May 26, 2005
Grapplers give Calgary props
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun

A packed Saddledome in Calgary on May 27, 2000 for a WWE show. - Sun file photo

With more than 300 shows in countless different cities on at least four continents each year, WWE wrestlers rack up their fair share of frequent flyer miles.

With so many dates on each tour, most cities tend to blur into each other in the grappler's minds, especially in North America where it's one generic corporately-named arena after another.

But some cities do still stand out and, without fail, wrestlers always insist there's something special about coming to Calgary.

Just ask Stone Cold Steve Austin

"Calgary kinda blows you away," he said. "It's a beautiful city and it's so clean. I'm from South Texas and when I go to Calgary, even though I'm in Canada, it feels like home.

"I love the arena there, too, the Saddledome. It's a big ass arena with a great crowd in a hell of a town."


For Jerry (The King) Lawler, coming here always brings back memories of a visit to the Stampede grounds before a WWE pay-per-view in 1997.

"I had very little to do in terms of preparation for the event so I was walking around before the show," Lawler recalled. "Some rodeo guy sold me this big huge ridiculous-looking cowboy hat. Vince McMahon thought it was the funniest thing and had me wear it on TV. I still have the hat to this day."

Eddie Guerrero looks forward to the wild crowd reactions in the Stampede City.

"The fans always jump me when I go up there," Guerrero said. "I'm very grateful because they are who make me. I love Calgary, and I guess Calgary loves me."

Speaking of loving Calgary, Lance Storm loved it enough to adopt the city as his hometown.

"I came from Ontario to train with the Hart Brothers in 1990," Storm said. "I fell in love with the city and even met my wife here. I tried living elsewhere due to my job and absolutely hated it every time. I had to get back to Calgary, which will be my home until the day they bury me."

For Edge, who also got his big break after training with the Hart family, Calgary will always be a sentimental favourite too.

"That was really where the door got cracked open for me," Edge said. "And growing up watching Stampede Wrestling greatly influenced me. Watching Bret and Owen Hart, Chris Benoit, Brian Pillman, Jushin Liger, Hiro Hase and all these guys starting their careers. When I go to Calgary, it always feels like home."

Chris Jericho also talked about being right at home when he comes to town.

"I lived in Calgary for seven years, so I love coming back and wrestling at the Saddledome," Jericho said. "The people are great and I wish it was a more regular stop for us.

"I can't say enough about how great Calgary is. It's a great wrestling city with great wrestling tradition and I'm very proud to say I was a part of it."

When Chris Benoit comes to town, his thoughts often turn to the late Stu Hart, the man who trained Benoit and many other top wrestling stars.

"I'm really proud to say it all started out for me down in the Dungeon," Benoit said, before adding he's keeping a close eye on the next generation of Harts.

"I watched Teddy Hart, TJ Wilson and Harry Smith wrestle in the ring at BJ's gym when I was up there, and they blew me away. I told them I hadn't ever seen guys with this chemistry and technical ability. They're extensions of the Stampede Wrestling I grew up watching."

Kurt Angle talked about the unconditional support of the Calgary audience.

"The fans up there separate the wrestlers from the characters, rather than view them as celebrity-driven," the Olympian told the Sun. "And we always sell well up there, even when business isnít as good in the U.S."

Eric Bischoff had no qualms about admitting the real reason Calgary stands out in his mind.

"I love coming to Calgary because, quite frankly, the women and the beer are great," he said. "The fans are a different breed too. Because of the legacy there, they are much more knowledgeable and, therefore, demanding. Everybody has to be at the top of their game, because if they're not, the crowd will react accordingly. I look forward to it because it's a challenge."


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