"I never thought I would ever see the day that my name would be next to the World Wrestling Federation again," Ventura said to a cheering crowd of several hundred wrestling fans at Target Center. "But I'll tell you what, in light of where wrestling is today, it is time to bring back some law and order, and that will be my job at SummerSlam, Aug. 22, for the championship match, because I rule here."
Ventura, introduced by WWF Chairman Vince McMahon, bellowed: "I'm bigger than you, McMahon, I'm more powerful than you, I'm more powerful than the World Wrestling Federation.
"As long as you're in this state, you hold no power here. It's very simple. It's 'The Body' rules, it's my rules, or the highway."
Wearing a business suit, Ventura accepted yellow and black feather boas from female wrestler Chyna and wrapped them around his neck, then donned jewel-studded sunglasses.
Before the announcement of the $29.95 pay-per-view event, Ventura defended his renewed ties to the WWF.
"The perception is that people need to be professional politicians and that therefore being a politician is your entire life. Well, it's not Jesse Ventura's entire life and I think I was elected upon the fact that I came from being a private citizen," he said Tuesday on Minnesota Public Radio.
Ventura, who retired from wrestling in 1986 after developing blood clots on his lungs, said he will be paid $100,000 for the event, half of which will go to the new Jade Foundation for abused children. The other half will go to a scholarship endowment at his alma mater, Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. Ventura said he also will get videotape royalties and payment for use of his name, but he said the amount is confidential.
The governor said on CNN Tuesday that the WWF opportunity had motivated him to work out and run in an attempt to lose 25 pounds before the event.
|Jesse "The Body" Ventura in his wrestling days.|
He said his appearance on the WWF event is simply a return to his profession before he was governor, and he believes he's entitled to a life outside politics.
Ventura bristled when asked by reporters whether his renewed ties to the WWF threatened the dignity of the governor's office.
"If I were a nightclub singer in Caesar's Paace, would you ask the same question?" he asked.
That wasn't the only time he compared himself to a Las Vegas lounge act. Within the hour, he was on MPR, using an identical argument against his critics.
On Monday, state GOP Chairman Ron Eibensteiner called Ventura's actions "an absolute outrage."
"It's so obvious, so transparent, that he is using the office of governor to promote his own personal enrichment," Eibensteiner said.
Ventura believes his appearance on the WWF show would be a boost for the state.
"More people will see Minnesota again, and it will put us in the spotlight again," he said.
It won't take away from his gubernatorial duties, because he generally doesn't work on Sundays, the day of the event, and the job requires no travel because the event is at the Target Center.