Work has been absolutely hectic, so I’ve missed the past day or so. No biggie, we’ll do some catch up right now. Up first: reviewing the month of September.
September 7, 2016
Jesse “The Body” Ventura
Book-Off, Ridgewood, NJ
I made the decision to attend the Jesse Ventura book signing held at the popular Bookoff in Ridgewood, NJ. I called the previous evening and an employee confirmed he’d be signing extras and doing photos, which is ultimately what I cared about the most.
Jesse’s a lot of things – former governor, conspiracy theorist…but, more importantly (to me), one of the more iconic names in wrestling history. He’s an absolute must meet for me. I started this hobby in October of 2014, so I missed out on his previous book signings. Getting a chance to meet such a big name in wrestling history, for a relatively cheap price, was a no-brainer for me.
The signing started at 7:00 PM but I worked from 12:00 AM – 10:00 AM (and went to the gym afterwards) so I slept until 6:15 PM or so, had dinner, and made my way to Bookoff a little after 7 (my dad gave me a ride!). I arrived just after 7:40ish, picked up my book, and headed downstairs. Governor Ventura was in the middle of a Q&A and it was quite…entertaining.
Around 8:40ish, it was my turn to meet Jesse. We didn’t really exchange pleasantries because he was talking with the guy before me. No biggie. I got my WrestleMania 32/Hall of Fame program signed…… along with my beloved Encyclopedia (as well as the book).
Our photo op came out a little awkward because he was still in the middle of conversing with the guy before me and I couldn’t tell if he was looking into the camera or not lol. It’s fine.
Afterward, Overthetop and I had a nice chat in the parking lot before we said our goodbyes.
Less than $30 for three autos and a photo op for a big wrestling name like Ventura is an absolute steal. He’d probably be $40 an autograph at a wrestling con.
September 11, 2016
FTW & Evolve 69 Meet & Greets
La Boom, Queens, NY
I decided to take the trip to Club La Boom for a wrestling double header: Fight the World followed by Evolve 69. The latter featured two major wants: Ricochet & Johnny Gargano, who was making his final appearance for Evolve before joining the WWE full time.
But first…FTW. I purchased a GA ticket with two thoughts in mind: to meet Gangrel for the very first time and get myself and my friend Erik a couple of GA seats for Evolve. The FTW show started at 3:30 PM and I arrived at 3:45 PM .
I immediately spotted Gangrel at his merch table and paid $20 for a combo + a personalized 8×10! Gangrel was very nice and thanked me for coming down to see him. I was a huge fan of the Brood and their awesome entrance music, so I really enjoyed meeting him. I got his entry in the Encyclopedia signed in addition to the 8×10.
The show itself was pretty…raw. They basically booked a bunch of guys and girls who looked like they were picked off the street + Gangrel and Aldo Rose (who didn’t have a table). There was a scary both involving someone named Ace Andrews. He went for a dive out of the ring and I think his feet got caught on the top rope or something because it was an u-g-l-y crash to the outside. I thought he legitimately broke his neck. The main event featured Rose against someone named the Grim Reefer, who’s their world champ and…yeah.
So that did it for FTW. I went back outside, had to re-enter the Club, and grabbed two seats! It was then time for the meet & greet…
This was my 2nd time meeting Johnny Gargano and he was very, very nice and much more talkative than the first time. He was taking time with everyone and, best of all, signed for free! I didn’t get a photo op because I was happy with the first one. He signed the NXT poster in black and, as you can all see, it’s almost blended in with the background. Oh well. His signature on the 2009 Dragon Gate poster came out much better.
It was then time to meet Ricochet, a BIG want of mine as I am a huge fan. It’s rumored that he’s NXT bound next year and it wouldn’t shock me if he reaches Nakamura level of “overness” with that crowd. He’s so fucking talented and will be a massive star once he’s introduced to the WWE Universe. He was a nice guy and charged $10 for a combo! Funny story: so I give him $20 and he signs my photo and takes the pic. So he shakes my hand and I say “Uh you said it was $10 right?” and he goes, “Yep, $10!” So now I awkwardly say, “I gave you a $20…” and he checks his pocket and apologies profusely! Ricochet almost stiffed me! Hahahaha.
And that’s it! Short, sweet, and I left a happy man. All of that for $10. The NXT poster…oh well. You can see the sig but you’ll have to squint.
Now let’s look at the month of October, a VERY busy month:
October 7, 2016
Ric Flair & Jerry “the King” Lawler
We headed up to the Exhibitor Hall and man…what a fucking shit show. I barreled my way to the Headlock booth and, to my surprise, saw Ric Flair sitting at their booth. Booker T was originally scheduled for today although he was nowhere in sight, so it appeared that he canceled.
With Booker T no longer appearing, I decided to pay the $50 autograph fee and get Flair to sign my WrestleMania 32/HOF program – mainly because the rest of the Horsemen will sign it next weekend at Legends. Flair was as nice as can be and told me to have fun with the rest of the Horsemen next weekend. He took his time with his signature (as always) and he really is a must meet.
I decided to get Jerry Lawler’s signature in the program for a reasonable $20. A combo was $30 but I decided to save the $10 because I have a perfectly fine photo op with him (and one with him & JR). He was very nice although we had an exchange that was a little weird. He asked me if I wanted him to personalize it or just sign it. I said, “Just a signature is fine” and he replied with, “Well get a picture of me signing it so you have proof…” and he let the sentence trail off. It sounded like he was implying that I would need a picture of him signing it as proof when I decide to sell the program. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.
October 14, 2016
Creskill Convention Center
WrestlePro was a mere 8-minute drive from my house and they were advertising a few interesting names: Ryback, Santino, Katie Lea Burchill, and the Bro-Mans. I knew they were all booked for Legends but I figured it would be more prudent to get them out of the way a night earlier (and that would pay off handsomely).
I showed up to the Cresskill Community Center just after 6:00 PM, picked up my GA ticket, and scoped the center out. It was very, very small and there was only a handful of people that came early – which means NO LINES.
I pre-ordered a $99 VIP ticket for Ryback that included a combo, 3 extras and two bonus items: a Ryback picture frame and pennant, which was nice. There was virtually no line for him. I had him sign the Nexus entry in the WWE Encyclopedia, Vol. II (as Skip Sheffield), WrestleMania 32 program, 2015 WWE Program, and WWE Ultimate Superstar Guide. He was very, very nice and our photo op came out great. I had met him once before (the grueling free M&G at MCU Park last year) but didn’t get a photo op.
Next was Santino. I had him sign the WWE Ultimate Superstar Guide and WrestleMania 32 program; he noted that this was the last ever WrestleMania program he would be in. He then revealed an interesting little nugget that I was unaware of: they had him pose in a suit because he was going to be the Smackdown General Manager. He then asked me how the chemistry was between Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon. We then started talking about Talking Smack and the now infamous Miz/Bryan promo. It’s funny, he would ask me leading questions as if he wasn’t keeping up with the product but his follow up statements would indicate otherwise. I sort of felt like he was quizzing me hahaha. He mentioned he hates the Miz’s character because he’s been doing the same thing for a decade. It was a great talk. The two autos and photo op cost $60, a bit pricey but I left happy nonetheless.
After that, I saw the Bro-Mans at their table and a triple combo was $45. I had Jesse Godderz and Robbie E sign my TNA Program Vol. 7 while DJ Z signed an 8×10 (I had him in the program already). Robbie E commented that I looked like more of a wrestler than any of them did!
I spotted Katie Lea Burchill walking to her table and approached her after she said her hellos to the talent. She was ultra sweet and was a very reasonable $15 combo. She had to borrow a sharpie from Sonjay Dutt and he teased her for not being prepared hahaha. I had her sign the Encyclopedia.
Finally, I got Sonjay Dutt in my GFW program. He, too, was a $15 combo and was ultra nice (asked for my name after the photo op, thanked me for coming down).
October 15, 2016
Legends of the Ring XXIII
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Monroe, NJ
Jenna and I showed up a little after 9:30 and I was taken aback at how empty the lobby was. I picked up my tickets and was in the sparsely populated vendor room in a matter of minutes.
My first stop was at the MZ promotions table for Tito Santana. He was incredibly nice and gave me a nice signature in the Encyclopedia. Terrific guy.
Up next was the massive Kurrgan, who was very quiet but polite. I had him sign the Oddities and Truth Commission entires in the Encyclopedia before we took our photo op.
I lined up to knock out another pre-order but The Fink made the announcement that anyone with a black or red colored Superticket should start lining up, which is a new system than their numbered one. It worked FAR BETTER in my opinion.
We made our way to the Superticket room (it seems like the original room is no longer in service) and up first was Diamond Dallas Page. He’s super nice and kind with everyone but his line moves at a snail’s pace. It felt like it was never going to end. When it was my turn, he immediately posed for a photo even though I intended to use the Superticket for two autos (free photo!). He signed the WWE Ultimate Superstars Guide & WCW Ultimate Guide. He’s a pleasure to meet as always although I had flashbacks to his horrific line at Big Event. Thankfully it wasn’t nearly as bad.
Up next was Lex Luger. I decided for two autos instead of the combo because I had a perfectly fine photo op w/him and he was included in the Horsemen photo op I’d be getting later in the day. He was very polite and pleasant. I had him sign the WCW Ultimate Guide & WWE Ultimate Superstars Guide.
Next was Duke the Dumpster Droese, who was quiet but nice. He signed his entry in the WWE Encyclopedia, Vol. II, and took a nice photo op.
Sean Mooney was next and he was very nice. I had him sign his entry in the Encyclopedia and took a nice photo op.
Finally was the “headliner” for this group: Cody Rhodes. He was super nice and I commented how much I’ve enjoyed seeing him wrestle at the Evolve shows in Queens. He asked if I was there when he bought everyone pizza (I was!) and we chatted for a bit about about PWG. He signed the front of the PWG BOLA card although I was not happy how it came out. Thankfully, he also signed the back and I was able to completely remove his signature from the front just by rubbing it off with my finger.
Next was his lovely wife Brandi Rhodes, F.K.A. Eden Stiles, and she signed her entry in the Encyclopedia before taking a photo op. The first half of the Superticket was over and it was back to the vendor room.
It was time to tackle my pre-orders. Up first was Ricky Steamboat. I pre-ordered a steal of a deal: Combo & 2 extras for just $40! Ricky was very nice and personable (as always). He signed the WWE Ultimate Superstars Guide, the WrestleMania 32 Program (HOF section), and WWE Hall of Fame 2009 program before taking a great photo op.
Next was Finlay and I also ordered their VIP deal (this one cost me $60). He was very nice and I complimented him on his son, David, who’s been doing very well in New Japan. He signed my Encyclopedia, WWE Ultimate Superstars Guide, and WCW Ultimate Guide before the photo. Great guy.
Next was Cameron, who looked hot as hell. She signed my WrestleMania 32 program and took a photo with me (and with Jenna!). She was incredibly nice – one of the nicest I’ve met.
I waited on an INSANELY long line for Victoria (some dude had her sign about 5 million trading cards and 8x10s) but she was well worth the wait. She was incredibly sweet and personable. She even suggested we do two photos: one normal and one where we’re in a tug-o-war with her Women’s Belt. Awesome. She signed her entry in the Encyclopedia.
Mr. Hugheswas next and he signed his entry in the Encyclopedia. He tippy-toed for our photo op, which I always get a kick out of. Good guy.
El Torrito followed and I had him sign my WrestleMania 32 program. He was nice and I loved that there was a chair next to him for the photo op. I was worrying if it would be insulting to kneel down next to him lol.
Sam Houston was next and he was another great guy. He wanted me to buy his t-shirt but I passed. He signed his enty in the encyclopedia and took a photo op.
Next was Christy Hemme, who was incredible sweet. She signed her entry in the Encyclopedia and also tippy-toed for our photo lol.
I waited for Brooklyn Brawler to finish up the phone but it was well worth it. I placed the Encyclopedia in front of him and he was immediately annoyed that Brooke signed her entry in his space (which annoys me too!). He goes, “Why does she always do that?!?!” He then goes, “Alright, well, I’ll do this!” and proceeded to sign up to her entry. Normally that would drive me nuts but it was really funny.
Adam Rose was up next and I had him sign my WrestleMania 32 program. He was quiet but nice.
I was DONE with pre-orders by 11:13 AM. Like…wut. I decided to rack up on other people at the event, starting with…
Maria, who was $20 per item. I decided to get her in the Encyclopedia and my ROH/NJPW Global Wars ’14 program as well as a photo op. Yep, $60 was steep but it would pay off in the end. Anyways, she was very nice!
Jenna wanted her SECOND photo op of the day! This one was with Jesse Godderz because she’s a MASSIVE Big Brother fan. She marked out.
After that, I stopped by Howard Finkel’s table because he was selling the Encyclopedia…Volume III. He had to sell it as list price but for $5 more would autograph it, so I decided to drop down the $50. I was glad I did because this book is MASSIVE and I didn’t mind Howard breaking it in. We chatted about where we were from for a bit and it was a pleasant convo.
Next was Shane Douglas, who I had sign my ECW Barely Legal DVD. He was as nice as always.
I decided to FINALLY get Roadkill in my Encyclopedia as well as a photo op. He was nice.
Up next was Todd Gordon, founder of ECW and a rare name. He was a perfectly reasonable $20 combo and I had him sign my Barley Legal DVD cover. Great guy, absolute class act.
I saw Mike Bennett was at Maria’s table. The vendor asked him how much he wanted and Bennett said he’d do a combo…for FREE! I had him sign my ROH/NJPW Global Wars ’14 program. So for $60, I got two Maria autos, Bennett auto, and a photo op with each of them. That made me feel much better lol. Bennett was terrific.
It was time for the Four Horsemen group photo. We waited for about 20 minutes for them to set-up but once it was time, it went SUPER fast. It was a pro photo op but Jenna also took a pic on my phone and I LOVED how it turned out.
Finally…the 2nd half of the Superticket! Up first was Terri Runnels, who is essentially exactly like DDP lol. She recognized me from our previous meets and was a nice as can be. She signed her entry and the PMS entry in the Encyclopedia, Vol. III and took a couple of great photos (she did the fist pose as a tease). Always great meeting her.
Next was King Kong Bundy and I had him sign his entry in the Encyclopedia, Vol. III. This book came through because I had nothing for Bundy or Terri to sign. Actually, that’s part of how I intend to utilize this book: get it signed by people I have nothing else for or for all the new people featured in it. Anyways, Bundy was super nice.
The Horsemen were next and I had them all sign the same thing: the WrestleMania 32/HOF program and a Four Horsemen program I found off of eBay.
Barry Windham was up next and he was very polite yet quiet.
J.J. Dillon was next and he was a class act as always (I didn’t get a photo op).
Tully Blanchard was VERY NICE and polite.
And finally…Arn Anderson, who was REALLY nice and personable.
Afterward, I peaked my head into the vendor room but it was essentially empty (it wasn’t even 2:00 PM…). I said goodbye to two friends, Gene and Mark, and Jenna & I were out of there way earlier than even I expected.
What a weekend. It was so easy, almost too good to be true but it was. It was good seeing Overthetop and Crossfire as well. Great time.
That’ll be it until tomorrow when we recap the month of November!