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16 years have passed. Despite a world of difference, some things never change.
The first ever live WWE broadcast from Melbourne, Australia, has come and gone, in the form of Super Show-Down. The Melbourne Cricket Ground – home to Australian Rules Football, world-class sporting events and concerts – held 70,000 rowdy Aussie fans, ready to make their voices heard in the WWE Universe once again.
Of course, a lot has changed since 2002. When the WWE Global Warning tour made it to pay-per-view from Melbourne, World Wrestling Entertainment was emerging from the pandemonium of the Attitude Era. On the brink of Ruthless Aggression, parental supervision was more than advised; profanity, vulgarity and bras and panties matches reigned supreme.
Over the years, WWE’s brand has taken on a form fit for children’s viewing, in more ways relying on the family friendly formula of the WWF 80s glory days than the frat boy appeal of the early 21st Century. Yet, a product that provides both childlike wonder and an outlet for adults to reminisce their hay-days proves to be as popular as any other era in history.
In 2002, near 60,000 people flocked to Melbourne’s Colonial Stadium (Now Marvel Stadium) to see Global Warning unfold in real-time. Last night, 70,000 strong attended the MCG to watch stars of today and yesteryear. The rarity of stadium shows means that Aussie fans are always going to come through, regardless of which era we are in. Yet, where Val Venis’ promo slot boasted “going down under”, Elias popped the crowd with a researched AFL reference that afforded good heat.
Super Show-Down was, given context, the more tasteful of the two events. Global Warning kicked off with Rikishi and Rico in a ‘Kiss My Ass’ match (a relic of time gone by), regular dick jokes and nauseatingly overt SmackDown promotion on commentary, and of course, the staple bra and panties match before the main event. Super Show-Down came to be in progressive influential circumstances: Three women’s matches were scattered across the card, including a championship match between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch that was an early favourite for match of the night.
Australians left the MCG after Super Show-Down feeling relevant. Comparatively, the odd tourism advertisement weaved in with a brief quip from commentary couldn’t hold a torch to the embarrassing advertorial of Global Warning. Whether it was visiting Melbourne Zoo to pat Koalas with Kurt Angle in ad breaks, or the constant cultural fetishising of Taz on commentary, it’s hard to look back and feel proud to be Australian. Fast forward to the elation in the building when Billie Kay and Peyton Royce made their homecoming, or the electricity surging through the grounds as Buddy Murphy captured he Crusierweight Championship. Goosebumps.
The problems with Super Show-Down were consistent with the issues that have continuously irked hardcore fans in 2018. The show was too long – The two hours of Global Warning were digestible enough, standard crudeness aside. 16 years makes a difference in production values, and WWE have a more palatable product to showcase. However, the sheer volume of content saw fan’s energy wither as the night progressed, with the odd peak and trough.
Where the show itself was a marathon, many match finishes left fans feeling confused and devalued. The jarring roll-ups, surplus of three-man tags, lack of title defenses, and bare minimum title changes, Super Show-Down felt like less of a big stakes event, and more like a glorified house show. Where Becky won with a clever disqualification, a rematch has been fast-tracked for SmackDown, leaving the WWE Evolution pay-per-view card looking scarce. The potential for some big storyline developments were seemingly dismissed – A Nikki Bella heel turn, elevating Samoa Joe, whatever the Daniel Bryan vs Miz match was – It felt like Super Show-Down was a piece of the puzzle that didn’t quite fit into the big picture.
In the end, the night ended in a car wreck of old timers, one of whom main-evented the Global Warning show 16 years ago. Ultimately, the closing feature of Super Show-Down came to Australia almost a decade too late. Sure, some fans were enthused. How could you blame them when they’ve been deprived of seeing said icons for all this time? Whether it’s “best business” or making up for lost time, we can’t say. As for the rest of us, seeing a band of balding men bumble about the ‘G sang one thing loud and clear: Australia wasn’t worthy of a contemporary main event.
Will it really be the “Last Time Ever”? Triple H’s tears would suggest we can believe him this time. Yet, the power imbalance is evident. WWE, thanks for visiting once again, and thank you for a night many of us won’t forget. We are grateful, truly. But, we don’t want your sympathy. And stop taking the piss. We’re ready to be recognised. Make “Then, Now and Forever” mean something for everyone.
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