A house show or live event is a professional wrestling event produced by a major promotion that is not televised, though they can be recorded. Promotions use house shows mainly to cash in on the exposure that they and their wrestlers receive during televised events, as well as test reactions to matches, wrestlers, and gimmicks that are being considered for the main, televised programming.
House shows are often used to promote upcoming televised events, especially pay-per-views, and will then feature matches between wrestlers who are scheduled to work a match at the pay-per-view. This allows them to secure a "feel" for each other's style as well as test out specific parts of matches planned for pay-per-view.
Since house shows are not televised, promotions do not usually deploy the setup for staging or pyrotechnics used for their television counterparts. In the past, a WWE house show would consist mainly of a ring, essential lighting, and a crowd. In late 2011, WWE invested $1.5 million USD in production improvements, which included three LED-lit entrance stages (one for Raw, SmackDown and one backup) featuring a ramp and video display. They also began utilizing the arena's multimedia equipment to play wrestler entrance and promo videos. Exceptions are made, however, when the events are held in areas the promotion does not often tape a televised event (e.g. international tours) or in select markets. WWE often uses the full television set up for their "home base" Madison Square Garden, televised event or not.
Most major promotions try to develop their angles only during televised shows and will rarely book a major development (such as a title change) for house shows. If there is a title change, the title usually changes back during the same show or at another show on the loop before another televised event. These changes are usually not mentioned on television and happen more frequently during tours in areas that get shows rarely.
Some notable house show title changes include an August 10, 1987 match where The Rougeau Brothers (Raymond and Jacques) went over the champion Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) to take the WWF Tag Team championship in the Rougeaus home town of Montreal. This change (and the eventual "decision reversal") was only ever mentioned during segments taped specifically for and shown in the Montreal market. A similar incident occurred in 1990 when The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty) took the title from the Hart Foundation. During the match a problem with the ring ropes meant the match could not air on television as originally planned, so kayfabe President Jack Tunney "reversed the decision" in print media which had reported the change before the decision not to air it was made. The match was not acknowledged on television at the time.
Even rarer is the top title of a promotion changing hands. This has occurred relatively few times. Notable exceptions are Bret Hart taking the WWF Championship from Ric Flair in 1992 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Diesel gaining the title from Bob Backlund in 1994.
House show title changes can occur both to test the reaction of the win or as a "special treat" for a specific audience. Edge was given his first Intercontinental Championship win over Jeff Jarrett in Toronto, Ontario to excite the fans in Edge's hometown. As per usual, he dropped the belt back to Jarrett the following evening.
Title changes at house shows most commonly occur when a promotion is overseas promoting their brand. For example, Nunzio won the WWE Cruiserweight Championship from Juventud Guerrera in Rome on November 15, 2005. At a French house show on April 24, 2007, Mickie James pinned Victoria to win Melina's WWE Women's Championship in a triple threat match. Two matches later, Melina had a one on one rematch with Mickie and pinned her to recapture the title after. On its website WWE recognized both title changes, making Mickie a three time Women's Champion and Melina a two-time Women's Champion. Several months later, at a house show in Cape Town, South Africa on September 5, 2007, Paul London and Brian Kendrick defeated Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch to win Cade and Murdoch's World Tag Team Championship, but went on to lose the titles back to Cade and Murdoch just three days later at another house show on that South African tour. The World Tag Team Championship changed hands again at a house show on December 13, 2008 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, when John Morrison and The Miz defeated CM Punk and Kofi Kingston.
More examples include La Résistance defeating William Regal and Jonathan Coachman (Eugene's Substitute) to win the World Tag Team Championship on January 16, 2005 in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Christian defeating Booker T to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship on August 10, 2003 as Booker had suffered an injury. On May 19, 1995, Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) beat Jeff Jarrett in a Ladder Match at the Montreal Forum for the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Then Jarrett beat Hall to regain the belt in a regular match two days later on May 21, in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. Although neither one of these house show matches was taped, the title changes are officially recognized by WWE on its website. On the Monday Night Raw following the Sunday night match in Trois-Rivieres, Vince McMahon informed the audience about the title changes from that weekend, and they were referenced several times in the weeks that followed on WWF television whenever Jarrett appeared on TV with the belt.
World Championship Wrestling's house shows occasionally featured title changes which were never officially recognized. Recordings of certain house shows were occasionally televised by TBS midweek, including one in which Diamond Dallas Page used his Diamond Cutter finisher on the hosts of the network's Dinner and a Movie. Booker T and Chris Benoit traded the WCW World Television Championship back-and-forth on several house shows, with Booker (the official champion) always having the title back in time for Nitro. Terry Funk once defeated Lance Storm for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship in Funk's hometown of Amarillo, Texas; this title change remained unrecognized until the World Wrestling Federation bought out WCW in 2001.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) has also featured title changes at house shows. The first TNA championship change at a house show occurred on January 27, 2010 in Cardiff, Wales, when Rob Terry defeated Eric Young to win the TNA Global Championship. In September 2010 the TNA X Division Championship changed hands twice at house shows, when first Amazing Red defeated Jay Lethal at a house show in his hometown of New York City on September 23 to win the title and two days later Lethal regained it in Rahway, New Jersey, near his hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Also, because house shows are not televised, sometimes controversial things happen at them, which would not happen on a televised show. For example, on May 19, 1996, the "MSG incident", which was also a rare example of a shoot, occurred at a house show taped at Madison Square Garden. At the same show, The Bodydonnas lost their WWF Tag Team Championship to The Godwinns.
On May 24, 2012, it was reported by TMZ that Chris Jericho had been suspended by the WWE for desecrating a Brazilian flag before a match against CM Punk during a tour event in Brazil. Jericho crumpled and kicked a Brazilian flag before the match. Law enforcements later came and told Jericho that desecrating the flag was a crime, and he was to either to apologize or be jailed. Eventually, Jericho apologized to the crowd and said that he and the company were ecstatic to be competing in the country. The WWE later released a statement, announcing the suspension of Jericho and apologizing for the stunt.
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