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Since this is my first column, let me give you an introduction to why I want to do this. I've been a wrestling fan like a lot of you for most of my life. I'm 25, live in Chicago, single and am deeply involved in martial arts. My family has had a military background, so this seems to be quite natural to me.

I hate it when I hear people on the air call wrestling "fake" because fake is totally relative to one's perspective. I watch wrestling for the same reason I watch movies - to be entertained. I never hear those same people cry and crap over why we go to movies and support a multi-billion dollar industry via the cinemas. Professional wrestlers are entertainers and performance artists, no different from your everyday stage or screen actor, at least to me. As for the notion that wrestlers can't walk and chew gum at the same time, there certainly is no shortage of idiots in Hollywood that populate our television screens.

As for the argument that wrestlers are not athletes, yeah, there are wrestlers who don't fit the bill of your prototypical Jim Thorpe. Counter-argument #1: Were William "The Fridge" Perry (mind you, I am a Chicagoan), John Kruk, Oliver Miller or Cecil Fielder prototypical athletes themselves? Nate Newton? Hey, Dennis Knight and Bastion Booger could perform a back-fall much better than those guys. Counter-argument #2: The average pro wrestler's athleticism would hold its own against the athleticism of the average mainstream pro athlete. It may not necessarily overwhelm the pro athlete's, but it would certainly hold its own. Different professions require different athletic skills. Counter-argument #3: Pro sport is an entertainment industry, not a sports industry. The only pure sports industries are the sandlot and playground varieties. While pro athletes are well-conditioned overall athletes, they are employed to entertain a sports-loving audience. The audience pays money to be entertained. Hence, the pro sports industry is more of an entertainment-based industry than a sports-based one and is driven by the same consumer economics on which other industries are based.

My first-hand involvement in wrestling: none. I don't have backstage access, don't yearn for any, nor am I interested in being an "insider". The closest I came to someone in the pro wrestling industry was when someone working for WWF Television bought a vintage GI Joe figure from the company I was working for last year. So why do I want to do this - for the simple reasons that I can put my thoughts to paper articulately and I love pro wrestling. I was at Summer Slam 1994, WrestleMania XIII (not the best show I've seen by far, but can't get the imagery of Hart vs. Austin out of my mind), Jericho's debut RAW and a few house shows. I love the performance art that is professional wrestling, pride myself on being smart enough to understand the fact that there is politics being played backstage, the fact that these guys bust ass to put on a show (keyword: show), but are also entitled to their private lives. Yeah, that private life possibly includes being best friends with the guy they just had the latest installment of the "bloodiest feud" this side of Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes. That's coolio with me! Just give me what I pay for - a good show, nothing more. They don't owe me their private time or effort. Now that that's over with, let's get on with my non-sequiturs and tidbits (in random order). They're generalized thoughts since this is my first column. I'll keep them more time-focused in the future. Here we go:

I would have loved to see the following scenario happen at the conclusion of last Monday night's RAW. Vince is in the ring when Shane confronts him. Vince automatically assumes Booker T is going to sneak up on him and starts looking around for him. Suddenly, the theme for "2001: A Space Odyssey" plays on the speakers and out comes The Man himself. Ric Flair proceeds to the ring, gives Vince a piece of his mind and then proceeds to beat the snot out of him. What a mark-out moment that would have been!

Why do I find myself sympathizing with McMahon and Austin in this whole "WCW Invasion" angle? Maybe it's my now deeply embedded cynicism with the old WCW regime. I want to believe they'll be better now, but arrrgghh, it's so hard, it's really hard!!!

Pro wrestling owes Paul Heyman a big "thank you" for giving it a much-needed kick in the ass, regardless of the way he did it. Wouldn't it be cool if he became the head booker for WCW, as well as grandly ironic?

The next big conflict in the world will be in Asia, not in Europe. West Asia, a.k.a. the Middle East, Afghanistan or North Korea will be the site. The US Military would be well advised to consider the advantages of a mobile and efficient military than the lumbering, cumbersome one that won the Cold War. Remember the Bu2's malleable rule of universality: quality, not quantity, is what matters.

HHH, even on medical leave, is the MVP of the wrestling industry. As for his critics (especially among his own peers), my mama said, "If you don't have anything good to say about someone..." One un-named superstar in particular needs to develop a sense of gratitude for the industry that has put him in the spotlight and given him the fame he has now.

Sara looked like the wife I always wanted when she put up her fists to DDP. (sheepish grin) heh! I hope they don't go down the route of the wife who stabs her husband in the back, it's way too predictable and unattractive.

Chyna deserves to have some good fortunes come her way in her solo stint now that she's departed from the WWF. Those who presume she's developed a diva complex are doing just that - presuming. They also need to be reminded that someone who achieves her stature by virtue of hard work has earned the right to dictate some of the terms of their employment. If they fail to achieve that, they have the right to leave. Don't be pissed because you've lost the chance to see her in the ring again. She has the right to not be in the ring if she so chooses.

The WWF's end-of-the-year review in 2000 should have contained montages of Gorilla Monsoon in addition to Owen Hart.

It doesn't say much about my DePaul basketball program when Steven Hunter, who did nary a thing with us, gets picked 15th in the NBA Draft.

I've said my peace. Buh bye.


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