Welcome to Part III of my WrestleMania Weekend report! This will be the final report of an epic weekend that covers Saturday and Sunday. I hope you enjoy!
I arrived for Day 2 of Wrestlecon just after 8:45 AM and grabbed a seat in the Grand Ballroom as I waited for doors to the convention to open. Al Snow was in the ring with a couple of gentlemen from OVW to unveil plans for a “pro wrestling combine. The concept sounded pretty ambitious and it’s cool to see a pro wrestling company trying something new.
The doors opened soon thereafter and I spent a good chunk of time wandering around the Halls 1 and 2 and even made my way down to the Rhinelander room just to kill time. It became abundantly clear that I could’ve arrived much later in the day because I had a limited amount of wants but no biggie.
I eventually made my way back to the Grand Ballroom because two of my biggest wants for the day where scheduled for the Revolve pre-show meet & greet: Jimmy Jacobs and Don Callis; however, neither of them were at their tables. I took a seat and waited.
I believe I bumped into Lanza at this time and we eventually spotted Don Callis roaming the floor with Scott D’Amore. They were pretty engrossed in conversation until a couple of guys went up to them and ask for photos, which they did. I believe Lanza urged me to get the op with Callis and I decided to go for it. He was okay – he even posed for the photo – though he recoiled back when I went for a handshake and said, “I don’t shake hands.” I actually knew that as a I used to be a hardcore listener of the Killing the Town podcast and kinda kicked myself for not remembering that he’s a major germaphobe. He and D’Amore left to the back soon thereafter.
I started roaming around the entire hotel again and couldn’t spot anyone that I particularly wanted. I made my way down to the Rhinelander and was floored at the line for Bret and Shawn Michaels. In the case of Bret, they had to pass on anyone looking to meet him day-of as the pre-order line was so massive (this might’ve been the case for HBK as well).
I saw a line form for Eva Marie and decided to hop on it before it got any bigger. I believe I bumped into pbruno34 around this time and we chatted for a bit. Always good seeing you, pbruno34! Eva arrived soon thereafter and was incredibly nice to everyone. I had her sign my WrestleMania 32/HOF Program.
I went back upstairs to one of the Halls and spotted Gerald and Wes Briscoe at their tables. I had Gerald sign my WrestleMania 32/HOF program and we actually chatted about the Yankees/Rays seasons thus far. I told him that I hate whenever the Yankees play at the Trop and he laughed and said something like, “Why? Because it’s so packed?” Great guy. Wes was next and I had him sign a TNA 2013 program (got him under Aces and Eights as well as his solo page). He also asked if I would consider buying a t-shirt and I spotted a Briscoe Brothers Bodyshop tee and, as it turns out, he only had one left in my size! Super cool guy to meet.
I think I bumped into Greg and Class around this time (give or take). I roamed around the floors some more before Greg messaged me to tell me where Masato Tanaka was stationed. I went over to his table and cashed in on my pre-order. Tanaka seemed to love my FMW program (signed by Onita the day before) and came around the table for an awesome op.
I spotted Shannon Moore at his table and decided to get an autograph in my WrestleMania XX program and we chatted about how fun that match was. Super nice guy.
My pal Eric showed up and we decided to check out the Revolver show for a bit, so we made our way back to the Grand Ballroom. I was looking for Jimmy Jacobs but, alas, he was not at his table. I did spot Madman Fulton – formerly Sawyer Fulton in NXT – and he was either a $10 or $20 combo. He joked that he was going to charge me more for having him sign an old item (my WrestleMania 32/HOF program). He was incredibly nice and personable!
We decided to go upstairs to the Halls to scout any last minute wants. I decided to bite the bullet and pay the $50 combo for Celeste Bonin (f.k.a. Kaitlyn), who was nice and asked me to double check if the photo came out fine. She signed my WWE Encyclopedia, Vol 2.
My pal Eric really wanted to meet Tessa Blanchard so we decided to make our way back to the Grand Ballroom where the Revolver show just finished. Tessa was not at a table, so we decided to take a seat and wait. We did see Shane Strickland and Eric really wanted a combo from him. I wasn’t too happy with our photo op from Evolve so I decided to spend the $10 on an upgraded shot. Strickland was just announced as NXT’s newest signee (along with KUSHIDA and Hector Garza Jr.) so I’m glad I was able to score a combo with him that weekend.
We then walked around the Rhinelander and both Halls in search for Tessa – multiple times – but we simply couldn’t find her table. Defeated, we decided to leave and head out to Pier 12 for Axxess!
We arrived at Pier 12 around 5 or so and I decided to hit the Superstore. I did witness a pretty heated argument between a customer and employee that was eventually broken up by security (or the manager of the store). I think the customer was causing a bit of a mess on one of the shelves and the employee asked him to stop and it escalated from there. The employee flipped off the customer after he was told to head to the back. Crazy stuff.
I did get to meet adelta13 for the first time! We chatted for a bit and it was great to finally meet him.
I soon hopped on the small line forming for the 6:00 PM admission – and this is where I had an annoying experience of my own. I went through security and observed two different lines to enter the building – General Admission and VIP. I had a VIP ticket and breezed by the long, long G.A. line. It was a little awkward, actually, because I could feel their stares lol.
So I get inside and there’s four employees surrounding a table. One of them (wearing a yellow security jacket) lazily scanned the ticket on my phone and told me to proceed. I walk forward and another staffer (wearing a red shirt) put his hand on my shoulder and told me to stop and that he needed to see my ticket. I told him that the guy just scanned my ticket and he said, “I know but *I* still need to see it!” in a really aggressive tone. I told him, “Okay, no problem, just calm down” and he looked at my ticket and waved me through.
I walked forward and a third staffer (wearing a white shirt) blocks me from proceeding forward. She doesn’t say a word to me. She’s just staring at me and slowly waves a wristband in my face. I thought she was implying that I needed a handicap wristband or something because I had no clue they were issuing wristbands to VIP ticket holders. Again, she didn’t say a word to me. Another staffer (wearing a red shirt) came over and told me that she needed to put the wristband on me and…I don’t know, the whole thing was freaking bizarre.
I get in and I immediately lineup for an autograph session that had some really meh names (I think it included Erik Rown and the Colons). Eric joined me in line but we both realized that we were way better off going to the autograph session featuring Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir!
We joined the relatively short line and were eventually joined by Lanza and I think Josh. It was eventually our turn and up first was Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish – formerly reDRagon – and they were both really cool. I met them before but couldn’t get a photo op with them (this was during a crazed M&G at a ROH Terminal 5 show). They signed my WrestleMania 35 program.
Next were Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir who were both really nice. They also signed my WrestleMania 35 program.
Eric and I then hopped on the less hectic photo op station that had a surprisingly small line. We chatted with an extremely nice and helpful staffer while we waited. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten his name because he was a model employee and the entire staff should aim to be like him.
Up first were (now formerly) Sanity members Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain. Both were very nice!
Next were the Singh Brothers. Sunil appeared like he wanted to be anywhere but Axxess while Samir was really nice.
Candice LaRae capped off this session and she was incredibly nice!
We made our way to the Arena section and we spotted Nigel McGuinness finishing up on set. I made my way to the guard rail and managed to grab a photo with him!
It was now 8:00 PM and I made my way over to the surprisingly small line for the VIP session with the NXT Champions Shayna Baszlerand Tommaso Ciampa. I was bracing myself for Johnny Gargano replacing Tommaso Ciampa but, thankfully, Ciampa was still part of the session! I did not need Gargano after scoring free combos from him on two occasions. I waited about 20 minutes in line before I was up next…and that’s when a security guard told me that Ciampa and Baszler were either taking a break or being switched out with other talent!
Thankfully, they were just banging through the handicap line for about 10 minutes before it was my turn. They were both super nice and I asked Ciampa how he was feeling (he seemed appreciative of that). I had Baszler sign my WrestleMania 35 program while Ciampa signed my ROH Global Wars ’14 program (he almost signed one of the Young Bucks pages!). Annoying side story: Ciampa was about to sign my WrestleMania 35 program but the handler told him no. He hesitated for a second but ultimately followed her direction. Boo.
As I was on the VIP line, Eric lucked out and managed to get a premier spot for the Velveteen Dream session. I decided to head over to the Arena photo op station (another small line) and Eric joined me soon thereafter (which seemed to really piss off this father/son duo behind me but oh well).
Up first was Roderick Strong – a repeat name but someone I’m glad to meet – and he was very nice. There was a slightly awkward moment where the camera wasn’t working and it took a few extra (long) seconds for the picture to finally be taken.
Next was NXT’s Vanessa Borne. She was very nice.
Finally, the NXT Tag Team Champions War Raiders – now known as THE VIKING EXPERIENCE (!!!) – who I’ve been a BIG fan of for years. They were great to meet.
And that was that. It’s ironic that I once felt frustration at not getting a shot to meet LaRae, War Machine, and Big Damo before they signed with NXT and I managed to get them all at Axxess! We debated joining the relatively short autograph session featuring Moustache Mountain, Keith Lee, and Taynara Conti but we had met all but Conti and didn’t feel like waiting on line just for her. Eric and I checked out some of the exhibits and took photo ops in the ring, the Superstars stage, and the Piper’s Pit set before leaving for the night.
Mark Out at the Meadowlands
Sunday morning. The last day of this epic, epic weekend brought both relief and sorrow. Relief because I was almost done waiting on lines and spending money, sorrow because I had so much fun and I didn’t want it to end.
I decided to take the short Lyft ride to the Meadowlands Plaza Hotel for Markout at the Meadowlands. A hotel employee directed me to the area where the convention was being held, where I picked up my G.A., Scott Putski combo, and Dan Spivey autograph tickets. I then made my way into the room and was pleasantly surprised to see a great yet calm turnout.
Up first was Dan Spivey. I had previously met Spivey years ago but I really wanted him to sign my All Japan Tag League ’91 program. He took a look at it, laughed, and said something like, “Oh God, I remember when I teamed with THIS guy” and pointed at Hansen’s photo. Hansen, who was sitting right next to him, laughed.
Scott Putski was up next and he was quiet but polite. He signed my WWE Encyclopedia, Vol. 2.
I then spotted Johnny Stamboli at his table. Stamboli seems like a rare name, so I jumped on a combo plus an extra item. I had him sign my Encyclopedia as well as my WCW Ultimate Guide. Nice guy.
I was about to leave but decided to get the combo with Bob Roop. He was very nice and even stood for our photo! He signed an 8×10.
And with that…I WAS DONEZO!