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When Smackdown came to town

Despite the current slump wrestling is in, going to a live show is still good entertainment. The WWE rolled back in to town recently for a taping of Smackdown and ECW, and once again The Pops and I enjoyed a Sunday together. Getting two shows for the price of one sounded like a really good deal, but after sitting – nay, suffering – through an ECW taping, you have to retract the assumed value. The previous live events I attended were all live Monday night shows, which are an entirely different experience.

There are three WWE wrestling shows on TV, Monday night (Raw), Tuesday night (ECW), and Friday night (Smackdown). Their popularity (and quality) starts with Raw as the best, and Tuesday night ECW as the worst…at least that’s what I’ve always assumed and the tapings that night proved that to be true. Smackdown was always second fiddle to Raw. I never gave Smackdown wrestlers much thought, but when you see an ECW show followed immediately by a Smackdown show, it’s easy to see how much better Smackdown performers are. Shy of a few faces like Tommy Dreamer and Finlay, ECW felt more like a local indie operation…kind of like when the flag football kids get to play during half time.

Smackdown had one thing I really wanted to see and had never seen before – the Undertaker. Undertaker has been on Smackdown forever and having always gone to see Raw always missed his matches. Thankfully this time Undertaker was healthy and, as usual, ended the show with a fight against the Big Show while also tombstoning Vicki Guerrero. But the setup for his match was the most interesting part of the night. The story went that Undertaker was after someone and he would “magically” appear in the ring when the lights go off and then come back on. On TV this always looks good because it seems so instant. In order to create the “magic” the wrestler has to wait under the wrestling ring and what we saw was that operation.

The lights in the arena went off between matches and they played a troop tribute video on the giant wall. Well, why the video was “distracting” everyone, a parade of guys came from the back escorting someone draped in black clothes and hood. They lead him around to the far side of the ring where he ducked and did not accompany the parade on the return trip behind the curtain. You wouldn’t think much of it had the clothed figure not been massive and 7-feet tall. Nonetheless, it was neat to see how they work and it really nailed home the theatrics wrestling puts fourth to make things look good on TV and to make things fun.

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The night also featured Triple H and his best friend, the sledge hammer. He nailed the other 7-foot beat, Khali, in the gut during a run-in brawl. The night was bookended with some great fights. The first match of the show was HHH/Jeff Hardy vs. Someone else and Someone else…it didn’t really matter, honestly, you know who’s winning that one. And then the show ended with Taker. The middle matches…well, I honestly don’t recall anything stellar about any of those. One bad thing about getting two shows in one night is you then have to suffer through two chick matches as well. I totally wish they would just get rid of all that, it’s so ugly and boring. Let chicks be the eye candy and escorts, but don’t make them wrestle.

I’m not sure if I would go back to see Smackdown live again. It all depends what the roster is like. Right now Monday Raw isn’t very exciting either, so I probably wouldn’t go see that if it came to town. But there is a big difference between a live show and taped show, I must say. Wrestling is still wrestling…I just hope they figure something out to keep things fresh because it’s starting to get a bit stale. I have my thoughts on a solution to that problem, but that’s for another day.