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Underground Mutant Theatre
The Arena was originally a secret combat ring where fights between mutants were staged for its audience's amusement. Hidden beneath a movie-set lot in the Underground Mutant Theatre, in Los Angeles, California, the Arena was created and managed by the sport agents Hugo Longride. The mutants who were convinced to fight in the arena became known as the Gladiators, most of them recruited by Longride's talent scout, Alex Flynn. The violent combat shows in the Arena were aimed to the elite of Hollywood.
The mutant celebrity Dazzler was eventually approached by Flynn to join the Gladiators in the Arena, believing they wanted to hire her for her talents as singer. She made a formal deal by signing a contract with Longride. During her first presentation, she was forced to fight against Horns in the ring. Though Dazzler was initially excited with the fight, she eventually realized the combats in the Arena were supposed to be lethal. However, being secretly drugged by Lynn, a confused Dazzler decided to stay with the Gladiators and refuse to leave the Arena with the Beast.
As Dazzler got more used to the violent lifestyle the Arena offered her, she was forced to fight her lover Beast, who had been gone insane after being drugged by Lynn. This allowed Lynn to seize control over the Arena, by machinating an uprising aginst Longride. With the help of Gladiators Rocker and Ivich, Dazzler and Beast overpowered and defeated Lynn for good. Rocker assumed the leadership of the Gladiators and decided to put an end to the bloodlust and the drug abuse that guided the Arena.
However, the Arena was seen as an opportunity for the Shadow King to gather slaves. Possessing the body of the New Mutant Karma, the Shadow King kept the Arena operating in its old ways. Having Karma's memories about the New Mutants and masquerading as Alex Lynn, the Shadow King decided to kidnap Karma's former teammates, Sunspot and Magma. The duo was blackmailed into join the Gladiators and engage in violent fights in the Arena: if they refused, the Shadow King would slay innocent children as a threat. Dazzler infiltrated the Gladiators to allow Cannonball, Magik, Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers to rescue the New Mutants. The group managed to foil the Shadow King's plans, though he was successful in escaping, leaving the Arena in Karma's body.
After gaining control over Dr. Moira MacTaggert and her team of X-Men, the Shadow King rebuilt the Arena on the Muir Island. Claiming the Arena would serve as am equivalent of the Danger Room, the Shadow King held violent displays of fights between X-Men, such as Rogue and Guido Carosella. The Arena was completely destroyed by Legion, when he was confronted by the X-Men and X-Factor when possessed by the Shadow King.
The Arena Circuit
The Arena developed into a large community across the years, having bases in several cities all over the world. It was eventually found by Storm when she was hunting the slaver known as Tullamore Voge. Yukio introduced Storm to the Tokyo Arena, managed by Koga. Knowing Storm's status as a mutant, Koga manipulated her into joining as a Gladiator when she intervened in a combat between Musclehead and Silkworm. Guido, a Gladiator himself, attempted to warn Storm off the Arena by explaining to her the system of bets that guided the combats. That only made Storm more convinced she should not only fight in the Arena but also win, becoming the champion of Koga.
Storm, representing the Tokyo faction, had to fight her former adversary Callisto, a Gladiator who fought for Masque. As Storm lost to Callisto, Masque claimed ownership over her and over the Tokyo Arena. Storm and Callisto fought to please their audience in Arenas in different cities, such as Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro and Riyadh. In Las Vegas, with Yukio's and Guido's help, they finally rebelled against Masque, apparently putting and end to the Arena circuit.
However, Yukio kept the Arena circuit alive, by becoming a boss herself, alongside members of other clans, such as Kuva of the Breakworld, Moses Magnum, Davis Harmon and even Wolverine. The revamped Arena served as a way to keep the fights between the clans under the radar, protecting the lives of civillians who could get hurt in public conflicts. Yukio held the fights underground, a mile beneath the city of Las Vegas. After Wolverine's death, Storm got dragged back into the Arena when she visited Yukio. Yukio manipulated Storm into interfering with a fight, which forced Storm to fight in Yukio's name. As Storm fought a member of the Oakland Clan from the Breakworld, Yukio took an opportunity to assassinate Kuva, becoming the ruler of the Oakland Clan. After the coup, Yukio and Storm parted ways, with Ororo disappointed and Yukio with the leadership of the Arena.
When Professor Xavier created a new mutant nation on the island of Krakoa, the Arena was rebuilt, being located near the center of the Krakoan territory. The Arena was repurposed in order to serve the mutant repowering ritual known as Crucible, where a depowered mutant would battle to death with a mutant adversary and be resurrected with their powers back. The first Crucible that took place in the Krakoan Arena featured a fight between Apocalypse and Aero. After Apocalypse's departure to Amenth, the Crucible in the Arena seems to be hosted by the Silver Samurai. The Crucible made Storm and a depowered Callisto to return to the Arena as combatants.