Bring on the SmackDown 

WWE wrestle-tainers and whamazons take center stage

The WWE is coming to Boise. Let me just get a few things out on the table. I am a petite girl. I think pink has a special time and place. I have never been cow-tipping. I don't enjoy a Coors Light, and I have never uttered the word "smackdown" in my life.

Not knowing what I had been missing the past 25 years of my life, like a virgin I embarked into the strange phenomenon of World Wrestling Entertainment. First I had to research. I went to the official Web site (wwe.com) and was greeted by images of grimacing, bulky men with sculpted facial hair and evil-looking contact lenses. Language that seemed more fitting for a conversation about the war in Iraq than a wrestling Web site ("judgment day," "backlash," "velocity," "raw") shared the screen with busty WWE Divas. These Amazonians were wearing impossibly flattering sports bras and looking ever-so-slightly more sexy than scary. The news items dotting the page were about angry wrestlers having ugly run-ins with reporters and divas having sexy encounters with men dressed like card sharks.

Further research showed that wrestling is not all fun and chair smashing; it's also economy, stupid. The WWE's first incarnation as Titan Sports, Inc. was established in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1952. Titan Sports began broadcasting its fights around the United States, something unthinkable then, as wrestling was usually only televised regionally. This revolutionized the way people saw wrestling. The company has taken on many names since the Titan days and become a big earner. In the last 12 months alone, its revenues were a whopping $400 million. WWE stock is even sold on the very serious New York Stock Exchange (should you be interested).

The Golden Age of wrestling entertainment can be attributed to one handlebar moustache and the man to whom it was attached. Hulk Hogan became the poster boy-man for the industry during the days of WrestleMania, making investors and himself very rich. However, in the late '80s, his popularity waned (as one might expect from a man who makes his living in a spandex body suit), perhaps due in part to the crowd's increasing boredom of his stupid costumes and cheese-ball behavior.

The World Wrestling Federation, whose logo T-shirts were sported by the pimply boys who hung out behind the grocery store where I grew up, and World Wrestling Entertainment are one and the same. The name change was a result of a giggle-worthy lawsuit filed by the World Wildlife Fund.

On Friday, the WWE presents WrestleMania Revenge early in the evening, so you can see some smackdown and get home by bedtime. The event's highlight match puts two of the WWE's biggest stars together. The very popular John Cena, who is the reigning WWE champion, and Edge—who seems to have nothing going for him aside from his name—will duke it out for the B-town crowd.

There will be a WWE Diva or two in the house as well. I asked Gary Davis, vice president of corporate communications for the WWE, about the role of these so-called divas (my new word for them is "whamazons"). I was almost hoping to get a response like, "We just like 'em for their boobies." However, Davis explained very diplomatically, "WWE Divas are just as tough as the men when they step into the ring. Current WWE Women's Champion Mickey James has been involved in quite a few physical matches with her fellow WWE Divas." Mickey will be in a "tag match" at the Boise event, so be sure to check it out.

Davis plugged the upcoming show as "a chance for our RAW Superstars to get up close and personal with the fans in Boise." I tried to picture the average fan in Boise and came up with a mental composite of Homer Simpson and that guy I saw drooling on a Greyhound leaving Minneapolis. Davis insisted, "WWE fans come from all ages and walks of life. Our audience is a broad mix of Americana: college students, teenagers, construction workers, lawyers, politicians, professional athletes and everything in between."

Even so, I was hard-pressed to find any true fans of the WWE in my slice of Americana. The few people I met who once got excited about wrestling entertainment had since found other hobbies to fill up their free time. "I used to follow the WWF," said one former fan. So what happened? "I'm not 6 anymore."

The WWE was sounding pretty appealing with its fancy stock options and ass-kicking women. (I had a feeling they sold those big pretzels at the shows. God, I love those things.) But just when I thought I might ditch my sundress for a cut off T-shirt and a pair of whitewashed jeans, I made a shocking discovery. "What do you mean it's fake?"

Another former WWE fan had just told me about the last show he attended here in Boise. "I liked WWE until I went to the show," he says. "But at the show it was just so, I don't know, fake."

I deferred to Davis, who explained that "without the restrictions of doing a television program, our superstars and divas get to entertain in a more relaxed atmosphere and have more time to showcase their great athleticism and wrestling abilities. It's very physical when the superstars enter the ring and compete." Ah, so it's real when it's on TV.

I know what you're thinking: I want to do more than just go to a show or watch a match on Pay Per View. How can I be a wrestler or become a whamazon?

According to Davis, "Officials review tapes on a daily basis in our search for future WWE Superstars. To become a WWE Superstar, you need the perfect combination of athleticism, charisma and the ability to get across a character that will relate to an audience. It also helps tremendously to have a passion for the sports entertainment business."

I don't know about you, but I'm getting my audition tape ready.

WrestleMania Revenge, Friday, May 26, 7:30 p.m., $10-$40, Qwest Arena. Tickets available at the box office, Select-a-Seat outlets, www.qwestarenaidaho.com or by calling 331-TIXS.

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