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International visitors flavour WrestleMania
By CHRIS SCHRAMM - SLAM! Wrestling


DETROIT - Wrestlemania brings together a melting pot of fans from across the world. Although they way speak a different language or wear different clothing, they all have one in thing in common: Passion for wrestling.

According to the WWE, fans came from 24 countries, all 50 states and nine Canadian provinces to see Wrestlemania 24 at Ford in Detroit this past Sunday.

Colin Vassallo is one fan that did not make the journey. Vassallo, editor of the Wrestling-Online newsletter, usually makes the trip from his country of Malta. He and a friend are the only Maltese to travel to Wrestlemania in recent years.

Bob Collins, Senior Marketing Advisor for the WWE, was quoted in a recent Detroit News article about the absence of the regular attendee from Malta. "I hope they're okay," Collins noted.

Vassallo is okay, Bob.

"I went to Los Angeles and Las Vegas after last year's Wrestlemania," Vassallo told SLAM! Wrestling. "Let's say I spent a little more than I wanted."

The rule is: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Good news, Bob. Vassallo will be there next year in Orlando for Wrestlemania 24. "Oh, absolutely. I really missed not being there this year."

Vassallo will be lucky to land in Orlando next year. It was heavily believed that the WWE was looking to hold Wrestlemania 24 in Las Vegas. It took some strong persuading from the city of Orlando to change its mind.

The international fans are usually easy to point out: Look for a flag. Many international fans bring a flag of their native country to the event.

Conni Schmidt and her husband brought the flag of native Denmark. It was her second Wrestlemania, and she uses the time in the states to visit with family.

"I have family in St. Louis," Schmidt said. "I can say I am visiting them, and they believe it."

Schmidt thought the WWE and Detroit helped fans feel welcome. "There was a lot to do, and Detroit really seemed excited to have Wrestlemania here."

Chris Frederick from England made his fourth trip. "I catch every WWE show in my country, but this is the granddaddy. It doesn't get old."

His greatest Wrestlemania moment? "When Hulk Hogan kicked out of the Rock Bottom at Wrestlemania 18. It was like a huge flashback."

Frederick finds another exciting part of the weekend. "U.S. women are hot," Frederick said. "Florida next year should be great." Perhaps the Brit thinks the women in Florida will all be in bikinis all weekend.

Good luck with that. But no worries, Disney World is right there to give him some more PG excitement.

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    Chris Schramm is a graphic designer from Detroit. He hopes with the success of Wrestlemania 23 out of Detroit, he can help persuade the WWE to look at neighboring towns in the near future like Toledo, Ohio, Flint, Mich., or Fort Wayne, Ind. So far, his calls have come unanswered.