestling Federation start having the same allure for fourteen year old girls as N'Sync or the BackStreet Boys anyway?
Does stuff like this go down in the States/Canada?
This was easily the best match of the night live, although my opinions on that would change after watching the PPV on video. Typical stuff, with some variations on all the old spots. The Champs were DQ'ed after Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb, and they decided to clean house with the ring bell. From my lofty perch, I enjoyed watching D-Von sprint to the ring, followed by Buh Buh, as they came to clean house on the cocksure Canadians. The crowd fired up the "tables" chant again, and popped huge for the 3D on Christian. Buh Buh went looking for some wood, and found it, thankfully this table looked a lot more likely to break away on impact. D-Von set up the table in the corner, and fed Edge to Buh Buh on the top rope, from whenst he powerbombed the future brother-in-law of Val Venis through the English furniture. The live crowd got NO replays on the TitanTron, which by now was in the early stages of playing up.
After a recap of the feud between Guerrero and Jericho, it was time for the two to get in on in the heart of London. After a lengthy promo from Guerrero, the Y2J countdown hit and out came the Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rollah. His pyro was pretty impressive live, and upon watching the tape was almost indistinguishable from that used throughout North American shows. He told the pair of 'jackasses' in the ring that they should 'bloody well piss off', to a huge cheer, and after a coin toss to decide which belt was on the line, the European Championship bout got under way. I thought this match was good live, but upon watching the video, I feel that this edged things for match of the night. A lot of the heat from the Dudleyz table antics carried over into this match, which lent itself to a feeling of excitement about this encounter. Upon the coin toss rendering the bout as a Euro Strap match, I thought "OK, they're going to put Jericho over here, since he had never wrestled in the UK as a face." So, imagine my surprise when Guerreo actually won, following a belt shot behind the ref's back. This match included a tremendous spot, which elicited a huge 'ooooh' from the crowd (including myself) Guerrero attempted a 'rana, Jericho blocked and went for a running powerbomb over the top rope. At the precise moment I thought "Are you insane: you'll kill him!", Guerrero *DID* manage to force the 'rana, spilling both men awkwardly to the (legit) concrete at ringside. I thought that Guerrero was legit hurt, after this spot, but after Tim White made a pantomime of checking he was OK, and Chyna snuck in to DDT Jericho for an eventual near-fall, I realised I'd let the atmosphere get to me, and I'd marked out. Sorry.
During this match, the large screen hanging in the ceiling gave out, so all we were left with was the TitanTron for the main event.
After the typical Rock bullshit, the main event introductions got underway...
First out was Shane, accompanied by Vince. Then Triple H and Steph, wearing a one-piece UGLY blue dress, and some understated make-up. Finally, the Rock came out and we were underway. This match really was poor live, although it fared slightly better on TV. 'Highlights' included The Rock giving Shane and HHH a double Dusty bionic elbow, a run-in by Gerald Brisco, a tremendous moonsault by Shane: he landed on his feet and ultimately another run-in, this time by Earl Hebner. Triple H actually hit TWO pedigrees on the 'Great One', but was foiled initially by a slow Brisco count (Brisco had replaced original ref, 'Blind' Mike Chioda after he got stuck in the corner behind a Triple H slingshot) and then Earl pulling Vince out of the ring. (Vince donned the stripes after HHH punked out Brisco for his earlier slow count...) Vince tried to strike Hebner, but got nothing but post, and after chasing the ref through the ring, landed in a Rock Bottom. Shane, alone in the centre of the ring (with Triple H out of commission somehow) took the People's Elbow and Rock got the 1-2-3 from Earl to retain the strap.
After the PPV went off the air, Earl did the People's Elbow on Shane McMahon, after which point I left to catch my train.
Apparently though, I missed Shane and Vince getting another Rock Bottom each, with Hebner doing at least one other People's Elbow (probably on Vince).
Overall, I thought that nothing on this show occurred to displace One Night Only as the most special UK PPV (any show that has two +**** matches will always be tough to beat), but this was certainly the most COMPLETE. Whilst Capital Carnage and No Mercy will always be vilified for their lacklustre content, I felt Rebellion was still too full of 'jobber' matches with no backstory. At least InsurreXtion was free from any such matches, and almost EVERYONE had a cause to be fighting with one another. Throw in some nudity from the Kat, a 3D, the UK debut of many of the roster, and of course a table spot from the Dudleys, then I feel that InsurreXtion easliy scoops the honours as the best overall UK PPV to date.
Hopefully, the WWF can keep things on an upwards progression come December, and should I manage to secure tickets, you can be assured that you'll find my on-site report here, exclusively on [slash] wrestling...