Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wrestling Gateway's Newest Opening

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Whether it's a famed boxer stepping into the arena of professional wrestling, or a pro wrestler exiting the confines of choreographed mayhem and entering the specifics of the hurt business, the WWE has once again welcomed an outsider to dabble into the world of acrobatic gladiators.

The difference is that this time the man of the hour isn't some faded boxer whose glory years are barely a memory. This time the fighter in the spotlight is the consensus number one pound-for-pound king, welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.

And towering over the 147 lb. champion, is 7'2" Paul "The Big Show" Wight, a giant even by pro wrestling's gargantuan standards. Though their match, scheduled for March 30 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fl. at Wrestlemania XXIV, is not for any real title--boxing or wrestling--it will be be lucrative for Mayweather more than a defense against his most dangerous opponent to date, Miguel Cotto.

With Paul "The Punisher" Williams already vanquished by Carlos Quintana, the once-beaten-by-Cotto-welterweight contender, Mayweather aims to make big money against the Big Show with little risks. Let's face it, it this was an MMA match or one without scripts, Mayweather would be bigger than David. There are no weapons allowed in those types of contests.

But this is not a "real" fight. Barring an accident, Mayweather should win an entertaining battle that should make for more highlights to be added to his collection. Hopefully, not many will look like this:

Whether it's former heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey knocking out pro wrestler Cowboy Lutrell (this was for real--NEVER let a wrestler box a boxer), a faded Joe Louis wrestling for money, with former champ and opponent Jersey Joe Walcott serving as referee, Muhammad Ali being slammed by Gorilla Monsoon, Mike Tyson "punching" Shawn Michaels, etc., wrestling has always opened its doors to celebrities to indulge in its festivities.

But don't forget, many wrestlers have also had a history of trespassing onto skilled canvasses, usually with catastrophic results:

The most recent example of this didn't involve a boxer vs. wrestler, but a wrestler vs a grappler (see below):

Though not as disastrous as Bart Gunn vs. Eric "Butterbean" Esch, Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir was just another example of a pro wrestler violating their comfort zone and risk getting abused by a professional fighter.

Other than Kazushi Sakuraba, pro wrestling fans will be hard pressed to find some of their heroes stepping out of bounds into another arena of combat and proving successful.

MMA fighters, on the other hand, will always seem to have the upper hand in pro wrestling's particular arena. From Frank Shamrock to Bad News Brown (R.I.P.) to Sakuraba, and, of course, to countless other boxers, pro wrestling's gates will always be open for business to other disciplines of combat ... as long as you have/had a name.

But for boxing's sake let's hope after Mayweather has his fun in the exaggerated world of pro wrestling, makes more big money against Oscar De La Hoya in a not-so-necessary rematch, he takes on a presumably still undefeated and hungry Cotto.

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