Is this a great time to be a football fan in Baltimore or what?
First, we get the Cleveland Browns and transform them into the Ravens, and now this: The Baltimore Arena will be the site as former Chicago Bear Steve McMichael and Kevin Greene of the Carolina Panthers trade in their helmets and shoulder pads for two pairs of spandex tights.
McMichael and Greene will make their professional wrestling debuts here on Sunday evening as part of World Championship Wrestling's Great American Bash pay-per-view event.
The gridiron grapplers have joined forces to oppose mat legend "Nature Boy" Ric Flair and "The Enforcer" Arn Anderson in a grudge tag team match.
The grudge is between McMichael and Flair, the 13-time world heavyweight wrestling champion. With his flowing blond locks and playboy lifestyle, Flair reminds the former Bears All-Pro defensive tackle of the thing he hates most -- an NFL quarterback.
But Flair wasn't making passes on the field. He made them at McMichael's wife, Debra, according to the story line. It seems that Flair, one of wrestling's top villains, collects other men's wives as well as championships.
McMichael, a color commentator on TNT's prime-time wrestling show "WCW Monday Nitro" since last August, felt he had no choice but to settle things with Flair inside the squared circle.
He may be relatively new to the rasslin' business, but McMichael talks the talk like a veteran and he abides by the pro wrestlers' first commandment -- thou shalt not admit that wrestling is fake.
"I knew it was just a matter of time before one of these wrestlers did something to [tick] me off," said McMichael, who played 15 seasons (1980-94) with the Bears, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. "And I knew I wouldn't just sit there and take it if they did. I'm mad.
"This guy thinks he's Joe Montana or something, and I used to love taking Joe's head off. Instead of going out and giving him a back-alley whipping like he deserves, I'm going to get into the ring and humiliate him at his own game."
Depending on how well he fares Sunday, McMichael, who is nicknamed "Mongo," said he may consider going full time on the wrestling circuit.
"I grew up in Texas watching guys like Dusty Rhodes, Ivan Putski, Wahoo McDaniel and Fritz Von Erich," he said. "Those names meant as much to me as Roger Staubach."
With his cocky demeanor and a reputation for being one of the NFL's hardest hitters, McMichael seems like a natural for pro wrestling.
Greene, a linebacker in his 12th season, also has the look and personality of a pro wrestler, especially before he cut his long blond mane (his hair is close-cropped now except for a rat tail down the middle of his back).
Greene, who reportedly will earn $100,000 for the match (McMichael would not disclose how much his contract with WCW is worth) got his initiation in the wrestling wars while he was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers last January.
The Tuesday before the Steelers were to play the Dallas $H Cowboys in the Super Bowl, Greene flew to Las Vegas to be in Hulk Hogan's corner during his match against Flair on the nationally televised "Clash of the Champions."
But according to Panthers coach Dom Capers, Greene's match on Sunday will be his last while he plays for Carolina.
After signing Greene to a two-year deal last month for $1 million per season, the last thing the Panthers want is for Greene to injure himself in a wrestling exhibition.
"There's always the possibility [of getting injured]," Capers said.
"My only advice to Kevin is that's something he entered into prior to coming here and that's his business. Once he's done with that, all of his focus will be on the Carolina Panthers."
Pub Date: 6/14/96