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WWF in Daytona Beach


Guest columnist: Aldo


Ocean Center
Daytona Beach, FL

Greetings, [slash] readers. If my name sounds familiar to you, it means you've probably read my past work. I'm Aldo, the same guy that did WCW {Pro}, Thunder and Nitro reports for DDT Digest for almost three years before the Time Warner people pulled the plug on WCW programming. The day after Thanksgiving brought a non-televised WWF event to Daytona Beach, which is about ninety minutes from where I live. I haven't gone to any live events recently and I've felt that I should give the WWF more of a chance that I gave it during my last Nitro report for the Digest, I decided to take a chance and buy a ticket. Since DDT Digest is/was primarily a WCW site, I figured a WWF report belongs more on a website such as the [slash].

For those who remember my work (and have NOT hit the back button yet), welcome back! For those who are wondering who the hell I am and how I operate, I'll happily explain. My goal is to provide an honest description of what I see on television or in the arena. I do use a rating system, although people used to the "Spice" rating system I employed on DDT Digest will be disappointed that I will not be using that here. Because of the nature of house show matches (that being a somewhat reduced workrate level as the wrestlers are just performing for a smaller market versus everyone in the world), I will use a basic points system that awards a point if I liked what I saw or nothing if I thought the match was a waste of my time. Also, while I am openly ready to praise the stuff that deserves praising, I pull no punches with the not-so-good stuff at the same time. So, if you are easily offended by frank commentary on what I think sucks or could use improvement, please hit the back button now.

Still with me? Excellent. I'll stop BS'ing now, so we can get to the review.

If you've never been to a non-televised WWF show, don't expect to see the same setup as you would on RAW or Smackdown. There's the ring with the banner, but the guardrails aren't padded. In addition, there's no big screen above the entryway, and the lighting is reduced. No pyros here, either.

If you care about these sort of things: the cost of a hot dog and soda at the Ocean Center was $4.50. Also, some carried signs into the building, but when your target audience is maybe 6,000 (the arena was about 60% full, with the upper seats barely touched in two of the three sections), the signs lose their effect. Also, for you Steve Austin fans, the "What?!" chants began at 7:19 P. M. EST. Sadly, the word Austin wasn't even uttered by a WWF employee for the entire show, an omen of things to come.

Speaking of omens, they play the national anthem as the show begins -- but there's no Lillian Garcia. Instead, we get a recorded instrumental version which is still nice, but I have heard nothing but good things about Lillian's singing, and this disappointed me.

MATC... err, no match yet. Instead, "Break the Walls Down" brings out "Y2J" Chris Jericho, who seems to have developed a limp over the past few days, one that requires a cane to be mobile. Apparently, he got his injury by kicking the Rock's ass. The crowd is fishy, so Y2J tells all the "jackasses" chanting the Rock's name (pretty much all of us) to shut the hell up. Truth be told, Jericho *did* suffer a heel injury on RAW (Thanks Wrestling Observer!), hence the speaking role tonight. He then tells "Palm Beach" that he is our role model and that we'll see a couple of Alliance members perform for us. Also, Y2J will return... I don't provide point ratings for interviews, sorry.

MATCH #1: The Hurriance (w/ Mighty Molly) vs. Crash (w/ ???)

I put the "???" in because I could not make out the name of Crash's second with the announcer's crappy mic. It wasn't the announcer's fault, but rather the low quality of the mic he was using. He doesn't come into play, so it doesn't matter. Anyway, the match is pretty much comedy. Hurricane does his superhero pose after a successful move. Crash mocks this after he dumps Hurricane from the ring, though. Back inside, Hurricane tries some offense, but Crash begins Hulking up (much like a certain superhero who betrayed his company in this same arena back in 1996). Three punches, a boot (not a big boot, as Crash isn't even 6') and a bodyslam follow. Crash then comes off the ropes with a legdrop for two. And I thought that would finish!

Molly distracts her cousin (there's an untouched storyline), allowing Hurricane to take over with heel stuff. Molly even gets a slap in, bless her heart. Crash gets a brief comeback but gets clotheslined. Hurricane then *grabs the cape* and goes up top but gets slugged in the breadbasket on the way down. Crash makes the comeback until Hurricane foolishly tries a chokeslam. Crash blocks this, but doesn't evade the Sugar Smack. (No, I don't know the WWF name for it.) Moments later, Crash connects with a DDT, prompting Molly to save the day -- but Torrie Wilson thinks otherwise, as she runs to ringside and knocks Molly off the top turnbuckle. CATFIGHT! CATFIGHT! WE HAVE A... oops, wrong promotion. In any case, Torrie distracts Hurricane, allowing Crash to roll him up for the victory in about six minutes. Acceptable comedy opener, one that got the crowd into it and would not hopefully eclipse the work much later on, so 1 for 1.

MATCH #2: ??? (Observer sez: Funk student Marcus Dillon) vs. Adam Windsor (w/ Dory Funk, Jr.)

Again, I could not make out the announcer's introduction for the first wrestler, but needless to say I have never seen him before. I have seen Windsor, however, at an NWA show in Tampa a year ago wrestling his current manager (and real-life trainer), and I can't say I was impressed. In fact, Funk had a deal with NWA-Florida and his Funking Conservatory training dojo up until a couple months after that show (Tango in Tampa, September 2000) but some shit happened and the two entities split apart. In addition, Windsor has noticeably put on weight since the last time I saw him. Whereas in September 2000 he looked like a skinny Chris Jericho, he now has the resembelence of a Buddy Landel. (But Windsor is not as pudgy as his opponent for tonight.) The crowd greets the match with a LOUD "Boring" chant, and rightly so. Windsor did some okay stuff, including a Kryptonite Krunch (Get the lawsuit going, Nova!), but this was pretty much one of those matches where they do a move, lie around, do another move, etc. with nothing in between. It wasn't on the level of a WCW cruiserweight match circa 2001, but the lack of substance in between the moves was noticable. Windsor finishes off the "unknown" wrestler with a superkick five minutes in. By the way, if you think Florida crowds respect the old-schoolers due to the tradition of Championship Wrestling from Florida, think again. NOBODY knew who Dory was, and a few idiots in my section even laughed at an "old man" being in the ring. (I'll admit I've never seen Dory wrestle myself, as he was before my time, but I've read a little about him.) Hey, I never said we Floridians were smart. 1 for 2.

MATCH #3: Raven vs. Rico Constantino

The referee for this match is Li'l Naitch himself, Charles Robinson, who got a few "Whoo's" his way by those who remembered his affiliation with Ric Flair from WCW. I've never seen Rico, but I have read on the sheets that he is slated to move up to the big league soon. The big story of this match was Raven working on Rico's left arm, which went on for a couple minutes. Raven used a hammerlock extensively, and even ran Rico's arm into the turnbuckles in this manner, which made me think that Arn Anderson may have been backstage and helped out with this match. But, since I'm not an insider-type of guy, I'll never know. Anyway, Rico nails a dropkick to try to get some control his way, but not just yet. Rico does manage a sleeperhold coming off the ropes, but Raven backs him into the turnbuckle. Rico tries it again and gets a jawbreaker for his trouble. Raven goes back to work on the arm after a kneelift and an armdrag until Rico makes the inevitable comeback. But, it seems like his left arm injury has magically healed to 100%, as he was able to kip up using both arms after flapjacking Raven. Wonderful. Anyway, Rico goes for the ten-punch in the corner and gets a bodypress of running the ropes for two, but it doesn't mean a thing, as Raven puts Rico down with the DDT in about eight minutes. The psychology was there, but Rico pretty much forgot he had only one arm to work with. Otherwise, the match wasn't offensive, but not good enough for a point, sorry. 1 for 3.

MATCH #4: The Brooklyn Brawler vs. Ron "H2O" Waterman

You probably recognize the Brawler. Ron Waterman (announced at 270 pounds) resembles the modern day Scott Steiner, but with Hulk Hogan's hairline. Brawler basically stalls for the first couple minutes of the match to avoid getting clobbered by H2O. I'll give you a hint as to how the crowd responded - it rhymes with "Danny Doring." After getting nowhere with the behemoth, Brawler does gain an advantage with the Move of Champions: the punch to the gnads. Brawler works over H2O on the ropes. His heel schtick is funny, but even still I ceased caring about this match three minutes beforehand. H2O sends down Brawler with a clothesline but picks him up at two. At first I thought "Ok, his inexperience will get him pinned with Brawler cheating to win," but that notion ends with a powerslam and a pinfall by Waterman six minutes after the opening bell. This sucked. 1 for 4.

MATCH #5: Sean Stasiak vs. Randy Orton

Hey, it's the guy who tried to be "Mr. Perfect" in WCW, that'll lift my spirits. Again, the established WWF wrestler faces the developmental wrestler, this is what four matches now? I don't mind seeing the new guys, but not four matches in a row and let's face it - with the WCW buyout, there are too many guys in the back who could be used in the same slot. The crowd, while not knowledgable about the deep past, DOES remember the Attitude Era of the WWF, showing this with a healthy "Meat" chant. There ya go. =) Stasiak tries to wrestle Orton but gets sent outside as a result. Witty comment of the night by someone in my section: "Don't try to live up to your daddy's name, son!" I wonder how many even got that. Off the ropes, Orton buggers his knee after doing a leapfrog and the match is halted and even Stasiak looks concerned. Of course, it's a ruse, but Stasiak actually does a good job of pretending to care before taking Orton's knee out. Stasiak takes Orton to school with the figure-four, but Orton makes the ropes. With Ric Flair in the promotion though, they could have safely done the bit where Orton turns it over but oh well. Stasiak with a leglock, and Orton kicks his way out of it. Orton follows this up with some quick roll-ups, each getting two. He even remembers to sell the leg after hitting a dropkick, unlike two matches ago. Stasiak goes for the kill, but Orton gets a fluke roll-up for the win. Post-match, the crowd gives Stasiak serious hell despite him not doing a thing to warrant it. You'd think he was Earl Hebner in Montreal with the heat he was getting. Match couldn't buy a point, though, so 1 for 5.

MATCH #6: Steven Richards and Tommy Dreamer vs. Chuck Palumbo and Billy Gunn

Richards and Dreamer get the ECW theme as their entrance. Of course, any cool vibe from hearing that team is flushed down the toilet seeing Gunn come to the ring. I'm sorry, but he stopped being relative to me once the Smoking Gunns faded into history. Sadly, the crowd disagreed, giving him the second loudest pop of the night to that point. The man with the louder pop? The referee for this match - "Peanuthead" Teddy Long.

This is your typical WWF tag team match, with the heels on the receiving end of the punishment to start. At one point, Gunn press-slams one of the heels (they wore the same clothes and look alike with short hair, hard to distinguish) into a 69 position with the other. Next, Gunn rubs his ass into Richards face as the latter makes it to his feet. * sigh * The match finally gets going when the heels get the offense portion of the match, as Dreamer and Richards hit a few good doubleteams and seem to mesh well together as a team. Palumbo plays face-in-peril and looks okay, but not overly convincing just yet. He acts as if he's bored out there, and I certainly can't blame him. The crowd is a bit off of their timing, chanting for Billy seconds before the resthold segment and stopping as Richards applies the chinlock. Oops! Dreamer tries to subdue Palumbo with a sleeperhold but Chuck powers out. Dreamer then hits what Tony Schiavone would call "a variation of The Last Dance." Palumbo gets a desperation belly-to-back suplex and then collides with Dreamer as he comes off top. The (false?) tag is made, but Long waves Billy off as he is cleaning house with the heels. In the ensuing melee, Gunn and Dreamer end up outside of the ring. Palumbo picks up Richards and holds him as Gunn re-enters the ring and hits the Famasser for the pin after ten minutes. Post-match, the heels argue with Long, who shoves both men and runs like hell. So, the Alliance guys "job" to refs now, that's just great. Where's Vince Russo when you need that last shred of credibility ripped away? Nevertheless, the ECW guys carried the contest to a somewhat watchable level, but Billy Gunn pretty much kills whatever match he's involved in. 1 for 6.

15-minute intermission. At this time, I get into a humorous conversation with someone about paying $35 to see Billy Gunn and jobbers.

For those in the Orlando, FL area, the WWF will be taping a special edition of Smackdown at the TD Waterhouse Centre on Saturday, December 22nd. (This is 'cause Christmas is on a Tuesday, so they're getting the 27 December SD! knocked down here - CRZ)

MATCH #7: Handicap match - Diamond Dallas Page and Hugh Morrus vs. The Big Show

DDP does his schtick before Big Show makes his way out. DDP is slated to start the match, but he stalls for time and eventually tags in Morrus, as he probably hasn't paid his dues yet. Show then does the usual punching and clobbering in the corner. Morrus tries to tag out, but DDP leaps off the apron. Morrus spends the next minute or so bouncing off Show like a superball. Then both men run perpendicular ropes, and Show stops as Morrus continues to run the ropes like a doofus. Show sells this as the funniest thing he's ever seen. Someone needs to send him a tape of Scott Hall's Frankengoof impersonation during their WCW feud. Chops galore in the corner. Morrus attempts another tag, but no dice, says DDP. Morrus does a Flair Flop after a headbutt. Morrus regains his composure, though, and actually bodyslams the 500-pound Show. And *now* Page wants in. He goes up top and hits his flying clothesline. Morrus clips the Show and DDP follows up with a swinging neckbreaker. Diamond Cutter attempted, but Show shrugs it off. Show readies a chokeslam but Morrus attacks. So, a double chokeslam is attempted, but the heels escape, sending Morrus to the floor in the melee. BAAAAANG! But it only gets 2.9 for DDP. Show responds with a chokeslam for the pin about six minutes. Morrus gets one after the contest. This was the very definition of a "popcorn match." 1 for 7.

MATCH #8: WWF Tag Team Title Match - The Hardy Boyz vs. (c) The Dudley Boyz

Li'l Naitch returns for the second time tonight. Matt gets the stick and tries to convince Jeff to stay out of this match, as he is still not 100%. The Dudleyz make their way out and say they don't care who is injured. So, both Hardyz blindside their opponents, but Jeff takes the worse of it. Jeff manages to tag to his brother, allowing Matt to play face-in-peril for a while. This is pretty much what you would expect of the Dudleyz beating up the Hardyz, until Bubba Ray misses an elbowdrop. Instead of tagging, Matt decides to fight, with negative results. He does get in an inverted DDT in a short bit, allowing a tag to Jeff. Jeff tries the fancy high-flying stuff, which gets stopped early, allowing Jeff to be face-in-peril. Bubba rips off Jeff's shirt, revealing (a) a chest whiter than mine, and (b) DDP Brand Rib Tape. Matt ends up distracting Charles Robinson, which doesn't bode well for our hero with the multi-colored hair. This would happen on several occasions, by the way. I must say that the Dudleyz are doing VERY well in working the crowd despite the limitations imposed on their gimmick in the WWF. (i.e. no excessive swearing, picking on the crowd one-by-one to incite riots, etc.) Matt screws up again (in the work sense), allowing the Dudleyz to hit the Wassup! Drop. The bloodthirsty crowd begins to chant for the tables right before Jeff rushes the corner and lands a desperation moonsault press. Hot tag to Matt, who proceeds to kick Dudley ass all over the place. Matt hits the top rope legdrop and tries for the Twist of Fate but the law of numbers works against Matt, as the TWO Dudleyz take out the ONE Hardy. D-von slams Matt and Jeff goes up top to counteract - but ends up hitting Matt with the Swanton Bomb. With Jeff woosy, D-von covers Matt for the win in about eleven minutes. Post-match, Matt blames Jeff for the loss, then attacks him with a brotherly hug. First good match outside of the opener, but sadly no tables. 2 for 8.

MAIN EVENT: I-C Title Match - Christian vs. (c) Edge

Teddy Long returns to a big pop. Chris Jericho also returns, but to a different type of pop. The ring announcer makes sure to tell us that due to Y2J's worsening condition, he is stuck to using crutches. The poor guy! Anyway, CHRISTUHHHHN comes out and kisses Y2J's ass (in a different way versus the ass-kissing you saw Monday night), then talks about the chants of him sucking. Christian then threatens to leave if the chants continue. The crowd reacts as you'd expect.

So, Edge comes out and they do their usual match, which is a solid affair and better than their recent TV outing, but their match at No Mercy was better. Of course that was a gimmick match and given the luxury of twenty minutes, but we can't be perfect. Anyway, like I said, it's their usual solid match, with Edge starting the early offense and taking Christian outside the ring for an Al Bundy-style introduction to the railing. It should be noted that no physical contact was made outside the ring until this match tonight. Nevertheless, Christian cuts Edge off as he re-enters the ring and the pendulum shifts to the heel side. Christian lays a beating on his brother as the crowd chants something about sucking. Christian powerslams Edge for two and we go to the chinlock. I'm guessing Christian watched the gravy match last night and figured if Trish could make Stacy submit to one, then he could do the same to Edge! Doesn't happen, sadly. Edge breaks free and manages to sneak in a missile dropkick from the top rope for two. Christian didn't like that, and shows it with an inverted DDT for two. Christian didn't like that either, but couldn't think of anything to follow up, so he just slaps the mat repeatedly like a basketball player only getting four million a year instead of five. They go up top and slug it out, with Edge blocking a superplex and trying a sunset flip to nil effect. Edge hits a spinning heel kick instead, and both men go down. Crowd chants along with Teddy Long until six, at which time both ex-Broodsters reach a vertical base. Christian tries for the Unprettier but Edge gets it in instead for two. Long gets bumped, and Y2J enters the ring to assault Edge. As heel timekeeper, Y2J should have done his homework and watched That Match From Montreal With The Strange Finish and tried that tactic instead, because Christian can only get 2.9 from the cover. Y2J strikes agayne, but this time Edge grabs the crutch. Christian tries a spear but Edge moves, forcing Y2J to take the blow. Edgicution gets the win after nine minutes.

Heel beatdown follows, but Edge is able to take care of himself, dispatching Christian and putting Jericho in the Walls. Christian goes for the save but eats a spear. As Edge leaves, Christian tends to Jericho, then holds his European title up high while supporting himself with the crutch. Y2J comes to and threatens those who say Christian sucks with an assbeating. He'd even give it himself, but that bum leg of his makes it hard to do so. The remaining Canadians have a love-in, with Christian giving Y2J a manly kiss on the head - which prompted "faggot" chants by the idiots in the crowd. * sigh * 3 for 9.

Epilogue: [slash] regular (and fellow DDT Digest alumnus) The Cubs Fan relayed a message to me during IM as I typed this report. Apparently, the WWF has a big show in Philadelphia the day after this show, and it is speculated that the A-Stars are there, hence the B-Show line-up we got here. Even still, the least they could have done was thrown us (and the Lakeland crowd the next day) a bone and given us something like Rock or Kane vs. Angle and let Austin/RVD and Taker/whoever rule the roost on the money show. I like Edge and Christian, and their match would make a nice sub-main, but when you have a roster with guys like Rock, Austin, Angle, RVD and Booker T, I do not want to see my $40 ($30 for the seat, $10 to TicketMaster and taxes) go to a line-up of developmental guys, midcarders and Billy Gunn. Unlike WCW, the WWF main eventers CAN work, so I like watching them, too. The crowd echoed my thoughts, as many had Rock and Austin shirts/signs with them, said "What" repeatedly, and filed away numbly when the lights went up without seeing anyone they knew. And regardless of who worked, it appeared that in many of the matches, the wrestlers were going through the motions more than usual and killing time with stalling/restholds. Yeah, the wrestlers cool down at the non-televised shows, but there's a difference between "cooling down" and "making the crowd sit on their hands."

On the bright side, I must say that the Dudleyz do a great job at riling up the crowd. Jericho as a heel is also a bonus. If they end up keeping Jericho in the mid-card (hopefully not but you never know), he and Christian would make a good heel tag team. Come to think of it, it's too bad Dean Malenko went into retirement months ago. I would have LOVED to see Jericho interview the portrait of Malenko and inform us of Dean's adventures at Harry's Burgers. And where's that Ron Misterio guy, anyway?

Summation: A couple of good matches to close the show, but everything else was a wash. Thumbs down.

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