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What's happening at Vengeance
The Legends are out at Vengeance
June 24, 2007
The long awaited evening that celebrates the history of sports-entertainment's greatest champions finally came. For the first time ever, every single WWE title was at stake in the Toyota Center in Houston for Vengeance: Night of Champions.
As part of the celebration of current WWE gold-bearers, champions of the past were present as well in Houston.
The "Ice Man" cometh
Four-time Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko shared some very candid thoughts with WWE.com. In addition to the Cruiserweight gold, the "Man of 1,000 Holds" held accolades in ECW as well as WCW prior to WWE. For Malenko, the Night of Champions is a night of exhilaration and retrospect.
"It's fun as a fan, sitting back and watching the talent of today," Malenko explained. "It's a fun night that almost pays homage to guys who have given a lot of time to this industry who have bled a lot and sweat a lot for the entertainment of our fans."
One of the most respected grapplers and mat technicians in sports-entertainment history, the "Ice Man" has his eyes locked and ready for hours of highly competitive action for the game's richest prizes.
"In a way, [the Superstars of the past] tonight is a passing of the torch to the younger WWE Superstars," he added. "I hope our fans enjoy it as much as I will."
This was a unique night for former competitor Mike Rotunda, who is currently active as a road producer for WWE (much like Garea and others). The five-time World Tag Team Champion admitted that thoughts of how he'd prepare for the night were racing through his mind since arriving at the Toyota Center earlier.
"It's obviously a historic night here in WWE with all the championships on the line," said Rotunda during the pay-per-view. "Like any championship night, there's a lot of excitement in the air. I'm prepared to enjoy the competitive matches. It's going to be a big night."
"The King" and the redneck
With the arrival of former World Heavyweight Champion and WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2004 inductee Harley Race, Vengeance: Night of Champions had become a night for Hall of Famers. In his most dominant days in the NWA and AWA (prior to his WWE tenure), Race set a record by holding the World Heavyweight Title seven times between 1973 and 1983, not to mention a series of tag team championship reigns.
As the proud and revered former holder of sports-entertainment's oldest title, Race was known for his hard-nosed and rugged mat style. That style shows through in a younger, tooth-and-nail champion, World Tag Team Champion Trevor Murdoch, who trained under Race at the beginning of his career.
"Being here brings you back to a time when you were out there physically doing it yourself," Race told WWE.com. "There is no way you cannot reflect back. You think about the things you were doing at this point in time. And it just gets old memories running."
He continued, "It doesn't get a whole hell of a lot better than tonight's event. Tonight is an opportunity that comes around once in a lifetime for a lot of fans and it will be a memory that will never go away."
A mere handful of hours before Montel Vontavious Porter defended his United States Championship gold against Ric Flair, one of Flair's greatest adversaries of years ago absorbed the ambience of current-day sports-entertainment. Former two-time U.S. Champion Magnum T.A. reflected on his many wars with the Nature Boy and days of carrying the prestigious gold.
"To sit here today and represent the days of old and the lineage of what [the United States Championship] meant and still means today…is a tremendous honor," Magnum explained.
"I have a great deal of pride in the tradition of the U.S Title," he added, "and to see my old nemesis Ric Flair going out there and competing tonight is something that's going to bring back memories for me."
Former partners catch up
Former World Tag Team Champions Tony Garea and Rick Martel reminisced of days gone by, just hours before the very same gold is defended by current champions Cade & Murdoch. Whereas Martel made a rare appearance at a WWE event, WWE road producer Garea prepared for another live pay-per-view.
"This brings back a lot of great memories," said an elated Martel. "Some nights were great and some weren't so great. You remember these times all your life. It never goes away."
In between an exchange of fond memories with Garea, Martel provided a glimpse into the psyche of the night's champions, being a former a champion himself.
"It's an honor to be here and what a night it's going to be," added the former three-time World Tag Team Champion. "I know what these guys are going through. I've been there before. I feel the energy and the adrenaline. I'm here to see history-in-the-making."