Danny Salas has been into WWE since it was the World Wrestling Federation and a friend invited him to watch SummerSlam on pay-per-view.
He was in the fourth grade.
He remembers getting his first WWE magazine (Miss Elizabeth was on the cover) and toy (Hasbro’s 4 1/2 -inch Jake “the Snake” Roberts action figure) and finally getting to go to an actual WrestleMania event in person.
It was in Anaheim in 2000. He has since traveled to see WrestleMania events in New York, Texas and Florida and will be in New Orleans in April for WrestleMania 34 at the Superdome. And still, his DVR is forever set to record Raw and Smackdown each week.
So, Salas is a superfan. And as the assistant program director and afternoon drive host at Q97.1, he is also part of WWE’s “radio row,” which means he’s interviewed WWE Superstars on air. That makes him the perfect person to answer a few questions in advance of Sunday night’s Road to WrestleMania showdown at the Save Mart Center, beginning with:
Wrestling is just soap operas for dudes, right?
Not even close. It’s action, drama, comedy and athleticism, all in one show. It’s entertainment for dudes, chicks, kids and families.
But, it’s fake, right?
Wrestling is fake, comic books are for nerds, only losers with no social life play video games. These are all severely outdated and irrelevant talking points, especially in the 2000s. WWE is as real as “Game of Thrones” and is just as cool as watching a movie about a guy dressed like a panther who fights bad guys.
Fair enough. So, catch us up on the major plot points going into the Road to Wrestlemania.
On the Raw side, there’s only one WWE special event (pay-per-view) between now and WrestleMania. John Cena, Roman Reigns, The Miz and three others will all compete in a match to earn the right to face champion Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.
Will the Fresno stop have any effect on what happens?
It looks like the current Matt Hardy and (former COS football player) Bray Wyatt feud might last until WrestleMania. So, that should be an interesting match to see in Fresno.
What matchups are you excited to see?
Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt have two of the greatest entrances in WWE. So just watching them enter an arena is pretty awesome.
OK. Some other thoughts. When did the Miz become a name draw (for those who remember his MTV days)?
His popularity over the last two to three years has been a steady, slow-burn. His consistent in-ring work, ability to get a reaction from the crowd and phenomenal mic skills have set him apart from a lot of other superstars, making him one of the best in the business. Plus, having a smoking hot wife doesn’t hurt.
There’s no WWE news story bigger than Ronda Rousey. For WWE fans, it’s exciting to see another lifelong WWE fan like “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey get a second life in this world.
What is the best wrestling moment you’ve seen in Fresno?
Without a doubt, the greatest WWE Fresno moment was when Stone Cold Steve Austin confronted Mike Tyson in 1998. It was the loudest crowd reaction I’ve ever heard in that arena. And “Fresno, Ca” was on website and newspaper articles all over the country.
Was it a bigger moment than Rowdy Piper vs. some random patron at the Old Hofbrau downtown?
The Austin/Tyson event put Fresno on the map in a big way, but there’s something truly legendary about a story featuring Roddy Piper punching a local guy and a naked Bob Orton getting tased by cops.
Six other noteworthy attractions this week:
- Miranda Lambert 7 p.m. Friday. Save Mart Center. $42.75-$77.75. 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com
- Oscar-Nominated Short Films 5:30 p.m. (live action) and 8:30 p.m. (animation) Friday. 1 p.m. (animation), 4 p.m. (live action) and 7 p.m. (documentary) Saturday. Tower Theatre Fresno, 815 E. Olive Ave. $10, $15 for double feature ticket. 559-485-9050, www.towertheatrefresno.com
- GhostMane 8 p.m. Saturday. Strummer’s, 833 E. Fern Ave. $20. 559-485-5356, strummersclub.com
- Money B and Young Hump of Digital Underground 9 p.m. Saturday. Fulton 55. $20-$30. 559-412-7400, www.fulton55.com
- Tower District Mardi Gras Parade 1 p.m. Sunday. Olive and Wishon Ave. Free to attend. 559-497-8362, www.towerdistrict.org
- En Vogue 7 p.m. Tuesday. Table Mountain Casino, Friant. $15-$45. 800-541-3637, www.tmcasino.com