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WWF piledrives Tucson

By Jensen Karp
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 29, 1999
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Matt Heistand
Arizona Daily Wildcat

World Wrestling Federation wrestler, "Gold Dust", slams the "Blue Meanie" into the corner of the ring Tuesday night at the Tucson Convention Center. The WWF filmed both of its weekly shows "Monday Night Raw" and "Sunday Night Heat" at the TCC.

I should have known better.

I should have turned around as soon as I laid eyes on the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin monster truck ominously parked near the arena's entrance.

I should have noticed the dozens of ticket holders impatiently awaiting the venue's opening, while only wearing "wife-beater" tank tops and torn jeans.

I should have observed the shouting matches and miniature brawls that took place in line before the sun even set.

I should have recognized all of these vital signs of what was to come, but I still attended the World Wrestling Federation's "Raw is War" extravaganza at the Tucson Convention Center on Jan. 26.

That's right, those monstrous and entertaining wrestlers stepped right into our own city, probably taking that step in those ridiculous knee-high boots they wear.

Still, 6,000 fanatical wrestling followers helped the TCC officially sell every seat in the building. One audience member, and mother of an avid 12-year-old Austin fan, explained that she waited in line for their 10th row seats for over two hours.

From the echoing crunch of the night's first arm breaking, it was obvious Tucson had wrestling fever.

Now for those who haven't watched pro wrestling since the days of Hulkamania, the G.L.O.W. women of wrestling and your third grade dinosaur panorama, let me fill you in on the enormous changes that have occurred in this- well, this-um, sport, I guess. The focus is no longer on the violent duels or even the athleticism of the participants, but rather on the drama and storylines revolving around the complex world of the federation's superstars. Just imagine Brenda and Kelly filming a "90210" segment within a wrestling ring in the Peach Pit- but on some major steroids.

Tuesday night I was able to witness the unfolding and hilarious plots that millions of fans live and die for, watching every "Raw is War" broadcast:

A 300-pound grappler named "Sexual Chocolate" has a major craving for every woman he encounters, disregarding that a good number of his prey are other wrestlers' girlfriends.

A group of gothic vampires, known as "The Brood," were sacrificed in the middle of the ring and forced to become members of a cult of darkness, lead by a zombie with an extreme God complex, named "The Undertaker."

A porn star named Val Venis (and his name rhymes with-?), who moonlights as a wrestler and loves to score with his opponents' relatives.

Now these dynamic characters and plot lines may cause Felicity and Dawson to seem like they're living a life of boredom, but the real excitement at the TCC took place in the stands.

As soon as I took my seat near the squared circle I was enthralled by the creatures holding tickets. I sat in amazement and analyzed the men and women who argued with the bad wrestlers as if they killed their mothers, and cheered for the good guys as if they were their mothers.

One middle-aged man held his four-year-old son in the air with one hand, and a sign that read, "Suck It!" in the other.

Men, possessing a number of teeth I could count on one hand, must have held their middle fingers in an erect stance throughout the entire six-hour show.

Another man, who sat behind me, kept yelling, "Kick 'em the balls!"

Pre-pubescent boys were yelling for the female wrestling "valets" to show them their- assets.

Speaking of assets, believe it or not, some female audience members even lifted up their bare breasts to requesting wrestlers seeking a free show. Being the superb investigative reporter that I am and a strict believer of the legal creed to report the truth, I approached one of the mammary-exposing females. Although the 19-year-old seemed a bit too preoccupied with satisfying the male attendees at this testosterone festival to answer my questions, her boyfriend explained that she loves the attention, and responded, "Hell yeah, I'd bring her back, just to do this again!"

I will admit that wrestling has come a long way, and that most of you would be pleasantly surprised by it's strong resemblance to your favorite soap opera; but after my experience at the Tucson Convention Center, I wonder what's more ludicrous. Is it the staged outrageous value of sports entertainment and the WWF or the morally slanted motley crew who filled their seats? And if you got a problem with that... I'll put you in a sleeper hold.

Jensen Karp is a sophomore majoring in journalism. He can be reached at