Hi again everybody, welcome to my third and last report on Wrestlemania week-end in New-Jersey.
This time I will talk about my experiences at WrestleCon, a convention held at the Expo Center in Secaucus, NJ. The event lasted 2 days but I could only go Saturday.
With so many wrestlers and vendors on hand, that was by far the biggest convention I ever went to, even bigger then the 2005 WrestleReunion from ValleyForge, PA. With that in mind, I pre-ordered most of my tickets for pictures and autographs in order to spread my budget on several months and also to avoid loosing too much time waiting in line.
We arrived at the building at 7:30, half an hour before opening, and there were already many people in the hallway. I had bought the 2 days combo in case I could make the trip back and forth from Axxess Sunday, which turned out impossible. The gift bag that came with it was nothing more than a bag full of publicity for the various booths and DVDs coming out that you could pick up at the tables anyway, so it was a waste. They were well organized, though, and we were given a bracelet and it went all pretty fast. Same thing with the Legends of the ring booth, who gave me my envelope with my tickets. There was a little mistake in it, but they corrected it right away.
We went inside a little bit passed 8:00, and it was quite a sight. There were between 30 and 40 vendors tables set up, with wrestlers and fans everywhere. Before big lines could form, I went straight for The Million Dollar Man. After he signed his book, I asked him to take a photo holding money. I went to give him a few 20’s, but he said in his characteristic voice « Are you kidding me ? » , took out his wallet and grabbed a full load of $100 bills! Needless to say, that was a great start to our day.
That morning we met Hacksaw Duggan, who was real funny and happy to be there. Once in a while you would hear him lead a bunch of people into shouting a big « Hooooo! » Nigel McGuinness was also there to sell his new documentary, and he would sign anything as long as you bought the DVD, which was a good deal.
When it came time for my son’s heroes, London and Kendrick, they weren’t at their announced spot at 10 o’clock. We knew they were scheduled for just 2 hours, and I had to get in line for my LOTR superticket. After more than 30 minutes, we finally spotted them in the middle of the room, as they were running late and searching for their spot. So after making small talk with London, we led them to their table. Right upon arriving, Kendrick crawled under the table to apparently take a nap. « Is your partner ok? » I asked London. « Yeah, we just had a long night » was his reply. So as London set up his table and fans began to rush to them, Kendrick left for the bathroom. Finally my son was able to have his tag-team photo-op taken (fortunately we were first in line) and then we went straight to the LOTR superticket, 45 minutes late.
The Legends of the Ring line was long and barely moving , but since I had the VIP superticket I was able to get inside after about 15 minutes. Just like at WrestleReunion, tables were set up all around the room and you could go see whoever had the shortest line. I started with Mr.Fuji, who has aged terribly, is in a wheelchair and didn’t talk at all. He was barely recognizable. I still asked him if he was still ribbing people, and he said no with a smile, at least.
I won’t get into details for all 15 wrestlers, but in short the most pleasant guys were Johnny Valiant (who is a really funny guy even did stand-up comedy), Lex Luger, Lei Lani Kai, Jimmy Snuka (as always), Demolition, and Paul Orndorff being the nicest, and the most willing to talk, which was in direct contrast with his TV persona. Danny Davis surprised me as he looks exactly the same. Tony Atlas was as loud as ever, poking people around him in the privates with the cane I had brought from my friend to sign and laughing his usual boisterous laugh. I didn’t know he did drawings, who were very nice and not expensive at all. Valentine & Beefcake seemed bored to death, but were still polite.
Both Ken Patera and Kamala were no show, without any explanation or sign to let us know. A funny story is, I presented a Patera trading card to a guy to sign (he was seated next to Snuka) and he told me he wasn’t Ken Patera, and that I was the 3rd person who thought he was Patera. Well, sir, what about getting a seat somewhere else then ??? He had white hair, a fair built and tattoos, and since I didn’t see Patera in 20 plus years, well…
After getting out of the room, it was supposed to be lunch time, but that was out of the question with so many people to meet. I went for George Steele while my son went for Ashley Massaro (you can clearly see which of us has the better taste) from K&S wrestlefest. Steele had the longest line of all their 15 wrestlers, and was super friendly. Even my friend Steve, who rarely cares for taking pictures with wrestlers, was willing to miss the start of the ROH taping to have one snapped with the one and only Animal.
K&S had many cool guests, but they unfortunately fell in the category of ''I'd love to meet them but I gotta keep some time & money for more important names on my bucket list'' Guys like Butch Reed, Danny Spivey and One Man Gang are perfect example of guys I would have paid for at a smaller convention
Throughout the day we could hear the crowd for the indy shows just beside the convention, and judging by the screams of the fans and the heat the wrestlers got, it seems the matches were great. I wish I had the time to see a few of them. We also saw a few funny characters, in particular a guy fully dressed as Randy Savage, complete with ''Miss Elizabeth'' by his side.
Then it was time for RVD and Kurt Angle, who we had a hard time to find because they were kind of isolated at the other end of the room. Van Dam was no.2 on my son's list of priorities, so we had to go. As usual RVD was super nice, and really seemed to enjoy his time at the convention, as he was supposed to leave at noon, but was still there well past 2 o'clock. That guy seem to be as cool in real life as he appears on TV. Kurt Angle was just beside, and I was lucky enough to have a long chat with him, as he explained to me the backstory of his well known Lockdown match with Mr.Anderson ! He also told me that he ranks his match with Michaels at Mania and Benoit at the Rumble among his favourites. We also went to see the tiny Kelly Kelly, as I needed a souvenir from her to bring to my daughter at home. She was also very friendly. She has brown hair now.
Then it was time for the VIP ticket with my childhood idol, Hulk Hogan. To say that was a mess would be an understatement. Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed the time we spent with him, but I was supposed to be in the first block of the afternoon signing. That means among the first 20 people at 1 o'clock, meaning I would be done before 1:30 at the most right ? Well, when I showed up at one, I was told they weren't even done with the morning signing, and to come back later. When I did come back, I was told (by another fan, as no one from LOTR was there to explain) that they forgot about the ranking because they were so late, and to just get in line. That famous line lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes !!!!
Is it because they started late, or because Hulk took too much time with fans, I don't know, but that whole deal delayed the rest of the day for me, and I suppose many other people too. I must say the security guard, a huge dude, knew his job and did it well. They were super organized once inside the Hogan room: they had two steel tables on wheels that they switched on and off carrying the items to be signed. They had a backdrop for the photo, and Hogan looked the part, with a Hulkamania shirt and bandana. He was nice enough, but then again it was very rushed, which I can understand. They also accepted to retake the photo, as my son was completely out of the backdrop on the fist take. That was the least they could do, I must admit, as that photo cost a whopping 275$ (including 2 autographs, but still...) That was a life long dream coming true, and it was worth it. Oh, and while in the line, through the curtain, we were also treated by the sight of Hulk hugging Billy Graham, quite an historic moment. We also witnessed Liger doing the same thing a little bit later.
After that long sequence, the afternoon was quickly coming to and end. I had time to go see Rikishi for my son, and Bobby Heenan for me. luckily, I had a picture taken with him back in 2005, where he was already ill, but still in better shape than now. It is so sad to see a man who earned a living his whole life with his voice, not being able to talk anymore. He didn't loose his sense of humour, though. When I asked him which was his favourite guy among them in a picture where we saw many of his protégés, he paused a few seconds and pointed to...himself!
Then there was the gimmick room (I told you, it was crazy !) where I had bought a Boogey Man ticket for my son. The guy was impressive in his full gimmick, and really nice. When I told him my son went for Halloween in a Boogey Man costume a few years ago, he flipped out, and now HE wanted a picture with my son ! I also paid for Golddust, who was very friendly as well, and seemed to have lost some weight. In that room I also saw guys like Typhoon, Tony Anthony as TL Hopper, Genius, Mighty Molly, all 3 members of the Mean Street Posse and Eugene to name a few. Bill Irwin was advertised as the Goon, but I didn't see him. That room was less crowded than the morning superticket, but everybody seemed to have a good time.
After buying a few last old magazines, I was ready to call it a day, but I was upset for missing on Mickie James, which was a gift for one of my friends. It was the conclusion of a perfect day when we saw her at the last table just before exciting ! She was also very nice (and gorgeous) and was selling her new music CD.
We didn't get to use our 2 day passes since we chose to go to Axxess on Sunday, so we missed Regal and Ultimate Warrior, and a few others. But what can you do ? Just too much stuff going on at once. All in all, another day I will never forget, and I'm so proud I had the privilege of bringing my son with me, so we can someday share the same memories.
Thanks to everyone involved with WrestleCon, the good stuff far outweighs the bad stuff. And to you, thanks for reading this endless report.
See you at the matches!