Saturday, 20 June 2015

New Orleans... We're Here! [03/04/14]

So where were we? Oh that's right; awesome night out, meeting NXT Superstars, Prad is wasted and Rihan ended up at the wrong hotel. Now that we're up to speed, let's continue...

SO the next morning, I decided to check out the gym at the hotel. I'd been training the weeks building up to Mania, and wanted to do at least a little bit of training while we were on holiday. At least enough to burn off the alcohol from the night before. Prad came along with me, and since he'd had considerably more to drink than the rest of us - he had a fair bit more to burn off than I did. The next time you have a hangover, try hit the gym first thing the next morning and see if that helps. I know it sounds like torture but it's always been a surefire way for me to get over it a lot faster. Also I noticed when I train regularly, the chances of a hangover are very slim. It's as true as the saying goes, "Look after your body, and your body will look after you".

It was a REALLY basic gym by the way. It was like a small box room, with a window facing a garden outside that was in the middle of all the buildings. Two running machines, some weight sets and a broken water fountain. I cannot train without keeping hydrated. Hell, I can't do anything without keeping hydrated! I LOVE my fruit juices of all kind, and water is a must!

I went back to the lobby to get us some Gatorade. Prad would keep mentioning that he didn't understand what had happened with him last night, as we warmed up on the treadmills. He said it wasn't like him to get as smashed as he did, and this was probably a sign of things that were still to come. After some weight training, under the hot New Orleans sun, it was time to head back up and meet the others. I found training in that heat a lot more challenging, but like after most workouts you'll feel pretty good.

Oh did I say that Prad had drank considerably more than the rest of us? I mean if that was the case, then the casualties were mounting! Shanks wasn't exactly having the best morning either, but then again it wouldn't be a holiday if everything always went to plan.

After grabbing some tea from the hotel lobby, Rihan, Pradeep and I set out to get some food in. One of the great things about WrestleMania being hosted by the city of New Orleans was the fact that it wasn't the largest city - which made bumping into people a frequent occurrence. Our first encounter would be with a wrestler whom we'd previously seen wrestle not more than a few months back at York Hall, UK - Ricochet! We literally had only been out of our hotel for a few minutes, and he was right at the end corner of the street we had been staying at. He was cool enough to stop and have a pretty good conversation with us while at the same time handing out flyers promoting a show he was working.

One of the events Rihan and I had debated attending or not was the 'Kaiju Big Battel' (my apologies if I've spelt that wrong). From what I understood it was a wrestling show with costumed monster characters. Turns out that Ricochet had once been in one of those costume suits for Kaiju Big Battel and highly recommended the show. He also mentioned during this conversation that he was considering checking out the WWE PC. I assume in terms of joining the 'E it was a case of making more money on the Indy circuit or choosing to join NXT and accepting a little less cash, but I could be wrong. He also mentioned that the other half of the Inner City Machine Guns was around somewhere; Rich Swann was getting a Subway down the street. All in all I have nothing but good things to say about Ricochet, always entertains in the ring and a very down to Earth individual outside. He's always made time for us, no matter where we've bumped into him.

Starbucks buddies

(from left to right) Me, Ricochet, Rihan

The journey continued.. but we didn't have to wait too long for our very first taste of New Orleans's traditional cuisine that we'd heard so much about. Lucky for us, we were about to eat in one of the best restaurants in New Orleans! If you're ever in downtown New Orleans, make sure you check out: Mulates

Mulates
This was a great place where we learned that Southern Hospitality was a real thing, customer service was awesome and the food was even better! I'd heard people say before that they'd travel all the way to Nola just for the food, and I have to admit: that's just something I didn't understand. That is until I got my chicken jambalaya. I was in love! What a dish! I'm sure Rihan had ordered the same thing and Prad had gotten himself some gumbo soup.

Rihan and his Jambalaya
Aside from the great tasting cuisine, I was really impressed by the little things. Like the portions, which were in fact, not so little compared to what we are used to. The New Orleans theme inside also set a pretty sweet ambiance. As I'd started watching the NFL in recent years, I could really appreciate the New Orleans Saints memorabilia around the restaurant walls.


Again, another upside to the town's size was that the convention center where Axxess would be held was fairly close by. I'd say less than 15 minutes walk away from the hotel. It was all starting to sink in as we approached the pillars outside the Ernest N. Morial convention center which were plastered with superstars such as John Cena and Daniel Bryan, and legends such as Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker. You just know we had to stop and pose :)

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The word "exciting" would be the understatement of the century if it was to be used to describe what the feeling in the air was at this moment. I'd never seen so much WWEness (I know it's not a word, but you know what I mean) in one place - from the billboards and posters on the streets, to the huge pillars outside the convention center wrapped with superstars.

Rob Schamberger

One of the first things we noticed upon arrival in the lobby was the awesome artwork by Rob Schamberger. There were so many interesting pieces and I ended up buying 2 poster prints of his work; one of the Ultimate Warrior, and one of Hulk Hogan.


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There was also a booth right near where Rob Schamberger was painting away where we could have some professional pictures taken with WWE championships. Who could say no to that?

Notice that we entitled this photo shoot "The Shield & Evolution" since we had all gone as Evolution. Now that you think about it, I guess we called it right, because it would only be a matter of time after WrestleMania that Evolution would indeed re-unite. But that's another story ;)

Right after this photo shoot, we met one of Rihan's friends from the last trip he had made to Mania. A friend he met in Atlanta, Georgia during WrestleMania 27 - Anthony. Now this guy had a crazy assortment of championship belts and he was kind enough for us to take a few more pictures with them.

Rihan had always mentioned Anthony to me, but now I could finally put a face to the name and was glad to make a new friend! Especially since he let me take some snaps as the Unified United States and Intercontinental Champion :)

The first time entering the WWE Superstore was an overwhelming experience. Not to mention that Summer Rae and Fandango were sitting at the table just outside the Superstar, and getting pictures taken with fans who had received the appropriate wrist bands.


As I said, walking into the WWE Superstore was an overwhelming experience. For those of you who are reading I want you to understand that this was the first time I'd ever seen a store like this. It's like the old saying goes, "I was like a kid in a candy store." Rihan said he felt like he'd died and gone to heaven.

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They had all kinds of merchandise from T-shirts, to mugs, Encyclopedias, replica title belts, bobble heads, posters - You name it and they probably had it! For those reading from the UK, it was like a giant WWE Primark when it came to the t-shirts.


One of the most interesting things I saw right off the bat was this limited (to 750) edition Undertaker statue figure encased in a glass box. This was something that would truly make any WWE collector salivate. It made my wallet cringe however, but I'm sure if I could afford to spend that much on a single thing I would get it! (Either that or a replica championship)

A collector's dream
We couldn't help but pick up a few bits and pieces from this WWE wonderland of goodies. Rihan picked up a few posters (3 of which he luckily got for free as they were mistaken for the free ones) as did I. Pradeep picked up an Erick Rowan sheep mask and we all got the one thing which was a must have for this trip. The Official WrestleMania XXX program! I must say, it was HUGE and beautifully made. All the artwork and pictures within were 'WrestleMania worthy' and definitely some great eye candy.

On the way back to the hotel, we totally marked out for this yellow school bus we seen parked up. It was just like in the movies! And I'd never seen one of them before in real life. This is what it must be like for people who comes to London and have never seen a red phone booth or London buses.


We made a quick stop to the hotel to drop off our WWE Shopping bags, and to freshen up (and to tell Shanks, who was still in bed, how amazingly good the WWE Superstore was) before heading out again and catching a cab to go to The House of Blues for 'Ringside: An Evening with Jim Ross'.


The architecture in New Orleans was always fascinating to me. The House of Blues was one of those very interesting looking buildings. It had that Southern saloon feel to it. At least the bar area did. It was comfortable theater style venue, which not only allowed people to view from the ground level but also had an upper floor from which people could look over the balcony. I wasn't looking to have any alcoholic beverages at the time, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I could have a large, monster sized cranberry juice for $3. The reason I said 'pleasantly surprised' is because at the bar I used to work at, it cost about £2.50 for a mixer (such as cranberry) for about 160ml (which is practically nothing). So far, the Dirty South was doing amazing for portion sizes for food and drink.

The show itself was a spoken word tour where Jim Ross would tell stories of his travels down the roads of professional wrestling, and to our surprise was joined about half way through by a good personal friend of his: Jim Cornette. One of the most memorable quotes from Jim Ross' spoken tour was that in the professional wrestling business, as in life: "Comfort zones are the kiss of death". Also learned was, don't try and take a picture of Andre the Giant when he's in the shower. The outcome will not be good for you.

Ross had hinted at Stone Cold Steve Austin being in the building for his second show in the evening, but we were running on a schedule and had to leave slightly before the show ended in order to make it to the haunted tour on time. I was skeptical at first, but the intrigue tipped the scales and I decided to go with the others.

Shanks and Pradeep would meet us, right outside the House of Blues before we all caught a cab to the meeting point of the haunted tour. There was a large group of people that had come to take the tour and the 2 tour leaders decided to split the teams in half. I'm pretty sure that 90% of the people taking the tours were wrestling fans.

The walk throughout the most haunted parts of New Orleans was actually pretty entertaining! Truth be told, even though we didn't see any ghosts, ghouls or vampires (actually I'm pretty sure I saw one modern-day vampire) we still got to learn some of the walking routes around town as well as getting somewhat of a history lesson about the origins (or history) of Nola. Put it this way, before this - I thought that Cajun was only the type of a spice condiment. Now I know that they are a type of people. I am better off for having taken the tour.




The lady who was giving us the tour also explained what the differences between Voodoo & Hoodoo were, as well as telling us stories along the way of strange occurrences that had previously taken place in spots of New Orleans. We even got to go past Marie Laveau's Voodoo shop. At the end of the tour she even pointed out a bar where all these modern day vampires hang out. It was around 9:50pm when the tour ended and Rihan and I decided to go down Bourbon street as opposed to having a drink with these vamps. Prad and Shanks would split from us to go hunt for some food. Bourbon Street was as buzzing as always!

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People could be seen throwing beads from balconys above to the passers by in the streets down below. Many dressed in costume as dogs, pigs, mascaraed masks and feathers. Along with live bands playing in bars and clubs on Bourbon street, truly embodying the spirit of the Mardi Gras Town of New Orleans, Louisiana. They know how to party, and have a good time, all night long!

After our stroll down Bourbon Street, Rihan and I soon caught a cab to Prytania Theater as we had tickets to the premiere screening of 'Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies'


Matt Hardy along with Reby Sky were advertised to be there, but by the time we arrived (which wasn't too late mind you) they had already left. We did however get to meet 'The Franchise' Shane Douglas, whom we had a long conversation with about many things including his time with Vince McMahon and traveling.. and how small the seats must be for wrestlers who are flying around the world. All casual conversations :)



I'm pretty sure that Rihan and I were a little worn out by the time the film started, as it had already been a long day. I hate being even slightly tired when watching movies, because you blink and you just might miss it. And then wake up several minutes later. This was one of those occasions where we blinked a little here and there but again, I'm pretty sure that between us we caught the whole film. *SPOILER ALERT* for anyone who plans on watching the film - my most memorable scenes from the movie are when the pencil gets used to lock a door (inside wrestling joke) and when Shane Douglas turns heel on Hacksaw Jim Duggan. This was also the first time in my life I had tried an ICEE - the American equivalent of Slush Puppy. T'was good.


After the film, we were talking to the film's director, Cody Knotts and Shane Douglas for about an hour after as Rihan marked out and asked question after question. They were cool enough to spend a good amount of time with us answering them.

The dude that was working at the theater was kind enough to call us a cab back to the hotel. This was probably the first time in my life I'd been to a one-screen theater, and it was great. It had a very homely feel to it, and the staff were friendly.

We would soon be back at the hotel, and it was pretty late but would be needing to make one more trip out to get some food. iHop would be our savior on Canal Street.






This would once again be another first for me. I had never tried food at an IHop but it was amazing! Maybe because at the time I was starving (which normally puts me in a pretty bad mood), but I ordered everything and then desert - it hit the spot! In a time like that it really hit the spot. Let me just explain, that I can't go very long being hungry. When I get hungry, if I don't eat, I get angry! #FEEDMEMORE

Rihan met a friend of his at the IHOP, who was with his group and were also out at 2:45am getting something to eat. He gave us some information that we were unaware of: Stone Cold Steve Austin had mentioned Rihan on his podcast! We had to confirm this when we got back to the hotel but it was true! After going to the Evening with the Stinger @ Camden Town in London, Steve Austin had mentioned Rihan's name and then went on to read parts of the article I had written. That was a very cool moment indeed. However, at the time we were actually in the IHOP, lack of sleep and no food makes me a grumpy dude indeed, and my social skills were taking a back seat. Tired and hungry is not the best combination.

Especially when Rihan is dragging you to the Roosevelt hotel to see if there would be any WWE Superstars coming in and out of their hotel at 3am in the morning. At one point he got excited and wanted to take a picture on the red carpet where he had heard John Cena had come out on, just outside the Roosevelt. It sounds like one thing on paper, but when I was actually there, I thought that he had marked out so much that he had actually lost his mind. He was getting excited over a carpet at 3am. Need I say more.


Rihan - Marked Out Mode
As expected, we didn't meet any WWE Superstars coming in and out of their hotel at that time of night, but Rihan did get his wish outside Walgreens. So we had just popped into Walgreens on the way back to our hotel and I saw a crate of water bottles. As much as I was exhausted, I love water. I can't go without it. Plus they didn't have mineral water coming out of the taps at the hotel so to me, this crate was a must. There must have been about 24 bottles in that crate, but I was willing to lug it back to the hotel with us. In the long run, I'm glad I did because it near enough lasted us till the end of the trip.

Anyway, as we were leaving this Walgreens on Canal Street, Trent Baretta was walking out of there too with some friends of his and was cool enough to stop for a quick picture and conversation with us.


After this I lugged the water crate back to our hotel which was around 20 minutes walk away, and we would reach the hotel past 4am for the final time that night. It had been a long day. One thing after the other and we got a fair amount done. Definitely more than our counterparts. However they did bump into a legend on their travels too, which made me say 'DAMN!' when I received the picture.

Ron Simmons & Sivashanmugam Sivashanker
Right before going up to hit the hay, I decided to go to the lobby to use the  restroom and then chill out in the lobby and catch up on some e-mails and track what the rest of the world was up to. I believe this was around the time that the only thing on the news was the Oscar Pistorius trial.

Now I don't know if I already mentioned this, but the bathroom mirror had a cool feature which I didn't believe at first..

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..There was a TV in the mirror! :D Brilliant! After a long day it was time to catch some sleep. I'd have to be up early the next morning if I was going to catch Captain Charisma at Axxess...

STAY TUNED!
Thanks for taking the time to read,
Sorry it's taking so long!
Mau (19/06/15) 16:45

Monday, 11 August 2014

Flight of the Valkyries [02/04/14]


As you can clearly see, I was packing (or trying to pack) well into the night before we were set out to travel. I remember thinking at the time, “I’ll get some sleep as soon as we jump on that flight”. Boy, I had no idea what a mission we had in front of us.

The alarm starts going off and I’ve had an hour’s rest give or take 15 minutes. I remember receiving an e-mail from the airlines first thing in the morning saying that there was going to be about an hour’s delay. Then soon after that I received the same again, adding another hour’s delay to our flight. I decided to inform the man with the plan – Rihan.

As it turned out, we weren’t going to make our connecting flight at this rate. So what was originally a 12:15 flight from London Heathrow to Philadelphia turned into a 3pm from London Heathrow to Dallas, Texas. The last time I had travelled a long distance flight was in 2007, and to my surprise Rihan was able to switch my tickets for the first flight, without me even having any say in the matter. Since we booked our tickets separately, I have no idea on how he convinced the airlines that we were flying together. But as Diamond Dallas Page says, in this situation, it wasn’t a bad thing, it was a good thing. Good for me, since all this rushing and last minute on the fly ‘calling the match’ doesn’t go very well when you’ve had no sleep. My original plan of having an easy stress free morning and jumping on the plane and catching some Z’s was slowly floating out of the window. The pressure seemed to ease off though once I had reached Heathrow.

I’m sure Shanks was actually the first one at the airport at Terminal 3, and I would shortly meet up with him after checking-in at Area F. He was wearing his yellow CM Punk ‘GTS’ T-shirt and I’m sure it was one of many because my dude buys T-shirts a dozen at a time. The last time I had seen Shanks was about a year back in April 2013, when we’d gone to WWE RAW at the O2 Arena in London. I remember talking to him back then and him telling me in a conversation we had that he had actually once bought tickets to WrestleMania in the past, but due to him sending off his passport for some reason he had no means to leave the country, resulting in him not being able to go. I remember thinking, “DAMN! That sucks” and we said that we should sooo go to a WrestleMania some day in the future. Now here we were a year later at Terminal 3, smiling from ear to ear – We were actually doing it. We were going to WrestleMania!

Soon after Rihan arrived in his WrestleMania XXVII T-shirt and blue hoody and checked-in, we made our way to the gates. As we walked past the number of each gate we tried to recall what had happened at the gate numbers’ corresponding WrestleMania. For example walking past gate 3 you’d probably mention that Hulk Hogan slammed Andr√© the Giant. Rihan also made some bold predictions about WrestleManias that had yet to come…





The flight itself seemed like it took forever to me, possibly because it had been so long since I’d been on a long distance flight and I had brought along my copy of Mick Foley’s “CountDown to LockDown” book which I would finally get to read. I never got around to it.





Although I didn’t get very much reading done during this flight to Texas, we actually got quite a fair amount of watching programmes done. Is that even how you say it? Watching programmes. Anyway, due to the flight being on Wednesday, and all the rushing around the 2 days prior to this, (whether it be trying to find a unlocked phone to use overseas which you don’t make use of anyway, or buying some last minute clothes which you only ever wear on holiday) none of us had watched RAW from Monday night that had just gone by. What a more perfect time to watch the last RAW before WrestleMania than on the flight to WrestleMania? As it happened, all three of us had RAW on one of our devices. On my right, Shanks had his laptop open watching RAW. I sat in the middle on my Samsung Galaxy Note 2, watching RAW. To my left Rihan had his tablet open, watching Monday night RAW. All of us with our headphones in, trying not to look at the screen to our left because whomever was watching there was about 5 minutes ahead. Rihan would have been the first to finish if it wasn’t for his rewind everything tendencies. Michael Cole would have been so proud of this sight :)

I’m pretty sure soon after that, the lights went dim – that time on the flight where they expect everyone to catch some sleep. Rihan and I used this time to catch the WrestleMania XXX press conference, which if you’ve seen already, featured some of the most bored looking members of the press you could ever find. Batista stole the show, no doubt – he was hilarious!



 After the press conference Rihan had episode 3 of season 2’s Total Divas which we decided to watch, right before business was about to pick up.

Let me set the scene for you. We’re sitting on the middle row of a dimmed out plane, and we turn the overhead light on, like a spotlight as Rihan pulled out his blue Money in the Bank style folder. This folder contained the blueprints and itinerary for the trip that Rihan had pieced together. What was going on, at what time, and where. Also what else was happening at the same time so we knew our options. Most of the important planning that we’d done and tried to get organised would be for Saturday. Saturday was going to be WrestleCon. It would feature superstars, legends and a complete who’s who line-up from the crazy world of Professional Wrestling. We had to make sure that we would be making the most of our time, because there was a strong possibility that we wouldn’t get this chance again. Goldberg would be in a Q&A session, Colt Cabana was hosting a live podcast, Mickie James was scheduled to be performing some of her songs along with a load of other happenings that would make any wrestling fan feel like they had died and gone to heaven. And there was a Superticket. This Superticket would GUARANTEE us to meet and talk to some of the most influential names in the business. But we’ll get to that.

After agreeing on the details, we thought it’d be best if we tried to get some rest. By this point Shanks was already fast asleep, and we would try to do the same. I have a habit of falling asleep in front of my laptop or a TV screen, so naturally I tried watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Twice. The keyword is tried. I’m sure it’s a great film if I ever give it the right time of day.

As we were set to land at Dallas’ Fort Worth Airport, the air pressure really seemed to be messing with my ear, making me feel slightly deaf – but I was sure it would pop soon, and I would be fine. I could half make out the song that was playing as the plane began to slow down to an eventual halt. It sounded familiar, and the light bulb went off in our heads at pretty much the same time. It was the theme tune of popular American series Dallas. CoOoL :)


We were finally on American soil. For me, it was the first time, but the first hour in America wasn’t exactly a pleasant one. After spending what seemed like 20 minutes at the baggage claim conveyor belt, I noticed a huge plastic carrier with what looked like a suit case that had broken inside it. Surely this couldn’t be mine? The others had gotten their bags and were waiting on me, and most of the people who had been waiting to claim their baggage there had already done so.  I leaned in to take a closer look…

SON OF A BITCH! What the f*#%?! It was my bag! I was outraged, as I pulled it off the belt and tried to look at it even closer. It’s like one of those stories that you hear about, happening to other people. You never expect anything like this to ever happen to you. I got emotional, as I said it had been a long time since I had travelled such a long distance, and on top of that I was in a foreign country with my shit all over the place – this was all new to me. Show me who, and I would Batista Bomb the hell out of whomever was responsible for this atrocity. I didn’t know what to do first, complain and be pissed off was my initial reaction, but at who?! Some asshole working for the airports might have just decided to throw my bag on board or something, resulting in it breaking open from the lock? Had someone forced open the lock? I was still trying to figure out exactly how this had happened. We went to seek out the baggage desk. Some of the workers at the airport whom I asked for help said that they couldn’t really do anything yet and if I would want to make a claim I would have to wait until I reached my final destination, and kept repeating the fact that it had “looked like the zipper had broken” in the most leisurely tone – which frustrated me even more. They just didn’t seem to care. Eventually they would instruct us to locate another desk that could help me out. Inconveniently, it was located at what seemed like the other side of the airport. We had just under an hour to make our connecting flight out. Time was not on our side.

The two women working at the desk we finally made it to, seemed to be a lot more helpful, and gave me a contact number to call in case I found anything missing from my bag after it had somehow opened – and they even gave me a brand new suitcase. God Bless America. Rihan and Shanks quickly helped me repack everything (which was all over the place) from my broken suitcase to the new one, we were reloaded and ready to go. We had to jump on a monorail of some kind to reach the correct part of airport, from where we could take our connecting flight. . There was no time to mourn my dead suitcase. It’s probably rotting away right now somewhere in Texas.


After riding the monorail we had arrived at the correct location, and had just enough time to pay a quick visit to McDonalds nearby. That’s right folks, our first taste of American food came to us courtesy of McDonalds. God Bless America.

We all got a meal with a regular drink, and then Rihan and Shanks decided to get something out of the ordinary. If I remember correctly, it was called a McCafé Shamrock Shake which was only available for a limited time. It was a mint flavoured shake, topped with whipped cream and a cherry.


The dude working behind the counter saw that I didn’t get one and said, “Nah man, you can’t be rollin’ wit the crew and not have one..” in his Texan accent and he decided to give me one on the house, which was really cool of him. God Bless America. However what was about to happen next became the beginning of something iconic. For the split second that Shanks had put his shake down on the counter, Rihan somehow managed to clothesline the drink clean off the counter and straight onto the floor. The McDonalds crew that had been looking to close up real soon and were nice enough to give me a free shake, now found themselves in a position of extra work, thanks to Rihan. This would mark the first of many iconic botches he would make along this trip. But we’ll get to that…


The flight from Texas to New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International airport was fairly uneventful, and consisted of no further botches – and didn’t last fairly long either. We used this time to eat some food and enjoy the view. We would soon be in the Big Easy.


Upon arriving at the Louis Armstrong International airport in New Orleans, the feeling of WrestleMania began to sink in. It may have been because most of the airport was plastered in WrestleMania promotional material, which was awesome! I had never seen anything like this, for Wrestling, in my whole life. Everything that I had dreamt about up until that point was slowly materialising before my eyes.


 
We met the fourth Musketeer, Pradeep at the airport right before collecting our luggage. There were no problems this time around. God Bless America. We soon booked a shuttle bus that would take us to our hotel in downtown New Orleans.



The shuttle bus tour was pretty interesting for me, as we drove past the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on the way to our hotel and it was the first real glimpse I was getting of the Big Easy. I had heard so many things about this city, and here we were. We’re Here. That was the Bray Wyatt quote that we all said every time we seemed to arrive anywhere on this trip. It just went well with everything. As soon as we hit the hotel, “We’re Here”. The hotel was pretty damn nice too, but the first thing I did once we got up to the room was double check my stuff in the suitcase. I was so sure that there had to be something missing, the bag even felt lighter, but nothing came straight to mind. In addition to that, the fact that my ear still hadn't popped from the first flight rendered me disgruntled.

We all freshened up from our long ass journey, changed clothes and sprayed that good spray on before heading out into the New Orleans night. It must have been about 2:30 in the morning but we were determined to find something to do.

I’m one of those guys who goes on holiday, to explore. I love exploring and soaking everything up every chance I get – almost every chance I get. I don’t like sleeping in on holidays if I can help it, and I also don’t like calling it a night too early on the first night I arrive somewhere.

Night of the Valkyries


So we wandered the streets of New Orleans, going on hunches and at the same time trying not to think about ending up in a neighbourhood we would rather not be in. After about 30 minutes of walking (apparently in the right direction as it turned out) we stumbled upon this street. It was called Bourbon Street. The world famous Bourbon Street. We’re Here. God Bless America.


Now I’m pretty sure we headed into the first bar/club that we saw was lively, but what were the chances that inside this same venue, we’d bump into superstars from the NXT roster and the current RAW General Manager? Not very high I suppose, but I guess it was destiny!

Now I won’t get into too much detail about what went down in the club but I will however share a few stories on here. This was also historic because it was the first time we got to try what American alcohol taste like. While ordering my Jack Daniels & coke I got a chance to talk to Xavier Woods at the bar briefly about the British wrestling scene, and told him about the blast we had at the Revolution Pro event not too long ago. Rihan talked to him about his PhD, and he also informed us that they couldn’t take any pictures inside the club. Must have had something to do with company image I’m assuming? I met a bunch of New Yorkers who had managed to get a picture with the USOs earlier that evening. Rihan seemed to be enjoying the club’s concept as they had someone up on stage that would sing along to the songs (not entirely sure what he meant by that to be honest) but that’s what he liked about it. He also took his chances at approaching NXT Diva, Emma. He attempted to spark up a conversation about the Ashes with her since he figured she was Australian. As it turned out she doesn’t watch cricket! I don’t know why but I’m LOLing right now, haha. I’m pretty sure I asked her to face me in a dance off or something similar at which point I mimicked her silly dance gimmick, but I ended up having one with Xavier Woods instead – Which is still pretty damn cool!

It was somewhat a surreal experience being around all these guys, within arm’s reach, partying it up just like everyone else! I must say that they seemed like a very down to Earth group of guys and girls. We also met superfan Frank the Clown, who was with his girlfriend (who someone later told me was Mick Foley’s daughter) and they both seem like lovely people. The longest conversation I probably had that night with any WWE employee was the (then) General Manager of Monday Night RAW. Brad Maddox was at the secondary bar when I approached him and he said that he couldn’t take pictures – I said I know and I didn’t want one anyway, I’d rather have some advice. I offered to buy him a drink, he ordered a double vodka and Redbull. I told him that I needed his advice on some things, and since this was my first time in the States, what he’d advise me to check out in the city of New Orleans. I remember also mentioning that we had traveled from all the way across the pond in London, and how this was our first night out on the town. I’m guessing it worked as a decent ice breaker since we ended up talking about the various haunted tours in the Big Easy, something Rihan had planned on that itinerary. I told Maddox that I wasn’t too sure about doing a booky voodoo joojoo trip like this right before WrestleMania, and we had a laugh about it and then he reassured me that it was worth checking out. As it turned out they’d gone on one just a day or so before then and he really enjoyed it. He seems like a really cool guy from that conversation that we were having.

The rest of that evening was mainly on Bourbon Street and all in all it was a great night of celebrating the beginning of WrestleMania week, especially when you get to spend it with some of the guys from the WWE locker room. God Bless America. :)
Though the travelling seemed gruelling, frustrating and tiresome at times, once we finally arrived it was all worth it. It was only going to get better from here. We were living the dream as by the day, WrestleMania was getting closer and closer. Oh and I guess technically Rihan’s second botch of the trip also occurred on this night. While Shanks and I carried Pradeep’s carcass back to the hotel at the end of an awesome night, Rihan was making his own way back to the hotel. Only to find out that he ended up at the wrong hotel. Haha. Botch number 2, and we’re just getting started… We’re Here!

STAY TUNED!
Thanks for taking the time to read,
The best is yet to come!
Mau (11/08/14) 05:00