Aside from Mania itself, this would turn out to be the most star studded day in the whole experience along the Road to WrestleMania. Thanks to Wrestlecon. In 2014 it would be held at the Sugar Mill in downtown New Orleans, which was conveniently just the 3rd block south of our hotel.
After walking around a little and getting a feel of the room, we got to have a quick word with Razor on the morning of his induction into the Hall of Fame which was pretty cool:
Now what better way to officially start off than meeting some of the lovely ladies from the world of pro-wrestling? First up was a French Canadian bombshell and former WWE Divas champion..
I have to say, as amazing as Maryse looks on television - she's stunning in person. Literally, I was pretty stunned. I said something to her along the lines of 'You are stunning and I'm a little weak in the knees right now, but I'm good." Which made her laugh so there you go :) A lot of stun for one paragraph.
Meeting Maryse was a great start to WrestleCon, but she wasn't the only diva that would be kicking off this epic day, oh no no!
|With Celeste Bonin - The artist formerly known as Kaitlyn|
|With Maria Kanellis|
Now amongst all the talent in the building was a superfan who you might recognise from RAW on almost a weekly basis sitting (or standing) around ringside seats wearing his bright red hat. Yup, we bumped into Rick Achberger a.k.a. WWE Sign Guy.
|He is definitely ready for WrestleMania!|
|Rihan talking to Lisa Marie Varon a.k.a. Victoria/Tara|
One of the more entertaining characters (for myself at least) we met was The Pope, Elijah Burke. I remember him saying something to Rihan along the lines of "Hey for $20 I'll sign anything you want, I'll do anything, maybe not anything you want.." which just made me laugh for some reason - it was funny! He would be ragging on Rihan for the rest of the day poking fun at Rihan's expense about things I won't mention but it was damn entertaining :D Sorry Bro ~ PHS
|Rihan and The Pope a.k.a. Elijah Burke|
|Shanks and 'Big Daddy Cool' Kevin Nash|
|DDP with a smile on his face as always|
It's an honour to be able to say that we got to meet Jake 'The Snake' Roberts on the morning of his Hall of Induction ceremony. Jake didn't have too much to say but it was great meeting him nonetheless and we assumed that he was probably saving his voice for the big speech later on in the night.
As you might have already noticed, I was wearing my Edge (Farewell tour) T-shirt for WrestleCon and it was time to meet the man himself! Obviously I would be getting him to sign my WWE Encyclopedia - as I had done with a lot of the superstars I'd met before him. However, he was the only one to question the thousands of sticky notes hanging out of the side of it, I told him that it helped me keep organised and he said, "How's that working out with so many of those things" to which I replied, "Uhmm.. not as well as I hoped I guess" and we had a laugh about it. He was super cool and I told him that I'd had the t-shirt I was wearing since his last appearance on SmackDown which is in the O2 in London and he appreciated that. I also remembered to congratulate him on his new born baby and he thanked me for it. Genuinely a great guy and an awesome experience meeting the Rated R SuuuuuUUuuperstar!
|Shanks getting his replica signed by Edge|
We were smart enough to be able to save quite a bit of money too when it came to WrestleCon as we had purchased the super ticket, guaranteeing us certain legends - and am I glad we did it the way we did!
|Shanks with 'Razor Ramon' Scott Hall|
|Shanks and 'The Hitman' Bret Hart|
|With The Steiner Brothers!|
|Shanks is adding some serious value to his replica|
|With the hardcore legend Terry Funk|
Quick Story about Terry Funk: I told him that it was an honor meeting such a legend who'd been around for as long as he had and given so much to the industry. I also told him that I thoroughly enjoyed the podcast that he was on with Stone Cold Steve Austin. At first I wasn't sure if he understood me while I was talking or maybe he was hard of hearing and was moving a little slow but by the time I finished talking he was smiling. He got up gingerly and put his arm around me for a picture and thanked me for the kind words. It was something else being in his presence - A Living Hardcore Legend!
|Rihan with his most favorite wrestler of all time.|
|Rihan and the Superfly|
As far as Grand Master Sexy is concerned: The ink in his blue pen was running out low and he saw that I had one of my own (which I might have picked up somewhere along the tables) but he asked for a trade and then he'd sign whatever I wanted. Or something along those lines. Next thing I knew he said, "Think fast" and hit me with a knife-edged chop on the chest - which stung a little, but that was pretty cool for a wrestling fan! He'd officially given me a receipt which I would use somewhere down the road...
We'd already met one superfan at WrestleCon so far, and I was about to meet another. I must have been walking around making my way back to Rihan who was speaking to someone. Then he introduced me to him. His name was Vlad. He was a very cool guy to talk to and spent some time with us, and told me stories about Madison Square Garden way back when. Turns out they could never manage to get any tickets to WWF events at MSG, and they used to wait in terrible conditions, just so that they could attend the show. Eventually they wrote to WWF and told them about their situation and ended up getting guaranteed seats every time WWF came to the Garden. Vladimir became infamous as the superfan of MSG. That in itself is pretty insane. You can read a little bit about him on WWE's official site by clicking here. This would be his 29th WrestleMania, and it would by my first. We took a picture to capture the moment.
We owe Shanks a lot because he was on point with his SLR. Certainly a good shout, and I would recommend taking a decent picture capturing device with you, if you go to WrestleMania week, or any holiday really. If you're going to capture lifelong memories, they might as well be in great quality and high definition! Much like Shanks' who was like paparazzi capturing some candids. Such as Flair out in the parking lot getting picked up..
|"Ah you got me Shanks!"|
|Rob Van Shanks|
|RVD & Rihan|
|RVD & Me|
|Shanks with the Olympic Gold Medalist - Kurt Angle|
|Al Snow: "Make constipated faces!"|
|MVP's United States title - previously held by Chris Benoit|
|MVP & Rihan (marked version)|
|MVP showing off the bling bling|
|MVP & Me again|
|US Champ & Winged Eagle WWF Champ|
|Rihan & Neidhart|
|Myself with Neidhart|
|Shaking hands with the Hitman|
|Shanks & Neidhart|
|Rihan with his idol - Bret Hart|
The next legend we would encounter would be a weasel, who has been at the side of some of the greatest names in the history of pro-wrestling (including Andre the Giant) and taken them them to the top. He provided some of the most entertaining insight when he was behind that announcers desk whether it be with the late great Gorilla Monsoon or during his time in WCW. Ofcourse I am talking about Bobby 'The Brain Heenan!
As you may already know, Heenan hasn't been in the best condition in the past years - and it's upsetting to me to see him in the condition he has been in lately but his spirits are high and he is still a true heel! He still manages to make all the conventions and takes pictures and spends time with people in the condition he is in and my heart really goes out to the Brain. I don't know why the WWE haven't done anything to reach out to him (as far as anyone knows at least) in recent years. He has given so much to the business and deserves to be remembered damnit! We know we won't forget him any time soon, and that's because our time with him gave us a story to tell...
So Shanks had his championship replica with him and was carrying it around. Bobby Heenan suggested ('suggested' is putting it lightly) that he should wear it around his waist, because that's what wrestlers do! He then insisted that Shanks take off his shirt and pants and walk around with his replica title, because that's what champions do! Shanks said he would definitely do that, at some point, but the real reason why he was so lucky was because he then got to take a picture with Bobby Heenan. Not just any picture. Heenan gave Shanks his Hall of Fame ring to wear in this picture. Now that is priceless!
There were so many great stories taking place but one that particularly stuck out for me was a bathroom story. I had gone over to use the gents facility and was doing my business at the urinal facing the wall when all of a sudden I hear someone say, "Stand back!". Now putting this into context: We were in New Orleans in WrestleMania season and we'd been hearing wrestling chants all day, no matter where we go. It almost becomes part of the background soundtrack, and you often join in with them. This time, when I heard, "Stand Back.." I immediately finished that line by saying, "...there's a Hurricane coming through!". So now I turn around, expecting to see some fan.. but that wasn't the case. Standing in front of me, in his black mask and green attire was.. The Hurricane!
I asked him how he was doing (having heard about his motor cycle accident on a podcast) and he said, "For a 40 year old superhero I'm feeling pretty good." I told him I would come out and meet him properly a little later on and maybe get him to sign something for me and he said "Sure thing, I'll be around".
As it would happen an hour or so down the line I would again need to use the facilities of the illustrious Sugar Mill and would again bump into The Hurricane. I said, "This is the second time we're meeting like this, we need to stop" and I laughed, he said that we must be running on the same train schedule. Random story but a memorable encounter with this crime-fighting super hero!
Chris Masters was another super cool encounter, because I don't think he was really there for WrestleCon but we bumped into him as he was visiting some friends (my bet would have been Carlito) nonetheless he spent a little time with us and was super cool.
He even had time to put us in the Masterlock! We then suggested that he should just grab a table and start putting people in a Full Nelson Masterlock for $10 because we were sure that people would pay for that!
Local faces were also to be seen as we noticed a familiar face around WrestleCon. Dave Mastiff was around and I got talking to him a little bit. The first time I had ever seen Mastiff in a match was probably back in 2007 or early 2008 in Birmingham, wrestling as Dave Moralez. Rihan and I will never forget that night where he cashed in his equivalent of the 'Money in the Bank' title opportunity against then AWW champion, then ran out of the building into a car and sped off. Surprisingly though, Dave told me that he wasn't going to be attending WrestleMania XXX but instead was driving down to Texas with some friends. Why, I have no idea. Still, was good seeing a familiar face.
|Meanwhile... Rihan with the not so cool Scott Norton|
Goldberg. Need I say more? This is the same guy I'd been watching since primary school, destroying everyone in his path over at WCW. This one was special for me. It was on the same level as meeting Sting, Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan, Goldberg was up there and the experience didn't disappoint.
Upon approaching Goldberg I remember telling him how awesome this was, to finally meet the reason why I speared so many people throughout high school. He responded with, "Good man, I hope you were doing it good, just pull their legs!" - Such a cool moment for me! Luckily for me Karen Jarrett was just next to us waiting to get a word in with Goldberg. Which allowed me to get a photobomb in on the picture with Jeff Jarrett, Karen Jarrett and Goldberg! Had to be done, Edge taught me all about being the ultimate opportunist :)
Right after that I got in Goldberg's ear and told him that my friend was next, so could you ask "Who's Next?" and you can see in the video he does just that before grabbing Rihan in a headlock and telling us how he got the idea for his catchphrase: "Who's Next!?"
Can't put into words how awesome it was meeting 'Da Man' Goldberg, and he seems like a genuine good guy and wished us a safe journey back (as I'd mentioned to him that this was my first time actually coming to the United States) and wished us a wonderful weekend.
Who was next? Well, there still quite a few superstars and legends left to meet but we had to bring things back full circle and see our guy: Shane Douglas. It was great that he recognised us straight away because we'd been with him over hour the other night before and after the screening of 'Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies' so we spent a little time talking to him.
|Speaking with Chuck Taylor|
|With Cliff Compton|
|Shanks joining GFW?|
|Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine with Rihan|
|With the creator of 'Headlocked' comics Michael Kingston|
|Rihan and Demolished|
So to wrap things up, WrestleCon was an experience I would definitely recommend to anyone who's around for WrestleMania week because it's really so much more than just meet & greets, and the atmosphere is really relaxed and you can spend a decent amount of time having conversations with some of the superstars, divas and legends. I didn't really mention too much about vendors but I will go on record and say that for wrestling fans, it's like geek heaven. You'll find so many different kinds of merchandise from DVDs, Collectible Figures, Posters, Books and much more. Rihan picked up a few books, I think one of them was Brock Lesnar's biography. You can usually negotiate deals with vendors too so sometimes if you work out a great deal you can make some good steals.
It was time to go back to base at the hotel and start getting ready for the second part of our day. Or shall I say evening, as we'd be attending the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony!
Coming Next: WWE Hall of Fame 2014
Mau (25/10/15) 17:45