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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Scribe goes to mat
Loud, big-spending fans take this rasslin' stuff seriously

By PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

Local favourite Chris Jericho falls into the clutches of WWF champ Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Photo: Marcel Cretain, Winnipeg Sun

  • June 3: Photo Gallery from Winnipeg

  •   "You're kidding, right?" I was asking the boss the other day. "You want me to write about wrestling?"

     Not that I have anything against wrestling -- at least not wrestling, the sport. That can be a great thing to cover.

     But my boss wasn't talking about a sport. Far from it.

     He wanted me to cover last night's WWF card at the Arena. The last time I checked, pro rasslin' was down pretty low on my list of things to do, just above having bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails.

     "It'll be fun," the boss insisted. "Just review it. Like a rock concert."

     "When did I go from the sports department to entertainment?" I thought to myself, realizing the issue had quickly gone from "suggestion" to "assignment," and that I had no way out, at least not without risking being banished to the news side forever.

     So, last night I grabbed my laptop and headed for the rink ... er, the ring. The rasslin' ring.

     The crowd on its way in looked like any other. It could have been a Moose throng, except instead of people wearing Hauer or Hedberg jerseys, they had names like Austin and Jericho on their backs.

     One guy's shirt read Austin 3:16. Is that in the Old Testament or New?

     Inside, I settled next to 13-year-old Shad Bauschke, a HUGE Chris Jericho fan. Shad's big sister Sharla took him to the match, and what I wouldn't give to have had a big sister like her.

     It's not what you're thinking.

     Shad and Sharla were both decked out in $55 Chris Jericho jerseys, Sharla's treat.

     "I spent $170 at the T-shirt stand," she said proudly.

     A hundred and seventy bucks? I used to get entire Bomber season tickets for less than that!

     Toss in the ticket price, a cool $47 for a seat in the corner blues, and I figure Big Sis must have blown her whole paycheque on the kid.

     Anyway, by the time they finished the national anthem, there must have been 10,000 in the place, and when's the last time the Moose got that?

     The woman sitting on my other side was there with her daughter and nine-year-old niece, for crying out loud!

     "She's got a two-year-old at home who's angry because she wanted to go," the lady said. "So we had to flip on Scooby-Doo and slip out the back door."

     Scooby-Doo sounded pretty good to me at this point.

     Shad didn't seem too pumped about the early matches. He was a wealth of information, though.

     Turns out Steve Blackman's tag-team partner, Grand Master Sexay, didn't show up because he was busted for marijuana at the border, recently.

     Hey, maybe some of these guys are real athletes, after all.

     Five matches in the kid was on his feet, screaming, thanks to an appearance by Edmonton's Chris Benoit. Benoit, you see, is the tag-team partner for Jericho, the local hero pitted against champion Stone Cold Steve Austin in the main event.

     The next match featured a guy nobody liked, named William Regal, against Kane, a long-haired, seven-foot monster who, apparently, always performs with a mask on.

     'FACE BADLY BURNED'

     "The whole story behind him is when he was young, his face was badly burned," Sharla explained, as I nodded knowingly.

     As Raven took on Hardcore Holly, I calculated this thing was probably taking in half a million bucks, plus concessions and souvenirs.

     Match No. 8 had Shad cheering for The Big Show over Test, clearly a minority opinion.

     By the time his hero hit the stage, the kid was going ballistic.

     Everybody, and I mean everybody, was chanting Y2J, Y2J... and yes, even the nine-year-old girl got in on the act for a nice round of "Austin sucks! Austin sucks!"

     While most of the fan favourites came out on top, Jericho fell victim to a sneak attack by Regal, of all people. With a metal chair.

     So what did the kid think of it all?

     "It was awesome!" he said.

     What did I think?

     When's Bomber camp?

    More WWF Winnipeg stories

  • June 4: WWF returns to Winnipeg (Results)
  • June 3: Photo Gallery from Winnipeg
  • June 2: Jericho comes home to Winnipeg
  • June 1: Jericho: Wrestling 'ain't no ballet'


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