Saturday, March 19, 2005 will go down in history as the best day of my life. As cheesy as that may sound it is absolutely true. I mean how many times in your life do you get to meet your all-time hero? Once if you’re lucky. I met mine. And a host of my other heroes too.
You may be wondering what the hell I am talking about, but last Saturday, along with a friend who will be known as Boff, I attended The Wrestling Channel’s one-year anniversary show, International Showdown.
Leaving our previous evening’s drinking exploits behind, we boarded our train early on the Saturday morning en-route to the UK’s biggest independent show of the year in Coventry.
Before the show though, we had a small engagement known as Fan Slam to attend at Jumpin’ Jak’s nightclub.
On arrival we were greeted by a queue, which already looked to be worryingly long (little was I to know that we were actually in a good position and the line eventually went right round the corner of the building). As we stood in anticipation, we talked feverishly about meeting the various wrestlers that were to appear to people in front of us (Amy and Steve from Walsall – get in touch!) whilst catching glimpses of Greg Lambert and Dean Ayass who walked past us (apparently my fave British wrestler, Alex Shane did too but I failed to see him, sob).
After waiting 45 minutes, which in fact seemed like six hours, we were finally allowed in. Not knowing where to look first I noticed Samoa Joe on stage finishing his interview with wrestling journalist, Bill Apter before joining the line to meet former ECW legend, Raven.
Despite asking him a couple of questions, he seemed quite sad and maybe annoyed that he was there. However, he did sign my event program and pose for a picture with me. Next up was the ‘Wonderkid’ himself, Johnny Storm. Now this was really cool as he booed me for wearing a Showstealer t-shirt and not buying one of his but he was still a top bloke.
Feeling quite pleased with ourselves, we then headed to the bar for a couple of well-deserved pints to quench our thirst in the stifling heat. It’s a good job that I had a good grip of my drinks as I nearly dropped them next as ‘The Fallen Angel’ Christopher Daniels and CM Punk just breezed past saying hi to us. It is not every day you get greeted by Gods.
So we headed up to where they were standing for autographs and pictures and they were both really friendly, especially Daniels who posed for every picture, which Punk did not due to the sheer size of the queue and the fact that he had an on-stage interview coming up. Now dig this: As Daniels walked down the stairs to the stage, I got to touch the X-division title belt!
As if the day couldn’t get any better we then got the chance to spend 5 or 10 minutes talking to young British talent, Spud who was great and showed me pictures and video messages on his phone.
AJ Styles was just as nice although he did not have as much time on his hands as Spud. This was followed by Doug Williams (who was drinking Jack Daniels and coke), Samoa Joe, Petey Williams and Chris Sabin.
And then out of nowhere, came a scruffy looking guy. About 6’2”, 287lbs; shoulder length straggly hair and a beard; a lumberjack flannel shirt and black sweat pants; a ‘Wanted Dead’ t-shirt and a habit of putting socks down his pants. Readers. I met Mick Foley.
That was after struggling through a crowd of about 500 all pushing up one flight of stairs. I am truly surprised nobody fainted in the heat. After a few seconds with the man and picture, I made my way down stairs again, dusted myself off, recovered with another pint (with the FWA’s Simmons!) and then headed for the SkyDome for the matches.
Match 1: A four corners match, Petey Williams v Chris Sabin v Johnny Storm v Spud. An awesome choice for opener featuring some great high-flying and technical moves. It is hard to say who the fans were behind with chants for all men, but the biggest pops in this match were when Johnny and Storm flew to the outside and then when Petey hit the awesome Canadian Destroyer on Sabin to get the three count. Winner: Petey Williams. Rating: 8/10
Match 2: World of Sport Match: Steve Grey v Mal Sanders. I felt really sorry for both these men who actually put on a decent show, as many used it as a toilet break (including myself in round two). The only thing is almost everything would seem like a let down after the opener, but these guys seemed solid despite their age. I thoroughly enjoyed the old-skool ‘Eas-ay Eas-ay’ chants. Winner: Steve Grey. Rating 6/10
After this match, Bill Apter came out to present a ‘special award’ to Mick Foley. He was interrupted however, by Greg Lambert who laughed in Apter’s face about Power Slam putting WOW out of business. He then introduced the FWA Champion Alex Shane to the ring. Shane ripped on Foley for a minute before the Hardcore Icon came out and told Shane it wasn’t the last he had seen of him tonight.
Match 3: Samoa Joe v CM Punk. With the crowd on a real high from seeing Foley, they were more than up for this, and the guys did not let us down. A superb hard-hitting match, which spilled to the outside a few times, this could have gone either way. Joe hit his Ole, Ole kick, whilst Punk concentrated on trying to hit the Pepsi Plunge. Winner: Samoa Joe. Rating 8/10
Match 4: Doug Williams, James Tighe and Scorpio v Mitsuhara Misawa, Tiger Emperor and Yoshinari Ogawa. A very sound six-man tag match this was with many exciting moves on show including Doug’s roll-through German suplex and Emperor’s attempt at a 619. A few good false finishes as well made this edge-of-the-seat stuff. Winners: Doug Williams, James Tighe and Scorpio. Match Rating 7/10
Match 5: Raven’s Rules match: Alex Shane v Raven. This was a great breather match away from the technical stuff, with plenty of arena wide brawling, which actually saw Shane pummeled off the top of a balcony to the concrete below. As Shane looked to have things back in control in the ring, Mick Foley came out and gave Shane’s security a beating before giving Shane a Socko Claw. Raven followed this up with the Evenflow DDT and the three count. Mick and Raven celebrated with Socks and Mick pointed at a girl in the front row saying: “Those are the best boobs I have ever seen”. Winner: Raven. Match Rating: 7/10
Match 6: TNA X-Division Title Match: AJ Styles v Christopher Daniels. Words cannot express how great this match was. Maybe if I watched it at home without the audience participation it would not have been as good, but this was a spectacle. Back and forth action and the crowd was on fire for all 30 minutes of it. Both men hit all their trademark moves, before Chris Daniels finally covered AJ for the 3 count. After the match, Daniels celebrated and hugged fans and the two men shook hands following a spectacular evening. As the event finished, fans rounded it off with chants of “This is awesome” and “T-W-C, T-W-C”. Winner: Christopher Daniels. Match Rating: 9.5/10
This is a day I will truly never forget.
Did you go to International Showdown? If so I would like to hear from you, you can e-mail me on [[email protected]]