Josh Wolk
April 07, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Proof that professional wrestling is bigger than ever hits theaters this weekend: The WCW has been given a starring role in the Warner Bros. wrestling comedy ”Ready to Rumble,” which features many of the league’s biggest names, along with David Arquette and Oliver Platt. Of course, just because wrestling is infiltrating every aspect of pop culture doesn’t mean many people don’t still think it’s the worst thing to happen to mass media since Morton Downey Jr. So to show the naysayers just how wrong they are, two of the movie’s stars (and WCW greats) Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page went into the steel cage against their criticism, addressing the most common myths.

Wrestling is fake ”Saying what we do is fake is more than stupid, it’s ignorant,” says Goldberg. ”Do you see all the scars on my body? Nobody painted that on my arm. Everything we do is choreographed, but that is not the same definition as fake. When I pick the Giant up over my head and he weighs 550 pounds, he ain’t wearing no damn wire on his feet to let me do it. So that ain’t fake.” And splitting hairs ain’t the same as splitting skulls.

Wrestlers are dopes Don’t judge a man by his clothesline, says Goldberg. ”People who don’t know me may think that I walk down the street like a slob, spitting everywhere, and I’ll grab women and rape them in the parking lot, and I’ll grab a steak in the grocery store and eat it raw,” he says. ”On the contrary. I can sit and have a conversation with anybody on the planet and feel comfortable. So don’t pass judgment on all these [other wrestlers].”

Choreography is bad Page uses Socratic questioning to prove his point that acting is good. ”What’s your favorite play? Would you see it again? Did you care that it was all set up? Well guess what. We DON’T do the same thing every night. We change it with every different opponent or partner. We put on the best show, the best reality-based product you can have that the people who watch us want to believe, to have that element of doubt.” Now imagine how much more entertaining ”Waiting for Godot” would be if sometimes Godot showed up, sometimes he didn’t, and sometimes he kicked his two friends’ asses!

Anyone can get in a ring and just start screaming In fact, mastering the acrobatics is easier than mastering the crowd, says Page. ”When you first learn about wrestling, you think taking those bumps is the hardest thing you can ever do,” he says. ”But you get in that ring and say, ‘Wow, that was the easy part. How do I get these people to react? Oh, my God, they’re sitting on their hands.’ It’s easier to come out and be the bad guy, because at least you can tell the crowd to screw themselves.”

Wrestlers aren’t athletes Goldberg played football on the Falcons and the Rams, so he’s been around ”legitimate” sportsmen, and doesn’t see any difference. ”When I was playing professional football, I thought this was a joke,” he says. ”Guess what. After three weeks of [wrestling training], I had one broken rib just from running the ropes. Going in there and getting the hell knocked out of me, that wasn’t fake. I had a newfound respect for these guys.”

Wrestling is a bad influence on kids It’s only bad if parents allow their children to sit and watch it unattended, says Page, because then the kids may end up choosing the wrong wrestlers as role models. ”Now, let’s totally turn the negative into a positive,” he adds. ”If you sit down, spend that two hours with your kids, you can become their friend by being interested in what they want to do. And when the bad guy’s out there, look at your kid and go, ‘Hey, that’s the bad guy. You don’t want to cheer for him. But [the good guy] has been working so hard to become the heavyweight champion. And if he doesn’t win this match, at least he tried his best.’ THAT’S becoming a good parent. We are not your babysitters.” Well said. Now go give your kid a hug… and make sure he doesn’t slam you over the head with a baseball bat, the way the good guys do.

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