First, BadBoyJC's report:
Second, Chan's report:
Charlie called me at around 1:30 on Sunday and sarcastically mentioned that WCW was running a matinee house show in Johnson City, Tennessee at 3. Knowing, Johnson City is about 2 and a half hours from our home and it would be impossible for us to get there on time and Charlie figured he would tease my impetuous side. He temporarily forgot that I have no common sense and before he knew it we were on the Interstate.
We arrived in Johnson City at around 3:15 and stopped at a local gas stations to ask directions to Freedom Hall. I bought a local paper (The Johnson City Press) to see what WCW did in terms of advertising and if the local paper ran an article on the event. They only took a small article out on page 45 in the Lifestyles Section. It had pictures of Lex Luger, the Giant, Kevin Nash and Buff Bagwell and advertised The Giant vs. Nash, Lex vs. Buff and Chris Benoit vs. Raven in that order.
We arrived at Science Hill High School, adjacent to Freedom Hall, at just around 3:30. We took the walk to the arena in about five minutes (it was quite a distance from where we parked). We walked towards Eddie Guerrero's theme music. The ticket lady informed us that the event was sold out. We were not discouraged (remember we are idiots with nothing better to do). So we walked to the back of the arena. As veterans of sneaking into events, we realized it would not be too long before we entered the arena.
In the back of the building several fans were gathered and yelling down to Arn Anderson. We were seated a story above the wrestlers and security was restraining fans from going to the parking lot near the wrestlers. Tennis was being played in the background outside the arena. We resisted the urge to convince the marks that Jim Cornette was out there. In Freedom Hall, the dressing rooms are very small and there was very little room for the wrestlers to roam, and there was a large entrance way in the back where they could walk so they frequently exited during the show. Arn would have no part of the fans and he paid no attention to their yelling.
Soon, Ernest Miller came from the dressing room after wrestling his match. Ernest appeared genuinely concerned for the fans and fielded questions from an older fan sitting next to us (older meaning he was 30 as most of the spectators were children). Ernest claimed that he chose wrestling over karate because of the money involved and that he has enjoyed it so far. As we would later realize this fan also happened to be a combination of the biggest Ric Flair fan and biggest mark in the world and he asked Ernest when he would prove himself by wrestling the Nature Boy. Ernest said that he wanted to get two or three more years experience under his belt before he challenged a wrestler of Flair's status.
Ernest re-entered the arena after this short conversation. At this time the main eventers arrived at the building. The three best spots in the parking lot were saved for their cars. Arn Anderson must have lent them his spot...Rick Steiner and Ray Traylor drove in a blue car with Virginia tags. They followed a car driven by Lex Luger and carrying Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell. It was a white car with Pennsylvania tags. All of the wrestler's cars were rentals and were nice Chryslers and Fords. We wonder if Yugi Nagata was upset that all of the cars and wrestlers were American...
We do not know if Luger was attempting to maintain kayfabe but he waited until Buff and Scott had entered the arena before he got out of the car. He was wearing his green flannel and black baseball cap that he is often seen in. Rick and Scott rode in separate cars but as we said it probably had nothing to do with kayfabe. It probably has more to do with Rick getting in that accident with Nash ran him off the rode...
The fans yelled profusely at them as quite a crowd had gathered by this time. The undercard was poor so many of the fans in the arena were outside for a cigarette break and the fans who could not get tickets were still around because it was early in the show. All but Scott ignored them. The ever-cordial Steiner told many fans, including children to, "F**k off!" Our Flair mark then yelled at Luger to go back to the Horsemen so Flair could carry him again. He yelled this repeatedly and the fact that he was serious amused us greatly.
We heard the ring announcer announce that Dean Malenko had defeated Eddy Guerrero by submission. We quickly realized that the ring announcer was not Dave Penzer and would later find him to be a local with a beard and almost homosexual true voice. When he came out for a break the fans asked about Gene Okerlund's whereabouts and if he was with the Nitro Girls. The ring announcer commented about some guys having all the luck. Not that he was a bad guy or anything, we just hope Penzer is back soon.
At this time intermission came and with it many fans to our part of the arena. Fans were given pink wrist bands so that they could get back into the building. Sneaking in was easy, but we decided that with the card they had, we'd rather just watch the wrestlers in their "natural environment."
At intermission, Goldberg came out and received an ovation that rivaled an indoor ovation. He was wearing an Atlanta Falcons tanktop. Huge just does not do him justice. A child who had just had surgery asked for an autograph and had been rebuked by security all night attempted to get his autograph. His mother yelled loudly as Goldberg was getting into his car. Goldberg walked back and signed autographs. He then drove off. As he left the arena two girls stopped his car and asked if they could go with him. He said no but promised them that he would return and sign autographs for all the fans. He later kept his promise.
After the intermission, Rick Steiner defeated Buff Bagwell. We were surprised at how late Rick arrived for his match. Two of the three advertised match ups did not occur as the Giant canceled and this was one of the altered matches.
Dean Malenko came out without his shirt on and backed his car into the entrance way the wrestlers were entering so he get out easier and load his car without being in view of the public. It also had Pennsylvania tags. Several fans attempted to distract him but he informed security to tell the people on the balcony that he had gone back inside which he had not. He then came back with an Asics shirt and sat down and had a piece of gum for a few minutes in his car. For those incredibly excessive fans (us included) it was Trident. A girl next to us who was attempting to flirt with Charlie yelled at him and referred to him as "Deanie Weenie." It was obvious to everyone that she it was a Freudian comment more than anything. Perhaps she did not notice that he was wearing a wedding band. It really scares us that we did.
Dean waited around for awhile but was joined by Eddie Guerrero who rode shotgun with Dean. Dean sped off and did not return as several fans attempted to chase his car. This was not the only way that the women of Johnson City were like dogs...
Also during this match, Scott Steiner came and did several sprints through the parking lot warming up for his match later in the show. The same child whom Goldberg had accommodated was sternly rebuked by Scott, "Not now, kid!" The security guy, who was obviously a local good 'ol boy said that he better run when he met up with his brother. While the rest of the wrestlers had been very nice to this man, Scott just ignored him. Scott is just a natural heel. If anyone thinks that was a compliment, it wasn't.
Upon entering the building, Scott then defeated Ray Traylor by submission via the Steiner Recliner. Scott got on the mic and offered that Traylor could join the nWo or get his @$$ kicked. I guess he forgot the storyline that Ray had been kicked out by people higher up in Hogan's pecking order. Of course Traylor responded negatively and the match ensued. This would be the same all afternoon as the heel would come off, establish himself and get the face over. Scott and Ray would not have been overly effective in most places as they are not particulary articulate and just say the word "@$$" to get a crowd response and it comes off as unnatural. In Johnson City, these people would have cheered or booed anybody.
During this match, referee Charles Robinson, already in street clothes, came out and put his equipment in his car and also put on a WWJD bracelet which was refreshing to us Christians out there. Robinson was nice and even came up to the balcony and posed for pictures. He also backed his car up and threw out a Pepsi bottle. He would later leave with Arn Anderson and an older WCW executive.
Another referee, Mickey Jay, also came out for a smoke break. He was the only WCW employee who received little or no reaction from the fans.
Raven then defeated Chris Benoit in a Raven's rules match. Both worked the mic, and Raven was actually impressive. He claimed that some people in attendance were actually their own fathers in reference to the redneck image of Tennessee. If that is possible, these would be the people to do it.
For those of you who cannot tolerate graphic imagery do not read this paragraph. At this time, Scott Steiner came out and sat on the hood of the car. His white ring gear was being taken off to revel a g-string. Yes you read that right. It was one of the most horrifying things Charlie and I had seen all day and if we could possibly describe the women in attendance you would realize what a statement that is.
When the mother of the child he had earlier rebuked yelled at him. He yelled, "Come here." He grudingly signed several kids WCW magazines looking for an appropriate page where he was featured. Even when he did something nice, he came off as a jerk.
Goldberg returned to the arena as promised and signed numerous autographs. He was met in the parking lot by Tim Horner, who we had heard wrestled earlier in the show. He must have been a last minute replacement. We infer this because he could be brought in from his home of Morristown just a few miles down I-81 from Johnson City. He and Goldberg talked. He gave Goldberg a protein drink which Bill shook and drank. The fans had rushed Goldberg in a momentary lapse of security and he signed their autographs quite awhile despite them interrupting his conversation.
When security caught up with the fans, Goldberg put on a button up and sunglasses and went to a fan accessible area and posed for pictures and signed every kid's autograph. He then went and talked to Arn and Yugi Nagata, who he had defeated earlier in the show. Charles Robinson was with them. Robinson and Goldberg responded to the fans' questions from the balcony. Nothing came of note, other than the fact that when asked where he would wrestle tomorrow, Goldberg honestly did not know. Fortunately Charlie was there to inform the masses that Nitro would originate from Winston-Salem. This would be the only time we made an effort to converse with the wrestlers as we did not want to be associated with all of the marks around us and were enjoying ourselves just listening. We would have liked to have inform Arn that we worked for Bill, but the appropriate time never occurred.
At this time an older man without a shirt came out and backed the WCW truck into the space where the other wrestlers cars had been preparing to take down the ring after the main event. Ernest Miller and Yugi Nagata were out briefly but no one was particulalry interested at this point as the area cleared when the main event was about to satrt.
Charlie even had to go into the arena to make sure that his nWo vote was tabulated in Kevin Nash's survey. I chose to stay outside the arena to watch the proceedings as this was a new experience for me.
Inside the building, Kevin Nash did a monologue referring to his basketball career at the University of Tennessee. He said that, "Big Orange Country was just TOO sweeeeeeet!" After this Charlie rejoined me outside, as we said, the proceedings out there were far better than in the inside of the building.
Luger defeated Nash by disqualification when he tried to use the powerbomb. We were disappointed that they did not attempt to "arrest" Nash. As soon as the matches were over we were asked to leave the balcony. We were happy too. We ventured inside to watch the ring being taken down.
We were the only fans who stayed to watch this and actually was very interesting. The man we discussed early instructed nine guts what to do. Two men were with the crew and the rest were locals. They began by taking down the ring ropes and there is an intricate process of folding the ropes so that all three sets end up in separate corners of the ring.
Then the crew took off the cover of the mats. Underneath was an inch thick of matting that appeared similar to what gymnasts do. There were three of them and were attached only by masking tape. The masking tape was removed and the crew in groups of two rolled the mats up and carries them into the truck.
Underneath the matting were 34 boards that ran across the ring. They were dismantled by stacking them in groups of three and then carried to the ruck. They were supported underneath by nine boards placed vertically and equidistantly across the ring perpendicular to the 34 boards. This is what supports the base structure of the ring. They were just clipped onto the metal siding of the ring and were easily removed. The remaining outline of the ring was the metal portions and we did not wait to see how it was taken as the two cars that had been brought the main eventers to the ring had been backed into the arena.
A large group of fans had assembled outside as the wrestlers left. While the Steiners, Buff, Lex and Traylor left Nash walked out at the same time to an ovation. He apparently interacted with the fans some. We had tired if watching the ring being taken down, it had been fifteen minutes and with the wrestlers out of the locker room we thought it was a good time to check it out.
We walked through them and they were incredibly small. There were two locker rooms on each side of the entrance way. We then understood why the wrestlers were coming out of the building for air. The locker rooms were equipped with the light bulbs all around the mirrors which is the stereotypical dressing room, but other than that they were very simple and unimpressive.
We felt we had enough education for a Sunday so we hit the roads home. We had enjoyed ourselves. Tickets ranged from $15-25 and we had enjoyed ourselves for free. The show itself ended at 5:15 so if they startd on time, the show lasted only 2 hours and fifteen minutes. The majority of the names on the card were the smaller names on the show. No Hogan, Bret Hart, Roddy piper or Giant. Not even the house show stalwarts like Flair, Hall, Giant or Diamond Dallas Page showed. Our younger favorites like Booker T and Jericho were not there. Not only were there no championship matches, only half of the tag team champions appeared. Two of the three main events were changed. We felt lucky to get all the excitement we did for free.