Saturday, April 11, 2009

WrestleMania: Day 2-Saturday, April 4th

It was another beautiful day in Houston on Saturday, April 4th. Saturday's agenda included checking out the Ring of Honor ''Take No Prisoners'' PPV at the George R. Brown Convention Center followed by the 2009 Hall of Fame Ceremony, which was being held nearby at the home of the NBA's Houston Rockets, the Toyota Center. On a special note, Ring of Honor changed the start time from 3:00 PM to 2:00 PM, so that it would not interfere with the Hall of Fame and the fans could enjoy both events.

One thing about the Ring of Honor show was they checked everyone at the door and warned us that no video or digital cameras were allowed in the building. If you had a digital camera we were told not to be caught with it out because it would be confiscated. This was understandable considering that ROH makes all its money from PPVs and DVDs. Disposable cameras were ok. I had a disposable camera and snapped a couple pictures, but have not gotten the pictures developed, yet.

If you're not familiar with Ring of Honor, they distinguished their image from other promotions through the "Code of Honor": a set of rules dictating how wrestlers should conduct themselves during matches. These rules are:
1. Shake hands before and after the match -- if you respect your opponent
2. Keep the playing-field level
3. Respect the officials

There was a pretty good size crowd there to witness all the action. They began the show with a few dark matches. Then the PPV began.

The Second City Saints Partners Collided as Colt Cabana defeated Ace Steel. You may remember Cabana from his recent stint in the WWE as Scotty Goldman. He had a show on, called Good as Goldman, formerly known as What's Crackin'? Cabana got a big pop from the crowd. This was my first time seeing Ring of Honor live and it wasn't long before I noticed the wide array of similarities between ROH and the original ECW. Both performed in smaller venues, but were cheered on to do their very best from their audience of loud and passionate fans. This group of fans would also come up with some fun and witty chants, that included, "Check the top rope!" A fan told us that at the show on Friday night, the top rope broke, so during Cabana's match with Steel, the crowd began chanting, "Check the top rope!" during the opening moments. It wasn't long until both Cabana and Steel began checking and testing the top rope. This was met with a standing ovation. The fans were also passing around cake in the stands.

Oh yeah! Before I forget, instead of using the fancy and very expensive pyro that you see in the WWE, ROH created a much easier and cheaper alternative that added a pretty cool visual effect. Party streamers! That's right, once the wrestlers would enter the ring, streamers would start flying in the ring from every direction. Good stuff.

Bushwacker Luke was also in action. Yes! It was great seeing Luke in action. He was still in great shape. I believe he lost to Rhett Titus, who was from the Temple of Lust. I got a kick out of that.

Brent Albright defeated Claudio Castagnoli and Blue Demon Jr. Albright is perhaps best known for his time with World Wrestling Entertainment, during which he appeared on SmackDown as Gunner Scott.

In an International Challenge, former TNA talent Roderick Strong defeated Alex Koslov, who was a member of Team International in TNA Wrestling's 2008 World X-Cup Tournament. Koslov hit that Cossack dance, during the match.

Jerry Lynn defeated D'Lo Brown, Bryan Danielson and Erick Stevens in a four-way match to retain the ROH World Title after connecting with his cradle piledriver. This match was a little bit of a disappointment for me. I was really looking forward to seeing "The American Dragon" Bryan Danielson in action for the first time, but since it was a four-way match, two guys ended up taking a tumble to the outside and leaving the other two in the ring to battle. Danielson did leap into the crowd with a flying attack during the match. I just thought it would have been better if they would have split the four up into two separate matches, in order to, really showcase their great wrestling abilities.

These next three matches were my favorites from the show:

First, the 8 Man Tag Team Grudge Match, featuring Magno, Jay Briscoe, ROH World Tag Team Champions Kevin Steen and El Generico defeated Chris Hero, Incognito and the American Wolves. This match was AWESOME with highflying at its best. El Generico was in it so everyone was singing, "Olé!"

Next, The No Disqualification War between Necro Butcher and Jimmy Jacobs. This was INSANE! Necro Butcher is one crazy SOB! These two fought into the crowd and up to the top of the risers. Signs, chairs, and tables were all used in this bloody brawl. In the end, Necro Butcher defeated Jimmy Jacobs. CRAZY!

The Main Event featured Former TNA star Austin Aries and Katsuhiko Nakajima squaring off against Tyler Black and KENTA. KENTA got a HUGE pop! I was not that familiar with KENTA, I had just read his name on certain results. Well, he is a big deal, to say the least. He is a master kickboxer and lit up Nakajima, during the match, with his vicious strikes. I was amazed at the reaction he got. I thought the place was going to come unglued. Austin Aries did a great job of getting heat and was very entertaining. He even threw some of the streamers back into the crowd. Tyler Black and KENTA got the win after Black connected with an innovative fisherman ddt that he floated over into a small package. Sweet finisher! With that, came the end of the Ring of Honor PPV. I was very impressed with my ROH experience.

Next on the list, the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony.

As we were walking towards the Toyota Center, we noticed that Bryan Danielson was ahead of us going to check out the Hall of Fame, as well. We weren't able to catch him before he went inside.

While waiting in line to get in and once we entered the building, you could tell we were in store for a special evening as everyone was dressed up. I'm sure some of the people that were working at the local businesses probley thought we were all going to prom instead of a wrestling event.

When we made it to our seats, they started showing all of the wrestlers as they entered on the big screen. This was fun to see all of the legends, as well as, current WWE wrestlers and divas walking to take their seats on the floor, which were the best in the house, right in front of the stage. This was really cool.

Todd Grisham kicked off the event. For a while, I was thinking that maybe Jerry "The King" Lawler had missed his flight and was running late because Grisham was doing all of the hosting, but Lawler took over when the show went live on USA with Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat's induction.

It was truly an honor to be in attendance at this special gathering to hear these larger than life characters share some of their greatest memories and receive the highest accolades from their peers for their hard work and respect that they've earned throughout their prestigious careers that has paved the way for so many stars of today and tomorrow.

"The Birdman" Koko B. Ware was the most entertaining with Frankie by his side. Frankie was trying to get Koko's paper while he was reading. That was funny. Frankie also left a little present for everyone when he left.

It was cool seeing Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat lock up with "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, again.

The most emotional moment of the night was when Kevin Von Erich represented the Von Erich family as they were inducted by Michael Hayes. Kevin let the Texas crowd know that the Von Erich legacy is not over because he has two sons that are getting ready to enter into the business.

You could really feel Howard Finkel's excitement, during his acceptance speech. He was so happy, eventhough, he had to read his speech really, really fast, due to time constraints. It's true! There was a big countdown on the screen. I thought this really took a lot of the fun out of it because the legends had to settle for reading their speeches very quickly, instead of really being able to soak in the moment and speak from the heart.

With that being said, "Cowboy" Bill Watts had the best speech of the night, hands down, for the sheer fact that he didn't care about the countdown. He just kept on going. Very good speech.

I was hoping that Terry Funk was going to snap if they tried to cut him off because Dory talked for almost all of their time. Terry wasn't able to say much, but he was entertaining, as always.

And then there was the man of the hour, Stone Cold Steve Austin, who was inducted by his long time rival, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Vince mentioned how the "What?" saying was created and how Austin would always say "Sorry" during their in ring skirmishes. Austin was greeted with a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. Stone Cold apologized to the fans of Atlanta for no-showing that show in 2002. He said he never got to do that and always wanted to. Austin said he decided to walk out because of the bad storylines that were presented to him by the creative team. During his speech, the crowd started chanting, "One more match!" What a surreal moment to see "The Texas Rattlesnake" take his spot alongside the rest of the sport's all-time greats. Oh hell yeah!

As we were leaving the Toyota Center, we saw a few fans recreating some memorable moments of the past. One guy cut the classic Ric Flair promo from WCW when he went off on Eric Bischoff on Nitro. Then, there was a guy that sounded like Stone Cold, so they had a little interview that ended with Stone Cold giving Flair a stunner. I thought the cops were on the way, then, but everything was cool. Everybody got a kick out of it. The guys were recording it, so I thought, maybe, they would put it up on YouTube. I checked and couldn't find it.

We finished the night, by getting a bite to eat and catching some of the local tunes at The House of Blues.

That was Day 2. Next, is the BIG day!

Pictures courtesy of Ricky Murphy and Kim Gray

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