So, it’s been two days since my first Legends of the Ring convention and I still have a wide smile plastered on my face. It was that awesome of an experience and I’m already looking forward to Legends XXI in October.
-Man, this Legends of the Ring was loaded with former ECW talent. Here’s the list of ECW alumni that attended the event: “The Franchise” Shane Douglas (who was unadvertised), Rob Van Dam, Danny Doring, The Amish Roadkill (who was a vendor at the event), Mick Foley, Dean Malenko, Bully Ray, Raven, Justin Credible, Sabu, New Jack, Stevie Richards, Nova, The Blue Meanie, Jimmy Snuka, and Big Sal. Seriously, that’s a pretty significant group of ECW talent and any fan of the old Philadelphia promotion could’ve cleaned up with photo ops/autographs.
-Speaking of New Jack, I’m really curious why he bothers to come to these events. It’s painfully clear he doesn’t enjoy his interactions with the fans, which is fine. Some fans are obnoxious and/or REALLY “markish” (which we know he hates) and I get he’s only there to make money. But just standing there with this annoyed gazed on your face for a few hours seems like a silly way to bring in fans, who in turn give him what he’s seeking the most: money. Part of the reason I didn’t get an autograph was because of his demeanor. Maybe it was a bad day but…
-Also, how awesome is this photo?Leva Bates, known to NXT fans as Blue Pants, posing with the bWo. It’s moments like this that make me love going to these cons.
-I was overwhelmed at the generosity Jim Cornette showed all his fans. He gave out free autographs and photo ops. FREE. Of course, he was hoping you’d buy something he was selling but you know what? He had the right approach and his merchandise was actually really cool stuff. Mr. Cornette will forever have a fan in me.
-It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention the generosity of Shane Douglas as well. He was sincerely one of the nicest wrestlers I’ve ever spoken to and I was blown away at how easy going he was. I have – and now always will be – a fan of “The Franchise.”
-I’m amazed the first block of the Super Ticket went more smoothly than the second. I was a G.A. ticket holder but purchased several individual passes for their Super Ticket guests. I was practically in and out of the first block but I waited much longer for the 2nd. BUT, I do have to give a shout out to a LOTR Staff Member who took it upon himself to personally escort me to Bart Gunn’s empty line and then right to the Outlaws. Yes, he had me cut the GIGANTIC line but it would’ve been ludicrous waiting on that line for two guests. Good job by him.
-Speaking of the staff, I found them all very pleasant. I didn’t hear great things from previous convention-goers and whoever runs their Facebook page is a little abrasive but that didn’t come through day of the event.
-My girlfriend and I ate at Yogi’s, the hotel’s restaurant. Want to know something INSANE? It looks like they had ONE waitress working the lunch shift. ONE. I felt very, very bad for that young lady (who appeared to be new) because she was getting several complaints. But the people to blame are the ones who do the scheduling.
-And we’ll end on a good point: one thing I really loved about Legends was the intimacy of the vendor room. You could be shopping for figures and all of a sudden there’s Curt Hawkins shopping alongside you! Or Jimmy Snuka bumps into you and apologies. At Big Event, they really utilized the entire first floor of the hotel – don’t get me wrong, that had its benefits – but I really enjoyed the set-up of the vendor room. I initially thought it was overwhelming but, after a couple of days to mull it over, I really liked it.
I’ve just returned from the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Monroe, New Jersey, which was the venue for Legends of the Ring XX. This was my first LOTR (and 2nd convention overall) so I was very anxious to see if it would live up to the hype.
It did. And then some.
I’m doing a full, detailed recap of the event. It’s going to be a LONG read with LOTS of pictures but hopefully you’ll enjoy it.
But, first, let’s start with a bit of a downer: Terry Funk was a scheduled “Superticket” guest but, unfortunately, had to cancel due to illness. He came down with a nasty case of pneumonia back in late April and he still hasn’t recovered. It also sounds like Mr. Funk is retiring from all wrestling related shows/conventions. That’s obviously very upsetting because Mr. Funk is one of the greatest icons wrestling has ever known. I know all of us wish him nothing but good health and a full recovery very, very soon.
Also, it was announced that the Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) canceled. Again. I was supposed to meet them back in March at the Big Event but they canceled due to plane trouble. Okay, no problem. I was excited to catch them at Legends but…nope. “Travel issues” prevented them from coming. Ugh.
Other cancellations: One Man Gang/Akeem, Jake “the Snake” Roberts, and Sunny. I’m not sure about Greg Gagne because I don’t remember seeing him.
Okay, so the day began bright and early. My lovely girlfriend and I left Long Island a little after 7:15 AM and reached the Crowne Plaza a little after 9:00 AM. There was relatively no traffic although we did see the aftermath of this horrific accident, pictured above. Man, I hope those people are ok.
We walked into the hotel lobby, picked up our G.A. tickets, and headed inside the vendor room. Before I go any further, I have to describe to you what this room looks like. It’s absolutely jam packed – I mean JAM PACKED – with tables. What’s normally a fairly big event room suddenly felt and looked a lot smaller. The tables are usually occupied with the wrestler’s but there were plenty of vendors selling various pieces of memorabilia. It’s definitely overwhelming, even if you’re used to dealing with large crowds.
Immediately stationed to your left upon entrance is WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel, who is hosting Legends of the Ring. The Fink was even attired in his tuxedo! Kayfabe will never, ever die! On your right hand side was a vendor seemingly selling every single action figure ever made. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic but damn.
The first stop of the day was newly inducted WWE Hall of Famer Bushwhacker Luke, who was stationed all the way in the back of the room and had no line. Luke was very, very nice and took a great pic. He signed the Buschwhacker’s entry in the WWE Encyclopedia.
I aimlessly walked around the room until I spotted someone I have always wanted meet: “The Franchise” Shane Douglas! The ECW Original was unadvertised so this was a very pleasant surprise. Douglas was absolutely FANTASTIC! Seriously, what a GREAT (x100) guy! We talked about ECW, a new promotion coming out of Vegas that will hook wrestler’s up with health benefits (about time!), and just about the event in general. He signed his entry in the WWE Encyclopedia, an 8×10, and took this awesome picture with me. The best part? I saw him about 30 minutes later and as I passed him he said, “Hey there, Anthony! Getting a lot of autographs?” HE REMEMBERED MY NAME! I’m still marking out, bros.
I then made my way over to Rockstar Spud, who was dressed in his finest floral blazer. He was a really nice guy, especially with the kids. I had him sign my 2014 TNA program and took this cool picture with him.
ECW original Danny Doring was up next, who immediately complimented my t-shirt! Doring was very nice and signed his entry in the Encyclopedia. I also got to pose with the ECW World Tag Team Championship! How freaking awesome was that?!?! Also of note: The Amish Roadkill, Doring’s former tag team partner, was also at the convention as a figure vendor. I didn’t see them pose for pictures together, which is odd. Maybe I just missed it.
Up next was Rob Conway, who also complimented my t-shirt! He told me he owns authentic Macho Man shades and he’s lending them to Damien Sandow, who’s now doing a Macho Man impression/gimmick. Nice little nugget of info there! Rob signed his solo entry in the Encyclopedia as well as the La Resistance page. I also posed with his NWA World Heavyweight Championship, which was so overwhelmingly awesome. Rob wanted me to point at the belt like Macho Man is doing on my t-shirt.
I then found the man I was really looking forward to meeting: Jim Cornette! Boy, Mr. Cornette did NOT disappoint! What a PHENOMENAL guy! He eagerly signed my WWE Encyclopedia and took this awesome picture with me – all before I handed him the money! I asked him how much and his response was unreal: autographs AND pictures were…FREE! However, he was selling numerous items and he asked if I would be interested in any of them. I saw something that originally caught my eye online a few weeks ago: “The Midnight Express and Jim Cornette 25th Anniversary Scrapbook.” I decided to make the purchase and he gladly signed that as well. Great stuff from a great man.
Colt Cabana was up next. He was very nice and signed his entry in the WWE Encyclopedia (Scotty Goldman!). He also took this cool pic with me. Cabana was a few tables away from Mr. Cornette, which is interesting considering Cabana’s recent Kevin Owens jab at him.
I then spotted “The Iceman” Dean Malenko, who was a bit pricey but I pre-ordered a combo because he’s rarely makes appearances. Malenko was actually a lot more personable than I thought he would be. He signed his entry in the WWE Encyclopedia and took this awesome pic of us throwing up the four fingers. He’s the 2nd Horsemen I’ve met this year. Truly an honor meeting one of the most gifted technical wrestlers of all-time.
I made a stop at Val Venis‘ table, who was very nice. He signed his entry in the WWE Encyclopedia, a small towel, and took this cool pic. Val was a staple of the Attitude Era and I think he’s really underappreciated/underrated. He was a solid worker who was gold on the microphone. I remember feeling so pissed when he abandoned his gimmick to join the Right to Censor. They were the worst! Boo censorship.
I decided to get a combo for Howard Finkel, who was very nice and made sure our picture came out well enough. He signed his entry in the Encyclopedia. By the way, The Fink did a great job hosting the event. It’s not an unimportant job: he let you know who was currently signing in the vendor room and he announced all the blocks for the Super Ticket and Shawn Michaels signings. Great job.
It was time to hit the Super Ticket room and boy…talk about crowded and congested. That room is TINY. There’s a maze of tables that serve as stanchions and there’s so many damn people. I was pleasantly surprised that they allowed G.A. Superticket holders to come in before 11:00 AM.
I passed on Magnum T.A. because I met him back in March at the Big Event and I just didn’t have anything else for him to sign. I also didn’t splurge for a Jackie Moore ticket because, well…I can always get her signature at the next con.
Up first was Baron Von Raschke, who was very nice. He signed his entry in the Encyclopedia. I’m kicking myself for neglecting to spring for a picture of him and I doing the Claw. Oh well, maybe next time. It was still an honor meeting a legend!
Next was Kimberly Page of WCW fame. She was stunningly beautiful and, predictably, had the longest line in the room because she’s a rare get. I believe she did LOTR years and years ago but I could be wrong. She was very sweet and signed her small picture that was featured in the WCW: Ultimate Guide book that I’ve had forever. Seriously, that book is over a decade old. Flipping through through it gave me an odd mix of nostalgia and bad feelings towards WCW. It’s still hard to believe they messed up the way that they did.
Rocky “Soulman” Johnson – a.k.a. The Rock’s father – was up next. Johnson replaced Terry Funk on the Super Ticket and he was very, very pleasant. He signed his entry in the Encyclopedia. He, too, commented on my Macho Man shirt but it wasn’t a happy conversation. Apparently, Mr. Johnson saw Macho Man pass away after his traffic heart attack (that resulted in a bad car accident). As I was trying to take my photo with Mr. Johnson, he kept telling me how sad he was that Savage was gone. Everyone felt that way. You’re truly missed, Macho Man.
The last Super Ticket guest during this block was the first ever Intercontinental Champion and WWE Hall of Famer: Pat Patterson. Funny story time: Patterson kept screaming, “FIVE MINUTES! FIVE MINUTES LEFT” literally every 30 seconds or so. I’m pretty sure everyone waiting on line had a heart attack the first time they heard him say that! Patterson was very nice and signed his entry in the Encyclopedia. I also enjoyed overseeing his chatter with Rocky Johnson, who was seated to his right.
Funny story #2: There was a fan who purchased the Superticket (which is $200) and he had nothing to sign. He also didn’t want any pictures. What DID he want? He was requesting every S.T. guest to do a video recording of them plugging his podcast. Patterson had the best reaction. He literally had no idea what this guy was asking him to do because the fan did a terrible, terrible job of explaining what he wanted. Patterson just stared at him blankly before the guy gave up and got a picture with him. It was hilarious.
Current TNA Knockout and former WWE Diva Mickie James was next on my list. Mickie was a real sweetheart and was super, super friendly with everyone she met. I also want to give a quick shout out to Ultimate Starz Promotions, who brought her, Magnus, and Bobby Roode in. They’re a great promotion. Mickie signed her entry in the WWE Encyclopedia and took this picture with me.
Following Mickie was Bobby Roode, who I met back at Big Event. This time around, though, I had him sign something: his entry in the 2014 TNA program. Very nice but quiet guy. On a sidenote, he was conversing with fellow TNA wrestler Ken Anderson. I had no idea Anderson was scheduled for this con! He’s a really great guy and a must meet for anyone considering him.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this: Mick Foley, dressed as Mankind, had NO LINE whatsoever. Before I went into the Super Ticket room, I had gotten on the LENGTHY Foley line. I expected the line to be even worse by the time I got back but…nope. Mick was just sitting there, checking his phone. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to meet him once again and I’m glad I did. Mick – Mankind, excuse me – was awesome! He signed his entry in the WWE Encyclopedia and took this awesome pic.
Next was the “Divas” section. Up first was Taryn Terrell, formerly known as Tiffany in the WWE. She was VERY sweet and very personable. She signed her entry in the Encyclopedia and took a pic with me. Very sweet person.
Following Taryn was Melina, who brought her little dog Bandit! Melina was unbelievably awesome! She was very sweet and talkative. She said she loves coming down to these conventions and talking to her fans. “You guys are like family,” she said. She signed her entry in the Encyclopedia and took a pic with me! Definitely go out and meet Melina if you have the chance.
Rounding out the Divas corner was Kelly Blank, formerly Kelly Kelly in the WWE. She was VERY sweet. She, too, signed her entry in the Encyclopedia and took this pic with me.
Up next was “The Total Package” Lex Luger, who was looking great! Lex and I had a brief discussion about the Yankees, particularly how awesome Alex Rodriguez is doing. Lex signed his entry in the Encyclopedia and took this awesome pic with me. Great, great guy.
Following Lex was Hardcore Holly, who was having a chat with X-Pac while I patiently waited. I get a kick out of seeing wrestlers converse with one another. It’s the mark in me, what can I say? Anyways, Holly was once again awesome and signed the “Holly Cousins” and “New Midnight Express” entries in the Encyclopedia. I also took this sweet pic posing with his WWF Hardcore Championship!
Next was Molly Holly, who was nice. She signed her solo entry and the “Holly Cousins” entry. She had her WWE Women’s Championship but I didn’t get a chance to hold it.
Following Molly Holly was “The Whole F’n Show” Rob Van Dam, who also had no line! RVD was cool as hell and signed his entry in the Encyclopedia. By the way, all the Divas came up to RVD. Always the coolest guy in the room, that RVD is.
Next was Eric Young of TNA. Very nice guy who commented on how tall I am. “You’re taller than me…damn it!” Great guy! He signed his entry in the TNA program. When he was signing he looked at the photo and says, “Damn I look angry!” He sure did!
Next was Larry Zbyzsko. I pre-ordered his “Hall of Fame” package, which included the following: 1 signed 8×10, 1 of your own items signed, and a picture wearing his HOF ring! Larry’s an awesome guy, very approachable and friendly. I didn’t get to wear the ring – it actually looked too small – but Larry showed it to me in great detail. It’s a really nice ring.
It was now lunch time. We ate at Yogi’s, the restaurant inside the hotel. We were seated right behind Baron Von Raschke and his wife (who was getting so annoyed at the waitress lol), a few seats away from Kevin Sullivan, who was right in front of Aksana. If that wasn’t cool enough, New Jack, RobConway, Mr. Anderson, Rockstar Spud, and Bill Apter came in while we were eating. Funny story #3: New Jack was drinking at the bar when two fans approached him for a pic. New Jack obliged them but man…you can tell that man did not want to be at LOTR. He seems to genuinely hate marks.
After our meal, I went back into the vendor’s room and purchased a combo for Sabu! I always wanted to meet him and I’m glad I did. Yes, he was quiet and didn’t say much but I didn’t mind. He was actually very polite. Someone named The Genie posed with us…no idea who she was. She introduced herself after the the photo op. She seemed nice enough but…yeah. No idea. I think she’s Sabu’s new valet.
The end was near. G.A. was called for the 2nd block of the Super Ticket and it was a looonnngggg wait. MVP had his own room and a short line so he was up first. Nice guy, especially with the kids. He signed his entry in the Encyclopedia.
After waiting on line for 20-30 minutes, a LOTR staff member noticed that only 15 or so G.A. Super Ticket holders were left. The line inside the room was MASSIVE. It just turned 3:00 PM and I was sure I wouldn’t make it out of that room before 4:00 PM. But guess what? Another staff member asked me who I had from this block, which was Bart Gunn and The New Age Outlaws. He decided to ESCORT ME into the room and I cut the MASSIVE line! I quickly met Bart, who signed the “New Midnight Express” and “Smokin’ Gunns” entries in the Encyclopedia…
….before I was quickly ushered to The Outlaws, who were AWESOME. They signed their entry in the Encyclopedia before taking this pic with me. Yes, it was a little rushed but man…THEY LET ME CUT THE WHOLE LINE!!! Granted, I didn’t get the other Super Ticket guests (The Conquistadors were the other S.T. guests) but still…toally didn’t expect that. Big shout out to the LOTR event staff on that one.
Woof. That took FOREVER to write!!! But man, what an awesome experience! And I just wanted to take this time to thank my amazing, wonderful girlfriend for putting up with me. What a champion and what a supporter of my crazy, time and money consuming hobby. You’re the best, babe!
Let me know if you were at LOTR! Share your experiences, stories, anecdotes, etc!
I’ll be attending my very first Legends of the Ring fanfest tomorrow morning and I am beyond excited for it. I’m extremely grateful that I purchased my G.A. tickets back in April because the event has completely sold out.
The host of Legends of the Ring XX is WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel, who will also be available for photo ops/autographs.
There’s a ton of big names scheduled to appear, headlined by “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. Sadly, I won’t be meeting HBK for two reasons: I already met him back in 2003 and meeting him would significantly cut into my time at the vendor tables. Maybe next time, HBK.
I will, however, meet several other talent from wrestling’s past (and some present). The Superticket guests I’ll be meeting: The New Age Outlaws, Rocky Johnson (who replaced an ailing Terry Funk), Pat Patterson, Kimberly Page, MVP, Bart Gunn, and Baron Von Raschke. I didn’t think I was going to get so many names from the Superticket guest list otherwise I would’ve sprung for the Super Ticket package. Oh well, I’ll do so next time.
Vendor guests include: The Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray), Rob Van Dam, Greg Gagne, “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart, Jerry Saggs of The Nasty Boys, The Boogeyman, Trevor Murdoch, Mickie James, Magnus, Eric Young, Rockstar Spud, Bobby Roode, “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan, *the bWo, *Bully Ray, Sabu, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, New Jack, *Raven, Justin Credible, Dean Malenko, The One Man Gang/Akeem, Bushwhacker Luke, Blue Pants, Mandy Leon, Val Venis, *X-Pac, *Curt Hawkins, P.J. Black (Justin Gabriel), *Rikishi, *Mick Foley, Justin Roberts, *Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, *Larry Zbyszko, *Hardcore Holly, Molly Holly, Danny Doring, Rob Conway, Kelly Kelly, Melina, Aksana, and Taryn Terrell.
Independent Wrestling Talent: Jim Cornette, J.J. Dillon, *Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, Sunny, Crowbar, Big Sal, Roadkill, Gary Michael Cappetta, Colt Cabana, and Andrew Anderson.
Got all that? The * indicates that I’ve already met them. I had great, great experiences with almost all of them (looking at you Bully Ray and Greg Valentine).
There’s a huge ECW presence at this event and some pretty rare names (Malenko, One Man Gang). Also, Hardcore Holly will bring his WWF Hardcore Title, Danny Doring his ECW World Tag Team Championship, and Rob Conway his NWA World Heavyweight Championship. So. Awesome.
So, there ya have it. I’ll make a new post recapping the event (like I did with the Big Event on WFIGS). Hell, maybe I’ll post my recap now(ish).