Drama still thrills Columbia WWE fans

Tuesday, September 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:38 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Imagine if every confrontation culminated in a last-second shot, a 3-2 pitch or a fourth-quarter comeback.

Picture a world where competition is always personal, good and evil are clearly defined and the drama of sports is cranked to a feverish pitch.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Actually, it is a description of professional wrestling, or as I like to call it, “Days of our Lives” on steroids.

Although attendance for the past four World Wrestling Entertainment shows I have attended at Hearnes Center has gradually declined, Sunday’s small but passionate crowd proved wrestling fans haven’t lost their vigor.

Sunday marked the first time Columbia resident Shelton Brown attended a WWE event with his son, Darius, who looked as menacing as a 10-year-old can with a miniature version of the WWE Championship belt around his waist.

“Wrestling gets a little racy, but I just turn to Monday Night Football when it gets bad,” he said. “We both love it. It’s good male bonding.”

Jefferson City native Chris Cox wore his full-sized WWE title replica belt across his left shoulder.

Cox, long past his introduction to the sport, attended Wrestlemania, WWE’s Super Bowl, from the third row at Madison Square Garden last March in New York City.

“I liked it when I was a kid, but I’ve always known it was fake,” he said. “It’s not like real sports because you can get a blowout. They make it exciting until the last minute.”

The ultra-arrogant Randy Orton, a St. Louis native, made things exciting in Sunday’s main event.

Considered one of WWE’s rising stars, Orton, 24, received the loudest positive reaction of the night despite wrestling in Columbia for the first time.

His “Legend Killer” T-shirt was also the evening’s most popular garb.

Occasionally, the largely artificial world of wrestling gives its fans genuine emotion.

Throughout his career, Chris Benoit has earned great respect from his peers, but it was widely assumed he would never hold the WWE title because of his lack of size and charisma.

But at this year’s Wrestlemania, Benoit defeated Triple H, the most dominant champion in recent years.

When the referee handed Benoit the championship, one of the toughest men in wrestling couldn’t contain his emotions and openly wept in front of more than 20,000 fans.

“You should have felt the electricity in that building,” Cox said. “There was not a quiet person in the arena. It was just a huge celebration.”

While it is nice to see the fan favorites triumph, the “evil” wrestlers are priceless and make wrestling truly unique.

WWE rookie Simon Dean, posing as a fitness expert, said Columbia was “one of the fattest cities” he has ever seen.

Dean even had the nerve to check his pulse and perform calisthenics during the match. While most of the crowd was irate, others couldn’t stop laughing.

“How fun would it be to be one of the bad guys?” Brown said. “I’d love to make people hate me for a living.”

Wrestling almost gives you a new appreciation for the Kansas Jayhawks, doesn’t it?

OK, maybe not.

John Miller’s columns appear Tuesdays

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