292005 Welcome to Falls Count Anywhere!

My name is Chris and in honour of RAW from Japan, I say to you Konichiwa. RAW Instead of the typical all Hispanic audience, tonight we were treated to an all Asian audience. Actually, that’s not true, as there was a pretty well-recognised American fan (whose name I don’t know) who snuck into a bunch of shots. Still, this was a great crowd that gathered in Saitama Super Arena, even when there were two over big shows going on the same weekend. Eric Bischoff and the Japanese translator came out and did an intro that got the crowd hating him. This was funny as the translator seemed so very into his role as speaker. The opener, and a perfect opener for a Japanese crowd, was Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit in a submissions match. I know that it must have been hard for Vince and company to not have this end in a screwjob finish, but they played it clean. It was a good match, with the two of them doing the segments that Japanese crowds love, such as exchanges on the mat followed by an escape, giving the audience time to applaud. They did some great exchanges and it wasn’t until three or four minutes in that anyone got a serious advantage. Benoit gave Jericho enough German Suplexes to pre-arrange a visit for his spinal fusion surgery. They kept fighting for submissions holds, but it was Benoit getting the clean win with the Crossface. Really good match. As they always o when they are somewhere not usual, they did a bunch of video packages of the fans and the wrestlers. These were all well done. Ric Flair and HHH were talking about maybe having Batista stay instead of jumping to SmackDown! to challenge JBL. Unless they show that Flair or H is behind those vignette showing, then they have really mussed up this turn bad. Christian was walking with a reporter, talking about his Japanese Peeps, or his Jeeps. I nearly died when he dropped that one. The reporter was awed by Stacey, who engaged in a bit of verbal banter. Stacey said that Orton could wipe the floor with Christian and Christian arranged for a match between Tomko and Orton. Hmmmm… Maven did some mic work sans interpreter. He said if he was in the Rumble, he would have tossed Dave Batista out easily. This brought Batista out. He didn’t get a very big pop. In fact, Tajiri, Benoit, Jericho, Flair and Michaels all got better. Spinebuster, Demon Bomb and we’re out. They then showed the Big Show talking about Batista being a Big Fish in a Small Pond. It better be HHH. The match of the night for the fans had to be Tajiri and Regal winning the Tag Titles. The crowd popped really big for Tajiri and the match was pretty good, the best La Rez has been in for a while. The finish was Grenier going for the flag shot, but Tajiri misted him

and then gave a brutal kick to win the belts. They went into the crowd to celebrate. This was a good thing for long-term Japanese business. In fact, not doing the typical WWE ‘let’s make them like it the way WE do it’ stuff really helped this show out. They showed Akebono, aka Chad Rowen, sitting in the front row. He was supposedly a big wrestling fan as a kid in Hawaii. They also reshowed the Hall of Famers thing they showed last week. Ric Flair was bowed to by the fans. This was great. Shawn Michaels, who has wrestled in Japan at least once that I can think of, was treated like a huge star. The match these two had was really good. Flair worked smart, since he is limited, but he used the brilliant ring psychology to make the match flow. Michaels did everything that Michaels always does. HBK pinned Flair after a body slam, top rope elbow and then the Sweet Chin Music. Again, good stuff. They did a fashion show with Maria (who looked good), Victoria (who was wasted here) and Christy (who I still don’t like). This brought out Simon Dean to call them fat. He said that all of Japan was to be looked down on since they loved Sumo and all the fat guys. This led Akebono to stand up and led to the second line of the night: ‘I didn’t mean you, Sonny Bono.” Christy gave him a low blow and that was that. Edge complained that HHH was over-looking him by talking about the match with Batista. This is a really good character for Edge. Still, I don’t know if he’ll ever get over big without a clean victory over HHH on a PPV. They did the Orton vs. Tomko match where Orton was still playing the effects of his concussion. Orton won and after the match, Christian jumped him and gave him the Unprettier. HHH beat Edge in a good match. Edge controlled the situation early, tossing HHH into the post and suplexing him on the outside. The one trouble with doing a HHH vs. Edge main event is that the Japanese crowd has certain Main Event expectations and they just can’t deliver. They worked a good match and got some good heat. Edge looked better here, and most championship material, than at any other time since he returned from his injury. Lot’s of near spears and escaped Pedigrees, and the match rolled along. Edge speared the ref, then he speared Flair when he tried to use a chair. Edge and HHH both went for the dropped chair, but Batista, the so-damn-close-to-being-fully-turned face, took it away. HHH knocked Edge off the apron and onto Batista. Big Dave didn’t like that. Edge hit the Impaler, but when he charged HHH for the spear, Batista gave him the Spinebuster which allowed HHH to get the Pedigree for the pin. After the match, Batista was staring at the Bling-bling belt and HHH caught him staring. They exchanged knowing looks as we went off the air. Really good show. Smartly booked, well-worked and a good crowd. NEWS

Tito Ortiz won his big match against Vitor Belfort in the latest UFC. There are a lot of folks talking about Vitor being robbed, but it was a close fight. The first round was very close and the second was obviously all Vitor. Ortiz won the final. In a situation like that, where one guy wins the final round with authority, it almost always follows that that guy will win the match. Heard it was a decent show. Speaking of UFC, Fox Sports Bay Area replayed the Liddle-Ortiz match from last year. Good match, good show. I caught a little bit of CMLL on Galavision this weekend. Nothing super great, just a lot of high spots and a style that takes a little getting used to. Pierroth was there, and had a fun match in with guys like Atlantis and Blue Panther. I’d say it was a fun show, but I may have missed a lot of it due to the language barrier. SmackDown! was down in the ratings this week. RAW broke 4.0 for the first time in a good long while. FlashBack! The most important event in the 1990s had to be the first UFC. It opened the door to new styles and proved that legit shooting could indeed draw a crowd. The set-up was simple: an eight man tourney with the simplest set of rules: no fish hooking and no eye gouging. Everything else was kosher. The first tournament featured a bunch of fighters that you’d never really hear of in the years since. Guys like Teila Tuli, Art Jimmerson, and Gerard Gordeau were mixed in with Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock and Pat Smith for the battle in Denver, CO. The first round was petty much what I had expected from seeing the opening segments: the Savate fighter, Gordeau, beat the Sumo wrestling Tuli. Gracie got a victory by delivering a pounding instead of a sly submission. Kenny Shamrock got his win over Smith with a leg lock. The whole time this was being shown, every one of the people I was watching with were looking closely and trying to figure out if it was legit. The second round featured Gracie beating Ken Shamrock in a great match. In Japan, Shamrock was already a big deal for his matches in Pancrase, and this match is what made Gracie across the Pacific. Gordeau won his match through a series of stomps. This set up Gracie to win the first tourney by choke submission win over Gordeau. Everyone who knew anything about the UFC was saying that this proved it was a fix because it was the promoter’s brother who won. It was easily seen by anyone who had done any fighting that it was actually legit the whole way though. The brefity of the matches should have pointed that out to anyone. Having rewatched it recently and seeing the more recent UFC shows, it’s obvious that the art of MMA has evolved, as have the rule structures. Today’s matches, if they were fought under the same rules with the eight-man tourney style still in tact, would show fighters to be much different than they are currently. Without rounds, guys who use

breathing time would have to try harder to get solid KOs. It would seriously help the submissions guys. The matches would probably be longer and more brutal. Everyone was sorta groping for an opening and eventually the smart guys, like Gracie or Shamrock, would find it and get the wins. Still, I think Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock at their bests in 2004 would wipe the mat with guys like Liddel and Ortiz. That’s all for today. More on Friday.