WWE Smackdown brings a Big Show to town

Matt Nevala
World Wrestling Entertainment came to the Sullivan Arena in January 2003. Bill Roth / Daily News archive 2003

In a film, television or theater production, actors often get together for what's known as a table-read -- an organized reading of the screenplay or script while sitting around a table. In World Wrestling Entertainment's universe of mayhem-filled, rough-and-tumble show business, it's more likely a performer gets thrown through the table and sits in a pile of splinters.

But these men and women - known in WWE parlance as "superstars" and "divas" -- still need their entertaining prep time in between taping five weekly television and online series and almost monthly pay-per-view extravaganzas. They have to stay sharp at live events, versions of what the company's rabid fan base sees on TV without the cameras or lengthy commercial breaks.

WWE travels the globe for more than 320 live events annually and much of that travel is far more arduous than glamorous. When WWE returns to Anchorage's Sullivan Arena next week for the first time in almost exactly four years, the performers will be less than two days removed from a show in San Antonio. Two days later, they'll be back at work in Stockton, Calif.

Yet when professional wrestlers from the top brand in the game walk the aisle to the Sullivan ring, look for them to put jet lag and any aches and pains behind them. Arena officials released a presumed card of matches several months ago, and while just who grapples whom is subject to change, let's take a look at the cast of characters you should expect to see in action.


Main Event No. 1 -- World Heavyweight Champion

The Big Show vs. "The Celtic Warrior" Sheamus: The giant goes up against the ginger.

The Big Show - billed as "The World's Largest Athlete" at 7-foot, 500-plus pounds -- has been in the business for a while and plays the villainous role like a pro. The reigning heavyweight champ has been known to drop opponents with one knockout punch, something Anchorage's hockey community should appreciate.

Sheamus answers the question of what television host Conan O'Brien might look like if he packed on a muscular frame and spoke in a thick Irish brogue. Sheamus' accent is so distinct and authentic, it should come with a six-pack of Guinness. Anchorage fans can hope he grabs a microphone. Hearing the man say "fella" is worth the price of admission.


Main Event No. 2

"The Viper" Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio: This is one match that could be subject to change.

Another WWE veteran, Orton has spent recent weeks teasing tension with Sheamus in televised story lines. Both men are eager to earn a shot at Big Show's World Heavyweight Championship belt.

Del Rio, billed as a "Mexican aristocrat," has been an arrogant baddie -- or "heel" -- for most of his WWE run. But he's shown signs of going good, so it's anyone's guess what might go down in Anchorage.


The best of the presumed rest

Team Hell No: Kane, the "Big Red Machine," and former independent wrestling darling Daniel Bryan are your reigning WWE tag team champions, but they aren't exactly buddies.

Brodus Clay: He's the only living, breathing Funkasaurus in captivity, with the funky theme song to prove it - albeit a song used by a different WWE performer in years gone by. But many of Clay's kiddie fans don't know that or don't care.

3MB (The Three Man Band): Heath Slater joins Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre to form a bad-guy group that thinks it's rock-star cool. Justin Bieber and One Direction probably own more crunching guitar-riff cred.


Pro wrestling glossary 

Professional wrestling's origins date back decades to the days of traveling carnivals and circuses. With it came its own language or slang, sometimes referred to as "carny talk" if you believe Wikipedia.

As Anchorage prepares to host World Wrestling Entertainment's Smackdown World Tour Thursday at Sullivan Arena, here's a list of some wrestling terminology to prep yourself in the meantime.

Angle: A fictional storyline, usually staged between two wrestlers.

Bump: When a wrestler falls to the mat or to the ground outside the ring by way of his or her opponent's offensive move.

Cheap heat/Cheap pop: Heat is created when a performer incites a negative reaction from the crowd. Hear the crowd pop positively when a wrestler mentions the city they're currently in or wears the gear of a local team. Retired WWE star Edge donned an Alaska Aces uniform years ago.

Dirt Sheet: An insider professional wrestling website or newsletter.

Gimmick: The character a wrestler portrays.

Over: When the crowd loves a wrestler.

Promo: Wrestlers "cut a promo" when they grab the microphone and cut loose, usually to advance an angle or generate heat or pop.

Sell: Reacting to an opponent's attacks in a way that suggests they "really" hurt.

Swerve: Surprising the fans with a sudden change in a story line. Swerves often involve one wrestler turning on an ally, leading to a new angle.

Work: What's planned to happen in wrestling's pre-determined world in the carnival tradition of "working the crowd."

By Matt Nevala
Daily News correspondent