by Phil Speer
World Wrestling Federation officials confirmed last week that the company is negotiating to bring WrestleMania XVIII to Toronto. If and when the deal gets done, the Federation's large contingent of Canadian superstars would be ecstatic. "To actually be in WrestleMania in my hometown would just be mind-blowing," said Christian, a native of Orangeville, located 44 miles northwest of Toronto.
Edge, also of Orangeville, is equally excited.
"That'll be the biggest goose bumps I'll ever have," he said. "To actually go back and do a WrestleMania and be on it, it's a cliche, but it's a dream come true."
Two of Edge's most fond memories are set at SkyDome. He attended WrestleMania VI, sitting on the floor a dozen rows away from the ring. By then, he already knew that he wanted to be a Federation Superstar. In 1998, shortly after joining the roster, he won the Intercontinental Title there, one of the highlights of his career.
Today Edge says he'll work extra hard for the next several months because he wants to be a prominent part of the show. "I'll gear my whole year towards that," he said.
Like Edge, many Canadian superstars saw WrestleMania VI live, or at least remember the hype. Test was one of them.
"It was huge," said Test, a Toronto native. "I remember it being sold out. I ended up watching it on closed-circuit TV."
Interestingly, sources tell WWF.com that this year's WrestleMania is scheduled for March 17, 2002, which is Test's 27th birthday.
WrestleMania VI, held April 1, 1990, drew a SkyDome record of 67,678 fans. They came to see Hulk Hogan vs. the Ultimate Warrior, probably the second biggest match in sports-entertainment history at the time, behind only Hogan vs. Andre the Giant.
The first man to walk out to the ring for WrestleMania VI was referee who went by the name Shane Stevens. Today that man goes by his real name: Shane McMahon.
"As soon as I walked out, the place just exploded, because I symbolized that the show was about to start," McMahon said. "As I got closer to the ring, it got louder and louder and louder. As I stepped through the ropes, the place was just rumbling. I was looking around, and I just said, 'Holy @#$%, this is a lot of people!' My heart was pounding. I had goosebumps. I was just thinking, 'Wow, what an exhilirating feeling.' That was really cool."
At the time, Chris Jericho was studying for his journalism degree at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Even though he was more than 1,300 miles away, he remembers that "the atmosphere was tremendous."
"We don't get to go to Canada as much as we do the U.S.," said Jericho of the Federation. "Because Canadians don't get to see the Federation as often, they appreciate it a little bit more."
Jericho said he'd love for WrestleMania to come to Canada again. It would be his first Pay-Per-View in his native country. He predicts that people would come from all over Canada -- not to mention the U.S. and other countries -- to see it.
Trish Stratus, a Toronto resident, also remembers the hype from WrestleMania VI. She says that fans in Canada are as passionate about the Federation as they are about hockey.
"Every time there's an event, I get calls (for tickets) out of the woodwork," said Stratus, adding that if WrestleMania XVIII comes to the SkyDome, "It'll make me want to go out there and 'Stratusfy' the crowd."