Weekender

Friday night lights: WWE Live returns to Happy Valley with title bout

WWE returns to the Bryce Jordan Center in Happy Valley, and the wrestlers will have a chance to flaunt their blend of athletics, acrobatics, excitement and fun for the whole family.

Friday night’s main event will see longtime WWE mainstays duke it out when John Cena challenges champion Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship title.

WWE superstar Justin Gabriel said the main event “will be huge. Everyone knows those two guys.”

Gabriel also will be featured in a match versus the ballroom dancing enthusiast Fandango.

“He’s so annoying, but he’s really good,” said Gabriel, referring to his flamboyant opponent. “I’ve been watching him for a while, I’m not sure how to prepare (to fight a dancer).”

It hasn’t always been squaring off against dancers for Gabriel.

“I was 10 years old when I decided I wanted to be a pro wrestler. My mom was like, ‘Hey, you’ve got to go to college,’ so I went to college and got my degree, but I always knew I was going to be a wrestler. My dad was a wrestler, I always watched him growing up.”

Born and raised in South Africa, Gabriel was involved in the sport at a young age.

“I had my first match when I was 16 years old,” he said.

Armed with a degree in sports science, Gabriel is no stranger to an extreme lifestyle. He describes his personal style as a hybrid, a “technical high-flying” style. Never is it more important than with his signature “450 splash,” a jumping flip performed from the the top turnbuckle in the corner of the ring, designed to land (or “splash”) onto your downed opponent.

“My body just takes over,” Gabriel said. “When I was younger, it was scarier. Not so much anymore. People ask me, ‘How can you do that?’ I tell them, ‘I don’t really know.’ I kind of just look where I want to land and let my body do the rest.”

WWE has been making headlines lately with its WWE Network, set to launch in February. The network will feature all televised WWE programming, from the past and future. Additionally, the network will carry all WWE pay-per-view events.

“You can watch everything on there. All the old stuff too,” Gabriel said. “You can even go back and watch me debut in Nexus.”

The WWE will host one of its “big four” pay-per-view events, the “Royal Rumble,” at 8 p.m. Sunday in Pittsburgh.

“It’s a huge lineup this weekend. Everyone should come out and have a great time with us,” Gabriel said.

Other matches at the Bryce Jordan Center will include The Real Americans (Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro with their leader Zeb Colter in tow) taking on The Rhodes brothers for the WWE Tag Team Championship, and an advertised appearance from Rey Mysterio.

  Comments