CALGARY – On Friday night, the historic Victoria Pavilion in Calgary’s Stampede Park hosted professional wrestling for the first time in nearly 15 years. A mix of nostalgia, rising stars, and experienced talent blended together to create the best wrestling show in town in recent memory.
If you have been thinking about ordering the Hart Legacy Wrestling iPPV stream tonight at 8 p.m. MST at hartlegacywrestling.com I can say in all honesty that based on the live show it is worth every penny and you will enjoy it. It also means you should come back and read this article tomorrow, as it does contain spoilers.
The Pavilion was near capacity and the energy and anticipation in the crowd was palpable. The show began with one of the voices of wrestling in Alberta for many years, wrestling historian Bob Leonard returning to the Pavilion where he first watched wrestling in 1958. He paid tribute to Alberta wrestling then introduced a number of families of wrestlers such as Bif Wellington, and legends like The Cuban Assassin, “Champagne” Jerry Morrow and Leo Burke. Manager Abu Wizal still had the crowd booing with a mere gesture, and the segment showed that Calgary has not forgotten those that paved the way for Hart Legacy Wrestling. The tribute was capped off with Nomi Whalen, the wife of the Ed Whalen appearing.
The show continued with Teddy Hart and Konnan setting up the show. At this point the talking and lack of matches went on way too long. It didn’t lose the crowd, but at nearly an hour before the first match, it sure did drag at times. Future shows won’t have the tribute and as much talking, and if this is the only issue the fans had for a first show it is a pretty minor one.
The action finally started with a four-way tag team elimination match in which the last team teams would advance to the main event. Local talents Cam!kaze & Pete Wilson and Hawkes & Ryan Rollins mixed it up with Samuri Del Sol & El Generico and “The Future Endeavors” (Brian Cage and Trent Baretta). Cage had flown in from Orlando after appearing on TNA the night before in the Gut Check challenge, and Baretta was released by WWE just a week ago. Baretta started things early on and went face to face with Generico, who was making his final independent appearance prior to signing with WWE. “You’re the guy that took my job?!” Baretta exclaimed before attacking Generico. A non-stop and at times crazy bout saw Cage and Baretta eliminate Hawkes and Rollins, only to be eliminated by Generico and Del Sol.
An angry Ryan Rollins demanded another chance to prove himself, and got it in the next bout teaming with Nikita Naridian to face Johnny Devine & Miss Danyah and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart & Cat Von Heez in a mixed-tag three team bout. Anvil and Devine looked ecstatic to be back in the Pavilion and the crowd responded loudly to their return. Unfortunately for Rollins, it wasn’t enough as Neidhart and Von Heez scored the win.
One of the loudest ovations of the night came when the IWGP Tag Team Champions The Killer Elite Squad made their North American debut as a team. Davey Boy Smith Jr. had a huge grin as he and partner Lance Archer hit the ring for an interview. They were interrupted by Chris Masters and Bobby Lashley. Masters insulted the fans and the Pavilion calling it a dump, and then accepted a challenge for later on.
A 12-man battle royal featured mostly local talents as well as former mainstays from the area during the last relaunch of Stampede Wrestling “Principal” Richard Pound and Wavell Starr. The fans went crazy when the original Jason The Terrible hit the ring, chanting his name as he eliminated several wrestlers and took out Heavy Metal with a chokeslam. He seemed well en route to winning when Abu Wezal returned to the ring and distracted him, allowing Starr to eliminate him. Starr then chose to eliminate himself, giving Heavy Metal the victory. All was revealed as a nefarious plot when The Great Gama entered the ring. Starr surrendered his headdress and was given a turban, as he, Metal and Johnny Devine were incorporated into the new Karachi Vice.
It didn’t take long for the tag team match between the Killer Elite Squad and “Team Body Guys” to turn into a brawl. As Archer and Masters brawled at ringside Lashley took control of Smith and locked on a anklelock, which Smith reversed into the sharpshooter. Johnny Devine broke it up, causing referee Wayne Hart to flash a red card and throw out the match. Lance Storm, who was doing commentary at ringside, helped clear the ring and the match restarted as a six-man tag. My personal favourite match of the night saw Storm get worked over by Devine, Masters and Lashley, struggling to make the tag. When he did another brawl broke out and out of the ashes came Smith locking Masters in the sharpshooter for the win.
The only way to describe the main event ten-man tag team match was “crazy.” After scouting all evening, captains Ted Hart and Konnan announced their teams. Konnan brought Jack Evans, who broke in in Calgary and now is a star in AAA in Mexico, tag match winners El Generico and Samuray Del Sol, Trent Baretta and Harry Smith out as his team. Teddy teamed with Flip Kendrick, Cam!kaze, Pete Wilson, and Brian Cage. Held under lucha libre rules, in which if someone left the ring a member of their team could replace them, the bout started with technical wrestling between cousins Smith and Hart, but soon the action was everywhere. Cam!kaze and Smith brawled on the floor in one part of the building while Baretta smashed food trays over the head of Cage, who just hours earlier had been his tag partner. The two brawled with Generico at the top of the stands while other wrestlers fought towards the entrance. When Hart scaled the entrance way to the balcony and moonsaulted onto everyone, the crowd lost its mind. Things continued at a breakneck speed until Hart leapt onto Generico from the top rope and hit a Canadian Destroyer piledriver to score the win for his team.
Clocking in at just over four hours, including the legends tribute, it was a long night but the action kept the crowd into it from the opening bell. Taking advantage of the big spotlight, the talent shined and brought everything they had to make the first show special.
A few observations about the show:
- The Pavilion was renovated recently and is smaller than in wrestling’s heyday there, but the intimate venue meant there wasn’t a bad seat in the house.
- El Generico is ready for WWE. Many casual fans wouldn’t have known who he was, as this was his first match in Calgary. In no time he had the crowd singing “Ole” and solidly behind him. The line to meet him after the show was over half an hour long. He has it, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.
- The show featured Davey Boy Smith Jr, Lance (formerly Vance) Archer, Brian Cage, Chris Masters and Trent Baretta are all talents who were under WWE contracts and were released in the last two years. Based on the HLW show it is clear that each of these guys is insanely talented. Chris Masters has improved as a wrestler and as a talker so much since his first WWE run, and Smith and Archer are huge stars in Japan. Baretta had the crowd so turned against him that even after the incredible main event, when each wrestler was introduced and asked for a “that was awesome” chant, he got soundly booed. How the WWE dropped the ball is mind boggling.
- Calgary is ready for wrestling to return at this level. A return to Calgary on February 22nd is scheduled along with dates that weekend in Medicine Hat and Edmonton. Scheduled for those shows are John Morrison, New Japan stars Jado & Gedo, and the legendary Jushin “Thunder” Liger, who started in Stampede Wrestling in 1987 as Keichi Yamada. If the debut show is any indication, there is great potential with this company. To paraphrase Ed Whalen, you could tell that the fans were very much looking forward to another edition of Hart Legacy Wrestling.
Hart Legacy Wrestling “Resurrection” Results:
- Cam!kaze & “Pistol” Pete Wilson & El Generico & Samuray Del Sol were the last 2 teams in a 4-way bout also featuring Hawkes & Ryan Rollins and Trent Baretta & Brian Cage, to advance to the main event.
- Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart & Cat Von Heez defeated Ryan Rollins & Nikita Naridian & Johnny Devine & Miss Danyah in a mix tag match.
- Heavy Metal won a battle royal featuring Dynamite Dan, Slammer, Bobby Sharpe, Omen, Raam Dante, Scotley Crue, Brady Malibu, Big Jess, Principal Pound, Wavell Starr & Jason The Terrible.
- Davey Boy Smith Jr, Lance Archer & Lance Storm defeated Chris Masters, Bobby Lashley & Johnny Devine
- “Team Teddy” – Teddy Hart, Flip Kendrick, Brian Cage, Camikaze & Pete Wilson defeated “Team Konnan” – Davey Boy Smith Jr, El Generico, Samuray Del Sol, Jack Evans & Trent Baretta.
Hart Legacy Wrestling returns February 22nd – 24th with John Morrison, Jado & Gedo & Jushin “Thunder” Liger. Visit hartlegacywrestling.com for more information and to order the ippv.