At first glance, the gaudy glamour of professional wrestling clashes with the understated dignity of the Ivy League. But in early March, 200 students happily pushed aside their books to don face paint, spandex, and plastic body armor for the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) league's Campus Clash.
The day's American Gladiator-type festivities - which were held at the nearby Moses Brown school after University administrators declined to approve an on-campus site - were kicked off by a costume contest. WCW's Scott Steiner, known to fans as Big Poppa Pump, judged the ten-member, co-ed teams. Dressed in outfits ranging from army fatigues to hospital scrubs, students vamped for the wrestling star, who flexed his watermelon-size biceps in response. Although Steiner proclaimed he was most impressed by the young woman in black spandex who kissed him on the cheek, it was the "Camelot" team, dressed in elaborate outfits as knights and damsels in distress, who took top honors.
Then, to the deafening beat of DJ-spun hip-hop, came the physical competitions. The event called Ruler of the Ring pitted teams against each other in a tug-of-war over a pit of plastic balls. In the Nitro Knock Out, a modern spin on the medieval joust, students did their best to pummel each other to the mat with long, padded staffs. Rounding out the team events were the WCW Power Plant, a velcro-lined obstacle course, and Roll with the Punches, which requires competitors to stand in a large inflated plastic ball that they maneuver through a course of blocking dummies.
At the end of the day, a team of students calling themselves "Born Out of Wedlock" captured the team competition. One member, Rebekah Splaine '01, who helped organize the event, said she and her teammates, who are members of the football, women's soccer, and lacrosse teams, took the competition seriously. "We were in it to win," she said.
Despite the obvious fun students had mixing it up before the professional wrestlers, Campus Clash was only part of the reason for the WCW visit to Providence. Some wrestlers went back and forth from Campus Clash to a charity event for intensive-care patients at the Hasbro Children's Hospital across town.