Source: Slam! Sports
In the parlance of professional wrestling, the jewel of downtown London has just taken a steel chair to the face.
Calling the John Labatt Centre too small for its Saturday Night’s Main Event set, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has moved the high-profile NBC broadcast to Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.
But those hoping for London’s moment in the wrestling spotlight need not worry.
The John Labatt Centre, big enough for Elton John but apparently not for John Cena, will still host two May 29 shows — SmackDown and a live Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) show — that will bring the Forest City to more than two million TV viewers.
“It’s like two shows in one,” Matt Hardy, a high-flying WWE star, said from his North Carolina home. “Every week there’s millions of eyeballs on our show.”
After nine years in the WWE, that kind of exposure has turned Hardy, 32, into one of the biggest names in pro wrestling.
He’s half of the tag-team champions with his real-life brother, Jeff Hardy. The daredevil Hardy Boyz have perfected the art of sacrificing their own bodies to entertain the fans.
During matches, they acrobatically throw themselves from heights as high as 15 feet, often crashing with their opponents through tables.
“The toughest part is just keeping your body healthy, man,” said Hardy, who wrestles five days a week with no off-season.
“The only time you get off is when you’re hurt.”
And Hardy, given his jaw-dropping moves, has suffered scores of injuries, the worst being a completely torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that knocked him out of the ring for 10 months.
In many ways, Hardy embodies what’s new and different about pro wrestling from its 1980s heyday.
Though it’s still scripted, many contend calling it fake is unfair. Flying through a table, Hardy would likely argue, can’t be faked.
Gone, too, are the days of muscled freaks wrestling in silly costumes. Hardy, generously listed at 225 pounds, essentially plays himself on-screen and wrestles in normal street clothes.
Further blurring the line between reality and wrestling is the fact the athletes’ real lives often inspire the TV show scripts. Hardy knows this more clearly than most.
For several years he dated woman wrestler Lita until she left him for one of Hardy’s friends, Canadian Adam Copeland, who wrestles as Edge. When the split became public, the writers made the heartbreak a major storyline.
“The WWE kind of ran with it,” Hardy said. “You can say no, but that’s probably not the best answer. The emotion of it, it made for some good TV. But I’m glad it’s over.”
Hardy and the rest of the SmackDown and ECW stars will be at the John Labatt Centre May 29, with the matches starting at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets, $20 to $70, are still available at the JLC, Fanshawe College’s bizbooth, the UWO bookstore or by calling 1-866-455-2849.