Sable and WWE ready to rumble Freedom Hall

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   For the first time in years, World Wrestling Entertainment is coming to Freedom Hall in Johnson City, TN.
   Sponsored by UPN 30, "WWE Unleashed" features the stars of "WWE Smackdown!," taking place on Monday, May 19th at 7 p.m.
   Headlining the event will be a main event for the WWE Title featuring current WWE Champion and former NCAA Champion Brock Lesnar against former WWE and WCW Champion The Big Show.
   Lesnar has become a huge WWE attraction since his championship victory over Hollywood mega-star The Rock (Dewayne Johnson) at last year's "Summerslam" pay-per-view event.
   The event at the storied Civic Center, which is one of the last wrestling strongholds in the south, will be a house show.
   Freedom Hall was known as the place to see World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the Tri-Cities area through the 80's and 90's until WCW was purchased by the WWE.
   Recently returning to the WWE after an absence, Sable will also be making an appearance on the show. The former Women's Champion and popular WWE Diva is excited to have another opportunity to work with the company.
   "I love being back with the company," Sable said. "I certainly missed it over four years, but I wanted to come back with the aspect of performing in front of a live audience"
   Sable was a major factor in the rise of women's wrestling in general. A fan favorite in the 'Attitude' era, she came into the company as a valet and wound up in the ring, raising the bar for in-ring work.
   "I don't think I ever made a conscious decision (to step in the ring), it just kind of happened," she said. "I think it was something the fans wanted to see and the transition wasn't difficult to make since I was athletic. Being in the ring is not easy but I think I adapted to it well."
   The Women's product in professional wrestling has risen considerably throughout the past ten years.
   Known as a predominantly popular male sport, wrestling used women's matches as an attraction during the early days.
   With the popularity of talent such as Sable and Chyna in the mid-90's, current talent such as Trish Stratus, Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson have made women's wrestling a permanent fixture.
   Sable attributes that to the fans and the dedication of the company.
   "The company has realized what an asset it is to them," she said. "But the fans and the company have taken a bigger interest. Because that has happened, the talent has grown and the bar has been raised."
   The sports entertainment industry have been striving towards a family-friendly audience and the show at Freedom Hall will be something that fans should enjoy.
   Sable feels there is a different feel to the show, rather than a taped event.
   "The house shows are more relaxed," she said. "The talent has more time to enjoy it and let the audience enjoy it."
   "We try to give them 100 percent no matter what," she said. "When it's taped, the time is limited and it's more stressful for us. We just like to get the fans involved a lot more."
   Torrie Wilson will also be on the show in a match against Nidia. Sable and Wilson have been working a program on UPN's "Smackdown!."
   "I didn't met her until three weeks ago," Sable said. "It's a pleasure to work with her because she is very professional and we both shared the experience and the bond of posing (in a popular men's magazine). It's just a whole different atmosphere in the women's locker room now."
   Other wrestlers also making an appearance on the show include Chris Benoit, John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Matt Hardy, Rhyno and Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin).
   Tickets for the event go on sale this Saturday at the Freedom Hall Box Office at 10 a.m.
   Scheduled to make an appearance at Freedom Hall is MTV Tough Enough and WWE star 'Hardcore' Bob Holly, who will be signing autographs and taking photos from 10:30 a.m. until noon.