Ryan Gray

Special thanks to Robert Truesdale for passing along the following report:

August 21, 2007 – WWE SmackDOWN!/ECW TV Taping

The Colonial Center

Columbia, SC

Iâ<80><99>ve seen crowds dwindle more and more when it comes to WWE events held in this area over the past several years. It used to be that when WWE or WCW was in town, you couldnâ<80><99>t find a ticket unless you were willing to give over your first born to a scalper. I attribute their lack of drawing power now to a combination of thin rosters (truly, the attrition rate in WWE for top stars suffering major injuries is unbelievable) and high ticket prices as itâ<80><99>s no longer a situation where an average working man can afford to take his family of four out to the show without breaking the bank. For this event, better than 75% of the upper-deck was blacked out and a significant portion of the lower tier was unused. Random areas of empty seats even in the open sections, and this was with the Colonial Center running a promotion where anyone with a valid student ID would receive a ticket for only $11, an apparent effort to get returning University of South Carolina students to pack in the arena.

I was seated on the floor, ringside, second row, to the left of the entrance ramp (left if you were facing the stage). Either this is new or Iâ<80><99>ve simply never been aware of the practice, but security was confiscating signs from everyone on the hard-camera ringside area with the reason given being they would block the view of the cameras. Speaking of which, the boom-camera was swinging above my head all night long, and Iâ<80><99>m a rather tall individual which made my melon a prime target for the outstretched arm of the thing. I moved to avoid it once then I realized I should probably just let it hit me because a successful personal injury lawsuit is probably the only way Iâ<80><99>m ever getting my hands on any WWE money.

DARK MATCH #1: Rosey vs. Johnny Jeter

Rosey (as in the other guy from 3 Minute Warning and Gregory Helms ex-tag team partner) entered first, however they did not announce him as Rosey but as some other gimmick ��” possibly Mattie Smalls; I canâ<80><99>t say for sure as the announcer was drowned out by the ridiculously loud entrance music all night long, and this was the first of several times we had trouble making out what he was saying. Jeter, who has gone through the horror that was the Spirit Squad and thankfully lived to tell the tale, was announced as hailing from Columbia so of course he gets the cheap pop. Pretty good match with some nice counters displayed by both; Jeter went over around 7 minutes in via the Jeter Kick.

DARK MATCH #2: Dave Taylor & Paul Birchill vs. The Daltons (Jesse & Festus)

The Daltons were way over with this crowd! Truth be told, they made a good showing for themselves by displaying their athleticism and some comedy as well. They got the duke after about 8 minutes, so expect to see them on SmackDOWN! shortly. Dave Taylor got busted open at one point in the match, but it wasnâ<80><99>t too bad; good to see Burchill being used again as well.

SmackDOWN! Results

This show will air Friday, August 24, 2007.

JBL and Michael Cole make their way to the ring, the opening video is shown and everyone gets a little deafer from the pyrotechnics. Vince McMahon and Jonathan Coachman are out first, still trying to figure out whom Vinceâ<80><99>s bastard son is. Kaneâ<80><99>s pyro goes off and damn near gives me a heart attack ��” heâ<80><99>s on his way to the ring to tell Vince he thinks heâ<80><99>s his son and to also demand a match with Finlay. Finlay and Batista is our main event for the evening, so McMahon adds Kane vs. Finlay to the SummerSlam card.

Chris Masters then arrives on the scene and now he thinks heâ<80><99>s Vinceâ<80><99>s kid, showing Vince a photograph of the two of them together when Masters was 15. Vince made the comment that Chris had a scrawny neck back then, which prompted someone near me to yell, â<80><9c>BECAUSE HE WASNâ<80><99>T ON STEROIDS THEN!â<80> So now Masters wants to get Kane in the Master Lock Challenge to prove heâ<80><99>s Vinceâ<80><99>s spawn, but Kane eventually chokeslams Masters and bails. Finally, Chuck Palumbo appears at ringside on his bike and Vince decides to make a match.

MATCH #1: Chris Masters vs. Chuck Palumbo

Personally, I think the â<80><9c>Masterpieceâ<80> gimmick is about as dead in the water as could be, and Palumboâ<80><99>s biker get-up isnâ<80><99>t doing anything for me either. Heâ<80><99>s looks like the â<80><9c>American Badassâ<80> version of Undertaker, only not nearly as warmly received by the crowd. He got little to no pop, even when he defeated Masters with some kind of crucifix powerbomb variant.

MATCH #2: Funaki vs. Chavo Guererro

Funaki is one of those guys whoâ<80><99>s had a spot in WWE for what seems like forever, and even though some people would have a problem with becoming known as an â<80><9c>enhancement talentâ<80> the truth of the matter is that workers like him are a go-to resource that are to be commended.

Not much to say about this match, though. Chavo comes to the ring with a mannequin head that has a Rey Mysterio mask on it, then does his best Al Snow impression. Chavo would be disqualified after failing to obey the refâ<80><99>s orders, and he then put the Mysterio mask onto Funaki and tried to take out his knee just as he did Mysterioâ<80><99>s oh so many months ago.

Mysterio did not make an appearance, much to the chagrin of a couple hundred little kids. I guess when WWE says he and Triple H are returning at SummerSlam, they mean then and never before.

MATCH #3: Jamie Noble vs. Jimmy Wang Yang

Iâ<80><99>d like to see these two have a match that went 20 minutes or more; theyâ<80><99>re both more than capable of having fantastic matches, itâ<80><99>s just that more often than not theyâ<80><99>re relegated to 5 minute bouts like this. It was good for what it was worth, though, and Noble went over but seemed to be more concerned with whether or not Hornswoggle was under the ring.

MATCH #4 ��” WWE Tag Team Championship: Deuce & Domino w/ Cherry (c) vs. Shannon Moore & Eugene

I keep trying to tell people that Shannon Moore is a good wrestler. Very few of them believe me, and I think itâ<80><99>s primarily due to stuff like this. Eugene got one of the bigger pops of the night, even though I was under the impression audiences had begun to turn on him a bit as of late. No real question what happened here; Deuce & Domino retain.


Yes, you read that rightâ<80>¦

Before this took place, there was a backstage segment (not much backstage stuff tonight, by the way, and Vickie Guererro was nowhere to be found) where MVP put himself over to Teddy Long saying he could beat all the current SD! brand champions. Teddy then one-upped him by saying he guessed MVP thinks he could take the tag team championships by himself, but MVP backpedals then says heâ<80><99>ll tag with the next person to walk in Teddyâ<80><99>s office to take on Deuce & Domino. In walks Matt Hardy, and Teddy makes the match for next week on SD! ��” MVP & Matt Hardy vs. Deuce & Domino.

To start the basketball challenge, MVP again put himself over with how great he is at basketball, saying heâ<80><99>s friends with Shaq and D-Wade of the Miami Heat, only to miss an easy layup. Matt Hardy makes his entrance and starts the challenge by throwing the ball directly into MVPâ<80><99>s face. While heâ<80><99>s recovering Deuce and Domino attack and beat down the pair of them, the idea being to create some sort of chemistry between Hardy & MVP working as a team.

At this point, I have to take a moment to admire WWEâ<80><99>s production. The crew set up and then tore down MVPâ<80><99>s entrance tunnel thingie in 45 seconds, possibly less. Granted, itâ<80><99>s an inflatable piece, but still ��” to raise something its size and then have it be totally gone that quickly is impressive.

MATCH #5: Brad Allen vs. Mark Henry

Brad Allen is better known to some of us familiar with the Carolinas independent wrestling scene as Brad Attitude, who regularly works for Carolina Wrestling Association (http://www.CWAWrestlingOnline.com). When I saw him, I knew he was in for a squash, but little did I know that heâ<80><99>d be getting fed to Mark Henry. Attitude was announced as being a Columbia native and I donâ<80><99>t think he got in any offense at all, but such is the nature of the squash.

After the match, Henry talks about how heâ<80><99>s not scared of druids or other spooky stuff like that, then the lights go out and the bell tolls. A new Undertaker promo video airs on the Titan screens while Henry stands in the middle of the ring washed in purple light. The video was an amalgam of different horror film-esque splash scenes and it ended with several druids out in a desert digging up a box which is revealed to contain several coral snakes and a large, metallic â<80><9c>Undertakerâ<80> symbol. The people around me went nuts at the sight of this thing, thinking Taker might actually appear, but of course he didnâ<80><99>t. Henry eventually left the ring and that was that.

DIVAS BIKINI CONTEST: Michelle McCool vs. Victoria vs. Torrie Wilson vs. Kristal

Michelle McCool (who came to the ring wearing a Ryan Succop USC Gamecocks football jersey) looks awesomely hot, as does Torrie and Victoria. Never have been too big on Kristal, but hey ��” different strokes for different folks, right?

Michael Cole hosts this contest with the winner, of course, being decided upon by crowd reaction. All four of the ladies show their stuff and then Cole does the unthinkableâ<80>¦

He brings down Mae Young.

Mae Young is 84 years old ��” she should be in a comfortable chair somewhere enjoying her grandchildrenâ<80><99>s company, not threatening to take her clothes off on national television! Grandma boobies are not a boob variety for which I think Iâ<80><99>ll ever be able to develop a taste. Cole declared her the winner, even though I think the crowd got louder for her because we were all retching like weâ<80><99>d just come down with a sudden and horrible case of food poisoning.

MATCH #6: Batista vs. Finlay

Batistaâ<80><99>s pyro is pure torture, especially when youâ<80><99>re sitting as close to those cannons as I was. The other negative thing about it is that it creates a lot of fumes ��” so many that there was a cloud of smoke that slowly made its way up to the rafters, pretty much ruining visibility for people in the cheap seats and making it really difficult for people like myself who were trying to get some decent pictures of the matches.

I had hopes that when it was announced Finlay would be his opponent that Batista would be forced to step up his workrate a bit. No such luck, though, as Batista continues to have some of the lightest matches imaginable. I can definitely see why WWEâ<80><99>s booking strategy as of late has become to protect their talent as much as possible, but good Lord if it hasnâ<80><99>t made for some lack-luster television.

A few minutes in, The Great Khali and his handler made their way to ringside but didnâ<80><99>t get involved in the match until several minutes later when Khali went after Batista only to have Batista fight him off. I kept thinking to myself, â<80><9c>Okay, Batistaâ<80><99>s going to be the face in peril and Ric Flairâ<80><99>s going to run in for the save!â<80>, because Flair hadnâ<80><99>t been involved in the show up until that point. As it would turn out, Flair wasnâ<80><99>t involved in the show at all ��” not a match, not a promo, nothing, even though he was on the local NBC affiliate the past two days hyping this show.

Batista commenced to beating down Finlay and Khali, and appeared to have drawn blood from the scalp of Khali. Referees went to separate “The Animal” from his prey, but I totally marked out for Irwin R. Scheister and Dean Malenko who were also trying to get in on the fun.

That was the end of SmackDOWN!. Once Batista, Finlay, and Khali were off an announcement was made that our main event of the evening would be a World title match with Batista taking on Khali. More than likely this was a run-through for their match this weekend at SummerSlam, but I canâ<80><99>t tell you for sure how it went because I left after the Elijah Burke vs. Balls Mahoney match during the ECW broadcast. Iâ<80><99>d seen enough, needless to say. A fairly uneventful taping and not one that would have at all made me want to pay $40 for the pay-per-view this Sunday.

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