Bash brings out stars
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Great American Bash attracted all sorts of superstars to the Nassau Coliseum — and not just those in the ring. New York Islanders star goaltender Rick DiPietro (Photos), New York Mets General Manager Omar Minaya, and ECW Legend Mikey Whipwreck enjoyed the pay-per-view spectacular from ringside, even getting a chance to meet some WWE Superstars.
"I'm a huge wrestling fan, so I had to come down. I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of good matches," said DiPietro, a 2008 NHL All-Star. "I have a lot of admiration for what they do. It's a lot harder than what we do. Hockey and sports-entertainment are both strenuous on your body, but with WWE Superstars the amount of work they put their bodies through night-in and night-out is amazing."
DiPietro, who grew up in Winthrop, Mass., a town outside of Boston, met Superstars Edge, Jeff Hardy, Big Show, Mr. Kennedy, Santino Marella, Matt Striker, Raw Diva Kelly Kelly and Massachusetts' own John Cena, who presented DiPietro with an official WWE Championship Spinner Title. The 2006 Winter Olympian said that his teammates will be jealous of his WWE experience, and the Islanders star was impressed with the Chain Gang Commander.
"It's always good to see Boston guys succeed. Boston guys are a different breed. Cena's at the top of his field. I wish him all the best [tonight]. Between him being from Boston, and then presenting me with the championship, I'm a John Cena fan for life," DiPietro said with a smile.
"I think he'll be thoroughly entertained tonight. He'll tell two people and then they'll tell two other people. Then, next thing you know we'll have the whole New York Islanders roster here," recalled three-time WWE Champion John Cena. "There is that mutual respect and admiration we have for each other. Face-to-face meetings between Superstars and athletes show that there's a common ground."
Kelly Kelly gave DiPietro a glimpse of next month's issue of Natural Body Building and Fitness magazine that features her on the cover. The blond bombshell enjoyed her time spent with DiPietro.
"Rick is awesome, gorgeous, and charming. I was very excited to meet him. I'm a fan of the Tampa Bay Lightning and I've been to their games, but now, I'm going to start watching more of the New York Islanders," Kelly said with an ear-to-ear grin.
For New York Mets GM Omar Minaya, coming to The Great American Bash was a chance for him to spend time with his kids before beginning a new series against the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday.
"My kids love it. It's a great family event. As a father, to be able to spend it with my two boys, I recommend it to anybody," said Minaya, who's in his fourth season as Mets GM. "Sports-entertainment is different than baseball. Baseball is a team event. This is a one-on-one event with a lot of bells and whistles with great entertainment value all around. I have a lot of respect for the Superstars. There's an art to this. It's not only physical. I'm very happy to meet them."
In the locker room area Minaya visited with WWE Champion Triple H and even talked with John Laurinaitis, WWE's Senior Vice President of Talent Relations, about the differences and similarities between WWE's developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, and the minor leagues.
ECW Legend Whipwreck watched his former wrestling trainees and Long Island residents Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder capture the WWE Tag Team Championships.
"I kind of lost my lunch so to speak. I'm going crazy right now. I'm very proud of them. I'm like a proud dad. They've done so well. I'm speechless and I don't get speechless very often," said the three-time ECW Champion. "They were two young kids who put in the time. They stand out because they have a lot of charisma. I see nothing but green skies in their future."