Thursday, 29 October 2015

The WWE Hall of Fame 2014 [05/04/14]

After a star-studded day at WrestleCon, the night would follow with the 2014 Hall of Fame induction ceremony taking place with some of the great legends we already had a chance of spending some time with earlier in the day. Now for the Hall of Fame, fans can usually go wearing whatever they like, but it's not a night of wrestling. It's a night that celebrates the careers and contributions made to the industry by some very special individuals. It's a night where we pay respect, and we were all suited up ready for the occasion.

Evolution was ready to go


The Hall of Fame would be held at the same arena as the upcoming RAW on Monday, which is usually the case. Both would be held at the New Orleans Arena (now known as the Smoothie King Center)



I won't go into a great amount of detail about the Hall of Fame ceremony itself as it is a long night of speeches and not everyone is into that. I'm a pretty serious fan, and it's a essential part of WrestleMania week for me - but I know that's not the case for everyone. So therefore, I'll discuss some more memorable moments that I remember personally, and if you want to see the full thing for yourself you can always find it online or on  the WWE Network.



 
 

I want to address one thing in particular right off the bat, and that was the booing during some parts of Lita's speech. This had nothing to do with her speech. It may have come off that way on TV, but as someone who was actually there I can get into why people were booing. They usually have screens above the arena, which people use to watch what's going on as them it provides them a clearer view of the stage area. For the most part of the beginning they had those on, so even people right at the back could see what was happening. Keeping in mind that the seating layout is a little different when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Now when they turned those off - THAT's when those boos starting coming in (right about after the time Lita's puts the mask on the podium). People were annoyed because now they didn't have a clear enough picture of what was going on. Not because of anything that was said during the speech.



Diamond Dallas Page would take up the stage to induct Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and said he was so happy that on his birthday, both his boys, Scott Hall and Jake were going into the Hall of Fame. DDP even got a "Happy Birthday" chant. DDP is one guy that NEEDS to be in the Hall of Fame too.



 

My personal favourite speech of the night came from Jake 'The Snake' Roberts. There was something about the way that he spoke that was entrancing. He started out slow and soft and everyone got really quiet. I guess it's true what he said all those years ago about not having to speak loudly because people would listen harder if you didn't shout. That was the case right here for sure. It was a very gritty and real speech - it felt like a really good promo even. You felt his words when the man spoke.

 

Mr T's speech that followed was the completely opposite to what had come before it. As you all know, this was the night where we learnt exactly how much love Mr T had for his mother. Awesome! Pretty funny too :)



What a speech :D Kane had to come out before long and cut him short

Kane comes out to say a little about Paul Bearer


We were pleasantly surprised when we got to see The Undertaker come out to pay his respects to the late Paul Bearer during his Hall of Fame induction.





Say 'Hello' to the Bad Guy!


The Kliq
It's always great to see the Kliq back together again, and Razor Ramon being inducted was a special moment because I'd followed a lot of his career and everything felt like it came full circle because Nash, Hall and X-Pac were the first ones we met on the Road to WrestleMania and now they were here in front of us at the Hall of Fame!

Carlito, Epico & Primo about to induct Carlos Colon
Carlos Colon - 2014 Hall of Fame inductee
They saved The Ultimate Warrior for last - good booking if you ask me :) Linda McMahon would be the one to introduce him and induct him FINALLY into the WWE Hall of Fame!









That concluded the Hall of Fame ceremony - a night of great speeches and reflection - paying tribute and respect to some of the men and women who paved the way for the business. A night out from the 30th anniversary of WrestleMania. What a time to be alive! :)





 

Adjacent to the Smoothie King Center was the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Home of WrestleMania XXX. But before that, it was time to celebrate a little and head out to Bourbon Street!

 
Was special meeting Carlito on the way to the Bourbon street right after he'd been on stage at the HOF, and at that time we didn't know that we'd be ending up in the same club as him eventually.

We also bumped into Sheamus, who had just come out of the bar right as we were walking down the street, surrounded by people and he was cool enough to talk to us and get a picture with him. There were a bunch of people crowding around but he spoke to us and was in good spirits!

 

The bar was located opposite one of the two hotels where the WWE talent would be staying, so we decided to head in to see who else was around. We found Drew McIntyre who was pretty heavy in conversation and just generally looking like he didn't want to be disturbed. Albert (a.k.a. Tensai, Prince Albert, A-Train) was on the way out, and we asked him for a pic and he said: "Make it quick"

Pat Patterson was sitting right at the edge of the bar and was having a conversation with a lady, we waited until he was finished until we bothered him. He was super cool about us taking pictures with him. Everything was happening so fast, it didn't sink in till a few minutes later that we just met the FIRST ever WWE Intercontinental Champion!

 

Referee Tim White with Rihan and I
We spent a little bit of time in the bar and got a beer and talked to referee Tim White who was very cool to us and offered us some advice about staying safe in New Orleans - almost like the advice you'd get from an uncle. He was kind enough to sign my Encyclopedia (which he didn't originally think he was a part of but I showed him otherwise). After heading outside again, about to go to our original destination, we bumped into a couple more superstars:

Sami Zayn with Rihan

Me & Sami Zayn

Rihan with Hunico
So we were on track now and heading to Bourbon Street to enjoy the rest of the night. Bourbon Street was buzzing with the party feel - people were chanting "We The People" across balconies, wrestlers were around and about and everyone was having a great time, and New Orleans was the place to be!





The World famous New Orleans hand grendade





One of the best nights out while we were over there in Nola, as the drinks came in and the memory of the night slowly faded away after an amazing day at WrestleCon and an unbelievable Hall of Fame ceremony. The next stop would be fast approaching in less than 24 hours and it was the main event, the granddaddy of them all: WrestleMania XXX...


STAY TUNED!
Thanks for taking the time to read...
Up Next: WrestleMania XXX
Mau (30/10/15) 02:00

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

WrestleCon [05/04/14]

AYO! What's popping everyone? So where did we leave our story... ah that's right. Saturday morning, just over a day left to go before WrestleMania XXX.

Aside from Mania itself, this would turn out to be the most star studded  day in the whole experience along the Road to WrestleMania. Thanks to Wrestlecon. In 2014 it would be held at the Sugar Mill in downtown New Orleans, which was conveniently just the 3rd block south of our hotel.




After walking around a little and getting a feel of the room, we got to have a quick word with Razor on the morning of his induction into the Hall of Fame which was pretty cool:




Now what better way to officially start off than meeting some of the lovely ladies from the world of pro-wrestling? First up was a French Canadian bombshell and former WWE Divas champion..



I have to say, as amazing as Maryse looks on television - she's stunning in person. Literally, I was pretty stunned. I said something to her along the lines of 'You are stunning and I'm a little weak in the knees right now, but I'm good." Which made her laugh so there you go :) A lot of stun for one paragraph.


Meeting Maryse was a great start to WrestleCon, but she wasn't the only diva that would be kicking off this epic day, oh no no!

With Celeste Bonin - The artist formerly known as Kaitlyn

With Maria Kanellis
 

Now amongst all the talent in the building was a superfan who you might recognise from RAW on almost a weekly basis sitting (or standing) around ringside seats wearing his bright red hat. Yup, we bumped into Rick Achberger a.k.a. WWE Sign Guy.


It was like role reversal when it comes to this guy - the wrestlers were coming up to Rick to have a conversation! He's as well known as the wrestlers were. Another fan we bumped into went all out with his hair style, which was WrestleMania themed! I would never do it, but props to you!

He is definitely ready for WrestleMania!

Rihan talking to Lisa Marie Varon a.k.a. Victoria/Tara


One of the more entertaining characters (for myself at least) we met was The Pope, Elijah Burke. I remember him saying something to Rihan along the lines of "Hey for $20 I'll sign anything you want, I'll do anything, maybe not anything you want.." which just made me laugh for some reason - it was funny! He would be ragging on Rihan for the rest of the day poking fun at Rihan's expense about things I won't mention but it was damn entertaining :D Sorry Bro ~ PHS

Rihan and The Pope a.k.a. Elijah Burke

Shanks and 'Big Daddy Cool' Kevin Nash

DDP with a smile on his face as always

It's an honour to be able to say that we got to meet Jake 'The Snake' Roberts on the morning of his Hall of Induction ceremony. Jake didn't have too much to say but it was great meeting him nonetheless and we assumed that he was probably saving his voice for the big speech later on in the night.


As you might have already noticed, I was wearing my Edge (Farewell tour) T-shirt for WrestleCon and it was time to meet the man himself! Obviously I would be getting him to sign my WWE Encyclopedia - as I had done with a lot of the superstars I'd met before him. However, he was the only one to question the thousands of sticky notes hanging out of the side of it, I told him that it helped me keep organised and he said, "How's that working out with so many of those things" to which I replied, "Uhmm.. not as well as I hoped I guess" and we had a laugh about it. He was super cool and I told him that I'd had the t-shirt I was wearing since his last appearance on SmackDown which is in the O2 in London and he appreciated that. I also remembered to congratulate him on his new born baby and he thanked me for it. Genuinely a great guy and an awesome experience meeting the Rated R SuuuuuUUuuperstar!


Shanks getting his replica signed by Edge
I remember Rihan meeting Edge and asking him to stick his arms up for a pose but Edge politely refused and said, "you can do that if you like, I'm not having my sweaty armpits showing!" #5SecondPose

 

We were smart enough to be able to save quite a bit of money too when it came to WrestleCon as we had purchased the super ticket, guaranteeing us certain legends - and am I glad we did it the way we did!



Shanks with 'Razor Ramon' Scott Hall
Shanks and 'The Hitman' Bret Hart
With The Steiner Brothers!
Shanks Vicious
Shanks is adding some serious value to his replica

Rihan Vicious

Mau Vicious

 
 
 
 
With the hardcore legend Terry Funk

Quick Story about Terry Funk: I told him that it was an honor meeting such a legend who'd been around for as long as he had and given so much to the industry. I also told him that I thoroughly enjoyed the podcast that he was on with Stone Cold Steve Austin. At first I wasn't sure if he understood me while I was talking or maybe he was hard of hearing and was moving a little slow but by the time I finished talking he was smiling. He got up gingerly and put his arm around me for a picture and thanked me for the kind words. It was something else being in his presence - A Living Hardcore Legend!

Rihan with his most favorite wrestler of all time.

Rihan and the Superfly
Next up on our list were former WWE tag team often seen with the dancing big man Rikishi, we were about to meet Too Cool! Now the cool story here for us was that when we got talking to Scotty 2 Hotty, we told him that we'd come all the way from London. We told him that the last time I'd actually seen him wrestle was in Birmingham, England in 2008. It might have even been late 2007, but it had definitely been a long time! He went on to tell us that that was actually the last time he'd been in the UK! Imagine that.


As far as Grand Master Sexy is concerned: The ink in his blue pen was running out low and he saw that I had one of my own (which I might have picked up somewhere along the tables) but he asked for a trade and then he'd sign whatever I wanted. Or something along those lines. Next thing I knew he said, "Think fast" and hit me with a knife-edged chop on the chest - which stung a little, but that was pretty cool for a wrestling fan! He'd officially given me a receipt which I would use somewhere down the road...


We'd already met one superfan at WrestleCon so far, and I was about to meet another. I must have been walking around making my way back to Rihan who was speaking to someone. Then he introduced me to him. His name was Vlad. He was a very cool guy to talk to and spent some time with us, and told me stories about Madison Square Garden way back when. Turns out they could never manage to get any tickets to WWF events at MSG, and they used to wait in terrible conditions, just so that they could attend the show. Eventually they wrote to WWF and told them about their situation and ended up getting guaranteed seats every time WWF came to the Garden. Vladimir became infamous as the superfan of MSG. That in itself is pretty insane. You can read a little bit about him on WWE's official site by clicking here. This would be his 29th WrestleMania, and it would by my first. We took a picture to capture the moment.


We owe Shanks a lot because he was on point with his SLR. Certainly a good shout, and I would recommend taking a decent picture capturing device with you, if you go to WrestleMania week, or any holiday really. If you're going to capture lifelong memories, they might as well be in great quality and high definition! Much like Shanks' who was like paparazzi capturing some candids. Such as Flair out in the parking lot getting picked up..

"Ah you got me Shanks!"

Rob Van Shanks


RVD & Rihan

RVD & Me

Shanks with the Olympic Gold Medalist - Kurt Angle

Al Snow: "Make constipated faces!"

MVP's United States title - previously held by Chris Benoit

MVP & Rihan (marked version)

MVP showing off the bling bling

MVP & Me again

US Champ & Winged Eagle WWF Champ

Rihan & Neidhart

Myself with Neidhart

Shaking hands with the Hitman
Shanks & Neidhart

Rihan with his idol - Bret Hart

The next legend we would encounter would be a weasel, who has been at the side of some of the greatest names in the history of pro-wrestling (including Andre the Giant) and taken them them to the top. He provided some of the most entertaining insight when he was behind that announcers desk whether it be with the late great Gorilla Monsoon or during his time in WCW. Ofcourse I am talking about Bobby 'The Brain Heenan!

As you may already know, Heenan hasn't been in the best condition in the past years - and it's upsetting to me to see him in the condition he has been in lately but his spirits are high and he is still a true heel! He still manages to make all the conventions and takes pictures and spends time with people in the condition he is in and my heart really goes out to the Brain. I don't know why the WWE haven't done anything to reach out to him (as far as anyone knows at least) in recent years. He has given so much to the business and deserves to be remembered damnit! We know we won't forget him any time soon, and that's because our time with him gave us a story to tell...


So Shanks had his championship replica with him and was carrying it around. Bobby Heenan suggested ('suggested' is putting it lightly) that he should wear it around his waist, because that's what wrestlers do! He then insisted that Shanks take off his shirt and pants and walk around with his replica title, because that's what champions do! Shanks said he would definitely do that, at some point, but the real reason why he was so lucky was because he then got to take a picture with Bobby Heenan. Not just any picture. Heenan gave Shanks his Hall of Fame ring to wear in this picture. Now that is priceless!


There were so many great stories taking place but one that particularly stuck out for me was a bathroom story. I had gone over to use the gents facility and was doing my business at the urinal facing the wall when all of a sudden I hear someone say, "Stand back!". Now putting this into context: We were in New Orleans in WrestleMania season and we'd been hearing wrestling chants all day, no matter where we go. It almost becomes part of the background soundtrack, and you often join in with them. This time, when I heard, "Stand Back.." I immediately finished that line by saying, "...there's a Hurricane coming through!". So now I turn around, expecting to see some fan.. but that wasn't the case. Standing in front of me, in his black mask and green attire was.. The Hurricane!

I asked him how he was doing (having heard about his motor cycle accident on a podcast) and he said, "For a 40 year old superhero I'm feeling pretty good." I told him I would come out and meet him properly a little later on and maybe get him to sign something for me and he said "Sure thing, I'll be around".

As it would happen an hour or so down the line I would again need to use the facilities of the illustrious Sugar Mill and would again bump into The Hurricane. I said, "This is the second time we're meeting like this, we need to stop" and I laughed, he said that we must be running on the same train schedule. Random story but a memorable encounter with this crime-fighting super hero!


Chris Masters was another super cool encounter, because I don't think he was really there for WrestleCon but we bumped into him as he was visiting some friends (my bet would have been Carlito) nonetheless he spent a little time with us and was super cool.

 
 
 


He even had time to put us in the Masterlock! We then suggested that he should just grab a table and start putting people in a Full Nelson Masterlock  for $10 because we were sure that people would pay for that!

Local faces were also to be seen as we noticed a familiar face around WrestleCon. Dave Mastiff was around and I got talking to him a little bit. The first time I had ever seen Mastiff in a match was probably back in 2007 or early 2008 in Birmingham, wrestling as Dave Moralez. Rihan and I will never forget that night where he cashed in his equivalent of the 'Money in the Bank' title opportunity against then AWW champion, then ran out of the building into a car and sped off. Surprisingly though, Dave told me that he wasn't going to be attending WrestleMania XXX but instead was driving down to Texas with some friends. Why, I have no idea. Still, was good seeing a familiar face.

Meanwhile... Rihan with the not so cool Scott Norton



Goldberg. Need I say more? This is the same guy I'd been watching since primary school, destroying everyone in his path over at WCW. This one was special for me. It was on the same level as meeting Sting, Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan, Goldberg was up there and the experience didn't disappoint.



Upon approaching Goldberg I remember telling him how awesome this was, to finally meet the reason why I speared so many people throughout high school. He responded with, "Good man, I hope you were doing it good, just pull their legs!" - Such a cool moment for me! Luckily for me Karen Jarrett was just next to us waiting to get a word in with Goldberg. Which allowed me to get a photobomb in on the picture with Jeff Jarrett, Karen Jarrett and Goldberg! Had to be done, Edge taught me all about being the ultimate opportunist :)

Right after that I got in Goldberg's ear and told him that my friend was next, so could you ask "Who's Next?" and you can see in the video he does just that before grabbing Rihan in a headlock and telling us how he got the idea for his catchphrase: "Who's Next!?"



Can't put into words how awesome it was meeting 'Da Man' Goldberg, and he seems like a genuine good guy and wished us a safe journey back (as I'd mentioned to him that this was my first time actually coming to the United States) and wished us a wonderful weekend.

 
 

 


Who was next? Well, there still quite a few superstars and legends left to meet but we had to bring things back full circle and see our guy: Shane Douglas. It was great that he recognised us straight away because we'd been with him over hour the other night before and after the screening of 'Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies' so we spent a little time talking to him.

Speaking with Chuck Taylor
With Cliff Compton
 
Chris Hero

Shanks joining GFW?

Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine with Rihan

Sunny
With the creator of 'Headlocked' comics Michael Kingston

Rihan and Demolished

So to wrap things up, WrestleCon was an experience I would definitely recommend to anyone who's around for WrestleMania week because it's really so much more than just meet & greets, and the atmosphere is really relaxed and you can spend a decent amount of time having conversations with some of the superstars, divas and legends. I didn't really mention too much about vendors but I will go on record and say that for wrestling fans, it's like geek heaven. You'll find so many different kinds of merchandise from DVDs, Collectible Figures, Posters, Books and much more. Rihan picked up a few books, I think one of them was Brock Lesnar's biography. You can usually negotiate deals with vendors too so sometimes if you work out a great deal you can make some good steals.

It was time to go back to base at the hotel and start getting ready for the second part of our day. Or shall I say evening, as we'd be attending the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony!

STAY TUNED!
Thanks for taking the time to read...
Coming Next: WWE Hall of Fame 2014
Mau (25/10/15) 17:45