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Locals experience live pro wrestling

December 10, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

SAN DIEGO — Time spent waiting outside in line: 45 minutes. Food and beverages: $10 per person. A big novelty foam hand: $10. A souvenir T-shirt: $28. Face value of ticket: $61.

Experiencing a live World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view at the San Diego Sports Arena here Sunday: Priceless.

For Brawley residents Jose Luis Barrera and Carlos Ornelas, experiencing the WWF live was like a dream come true.

The two have been avid professional wrestling fans for years, Barrera since about 1990 and Ornelas since about 1985.

Since the two have been watching wrestling, almost religiously, neither had seen it in person. That changed Sunday as the WWF brought its show to San Diego, about a two-hour drive from the Imperial Valley, giving Barrera, Ornelas and a handful of other Valley residents an opportunity to enjoy a form of entertainment that has become one of the most popular around.


"This was my first time to be there in person and I think the one thing that really stuck out to me, the most memorable moment, was just being there," said the 25-year-old Ornelas. "I mean, watching those guys wrestle, perform and just do what they do best was awesome. Now I can truly say that there's nothing like experiencing it live."

As memorable as the moment and the environment were to Ornelas, it was getting an opportunity to see one of his favorite WWF superstars that made the day for Barrera.

"I'm a big fan of (wrestler) Stone Cold Steve Austin. And just watching him wrestle, not even that, just when he came down the ramp, was something that I'll never forget," said the 21-year-old Barrera. "I've seen him like over a 100 times on TV, but being there when his intro music came on, it just gave me goosebumps. Seeing him live really made it more exciting."

The two agreed that as entertaining as watching a WWF event on TV is, attending with nearly 20,000 die-hard fans like themselves adds to the experience.

On TV the viewer has the added bonuses of listening to color commentary and seeing the action from a closer angle. But Ornelas said watching it live gives the fan an opportunity to focus on whatever he wants, as opposed to focusing on what the TV cameras want him to see.

Then there's the additional thrill of watching an event with thousands of fans and being able to interact with people there for the same reasons.

"It's just like going to a football game, baseball game or basketball game. Only it's a little different. Everybody watches their favorite wrestlers every week and they follow them throughout the weeks," said Barrera. "So you have people cheering and booing for the same people. It's cool to watch it on TV, but being there with all those people makes it even cooler.

"And it's not just for one age group or another. It's for everybody. I saw people there with their kids. I saw families together, watching it and having a good time together. Rarely do you see a lot of family interaction like that. That's one of the reasons that I think a lot of people like wrestling," said Barrera.

Barrera and Ornelas estimated that Sunday's event was about the third show the WWF has put on in San Diego this year and they figure it will be another few months until the WWF returns.

Should the WWF make a return, both said there won't be any hesitation about making their own return trip.

"When I heard about this one, I absolutely wanted to go. I had always wanted to go but for some reason I never went to a live show. After experiencing it, I would definitely go to another one," said Ornelas.

Added Barrera: "I really can't wait for it to come back down here. This whole experience for me, getting to see a live pay-per-view, seeing my favorite wrestler, was really worth the wait. You really don't get too many opportunities to do something like this and I really would recommend it to anyone because, overall, this was an amazing experience."

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