For professional wrestlers and fans alike, their Superbowl is the annual Wrestlemania. An event begun by WWE commissioner Vince McMahon over twenty years ago; Wrestlemania was billed as the pinnacle for sports entertainment; and through the years the show has proven itself with names like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Undertaker, among many others, and, while this year’s event which takes place Sunday, rings the opening bell in Atlanta, it seems that the biggest event for professional wrestling has consistently gone through Louisville, specifically the city’s Ohio Valley Wrestling; which was at one point, was one of the WWE’s “farm league.”
The main event of the evening features a bout, for instance, between two former champions of OVW. David Bautista, better known simply as Batista originally from Washington D.C. and Massachusetts native, John Cena both cut their teeth here in the Bluegrass.
Other talent that learned their craft from the local venue featured in the night’s card include Kofi Mensah or Kofi Kingston who was actually a tag team champ before being called up to the big leagues. St. Louis’ Matthew Korklan (Evan Bourne), is one of the most recent OVW alums to make it as a WWE star.
Shelton Benjamin wrestled with Brock Lesnar in the OVW as a tag team known as the Minnesota Stretching Crew, and though he wrestled for much of the time under his real name of Cody Runnels (Cody Rhodes) wrestled a great deal of time, both alone and as part of a team.
Chicago’s Phillip Brooks (CM Punk) won several titles with the OVW after his first bout in Louisville in 2005. Barbra Blank (Kelly Kelly) was already an accomplished model from Florida prior to being placed in the OVW by the WWE so that she could train prior to making her national debut. While in the Ville she actually worked as an announcer, referee, as well as a wrestler.
Other local superstars featured in “the biggest show in sports entertainment” include Nicholas Nemeth (Dolph Ziggler), John Hennigan (John Morrison), Randy Orton, Mickie James, Gail Kim, Elizabeth Coralan (Beth Phoenix), Michelle McCool (and yes, that is her real name), Maryse Oulette, and Victoria Crawford (Alicia Fox).
Finally, I’d like to leave you with this though; all I know is that there is something intrinsically beautiful about somebody hitting somebody else with a folding chair.
Image Courtesy of: World Wrestling Entertainment