Friday, July 10, 2009

Smackdown at the Big Dome

I had a board meeting in Ortigas 3pm in the afternoon. The meeting dragged past 6pm with lots of discussions. By the time we ended, it was pouring cats-and-dogs outside and the traffic was building up. This got me a bit worried because I was to meet my brother-in-law Kenneth at Araneta Coliseum around 6:40pm to watch WWE Smackdown-ECW's Manila tour.

I had to drive a bit more aggressively than usual. Tried to pass through Robinson's Galleria Mall driveway to get to EDSA side but found out they already closed the previous exits. Had to waste time going around again to find another path to EDSA. From EDSA, it was slow moving going to Cubao, again because of the rain. Had to cut-off several other motorist to get to Cubao around 6:45pm. I parked at the new SM Cubao carpark then ran to Araneta Coliseum where I met Kenneth with his friend at the Green Gate.

The show was slated to start at 7pm, but when we entered the Coliseum and got to our Lower Box seats, the place was not even half full. Its a far cry from the first time RAW came to Manila. I don't know if its because its the first time WWE is doing a show on a Friday; or if its the snarling traffic brought about by the downpour that made people late; or because its the third time already that WWE is coming to town so the novelty has faded off; or if its just because the roster of superstars who came this time is just not that impressive.

The show eventually started at around 7:20pm, with the upper box and general admission area barely half full. The first match pitted John Morrison against Shelton Benjamin. Morrison was the clear crowd favorite. It was a slow-moving match considering Morrison and Benjamin are both very talented, high-flying athletes. No major signature moves were shown, but Morrison pinned Benjamin for the count.

The next match showed Mark Henry who was as wide as a refrigerator. He fought and defeated (fairly) newcomer Evan Bourne. It was not much of a contest as Evan is more of a cruiserweight against Henry's super heavyweight built.

It was then the Divas' turn to provide some entertainment. Maria was the guest referee, much to the glee of the Filipino male crowd. This was a Divas Tag Team match with Divas champion Michelle McCool and her manager, Alicia Fox, against ex-champs Melina and Gail Kim. Melina performed her signature leg-splitting ring entrance -- again to the delight of the male crowd. The crowd-favorites, Melina and Kim, defeated McCool and Fox.

Next was the turn of the WWE giant, Khali. Standing at a height of more than 7 feet tall, Khali was an imposing figure. Long gone are the days that he was the 'villain' in WWE. Khali is now a crowd favorite. He fought and defeated Dolph Ziggler, who played the 'bad guy' role well and even inciting the crowd before the match began.

A 15 to 20 minute intermission ensued. When the lights went off again to signal the resumption of the event, it was time for the title matches (not that title ever changes in out-of-town/non-televised exhibition matches like these).

It was a Triple Threat match for the ECW Championship held by Tommy Dreamer. As expected, he defeated Jack Swagger and Christian. Christian and Dreamer were clear crowd favorites. When the match ended, a lucky audience seated by ringside caught the eye of Dreamer with his signage ("Innovator of Violence") and got invited to go up the ring where Dreamer took off his shirt and gave it to the fan. That was a classic moment.

The next match was for the Intercontinental title of Rey Mysterio. But before Rey stepped into the court, Chris Jericho had a good time building up the crowd with his insults. Rey, of course, got to deliver his signature move, the 619 -- which I really don't think hurts the opponent that much. Nonetheless, Jericho was pinned for the victory.

The last match was between WWE Heavyweight champion CM Punk against Jeff Hardy. Punk previously won the belt from Hardy, shortly after Hardy himself won it in a ladder match against Edge in a WWE Pay-per-view (PPV). Punk cashed in his "money in the bank" against the tired Hardy in that PPV and won the title. The stars got to deliver their signature moves but Punk prevailed, again, as expected since titles never change hands on exhibition matches.

After the show, I treated Kenneth and his friend to our usual fare -- Chicken Inasal across the street. After the late dinner, I had to fall in line for another 15 mins or so to retrieve my umbrella which was left at the package counter. I don't know why they didn't just let people enter with umbrellas to avoid the inconvenience.

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