WWE Smacks Down the U.S. Airways Center
Hold on to your hats because we're about to enter a something of an unfamiliar territory: We're reviewing a wrestling show on a music blog.
Benjamin Leatherman WWE Smackdown and ECW come to Phoenix. Click here for more photos from our slide show of the event.
While this will undoubtedly cause a certain amount of disgust to our readership, World Wrestling Entertainment's visit to the Valley last night had much in common with many of the concerts we've reviewed on this blog: blaring rock music, bad makeup jobs, spandex tights, and plenty of pyrotechnics.
The U.S. Airways Center in downtown Phoenix was packed to the rafters with screaming wrestling fans who were gathered to watch the WWE's taping of its Smackdown television program (which airs on Friday nights on MyNetworkTV stations across the country). And for a majority of the evening they were shrieking their devotion to one Jeff Hardy, the tattooed-and-pierced extreme wrestl..um, "superstar" who's become a favorite of teenagers and teens because of his high-flying skills and emo-like appearance. Hardy competed in a cage match main event against the dastardly C.M. Punk, a sanctimonious villain who embodies many of the annoying traits of those same preachy straight-edge kids in high school who listened to Minor Threat and told you drinking was evil.
Grade-schoolers from across the Valley screamed their lungs out whenever Hardy's name was mentioned or his face-painted mug appeared on the ginormous television screens throughout the arena. They went absolutely bonkers when he finally came out for the match, which was Hardy's final appearance in the WWE for the foreseeable future (as he's taking a hiatus to work on his poetry and whatnot).
And one person who didn't seem to give a shit about Mr. Extreme and his militant mallrat fan base was music editor Martin Cizmar, who came with me to the arena for the event. Much like myself, Martin's an old school rasslin' fan who's been watching the ring wars since his days back in Ohio. And much like he's deeply opinionated in his music tastes, the Cizman is highly outspoken when it comes to the WWE.
"Jeff Hardy sucks," Martin informed me unabashedly at various points during the evening, also stating that he's also hates such crowd favorites as John Cena, Edge, and luchadore legend Rey Mysterio, as well as the WWE's current PG atmosphere. While I differ with my boss' opinions of said superstars, I'm somewhat inclined to agree with him on the more "kid-friendly" state of Vince McMahon's wrestling empire.
Both Martin and myself remember attending RAW is WAR events in 2000 during the heyday of the "Attitude Era," which was marked by licentious storylines, salty language, and bloodier and more intense matches. Those days are long gone, as the WWE has cleaned things up considerably in order to gain advertisers and appeal to a younger market.
"When I went to RAW back in Cleveland there were all these chicks flashing the crowd," Martin says.