Monday Night SmackDown! How a Volcano Forced Big Changes

This Icelandic volcano eruption caused so much disruption for the WWE RAW crew and led to the episode of “Monday Night SmackDown!” – a show where Triple H made a controversial joke about Lilian Garcia. This did not sit well with Mick Foley, who was watching from home.

The 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull halted travel for WWE superstars in 2010. WWE RAW Nightmare! | The Volcanic Eruption That Forced Big Changes
The 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull halted travel for WWE superstars in 2010.

WWE RAW Talent Stranded Due to Volcanic Eruption

Traveling in WWE is difficult enough without outside implications making it more challenging. Rarely getting to see family, being stuck on the road, the physical demand of having to perform so often, and the toll it takes on the body all make life on the road so difficult. But life can throw curveballs occasionally, and mother nature doesn’t discriminate.

This Icelandic volcanic eruption in 2010 added an extra layer to a challenging time on the road for this WWE RAW crew!

In April of 2010, the roster of both WWE RAW and SmackDown were set to go on their post-WrestleMania tour, dubbed the "WrestleMania Revenge Tour," in Europe.

The tour was going just as planned. There were already fifteen shows completed between the two brands and a few days until the tour was complete before a volcanic eruption in Iceland sent ash clouds into the atmosphere, making the air space dangerous, leaving flights all across Europe to be delayed or canceled.

With Monday Night RAW looming ahead, the Eyjafjallajökull (try pronouncing that!) volcano threatened to end "the longest-running weekly episodic program in the US"!

At the time, put out the following statement:

"The Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull has wreaked havoc on the European travel scene, including the itineraries of WWE Raw and SmackDown Superstars and Divas traveling on the final legs of their two-week post-WrestleMania tour.

The mid-Atlantic volcano began to erupt violently Wednesday, sending a gigantic plume of ash into the atmosphere that contained tiny bits of rock and glass — elements which could choke airplanes’ jet engines.

With air space being closed to travel due to safety concerns all over Europe, travel agents got quite a workout as the Superstars and Divas re-routed their journey to their next Live Event via any means necessary, whether by train, ferry or coach bus."

Significant problems became apparent before the April 15thth, 2010 show in Lievin, France. The WWE RAW crew had to make alternative travel arrangements to make it to the show. This included a six-hour bus ride. These travel hours only got worse as the week progressed.

The WWE article that posted the statement also shared the thoughts of the wrestlers experiencing the travel grind, with The Miz sharing, "a six-hour bus ride before the show in Lievin, France due to airfields being shut down by a volcano — that’s a first!"

Fans in Lievin, France were lucky enough to attend the WWE event amidst the travel complications. April 15th, 2010. WWE RAW Nightmare! | The Volcanic Eruption That Forced Big Changes
Fans in Lievin, France, were lucky enough to attend the WWE event amidst the wrestlers’ travel complications. April 15th, 2010. [Photo:]
The six-hour bus ride was divine compared to what was to follow. The Miz revealed that after the show in Lievin, to make the 635-mile journey to the show in Belfast, he would have to make a two-hour bus ride, followed by a ride on the ferry, off the ferry onto a bus for another seven hours, followed by ANOTHER ferry ride, with a finale of a three-hour bus ride to Belfast.

"All of its nonstop… sleep’s overrated anyway. RAW crew is awesome," The Miz concluded.

The then-Divas Champion Eve Torres backed up these travel claims by poking fun at the situation. "Going from a six-hour bus ride (before the show in Lievin, France), to a two-hour bus ride, a ferry ride, a seven-hour drive, to another ferry ride, and a final three-hour donkey ride into Belfast! Volcano eruptions or not, the show must go on!"

No fancy travel arrangements could be made, however, following the show in Belfast.

Two more shows were scheduled for the tour, one in Innsbruck, Austria, and one in Istanbul, Turkey, both of which needed to be rescheduled from April to November.

It was a tough break, especially for the Turkish fans, as they were gearing up for the first-ever WWE live event in their country.

With the eruption, fans in Turkey had to wait a bit longer for history to be made.

After the Thursday show in Belfast, all travel arrangements were halted for the RAW crew. They were left having to play the role of unexpected tourists in Northern Ireland rather than making the trip across the Atlantic for a live show on Monday.

With mother nature wreaking havoc and the RAW crew stuck abroad, Monday Night Raw was at risk. Luckily for Vince McMahon, the two brands were not performing in the same locations on the tour, and the SmackDown crew was able to make the trip home in time to save the day!

"Monday Night SmackDown!" — SmackDown Saves RAW

As RAW finished up their European tour in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the SmackDown crew finished up in Zürich, Switzerland. All flights in and out of the UK were grounded, but with the SmackDown crew being in mainland Europe, they were able to complete a journey from Switzerland to Spain and from Spain to the United States just in the nick of time for the April 19th, 2010 RAW show in New Jersey.

The Swiss fans were happy to see Matt Hardy on the SmackDown brand's last show before heading back home to save RAW! WWE RAW Nightmare! | The Volcanic Eruption That Forced Big Changes
The Swiss fans were happy to see Matt Hardy on the SmackDown brand’s last show before heading back home to save RAW! [Photo:]
Only one WWE RAW superstar made the show, only because they weren’t on the tour… and that was none other than Triple H. He opened the show to address the situation and put the fans at ease that they were going to get their money’s worth and a good show regardless of the uncertainty.

"Okay, okay, don’t suck up to me because you know I’m the only guy here!" Triple H began responding to a warm reception, instantly setting a light-hearted comedic tone to address the uncertain audience.

"In case you’ve been living in a cave somewhere and you haven’t seen the news… a giant volcano erupted in Iceland! Not once, but twice!"

Triple H already had the fans riled up at this point, with one fan comedically yelling and clearly being heard on the television broadcast saying, "Iceland sucks!"

Hunter continued with the light-hearted energy with this joke at Big Show’s expense: "I’m serious, this is not the kind of stuff you can write; it actually happened. And here’s the thing, it really freaked out the world, I mean travel is ruined everywhere. People went nuts. And the thing is, it’s not really that big a deal for us in the WWE. We’re used to giant gaseous eruptions, just usually it’s Big Show, and it involves Mexican food! I can say that because he’s not here tonight!"

A fan holding up an anti-volcano sign as Triple H addressed the audience. WWE RAW Nightmare! | The Volcanic Eruption That Forced Big Changes
A fan is seen holding up an anti-volcano sign as Triple H addressed the audience.

"But unfortunately, a volcano did erupt, and unfortunately, the entire RAW roster is stuck in Europe." Triple H’s address takes on a more serious note.

"Now, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Great, now I have to watch Triple H wrestle a two-hour ironman match with Frank, the audio guy,’ but that’s not gonna happen.

“While fortunately, I wasn’t on this tour to Europe, and I made it here tonight, and nobody else did make it, but the WWE brass, so to speak, they have been working feverishly to ensure that you have a show of the highest standards."

In what went on the be known as "Monday Night SmackDown," the episode had matches featuring only SmackDown stars aside from Triple H, interviews via satellite with stranded RAW stars, and MacGruber segments to promote the upcoming movie featuring cameos from Chris Jericho, The Big Show, Mark Henry, Kane, MVP, and The Great Khali.

The matches for the night were:

  • Drew McIntyre vs. Matt Hardy
  • The Undertaker vs. Jack Swagger
  • The Great Khali and MacGruber vs. Vladamir Kozlov in a two-on-one handicap match
  • Edge, Rey Mysterio, Triple H (only RAW member) vs. Chris Jericho, CM Punk, and Luke Gallows

Watch Triple H addresses the fans as the only member of the WWE RAW roster to make the show:

YouTube video

A Controversial Remark on WWE RAW Angers Mick Foley

In the above video, it cuts off before Triple H finishes up. This segment did not go without controversy. If you thought the only legacy this RAW could ever possibly leave behind is it being the RAW that followed the volcano eruptions, well, you’d be wrong.

Triple H, who had set the comedic tone early on, got too lost in the role and made an unprovoked harsh remark towards Lilian Garcia, who was filling in for RAW’s Justin Roberts for just one night and angered Mick Foley by doing so who made a strong blog post against it.

It started heading into a bad direction when Triple H got into a war of words with SmackDown’s CM Punk, a fill-in talent for the night, over his straight-edge lifestyle. CM Punk was attempting to convert Triple H into a straight-edge man during the segment.

When Triple H made a controversial joke about Lilian Garcia, it did not sit well with Mick Foley, who was watching from home.
When Triple H made a controversial joke about Lilian Garcia, it did not sit well with Mick Foley, who was watching from home.

"I don’t believe in what you believe in. Man, I believe in freedom. This is the United States of America; we are free to do what we want to do! Everybody is free!" Triple H responded.

Triple H then went off on a tangent about freedom, stating that the fans are here tonight because they were free to be and that they were choosing to go crazy right now, out of freedom.

"If this crazy guy right here wants to walk up those stairs to that concession stand, grab as much beer as he can carry and drink it all… as long as he’s got a ride home, he can do it because he’s free!" Hunter remarked.

As Triple H continued to point to members of the crowd and state crazy things they’re allowed to do, he took it upon himself to walk over to Lilian Garcia and say, "Even Lilian Garcia. If Lilian wants to come back here for one night to the WWE just to HORSE around, she can do it!"

Triple H said with a huge emphasis on the word horse.

It was an obvious cruel dig on the backstage murmurs that went around making fun of her facial features for resembling a horse in front of millions of people on national television. Jerry Lawler even made a horse sound on commentary following the comment. Lilian Garcia kept a smile the whole time the camera was on her, like a true professional, but Mick Foley stood up for her in his blog post.

If anything is going to make this volcano eruption officially a decade old, it’s the fact that this Mick Foley blog was on MySpace! Here’s what Foley had to say on his MySpace blog about Triple H:

"Why does someone like Triple H, one of the most talented, well-paid guys in the business, do something so shallow and mean? Why would a multi-millionaire, with millions of fans around the world, feel the need (several times over the years) to say something that is only meant to hurt? I don’t get it.

“I don’t get why it’s done; I don’t get why it’s condoned, I don’t get what possible satisfaction anyone involved gets from demeaning someone like Lillian Garcia. I just don’t get it."

Mick Foley was less than impressed with Triple H's comments on the SmackDown infested RAW episode. WWE RAW Nightmare! | The Volcanic Eruption That Forced Big Changes
Mick Foley was less than impressed with Triple H’s comments on the SmackDown infested RAW episode.

Lilian Garcia greatly appreciated Foley’s comments and made it known to him by saying, "I really appreciate your kind words and the compassion you showed in your blog. Your care for my feelings proves what a loving, caring, and wonderful human being you are. This is why I truly miss working with you. You are one of a kind!! Thank you, love you!!"

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, Triple H gave the silent treatment to these comments.

Watch Triple H makes the "horse" comment about Lilian Garcia on WWE RAW:

YouTube video

The WWE RAW Crew Make It Home

Not long after Monday Night RAW aired, the crew stranded in the UK had the green light to finally make their home and at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.

It was a stressful time for some while exciting for others. It was a chance to make the best of a bad situation and take in the environment they were in for longer than usual.

Kofi Kingston reminisced back on his time stuck in Belfast shortly after his historic WWE Championship victory at WrestleMania 35.

As World Champion, Kofi had an obligation to do a lot more media than usual, and in the build-up to a live event in Ireland, Kofi was interviewed by the Irish Mirror.

He references that he was stuck in Dublin, however, not Belfast, so it’s possible that Kofi and some members of the crew made the two-hour ride to Dublin following the final show in Belfast to spend their stranded time there, or perhaps he was confusing it with Belfast.

Still, being as travel-heavy as the roster was at the time, it’s entirely possible either way!

"As soon as I heard Dublin, I thought about the time that the volcano erupted. I think it was like five years ago." It was actually nine years at the time of that interview. Time goes fast!

Kofi continued, "All the air traffic was shut down. We were supposed to go to SmackDown, I believe (it was RAW), and we couldn’t get out because there was so much volcanic ash in the air that the planes wouldn’t fly through it.

"We got to spend some time in Dublin, and it was great, man. It was awesome!"

Kofi’s memory is a bit foggy when reminiscing back to this memory as he mentions visiting the Titan exhibit in Belfast. However, the exhibit opened in 2012, two years after his stranded time in Belfast. When you’re on the road as much as he is, time and memories tend to blend.

He then put over the people of Ireland by saying, "I love the people there. You guys are always willing to have a great time. It’s always good vibes!"

Foggy brain or not, it’s safe to say that Kofi’s time stuck in Northern Ireland in 2010 wasn’t a bad one! John Cena, on the other hand, found it stressful.

Speaking to WWE’s cameras upon arrival back to the U.S, Cena revealed, "It was just stressful because it was unknown. It was unknown when we would leave; it was unknown what we had to do to leave and where we had to go.

“I think once everybody knew what we had to do, it was fine. Even a couple of days back, we were going through France and Ireland, where we knew we had to go for forty-two hours straight, and everybody just knew ahead of time, so it was okay. The worst is just waking up and not knowing."

Although the travel hours were long and strenuous, Cena was fine with it because there was order and a plan. For all he or anyone else knew, the WWE RAW crew could have been stuck in Belfast for a month, or more, which is a stressful thought indeed. Thankfully it was only for a couple of days.

The Aftermath

It all ended happily for all involved. The RAW talent arrived home safe and sound the following Friday on April 23rd, while Turkey got their first-ever WWE show later that year. They even received the bonus gift of seeing Bret Hart make an appearance.

Hart was not scheduled to be there the first time around as he was with the SmackDown crew on the original tour in April. The 3-on-3 match between Bret Hart, Edge, and Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio, Cody Rhodes, and Drew McIntyre in Instanbul ended up being Hart’s last-ever house show match and the second-to-last match of his career. Not a bad treat for the Turkish fans! Hart’s WWE contract would expire later that month in November.

What a crazy story of the past with tie-ins to Turkish history, and Mick Foley calling out Triple H. WWE is the epitome of "the show must go on!"

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Braeden Farrell is a senior writer for Pro Wrestling Stories. He is a long-time fan of wrestling based out of Adelaide, Australia. He can be reached on Twitter @braedenfazza.