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WWF House Show


Guest columnist: NPR's Laura


MCI Center
Washington, DC

Basically, this shindig got underway at the MCI Center in downtown Washington, about 3 blocks from where I work. A friend of mine accompanied me -- we ditched work at 6:30 and strolled over, assuming that a) we wouldn't really be missed and b) no one would really get there until about 7:20. Which, as it turned out, was true.

7 p.m. -- A sign on the door informs us (Laura and Kelly -- hereafter, LAL and KMC) that "Stone Cold Steve Austin will not be wrestling tonight due to a severe leg injury." There are knots of young people in predominantly balck t-shirts grumbling about this news. The headliner match is now Kane, X-Pac, and the Rock vs. HHH, the Undertaker, and Mr. Ass. Um, okay, sure. Why not.

7:15 -- a plan to eat at the arena is scrapped. Beer is $5.50 and peanuts are $4.00. Looking around at the stuff for sale, the Kane mask seems to be a relative steal at a mere $8.00. The complete histories of both the WWF and WCW can be constructed chronologically simply by looking at the t-shirts that people are wearing. Many focus on the NWO, several on the Wolfpack, and a surprising number of Monday-Jericho shirts are in attendance.

7:20 -- Lita Ford's "Kiss Me Deadly" is on the P.A. as we take the hopefully-named "EXPRESS ESCALATOR" up to our comparatively inexpensive seats. KMC and I have a short disagreement about the Runaways as a result. We conclude that actually someone should tip off the people running this show to the band The Atomic Bitchwax, which would work very nicely in all sorts of situations. We find our seats, in the section marked "Vertigo Inducement." We settle in, avoiding the chair that has dried nacho goo on it. There are no video montages or anything to fill up the time before the show. There are 6 kids in the row in front of us, bogged down with serious merchandise. Two have signs with better-than-average artwork depicting Rocky Miavia. They appear to have been executed in colored pencil and charcoal.

7:25 -- We are on eye-level with banners hung from the ceiling of the MCI Center, emblazoned with the logo for the late, lamented Washington Bullets in 1971, 72, 78, and 79. Apparently the Washington Mystics, who cannot buy a win, were last year's WNBA attendance champions...or, at least, the banner that is practically brushing my head says that they were. Believe nothing. Question everything. Trust no one. Two women whom I guess might be tonight's Godfather ho's and someone who is possibly a local pimp are escorted into the front row, right at ringside.

7:27 -- Brief roar from crowd as one tier of lights is dimmed.

7:33 -- All lights abruptly extinguished. I drop my $7.00 basket of french fries in surprise. The music could be a whole lot louder. That's a surprise. It's "Welcome to the Jungle." They cut it off about 1/3 of the way through the song. No fade-out -- just turned it off. Whatever.

7:35 -- Ring announcer makes a very long, almost hysterical pitch for the JVC Kaboom! Box. And, finally, we get to a match, pitting

PRINCE ALBERT & DROZ v. THE GODFATHER & VAL VENIS: the DC crowd goes completely insane for the Godfather. Not a surprise, here in Chocolate City. It's cool, KMC & I like him too. Crowd extremely enthusiastic about the ho's as well...who were, as predicted, the girls in abbreviated dresses who were escorted in to the arena and plunked in the front row. GF enters, wearing orange. The vest du jour is the "Light It Up" model. Venis is introduced perfunctorily and troops gamely out to the ring, but no one cares, because everyone loves the Godfather and is still givin' it up for him. I am mildly disturbed by the 7-year-old sitting behind me who is really, really into Venis. I'm picturing him getting sent to the principal's office after entering his 2nd-grade class and booming out "Hello, Ladies." Anyway. Droz is wearing some kind of shoulder-sling. The crowd does not care unless the GF is in the ring. I mean, when Venis and Droz are working in there, you can hear a pin drop -- it's dead silent except for the sound of 21,000 people grimly munching $6.00 nachos and sucking down $3.75 Cokes. There is some utilitarian, fairly unenthusiastic, but certainly adequate wrestling. I'm looking at the crowd, mostly. GF&VV win with a Venis leap off the turnbuckle to pin Prince Albert. time of match: 6:15. (I'm an editor at National Public Radio: I brought my stopwatch, much to the underwhelm-ment of my companion.)

There was some sort of strange postmatch thing where the ref danced with the ho's for a very long time, for no apparent reason. Thus bringing us to the next match, featuring

MIDEON v. CHAZ -- It's a one-fall match. Chaz is accompanied by Marianne & some local DJ whose name I did not catch. Mideon looks very slow, very tired, and somewhat confused. The crowd actively boos the entire match. They're right, it's really boring. Nothing happening here but submission moves. I feel kind of bad for them...I mean, it sucks, but I think they're trying. These are two men doing a job they do not appear to like much. The match mercifully ends: 3:12. Oh, yeah -- Mideon won. Whatever. Crowd wakes up, stretches, collectively goes for a beer. Crowd collectively stops dead in its tracks as the next match is announced, which pits

THE HARDY BOYZ v. CHRISTIAN & EDGE v. THE ACOLYTES in a 3-team elimination match. This is great. Entrances are pretty high-energy, but it's clear that they know they aren't on TV, and they're kinda not all that "on" for this particular audience. Let me just throw in here that DC also loves the Acolytes, as in a lot. The whole place is complete Pamplona for the first 2 minutes of the match, which was amazing. Then, the pace of the thing went through the floor. Tremendous gymnastic moves from everyone involved. Everyone is leaping everywhere, even the Acolytes. They appear to want to wrestle the Hardy Boyz because they keep attacking Christian. the Hardy Boyz are eliminated anyway and then Edge et al. go nuts with a bunch of moves that I don't know the names of. Xian is getting his clock cleaned. Having this guy's job must suck, since I sense that he's just there as a punching bag as the higher-ups at WWF groom Edge for the big push. A Hardy Boy re-enters the ring and clobbers Edge. Match ends as Bradshaw just sort of walks over and pins him. 11:19 of actual wrestling. Who'd have guessed?

8:20 -- a protracted timeout as the ring announcer reminds us that your basic 45.00 Rock football jersey makes an outstanding gift. Go buy merchandise! Keep the economy clicking! Buy buy buy! We mean it! Oh, and now, we will have a match featuring

STEVE BLACKMAN v. KEN SHAMROCK -- which gets going before the bell. This crowd is extremely enthusiastic about Ken Shamrock, which is a little bit of a surprise. KS is spectacularly fit and sporting a really regrettable haircut. Crowd chanting obscene stuff, pro-Shamrock. They're outside the ring. They're inside the ring. They do a lot of stuff wherein they're getting hurt with ringropes. Ken Shamrock executes a half-crab reversal, nothing. Hmph. Blackman does something that looks like a cloverleaf though KMC informs me it is a "scorpion death-lock," which I'll take his word for though I don't really know what that is. KS flips it, gets SB into an ankle-lock, which he gets out of. They run around. They run around. The ref gets clocked. This guy is out like a proverbial light. I don't think this is faked. Okay, well, maybe, but he looked like he really took a serious shot there. Shamrock goes over to wake up the ref, and gets whanged with a bell shot. (As KMC says, "a piss-poor bell shot. Write that down.") SB then just sort of lies down on Shamrock, kinda lame, but it's a pin, whatever. 7:05 total match time. They also sort of clobber each other on the way out of the ring on the way back to the dressing area. The spotlights drop them and focus on a special guest --

MANKIND. Who addresses us all for a few moments. He mentions his autobiography and its projected sale price. He has decided to forgive HHH. Except that it would put him out of a job, so he's now morally obligated to kick Hunter's ass. So of course HHH comes out and whomps him one. A chairshot is involved. (KMC adds, "a piss-poor chairshot. Write that down." This is why KMC is not a writer, I'm thinking.) Foley, now flat on the mat, promises revenge. 5:00 total. The crowd adored it. Yea, verily. We make the educated guess that HHH will be taking a chairshot later.

Okay, then there was a dog-collar match involving ROAD DOGG v. MR. ASS -- Dogg gets a huge response from the crowd, biggest of the night so far. Dogg promises to "beat the shit" out of Mr. Ass, which I personally would be pleased to see since I can't stand the Ass-man, but the language kind of surprises me. Billy's wearing the Mr. Ass bike shorts trunks and not the see-thru thong nonsense, thank God. Ass refuses to don dog collar. Much whomping. They get out of the ring, they get back in the ring, Dogg gets the collar on Ass's neck, whatever. No bell, but they start. Ass punches RD with chain. Blah, blah, blah. The pacing goes to hell, all the energy drains out of the room. Yawn. There is much posturing with the chain. RD lands on top of Ass after this very complicated chain business. Finally lands some punches, takes Mr. Ass out for a two-count about three times in a row. Crowd getting restless, doesn't care. Someone rings the bell for no reason. Everything gets very confusing here, but I think RD won. I'm not exactly sure. Crowd, for its part, does not care about anything but getting on to the next match. 5:10 total, I guess.

8:50 p.m. -- ring announcer returns to beg us: buy some WWF crap! Please! Also, incidentally, RAW IS WAR will be here on November 1st, and tickets are on sale right now. People grab up their children and literally sprint for the box office. It's mayhem in here -- the reaction would have been calmer if the guy had picked up the mic and yelled "FIRE!". Not the best marketing strategy I've seen. Although if I were going to be here in November, I'd have run for the tix too. Probably.

There's an intermission now, until 9:11 p.m. They give away a Kaboom! Box. The fix is clearly in -- the winner is in Section 7, row E, seat 6, in the expensive area. Bastards.

But finally, the lights are dimmed, the music starts up, and AL SNOW and TORI take on HARDCORE HOLLY and IVORY. The crowd is underwhelmed but is distinctly anti-Ivory for some reason, so there're interesting patterns of booing going on. From the outset, Holly and Snow execute an extremely professional set. Exceedingly clean, solid hits. The girls enter, they posture, whatever, it's boring. All the energy goes straight to hell when the women get in the ring. Snow & Holly return and we all liven up. Snow breaks a broom across Holly's back. Tori chases Ivory around the ring. Actually the crowd likes that. Holly picks up Snow to do a piledriver, and holds it for like 25 seconds. This is the most impressive thing I've seen tonight -- these guys are working their hearts out, and are really good at this. Wow. By the way, Snow is wearing his J.O.B. Squad uniform, which is raising all these questions for me & KMC about what message Snow is sending here, given Holly's past and all. Anyhow, we got distracted by this, and I missed some stuff. They fight, they tag, Tori pins Ivory, the crowd is really happy, I have no idea how long it was, and finally it's time for another match, this time featuring

JEFF JARRETT (incidentally without Debra) v. D-LO BROWN -- the crowd is visibly and audibly really, really pissed at the comparative lack of Ms. McMichaels. I mean, like, mutinous. Angry, actually. This is a one-fall match, which D-Lo won, easily. I can't comment on it with any kind of detail because I went to get a Coke.

And then, as it turns out, my companion was kind of tired of me asking him so many questions and I was kind of tired of paying attention to my notebook and wanted to watch the show, so I stopped taking notes. The last match, HHH & THE UNDERTAKER & MR. ASS v. KANE & X-PAC & THE ROCK was mostly a crowd love-fest. The Rock could be declared the king of DC, easily. Sustained roar. They just went insane and never let up. HHH, as predicted, drew a chairshot from Mankind. In short, the good guys won. The Rock came back at the end and did some of his patter, which everyone was very very pleased about.

So that's what happened. Sorry I didn't get more specifics down, sorry this is so late. But I thought you might be curious about the show. Love the site, read it every day, thanks for doing this for the legions of unsung, online wrestling fans.

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Guest column text copyright (C) 1999 by the individual author and used with permission