This was a great lineup featuring Rey Mysterio Jr. as the headlining guest, Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, Abdullah the Butcher, and many more big names.Some of the greatest talent in professional wrestling history would be brought together for a mere four hours. It seemed like an impossible task to meet and greet with some many legends, icons, Hall of Famers, and everyone in between. So how'd it go?
My experience actually didn't start off too well. The Harlem Heat, Sycho Sid, Trevor Murdoch, and Earl Hebner cancelled their appearances the night before The Big Event due to their respective flight problems. I had pre-ordered tickets for Harlem Heat ($60 combo!) and Sid ($30 combo) and was really looking forward to meeting them; in fact, I had come close to meeting Sid just months ago but he cancelled last minute. Apparently, Sid and his promoter/vendor did all they could to bring him to the Event but they couldn't find him a flight. Bummer, indeed. Thankfully, anyone who pre-ordered would be issued refunds (yay!). Taryn Terrell also cancelled due to personal issues.
I ended up meeting Sid at the following Big Event and the Harlem Heat at this June's LOTR. I've yet to meet Hebner or Murdoch despite a couple of opportunities. As for Terrell, I met her months later at my first LOTR. I believe she's distancing herself from wrestling due to religious beliefs?
I, of course, ended up creating the Big Event Pre-Order page and I'm glad it's seemed to have help a decent amount of people. It really is mind-boggling that they didn't offer up direct links on their main site (ala WrestleCon). They've actually somewhat done it this year while LOTR has not. It just doesn't make sense.Before I get into the day of the event, I have to comment on the process leading up to it. The organizers of the Big Event were bringing in Ric Flair, Pete Rose, and Terri Runnels. They, of course, allowed multiple promotions to bring in talent for the event. My main issue is that the Big Event website did not offer up direct links to the different promotion's websites. You had to track them down via Facebook to find their websites or even just prices for who they were bringing in. Thankfully, a couple of different Facebook pages were created to make things a bit easier but still...it was a bit of a headache.
There was actually big controversy around Chavo signing early. A lot of vendors were pissed that Big Event was allowing this to happen. They feared that vendor (I forgot who brought him in) would end up making significantly more money while they couldn't. The Facebook drama surrounding this was just jaw dropping. One vendor threatened to flip over Chavo's table. Just nuts.Okay, let's get to the day of the Big Event. We arrived at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel at 8:40 AM and found a parking spot right in front of the hotel. Getting to these types of places early is essential, folks. Anyways, the actual event wasn't supposed to start until 10:00 AM but we had gotten word that Chavo Guerrero, Jr. would be signing early. I had pre-ordered a combo ticket to meet Chavo and I wanted to get to him as early as possible.
I still remember the feeling of my heart sinking, thinking the lines to meet these wrestlers would be astronomical. I pre-ordered mostly everyone I met. About five minutes later, it was my turn to meet a member of one of the greatest wrestling families of all-time! Chavo was SUPER AWESOME! I cannot stress to all of you how nice and attentive he was. He thanked me for coming down and thanked me for all the praise I was giving him. Awesome, awesome guy.[/quote]
We entered the Plaza and saw a rather large line had already formed. I noticed a table was set up in the middle of the lobby and my heart sank for a moment. Was this gigantic line for Chavo Guerrero? If Chavo attracted such a large line, how would I possibly have time to meet everyone else? Moments later, Chavo came down and began signing. That's when I realized that the large line was for the G.A. Chavo had a separate, much smaller line and so I quickly headed over to his table.
I most likely would've asked Chavo to sign the Los Guerreros entry in addition to his solo entry. Now I'm gonna have to pay for his autograph again because of my rookie mistake. I probably would've asked him to sign the Los Guerreros entry as well. Now I have to pay for his autograph again.
I should've asked to pose with the belts but I was way too intimated. Rookie mistake #2! This is getting upsetting! I am kicking myself for failing to get an AJ Styles autograph. I was on a Barnes and Noble bookseller's salary and was nearly broke from this convention. I flat-out couldn't afford a Styles auto or nearly anything else. Now I desperately need his autograph in my ROH/NJPW Global Wars '14 program. I've gotten the Bucks a few times but I still have a few items that I need their autos on.
After that, I quickly spotted the 2nd stop for the day: The Bullet Club. I had pre-ordered a Photo-Op with AJ Styles and The Young Bucks and I was beyond excited to meet three unbelievably talented wrestlers. There was only one or two people ahead of me in line and, within minutes, it was my turn to meet The Bullet Club. I first met The Bucks, who were so freaking friendly! They were also displaying their IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles, something I thought was especially cool. They then got the attention of THE man of the Bullet Club: AJ Styles, who had brought his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship with him as well. AJ was VERY nice and we posed for the quintessential Bullet Club pic. AWESOME guys! Highly recommend meeting them, especially The Bucks.
I actually still need a Kizarny, who's a really obscure nameSeated next to The Bucks was Kizarny, someone I didn't see advertised for the event. I didn't have the funds to get an autograph or pic
Again: kicking myself in the ass for failing to get something that is now going to be much more difficult (and expensive) to obtain.
...but I did want an autograph from the man seated next to him: Samoa Joe. Fortunately, Joe did not have much of a line. I went right up to him, shook his hand, and told him he was one of my favorites. He was a very chill and humble duded and thanked me for coming down. He signed the cover to my ROH Bloondstained Honor DVD, which has him beating on the Necro Butcher. I've always loved that cover. Also, here's an interesting tidbit: there was a father/son combo in front of me who asked Joe to sign the cover of their 2nd edition WWE Encyclopedia. Joe grinned at the request and signed their cover. It seems like Joe really loves all the speculation that he's headed to the WWE...and he didn't really do much to shoot that down.
I need Raven on a bunch of stuff and I really hope he'll be willing to sign as Johnny Polo (need that entry in the Encyclopedia).
A few seats to Joe's right was Raven, who I pre-ordered an autograph+picture with. He had no line so I went right up to him and, once again, he was another super nice dude! He actually seemed really happy to be in attendance. I expected him to be standoffish but...he wasn't!
Jake was scheduled for LOTR that June but was a no-show. I ended up meeting him at Eternal Con and he had no merchandise to sell (thankfully). I need an upgraded pic with Jake and I'll likely get that done at Big Event.Next to Raven was Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who I held off on meeting (I plan on meeting him at another event). Plus, I heard Jake is a bit pushy with his merchandise. He did look to be in great spirits, though, and he looked very healthy. Good for him.
There hasn't been a next time and, once again, I'm kicking myself for not scoring his autograph.Across from the Bucks/Raven/Roberts/Kizarny/Joe line was Amazing Red and another TNA wrestler I didn't recognize. Easy pass, though I plan on scoring a Red autograph next time.
I'm glad I'm not kicking myself over this one as Dusty passed away months later. Meeting him was such an honor, especially because he seemed very humbled by all of the praise.
Next, we headed in a small yet CROWDED room. Seriously, this room was not wide enough to hold the collection of people that were in it. Who the heck was in this room that attracted so much attention? It was none other than "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes! Dusty's line was decent but not as long as I expected. I had pre-ordered a combo ticket and now seemed like a good time to cash it in, especially because the line wasn't nearly as long as I thought it'd be. While we were waiting, a rather large man entered the crowd and started shouting "WHERE'S DUSTY?!?!" I recognized that man...it was Bubba Ray Dudley! Bubba continued with, "YOU'RE THE ONLY REASON I TOOK THIS BOOKING! I'm gonna sit next to you all day and 'Talk like dis, if ya wheel!''" Dusty and the crowd got a BIG chuckle out of that! Also, Jose Estrada of the Conquistadors came over and greeted Dusty. About 10 minutes later, it was my turn to meet The Dream and man...it was such an honor! I was honestly a little starstruck! It didn't help that Dusty was so casual, so cool about everything. I think he even seemed a little taken aback with all the praise he was getting. Super cool, nice man.
Possibly the worst meet I've ever had. It always feels like such a fucking rip off when someone who's PAID to sign and take photos looks like they'd rather do anything else. Suck it up for a few hours. I also hate how this photo op turned out and I definitely need an upgrade, which I should get soon since they've left the WWE.
I quickly made my way towards the Dudley's table, which had about 3 or 4 people in front of me. Both of the Dudleys were really...ok. D-Von was quiet but was nice enough to shake my hand and thank me for coming down. Bubba was really distracted with everything going on around him. It definitely felt like I didn't have his full attention, which I guess is understandable. Still, the Dudley'z are one of the best tag teams of all-time and it was nice to meet them.
I have yet to meet any of them with the exception of ECIII. I'm kicking myself for passing on Abby! I'll likely meet Massaro at the upcoming LOTR and Dutt at a WrestlePro show the day before LOTR. Long and Boogeyman will be back around.It was time for a break! That room had a way of sucking the life out of you. On the way out I noticed that Abdullah the Butcher, Theodore Long, Ashley Massaro, Sonjay Dutt, and The Boogeyman (in full make up) were setting up their tables. Oh...and I also BUMPED right into EC3!!! I apologized for bumping into him and told him I was a big fan. He smiled and thanked me before going off to find his table.
While taking a break, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine stumbled in with his entourage! The Hammer was searching for his table, which would be set-up in that ultra small room. Sigh.
Probably my favorite encounter yet.
Break time was over and we made our way back to the lobby...where Bobby Heenan and Larry Zbyszko were set-up! Man, seeing Bobby was so heartbreaking. Their table had no line and people were just passing them left and right; I'm not sure many people recognized who Bobby was. I wanted an autograph from each but, more importantly, I wanted to thank Bobby for bringing so much joy into my life. I went up to him and said, "It is such an honor to meet you, Mr. Heenan." He looked at me and pointed at a stack of 8X10s. I wanted Bobby to sign my Encyclopedia but if the Brain was doing 8x10s only than who was I to argue? Then, Bobby pointed to his name printed on the 8x10. I was confused...and Zbyszko started to hysterical laugh at me! He said, "He wants you to call him, Bobby! Not 'Mr. Heenan!'" Of course I quickly said, "Oh I'm so sorry, Mr. Heenan!" which caused him and Zbyszko to die of laughter! Bobby signed his entry (which was heartbreaking in it of itself...he could barely write). I then went over to Zbyszko, who was so freaking cool! EXCELLENT guy! More importantly, though, I was so glad to meet a legend like The Brain.
The Godwinns have yet to do another Big Event or LOTR (or any other con?) so I'm very, VERY glad I met them at this convention.
Up next were the Godwinns, who were very quiet but nice. Phineas quickly signed his entry and we were waiting on Henry O. to sign his...and we waited...and waited...and waited. First, Henry was conversing with a woman who was cutting all the lines and talking to the talent. Then, he just started drinking his coffee and sort of day dreamed off. Mideon tapped him about 8-10 times before he realized he needed to sign and pose for a photo. Good dudes but...lol @ Henry.
I got got. $30 for a Valentine autograph is brutal but I simply didn't know better. It's funny, I still have a few entries in the Encyclopedia for him to sign but I'm so hesitant to even approach his table. Give me tips.I made my way to Valentine's table...which ended up being a little bit of a mistake. One, he didn't have a vendor and was handling the money himself...which I didn't have a problem with but it's really awkward to negotiate/turn down a freaking Hall of Famer. Plus, he brought his son with him who starred in a Skittles commercial and is a wrestler himself. He wanted $20 for a signed 8X10 but would quickly asked for just $5. I felt bad saying no. Call me a sucker, I guess. Valentine was cool but he charged a hefty $30 for an autograph. Ouch.
I've yet to meet Gabriel but I did met Hawkins, who was in fact a nice guy.We made our way into a bigger room where I immediately spotted Justin Gabriel standing to my left. His prices were just a tad more than I was willing to pay so he's in the "next time" group. Same for Curt Hawkins, who I heard is a great guy.
My first mooch although it was entirely accidental. A Beer Money photo op sure is looking great right now considering they just broke up and no longer work for the same company (I hope Storm returns to NXT but I doubt he'll team with Roode).
I quickly spotted my next targets: Beer Money. Well, I was originally going to meet just James Storm as Bobby Roode was a late edition after Nash had cancelled. I had pre-ordered a Storm combo but Bobby was nice enough to jump into the pic (or maybe he wasn't aware/cared that he had his own set prices). I can't complain about a free pic! Storm was SUPER FRIENDLY while Roode was polite but quiet.
I legit thought he was actor Billy Brown. Whoops.
After them I made my way to Ezekiel Jackson, who had no line. Nice dude, very intimidating figure. Almost didn't recognize him without his goatee!
She was a bit bizarre. Very wide-eyed and almost overwhelmed.
Next was Awesome Kong, who was friendly but...I don't know. She seemed a little overwhelmed? Nice enough but something was a bit off...
He was meh. Polite but not the Jerry Lawler I expected.
Next was Jerry "The King" Lawler, who had about 2 people in line. King was a nice guy, albeit on the quiet side. Nothing too memorable, though he did bring his legendary crown with him. Awesome.
I've yet to meet The Godfather and $60 for all his autos in the Encyclopedia sounds like a decent deal to me. I'm hoping he'll appear at the Wrestling Universe so I can bang out all his entries for the price of 1 combo.Next to King was The Godfather, who had a $60 WWE Encyclopedia special going on. Sadly, I didn't have the funds for that. Definitely next time.
Super glad I got to meet Putski because he hasn't been back since.
I made my way towards the Wrestling Universe line where Ivan Putski was stationed. I was shocked at how small he was, even though he'd a fairly older gentlemen. He was a class act and insisted on standing for all pictures. Awesome guy.
I ended up meeting Maven again as he was part of a LOTR Superticket. My interaction with Anderson is one of my all-time favorites.
Next to Putski was Maven and Mr. Anderson (formerly Mr. Kennedy). I met Maven at a bar years ago so he was an easy pass. I had a pre-order for Anderson, who had no line...so now seemed like a great time to get that done. Man, Anderson/Kennedy was AMAZING. SUPER FRIENDLY guy! I'm a rather tall dude and when we did our photo op, Anderson looked up at me with a wide-eyed expression. Such a great pic.
First and last time and I'm not referring to Aries. I actually hope to meet him againA...
I headed over to the RF Video tables to knock out my Austin Aries combo. Aries was SUPER NICE and very laid back. Highly recommend
NEW MIDNIGHT EXPRESS PHOTO OP!
Next was the trio of Hardcore Holly, Bart Gunn (New Midnight Express!), and Road Warrior Animal. Gunn was first and he was very nice. He made a really decent effort to talk with fans and whatnot. Hardcore Holly was seated next to him and, man, Holly was SUPER AWESOME. Great, polite guy who was answering every question fans had for him. Awesome dude
He had his shoulder spikes and I wish I would've asked to have worn it for our photo op.
Animal was cool, tool. He was very laid back and casual...plus, he was in face paint and brought his shoulder spikes with him, which he was letting people put on during pics! He could've been a bit more attentive but no big deal.
[quoteY]ou know what table got the most attention? THE DIVAS! Brooke, Kelly Kelly, Melina, Rosita (?), and Velvet Sky had hordes of men around them. I didn't have much interest in meeting them but they're definitely next timers. Kelly Kelly, in particular, looked stunning. [/quote]
I've since met them all.
Magnum would end up being apart of that June's LOTR Superticket. I wish that was announced in advance because I could've taken that $40 and spent it elsewhere (like on AJ Styles). That's the risk though.
The day was almost over. I realized that I had three more to go: Magnum TA, Terri, and Ric Flair. Wait...Magnum! He was supposed to be with Dusty and The Dudley'z but I certainly didn't see him! My heart raced and I feared he cancelled. After making numerous rounds around the entire Plaza (and annoying my girlfriend), I finally found him...seated at a table in between the Dudley's and Dusty! Magnum was sitting on some sort of scooter so I didn't see him. Anyways, Magnum was a VERY NICE man. Such an honor meeting him
I still need more stuff signed.
On my way out, I noticed that Rhyno had showed up! He was unadvertised but he had taken over Samoa Joe's spot. I quickly purchased a ticket and had him sign my Encyclopedia. Rhyno's a germaphobe, by the way. He's one of those guys who fist bumps you but won't shake your hand. And he didn't say much...whatever.
I'm about to meet Terri for the third time at the next LOTR. She will be #VIRGILIZEDNext was Terri, who had a decent line that did. not. move. Seriously, I waited on her line for a good half-hour! She got up twice within five minutes! But she was SUPER NICE and an absolute SWEETHEART! She was making the time to talk with her fans and made sure all photos came out well. Great to meet her and, I have to say, she looked great.
This makes me want to meet the Nature Boy again. Maybe at RICC.
Finally...it was Ric Flair time. My girlfriend was holding my spot in line and it was moving at a decent pace. We were almost there...when Dusty comes walking over! Apparently, someone had setup a photo op with Dusty and Flair! How cool was that! It lasted about 5-10 minutes before Dusty left for the day. I finally got to Flair and man...CLASS! ACT! Flair was AMAZING! He was so talkative and smiley and just...ugh. Great guy and I was so honored to meet him. He told me, "The honor is all mine, brother." And he was absolutely beaming with pride over Charlotte. Just...beyond words what it was like to meet Flair.
Sorry to bother you, Disco. I've yet to formally meet him.As I made my way outside, I noticed Larry Z. taking a group photo with a bunch of girls. Standing next to them was...Disco Inferno?!? I approached him and shook hands with him though he definitely seemed annoyed. Oh well.