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  Sep 28, 1998

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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Wrestling fans pack Copps Coliseum

Edge flies from the top rope onto Owen Hart as the two Canadians met in the opening match of a Pay-Per-View World Wrestling Federation event at Copps Coliseum yesterday. -- John Rennison, The Spectator
By PAUL BENEDETTI -- Hamilton Spectator
Hamilton went all-world last night as millions of people around the planet tuned into Breakdown, the World Wrestling Federation extravaganza at Copps Coliseum.

People in 115 countries joined a sold-out crowd of about 18,000 fans at the Coliseum to witness Stone Cold Steve Austin attempt to defend his title.

Austin, with his trademark shaved head, made an early appearance to beat up WWF head honcho Vince McMahon to the delight of the pro-Stone Cold crowd.

But by the end of the night he was out cold Steve Austin, having been pinned by opponents the Undertaker and Kane in an illegal manoeuver. McMahon took the belt and disappeared in a limo into the night to the chagrin of the fans.

Breakdown, the first Pay Per View WWF match in Hamilton, is the biggest major wrestling bout in the city since the Royal Rumble in 1988. And the raucous crowd made it the noisiest event at the arena since monster trucks. "To get this kind of event to Canada and into Hamilton is a big, big coup," said Gabe Macaluso, head of Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. (HECFI)

"I think it's just fantastic that our city and our coliseum has been chosen for this event," Mayor Bob Morrow told a crowd of more than 2,000 people who gathered at city hall for a noon-hour presentation and autograph session.

Carl DeMarco, president of World Wrestling Federation Canada, said Hamilton was only one of two Canadian locations the federation has selected for major bouts to be televised on Viewers Choice Pay Per View. DeMarco said professional wrestling is a huge, international sport, bigger than baseball or football in terms of overall viewership.

"We have three million viewers in Canada a week," said DeMarco. "WWF is hotter than everything. It's huge, all around the world."

It's no slouch in the souvenir department either as many of the predominantly male crowd lined up to buy everything from T-shirts to a poster of female grappler Chyna.

Wayne Carson, a lapsed wrestling fan, brought his son Adam for his 12th birthday. Dad had no problem treating his son to a night of body slams, eye gouges and trash talk.

"As long as it's just entertainment, it's OK," he said.

Asked if wrestling was real, Adam smiled and said: "Not really."

WWF Breakdown stories & photos

  • Austin loses title at Breakdown
  • Dissecting Breakdown from Row 10
  • Wrestling fans pack Coliseum
  • Hamilton honours Austin
  • Austin given the keys to the city

  • PHOTO: Fireworks go off for the opening of In Your House: Breakdown.  31K

  • PHOTO: A ticket for In Your House: Breakdown.  14K

  • PHOTO: Edge flies from the top rope onto Owen Hart.  22K

  • PHOTO: The Headbangers with Doc Hendrix at Hamilton's City Hall.  18K

  • PHOTO: The Headbangers share a laugh.  20K

  • PHOTO: The Headbangers sign autographs.  15K

  • PHOTO: Stone Cold Steve Austin exits his limo.  20K

  • PHOTO: Austin with Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow and Dok Hendrix.  20K

  • PHOTO: Austin listens to Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow.  19K

  • PHOTO: Austin receives the key to the city.  22K

  • PHOTO: Austin shows off the key to the city.  18K

  • PHOTO: The New Age Outlaws pose with a fan.  26K