March 11, 2010 by David Gillaspie
You like competition. You understand the physical side of competition, though admit to bowling. In any sport there is a perfect match of venue and activity.
You may have already experienced the best competition in an ultimate venue. Everyone should have an Ultimate List for Event and Venue. Here’s a start.
Indianapolis 500, the Daytona, too; a title game in Title Town frozen through and through; an all you can eat Lexus level seat for a Blazer game; the next time the University of Oregon doesn’t look so lame.
Sometimes context sneaks up on you. It’s hard to appreciate the moment while you’re in it.
Championship Wrestling in Memorial Coliseum has the sound of a perfect event/venue double. All the ingredients are there. Wrestling? Classic sport. Coliseum? Classic structure.
I didn’t expect gladiators on deck, or MMA choppers giving free choke-out tips. It wasn’t That Coliseum. What I got was an Army station with guys knocking out push-ups and a Marine station with a chin-up bar.
The guys manning the stations had to be war vets; Gladiators themselves in our midst.
I walked the concourse clockwise, stopping for the Oregon wrestling all-American exhibits. A kid already done for state looked at the pictures. I asked if he knew anyone on the board, then told him to remember the names of the good guys today, that they’ll be on the board.
I pointed to Larry Bielenberg’s death-stare picture. I told him Larry Bielenberg was a triple crown State Champ and a double national champion his senior year in high school. I asked the kid if he was any good.
“It’s my first year, mister, and I’m at State. You figure it out.”
Feisty. Probably just got beat and wanted to be left alone. I asked him how many time he drove guys to the mat. How many crossfaces he did. You know, start with the good stuff. Then I asked him how he lost and what his coach said. It was a great moment. Not what you’d expect from a dying sport.
I looped around to the front door while future Champions of the Coliseum settled affairs in the bowl. For most it’ll be the biggest stage they’ll ever stand on. The wrestlers will remember how small they must have looked, but how big they felt. They’ll have Memorial Coliseum wrestling memories, which isn’t to say the Rodeo Arena wrestling memories from the fair grounds are any different.
Kings of the Coliseum has a good ring to it. What’s missing is the warmth. Who wants to hear a loudspeaker voice blaring coming events. The only event you care about is the match.
Even the walk from the motel could be distracting for some. Imagine the first time of getting off the bus in a school parking lot all season, to walking the night streets of the most densely urban area in the state. It can be too much.
Where in Oregon should wrestling memories better spring from? Is there a perfect event/venue duce?
Kings of Gil Coliseum.
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