Field of Honor ’16 was a smashing success despite having a bit of a weaker lineup when compared to last year’s (which featured Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazuchika Okada). I met six wrestlers and half of them were first time meets. And, most importantly, this was a relatively stress-free meet and greet despite a rocky start.
Joining me for the show were Jenna and my good friend Erik. We arrived at Coney Island ~3:15ish and walked around the park/boardwalk (we stopped by a couple bars for drinks). After a quick meal, we lined up outside of MCU Park a little after 5 and were allowed inside by 5:10ish.
That’s where the tiny bit of stress came from. So Ring of Honor has a policy for their pre-show meet and greets: you must purchase autograph tickets and exchange those tickets to each respective wrestler you meet. They’re small tickets, too, the type you buy at amusement parks (such as Coney Island).
Upon entering MCU Park, the first thing you’ll see is the Merch table. Christopher Daniels and Kazarian were working behind the table in efforts to sell their comic. They were also signing other items and taking photo ops so, as you can imagine, it was a bit chaotic.
Now just around the corner from the merch table is the autograph ticket table. So a chaotic merch table line has merged with an even more chaotic autograph ticket line. And guess what? There was only ONE GUY working the autograph table. It was so ridiculous. The meet and greet was going to be chaotic because of the NJPW guys alone and they just have one guy working the table?
So we waited on this line for about 15-20 mins before it was my turn. I ended up purchasing 6 single autograph tickets.
My first stop was Toru Yano of CHAOS, a first time meet. I’m actually not a huge Yano fan because he’s VERY much a comedic wrestler with a reptitve act but he can be funny sometimes. I got him to sign my Official Invasion Tour 2011 program and I loved how our photo op turned out. You know what’s funny: he was pretty much stoned face before the picture. It’s fascinating how the goofiest of wrestlers can come across impersonal. He was polite, though, and that’s all I ask.
Up next was Tetsuya Naito. I met him at the last Terminal 5 show but I needed another autograph and a better photo op. Naito is a great freaking guy. He marveled at how young he looked in the Official Invasion Tour 201. I had him sign the No Limit entry before getting an upgraded photo op. Awesome meet.
Next was the booker of New Japan, CHAOS member, manager of the Rainmaker, and an overall legend in Japanese wrestling history: Gedo. He’s a repeated guest but I wanted him in this program and, more importantly, an upgraded photo op. Gedo was quiet but very nice and appreciative that I was a fan.
Following Gedo was a first time meet I was VERY excited to meet: the NEVER Openweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata. I am a HUGE fan of Shibata and if you’ve never seen him wrestle…well, you really freaking need to.
He’s one of the stiffest bad asses that I’ve ever seen. Just an animal. He was VERY nice, placed the Openweight Championship on my shoulder, and took a photo op before signing an 8×10. Great guy.
Adam “Hangman” Page of the Bullet Club was up next. He was another first time meet and was an incredibly nice guy. He, too, marveled at how young he looked in my 2014 ROH/NJPW Global Wars program. He was a great guy and I’ll be rooting hard for him from here on in.
Next was The Ace of New Japan: Hiroshi Tanahashi! He was the last repeated guest of the evening and, as always, one of the best to meet.
He surprisingly had no line. He commented on my Invasion Tour 2011 program. He also included a signed 8×10 before taking this photo op. I told him he was my favorite wrestler and he thanked me. He noticed my “Adam Cole Bay Bay” Bullet Club t-shirt and said, “Tanahashi Bay Bay!” Just the man.
The final meet was a first timer, “the Tokyo Pimp” and Bullet Club member Yujiro Takahashi. He was also incredibly nice nice and marveled at the Invasion Tour 2011 program. He signed his entry and the No Limit entry (which was just signed by Naito). He really liked it. We took our pic and I was quickly done for the night.