/Stampede in Saskatoon
|Stampede House Show
|Guest columnist: James Kalyn
Less than one month ago, I had ringside seats for the WWF's house show in Calgary, featuring most of the biggest names working today. Tonight, I was sitting three rows back for Stampede Wrestling. I'm sure this will almost be as good, right? I mean, Sabu's here... well, he will be here, right?
I picked up coveted VIP ringside tickets for myself and Dave on Friday afternoon. Only $2 more than general admission - not too shabby. We got to the Centre Hall of the Exhibition Grounds, and... ringside's taken. Apparently, things are a little different in Stampede. When they say "ringside," they mean "floor." As one ticket-taker guy told us, "everything that's a chair is ringside." He also told us that we were "still sitting ringside" - apparently, "ringside" means something other than "beside the ring" in his native tongue. Dave notes that for $2 less, we'd be sitting in the bleachers - a bit further back, but with a better view.
The place was not sold out, but there was a good-sized crowd - I'd say 400 people or so, which is about 300 more than I was expecting. Most of these people are little punk kids. The show was set for a 7:30 start, which means "somewhere around 8:00ish" in indy wrestling time. While we waited, we were treated to tunes from Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, and the WWF Aggression CD.
Tonight's referees were Unknown because tonight's ring announcer was Incomprehensible. I think he said the referees' names were "William Shakespeare" and "Strong Farts" but who knew? And for that matter, I'm pretty sure there were three referees anyway.
Given what I've heard about Bruce Hart's gimmicks, referees named William Shakespeare and Strong Farts are not out of the question. Checking the official Stampede Wrestling website (that's www.stampedewrestling.com, folks), some of the referees are "Oscar Wilde," "Jim Baker," and "J. Edgar Hooker." None of these appear to have been the refs we saw tonight.
StampedeWrestling.com was also instrumental in helping me determine which wrestlers we actually saw tonight. Like I said, the sound system was really awful.
MATCH 1: Apocalypse v. Rob Roy Scott
The match is actually surprisingly not too shabby. Both guys seem very green, but they pull out a decent match, except for tons of cheap stalling at the beginning. Scott is really big on using the bodyslam, yep, though he hit a decent Michinoku Driver variant in there, and he likes them slingshot moves too. At one point, Scott (I think it was) looked like he was about to badly botch a powerbomb, but he was able to get out of it okay (even though it meant obvious cooperation between the two wrestlers). A blown spot, sure, but it was nice to see that the guy knew when he was in trouble and how to get out of it - rather than running the risk of dropping Apocalypse on his head.
The crowd was really hot for this match, and stayed so all night, rather
surprisingly. Some guys behind us were having fun with the yelling, mainly
"kick his ass, Baby Stone Cold" and "give him the tombstone, Baby
Undertaker!" This was pretty amusing. The usual heel tactics took place -
you distract the ref, I'll cheat, etc - but when Scott accidentally ran
into Pound, Apocalypse rolled up Scott for the pin.
Afterwards, Scott was beat down by the Honour Roll when he accused Pound of f-bombing up (lotsa nasty words tonight). After getting pounded for some time, Scott admitted he had screwed up, and they left.
MATCH 2: "Rowdy" Radcliff v. Ralph "Ruffy" Sillverstein
Helpful hint for Stampede newbies - Silverstein is the one carrying a putter. No, I don't know why. Maybe he idolizes Barry Darsow.
Lessee... stalling at the beginning, heel hijinx, a few springboard moves,
Michinoku Driver variant... this was essentially the same match as the last
one, only it seemed longer. We did get a top rope move from Radcliff, but
it was reversed and that was that.
MATCH 3: Barry Benoit v. Sodamn Insane
Whoa boy, did this one suck. I mean, it really sucked. Not that the first two were great by any stretch, but this one really sucked. Picture the first two matches, add a bad racial caricature, and take away the springboard moves and Michinoku Driver variant, and you get a slow, boring, crapfest. If Insane can do anything, he didn't show it - imagine Mideon but smaller, slower, and less entertaining. And Iraqi, but you knew that already. Benoit stuck to basic moves, which is actually not a bad thing - it doesn't make for an interesting match - or anything close to one - but he might learn. I was expecting a Crippler Crossface finish, but when Insane hit the top rope, Benouit caught him and put him away. WINNER: (Mystery Name) Benoit (pin, slam off top rope)
MATCH 4: Brett Hansen v. Fat American Guy
I decide that this show is killing me and I need a hot dog. A drink and
smokie combo was $4, and I decide it's well worth it if it'll ease the pain
- this show was getting seriously long. I put lots of mustard on my
smokie, and as I come back to my seat, I glorp most of it on my
shirt. Nothing stands out quite like mustard on a black shirt. As I
finish my smokie, American Guy wins - and I couldn't tell you how if you
MATCH 5: Wavell Starr v. Frank Einstein
Anyway, Frank Einstein. Well, of course, Frank Einstein is Albert Einstein's great (great-great?) (great-great-great?) grandson. And he's also Frankenstein. He's also about 5'6" and maybe 105 pounds. He grabs his head a lot. He tries to be a monster heel, but that doesn't really work, because he looks like a skinnier, shorter version of PerfectShawn Stasiak. Also, he cracked up a few times while trying to do his scary face. His real name is Carl LeDuc, the son of Paul LeDuc, who may or may not have been the brother of Jos LeDuc in real life. Jos LeDuc is famous for the Oh Henry commercial where he uttered the immortal line: "It's the big chunk... of FUDDDDDDDDDGE." I think they should hav worked this into his gimmick. Carl "Big Fudge" LeDuc, or something. Hey, it's not like it's possible to be a step down.
Back to the match. The little punk kids chant "retard" at Einstein, which
makes him hug his head. This takes up about five or six hours. Wavell hit
- are you ready for it - a version of the Michinoku Driver, but - are you
really ready this time - heel hijinx prevented the ref from counting the
pin. Einstein kicked Starr in the sack and clotheslined
him. Poorly. Thank God it's over.
INTERMISSION: It had not gone unnoticed by us that Sabu had not been mentioned all night. Then they came out to announce card changes. I prepare to go get a refund. However, Sabu's still here, and it's now a triple threat! I guess that's an improvement. Who knows? A lot of the wrestlers were signing autographs. This was good for the kids, but bad for me, 'cause it meant the intermission would drag on forever and ever. Okay, it was 20 minutes maximum, but it felt longer.
MATCH 6: William Butler Yeats v. "Principal" Richard Pound
There are lots of anti-Richard Pound signs in the crowd. "Pound is a pedophile" got held up for most of the match. Another set of people made a two-part sign - one part said "The Principal" and the other part finished the sentence. They had numerous sentence enders. "The Principal is the worst wrestler ever," "The Principal sleeps with five year old boys," "The Principal has fat tits," it went on and on.
The whole Honour Roll collective are boring as hell, I've decided. Rob Roy Scott walks around, insulting people, and occasionally cracking up - he was amusing. The rest of it was just sleep-inducing. Apparently there was some back story between Yeats and Pound - they were former partners or something. And as such, Yeats is now just "Bill Yeats" - an improvement, I'll give you that.
This match invloved much stalling and cheap heat, and I just wanted to go home. In the end, Frank Einstein (God, what an awful, awful character) did something, and maybe the rest of the Honour Roll did too, I dunno. Whatever it was, it happened on the floor - and Yeats was thrown into the ring to be defeated by a sleeper. Check that - it was a chinlock that started life as a sleeper. WINNER: "Principal" Richard Pound (submission/KO, sleeper/chinlock)
Afterwards, Einstein and Yeats brawled for what seemed like weeks. Then Yeats got on the stick and babbled a whole bunch. The crowd was still into this - I was not.
MATCH 7: Tiger Mahatma Khan v. Greg "Pistol" Pawluk v. Sabu
This was an elimination bout. Sabu hit some nifty moves - and really, wasn't that what we were there for? A springboard tornado DDT looked great, as did a springboard leg lariat. A triplejump dive onto both opponents in the crowd brought a "Holy (badword)" chant. Not to be outdone, Pawluk hit a move that I'd describe as an Inverted Diamond Dust - basically, he grabbed Khan for a Stunner, ran up the top rope, and backflipped, falling into a Curtain Call type position... very nice move. Sabu then laid out Khan on the table, but Khan rolled away, and Sabu went legdrop-first through the wood. The table didn't really shatter, though, so Sabu just set it up again when he recovered. Khan didn't last much longer, as he was rolled up by Pawluk and held down by Sabu. It was down to one-on-one... and in comes Richard Pound. Oh, for the love of God... did we really need to see that talentless drizzling shit out here again? Sabu planted Pound through the remains of the table, and slaps on that one-armed camel clutch move. Frank Einstein (of course) runs in to break it up. Pound quits selling the tableshot immediately. Sabu grabs a (plastic) chair and starts cleaning house. It becomes a brawl with Sabu and Pawluk on one side against The Honour Roll. The crowd chants for Yeats (why?). Sabu swings a chair all the way to the back, and... you're kidding.... godDAMMIT. WINNER: no contest (Pawluk pins Khan, rollup; Sabu and Pawluk brawl to the back)
Holy hell, did that ending ever suck.
The first problem with the show was the absolutely awful sound quality. If any of these guys had decent mic skills, you'd never have known it. It also would have gone a long way towards establishing their characters, and hell - it would have gone a long way towards letting me know what their names were.
Next, and I hate to say it, damn near all of the wrestlers out there just completely and absolutely sucked. I think there's definitely a place for inexperienced wrestlers, and I'd much rather see them on the indy circuit than on Raw, but it was like watching backyard wrestling. I remember watching Stampede years ago - maybe Owen Hart, Chris Benoit, Bruce Hart & Brian Pillman weren't big names then, but at least they could entertain.
The near-constant use of s-words and f-words was a bit much too. I'm not opposed to swearing on wrestling shows (or most anywhere) and I don't believe in toning down adult entertainment to make it kid-safe. Still, there was tons of swearing throughout this show. For an audience that was primarily kids, it seemed inappropriate. For that matter, if they want an edgier, "hardcore" style, then godawful gimmicks like Principal Pound and Frank Einstein must be done away with. Hell, I think they must be done away with anyway.
All told, it was neat to see Sabu. It was a shame he was out there for only 10 minutes, though. Truth be told, I'd head back to a Can-Am Wrestling bar show before I'd go see Stampede again. Less stalling, better sound, more comfortable seats, no annoying little punk kids, and a fair bit cheaper too. Come to think of it, I don't know what could happen that would make me even want to see Stampede again after tonight. I won't rule it out, but I doubt I'd ever bother.
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