By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Professional wrestlers from across the nation and around the world will invade the Valley in the days leading up to World Wrestling Entertainment's annual pay-per-view extravaganza. Here's a rundown of all the "official" WWE-sponsored throwdowns taking place, as well as some ancillary events and appearances.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24:
Rowdy Roddy Piper: The legendary "Hot Rod" and his pals visit the Tempe comedy club, 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Tempe Improv, 930 East University Drive, Tempe. Call 480-921-9877 or see www.tempeimprov.info.
WrestleMania Art: Benefiting the Arizona chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, this charity event features the artistic efforts of various WWE Superstars and Divas, 6 p.m. Tickets are $50 general admission, $175 for VIP access. Intercontinental Montelucia Resort & Spa, 4949 East Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley. Call 602-395-9474 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
THURSDAY, MARCH 25:
WrestleMania Axxess: Mix and mingle with WWE personalities at this four-day interactive event, which features autograph sessions with dozens of Superstars, matches, and games. Runs through Sunday, March 28. Times vary. Tickets are $35 general admission, $55 VIP access. Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street. Call 480-487-4444 or see www.ticketmaster.com.
FRIDAY, MARCH 26:
Dragon Gate USA: The Japanese-American wrestling promotion will tape its Open the Ultimate Gate DVD and offer such matches as BxB Hulk versus Naruki Doi, and Shingo against Masato Yoshino. 8 p.m. Tickets are $24 to $80 and include various extras. Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street, Phoenix. Call 602-267-1600 or see www.celebritytheatre.com.
Fozzy: WWE superstar Chris Jericho brings his metal band to Tempe for a performance and meet-and-greet with fans. Local support includes Razer, Suite 88, Faceless, Unforeseen, Dinonicus, and Downright Wicked, 7 p.m., Tickets are $15-$18. Club Red, 2155 East University Drive, Tempe. Call 480-966-4733.
Ring of Honor: The indie wrestling promotion makes its debut in Phoenix with plenty of bouts. (A meet-and-greet with Jim Cornette and other ROH stars takes place an hour before the event.) 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Phoenix College, 1202 West Thomas Road. See www.rohwrestling.com.
SATURDAY, MARCH 27:
Arm Wrestling Championship: Local strongmen square off in a battle of the biceps as a part of the Grand Canyon State Games, noon to 4 p.m. Free. District Stage at Tempe Marketplace, 2000 East Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe. See www.tempemarketplace.com.
Bret Hart Book Signing: The WWE star signs copies of his book The Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling for fans and will pose for photographs, 1 p.m., requires purchase of the book, available for $16.99-$26.99). Changing Hands, 6428 South McClintock Drive, Tempe. Call 480-730-0205.
Dragon Gate USA: The Mercury Rising pay-per-view is to be taped, featuring matches starring such wrestlers as Tommy Dreamer, CIMA, Dragon Kid, Brian Kendrick, and Masato Yoshino, 8 p.m. Tickets are $24 to $80 and include various extras. Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street, Phoenix. Call 602-267-1600 or see www.celebritytheatre.com.
Half Pint Brawlers: Experience a night of "hardcore midget wrestling" in the West Valley, 10 p.m. $5 for men. Sandbar Peoria, 9868 West Northern Avenue, Peoria. Call 623-877-6444.
Total Extreme Comedy: Former WWE personalities Mick Foley, Bruce "Brother Love" Prichard, and Colt Cabana offer an evening of yukks and wrestling humor, 10:30 p.m., $27.50 to $47.50. Gammage Auditorium, 1200 South Forest Avenue, Tempe. Call 480-784-4444 or see www.ticketmaster.com.
WWE Hall of Fame: Wrestling legends including Ted DiBiase, Antonio Inoki, Wendi Richter, and Mad Dog Vachon will be inducted and honored during the ceremony, 4:30 p.m. Dodge Theatre, 400 West Washington Street. See www.livenation.com.
Ring of Honor: If you missed out on the previous night's wrestling extravaganza, the indie promotion presents a special matinee show. (A meet-up with Jim Cornette and other ROH stars takes place an hour before the event.) 1 p.m. Tickets are $20. Phoenix College, 1202 West Thomas Road. See www.rohwrestling.com.
SUNDAY, MARCH 28:
Metal Mania: Pirate Productions presents a WrestleMania viewing party followed by metal music from Skeletal Secrets, Malifactor!, and Diministry. Pay-per-view at 4 p.m., music at 8 p.m. $5 to $8. Copper State Tavern, 5060 West Bethany Home Road, Glendale. Call 623-931-5729.
WrestleMania 26: WWE stages its biggest event of the year in Glendale. Featured matches at the "Super Bowl of wrestling" include Edge versus Chris Jericho for the World Heavyweight Championship, The Undertaker against Shawn Michaels, John Cena taking on Batista for the WWE Title, 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 to $750. University of Phoenix Stadium, 1 Cardinals Drive, Glendale. Call 480-784-4444 or see www.ticketmaster.com.
MONDAY, MARCH 29:
WWE Monday Night Raw: The night after its epic pay-per-view, the WWE Superstars head downtown for a night of "madness and mayhem." The stars of Hot Tub Time Machine will guest host, 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 to $60. US Airways Center. Call 480-784-4444 or see www.ticketmaster.com.