Upset at the Fifth Annual THQ Superstar Challenge

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March 29, 2007

With four-time winner Shelton Benjamin not competing in this year's THQ Superstar Challenge, the odds-on favorite to win was last year's runner-up, Johnny Nitro.

The challenge pits WWE Superstars and Divas against each other playing the SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 video game. Ninety reporters were on hand to cover the event at Detroit's Gem Theatre, including those representing  MTV, G4, Sports Illustrated and The New York Times.

While the rest of the guys claimed they had never played the game before, Johnny Nitro explained that they were lying. Although they were all trying to play it cool, Nitro knew that at least half of them had been practicing.

 "To be fair, everyone assumed Shelton was going to win last year, so most people weren't even trying," Nitro told the media before the event.

After talking to the press, Nitro and Melina hung out backstage in the green room with the other Superstars. The room was a large bar in the basement of the theatre, which included a delicious spread of food and several flat screen TVs set up with SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 for the Superstars to warm-up on. Nitro and Melina took over one and played — as themselves of course.

"Hey! Nitro's beating me up!" squealed Melina. "That's not cool."

Upstairs, the first round of the competition began with the first eight of the 16 Superstars. All the Superstars had to play as themselves, except for Chavo Guerrero, who was allowed to play as his late uncle, Eddie Guerrero.

Then it was time for the second round of Superstars. Nitro was introduced to the hundreds of screaming WWE fans by Matt Striker as "possibly the best physique in WWE." Nitro flashed his pearly whites and his chiseled abs before taking his place next to his opponent.

In an upset, Nitro was defeated in the very first round by Carlito, much to the delight of the crowd.

"My controller wasn't working," Nitro explained to WWE.com. "People want to cheer for someone they can identify with. I make them feel self-conscious about all of their flaws, which is why they weren't cheering for me. Carlito is more like them, that's why they like him."

Carlito would go all the way to the finals before being beaten by the leader of the New Breed, Elijah Burke. Only time will tell if Burke can overtake Benjamin's 4-0 record, or if he is just a flash in the pan. While Nitro did not walk away with the $2000 prize (and bragging rights until next year), he did leave with a gift bag containing a 2007 Nintendo DS and several games.

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