I’m in my late 20s, and I watch a lot of professional wrestling.
Now that I’ve broken some major news, let me add that I’m pretty excited for the World Wrestling Entertainment to come to Eugene on Feb. 5. I’m so excited that I used my “power of the media” card to convince the company to arrange an interview with one of their wrestlers.
And they agreed.
WWE set me up with Karl Anderson (aka Chad Allegra), who, as of press time, is a WWE Tag Team champion, along with his partner Luke Gallows (Andrew Hankinson), after winning the championship belts at the Jan. 29 Royal Rumble. Gallows and Anderson both wrestled in Japan with New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Anderson wrestled there for eight years. Despite the cultural differences, it’s still wrestling, Anderson says.
“It’s telling a story and being entertaining. The environment is basically still the same,” he says.
After spending some time in Japan, Anderson and Gallows then made the jump to WWE last year. But coming to the WWE is what Anderson says he’s always wanted.
“It’s the biggest, most entertaining attraction you can find,” he tells me. “Japan was beautiful and got me prepared for what I am today. The WWE is the place where we wanted to be.”
What makes WWE so special for Anderson is that you have to expect the unexpected, he says. Rather than calling them “wrestlers,” WWE calls them “superstars” because they’re more than athletes; they’re entertainers. These combinations converge to make WWE Live Events an experience that everyone should have — regardless of age, Anderson says.
“Anyone who’s attended the live event this past year would say they’re thoroughly entertained,” he says. “They always come out with smiles on their faces.”
The entertainer idea was highlighted in 2002 when WWE, then known as WWF (World Wresting Federation) lost a name dispute to that other WWF, the World Wildlife Fund.
WWE Live on Feb. 5 will strip away the fireworks, cameras and television, Anderson adds, but that just brings wrestling back to its roots.
“I’m a guy who came out from wrestling in barns and UAW halls for $20 a night to working for the WWE. I know what it’s like to wrestle when there’s no cameras and no television,” he says. “It’s a lot different without the fireworks and television. In a way it’s a little more fun. The stress level is a little bit down. It’s just a good time.”
With WWE coming to the Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Gallows and Anderson will face off in a triple-threat tag team championship match between Sheamus (Stephen Farrelly) and Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli), and the New Day crew.
The rest of the show will also feature many other superstars from the WWE Raw brand, including Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns and Charlotte (Ashley Fliehr) — daughter of the golden era wrestling legend Ric Flair.
WWE Live: Road to WrestleMania is 1 pm Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Matthew Knight Arena. Ticket prices are $23 to $108 and are available at matthewknightarena.com.