Another weekend is here, and as always, you're probably looking for something to do. Look no further than this list of events around the Valley, including some wrestling action and the start of spring training. Keep up to date with everything that is happening by visiting the Phoenix New Times' event calendar.
WWE Friday Night SmackDown
Professional wrestling is a world built on colorful, over-the-top characters. Both superlatives apply to many of the superstars found every week on WWE’s Friday Night SmackDown. Take Bray Wyatt, the current Universal Champion whose split personality alternates between a twisted kids’ show host and Juggalo-like hellspawn known as “The Fiend.” Then there’s King Corbin, the former Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman who dons a crown and wants everyone to bow before him.
Wyatt and Corbin will both be at Gila River Arena, 9400 West Maryland Avenue in Glendale, on Friday, February 21, when SmackDown comes to the Valley. The latest episode of the long-running WWE show will be broadcast live on Fox from the venue, so be sure to wear your best wrestling shirt. Roman Reigns, Bayley, Goldberg, and Valley residents Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler will also appear. The action starts at 5:45 p.m. Tickets are $30-$250. Benjamin Leatherman
Conservation Science Night
Recent headlines have been filled with stories of animals facing immense threats, from massive fires to human exploitation of wilderness habitats. If you’ve ever felt powerless to act, you might remedy that by spending time with those working on animal conservation here in Phoenix. The Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway, is holding a Conservation Science Night from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, February 21.
It’s your chance to meet zoo conservationists and try your hand at several activities they regularly undertake, from collecting data to assessing threats to animal populations. The event is free but space is limited. Lynn Trimble
Like copper deposits and palm trees, the Valley is home to a veritable bounty of independent wrestling promotions. That includes Lucha Voz, one of several promotions dedicated to the art of lucha libre. For those unfamiliar, lucha libre not only has different rules — no piledrivers, de-masking your foe is a DQ, and touching the floor constitutes a tag — it’s also representative of the rich culture of Mexico. Plus, there’s more capes and in-ring dancing, which is always a good thing.
Lucha Voz holds its next show at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 21, at Sun Studios of Arizona, 1425 West 14th Street in Tempe. The evening promises appearances by Septimo Dragon, Jack Evans, Aguila Azteca, Tigre Del Ring, El Dragon, and Xtreme Tiger, among many others. For more info, visit vozprowrestling.com. Chris Coplan
In the age of MeToo, discussions of consent remain vital to fostering lasting societal change. In that spirit, trained touch practitioner Lori Anna hosts semi-regular Cuddle Parties. These gatherings are geared at building a culture of “consent, communication, boundaries, and emotional health” to drive “connection, self-exploration, and cuddling in a fun, safe, and light-hearted way.” Participants will learn 11 key rules encouraging, among other things, giving or retracting consent “with kindness and clarity” and practicing self-care in a “platonic and non-sexual space.”
The event is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, February 21. Chris Coplan
Cactus League Spring Training
Before they become the boys of summer, big-league baseballers will need to work off the winter rust and get back into the swing of things. They’ll do just that over the next several weeks at 10 ballparks around the Valley during Spring Training 2020.
Players from 15 different Major League Baseball teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks and the ever-popular Chicago Cubs, will compete in the Cactus League in preparation for the upcoming season. It all starts on Friday, February 21, at Surprise Stadium, 15930 North Bullard Avenue in Surprise, when the Kansas City Royals host the Texas Rangers during the Cactus League’s opening day. The first pitch is at 1:05 p.m. Admission is $8 to $35. Benjamin Leatherman
Arizona Super Show
Lowrider magazine may have curbed publication of its print edition recently, but the pursuit of pimping out and dropping rides is still alive and well. Look no further than the cars and crowds that will flock to University of Phoenix Stadium, 1 East Cardinals Drive in Glendale, on Saturday, February 22, for the Arizona Super Show 2020.
A fleet of classic and custom cars, trucks, motorcycles, and pedal bikes – each tricked out with elaborate paint jobs and modifications – will be on display inside and outside the stadium. A car hop contest will also show off vehicles enhanced with hydraulics catching some air. An auto culture art exhibit, celebrity appearances, and concert will also take place. The event starts at noon. Tickets are $43. Benjamin Leatherman
Surfer: Teen Confronts Fear
Cinephiles may already be aware of The Room, which many critics and fans consider to be the worst film of all time. But there’s another entry vying for the title, one that Slash Film calls an “incompetent, bizarre, and worthy successor.” Surfer:Teen Confronts Fear follows the adventures of young Sage. After developing a crippling oceanic phobia, he satiates his love for the surf by fishing only to “find more than he bargained for.” With its terrible acting, over-reliance on found footage, and a weird subplot involving the military, Surfer might actually make The Room look like Raging Bull.
Judge for yourself when Surfer plays at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 22, at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street. Tickets are $10.95 (plus fees). Chris Coplan
This year marks the 36th anniversary of the Arizona Matsuri, a celebration of Japanese culture, art, and food. A move to Steele Indian School Park has expanded this year’s festivities, which include four stages for martial arts demonstrations, taiko drum performances, a children’s choir, the Soran Bushi traditional dance, Shakuhachi flute, and more. There will be plenty of food vendors, including Yako-Ya, Taiko, Hot Bamboo, Blue Fin Teriyaki, Asahi Bakery, and Republic Ramen, among others. You’ll also be able to shop for home decor, fine arts, clothing, and fabrics. This is about the closest you can get to a trip to Japan without embarking on a 14-hour plane ride.
The free event runs from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 22, and Sunday, February 23, at Steele Indian Park, 300 East Indian School Road. Chris Coplan
Electric Bat Arcade Pinball Tournament
Regardless of what any athletic committee might say, pinball deserves to be an Olympic sport. What other event requires as much pre-planning, physical dexterity, and general flexibility? Do gymnasts have to deal with low-quality music and endless beeping during their routine? And just think of the sheer terror in competing against either The Terminator or Jean-Luc Picard. Pinball wizards, we salute you.
Until the folks running Olympics change their minds, Electric Bat Arcade is holding a pinball tournament from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 23. The arcade is located at 25 West Southern Avenue in Tempe. Entry is $6. Chris Coplan
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There’s a miniature universe that most of us never consider, filled with movement, drive, collaboration, and color. It’s the world of insects, a place of incredible diversity, one now given new life in a Cirque du Soleil production called OVO. It premiered in Montreal, a Canadian city home to a spectacular insectarium, in 2009. Now it’s touring in Phoenix.
Cirque du Soleil performs OVO at 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 23, at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street. Expect plenty of music, aerial art, and visual storytelling brought to life by circus performers playing about a dozen types of insects, including butterflies, fireflies, and ladybugs. Ticket prices vary. Lynn Trimble