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SLAM! WRESTLING

SLAM! Sports
SLAM! Wrestling







Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Ready to rumble!

Fans ecstatic: WrestleMania X8 set for T.O.

By BRETT CLARKSON -- Toronto Sun

Let the countdown begin.

Eleven years after WrestleMania VI crashed down in the SkyDome - setting a stadium attendance record of 67,678 -- it was announced yesterday that the world's premier "male soap opera" is coming back to Toronto.

The date of WrestleMania X8: Sunday, March 17, 2002, at the SkyDome. That gives you 184 days to prepare, wrestling fans.

"I guarantee you, this will be the greatest WrestleMania of them all," WWF chairman Vince McMahon told a pumped crowd of thousands gathered yesterday for the announcement in Nathan Phillips Square.

"It's a lot of fun," said Toronto Raptor Jerome Williams, who attended yesterday's announcement.

"It's basically a male soap opera."

It was a star-studded showcase of the WWF's biggest stars yesterday, who each pledged to make WrestleMania X8 the best ever.

"There's something about WrestleMania that brings out the best in all of us," said WWF scrapper and Olympic gold medallist Kurt Angle. "As athletes we go above and beyond our call of duty - not that we don't do it each and every single night, but at WrestleMania we all know that we see some of the most spectacular performances ever."

By the time the news conference started at noon, Mississauga teens Amanda Mastrofrancesco, Kamila Bryzewicz, and Chris Vargas had already been there 12 hours.

SLEPT ON BLANKETS

"We've been here since midnight, said Bryzewicz, 18, adding that she and her friends had only managed to sleep 21/2 hours on blankets in front of city hall.

"I've been watching it since I was five," said Mastrofrancesco, 18, who along with her friends admitted that she'd love to be a WWF superstar. She'd go by the name Princess Missy, and her specialty tactic, she said, would be The Royal Beating, which consists of "punches to the face, kicks to the groin - old school wrestling."

Bryzewicz, who would go by the name Athena, said she'd lay waste to her challengers through enticement.

"I would dress up as a schoolgirl and provoke my opponent," Bryzewicz joked. "And once he's in this little trance, I'd take him down."

Other fans hoping to get a glimpse of their favourite tights-wearing brawlers included 80-year-old Candida Valerio, a wrestling fanatic who watched it from her home in the Phillipines before she emigrated to Canada six years ago.

"The Rock is my favourite, he's an honest player," she said excitedly, before challenging a reporter to an arm wrestling match.

It was a true wrestling fan's paradise, because along with McMahon and Angle, appearances were made by The Rock, The Undertaker, Trish Stratus, Stephanie and Shane McMahon, Triple H, Booker T, announcer J.R., Chris Jericho, and of course, Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Austin, unlike most of the wrestlers who took turns lauding both Toronto and Canada, laid the verbal smackdown on our home and native land.

"When I get to Toronto -- and I don't want to be here, but this is where they put the event -- I will open up a can of whoop-ass on whoever gets in that damn ring with me," Austin threatened.

"On behalf of the WWF, we're gonna bust our asses and make this one hell of an event," Austin told the crowd, who were by this time booing him resoundingly.

"All you people gotta do is show up and make a little noise, and this should be one night to remember."

Clearly trying to rile the Toronto crowd, Austin, a Texas native, then broke into an excruciating version of his country's national anthem. When he then tried to harangue the crowd even more, they responded with a rousing rendition of O Canada.

"Shut up!" he yelled. "When Stone Cold Steve Austin's up here cuttin' a tune, I expect complete silence. What?" said Austin, who frequently peppers his speech by suddenly asking "What?" even though nobody's said anything to him.

'I DON'T LIKE CANADA'

"I don't like Canada and that's true. It's a hassle coming through customs, but when it comes down to WrestleMania, we're there to put on the best show we can," he said afterwards.

As for the eruption of O Canada, "It got under my skin," said Austin, who had the WWF World Heavyweight Championship belt on his shoulder.

"I don't think I needed to be disrespected like that and I didn't need to have my time wasted, but nonetheless, I was polite enough to listen to the people from Canada singing a silly song."

Last year's event in Houston's Astrodome attracted 67,925 fans, the largest crowd that stadium has ever held. On March 29, 1987, 93,173 fans poured into the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit for WrestleMania III -- setting a world indoor attendance record.

Tickets go on sale Nov. 3 at the SkyDome box office, Ticketmaster, and online at www.WrestleMania.com

More on Wrestlemania XVIII





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