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How will WWE Network affect Lincoln Park's Squared Circle?

Luis Gomez

About Last Night

9:36 PM CST, January 13, 2014

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Since it opened in the old Leon’s Ribs spot in Lincoln Park last March, there hasn’t been a better place in Chicago to watch wrestling pay per views than The Squared Circle. The restaurant owned by wrestler Lisa Marie Varon and her husband Lee Varon boasts excellent food and a lively crowd that arrives hours in advance to get a good seat. And besides that, it beats paying $60 every month for the PPVs.

But with the upcoming WWE Network including PPVs in the more affortable $9.99 per month fee, will fans still turn out in full force for PPVs at The Squared Circle? I asked Varon – who wrestled under the name Victoria in WWE and Tara in TNA -- for her take.

“I am ecstatic to hear the news about the WWE Network for many reasons,” Varon said by email Sunday. “People don't come to The Squared Circle because they can't get WWE programming in their home. They come to The Squared Circle to share the experience with fellow wrestling fans. It's the reason a University of Michigan fan, for example, goes to a U of M bar to watch a U of M football game.

"And not only can wrestling fans root alongside wrestling fans, they can also do it with yours truly, a 13-year veteran and eight-time world champion (toot toot) who can give unparalleled insight into the spectacle."

Tables for the PPVs are first come, first serve and there is no cover charge. The restaurant is almost always at capacity during these events, with a line forming out the door. “We are still trying to find that magic solution, because ... we turn people away every PPV,” Varon said. “And not only as a business owner, but as a superfan myself, it sucks...” There is one positive, however, about the line. “(W)e notice in the days following the PPVs, people will come in saying that they drove by and saw people lined up out the door and wondered what this place was,” Varon said.

In addition to PPVs, the Netflix-like WWE Network will feature the reality show “WWE Legends’ House,” pre and post shows for USA Network’s “Raw” and Syfy’s “Smackdown” and over 1,500 hours of content on demand from WWE’s vault. The network debuts Feb. 24.

“I look forward to seeing some old Victoria matches that I may or may not remember,” Varon said.

lgomez@tribune.com | Twitter @TribLuis

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