Monday, 19 October 2015

Gaining Axxess [04/04/14]

So where was I? Oh yes, trying to catch Captain Charisma at the WWE Superstore as he'd be doing a signing in the morning. Now considering that our hotel was less than about 15 minutes walk from the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center I thought I could relax and get there just before midday, as that's when the Superstore would open. To my surprise, by the time I'd gotten there I would find out from a security guard working there that they had already given out the 200 allocated wristbands at 10am! DAMN! (as Ron Simmons would say).

Now while having this conversation with the guard, I noticed off in the distance of the lobby a man who had a striking resemblance to Bob Backlund. Wait... "Is that Bob Backlund?", I asked the guard. "Yeah it sure it.." - at which point I cut him off thanked the security guard for his help and told him I had to go meet Mr. Backlund.

What a treat this was, bumping into Mr. Backlund after not getting to see Christian. Despite the lacking sleep hours, this morning wasn't so bad after all! What a legend this man is! After telling him it was a pleasure meeting him and talking about his insane calisthenics routine (and record I think at about 8 hours) he said it was important to be in shape. I asked if he would sign my encyclopedia for me, and he we got a picture together.

Now when he signed a promo picture of himself at Madison Square Garden, he signed it with his name, followed by P.M.A. So I asked him what that was about. Mr Backlund said it stood for 'Positive Mental Attitude'. I remember him saying how your day goes when you wake up in the morning is all down to you and it's important to have a positive mental attitude. We spoke for a little bit longer as it was still pretty early and he wasn't too busy, and from this experience I can say that Mr Backlund is legit. He is so full of energy and seemingly immortal. It was an honour meeting him!

Another upside of missing out on meeting Christian was that this meant that they were now giving out wristbands to meet the next superstar, who happened to be one of my favorites: Cesaro!

I was probably the third person in the initial line for collecting (Cesaro wristbands) and was joined much later, by the rest of the boys. Who had their own experiences with Bob Backlund that we were able to capture... Bob Backlund was also the first signature Shanks was able to get on his newly purchased WWF (winged eagle) championship.

As I mentioned earlier, Bob Backlund is so full of energy and we'd end up seeing him throughout our holiday and it seemed like his tank was always full. Pure respect for a true legend.

Now to kill some time before meeting Cesaro we went through the WWE superstore again and did a little shopping. If you've never been before, the only way I can really describe it, is like Disneyland shopping for wrestling fans, and there were a bunch of awesome items on sale.

So after waiting for hours (with me having lack of food and sleep as you can probably tell from the videos) we finally got to meet Cesaro and it was worth it! I got to tell him that I had just been watching Colt Cabana's 'Wrestling Road Diaries' a few weeks before and seeing him wrestle in high school gyms to where we are at now, WrestleMania 30, was incredible. He said he appreciated the long time support and asked where we had flown in from, to which I answered, 'London, England'. He plugged the upcoming UK tour and signed my WrestleMania program and we got our picture taken which was awesome. I've been a huge fan of Cesaro since his arrival in the WWE, and then got to watching some of his older work. I told him that as it was WrestleMania 30 he would have to perform 30 swings on his opponent/s on Sunday and he laughed and said he would definitely try :)

The plan for the rest of the day going forward was to go to a WWE Axxess session. But before that Rihan bought me a Starbucks to fill up the gas tank which was running on pretty low at the moment. Word of advice: If you are planning on going to WrestleMania, try and make time to get your food in on time, TRY to get sleep when you can because if I learnt anything from this experience is that anything can happen at any time. Plans can change, hell, the card is subject to change, so make sure you are prepared! This Starbucks may have just saved me -

For the life of me I can't remember what the name of this one was, it was nice and cold and tasted great - so if anyone out there recognizes this drink, send me a message on Twitter @RoadtoWM32 and let me know!

Now right before going into Axxess, I was getting my photo taken next to the picture of Daniel Bryan when I suddenly got photo bombed :P

The next stop was entering Axxess. Now I know I said earlier that the Superstore was something, but Axxess is a whole 'nother affair.

The first thing we saw was the opportunity to get our pictures taken with the Money in the Bank briefcase atop the ladder. Due to health and safety reasons though, we weren't actually allowed to climb or capture the briefcase but it's the thought that counts...

In terms of wrestling nostalgia, the memorabilia section contains a treasure trove of history through the ages. I was especially drawn in by the Ultimate Warriors' jackets.


Getting a picture taken next to the WrestleMania XIX poster, which was symbolic for me as it was the first time I was watching WrestleMania live on Sky.
With the statue of the legendary Bruno Sammartino

There were a tonne of things to do, and if you ever attend a WrestleMania Axxess yourself, I would recommend going to maybe 2 sessions so you can get a lot of what you want done. For example you might want to test your knowledge of John Cena against kids in the Cenation like Rihan and I did:

"You can't see me!"...Really?
Another reason for why I would recommend going to more than one Axxess session is that you can never be sure of how long you're going to be queuing up to meet certain superstars, some will definitely be longer than others - which brings me to my next story. I will never forget how insane the convention center went when during our session, when The Wyatts arrived for signings.

All of a sudden, people could be seen scurrying in a certain direction. Word caught on that the Wyatts were approaching a signing table and Rihan and I hurried along in that general direction, eventually meeting up with Shanks and Prad there too. The line would be immense and full of fans dressed up as The Wyatts, and I even bumped into a chick who had a Shield tattoo:

Throughout this Axxess session we had seen Jack Swagger, Zeb Colter, Trish Stratus, Jerry Lawler and even gotten glimpses of John Cena to name a few, but meeting The Wyatts was definitely the highlight. Three very awesome talents on the WWE roster... We're Here!

I got them to sign the beautifully crafted WrestleMania program as well as getting Bray to sign the WWE Encyclopedia (under Husky Harris I think it was :P)

After calming down and meeting the Wyatts we would split again as Prad and Shanks went to check out The Undertaker's graveyard, while Rihan and I went to the set of Legend's House, where we bumped into 'Brock Lesnar Guy'

Everyone knows how to take selfies but only Shanks would take a selfie with his huge SLR giant camera as you can see the expression on Jack Swagger's face: Priceless

There were so many pictures to actually go through so what I've done is selected some of them, and I hope each of them tells a better story than can be described:


Just a quick note on that last picture from Legends House - I spoke with 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan about how we'd gone to see 'Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies' the other night and his first reaction was, "Can you believe that Piper killed me?!" and began laughing. I should have started with *SPOILER ALERT* but it's too late for that now. Howard Finkel appreciated the fact that I told him that it wouldn't be WrestleMania without meeting the man who had been at every WrestleMania to date! #Legends

The Axxess Epilogue:

So if you're still here I just want to get a quick story in about what we did after Axxess. A friend of ours, Anthony who is from Texas suggested that we go out and get something to eat. YES PLEASE! I had barely eaten or drank anything that whole day, and as I mentioned earlier, it's very important to keep your energy up - especially during WrestleMania week!

Anthony had his car with him and there were 5 of us all together to set out driving through the streets of New Orleans looking for somewhere to get some food while talking wrestling.

We were driving for quite some time, got to do some night-sight-seeing of Nola and we eventually got to a Popeye's after seeing restaurant after food place closed. Now they have this weird thing over there with the way the drive-thru works where you can only place 2 orders at a time. Just to give you an idea of how ridiculous this was: it's past half 11, and we're the only car in this whole entire area. Didn't sound like there was another engine on in the nearby vicinity. Yet Anthony had to place 2 orders, and then bring the car out and then through the drive-thru again. It was hilarious! We'd never seen anything quite like it :D It looked so stupid! It was definitely a foreign experience for both Rihan and I.

Then on the same token, we had no idea what a biscuit was (in terms of getting it with a fried chicken meal). To people in the UK if you say biscuit, you think of something sweet that you might have with tea. So when it's presented with a friend chicken meal it raises our eyebrows a little, but it's perfectly normal to the guys over there. So now when we're out the car, and walking on foot to place our order to the lady in the drive-thru (which already looked pretty funny), and the boys are rolling around the car and hear Rihan say, "Yeah I don't mind just give me the one with the biscuit" they burst out in stitches! I'm guessing they got the same level of humour out of that as we all did at going around the drive-thru multiple times to make our order. I remember them saying 'Yeah, we can tell you guys are not from around here, we can tell that you're from London' #CelebratingOurDifferencesWithLaughter :D

We couldn't eat there, but I think we found a closed Denny's or Wendy's or something that had an outdoor spot to eat and we all stopped there to refuel the stomach tanks. It was quite something to me at the time. I remember sitting there with the guys, eating, laughing and talking wrestling and then a thought came to my mind. How insane is this. We have five different guys here, from 3 different parts of the globe, together right now in the middle of nowhere, Louisiana. All brought together by the magnitude of one event, and wrestling culture. It was an amazing moment of realization that I don't think I will soon forget. Those butter biscuits were delicious by the way..

Overall. meeting all the superstars, divas and legends we did on Friday was pretty overwhelming and a first in my lifetime experience for me and I was glad I got a couple of signatures in my WWE Encyclopedia, but it would pale in comparison (dare I say) to the following day, because the next day was Saturday. Saturday was WrestleCon.

Thanks for taking the time to read,
Almost there now...
Mau (19/10/15) 13:45

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