November 26, 2009
I wrote the following for my “Storm Front” article for “Fighting Spirit” Magazine, back in June, and it is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
I was inspired this month by something I read in issue # 39 of this very magazine. The article that caught my eye was on page 37 and listed some of the greatest opening matches to ever jerk the curtain.
The piece listed seven great opening matches one of which was my Intercontinental Title match with Edge at Summer Slam 2001. I loved that match, and it is featured on the Edge Decade of Decadence DVD. I was thrilled to see this match included on this list (and on the DVD, I still get royalties) but could not help but think of some of the other great opening matches I’ve had in my career that would no doubt be on said list if it were extended to feature more than just seven bouts.
Everyone wants to be the main event, it is of course the money spot and the spot that tells everyone you are at the top of the food chain, but if you can’t get that spot the opener is the next best thing. Fans are always eager and hungry at the start of a show, and you get to perform before they’ve seen others use your moves, spots, or heaven forbid you finish. It’s also a really important spot as you are expected to kick the show of hot and get the crowd excited for the rest of the show.
Because of this I’ve often request that opening match spot, and if I’m not mistaken I’ve been featured in nine Pay Per View opening matches, three in ECW and six in WWE. They certainly weren’t all home run matches but a few of them certainly were, and like most of my favourite matches, there are good stories that go along with them.
My first great opener was at the ECW Anarchy Rules PPV in Chicago, Sept. 19/1999. This is quite probably my most remembered PPV match by fans. I still get fans telling me that this was the match that made them Lance Storm fans. It was against Jerry Lynn, and was a great technical wrestling match. The match was originally booked to be a draw, but Jerry and I begged for the opening match spot and once we got that we knew we needed to change the finish. You never want to start a show with a flat finish and draws seldom light a crowd on fire so we had to give them a definite finish. Jerry had pinned me on the previous PPV so he returned the favour in Chicago. The finish was simple and our idea as was pretty much everything else about the match. Paul trusted us to deliver so he pretty much left us alone. The reason we wanted the opening match spot was because it was ECW’s first time in Chicago and Chicago is one of, if not the greatest wrestling Cities in North America, so we knew the crowd would be super hot and the boys would be pulling out all the stops. We wanted to get out in front of that crowd first, and man was it awesome. In addition to being our first time in Chicago Anarchy Rules was the first ECW PPV available in Canada, so it was my first chance to be seen in my home Country on a big stage.
The IC Title match with Edge at Summer Slam was another fantastic match, although I was on the losing end of the finish this time around. I was never one to dream about stardom or title reigns when I was or fan or breaking in, but if I were to have a “mark out moment” in my career this might be it. I was a huge fan of the IC Title and the great workers to hold it, guys like Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, and Curt Hennig, and Summer Slam was in my opinion the second biggest PPV of the year, behind only WrestleMania. Since I never actually worked a WrestleMania, defending the IC Title at Summer Slam is what I consider the biggest match of my career. Opening the show was awesome and with the added “Invasion Heat” we had great crowd heat to kick off this show. Edge and I are good friends and love working together, and had been working house shows in either singles or tags for a couple months so this match was so much fun. The only thing I don’t like about this match was the commentary. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman did commentary and while I think they are both awesome I was so disappointed in something they missed on this show. The big near fall at the end of this match was when Christian interfered and inadvertently Speared Edge. This led to my last big near fall and was the spot the whole feud built too. In order to tie in the whole match to this one near fall, I injured and worked Edge’s midsection, the entire match. I worked one specific body part the entire match, to build to the Christian Spear, and guess what…neither Heyman nor Ross noticed or mentioned it once the entire match. I was dumbfounded when I watched the match back the next day; JR is the best in the business and Heyman is no slouch either and I figured for sure they would have picked up on this and put it over, but they didn’t. To this day when I think of this match it bothers me. I guess I should have mentioned it to them before the show.
I worked a ton of other PPV openers in WWE but my last one is my other favourite. I refer of course to my opening bout with Chris Jericho at ECW’s One Night Stand in June of 2005. When the office first told us we were going on first they actually sounded apologetic, but Jericho and I were thrilled. ECW fans had been waiting for this show for a couple years and we knew this was going to be one of the hottest and most responsive crowd there was ever going to be and we were going to be able to be the first match they saw. We both would have liked more time for our match but other than that everything was perfect. We put out a match that we knew the ECW crowd would eat up, while still sticking to our more psychology based style we had developed since leaving ECW. It was the best of both worlds and so much fun to perform. The reunion with the Impact Players made it even better for me, and at that point it was going to be the perfect conclusion to my career. I had started my career in a match with Chris Jericho and this was my chance to finish it in a match with him as well. Unfortunately I couldn’t stick to my retirement guns and have wrestled since but that match would have been the perfect conclusion to my career.
I also have to mention Bret vs. Owen at Mania X. One of the greatest openers ever, yet some how omitted from the list.