Canton’s Corner: The Live Smackdown Perspective – September 17
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport
This past Tuesday night in Toronto, I had the privilege of attending the “Edge Appreciation Night” edition of Smackdown. In this week’s edition of Canton’s Corner I’ll write about that experience. It’s not a recap of the show. It’s more about the atmosphere, some tips for those that don’t know what to look for at shows and plenty about the post show celebration in honor of Edge. As always, though, first we have to look at last week’s poll and set up a new one for this week.
Last Week’s Poll Results
The poll question was: Will Mark Henry be the World Champion? The result:
“No. He’ll never be World Champion.” – 37.56%
“Yes, but it will be after Night of Champions.” – 33.74%
“Yes. At Night of Champions.” – 28.69%
That’s pretty close. I voted no although I think if it happens it will be after Night of Champions. Orton needs to beat him on Sunday and after that I could see the title switch happening. I’m more convinced now after hearing Henry’s reaction live. It’s the most ever he’s ever been.
This Week’s Poll Question: The Rock is wrestling at Survivor Series in a 5 on 5 match. Is it the right move?
It was announced on WWE.com and also via The Rock that he’ll be wrestling at Survivor Series in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. We also know that he’ll be on the same team as John Cena in a traditional 5 on 5 elimination match. Over the next two months we can talk about opponents, outcomes and things like that. What I want to know is do you think this is the right move?
In my Twenty Ideas for WWE column a few weeks ago I wrote that they shouldn’t put Rock in a match prior to Survivor Series. After seeing this announcement as well as the buzz it has created, I have changed my tune a bit. I think a traditional 5 on 5 match is a fantastic idea. What I’m against is putting him in a singles match. That needs to be kept for Mania. He likely has ring rust, so putting him in some tags prior to WrestleMania 28 is a good idea. We have three PPVs before Survivor Series, but obviously that’s going to be a big one.
Smackdown. Toronto. Edge Appreciation Night. It may not have looked like the best show on television, but after going to wrestling shows for 20+ years and seeing a lot of good things, I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life in terms of being a wrestling fan. It takes me two hours to get to Toronto. How did I get there? I took the Greyhound bus. I hate driving into that city. The traffic is insane and the gas money is the same as taking the bus, so I’d rather get a few beers in me and head to the show that way. The bus dropped me off right by the Air Canada Centre. I got there about two hours before we were allowed to enter the building at 6pm. Oh, I almost forgot. Here’s a pic of that bus:
The Chaperone! Haha no, that’s not my bus. It was interesting to see that they had TWO Chaperone buses outside the arena though. I’m guessing they had them made and they use them to bring stuff to the shows. The number of trucks and buses in the parking area at WWE shows is pretty huge. At one point I was walking by and there was Randy Orton casually walking to his bus (black with some red stripes). That’s how he travels to most WWE events. He signed for some fans. He was very friendly.
I met up with my buddy Steve Melo, who will have some words at the bottom of this column, at around 5pm and we waited for the show. Thanks to a friend, I got some free tickets. The wait at the will-call window was a long one, but we eventually got to our seats just as the dark match was going on at 7pm. We ended up sitting literally right beside the main camera that films the show, which is known as the hard camera. That meant that the TJR sign that Steve made would be useless because there would be no cameras facing us, but it also offered us a unique view of the show. It was cool because while we were there, a few people saw the sign and I was able to talk to them. It’s never a bad thing to know that people appreciate your writing. To be able to say thanks in person is a good feeling.
I’ve sat all around the arena for wrestling shows. Floor seats are the best for sure, but these seats eleven rows up were perfect because we got to see a lot of behind the scenes things. The two main camera guys not only film WWE shows, but they text on their phones while they do it! I thought that was funny. It looked like one of us was editing stuff for post production on the spot although that could have been something else. Anyway, I certainly looked their way a bit because it was interesting to see how the “magic” happens.
This pic should give you a good idea of what I mean. There’s a camera guy – the main hard camera – three rows above him that we were sitting beside. This guy sat lower and is the main camera for NXT. He also took photos and use the laptop beside him to edit as well. Click on the pic to enlarge it.
NXT and Superstars
The dark match was Alicia Fox over Tamina. I only caught the very end when Alicia won with her axe kick. The crowd was hot even for this. The NXT taping was next. I’ll go over the segments, but not necessarily backstage stuff or every little thing.
– It started with JTG & Darren Young cutting a promo. They set up a tag match with Striker & Regal for later in the show. Regal was very over as a babyface. Toronto fans know who the good workers are and have a respect for the veterans. He’s one of the best talkers in the business and underrated as an all-time great speaker.
– Titus O’Neil & Percy Watson d. Derrick Bateman & Tyson Kidd. There was a good pop for Kidd, who is Canadian. You can tell that O’Neil needed some work while Watson has improved a lot. Batemen’s pretty solid although he took the pin from O’Neil. This was the first of three times we would see Kidd. He’s one of those underrated workhorses in the company that can put on the best matches if given a chance.
– Maxine d. AJ. Crowd was pretty dead for it although they did get behind AJ. At least she’s been on Smackdown regularly.
– Michael Cole came out before the main event. The crowd booed him loudly. He had some of the best heel heat of the night. It’s ridiculous that they didn’t use his heat to get a wrestler over. Put him in a managerial role now.
– Main event saw Young & JTG d. Regal & Striker. The heels weren’t over that much while the crowd was solidly behind the faces. Like I said, Regal was very over here. I liked Young’s finisher of a fireman’s carry into the double knees. Looks painful, so it works as a finish. Post match, the Usos came out. I guess that means there will be a tag match down the line. I’d be fine with Young & JTG as a permanent team while the Usos are exciting to watch. Could the tag division actually grow? Looks like it.
They taped two matches for Superstars next.
– We saw Tyson Kidd again. This time he wrestled Ezekiel Jackson. Big Zeke isn’t very over as a babyface, which is what I’ve written for months now. Fans aren’t sympathetic to a ridiculously jacked dude. Kidd bumped around for Zeke, who won in a few minutes with the Torture Rack.
– Brodus Clay beat a local talent, Mike Rollins. Some in the crowd knew him. I admit that I didn’t. They announced him from Toronto, so that drew a pop. Squash win for Clay, who I have been impressed with every time I’ve seen him live. He should be on Smackdown or Raw regularly.
That hour of pre-Smackdown stuff led us to the main show, which started at about 8:15pm or so. For a full recap of Smackdown, check out my buddy Christian Michael’s recap. The good thing about Smackdown is that between segments they take about one or two minutes to move on to the next thing whereas on Raw there’s a three minute break due to the commercials that are live.
– They started the show with Edge coming out to a HUGE hometown pop. I missed the music, the pyro and that whole entrance. It was awesome to hear all of that again. There were some very loud “Thank You Edge” chants that took up a few minutes. You could tell he was moved by it. Then they got to business. I liked Cody Rhodes interrupting him while Edge fired back with his usual array of smartass comments. They had a plant in the crowd a bag over his head. I figured it had to be a plant. Then Edge left and Cody was ripping on the fans. Then he got decked by that fan, who happened to be Ted Dibiase. The crowd popped big for it, which surprised me because I wasn’t sure if that breakup angle had gotten over or not. Good to see. It could be a really fun feud.
– Daniel Bryan vs. Sin Cara was next. The match was okay although far too short. It was more about the angle. It was pretty funny because as the first Sin Cara was getting DQ’d I was talking about how they had planned to bring in a second Sin Cara. I did not expect it in Toronto, so it was crazy to see that. You could see the crew bring out a trampoline, then get it out of there once the match begins. Then as you saw on Smackdown, with the original Sin Cara coming out, they had to bring out the trampoline again. “TRABOPALINE!” That’s a Simpsons reference, people. The fans cheered the original, smaller Sin Cara while booing the newer version. The physical difference is obvious, but when they have a match they better be in different gear.
– There was a backstage segment with Teddy Long and Aksana filled with sexual innuendo like usual. Then Trish Stratus showed up on screen to a huge ovation.
– Beth Phoenix squashed AJ. Mostly a babyface pop for the Beth & Natalya, who I would have liked to see in action. She likely would have been cheered. Just like when they kept her out of the ring in her hometown in Calgary. I hate when they do that, but that is the smart move.
– We popped huge for the backstage segment involving Edge, Trish Stratus and Christian. That’s what I call a Canadagasm. It’s when two or more talented Canadian wrestlers are on screen together. This was an all Ontario one, which makes it even better. Loved Christian’s line about Trish showing up when she had something to sell. This was fun even though we couldn’t hear well because we were popping. Trish reacting to Ryder was funny too.
– Good match with Sheamus & Gabriel beating Christian & Barrett. The TV broadcast seemed to edit out the cheers for Christian because every time he got tagged in he got cheered. Sheamus is really over. I loved the “too many limes” sign and also the “lobster head.” They are obviously using words that are not actually in his song, but they sound like it. It was a typically good top of the hour tag match.
– Khali over Slater by DQ after Jinder Mahal came out. Nobody cared. Most people didn’t know Khali is a babyface. I doubt most people know that Mahal is a Canadian from Calgary either.
– R-Truth over Bourne. Great rap by Truth & Miz on their way to the ring. Crowd hated them while also laughing at some of the lyrics. Match was only a few minutes, which was surprising. I have high hopes for their PPV match on Sunday, though.
– The main event was Cutting Edge with Edge hosting a talking segment involving Orton & Henry. That’s the first time I’ve seen Orton live as a babyface. He’s ridiculously over. Henry generates great heat too. Of course most in my section sang along with Henry’s theme song. Good promo work by all involved. The post match beatdown was well done. What you notice from where we were sitting is that Henry doesn’t hit that big splash very well. He takes it all on his knees and it barely connects. When they showed it on TV they showed the front side to avoid the knees part. It was the most “fake” looking move of the whole night. I’m not saying he should crush the guy obviously. I’m just saying it could have looked better.
– After the taping was over, which ended with Henry standing over Orton, The Miz & R-Truth came out to try to take out Orton. All they got for their troubles were RKOs. That made the fans happy.
Post Smackdown: Edge Appreciation Night
When Smackdown ended, it was time for Edge Appreciation Night. They had a camera crew filming all of it and it’s expected that it will be on a future Edge DVD. Trish Stratus hosted it. They talked about how they met when she attended an autograph signing of his and she got into WWE a few years after that (he started in 1998, she started in 2000). They had some photos in the ring of when he was about to spear John Cena prior to winning his first World Title in 2006 and also a picture of him at his last match at WrestleMania 27. I was there for that too. Then they aired a four minute video chronicling his career with other WWE Superstars like John Cena, CM Punk, Big Show and others talking about him. It was a fantastic video like usual.
Next up, Christian was on the stage. He introduced some friends of Edge, including his trainer Ron Hutchinson (who trained Edge, Christian, Trish, Gail Kim & others) and also his mother. The one known wrestler in the group was Rhino, who traveled the roads with E&C in their indie days in the late 90s. I can remember seeing all three of those guys at various shows in Ontario & Michigan (Rhino’s home state) in 1997. Christian told Edge that they have always been like brothers and at one point they were brothers, which was a reference to them being brothers on screen when they were tag champs. Christian told him that he loved him. They hugged. Very emotional moment. They were best friends that became World Champions and two of the best wrestlers of this era. For me, somebody that watched them in their indie days, it was surreal to see them in that ring as guys in their late 30s who had accomplished it all. They are local boys that reached the top of their profession. How can you not respect that? Two of my all time favorites right there.
After that, Bret Hart came out along with Sweet Daddy Siki, who has one of the best beard and hair combinations you will ever see. I’m not sure how well known it is, but when Edge was first starting out he spent time training with Bret at his home in Calgary. He helped open some doors for Edge, but as Bret said he would have been a star no matter what. Sweet Daddy Siki was a trainer as well.
From there, the entire locker room emptied out, the locker room emptied out. It was a genuine moment because you could see the faces on the wrestlers, from the retired like Bret Hart to the young guys like Kofi Kingston and they all had the same kind of smile. It really was an appreciation of everything Edge did in his career.
Edge tried to fight off tears all night. You could tell, but he broke down right around this moment. The giant pink suit man was Michael “Pretty Sexy” Hayes by the way. Edge mentioned how he played a big role in his rise to the top. Hayes has been a main booker on Smackdown for much of the last decade.
To end the night? It was a benefit to those with flash photography. The five second pose that ended up lasting about 45 seconds. Not that anybody was complaining. I believe Edge called it “two grown men doing ridiculous karate poses.” Everybody popped huge for it. It was a great ending to the night.
Edge thanked us all for coming. He talked about how much it meant that we would stay for nearly four hours. You could tell he had a hard time knowing what to say, but that he was touched by the outpouring of support. These were not only WWE fans that watched him for the past 13 years, but people who grew up in the same place as him. It meant a lot for him to be at this show. You could see it in his face. My only shock was that we didn’t see Vince McMahon or Triple H come out to hug him. I’m sure they did that backstage. I’m not complaining. I just thought we’d see them at one point.
Then Edge fooled around with the camera guys. He used the cameras to film all the fans in the crowd as we screamed some more. That’s what I’ll remember. He always had fun in the ring and that moment is something I’ll never forget because of how silly it was. He got one last standing ovation alone before posing with his mother at the top of the ramp. I think Edge’s theme song played four different times that night. I didn’t complain. It’s a great song. It was also awesome to see him again. The Edge Appreciation Night edition of Smackdown ended at about 10:50pm meaning it went about 45 minutes. I’d say 75% of the fans stayed for the entire nearly four hour show. Like I touched on earlier, I’ve been told that they will be putting it on the Edge DVD that comes out in 2012. You’ll see all of this footage soon.
I wrote a career tribute column to Edge back in April called On This Day Edge Retires a Champion. It’s one of my three favorite columns that I’ve ever written. Please give it a look if you haven’t done so already or read it again if you want to remind yourself of how awesome a performer he was.
After the show, I went out for some drinks, met a few people from The Score TV network in Canada that broadcasts WWE programming up here that I know (hey Renee Paquette how you doing?) and had some fun. I can’t share any details except that I got to spend some time with friends that I only see a couple of times per year. They work for WWE. They were kind enough to invite me out, so I want to publicly thank them for that although for obvious reasons they will remain nameless. I didn’t get to sleep until about 4am. I got up at 6am to get a ride back home.
Wow, that was a lot. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at a wrestling show. The crowd was hot, the memories of that event will stay with me forever and getting to see some friends who I don’t see very often is what I’ll take away from it. I had a blast.
Random Clip of the Week
Edge vs. Owen Hart at WWE Breakdown from September 27, 1998. It was in Hamilton, Ontario and I was in the building for it. Edge was a rookie with a lot of momentum. Owen was one of the best workers in the company doing his usual awesome heel work. At the end of the match you’ll see the debut of a familiar face: Christian.
Fun match. Time flies. Rest in Peace, Owen.
Greetings to all my fellow wrestling fans. That’s right. I too am a wrestling fan just like each and every one of you. I’m not just a pretty face with a dedicated commentary section on Canton’s corner. If you read my column last week then you already know that I have been a fan for quite some time now as I am sure many of you have been as well. That’s the great thing about wrestling. It doesn’t really matter when you got into it. Once you are a fan and fall in love with the product, I think deep down even if we go for a period of time without watching it on television or keeping up with the latest rumors, it is always a part of us and who we are. It gives wrestling fans all over the world something in common like a hobby or those guys with their Pokémon cards. Are those even still popular? Now I feel old.
Earlier this week, I attended the live Smackdown taping in Toronto alongside John Canton himself, which I am sure you are well aware of by now. It was Edge Appreciation Night at the Air Canada Centre that night. It was definitely awesome to see Edge one last time and in person. That’s the part that did not air on television, but I am sure they will include it in a DVD down the road. But lucky for us, we got to witness not only this in person, but also Smackdown, NXT and a little bit of Superstars. The last time I attended a WWE event was last year when Raw was also at the ACC. It was a great and memorable Raw because it was the last time I would see Edge vs. Christian, but of course we had no way of knowing this at the time. Also, seeing the unexpected entrance of the Undertaker live was truly something to behold. I could have done without the whole Buzz Aldrin and his moonwalk segment though. That had so much weak sauce written all over it that a very small part of me felt bad for the guy. I will say that nothing beats a live experience, whether it’s a WWE or TNA show. Thankfully I have had the privilege of attending both.
One thing I want to make clear and praise is the amazing work ethic of one Tyson Kidd. This guy had not one, but two matches that night. He was great in each of them. It’s a damn shame that you have a talent like this on the roster who is such a phenomenal worker and instead of giving him a much needed and well deserved push, you have him jobbing to other wrestlers who are far less experienced than he is. Don’t get me wrong though, I get why WWE does it. Kidd’s role is basically to make other wrestlers look good & he does a very good job at doing it, much like another veteran, Christian. But when you have a guy with that much ring skill and someone who clearly has the gift, why not push him and let him speak his mind? The guy can cut a good promo as well if you let him. He can be a heel or a babyface. Hopefully in time he gets that push. I am positive that he will surprise many of you if he hasn’t already. Personally I think he would excel much more as a face, but that’s just me. I would love to see him feuding on Raw with wrestlers like Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Evan Bourne and so many more. Or even on Smackdown with the likes of Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibiase, Sheamus or perhaps a longer feud with Sin Cara or Daniel Bryan, as John mentioned in his 20 ideas column. I agree with the idea that they can have an amazing feud if the booking is done right and they get the proper time to tell a compelling story. Both of them just have to avoid the urge to choke out Justin Roberts with a neck tie because Roberts know how to sell that move like a champ. He’s also done a great job filling in Lillan’s shoes. I don’t mean literally because that would just be funny to see. But in all seriousness, Roberts has been doing his job just fine and I am proud of his progression with the company.
Going back to Tyson though, I always knew the “Kidd” was good, but after seeing him perform live, I have a new found respect for not only him but all of the wrestlers who put their bodies through a beating and sacrifice more than we can ever imagine just to entertain us fans. When people say wrestling is fake, it is a statement that always bugs me, yet I get why they say it, even if they are very ignorant in their claim. The acting is fake or scripted or whatever it is you non-wrestling people want to call it. The punishment wrestlers take on their bodies is not. Again, like you, I have always been a fan and will always be a fan of this business. I have always respected this business. Only now though do I think I truly understand that level of respect and appreciation.
Speaking of appreciation, witnessing Edge’s appreciation in person brought back so many nostalgic memories from all the surprise guests right down to the epic and maybe truly the last ever 5 second pose that lasted what felt like an eternity. I literally think they went about 30 seconds with it. Seeing that live…that brought it all back. One of the most entertaining and gifted wrestlers ever with his best friend, doing the pose. Together, they are arguably the greatest tag team WWE has ever had in my opinion and needless to say I was marking out all night deep down inside. So if you ask me as fan if I am appreciative of all that the wrestlers and the wrestling business do for their fans? Absolutely.
Plug time! Not really, but I want to let everyone know that you can now follow me on the wacky world (that I am still getting use to using) of Twitter. Follow me at @MeloOutTJR and tell your friends. Or not. It’s cool. I get it fella.
Until next week, stay safe and don’t leave your room… because you might just get taken out by the beautiful Divas of Doom! Wait that’s not it. Oh right….Melo Out! Because that’s what wrestling is all about.
Steve “The Melo Man” Melo
I’m done. This week kicked my ass. Check out the WWE Night of Champions Preview posted on Friday night. It’s a great read. I’ll be back on Monday to write about NOC and then on Tuesday with the Raw Deal. In the last week of September (on the 28th or 29th) I’ll have a new column in addition to the Raw Deal and Canton’s Corner. I’m working on it already. It’s a big one. That’s all for now, though.
Have a great weekend.
Visit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.