Lakers do get a win in one arena
Peter Sarkisyan is a fan of the Lakers and World Wrestling Entertainment, so when the 23-year-old Northridge resident found out WWE stars were unexpectedly coming to Staples Center on Monday because of a scheduling conflict with the Denver Nuggets, his two favorites suddenly merged.
He wanted to watch the Lakers play Game 4 at the Pepsi Center in Colorado, but he also was skeptical that the outcome of the game was as scripted as the WWE action he watches.
“It’s not about the Lakers as much as it’s about the economy,” Sarkisyan said. “I know how the NBA works. They’re banking on games. That series is going seven. So I wanted to be here tonight.”
As the Nuggets tied the series Monday, Sarkisyan and an estimated crowd of 9,000 enjoyed an evening of bashing the Nuggets and their owner, Stan Kroenke, whose corporation, Kroenke Sports, also owns the Pepsi Center. Because of a Pepsi Center double booking of Game 4 and the WWE event, the wrestlers found themselves “tossed out on their ear,” WWE owner and chairman Vince McMahon said.
Monday represented some payback.
A five-on-five “playoff” of baby-face wrestlers, including Lakers-jersey-wearing John Cena and MVP, staged a spirited comeback victory over a team of Nuggets-jersey-wearing heels, led by Randy Orton and the Big Show, with MVP, wearing Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 jersey, pinning Cody Rhodes to end the night of action on cable network USA’s “Monday Night Raw” broadcast.
The fans relished an opening skit in which McMahon took aim at Kroenke, who was characterized by an impersonator wearing a cheesy mustache, a bad toupee and cheap suit.
“Kroenke” entered the arena with a basketball and handed it to an actor supposed to be Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
“Kroenke” wasted no time offending Lakers/WWE fans, announcing he owned the “soon-to-be NBA champion Denver Nuggets.”
McMahon entered the arena to say he was announcing the formation of a new pro basketball league, the XBA, that would fail miserably, because, “I will have [Kroenke] and your staff run it.
“All you had to do was pick up the phone and explain that you didn’t expect your team to make the playoffs.”
The allegation that the real Kroenke doubted his team’s championship potential appears real.
According to Staples Center General Manager Lee Zeidman, all arenas with NBA teams receive a league letter in August asking to reveal any possible conflicts with the playoff schedule.
WWE officials say they first negotiated their Monday date deal with Kroenke Sports in August, then signed the contract on the eve of the playoffs in April.
The double-booking conflict surfaced publicly last week, forcing WWE to scramble for an alternate venue.
Monday, McMahon told the fake Kroenke, “You disrespect the WWE fans. You think you can push around the WWE universe? The problem with that is, when you push us, we push back.”
He then shoved “Kroenke” through the ropes to the arena floor below as cheers erupted.