My Year in Review series continues with the month of March! Before we go on, if you’d like, feel free to read about the months of January and February.
This month was absolutely crazy. Why? I have two words for ya: Big Event.
The convention was stacked with legendary names…but it was a very, very stressful convention. I’m going to re-post my entire report. I hope you enjoy!
March 5, 2016
Big Event X
LaGuardia Plaza Hotel, Queens, NY
I want to preface this report by stating that I didn’t have the best of times. It was actually very frustrating. But I will say this: Big Event cares about its customers.
They’ve taken every complaint, criticism, and suggestion and I feel they genuinely listen. While they have their reasons for doing certain things, they have acknowledged (to me) some points of criticism they’re hoping to address by Big Event XI. That’s all you can ever ask for. There customer service is so great because they care — more so than most other wrestling cons.
Also: a lot of you were nice of enough to approach me and say hello. You also said kind words about the Blog and I really appreciate it. I’m glad I helped you find the pre-order links. To everyone reading this that did say hello, it was very much appreciated and I hope to see you soon.
ALSO x2…I really need to thank my wonderful girlfriend for helping me. I don’t know what I’d do without her and my day would’ve been 100000x worse without her. She not only puts up with this insane hobby but helps me tremendously. She’s awesome and I love her very much.
There are days when you wake up and know it’s going to be a great, successful day. And, thankfully, yesterday morning was one of those days. I anxiously woke up at ~7:00 AM and decided to do a last minute check on everything I would be lugging along with me. By 8:30, my girlfriend & I were out the door and on the road to the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel. Greatness awaited me
And if you solely look at the end result of yesterday morning, it was truly great. I met Hall of Famers, icons, legends, and everyone in between. I scored some sweet autographs. The photo ops turned out beautifully – these batch of photos are my favorite of any con I’ve ever been to.
But it was an absolutely miserable day with very little enjoyment. It felt like participating in a grueling chore rather than doing something that actually made me happy – something I’ll touch on more at the end of the report.
We arrived a little after 9:15 AM to complete and utter chaos – and that’s before we even made it into the hotel. There was literally no parking. None. The parking garage? Full. Spots on the street? Taken. The Marriot’s parking garage? Full.
I knew parking was horrendous but we’ve always managed to find a spot. Not this time. We drove around aimlessly for roughly 20 minutes. We asked a parking attendant for help and he delivered. He told my girlfriend to sit tight while he checked to see if every spot was full. While he did that, I decided to go inside and pick up our tickets. My girlfriend would meet up with me after the whole parking shit show was figured out.
Now…Timeout #1: Big Event VIII was the very first wrestling convention I’ve ever attended and I was very impressed with the staff’s crowd control. While everyone waited on line, the staff took it upon themselves to find everyone that pre-ordered & handed them their tickets. This was crucial because it allowed those who pre-ordered to be the very first admitted into the vendor rooms.
THAT’S how it should be done.
Big Event X did not do that and it was very, very unfortunate.
While I waited on this never-ending line – a line that began near the front of the lobby, extended to the rear exit, and ended nearly at the entrance of the hotel – security actually sought out people who were buying tickets day of. And guess what? Those people were escorted to the admission table and were allowed early admittance into the convention.
Their reasoning was, “Well the admission table is open and free so we might as well get them out of the way first.”
That reasoning may seem logical on the surface but the end does not justify the means. Those who pre-ordered – especially those who pre-ordered Goldberg Gold or Silver V.I.P. packages – should be taken care of first. Period.
My girlfriend eventually found parking – the attendant essentially made a spot for her. Awesome guy. She went to tip him but had dropped out of sight. For shame. THAT’s someone going above and beyond the call of duty.
While I stewed in line, I did manage to capture this cool moment (Slaughter & Sheik embracing) and bullshitted with the iconic Virgil. It passed the time. After roughly 30 minutes of waiting on an unnecessary line, we were finally given our tickets. It was go time.
Time Out#2: I purchased a Shawn Michaels Silver V.I.P. ticket for the last Big Event and it went beautifully. All the V.I.P.s were lined up against the right wall and were allowed to go first, as a V.I.P. ticket guaranteed priority in line. It was a tremendous time saver and, frankly, worth every penny.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
Now to be perfectly fair, there appeared to be a relatively small amount of people waiting for Goldberg by the time I entered the room. But a major, major reason I purchased a Goldberg Silver V.I.P. ticket was the guaranteed “Priority in Line”, something I needed with a full load of pre-orders to get to. When I entered the room and saw Goldberg was already signing, I was happy. I would most likely get in and out within 10-15 minutes.
Except were told there wasn’t a V.I.P. line. My girlfriend made her way down to the stage and asked a staff member, who claimed he had no idea about V.I.P.s and had to check with what appeared to be the head of security, who confirmed they weren’t allowing V.I.P.s priority in line.
I later found out from someone that attended the signing that V.I.P.’s were taken care of in the very beginning but then quickly moved onto a singular line. That’s ridiculous.
I could’ve bitched and moaned. I could’ve caused a scene. But I didn’t. The vibe in the room was very fun and I didn’t want to be THAT GUY that makes a complete ass out of himself and kills the buzz for everyone else. I’ve seen people do it and it’s cringe worthy. Plus, like I said, it wasn’t a long wait. But still…I didn’t get one of the guarantees I paid for.
Gillberg (and Barry Hardy) interrupted the signing and Goldberg picked him up in a fireman’s carry, which made for an awesome photo and got a great reaction from the crowd. Then David Crockett literally barreled his way through the crowd to talk with Goldberg.
Goldberg took time with everyone, which I will always appreciate no matter how strapped for time I am. Most of the time, spending the amount of money we spend isn’t very fun – but great interactions always soften the blow and make the signing feel worth it. I will never be angry with any talent for taking the time to actually speak with the customer. Cool stuff.
It was my turn after roughly 30 minutes of waiting. Goldberg was awesome, very engaging, and looked to be in incredible shape. He signed his entry in the Encyclopedia, the WrestleMania XX program, and the covers of the WCW Ultimate Guide & his Blu Ray.
We actually had two photo ops: a staredown…
…and a standard photo op. It was pretty damn sweet and I left that auditorium feeling really happy.
I decided to let go of my bitterness and just enjoy the day. I spotted MZ Promotions stationed right by the main entrance and decided to knockout three pre-orders: Gillberg, Doink, & Dink.
Up first were Doink & Dink. They looked pretty cool in their getup – Dink appeared to be fully “suited up” – and they were pretty damn nice. They signed their entries in the Encyclopedia before taking two photo ops: one standard (top) & one w/Gillberg giving me the bunny ears (bottom)! That S.O.B.!
I went to Gillberg’s table and we laughed about the photo. Gillberg was especially awesome because he was fun to talk with. He claims he really pushed to have a dual photo op w/Goldberg but the Big Event rejected it. Boo. Anyways, he signed the Gillberg & J.O.B. Squad entries in the Encyclopedia before taking this awesome photo (above).
Up next…was Virgil. He told me he’d sign all three entries in the Encyclopedia for $20. Whatever, I decided to do it since I want the Encyclopedia to be filled with autographs and plus…IT’S VIRGIL. I never got him before so I decided to officially join the club.
Next was the Iron Sheik. I pre-ordered a V.I.P. ticket but, once again, was told there was no separate line for V.I.P.s. Wonderful. So while we waited, I noticed that Sgt. Slaughter was sandwiched between Sheik & Virgil. People were trying to get to Slaughter but couldn’t because Sheik’s line was blocking them. People were waiting on the Sheik line thinking it was for Slaughter. Now..
Timeout #3: If you’re must squeeze these tables next to one another, especially a really rare name (Sheik) next to a really popular name (Slaughter), then there needs to be a predestine crowd control. Stanchions would do wonders, no?
Anyways, I get to the front of the Sheik’s line and the staff member collecting tickets/money told me I could’ve cut the entire line since I had a V.I.P. ticket. I told him I was told that I couldn’t by another staff member but whatever. Sheik was quiet but polite and signed all his entries in the Encyclopedia, his entry in the WWE Ultimate Superstar Guide, and the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame program. We took our photo and that’s that. It was cool meeting an icon.
We finally make it inside and it’s absolute madness. DDP’s line is pure insanity and it overlapped with RVD’s long line. It was chaos. I did, however, pre-order a RVD V.I.P. ticket – which includes priority in line! My girlfriend waited on the DDP line while I took care of RVD.
This was my 2nd time meeting RVD and he was awesome. Very talkative, took his time signing, and was just generally cool as can be. He signed the covers to the Barely Legal DVD, his One of a Kid DVD, and his entries in the TNA 2010 Official Program and WWE Ultimate Superstar Guide. We posed for a great photo op.
The DDP line didn’t move so I decided to knock out more pre-orders. Up next were the four Lucha Underground girls. I pre-ordered the Ultimate Package, which included 2 autographs from each girl and a group photo.
Catrina was up first and she was okay. She signed my Lucha Underground 8×10 and the Maxine entry in the Encyclopedia. Next was Cheerleader Melissa, who looked absolutely miserable. She, too, signed the Lucha 8×10 and a 8×10 of herself. Next was Melissa Santos, who was the sweetest of the bunch. I added her sig to the Lucha 8×10 and a solo 8×10. Finally was Ivelisse, who seemed a little…moody? She also dripped the remnants of a paint marker on my Lucha 8×10 and it’s pretty much ruined/awfully looking. Fucking A. We took the group photo, came out fine, but damn it…I wanted that 8×10 to come out perfectly and it was ruined.
Line for DDP still had not moved. So, I decided to keep knocking out this pre-orders. Shelly Martinez was next and she was very sweet. She signed the Ariel entry in the Encyclopedia before taking this photo.
Next was Brad Maddox, who looked like he’d rather be anywhere but at Big Event X. He signed his entry in the Ultimate Superstars Guide and took a photo with me.
So we’re absolutely flabbergasted that this line has not moved yet we see DDP is there. We see him signing, we him taking photos, and see him engaging with fans. But the line won’t move. No clue what’s happening. All of a sudden, we’re told that they’re going to split the line in two. We come to the front and, sure enough, there’s a Big Event staffer (one of the main guys…Tom?) and he told us to hang tight. AWESOME! Then he left. Then another staffer who was running the DDP line asked us what the hell we’re doing up front. We explained to him that we were told to form a new line. I turn around to confirm with the main staffer guy and he’s nowhere to be found. Now people are (understandably) FURIOUS because they think we’re trying to cut the line.
I’m explaining that we were waiting but were LITERALLY pulled from the line. How is this our fault? The staffer said it was ok. Some guy tried to start a fight but backed off. Whatever, if I was in his shoes I’d be really pissed because, on the surface, it did look like I had cut the line but I SWEAR I didn’t. The main guy eventually came back and said it was fine that we went but…he never started the 2nd line? I sincerely have NO idea what happened, why they called some from the back of the line to move forward…it just chaos. But no, dude, I didn’t cut the entire line.
Anyways, the guy in front of me had DDP sign about 20 small photos and then 20 more of those old WCW trading cards. At this point, I wanted to travel back in time to about a year ago and warn my past self about this hobby so I’d never get into it.
I eventually get to DDP, who was awesome. I told him I purchased DDP Yoga (I did!) and would be starting on Monday (I will!). That made him really happy. He was so damn cool. We talked for a bit about the program as he signed his entry in the WWE Encyclopedia before posing for a pic. Awesome.
Girlfriend hopped on Terry Funk’s line while I decided to get the Koloffs out of the way. Both were very nice – especially Ivan. Ivan signed his entry in the Encyclopedia and a Russians 8×10 (all three members) while Nikita signed the 8×10. We posed for this awesome pic.
Next was Terry Funk, who easily was the highlight of my dad. What a tremendous, soft spoken man. He signed the cover to the Barely Legal DVD, both entries in the Encyclopedia, and the WWE 2009 Hall of Fame program. We also posed for a great picture. Ugh. Best memory of this day by far.
Next was Stan Hansen, who was equally as nice as Mr. Funk. He signed his entry in the Encyclopedia, his book, and an 8×10. We posed for this cool pic.
JR & King were up next. I opted for a JR autograph and a dual photo with him & King. JR was EXTREMELY nice and accommodating. Awesome man who appreciated my praise. I loved how the photo turned out (props to North-East Wrestling and K&S for adding the microphones).
Next were the Midnight Express. I purchased the Midnight Express/Rock ‘n’ Express photo op…except they weren’t seated next to one another, despite TMART assuring everyone that they would be. Whatever, I knocked out their autos first. They both signed the Jim Cornette scrapbook and Lane also signed his entry in the Encyclopedia. They managed to bring over the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express for the photo and it’s easily one of my all-time favorites.
Next was Ivory, who was cool as hell. She signed her entry in the Encyclopedia before posing for a pic.
Next were Paul Roma & B.B. – both of which were eating sandwiches. They signed their entries in the Encyclopedia and we posed for pics. Fun fact: Jim Cornette asked a fan if Paul Roma was Ken Shamrock. They do kinda look a like.
I pre-ordered the Too Cool deluxe combo – autographs from each & a group photo. Scotty 2 Hotty and Grandmaster Sexay signed the Too Cool entry as well as their solo entries. Rikishi signed the WrestleMania XX program, although he thought I only purchased the group photo and initially hesitated to sign it. Thankfully the promoter explained to him what I had purchased. It was photo time but Scotty went to take a leak. He came back, we took the photo, and that’s that. Good guys.
Next was Rebel, who was so damn fine. She signed the TNA Official 2015 Program and took a pic.
Tony Atlas was up next. He was cool, signing the Saba Simba and Tony Atlas entries in the Encyclopedia followed by a pic. He tried to sell me his art work but I legitimately didn’t have money on me. He was cool with it. Nice guy.
And the day ended with the Jillian Hall autograph that’s included in admission. Except I didn’t get the ticket and had to go all the way to the lobby to get it. Thankfully it wasn’t an issue. She signed her entry in the WWE Encyclopedia to end the day.
So here’s the deal…
I love this hobby. Genuinely love it. But that day was extremely frustrating – some my fault, some the fault of the convention itself.
I also have to take some heat for my misery: I put way, way too much on my plate. Turns out I pre-ordered a Bill DeMott combo and I missed out on him (even though it was 1:00 when I went looking for him). I’m going to learn from this mistake. I’m going to cool it with the amount of guests I aim to get because I don’t want this to feel like a chore ever, ever again.
Big Event desperately need a new venue. I’ve never, ever had a problem parking at Legends of the Ring. Hell, Rhode Island Comic Con’s parking situation was a breeze compared to this.
And it’s outrageous that they booked ~80 wrestlers with little ability to separate and control lines. It should not be this way. Stanchions exist for a reason.
But, as prefaced above, they’ve reached out with concern and are taking any and all complaints/suggestions very seriously and that’s what I love about them.