I had a press credential and was taking photos at ringside.
Benoit/Regal was one of the best matches I have ever seen, but the
entire card was more of an atmosphere and "event" type of thing, rather
than a card full of great matches. It was part "NWA Legands Fest", part
indy show, and part house show where guys put forth a solid effort, but
weren't gonna do anything crazy. When it was all said and done, I
don't think anyone left unhappy.
Rory Fox & Logan Caine vs Jeremy Lopez & Jet Jaguar - Fox is the "Paperboy" from the MTV True Life
special. Caine is Al Snow's brother, and for quite awhile was
travelling partners with Chris Hero. Knee injuries did him in. I
worked a lot of shows with him, and as he got farther along in medical
school, he worked less & less. Lopez was a Malenko trainee, was a
Wildside regular, and his peak was regularly appearing on the Jimmy Hart
version of WCWSN. Jet Jaguar was a hot indy name in Florida for a long
time, and may have been a Malenko student too.
BJ Payne vs Rico - BJ Payne was in
development forever, and never got the call up. This Rico is the Rico
that got the call up a few years later.
Chuck Palumbo vs Sean O'Haire - two WCW guys... probably prelim guys at the time, or just starting to get the push on tv as the Natural Born Thrillers.
Scotty Sabre vs Reckless Youth - Two developmental guys... if Reckless was still under contract at that time.
Cody Hawk & Anthony McMurphy vs Flash Flanagan & Matt Stryker -
This was a pretty good match, if I remember correctly, but the crowd
didn't really care because they were all local HWA guys (Flanagan
working both HWA & OVW regularly). I think the finish of this match
was heel valet Hellena Heavenly getting involved, only for Taxi
(McMurphy was known as "the Taxi Driver", as he did a taxi driver
gimmick) to gorilla press her and throw her over the top rope onto Stryker/Flannagan
on the floor. Stryker is the ROH "unibrow" version. Hawk ended up
being the head trainer at HWA, and eventually bought the company from
Thatcher, only to run it into bankruptcy.
Shark Boy vs Jamie Noble - This was at the
absolute peak of Shark's indy notoriety, as Discovery Channel was there
filming vignettes for "Shark Week". I think at this point Shark had
done tryouts for WWE, had been on WCWSN as Shark, and was just beyond
over. This was the start of the "main show", and it was a great opener
for the HWA Cruiser belt. Tony Mamaluke was there in Noble's corner,
and when he interfered and Shark bit his ass, it got a massive pop.
Race Steele vs Chip Fairway - Up until this
point, HWA had never really had a heavyweight champion, because the
first champion they crowned (D-Lo Brown) was signed by WWF, and never
came back to drop the strap. Race Steele was a big muscle head, and
Fairway (doing a heel golfer gimmick) was a helluva hand, but too short
and stocky to be on anyone's radar back then. These guys did as much of a brawl as Les would let his guys get away with, and Fairway got a good match out of Steele, who won the strap.
Anthony McMurphy vs Cody Michaels - Taxi
did double duty because someone no-showed, but I cannot remember
who. Michaels was a Dennucci trainee that trained with Douglas &
Foley. He was semi-retired at this point (and a successful medical
doctor), but had been a Memphis guy and a prelim television guy back in
Tim Horner vs Tom Prichard - Nothing memorable, and I don't think a vast majority of the people there knew who these two were.
The Harris Brothers vs Billy Kidman & Disco Inferno
- I am pretty sure this match didn't happen. I totally do not remember
any of them being there. Or perhaps I was just hanging out elsewhere
because it was Ron & Don Harris.
Vampiro vs General Rection - This was when
Vampiro & Morrus were at their WCW peaks, and these guys went all
over the building and had a helluva brawl. Everything on this show had
pretty much been in the ring at this point, and these guys went up in
the stands and the crowd ate it up. Morrus powerslam. Vampiro Driver.
Chris Benoit vs Steven Regal - Not the main
event. Crazy. Les started watching this match from the curtain, but
was more and more excited by the end, that he was sitting at ringside
and grinning like he just ate a shit sandwich. This match was after
Regal had been released by WCW a second time, but before he debuted in
the WWF as William Regal. This match won him his WWF spot. Lethal submission! Crippler Crossface! Benoit! Piledriver! With
as many awesome wrestlers that I have worked with, and shows I have
been on, this is the best match that I have ever seen live and in
person. I don't like watching it on video because it doesn't come off
the same way. Awesome match, and the crowd ate it up.
Diamond Dallas Page vs Shane Douglas - Match didn't happen. Douglas came out in street clothes and gave a heartfelt speech about Pillman. Then he started going heel, which brought out DDP, who hit the cutter, and that was it.
Justin Credible vs Raven - These two guys were feuding over the ECW strap at the time, and they came and did a ECW house show championship match. Regal had hardaway color from headbutts earlier, but Credible did the only gig of the night, getting a lot of color. Not a classic by any means, but a solid match. Raven was over. He was on some shit too, and bitching in the lockerroom about the quality of the spread for the wrestlers.
D'Lo Brown & Eddie Guerrero vs Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko
- I believe that this main event was supposed to be Guerrero vs Brown,
with the winner being named "King of the Frog Splash" or something like
that. That was how this match started, but Malenko & Saturn attacked and turned it into a tag match. This
match wasn't anything special, and was basically a house-show tag match
where they screwed around and had fun. At this point in time a lot of
the Cincinnati Reds were really big wrestling fans and quite a few of
them were involved with this match. Closer Danny Graves was in the corner of D-Lo Brown, while slugger Dmitri Young was with Guerrero. Can you figure out who the referee for this match was?
Kevin Nash was there to do two things: 1) Drink Beer 2) Fuck Missy Hyatt.
A big part of the festivities was auctioning things off for the Pillman family. Missy Hyatt was there to auction off her wedding dress. Kevin
Nash was probably a case deep by this pint in the show, and he came out
to ringside and grabbed the mic. He then offered to donate $20K to the
Pillman family if Hyatt got naked right then and there in the middle of
the ring. Les was in the ring hosting the auction, and tried to play it
off like Nash was just joking, but then Nash pulled out a credit card
and said he was serious, and that if Hyatt got naked right now the
Pillman family would be $20K richer. At this point it got reeeeeeeeal
uncomfortable, and Hyatt started yelling at Nash not to do this here,
because there were kids. Finally Nash took a seat at ringside, but it might have been because he was too drunk to stand anymore.