Arena Reports 7/29 WWE Raw in Hampton Beach, N.H: Eugene-Angle, Michaels-Flair, Cena-Edge
Jul 30, 2005 - 2:00:00 PM
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WWE Raw house show
July 29, 2005
Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
Report by Noel Webster of Bellows Falls, Vt., PWTorch.com reader
This show took place at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom. It's a unique venue for wrestling events, as it's not really an arena in the traditional sense. The seats around ringside are similar to the seating at arena shows; for the general admission seats, however, everyone is seated at tables. It's somewhat reminiscent of the nightclub setting from the old Shotgun Saturday Night shows. There's even a disco ball hanging from the ceiling, just above the ring. It looked to be a sold-out show; I couldn't see any empty seats.
(1) The Hurricane & Rosey defeated the Heart Throbs to retain the WWE tag team titles. A fairly routine match, with a couple of interesting spots thrown in for good measure. At one point, Hurricane was gorilla-pressed by Rosey, dropping him into a splash on one of the 'Throbs from an impressive elevation. Following a distraction by Stacy, Hurricane and Rosey hit their tandem sidewalk slam/Eye of the Hurricane finisher for the pinfall.
(2) Viscera defeated Gene Snitsky. Slow and plodding, as you might expect. Big Vis seemed to be over with the local crowd, however. Snitsky's giant goatee is approaching critical mass. Viscera won when Snitsky attempted to bodyslam him, but couldn't carry the weight, and Vis collapsed on top of him for the pin.
(3) Kerwin White defeated Chris Cage. Kerwin entered the ring to Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight", sporting a yellow polo shirt and khaki shorts with a green sweater draped over his shoulders. Prior to the match, Kerwin cut a promo about being "America's great White hope" and "protecting everyone from minorities". He asked Cage what his nationality was, and Cage replied he was Italian. Kerwin called him a "guinea" and sucker-punched him. The match was very dull with Kerwin doing the cowardly heel schtick, and displaying none of Chavo's technical wrestling skills. Kerwin got a very lackluster response, and the crowd was otherwise hot for the rest of the show. That can't be a good sign.
Jonathan Coachman hit the ring for a promo, delivering some news on behalf of Eric Bischoff. Regarding the Michaels/Hogan situation, Coach said Bischoff decided to give Michaels a "tune-up match" against another legend, Ric Flair, as preparation for his match with Hogan. Regarding John Cena and his attitude problem, Coach said Bischoff was forcing Cena to defend his WWE Championship against Edge. Coach promised that Cena would lose his championship tonight.
(4) Christy Hemme defeated Victoria. Christy wrestled better than expected, pulling out a headscissor takedown and bridging pin, but her style is still very sloppy and needs improvement. Victoria carried the match by making the bumps look good. Christy won by rolling up Victoria when she was about to perform her trademark spasmodic moonsault. Thankfully, the match was pretty short.
(5) The Big Show defeated Chris Masters. This was rather bizarre, as Masters entered first and grabbed the house mic, saying it was time for the Masterlock Challenge. When Big Show hit the ring, however, it magically transformed into a regular match without explanation. Show controlled most of the match, hitting a few of his overhand chops in the corner (which echoed pretty loudly in the small Casino Ballroom venue), but Masters promptly got himself disqualified with a low blow. He attempted to beat down Show post-match, but Show fought back and hit his chokeslam for a good pop.
(6) Carlito defeated Shelton Benjamin to retain the Intercontinental Championship. Good action from both men, not really comparable to their performances on television, but still exciting to watch. In a unique spot, Carlito attempted a vertical suplex and Benjamin countered it into a neckbreaker. A lot of rest holds were used, but at least both participants had the creativity to use holds other than the dreaded rear chinlock. Carlito distracted the referee by attempting to remove the turnbuckle padding in plain view, then hit his modified STO-type move on Benjamin for a near fall. Benjamin fought back and hit the Stinger Splash and the Dragon Whip for a good pop. The finish came when Carlito rolled up Benjamin in the corner with his feet on the ropes.
(7) Shawn Michaels defeated Ric Flair. In terms of pure wrestling and psychology, this was easily the match of the night. It amazes me how Flair continues to give 110% in the ring, even at non-televised shows. Crowd support was split 50/50 for both men. For the most part, Flair played the heel, sneaking in a few eye gouges and low blows. Most of the vintage Flair moments were present and accounted for, including the Flair Flop and the vaunted "that never works!" turnbuckle spot. Michaels was intense and energetic, hitting a nice flying forearm at one point. Both men traded knife-edge chops. After a lot of back-and-forth action, Michaels connected with the Sweet Chin Music for the pin.
After the match, Michaels cut a lengthy pseudo-shoot promo on Hulk Hogan, similar to his promo from Raw. He reiterated that he didn't intend to lie down for Hogan, and said he'd fight him "in the dressing room or the boardroom". Michaels said fans have been asking him whether he's a "good guy or a bad guy". He said he's whatever the fans want him to be. He talked about having both personal and professional differences with Hogan, but claimed Hogan "couldn't touch him". A very good promo, and it got the crowd riled up.
(8) Eugene defeated Kurt Angle. Angle entered first and cut a promo about Eugene winning his gold medal. Angle said he wasn't allowed to host Kurt Angle Invitationals except on televised shows, but vowed to teach Eugene a lesson tonight. The match was very entertaining, starting out with mostly comedy spots, with Eugene's antics frustrating Angle. Once Angle took control, it turned into a very good wrestling match, with Angle hitting a few nice-looking German suplexes. Eugene fought back and hit a Stunner for a near-fall. Eugene then applied the Ankle Lock to Angle, but Angle rolled out of it and applied the same hold to Eugene. Eugene managed to escape, but Angle took control of the match again. The finish came when Eugene countered out of an attempted move by Angle, then hit him with his own Angle Slam for the pinfall.
(9) John Cena defeated Edge to retain the WWE Championship. Cena was way over, as his hometown of West Newbury, Massachusetts is just a stone's throw from Hampton Beach. Edge entered first, with his entrance interrupted by Kane's music, though Kane didn't show up. Edge cut a promo before the match, first vowing revenge on Kane for his attack on Lita, then ranting about Matt Hardy, who he claimed he "wasn't supposed to talk about". He said he was "on to Matt's little games", and quickly attacked someone at ringside (a WWE technician or official, I think), thinking it was Matt, but then realized it wasn't him.
The match was fairly energetic, though not as long as you'd expect the main event to be. Following a ref bump, Edge drilled Cena with his omnipresent briefcase, then moved to the corner and called for the spear. However, as Edge was running toward him, Cena quickly picked up the briefcase and nailed him with it. The referee recovered just as Cena made the pinfall, but Edge kicked out after a long two count. They traded a few more moves, until Cena got the upper hand and hit the F-U for the win.
Post match, Cena got on the house mic and talked about how he'd been coming to Hampton Beach since he was twelve years old. He said it felt "good to be back home". The crowd response for him was deafening.
All in all, this was a pretty decent show. I would rate Carlito-Benjamin, Michaels-Flair and Angle-Eugene as above-average matches by house show standards. The other matches were pretty routine, excluding Kerwin-Cage, which was utterly abysmal. I feel bad that someone as talented as Chavo Guerrero is saddled with such a mind-numbingly stupid gimmick. The WWE braintrust must be telling him to "dog it" in the ring, because I've never seen Chavo wrestle such a lackluster match.
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