Welcome back to a new entry in my “A look back at the hobby in the 90s” series. Today, we’re going through Wrestling Observer Newsletters from 1992-1993 and taking a look at what was happening in the pro wrestling autograph/convention hobby. Click here if you missed the first entry in the series, a look back at 1991.
Also, please consider subscribing to F4Wonline as they include a growing Newsletter archive.
January 10, 1992
Dave notes that Dustin Rhodes did combos for fans after a WCW show at Reunion Arena in Dallas. He notes that Dustin wanted to make a good first impression and fans waited in light rain for him to sign.
April 6, 1992
Kerry Von Erich was arrested in Dallas and guess what? He reportedly spent most of his time signing autographs for fellow prisoners!
Imagine being locked up and getting autographs from a big, local star? I wonder if any of those prisoners still have their ‘graphs…
September 21, 1992
Kevin Von Erich was two hours late for an autograph session in St. Louis. He then made some really, really homophobic comments that got him into some hotwater.
This was a WILD interview given by Kevin. It was totally unhinged. He ended up missing his appearance the next day…
September 28, 1992
Todd Gordon – again, not sure if it’s the ECW’s Todd Gordon but I think it is – did another Variety Club party for disabled children in Philadelphia. We first heard about this type of event when he booked WCW’s Sting & the Steiner Brothers but they ended up no-showing in order to catch a flight. Anyway, Gordon made this a mandatory appearance for everyone on the Havoc card — which included Bruno Sammartino. A $25 tax deductible contribution got you combos with the entire roster.
October 12, 1992
Dave mentions that WCW was hosting an autograph and photo party but didn’t provide other details.
Smoky Mountain Wrestling ran a show on August 8th and everything went as advertised — including the autograph session. No word on who participated in this session but booked on the card was Danny Davis, Joe Cazana, Dutch Mantel, Hector Guerrero, Killer Kyle, Dixie Dynamite, Tim Horner, Buddy Landel, Ronnie Garvin, Paul Orndorff, Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, Stud Stable, Dirty White Boy, Brian Lee, The Fantastics, and the Heavenly Bodies.
December 21, 1992
Dave mentions an “autograph convention” in Philadelphia and reports that Ultimate Warrior and Davey Boy Smith were added. Actually, Warrior was billed as “formerly known as” Ultimate Warrior. The ole FKA. I’m going to try and find more info on this.
Dave reports that Warrior’s agent was asking $5,000 plus first class airfare as his appearance fee. I used an inflation calculator and that appearance fee would roughly be $8,000 in 2019.
February 15, 1993
A reader sent in a rather incredibly story. Back in the 70s (when the reader was a child), Andre the Giant came to town and the reader convinced his mother to get them front row tickets. He somehow got into the ring and had Andre sign his piece of paper.
March 8, 1993
Remember that WCW Autograph and Photo party? So I think I found a fan’s account of how it went. They were selling a “Golden Circle” session that included 1st/2nd/3rd row seats to a WCW show with a meet and greet before the show for $50. The reader thought this was a steep price but bought the ticket specifically for the M&G — which he found disappointing. The “party” was essentially lame. They were given sandwiches and soda as they waited in line to get four autographs on “photocopies” of 8x10s. He doesn’t mention who the four names were.
There’s a ton of coverage of Andre’s death. His longtime caretaker, Frenchy Bernard, held a big ceremony celebrating Andre’s life and specifically stated that autograph seekers were not welcome.
March 29, 1993
A reader submitted a rather sad report about the time he met Kerry Von Erich at the Philadelphia convention. The reader was actually an employee of the hotel and described Kerry as being high out of his mind on coke, trying desperately to hit on women, and ultimately signed a napkin that said “Woe is me, or is it Wow? Kerry Von Erich is leaving the bar.”
This story is really, really depressing. Brutal.
April 12, 1993
WrestleMania IX! This was long before the days of Wrestlecon but we did get a juicy nugget of info: the WWF held an autograph session the day before Mania with several wrestlers, the biggest being the Undertaker. It drew over 6,000 fans!
April 19, 1993
The National Wrestling Collectors Association had its first convention. Via Dave, “Among the former wrestlers who attended included Jimmy Valiant, Corsica Joe (who takes tickets for USWA events in Nashville), his wife Sara Lee, Debbie & Cora Combs, Spoiler Don Jardine, Buddy Wayne, Frankie Cain (Great Mephisto), Chic Donovan, George Weingeroff, Treach Phillips, Rey Urbano (original Great Kabooki), Billy Wicks, Dutch Mantell, Chris Champion, Eddie & Tommy Gilbert, Jim White, Barry Horowitz, Mongolian Mauler, Ivan Koloff, Juanita Wright (Sapphire), Buddy Lee, Al Costello, Don Kent, Len & Joey Rossi, Jerry Graham Jr., Reno Riggins, Dick Steinborn, Adrian Street and probably many others”
September 27, 1993
John Arezzi is hosting yet another convention at the Ramada Inn near the LaGuardia Airport on October 22 – 24. The first night featured a show while (it sounds like) the next two days were a typical autograph convention. The names being promoted for this convention: AAA’s Mascarita Sagrada and Espectrito, Scott & Ivan Putski, Greg & Johnny Valentine, Sabu & the Sheik, Chris Canddio, Terry Funk, Kevin Sullivan, Konnan el Barbaro, Madusa, Woman, Sensational Sherri, and Sunny.
October 4, 1993
There was a little drama with Arezzi’s convention. Apparently, he “conveniently” forgot to mention to Sherri that Madusa was appearing at the same convention. Dave flatout asked Sherri if she had a problem with Madusa and she answered that she’d have no problem appearing at the same convention as her. Hmmm…
October 5, 1993
Dave actually promotes a bunch of upcoming conventions. He leads of with Arezzi’s “Weekend of Champions” convention in Queens.
There’s a convention on October 30th in Bensalem, PA, featuring many of the same names at Arezzi’s but also includes DiBiase, Papa Shango, Tito Santana, and Steve Keirn.
Finally, there’s a third convention on December 5th at the Holiday Inn in Wayne, NJ, featuring Stan Lane, Tito Santana, Demolition Ax, Ivan Koloff, Nikolai Volkoff, Ox Baker, Johnny Gunn, and Crash the Terminator.
November 8, 1993
The Bensalem convention only drew a few hundred or so fans with their house show drawing about 1,000 people.
But here’s the bigger piece of news: Arezzi’s convention bombed and he lost about $30,000.
Dave also advertises autograph appearances by Road Warrior Animal and Sherri at the Queens College gym.
According to a couple of inflation calculators, $30,000 in 1993 would roughly be $52,775.50 today.
December 27, 1993
The WWF did a Salvation Army benefit on December 17 in Paramount, New York. A $75 ticket included dinner with wrestlers but was reportedly disorganized. The dinner included Undertaker, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, and other names and they were all apparently “accessible” for autographs. Meltzer specifically states that Vince McMahon, Stan Lane, and the Smoke Gunns were the most accessible for ‘graphs though he also noted that there were complaints of wrestlers acting like they’d prefer to be anywhere else.
A fan wrote in about an autograph session at a clothing store with Bob Backlund. The signing was not heavily promoted and, yet, hundreds of people showed up. The fan was very glowing about how Backlund interacted with everyone — which is no surprise to any of us here.