Monday, March 8, 2010 | 4:42 p.m.
Mindfreak magician Criss Angel promises that there will be no disappearing act when he steps into World Wrestling Entertainment’s Raw ring tonight in Portland, Ore. Despite not feeling well, Criss flew out of Las Vegas this morning and will return in time for tomorrow evening’s performances of Cirque du Soleil’s Believe at the Luxor.
Criss also revealed to Vegas DeLuxe that he has signed for a sixth season of A&E’s Mindfreak, which he has just finalized planning for filming to start. In hosting the USA Network wrestling event, which also features a battle between WWE head honcho Vince McMahon and John Cena, he’ll be introducing The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels in the opening bout and veteran Ted Biase wrestling Legacy in a matchup.
The illusionist is a big WWE fan and says he uses martial arts in his cross-training physical workouts, including kung fu, tae kwon do and karate. He said it strengthens his body and his mind. For Criss, it’s a reunion with a group who gave him a unique start to his magic career, and that’s why he’ll be in the center of tonight’s rough-and-tumble action. You can expect to see magic in and out of the ring.
“When I started out trying to make it, I ran into a lot of people who never lived up to their promises,” Criss told me about his friendship with WWE. “It’s no secret that I borrowed money from the bank and took a $260,000 mortgage on my mother’s home. I was willing to invest the $410,000 to show that I had something very special.
“Back then, I was on the streets of Manhattan, and at Broadway and West 43rd Street, there was the World Wrestling restaurant filled with its memorabilia. Vince McMahon, the founder, and all the wrestlers all came to see my show. They were huge fans, and Vince gave me my very first break taking me off the street and into a 125-seat theater we built out of a banquet room. That led to all the stunts, all the TV shows, everything.
“I worked with them for 14 months, and when I did the underwater-for-24-hours challenge, they were all there for me. From the wrestling venue, I went on to the first two Mindfreak TV specials, Supernatural on the Sci-Fi Channel and two Japanese TV shows. Then I landed the A&E Mindfreak series, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“That was all 10 years ago. I started with the wrestlers in 2000 and off and on stayed involved with them until 2003. It began with just a 10-foot-by-20-foot circular stage, and it seemed the successes piled up very quickly and we kept needing a bigger place to do things each time.”
I asked Criss about the new Season 6 of Mindfreak. “It will be amazing,” he promised. “We’re going to do things I even think can’t be done or are impossible to do. But I believe, so we will make it happen, but everybody will be completely dumbfounded.
“I’m working crazy hours to get it all done. We’ll make it work, though. All the new illusions are in place for Believe, and we will be able to showcase those next month. We’ve got a lot of technical rehearsals to work through this month. Then we’ll add in the new staging and be ready mid-April. It will be more incredible than you can imagine.”
Obviously, I asked what magic he’ll perform to escape any kicking ambush and to stay out of harm’s way tonight in case he finds himself right in the middle of being pummeled. He laughed and said: “You’ll just have to watch, but I’ve got a lot of tricks up my sleeve. Plus, I’ve been working out, so I’m in great shape and ready for anything they might throw at me.”
The two-hour broadcast from Rose Garden Arena in Portland will be at 6 p.m. PT for 9 p.m. broadcast on the East Coast. Follow us on Twitter.com/Robin_Leach for real-time reports tonight.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.