Tuesday, Jan. 12, 1999 | 4:25 a.m.
LAS VEGAS - In a city that's always looking for something more entertaining and more outrageous, "Big Sexy" Kevin Nash and "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan seem to be up to the challenge.
As they heaved sledgehammers through a wall Tuesday, the crowd of pro wrestling fans went wild.
"It kicks butt," yelled Rich Saul, 25, over the ceremonial wall-breaking.
World Championship Wrestling is coming to this gambling mecca in the form of a restaurant inside the Excalibur hotel-casino on the Strip.
The WCW Nitro Grill, set to open in March or April, will feature big screen televisions showing nonstop wrestling, shirts and hats and, of course, the wrestling stars themselves. The 16,000-square-foot restaurant will seat more than 350.
"I look forward to coming here and drinking free," Nash said, his long blond hair tossed over one shoulder.
Instead of a groundbreaking, the wrestlers opted for a wall-breaking. Nash, Hogan, "Diamond" Dallas Page and Randy "Macho Man" Savage smashed sledgehammers into a wall at the restaurant site.
The WCW and the Sitka Restaurant Group are betting that wrestling's popularity will bring many customers to the grill. Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling is one of basic cable's most-watched weekly series among adults 18 to 29.
"Because it's fun," said WCW President Eric Bischoff. "Wrestling is really no different than any other form of entertainment. You have characters, you have story lines."
Each section of the restaurant will be named after the WCW's pay-per-view events - The Road Wild, Bash at the Beach and Spring Stampede.
Never mind that Las Vegas already has a handful of themed restaurants - from the Motown Cafe to the Harley-Davidson Cafe. But the WCW promises something different.
Diamond Dallas said the Nitro Grill won't be like Planet Hollywood or the Hard Rock Cafe where customers never see the stars who are part of the restaurants' charisma.
"We're live and in color and we talk, and I guarantee we'll be drinking," he said, making his signature diamond sign with his hands.
"If they're going to be here, then I'm here," said Bobby Saul, 37, as he tried to get autographs. "We dig it."
The WCW and Sitka plan to open wrestling-themed restaurants, with the slogan "Where the big boys eat," in other cities.