The Reunion begins

To say it's a strange afternoon here on the campus of the University of South Carolina would be an understatement. It's the RAW Family Reunion and everyone in the Colonial Center is walking with a little extra spring in their step. As always, the locker room and backstage area is lively, and is as always on the scene.

The RAW family isn't the only one having a reunion in Columbia tonight. The Benjamins, from nearby Orangeburg, S.C., have convened at RAW to welcome their favorite son Shelton back to his home. Shelton requested more than 30 tickets for family and friends, and he expects every last one to be put to use. It's not uncommon to hear athletes complain of the stresses of arranging tickets for family, but it was not the case for Shelton.

"It really wasn't that bad," he said. "I knew it was coming so I got the request in as early as possible. There are always a few requests at the last second, but it's all taken care of. Preparation is key. I'm looking forward to going out there and performing in front of them tonight."

Two of the more upbeat people in the arena on Monday were WWE ring announcers Howard Finkel and Tony Chimel. The announcers are among the most avid supporters of the New York Mets, who recently swept the Los Angeles Dodgers to advance to the NLCS, where they will face the St. Louis Cardinals.

"Mets in six!" Howard crowed. Chimel agreed on the outcome but advised that it would "take them seven."

The disagreement over the number of games quickly turned to an argument over who was the bigger Mets fan. Tony was quick to point out that he's "been a fan since '69 (when the Mets won the World Series)." Not to be outdone, an enthusiastic Finkel declared himself a fan since the team's inception in 1962. In a matter of weeks, the two hope to renew their friendship in celebration of a Mets World Series Championship.

Superstars from all three brands will be represented on tonight's special three-hour reunion. Many of those superstars have already arrived at the building. SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long was seen arriving with former United States Champion Bobby Lashley. As he walked through the back door, Long was overheard telling people, "SmackDown is in the house playa."

Later, the ECW World Heavyweight Champion Big Show arrived, flanked by ECW representative Paul Heyman. Big Show has not been seen on RAW since turning his back on the brand and aligning himself with the re-born Extreme Championship Wrestling several months ago. It was a bizarre scene as several RAW Superstars looked on as Big Show walked the hallways, keeping their potentially negative comments to themselves as the ECW Champion passed by.

Big Show says the RAW Superstars know better than to say anything to the current king of hardcore.

"There is definitely some hostility," said Big Show. "But, I look at people in their eyes and they don't want any piece of this. They did the smart thing and they kept their mouth shut. If I see any sign of disrespect, I'm going to be dealing with it in a harsh manner."

Edge, who last week lost a Steel Cage Match for the WWE Championship to his bitter rival John Cena, was seen engaged in a serious conversation with his constant companion Lita. The fiery Diva is still alive in the Women's Championship Tournament, which continues tonight on RAW. After a late lunch, Lita took a break from the seriousness of the night to take her dog Mackenzie for a walk.

Mackenzie is no stranger to the road. Since Lita adopted Mackenzie from the Atlanta Pet Rescue, the canine has successfully played the role of "woman's best friend." Mackenzie is an important part of Lita's life, so important that Lita decided to have her blessed over the weekend in a special ceremony at a church in Atlanta.

"In honor of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, the church decided to offer the ceremony," said Lita. "Mackenzie was there, along with twenty other dogs and a squirrel. She was blessed by the priest with the holy water and everything."

Just a few hours before show time, the world's most famous male cheerleaders, The Spirit Squad were seen goofing around out on the arena floor. The World Tag Team Champions were engaged in an intense battle of "let's see who can kick this exercise ball the furthest." There was no clear winner in the contest, but one anonymous RAW Superstar told me "they're all losers."

The fun and games will all come to a close at 8/7 CT as the RAW Family Reunion comes to USA.


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