First came autographs, then wrestlers stage a brawl for fans at Harundale Mall

February 21, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

It was quiet at Harundale Mall yesterday afternoon until Morgus the Maniac walked in and took his straitjacket off.

"He's on leave today," said Morgus' mother, Grace Watson, a real-life registered nurse. "I can't control him."

Indeed she couldn't. The ensuing battle with his former partner, Adrian Hall, eventually involved many of the other pro wrestlers who signed autographs for hundreds of people who waited hours to see them.

The wrestlers toppled chairs and banged into tables as curious shoppers packed around the fracas. Eventually, the Maniac dunked Mr. Hall's head in the water fountain.

"Put the animal away," shouted Bulldozer Benton, as the bearded Maniac, sporting a "Bellview State Sanitarium" shirt, stared down his nemesis with fists clenched. Maniac's father, Maurice Watson, played the part of a doctor.

The drama was a mini-preview for March 5, when the Wrestling Independent Network (WIN) sponsors an event at the Earleigh Heights Fire Hall, which will include a match between the Maniac and Mr. Hall -- "Beauty vs. the Beast."

Proceeds from that match as well as from yesterday's autograph session are being donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. About 400 people paid $1 to meet the seven wrestlers who showed up.

But the star attraction, Nikolai Volkoff, had a last-minute match in Connecticut and never showed. Most of the people interviewed said they came to see the famous Russian "bad guy" of pro wrestling whose trademark is singing the former Soviet Union's national anthem before every match. Mr. Volkoff, who lives in Middle River, was the World Wresting Federation tag team champion in the early 1980s.

"I used to watch him as a kid," said Karen Hoyer, a wrestling fan who lives in Pasadena and was at the mall yesterday.

"This one is a wrestling fanatic," Terri Russell said of her 5-year-old son, Jake. "We drove all the way up from Mayo for this. He watches wrestling 10 hours a day on TV."

Jake went through the line many times collecting autographs and showing off his Hulk Hogan T-Shirt and action figure. "I love the WWF," is all he would say.

Many of the fans delighted in encouraging the wrestlers to yell and scream at one another, mostly about who would beat whom next month.

"I love it," said Ray Peiffer of Glen Burnie, who called the Maniac his favorite.

One of the more outgoing wrestlers was Axl Rotten, a big, heavy-set man who may play a bad guy in the ring but was genuinely nice while dealing with his fans -- even though he showed off photographs of himself with a bloodied face from having his head scraped across a steel cage.

"Would you like to see my cuts," he asked Kathy Harvey, of Glen Burnie. "Do you like them? Do you want to kiss them and make them better?"

Answered Ms. Harvey: "Are you a good one or a bad one?"

"My name is Rotten. What do you think?" came Axl's reply.

Ms. Harvey had stood in line for about an hour with her son, Bernie, 8, who was determined to wait for Nikolai Volkoff. "I don't think he will let me leave," she said.

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