By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"Are you really related to Saddam?" I ask the Sheik.
"Yes, he is my older stepbrother," says the Sheik with a heavy (and likely fake) accent. "He just doesn't know it."
"Are you disappointed with the current situation in your homeland?"
"I wouldn't say 'disappointed,' because the war is not over. Iraq will win. You people underestimate us. That's why it will be a great honor for me to win the championship belt here and take it back to my home country and put it in my palace. I am here to disgrace all of you Americans."
The Sheik retires to his dressing room to count some of the gold he looted when his stepbrother fell from power, so I decide to chat with one of his competitors, the enchanting-yet-viperous Adrenelyn, now in a dark shawl that makes her look like Morticia Addams' cousin, with her dark hair and pale skin. To be sure who she is, I ask if she's changed outfits.
"You are correct, Mr. Kreme Jeans," she responds. "I was an evil Catholic schoolgirl in the ring, right down to my kneepads."
"How long have you been wrestling?"
"With IZW, it's been less than a year," Adrenelyn relates. "But I've been doing backyard wrestling for more than two years now. I wrestle guys, girls, inanimate objects, you name it."
"What I wouldn't give to be pinned by you, Adrenelyn," I smirk. "Is it more fun to kick a guy's ass?"
"Oh, it's always more fun to kick a guy's ass," she says, laughing. "But they like to put me in with other girls, for some reason. I guess people like girl-on-girl action a lot more."
If Jett were here, she'd have to roll her tongue up from off the floor! See, the J-grrl is the queen of girl-on-girl wrestling of another kind. I thank this Glorious Lady of Pain and move on to two of the stars of IZW, The Crock and the Navajo Warrior. The Crock appears before me in a flowing white robe, like he just stepped out of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. He ain't carrying the Bible, though; rather, it's The Book of the Crock, which he sometimes uses to pop his enemies upside the head. In the other hand is a staff topped with a human skull.
"So is The Crock like The Rock?" I wonder as we belly up to a bar so I can order a vodka-Red Bull.
"My hair used to be shorter, and I was tanner and bigger, so I did that whole shtick, but that little bastard [The Rock] ripped me off! I was first. I was the instigator and the innovator. But now, you might say, I'm more of a spiritual enforcer. Father Punishment and Adrenelyn are in my camp. You could call them my minions."
"Does The Crock get lots of bitches?" I inquire.
"Oh, man, The Crock is married to the Good Book," he says, slapping his tome. "This is the only lovin' The Crock will ever need, unless your mom isn't busy. Because I'll bring the Lord to your mother!"
"Do you preach free love, Crock?"
"Free love? More like free Willy," he says, laughing.
The Navajo Warrior is a little more subdued than The Crock. The handsome, muscular gent is awaiting his call to the main event, where he and the Hawaiian Lion will square off against two beefy white boys, Derrick Neikirk and Outlaw Mike Nox, a favorite of the ladies. True to his name, the Navajo Warrior is half Navajo, and like the other wrestlers, declines to state his real name. In fact, the Navajo Warrior founded the IZW in 2000, and has been wrestling for the WWE and other outlets for the past 12 years.
"As a kid, I always wanted to be a cartoon character," he explains. "I wanted to be Superman, Spiderman and Batman. Then I saw wrestling, and these were real people who were as close to comic book heroes as you could find in real life. My grandfather used to take me to the old Veterans' Coliseum to watch the AWA and the WWF when they came to town. Just watching guys like Chief Jay Strongbow and Hulk Hogan inspired me."
"What do most people not understand about what you do in the ring?"
"There's a lot of bodily damage that can take place," he says, as he's being given his cue. "It's like being a stunt man, or even a pro football player. We're taking more hits in a 20-minute match than they are in an entire football game. In the last year, I've broken my right leg, torn ligaments in my left knee. But you've got to keep going. If we don't work, we don't get paid. And if we don't get paid, we don't put food on the table." -- As told to Stephen Lemons