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RAW is Dayton!    
February 2, 2004

by Gary Spencer
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Over the years, I have been to several live wrestling events.  Everything from ECW in the bingo hall to WCW pay-per-views to SmackDown! tapings to HWA, I have tried to be in attendance for a variety of live wrestling events to show my appreciation for sports entertainment outside of the realm of my living room TV set.  But, for some reason, I have never attended a WWF/E house show.  I decided to add to my live attendance resume by buying a ticket for the Raw brand house show at Hara Arena in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio (where The Rick of OO fame is a big celebrity and infamous pimp daddy) this last weekend. 

Hara Arena is an old, run-down 8,000 seat arena in the northwest part of the city, which itself is pretty ghetto.  However, the scummy, old arena was the perfect environment for a live wrestling show, even if it was the seemingly ultra-polished WWE in the house.  I haven’t been out here in a long time, and now I remember why: traffic flow in and out of the arena parking lot and inside the arena hallways is just awful.  All the white trash redneck yahoos from the outskirts seem to flock here for everything from Toughman contests to Kid Rock concerts, and the Fed managed to fill up most of the arena with marks who were hot for some live rasslin’ action. 

The crew and I found our seats, seven rows back on the floor with a good view of the ring.  The Coach was there to rile up the crowd with plenty of smarmy heelishness, and had the crowd addressing him as “asshole” all night.  Coach served as ring announcer for all the matches, and senior official Earl Hebner was even on hand to call a few of the bouts. 

Match 1: Spike Dudley v. Mike Bucci: A fairly entertaining little match, with plenty of near falls and reversals, which is kind of unusual considering Spike’s repertoire.  Spike picks up the victory via pinfall; a nice way to start the show.

Following the first match the Coach calls out Rob Van Dam to the ring to hype the night’s main event, which is billed an Intercontinental Title match between RVD and the current champ, Randy Orton.  The Coach tells Rob that he and Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff don’t consider RVD worthy of a title shot, and tries to talk him into relinquishing the match.  Rob asks Coach what he’s been smoking, and then comments that he’ll need to check his bags to see if anything’s missing.  Coach continues to harass Rob and then RVD finally tells him “Fuck no, I’m not giving up my match” to a massive crowd pop and successive RVD chant.  Then Randy Orton runs out to the ring, and delivers his signature finisher, the RKO, to RVD.  Amidst a hailstorm of boos, ring officials run off Orton and RVD eventually makes his way to the back.

Match 2: The Hurricane v. John Heidenreich: Despite how horrible I thought Heidenreich was a couple months back when he and “Little Johnny” were taking up airtime on Raw, this match was short but sweet.  Sugar Shane brought out all of his signature moves (well, except for the vertebreaker), and of course had a mask for a lucky kid in the front row.  Hurricane picks up the victory.

Match 3: Molly Holly & Jazz v. Lita & Victoria: After hyping the crowd up for some divas action, The Coach introduced Jazz who was accompanied by Teddy (er, I mean Theodore) Long.  Teddy Long lets out a “Lemme holla atcha playa!” to the audience to a nice little pop, and continues to expound on why Jazz is truly the dominant women’s competitor, despite not holding the title due to it being taken away by “the man, b’lee dat”.  Long jives with the crowd a little while longer (telling some cracka to sit down and shut up in the process), and then tells Coach to bring out the white girls.  Molly comes out to a decent amount of heat, and Teddy Long tells her that him and Jazz have no love for her and that they were forced together by “the man”.  Molly and Jazz exchange pleasantries, and then Victoria’s theme song by the Russian pseudo-lesbians comes on.  Victoria gets a nice little pop as she comes in the ring, and looks mighty hot doing so.  Lita’s music hits and she gets the biggest face pop of the evening thus far.  The four women work a very competent and entertaining fifteen-minute match, that ends when Victoria delivers a crushing Widow’s Peak to Molly (which got a nice reaction from the crowd) to set up the pinfall victory.  I must say that the girls looked even more impressive here in a lengthy house show match than in their requisite five-minute matches they have on TV, and anyone who thinks that these women cannot work physical and intelligent wrestling matches really needs to start paying attention to these ladies as more than just tits and ass next time they watch Raw. 

Match 4: Matt Hardy Version 1.0 v. Lance Storm: Decent pop for Matt Hardy; not much reaction for Lance Storm.  Fairly middling offers from two guys whom I know are capable of better.  Not a bad match, by any means; but I guess I was hoping to see a higher workrate quotient from these two overlooked athletes.  The winner: Matt Hardy after delivering the side effect.

Match 5: Christian v. Val Venis: Christian came out to some good heat, and he grabbed the mic and asked if he had any peeps in Dayton (audience responded with boos for the most part).  In a match that could have been not all that interesting turned out to be the best worked match of the evening up to that point, with many near-falls.  Christian picks up the win.

Match 6: Dudley Boyz v. La Resistance: Arguably the most entertaining match of the night.  The two respective tag teams joined forces in a fun, near-twenty minute bout.  The Dudley Boyz win, of course, after applying the 3D to Rob Conway.

Match 7: Chris Benoit v. Batista: Coach intros this contest talking about how Benoit went 62 minutes from the number one entry in the Royal Rumble to win it and then jumped to Raw to face its champion, and insisted that he and Eric Bischoff would make sure it’d be bumpy.  Benoit managed to work around Batista’s beastly body and general clumsiness and carried off a pretty good match.  Batista blows his finishing powerbomb, but Benoit manages to cover it well and strap down the big guy into the crossface.  The winner: Benoit by submission.  Benoit hangs out for a few minutes following the match to enjoy the Benoit chants he received and salutes the audience for their support.  (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am not a fan of the idea of having Benoit to jump to Raw.  The entertainment-centric vibe of the Raw brand does not fit his persona, and I have a hard time seeing how they can use him effectively.  If this all results in a HBK v. Benoit main event at WM XX, then I’m cool with it; if it means his push is all just for jobbing to HHH at Mania 20, and then falling down the card, then this sucks a big weenie).

Match 8: Kane v. Chris Jericho: No pyro here, but the crowd is plenty hot for Kane’s entrance, and he looks creepier in person than on TV.  Chris Jericho comes out to his old theme music and gets a good face pop upon entering the arena.  Jericho sells Kane’s offense like a million bucks and the two pull out all of their signature high spots for a very entertaining, well-executed match.  Kane eventually gets frustrated in his inability to put Jericho away, and finds a steel chair that he carts into the ring to use on Y2J.  Just when it looks as though Kane is going to whack the snot out of the King of Bling Bling, Trish Stratus comes to Jericho’s aid, but is dragged into the ring by the hair by the Big Red Machine.  Kane lifts Trish up for the chokeslam (and getting a handful of Trish’s ass in the process) and Jericho sneaks up and racks him with the low-blow.  Kane picks up the chair, Jericho drop kicks it into his face, and rolls Kane up for the victory.  Y2J and Trish give each other a friendly hug , and then survey the crowd as to who can make the most noise.  (Here’s another 2 cents: despite how much everyone else seems to love this angle, I absolutely hate the idea of Jericho as a face.  He was lame as a face in his first WWE incarnation, and he’s just too good as a heel to be as effective.  I hope this all leads to the forming of a heel Canadian faction (NOT like the Un-Americans though), along with Christian, Benoit and Lance Storm and maybe even a heel Trish Stratus, which would do wonders for her stagnating face persona). 

Match 9: Intercontinental Title Match – Randy Orton v. Rob Van Dam: Prior to this bout, Coach chastises the crowd for being “puppets” during the Y2J/Trish crowd-rousing session.  Even eight matches into the evening, The Coach arguably has the most heat this evening…strange.  Anyway, Randy Orton enters the arena to a great deal of heel heat, and spends a minute whispering something to the Coach before RVD is introduced to the a cheering and clapping audience.  RVD and Orton work a nice fifteen minute match filled with RVD’s requisite acrobatic kicking and high spots, and Orton held his own in this match quite amply.  RVD gets Orton reeling and lays him out to set up the Five Star Frog Splash, at which moment The Coach steps up to the apron the distract him.  Coach succeeds in his distraction efforts, receiving a kick off the apron from Mr. Monday Night but then allowing Orton to take advantage and deliver the RKO to finish off RVD for the pinfall victory.  As RVD is recovering, The Coach comes into the ring to taunt The Whole Fuckin’ Show, at which point RVD catches Coach with a spin kick and then lands the Frog Splash to exact his revenge.  RVD comes out to the crowd on the floor to shake hands and give high-fives before returning to the dressing rooms.

No HHH.  No HBK.  No Ric Flair.  No Booker T.  No Mark Henry (hooray!).  And still I’d have to say the Raw house show was an enjoyable time and money well-spent.  As much as I enjoy WWE on TV, I seem to get an extra kick out of going to see them live, and if you’ve never done so before, then go check ‘em out when Raw or Smackdown! comes to town. 

As a side note, I will be moving back to the NYC metro area in March.  If any of you OO’ers would like to get together for pay-per-view parties and other mischief, please make contact! 


GARY SPENCER, a wrestling fan since childhood, holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication and an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science.  He now makes a living as a strip club DJ.  Go figure.  Contact at esoteric69@hotmail.com

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