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by Seth Mates

Christian has performed in his hometown of Toronto before, but when he does it on March 17, it will be extra-special. That show just happens to be WrestleMania X8 at SkyDome, and on that day, Christian will be performing in front of thousands and thousands of his fellow Torontonians on the grandest stage in sports entertainment.

"Every time I really sit down and think about it, I get chills up and down my spine," he told "So many things come into my head. It's unbelievable to think that there's going to be 60,000 people in a building in the place I grew up. I'm going to have a lot of family and friends there."

The former Intercontinental, European, Light Heavyweight and Tag Team Champion trained for his sports-entertainment career at Sulley's Gym, which is only about six miles from SkyDome.

"Going from that to the biggest show in the business is unbelievable," he said.

The last time WrestleMania was held in SkyDome was in 1990, when Christian was still in high school.

"I couldn't get tickets for the show," he remembers. "My friend's parents owned a health club, and they had a little upstairs part where they had a satellite dish. That's where we went to watch Pay-Per-Views. So I watched it on Pay-Per-View."

The last time the World Wrestling Federation was in Toronto was the first week of September last year, and it was yet another memorable homecoming for Christian. On that week's episode of RAW, Christian turned against his longtime partner, Edge -- another Toronto native. The emotional night was the official start to Christian's singles career, and set off a months-long feud with Edge, culminating in Christian's IC Title win at Unforgiven.

"It's funny sometimes how things work out, how we just happened to be (in Toronto) at the right moment," he said. "I couldn't think of a better place for that to happen than our hometown. It was a pretty emotional day."

As a singles competitor, Christian has set himself apart from the pack. He considers his entire routine different from most other Federation Superstars, adding that "anytime you can be different, that's a good thing." His operatic music and pyro never fails to get a reaction from the crowd, and the athletic Christian has also added another item to his repertoire as of late -- mid-ring temper tantrums.

"It was something we started doing on house shows," he said. "The guys were watching backstage, and would come to the curtain just to see how long I would do it for every night. And everyone said, 'Man, you made me laugh, it's just so funny.' Everyone's like, 'You need to do it on TV.' So one day I just did it on TV and it kinda caught on. It's one of those weird things. I don't know if it's catching on or not, but it's getting reactions either way.

"It takes the steam out of you, that's for sure. Sometimes it's harder to do that than it is to wrestle."

Another hallmark of Christian is his use of old-school vernacular, including one he whipped out on a recent episode of SmackDown! -- "Oh, snap!"

"I think I said it jokingly to my wife earlier in the week, and she said it sounded so stupid. And when she said that, I said, 'That's perfect for TV,'" he laughed.

Has his singles career been a success thus far? One need look no farther than his recent reigns as Intercontinental and European Champions to say that the answer seems to be yes.

Christian says he is very proud of his feud with Edge, and is also proud of the recent matches he has had with Diamond Dallas Page.

"I feel like our matches have been some of the best that I've had in recent months," he said. "He's really passionate about what he does. I'm passionate as well. It's always good to be in there with someone who's like that. He's a very positive guy and very easy to work with. I'm really pleased with them, and with crowd reaction to them."

One other thing peaking Christian's interest these days is the return of the nWo.

"It's interesting," he said. "It sparks people's interests, and that's what you have to do to keep things fresh. We'll see where it goes from here."

So is Christian worried about becoming a victim of the nWo -- being held down, losing television time and becoming lost in the shuffle?

"I try not to worry about it," he said. "I just try to go out to work hard and do my thing, and let the chips fall where they may. I try not to worry too much about what everybody else is doing; I just try to concentrate on what I do. Of course I want the product to be good, and I want to concentrate on my own singles career, to get where I want it to be."

It seems that things are moving along nicely for Christian on the road to WrestleMania, his recent "resignation" from the Federation notwithstanding. So what's coming up for the Toronto native?

"Wait and see," he said. "Hopefully something good from here leading up to Mania. I'd really love to have a good match for that show, to be able to come home and perform in front of my family and friends and the good fans of Toronto."

Credit WWF