By MIGUEL MARTIN — for SLAM! Wrestling
How can you make a group of university students not complain about tuition for an hour?
While beer helps and showing them a wrestling legend will do it.
Tuition was the last thing on everyone’s mind as a group of approximately 200 York University students crammed Vanier Dining Hall to see Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Also on hand were wrestlers Kingdom James and Joe E. Legend.
The three were at York to promote both an upcoming card of World Wrestling Superstars (WWS) and the formation of the York Wrestling Fans Association (YWFA). There was an autograph session with the trio after promotional event.
Roberts entered the ring to the enthusiastic chant of “DDT!” from the crowd. He failed to disappoint the crowd. “They tell me I’m in a battle royal,” he said. “I can tell you right now it’s bulls–t. There’s nothing worse than being in a ring with 19 idiots — especially when I’m looking at two (James and Legend).”
The two relative youngsters also gave the crowd what they wanted. “You are the ugliest bunch of morons I have ever seen,” said James upon being introduced to the crowd.
“The show isn’t about the WWS,” Legend added later. “It’s about me.” Both received loud responses from the crowd.
The wrestlers were much more humble backstage about their motives for staying in the independent circuit. Jake Roberts says he would never return to the WWF citing owner Vince McMahon and the raunchy storylines as reasons why. “The storylines are ludicrous,” Roberts says. “They’re obscene, they’re filth, they’re trash. They’re giving the wrong messages.”
James has a different motive for working the independent circuit. He wouldn’t be anywhere else. “There comes a time in everybody’s life where they realize that their goals and dreams are one thing and reality is another,” he says. “Whereas I might have thought a few years ago, ‘I’ll go to the WWF and I’ll be a superstar,’ I realize now that I am an independent wrestler (and will be) for my entire career.”
The 27-year-old from Toronto says his past experience with major wrestling labels confirms he made the right decision about his career.
Scarborough native Legend, however, does have ambitions of joining the big leagues. In fact, he was at the Skydome in Toronto Monday for the Raw is War taping. He lost to Rob Echeverria, who Legend helped train. “It wasn’t my favourite match,” he says, adding that Echeverria had the flu, and Legend had the butterflies. “I’ve had better matches.”
However, there is hope. “I have friends pushing for me in WWF behind the scenes,” he says.
There is a basis for Legend’s belief, aside from the Raw taping. Both Legend and James have worked with the WWF’s Edge and Christian, in their previous incarnations as Sexton Hardcastle and Christian Cage.
The show was part of the inaugural event for the York Wrestling Fans Association. Frank Belluardo, the club’s president, says this event was almost literally planned overnight. He has a planned event for February 24 at York, but was approached on Sunday to host the WWS event, on the condition that it was held on Wednesday.
For Belluardo, a third year classical studies-Italian double major, the past week has been hectic. The YWFA received club status February 2. “Someone said to me, ‘Why don’t you start a wrestling club?’, but mockingly,” he says. So he did.
And students at York seem to be happy with the idea of the club. Victoria Curto, a fourth year political science-law and society double major, says a wrestling club makes sense. “It’s different, and it’s going to be huge,” she says.
For Curto, the fan appreciation is noted. “It’s nice to see the older wrestling guys take time off and show their faces around,” she says.