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  Thursday, March 14, 2002



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


Axxess kicks off WrestleMania weekend

By DONNIE ABREU -- SLAM! Wrestling

TORONTO -- WWF Fan Axxess opened at the Canadian National Exhibition's Automotive Building on Thursday morning and did not disappoint. Hundreds of fans lined up outside the building hours before the official ribbon cutting ceremony. On hand to open the event were WWF Canada President Carl DeMarco, Orangeville Ontario's own WWF Superstar Edge, WWF Superstar Lita, and Toronto Mega-Mayor Mel Lastman.

Lastman spoke briefly about bringing WrestleMania X8 to Toronto. "It was really important to us to bring it here. (WWFE) were reluctant to (have the show staged in Toronto) because they had already been here before (WrestleMania 6), but in the end it all worked out".

Edge seemed to be genuinely thrilled to talk about his own role in Sunday's show. "I geared my whole year towards this when I found out (WrestleMania X8) was going to be at the SkyDome. I went to bed thinking of this; I woke up thinking of this. Pretty much any thought I've had has been about what I'd be doing at WrestleMania."

When asked if he was disappointed he wouldn't have the opportunity to face William Regal for the Intercontinental title in front of his hometown fans, he replied very sincerely that the feud with Regal seemed to have run its course and it was time for a fresh start.

Edge went on to talk about how happy he is to be working with the very physical Booker T - mainly because it gives him an opportunity to return to the lighter side of his character, and inject a little more humor. He liked the idea of adding a "Hair versus Hair" stipulation to the bout but quipped "I don't think I'm ready to part with this (his long blonde hair) just yet".

Once the formalities were dispensed with rabid fans poured through the front doors - barely able to contain their own excitement. The entire building was filled with various exhibits well worth the price of admission for any true wrestling fan. Some of the things to see include, McMahon's electric wheelchair and his concrete-filled Corvette (from his Austin feud), The Undertaker's motorcycle and the ambulance from the Rock stunt on RAW.

Also of interest is the play by play booth, the Playstation 2 area (where your game is played on a jumbo-tron type screen), and the Superstar Autograph booths.

Seen at the event: Ric Flair, Rob Van Dam, Edge, Christian, Lita, Crash, Holly, Tazz, Rikishi, Diamond Dallas Page, Spike Dudley and many many more.

There were a few matches as well involving some fairly big names including Calgary's Lance Storm (who was extremely well received by the Canadian crowd) and Tommy Dreamer.

Another interesting attraction happened in the ring when Al Snow made an appearance with the other trainers of Tough Enough 2 (Chavo Guerrero, Ivory and Bob Holly) and decided to show everyone what a typical day was like for a Tough Enough recruit. They brought out competitors from the first series including Taylor, big Chris Harvard and of course, Maven. They showed the crowd everything from their morning stretch to how they take a bump to how they work through an actual match. A fan from the audience was even selected to act as a guest referee.

A set of scary incidents did take place just prior to Thursday's day session closing when two fans collapsed, reportedly from heat exhaustion. Shortly there after a fire alarm was sounded - forcing security to empty the building. Fans were not permitted to re-enter.

One thing was made very clear at this event: If WrestleMania is pro wrestling's SuperBowl and World Series all rolled into one, then Axxess is its own version of the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown. Absolutely a must see for any die hard wrestling fan.

Axxess will be open Friday an Saturday at the CNE's Automotive Building, with daytime sessions stretching from 12 noon until 4 PM and evening sessions from 6 until 10 PM.

More on: WrestleMania 18




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