Punching Rourke's ticket
After a series of vicious and unprovoked attacks at the hands of Chris Jericho, the WWE Universe awaits whether or not WWE Legends Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat will stand tall - with Ric Flair in their corner - and accept their tormentor's challenge and confront him at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania in Houston on April 5.
There is one man, however, whose attendance is far from guaranteed despite Jericho offering him a front-row seat from which to view the much-anticipated showdown. That is the man who provoked Jericho's rage to begin with, the man who portrayed an aging ring warrior seeking one last turn in the spotlight in the Oscar-nominated film The Wrestler: Mickey Rourke.
While various media outlets, from the Los Angeles Times to Access Hollywood, are reporting that Rourke will, in fact, attend WWE's greatest spectacle in Houston's Reliant Stadium, when dealing with the schedule of an eccentric actor -- especially an Oscar nominee in such high demand -- there are few guarantees.
If Rourke does decide to take Jericho up on his front-row invitation, there's no telling what the volatile Superstar might do. In recent months, the WWE Universe has watched in horror as Jericho has, without provocation, berated and beaten some of the most revered men in the history of WWE -- all Hall of Famers, no less. If Rourke does appear, can Jericho possibly resist lashing out at the figure who, in his eyes, has caused him so much angst? Is it all a trap? And if Jericho does try to attack Rourke, just how will Rourke's friends, the WWE Legends, respond? How well will Rourke, a former boxer, defend himself?
To fully appreciate the potential volatility of the situation, it's worth taking a look back at just how Jericho and Rourke arrived at this moment.
At the Screen Actors Guild Awards last January, Rourke -- perhaps filled with renewed confidence thanks to his career revival -- told Access Hollywood''s Nancy O'Dell that he not only planned to attend WrestleMania, but that he also had Jericho in his crosshairs.
"Chris Jericho, you better get in shape," said Rourke, also a former boxer, "because I'm coming after you're a**."
A week later, however, when confronted by Jericho during an appearance on CNN's Larry King Live, the actor seemed to distance himself from such bravado.
"Perhaps I did put my foot in my mouth," Rourke explained on the cable interview show. "I have nothing but respect for [Jericho]."
The seething Jericho wasn't buying it. And for months afterward, he channeled his hostility over Rourke at WWE's aforementioned Legends.
If Rourke does show at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania, how will Jericho react? Will the enraged Superstar be able to control himself, or will his pent-up fury get the best of him? And what about Rourke, whose physical confrontations have been well documented. To find out, get your tickets to the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania in Houston on April 5, or watch live on pay-per-view.