April 9, 2009 - Word Wrestling Entertainment at the Erwin Center
     This past Tuesday, more than 11,000 people packed the Frank Erwin Center for a taping of World Wrestling Entertainment's two signature shows, "ECW and "Smackdown."  The fifth
sold-out show for the Erwin Center this year, the event had more spectacle than a rock concert and - for the die-hard fans - more star-power than a Jerry Lewis Telethon.
    I took my father to experience the matches, and we reminisced on how - when I was a kid - we used to pull up in front of the television set on Saturday afternoons to watch wrestling broadcast from the Sprotatorium in Dallas.  To relive that bonding experience some 35 years later made for a special evening.
   All the fan favorites were there, including John Cena, Edge, The Big Show, Randy Orton, The Great Kahli, Finley and Hornswaggle, and the Hardy Brothers - Matt and Jeff, who wrestled in a "death-defying" stretcher match.  Rock music blared, fireworks exploded, bodies flew though the air, the crowd cheered.  P.T. Barnum would have been impressed.
    We marveled at how many kids were at the show, each decked out in an array of branded merchandise and cheering for their spandex Superman.  And while we watched the ardent fans scream for their favorites, it occurred to me why wrestling has continued to be such a popular form of athletic entertainment (and this is pure money-making showbiz): it's melodrama in its purest form.  It's theatre for the masses.
   You have the heroes and villains, the rivalries and alliances, and the perpetual goal of good triumphing over evil.  You have the handsome Adonis and the scary ogre, battling for the fate of the universe - as it exists for the fans.  It's the Perils of Pauline - except that "Pauline" is a 300 pound, muscle-bound body builder named "Paul" that can kick butt just fine by himself.  But most importantly, it's really fun to watch - especially with your Dad.