Boos are music to Estrada's ears
TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
|Armando Alejandro Estrada
(c)2006 World Wrestling Federation Inc.
Each time he struts to the wrestling ring, with tribal music sounds pounding through the sound system, Hazem Ali hears the chorus of boos and chants of "you suck."
But it doesn't bother him. Not one bit.
It just means he's doing his job as a WWE "heel."
As Armando Alejandro Estrada, Ali is the manager for the Samoan Bulldozer, Umaga, who will try to destroy John Cena for the heavyweight championship in a Last Man Standing match at tonight's Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
What you see is what you get with the Chicago-born Ali. He says his real-life persona isn't that far off what we see in the ring.
"For me, it's not hard (to be Estrada)," he said. "What you see on screen, that's the real Armando with the volume turned up. That's me with a few cervezas ... no, make that a few coffees.
"My job is to get (the fans) to believe (my character). And a lot of them do ... so at the end of the day, I'm doing my job. It's a lot of fun. The fans pay money to call me names ... to call Umaga names. I have fun with them."
Okay, so he can't be like this dialed-up, cigar-chomping Cuban all the time, can he?
"I like to go into a chill mode," he said. "Just sitting down with a cup of coffee. Whether it's four in the morning or four in the afternoon -- just me, my coffee, my recliner and my LCD TV."
Ali says the WWE's schedule can be hectic, but he loves it.
"When you're performing 200 days of the year, you're making big sacrifices. We don't get an off-season, we don't get a vacation. I can't call Daivari and say, 'Fill in for me today.'
''You just have to suck it up and go. People are paying money to see you perform."
So how about the health of Cena, who Umaga slammed through a table on RAW?
"It's unfortunate it happened six days before the pay-per-view," says Estrada, slipping back into character with a cackle. "I wonder what kind of shape he'll show up in."
So Armando, what about the Samoan Bulldozer ... is he really that much of a savage?
"You see us in an airport ... he's very approachable," he said. "He's not going to kill you."
Cena will have to hope Umaga is in that kind of passive mood tonight.
- Here's the list of wrestlers competing in tonight's Royal Rumble: Shelton Benjamin, Chris Benoit, Carlito, Super Crazy, Tommy Dreamer, Kenny Dykstra, Edge, Finlay, Ric Flair, Chavo Guerrero, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Gregory Helms, Hardcore Holly, Kane, The Great Khali, King Booker, Chris Masters, Shawn Michaels, The Miz, Johnny Nitro, Randy Orton, Montel Vontavious Porter, CM Punk, Sabu, The Sandman, Kevin Thorn, The Undertaker, Rob Van Dam and Viscera. Other matches: Batista vs. Mr. Kennedy; Bobby Lashley vs. Test; and The Hardys vs. MNM.
- It wouldn't be surprising if Stone Cold Steve Austin popped up on our TV sets one Monday night soon. A return to RAW and Wrestlemania appearance makes perfect sense with his film, The Condemned, due in April.
- The last PWS pay-per-view airs this month. The main event is Balls Mahoney vs. Axl Rotten vs. Chris Candido, with Tommy Dreamer vs. Rhino vs. Scott D'Amore being another highlight.
- Universal Wrestling Alliance will bring an excellent card to the Gatineau Legion Royale on Feb. 10. The main event is a 2-of-3 falls tables match with PCO vs. James Champagne. Other matches; Kobra Kai vs Dino; Caster McFear vs. Daytona Beach Bad Boy Jason Cage; Tyler Logan vs. Virus vs. Chris Rage vs. Player Uno; Simply Irresistable Max Alexander vs. Dave Titan; She Nay Nay vs. Portia Perez vs. Mystery Opponent Vinny in a dress; and Maxime Boyer vs John Runnels.
- The Toronto Marlies AHL hockey club will have wrestling themes next month at the Ricoh Coliseum. The first is on Feb. 3, with Sgt. Slaughter on hand to sign autographs and talk to fans. Mick Foley will be on hand on Feb. 17 to sign autographs. Both games begin at 4 p.m.
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