PS12 - WWE visits Halifax
A lot of these images suffer from nervousness. (That's a technical photography term I made up meaning, "I'm such a wuss that the camera shakes all over the place.") Actually, these first two images are the worst pictures I took. It's just that I want this page to run in chronological order.
See also: William Matheson's
Go directly to: My report on the May 1st news conference. My report on the May 8th SmackDown!
These two pictures are from the May 1 news conference. I can't believe I missed a shot of Chris Benoit putting Peter Kelly in a choke hold. That would have been such a great picture! Somebody got it, though.
From left to right: Woman who introduces everything, Carl DeMarco (WWE Canada President), Chris Benoit, Mayor Peter Kelly.
No professional still cameras allowed, huh? Ha - that's no problem for me and my idiot box.
Fans staked out to see the Superstars entering the building.
Er, a photograph of a photocopy of the card. I didn't actually read what was on it - I like to be suprised. The crazy part of this is that this was taken at the Staples Business Depot at the bottom of Gottingen street, where Mike and I went to make use of their 3-hole puncher. Someone must have come up from the Metro Centre where they were distributing these, made a bunch of photocopies, and then abandoned them. Also at this office store, someone (a complete stranger) recognized me from the CSC227 Message Board, and we had a brief chat. I'm really popular, don't you know?
I think these are the production trucks, but the truck right in front of the arena that I stood under might have been THE production truck. This is a live show, so it requires warm bodies and the boards as well as a satellite feed. (Say what you will about the current WWE product, but those are damn cool trucks.)
Nice park job!
I think these people may have been WWE technicians. That's the old town clock in the background - just about the only significant Halifax artifact seen during the RAW cablecast and SmackDown! telecast.
A healthy line - always a good sign - about an hour before the doors were scheduled to open.
Some folk musicians trying to distract us.
The RAW stage.
I love the Metro Centre. I could just walk down right next to the gate to the floor seats and take all the pictures I wanted to, and no one would stop me.
Look up, wayyyy up.
Okay, this is the view from my seat. Actually, this seat wasn't bad at all compared with my seat at WrestleMania XVIII (X8). What's more, I was offered the opportunity of moving out of my aisle seat (where you get to have a lot of up-and-down, and down-and-up, and up-and-down fun) into another aisle seat, two rows back, and an entire section farther into the (in this picture, to the right) corner! This opportunity was given to me so that the seven or eight people to my left could have their eighth or ninth friend sit together with them. Anyway, they didn't pressure me about it; the guy next to me said, "You don't have to say 'yes' - we're not going to get mad if you say 'no.'" Even though they offered me a half-finished soda, I declined.
You can see how the SkyBoxes were added as an afterthought. They don't block any viewing of the floor, but they meant that I had to wait until the following night to look for cuties on the other side.
Chris Jericho out for his awesome Heat match with The Hurricane.
The production monkeys (Y2Jericho's words, which are fun to say) setting up the set for Jericho's mini-show, The Highlight Reel.
Here he is!
"It seems we have a lot of Y2J fans here tonight!" Hey look, you can see people holding up "Y2J" letters a little to the left there.
This is probably supposed to be something, but I'm not sure what it is. Anyway, the show looked great through my binoculars, and terrific on television.
Vince McMahon (WWE Chairman, shrewd promoter, annoying TV personality) comes out during a commercial break to shill for tomorrow night's SmackDown! taping. I don't blame him - the SmackDown! show only ended up selling about 6,000 tickets whereas RAW was a total sell-out (around 10,000). As I write this, a house show in Portland OR drew 15,000. As glad as I was to see WWE TV come to Halifax, I kind of wished they had sent one of the shows to St. John's NL, because they need love too (and, more importantly, they have a new arena of comparable size to the Metro Centre). Since SmackDown! was headed to the United Kingdom immediately after the taping in Halifax, I think they should have let us just have RAW and sent SmackDown! to St. John's - they could easily have chartered a plane from there to Edinburgh or London (speaking as someone who's been on such a flight). Maybe I'm too optimistic concerning Newfoundland, but I suspect they could have sold out and drew 20,000 for two dates as opposed to 16,000. But even if they didn't sell out in St. John's, it would still have been a good idea to go because Halifax basically spent all its energy on Monday night. It's a lot to ask of someone, even of a hardcore wrestling fan, to go to two shows in two nights and still have what it takes to cheer and chant their lungs out on the second night.
Even as RAW was on, there was a SmackDown! house show up in Sydney at Centre 200. This is probably the first time WWE has done two simultaneous shows in Nova Scotia. I kind of hope it's the last time - if it were me, I would have sent that house show to Bangor ME or something, because all the hardcore fans probably drove from Sydney to Halifax to catch the live RAW. It only takes a few hours. Anyway, I guess things have changed - a year or so ago, we were concerned that we weren't getting enough attention, and now we have all these IIHF Hockey Championships and TV shows dumped on us - it's like too much of a good thing, and it's hard to believe. Next time, guys, just give us one show - you can have one spectacular, off-the-charts show, and then you're gone into the night. Save the two-show treatment for cities like New York, Seattle, Toronto, or Vancouver - ones that can sustain it.
daa-daaaa-daaa DA DA DA DAAAA da da da da DA DA DA DA...
Goldberg, having taken care of Three Minute Warning / Rico and having sent Christian (the new People's Champion) running into the crowd, faces off with Steve Austin (TV talent - currently the "co-General Manager" of RAW). Steve wants to kick off his beer bash, but Goldberg wants to have a real match with Christian. Steve gives him a steel cage match for the next TV show in Philadelphia PA at the First Union Center (they're not this verbose on TV, this is just me). Goldberg: "That dog will hunt!"
And so they have a Stone Cold Beer Bash. A bunch of Q104 contest winners come down the ramp and to ringside to party. There's Molson Export everywhere. Steve drinks a lot of beer - in fact, they're his first drinks since he came back to TV in February at No Way Out 2003 in Montréal QC.
I don't envy the clean-up crew. The worst part is that they have to stay up so late to do their jobs - the show didn't go off the air until well after 12:00am ADT, and the beer bash went until something like 12:20am.
Everyone crowding around outside, hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite Superstars. Actually, I didn't get to see any of my favorites - guys like Lance Storm and Booker T left after their (fantastic) match was over, though we did see Chris Jericho driving away in his rented car.
I think that's the car that the new tag team, La Resistance, used to depart. I shouted, "You guys rule!!" (because they're Canadian, and yeah, they do rule) Then I added, to be clever, "You're dorks, but you rule!!" (this was a reference to their current gimmick - they are French people who are upset with North American attitudes and they wear berets to the ring) I turned around (probably to say something to Mike), and when I turned back, someone told me that one of them turned around and gave me a thumbs-up. I'd like to believe it happened.
The back side of The Entertainment Dome, a beacon to the all and drunk every night in Halifax. The Coach walked right out onto this block to get to his vehicle. I shouted, "Way to sell the Stunner!" I'm crazy like that.
From left to right: Joey Campbell, Michael Fox.
We crowd around like vultures. This is the Duke Street side of the arena - the place that Triple H and Kevin Nash brawled out into. Man, like, Chris Jericho was standing right here (right in front of that vertical gray bit of concrete on the left of this photo). That's so totally freaking cool!
Bill Goldberg gave us a few minutes of his time for autographs. He even posed for a few pictures. He's an uncommonly good sport, and this hit home even more when it was learned that Goldberg slipped and hurt his wrist during the Beer Bash segment. Yet, here he is, signing autographs. Amazing.
A quick digression: No one should ever expect a wrestler (or any other celebrity, for that matter) to give autographs when they leave the arena - if one does decide to do it, consider yourself uncommonly lucky. These guys have been on the road all day and most of the time they only have time to get a few hours of sleep before traveling to the next city. Sometimes they don't even get that. For more information on this subject, read Lance Storm's article, "Rules of Engagement - A Fan's Guide to meeting Wrestlers". This should be required reading for any wrestling fan.
More images that suffer from nervousness. I gotta go digital. Anyway, not to name names here, but the man in the leather jacket just might be a World Heavyweight Champion.
And this fellow may be feuding with Mr. America. Maybe. I submit these for "Worst Celebrity Photos Ever." If you would like to see (much, much, much, much) better pictures of any WWE personality, please visit the RAW or SmackDown! superstar websites.
I guess this store owner wanted to get in line ASAP. Getting in line a few hours before the scheduled "doors open" time is always a good idea. If you don't believe me, check out my WrestleMania XVIII (X8) page where I explain how we missed the Heat match with the late, great Mr. Perfect.
The last bus back to Bedford left before RAW even went off the air, and we were hanging around the arena for at least an extra ninety minutes. Ingeniously, I led Mike and Joey to the Saint Mary's computer labs, which are open 24/7 (except during a brief time through Christmas Closedown). I go down here a lot to surf the web after pub crawls and like things; it gives me a warm place to sit while I wait for the bus service to fire up again at 6 or 7 am.
Mike actually got his girlfriend Jen to pick us up, so we went up to the old main entrance and waited for her there. She was such a great sport to come all the way down from Fall River in the middle of the night to pick us up. I would have been content to wait for the first bus, but Mike and Joey just don't have my iron-clad patience. =) Anyway, thanks, Jen. It was good to get a few hours of sleep before my volunteer shift at the hospital the following afternoon, and otherwise I think I would have slept through SmackDown!
The SmackDown! set.
As I said, only about 6,000 people made it to SmackDown! You can see here that the entire non-TV side of the upper bowl is covered in black curtains (this is to make the empty areas less obvious on television). For RAW, this section was wallpapered with screaming fans and their signs.
Here they're showing the WWE Desire video. Go on Kazaa (Lite) and get this sucker.
The ring announcer, explaining the rules. For instance, if we chose to throw something at or in the ring, we will be ejected from the premises. Seems fair.
This is either from a dark match or a Velocity match.
And... here comes Vinnie.
"You screwed Bret! You screwed Bret!"
Hulk Hogan appears via satellite from "Tampa FL."
Vince is convinced that Mr. America is really Hulk Hogan underneath the mask. Nonsense!
Eddie and Chavo Guerrero come out to wrestle. They still have Kurt Angle's medals. Poor Chavo could be out for up to a year as I write this, and Tajiri is currently taking his place alongside his Uncle Eddie. Eddie and Tajiri are currently the WWE Tag Team Champions.
Matt Hardy and his Mattitude Followers.
Eddie going for the Frosh Splash. Unfortunately, he only finds the mat.
Sign: "Goldberg Ate My Family."
Sign: "I'm Out of Ass Cream!" (this is a reference to the old RAW feud between Christian and Jericho and the Dudley Boyz)
Sign: "Wasted 24/7." You can tell that the commercial breaks are starting to bore me. Why they need to have commercial breaks for a taped show is beyond me. The breaks weren't all that bad, though; they gave me a chance to scan the opposite Lower Bowl for babes with my binoculars.
Oh! Here's Mr. America!
Hog- I mean, Mr. America - got an awesome pop here. We were chanting "Hogan Hogan Hogan" for minutes on end. It was like the SkyDome all over again, except The Rock's not around this time. As Jeff Marek put it on the LAW, "Hogan's more over than Jesus in Canada."
Team Angle vs. Tajiri and Rikishi. This match was surprisingly good. You can see Kurt Angle's portrait over to the left. Eddie and Chavo steal it as this match winds down.
A lot of these fans must have a lot of spare time. =) I can't believe the same guy participated in an A-Train banner and wrote "Bring Back Naked Midgets" as well. This guy redefines hardcore.
The Big Show about to do something dreadful to Chris Benoit.
Chris Benoit flying into The Big Show.
More nervousness on my part. Anyway, The Big Show and A-Train are putting Chris Benoit on a stretcher in an attempt to duplicate The Stupidest Spot Ever, but Brock Lesnar (middle, WWE Champion) comes out to make the save even though the FBI (Full Blooded Italians) ran a forklift into the door of the room they suckered him into earlier.
Lesnar, after the TV part ended.
Wait, whoa, wait...
I FOUND THE GREEK FLAG CONSPIRACY GUYS!!! Okay, anyone who watches WWE TV will often notice a Greek flag around the middle of the lower bowl on the TV side. (When I say TV side, I'm referring to the side the cameras are aimed at to capture the action in the ring. Therefore, the non-TV side has all the cameras. Confused yet? There is a benefit to being on the non-TV side, though, and that is being able to watch from the same angle the cameras are. The wrestlers seem to orient their spots and speeches such that they are facing the non-TV side and have their backs to the TV side. But if you're on the TV side, you have 200 times the chances of appearing on TV. You just have to decide what is more important to you. If you're in the Upper Bowl, though, it doesn't really matter which side you're on.) I took a picture of them with their camera in exchange for them allowing me to photograph them with my camera.
I was just taking a picture of the crowd and then this guy goes and jumps in my frame! But... he introduces himself and tells me he also knows me from the CSC 227 Message Board. Ha-ha! Crazy!
"Hey, guess who I'm talking to? Will Matheson from CSC!"
Duke Street, which Triple H drove down the previous night.
There's Joey and Mike again.
At one point Mr. America actually walked right through here to his limo, but I didn't take a picture because all I could see was his blue-masked head bobbing up and down. It was cool enough just to see him. Anyway, enjoy these next pictures while they last, because some WWE suit will probably try to shut me down. Or the LAW will. Or that guy from 227 will. Or that ring announcer who kept going over the rules will. Heck, even Lance Storm will probably get mad at me. I'm always offending somebody in some way.
The man in the cowboy hat might be a VP of Talent Relations. Perhaps.
The guy getting in the limo might be WWE's new great color commentator. Maybe.
People started shouting something I can't remember, and I response I shouted, "Stay in the car! Stay in the car!" I mean, it's for their own safety!
This person is either a fiancée of a World Heavyweight Champion, or she is one of the top writers. Both, you say?! That's impossible! No one person could be both - that'd be a conflict of interest, right? =) Anyway, we all love this person, whoever she is. Everyone I talked to was sad she was getting married in the Fall.
Lance Storm, during his match with Booker T. I just found the expression priceless. Lance Storm matches are always fun to watch. My complaint is that they don't last long enough!
Here's the autograph I got at the news conference on the 1st. This is the Saint Mary's English Society's anthology of creative writing, and Benoit signed between the two short stories I put in it. Now how cool is that? Chris Benoit even asked me if I wanted to be a writer. You can read more about this in my report on the LAW website.
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