Sunday, December 31, 2017

Signed Trading Cards: Robert Gibson, Abbey Laith, Kassius Ohno

In this final post of 2017 we take a look at the last signed trading cards that I got in 2017.  All these cards are through the mail success. 

Robert Gibson

This card is from the 1985 Wrestling Stars set.  I got it signed by Ricky Morton last year.  I mail this October 5, 2017 to Roberts wrestling school and got it back December 20th.  I previously got an NWA Wonderama card signed by Gibson at Carson's Pro Wrestling World in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Kimberly Frankele

This card is from the Topps WWE 2017 Women's Division.  This card is unique as after it was made her name was changed to Abbey Laith.  I mailed this card to the WWE Performance Center on November 1, 2017 and got it back December 19, 2017.

Kassius Ohno

This card is from the Topps 2017 Slam Attax trading card game.  I mailed this to the WWE Performance Center on November 1, 2017 and got it back signed on December 26th.  This is my third card signed by the former Chris Hero, you can see the other two here.

Lince Dorado

This card was made by the independent promotion Ignite Wrestling based out of Florida.  I had ordered a Martin Stone card from them to hopefully get signed next month at Limitless Wrestling and they sent this card along with it which was pretty awesome.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast Podcast of 1,000 Holds on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Last Match: The Moondogs

The Moondogs debuted in late 1980 with Rex & King teaming together under the tutelage of Captain Lou Albano.  Albano would lead the Moondogs to Tag Team Gold in March 1981 where they defeated Tony Garea and Rick Martel.  While still holding the tag titles Spot would replace King as champion until Garea and Martel regained the titles in July 1981.

The Moondogs had a big run in the USWA where they added Spike, Cujo and other to their ranks.  Also there have been multiple people on the independent scene that competed under the Moondog name, too numerous to cover them all here.  Because of that we will only be taking a look the most well known Moondogs.  It should be noted that one thing all Moondogs have in common is their attire.  Cut off jeans, big hair and large beard, and bringing a large bone to the ring with them.

Moondog King
February 6, 1991 WCW House Show Augusta, Georgia
defeated Mike Winter

Edward White debuted May 22, 1972 in his native Canada under the name Sailor White.  He became Moondog King when he debuted in the WWE in 1981.  He was replaced in the tag team when he was denied entry into the United States.  He passed away August 26, 2005 at the age of 56. 

Moondog Rex
August 21, 1997 IWA Mid-South Louisville, Kentucky
defeated War Machine #1

Randy Colley debuted in 1971 touring the territories before settling in the WWE.  In 1981 he became Moondog Hawkins later Rex and teamed with King to win the Tag Team Championships.  In 1987 he teamed with Bill Eadie as the original Demolition Smash but fans recognized him chanting Moondog at him so he was replaced by Barry Darsow.

Colley as Demolition Smash on right
Colley returned to the Moondog name and entered Continental Wrestling and later USWA winning the tag team championships with Spot. 

Moondog Spot
November 29, 2003 Memphis Wrestling Memphis, Tennessee
with Poppy Love was defeated by the Rock n' Roll Express: Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson in a Concession Stand Tag Team Battle Royal.  Other teams Alan Steel & Mike Money and The Lifeguards: Dustin & Scott Starr

Larry Booker debuted in 1979 as Larry Latham until becoming Spot in May 1981 replacing King as WWE Tag Team Champions with Rex as the Moondogs.  In 1987 he went to the CWA and later All Japan Pro Wrestling teaming with Spke in the Giant Tag Series. 

He wrestled several years in the USWA in many different versions of the Moondogs tag team.  Sadly he died in the ring from a heart attack during his final match on the A Night Fit For a King event.  He was 51 years old.

Moondog Spike
April 6, 1996 IWA Mid-South New Albany, Indiana
defeated Todd Rich

William Smithson debuted in 1978 as one of the many Infernos after being trained by Tojo Yamamoto.  He would wrestle around the territories as Dizzy Golden until 1991 when he began teaming with Spot as Spike for the USWA.  Together they feuded with Jerry "The King" Lawler and Jeff Jarrett earning Feud of the Year honors in 1992 from Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

When Spot retired he continued the Moondogs teaming with Cujo winning the USWA Southern Tag Team Championships.  Smithson died March 21, 2013 at the age of 62.

Moondog Cujo
April 27, 2007 PMG Memphis, Tennessee
defeated The Barbarian at the Ultimate Clash of Legends

Larry Kean Jr. debuted in 1983 in his native Kentucky as "Luscious" Lanny Kean.  In 1985 while in the WWE he was renamed Cousin Junior a member of Hillbilly Jim's family.  After leaving the Fed he continued as Hillbilly Junior in the CWA.  In 1992 he joined the USWA as Moondog Cujo teaming with Spike for several tag team titles reigns. 

He finished up in 1996 wrestling as "Bloody" Ox Brody coming back as Cujo for one match in 2007.  He passed away on January 13, 2009 he was 48.

In my opinion the most successful Moondogs tag team was Rex and Spot who were nine time tag team champions in the WWE, CWA, USWA, and WWC.  In total the various tag team combinations are 21 time tag team champions in five promotions.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast Podcast of 1,000 Holds on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

They Wrestled in TNA II

Part two of this topic takes a look at those who have either wrestled or just made an appearance in TNA that you may not have known appeared.  I was surprised to discover a few of them myself. 

Steve Corino
June 19, 2002 eliminated in Battle Royal Huntsville, Alabama
February 12, 2003 defeated Low-Ki by DQ Nashville, Tennessee
February 19, 2003 with The Sandman defeated by Raven & Low-Ki Nashville, Tennessee
March 12, 2003 with The Sandman defeated by Ron & Don Harris Nashville, Tennessee

The King of Old School made his debut at the first ever TNA Weekly PPV competing in the twenty man royal rumble style match for the vacant NWA World Championship.  He was eliminated by Brian Christopher.  Corino would later return to TNA in early 2003 for a month getting involved with fellow ECW Alumni The Sandman and Raven.

"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan & Moondog Spot
March 19, 2003 Nashville, Tennessee at the Fairgrounds

I can't even begin to try to explain this but on this episode of the weekly TNA Pay-Per-View "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan & Moondog Spot teamed up to defeated Mike Sanders and Glen Gilberti in under two minutes.

Super Crazy
March 5, 2003 Nashville, Tennessee at the Fairgrounds

Super Crazy came to town for a one night only appearance losing to Jerry Lynn.  You can find this match on YouTube.

New Jack
April 16 - July 16, 2003 Nashville, TN

New Jack wrestled in ten matches winning four of them.  In almost every match he wrestled in was a hardcore stipulation of some kind. New Jack with Mustafa also made an appearance but not in a match at TNA Hardcore Justice 2010. 

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast Podcast of 1,000 Holds on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

WWF at the LA Sports Arena December 17, 1988

I had to urge to watch some 1980's WWF but didn't want to watch a PPV so I headed over to the Old School section in the Vault of the WWE Network.  I quickly found this show and noting that it was exactly 29 years ago this day it was a no brainer and I fired it up.

WWF Live at the LA Sports Arena December 17, 1988

Commentary: Rod Trongard and "Superstar" Billy Graham
Live on The Z Channel

Boris Zhukov  vs. "Leaping" Lanny Poffo

Boris opened with the Soviet National Anthem and Poffo countered with a poem:

That Great Big Ugly Russian
Thinks he's worth a million bucks
He had better stick to wrestling
Cause his singing really sucks

Zhukov jumps him before the bell by Poffo quickly gains control before Zhukov takes a powder to the floor.  They worked side headlock spot where Boris had one on Poffo and held the hair to prevent from being wiped off and then Poffo used Zhukov's beard to do the same.

Poffo worked the left leg and knee during the match using a step over toe hold and standing ankle lock to wear the big Russian down.  Zhukov got the pin in about 13 minutes with a clothesline off the second rope.

Winner: Boris Zhukov

Greg "The Hammer" Valentine vs. Tito Santana

Valentine is wearing the shinguard and Trongard referenced that it was to be called the Heart Breaker.  They spoke about it in great detail actually.  These two had some serious wars over the Intercontinental Championship just a few years before.

A really good and stiff back and forth match that went the 20 minute time limit.  I'm positive that after this match these guys felt this match.  It started slow and built and built leading to an exciting finish Tito slapping on the figure four just as time expired.

I think the WWE could benefit by returning to time limits in matches and have a draw once in a while to continue a feud.

Winner: 20 minute time limit draw

Bad News Brown vs. Jim Powers

I thought that this was going to be a squash match but surprisingly it wasn't.  Bad News tried to jump Powers at the bell but Power side stepped him.  Bad News left the ring a couple times threatening to walk to the back.  Powers managed to keep staying just ahead of News until he was bodyslammed on the floor.  News then worked him over for a few minutes punishing him with strikes and chokes until the ghetto blaster ended it at just about 11 minutes.

Winner: Bad News Brown

In Ring: While Powers was still in the ring Mr. Fuji came out annoucing that he had a new tag team The Powers of Pain.  He then kicked Powers then dropped kicked Fuji.  The Powers of Pain ran out and attacked Powers laying him out.

World Tag Team Champions: Demolition: Ax & Smash vs. The Powers of Pain: Warlord & Barbarian with Mr. Fuji

The match started after the commercial break with all four men starting until it ended with Ax and the Barbarian.  Typical big man match, except tag team edition.  Powers of Pain cheated a lot as they aer new founded bad guys, Demolition was on the unusual end having to sell as they are the baby faces.  Match was halted after six minutes when Fuji and his cane got in the ring and the referee disqualified both teams.

Winners: Double Disqualification

"Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase with Virgil vs. Hercules

DiBiase jumped Hercules as he slid in the ring which didn't end up well with Herc sending DiBiase to the floor.  Hercules got quite the pop, which just goes to show how over the Million Dollar Man was as a heel.  DiBiase took over control of the match wearing the big man down but couldn't put him away.  Hercules made a comeback after DiBiase missed a series of elbow drops and then took a series of clotheslines and a powerslam.

Herc then stood over DiBiase talking trash and then paintbrushed him with several slaps to the face just like DiBiase is known for and the crowd ate it up.  Hercules locked in the full nelson, but DiBiase made it to the ropes and on the break Hercules accidentally hit the referee.  Hercules put DiBiase in the torture rack backbreaker and with the referee still down Virgil hit Hercules with his own chain in the abdomen.  DiBiase scored the pin at about nine minutes for the win.

Winner: "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase

Backstage: Rod Trongard is with Slick and the Big Boss Man for a promo about their match.

Backstage: Rod Trongard said he was with Hercules Cortez who cut a promo about Ted DiBiase and Virgil.

Akeem the African Dream with Slick vs. Koko B. Ware

This match was 11 minutes of garbage.  Just terrible.  Koko didn't have Frankie, his offense was stick and move.  Akeem's offense was lumbering wear down holds like a long bear hug and slowing plodding around the ring.  Finish came when Koko went to dive at Akeem in the corner, he moved, and Koko ate the turnbuckle landing on his back where he was crushed by the 747 splash.

Winner: Akeem the African Dream.

Women's Champion: Rockin' Robin vs. Sensational Sherri

Sherri did a lot of jaw jacking with the fans before the start of the match.  I really enjoyed this match, it wasn't a five star classic by any means but you got to see the veteran in Sherri leading the rookie Rockin' Robin who had only been wrestling about a year at this time.  One of my favorite moments was when Sherri was being pinned and instead of kicking out she pointed to her foot that was on the bottom rope.

These two girls beat the crap out of each other and Robin got the pin in just over ten minutes with a wicked vicious looking bulldog.

I was pretty excited to see this match on the card.  I haven't seen a lot of Rockin' Robin matches in the WWE as most of her them were on house shows and not television.  Typically the match of hers I've seen the most is her title win over Sherri from Paris.

Winner: Rockin' Robin

Main Event
Hulk Hogan vs. The Big Boss Man with Slick

Boss Man tried to hit Hogan with the nightstick as he was getting into the ring so Hogan pulled him to the floor and proceeded to slam him into the ring posts repeatedly and even hit him in the head with a steel chair.  He rolled Bossman back in the ring and took the night stick to him before Slick jumped on Hogans back.  Bossman then accidentally splashed Slick in the corner leading to Hogan handcuffing Slick to the bottom rope outside the ring.  I guess this is no DQ?

Back in the ring Hogan would beat up Boss Man and then go to the floor and open hand slap Slick a couple times.  The fans were going insane for Hogan through all this.  Boss Man took control and uncuffed Slick.  Boss Man nailed Hogan with a piledriver and only got a one count.

Boss Man hit his finish, but it was awkward and the commentators called it a double clothesline that Boss Man got the better of Hogan on.  Boss Man hit a splash, Hogan kicked out on two Hulking up.  The big boot sent Boss Man to the floor who then pulled Hogan out posting him and handcuffing him with a cuffs that had a two foot chain.  Hogan rolled back into the ring with his hands cuffed still, Boss Man continued the offense, which the referee allowed.  Hogan eventually broke the chair and a clothesline and leg drop later Hogan won in about 13 minutes.

The pop when he won shook the hard camera.  And of course Hogan must pose.

Winner: Hulk Hogan

Except for the Koko and Akeem match this was a very good show and a good audience that got into it.  If you haven't watched it it's worth your time.  I've always been a fan of Rod Trongard not because he's a fantastic commentator, but because his voice is amazing.  Also when I think of him it's his time in the AWA that comes to mind.

Checking with The History of WWE it appears that WWE ran five shows this day with two matinee shows including one in Oakland that featured the same exact matches as this show with one change in that Demolition won via pinfall.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast Podcast of 1,000 Holds on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Last Match: AWA World Champions

In this post we take a look at The Last Matches of former World Champions of the American Wrestling Association.

Verne Gagne

June 29, 1986 AWA Denver, Colorado
with Greg Gagne & "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka defeated Boris Zhukov, North The Barbarian, & Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie

Ten time AWA World Champion for a combined reign of 4,677 days

Gagne was a celebrated amateur wrestler including being an alternate for the 1948 US Olympic Wrestling team.  He turned pro in 1949 founding the AWA in 1960.  Gagne awarded current NWA Champion Pat O'Connor the AWA World Championship stating that if he didn't defend it against Gagne in 90 days he would be stripped of the title.  O'Connor didn't so the AWA awarded the championship to Gagne.

I recommend watching the WWE's documentary The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA for a detailed history of the Gagne and his promotion.  Gagne passed away April 27, 2015 at the age of 89.

Nick Bockwinkel

May 23, 1993 WCW Slamboree 1993, Atlanta, Georgia
wrestled Dory Funk Jr. to a 15 time limit draw

Four time AWA World Champion for a combined right of 2,990 days

To me Mr. Bockwinkel is the most sophisticated wrestler there has ever been.  His dress, his demeanor, his promo style, and even his in ring style displayed this in all footage I have ever seen of him.  Trained by Lou Thesz he debuted in 1955 and traveled around the country including feuding with Dory Funk Jr over the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

In 1970 he joined the AWA teaming with Ray Stevens being managed by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.  He won his first AWA World Championship on November 8, 1975 holding it for 1,714 days and during this title run he wrestled WWF Champion: Bob Backlund to a double count out in a unification match on March 25, 1979 in Toronto.  Bockwinkel passed away on November 14, 2015 at the age of 80.

The Crusher

February 15, 1988 WWE, Omaha, Nebraska
with Ken Patera defeated Demolition: Ax & Smash by disqualification

Three time AWA World Champion for a combined reign of 122 days

The first blur collar wrestler and arguable to most famous wrestler from Milwaukee The Crusher began his career in 1949.  The Crusher started as a heel, but in the mid 1960's became a babyface for the remainder of his career achieving a level fandom few do.  He had a very unique and entertaining promo style.  If you're not familiar take the time to YouTube some of them.  The Crusher died October 22, 2005 from a brain tumor at the age of 79.

Dick The Bruiser

February 4, 1988 AWA, Minneapolis, Minnesota
defeated Sheik Adnan Al-Kassie by disqualification

AWA World Champion November 12 - 19, 1966.

The Bruiser wrestled for thirty years starting in the mid 1950's primarily known for his tag team with The Crusher the duo are 12 time tag team champions.  The Bruiser also ran his own Indianapolis based  World Wrestling Association promotion from March 1964 until his death November 10, 1991 at the age of 62.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast Podcast of 1,000 Holds on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Wrestlecade 2017 Recap – The SuperShow (Part 3 of 3)

Saturday night’s SuperShow is the biggest event that happens during WrestleCade and arguably the biggest yearly wrestling event in North Carolina. Many of the guests from the FanFest gear up and offer fans in North Carolina an amazing opportunity to see one of the most loaded wrestling cards put on all year long.

This year’s card was very good and provided a great night of wrestling entertainment. Here is how it all went down:

The Extreme Horsemen (CW Anderson and Damien Wayne) defeated The Heatseekers and 
The Boys and The Spirit Squad (Kenny and Mikey)

I love a big tag match and I thought this was a great way to start off the show. All four teams have very different styles and seeing them all interact was great. The match was short and didn’t linger too long, which is always good for an opening match. I can’t say anything was memorable about the match, but it was a solid opening match.

The Extreme Horsemen won the match after Damien Wayne slingshot a member of the Spirit Squad into a superkick delivered by CW Anderson.

Billy Gunn defeated Carlito

This was my second time watching Billy Gunn wrestle in the past three months and I gotta say, the guy hasn’t lost a step. He looks fantastic and still puts on an entertaining (although predictable) match. I don’t know if there was a better opponent in the building for Billy than Carlito and the two put on a predictable match with a few comedy spots. The biggest shocker to me was that Billy Gunn came out to his DX music. With this event streaming live on FITE TV, I was a little surprised they could get away with that.

Billy got the win with the Fameasser after Carlito accidently spit apple in the referee’s face.

Zane Dawson defeated Tommy Dream and Luke Hawx

I was pretty excited for this match, only because I’d never seen Tommy Dreamer wrestle live before. Tommy spent several moments in the match paying tribute to Dusty and of course, things got a little extreme. A chair was brought into the ring and of course, Dreamer was on the bad end of it most of the time.

Zane Dawson got the win after Dreamer gave Hawx the Death Valley Driver, and Dawson hit Dreamer with a clothesline. Following the match, Dreamer said some kind words to the crowd supporting wrestling in North Carolina and Dusty’s dream of having high quality wrestling on Thanksgiving weekend.

Jerry Lawler vs. George South

Once both participants in the ring, George South began cutting his promos and you know how I feel about that. It was nice to see someone actually get a chance to fight back with words, but Lawler was cut short and South dominated the mic. The most frustrating part was George South kept promising to defeat Lawler with a piledriver. This wouldn’t be much of an issue had we not been subject to watching the same ten minute collection of promos/ads for an hour and a half before the match began and on that loop was a promo with George South saying the piledriver was banned, so Lawler couldn’t use it.

Once the match began, things went well.

I’ve seen both guys wrestle in August, but this match was way better than anything either one of them did then. They actually put on a classic wrestling match and kept a good pace and kept things interesting. It’s flat out amazing to see Lawler hit a dropkick a few days shy of the age of sixty-eight and the crowd was very appreciative.

George South kept roughing up the referee and he actually laid out the referee after the referee caught South attempting to pin Lawler with his feet on the ropes. Around the time the referee came to, Lawler actually attempted the exact same pin, with his feet on the ropes and the referee noticed, paused for a second, and then went ahead and made the three count.

This was a very entertaining match and a true testament to how both wrestlers still got it when matched up with an appropriate opponent.

Veterans of War (Mayweather (Crimson)/Wilcox (Jax Dane) defeated America’s Top Team (Bobby Lashley/King Mo)

I’ve never seen either of these tag teams face-off, although I’m quite familiar with Jax Dane’s work. It was a hard hitting big man match where King Mo looked very out of place. I never realized how huge Bobby Lashley is until seeing him in person. He is a flat-out beast and it was wonderful seeing him square up against a guy similar in size like Jax Dane.

VOW got the win after Lashley charged Dane and was side stepped and went through the ropes to the floor. King Mo got a double team cutter by VOW and that was all she wrote.

Caleb Konley, Juventud Guerrera, and Super Crazy defated Willie Mack, PJ Black, and Jason Kincaid

This was my second favorite match of the night. Growing up I was a huge Juventud and Super Crazy fan. Today, Willie Mack is arguably my favorite wrestler. These six guys put on a great show that was highlighted by Super Crazy’s moonsault off the top turnbuckle to the floor, and Willie Mack giving everyone (including his own team) stunners. Mack was in such a groove, he attempted to stun the referee, who reversed it and stunned Mack himself.

Konley/Guerrera/Super Crazy got the win after a dog pile occurred following a big splash by Guerrera.

WOW Match:
Jungle Grrl defeated The Beverly Hills Babe (Amber O’Neal) with Lana Starr via DQ 

Holy hell was this a mess.

I was excited to see my first WOW match. It looked like they had put some major money into their recording equipment, their FanFest booth was well organized, and they had been hyping this match all weekend long. I know Amber O’Neal can put on decent/below average matches, so I figured this match was made to highlight Jungle Grrrl’s abilities in front of a familiar face here in the Carolinas. Well, they struggled with A/V issues right off the bat with the music cutting in and out and playing music while people were trying to talk and then not playing music while the wrestlers were walking to the ring. It was a bit of a technical nightmare, but something they could easily fix in post-production before the match airs.

Then came the actual match which cannot be salvaged. A mirror was broken over The Beverly Hills Babe’s head, one ref was knocked out so another came into the ring. The first ref woke up and stopped the second ref from making the three count. Then Lana Starr argued that the second ref was the only active ref. Then Beast (who really should have been facing Jungle Grrrl) came down to the ring and attacked Jungle Grrrl, then O’Neal, and then Starr. Jungle Grrl got the win (and the title shot) because Beast touched her first, so technically she won via DQ.

During this disaster of a match, David McLane keeps picking up the mic (with either his voice or the mic going out) and starts calling in the action. My god was it terrible. Had they let Beast actually into the ring and started a second match with Jungle Grrrl I think all would have been forgotten, but this was not a good showing for WOW and did not inspire me to ever check out their TV show.

Dan Severn with Jim Cornette defeated Josh “The Goods” Woods 

Jim Cornette got on the mic and made a prison rape joke. Yep… that happened and it was awesome.

Dan Severn and Josh Woods wrestled a technical mat based match that had a few spots in it where they started off the match in an amateur wrestling position. I thought it was a fun way to change things up and I was excited to not only see Dan Severn wrestle, but Jim Cornette’s final managed match. Well, after following up the disaster of the last match, and occurring halfway through the card, the drunks began heckling and it was pretty bad.

Jim Cornette snapped back at the first heckler, but that didn’t stop him. Chants of “Boring” and “We Want Wrestling” occurred and I really felt bad for everyone involved. I think they should have announced beforehand what type of match this was going to be and that might have prepared the fans for the slower pace, but it also really hurt being put on the card where it was following the WOW disaster.

Severn got a quick pin just as Woods was trying to lock in an armbar. After the match, Jim Cornette thanked the fans, put over both Woods and Severn, and told the fans wasn’t done with wrestling, but he was done with managing. It had been thirty-five years of managing and he wanted to end it in the Carolinas where he really built his career. He thanked Dusty, Jim Crockett Promotions, and The Midnight Express for allowing him to work with them.

Hurricane Helms won the Top Rope Belts Battle Royale

I wish I had a listing of all the participants, but I assumed it was going to be full of local wrestlers and not any stars, so I didn’t attempt to keep track of who came out. I was surprised at some of the participants once they started making their way to the ring. Bobby Fulton, Tracy Smothers, Kevin Thorne, Crazzy Steve, Swoggle, Matt Striker, Mr. Hughes, D’Lo Brown all wrestled alongside some local wrestlers like John Skylar, Darius Lockhart, White Mike, Axton Ray, and Timmy Lou Retton.

Ryback defeated Joey Mercury

I know on the internet fans like to take shots at Ryback and some of things he does and says, but I’ll tell you this, at Wrestlecade Ryback was crazy over. He got one of the biggest pops and the crowd was fully behind him.

I’m not really a fan of Ryback or Mercury and thought the match ran way too long. Mercury dominated the match with Ryback only getting minor spots of offense in before Mercury beat him back down. The match ended after Ryback hit the Shell Shock after bouncing right up after a pedigree.

So, following this match, they changed out the ring skirt from blue to black. At first I thought they were changing out the apron to an IMPACT apron in order to film the next two matches for IMPACT, but it was just the ring skirt. I’m not exactly sure why they did this; my guess is they didn’t want blood showing up on the ring should the next match get out of hand.

Ivelisse defeated Taya Valkerie in a No DQ Match

Match of the night, no questions about it.

This was originally scheduled as a cage match, but it was changed to a DQ a few days before the show. I was alright with that, as long as it was truly a DQ match, and not just someone getting hit in the head with a trash can. It was so much more than that, and I take my hat off to those two ladies, who put on a fantastic show for all those in attendance.

I could never do the match justice trying to describe all the spots, but let’s just say they fought in the crowd and on one of the tables at ringside. A trash can, kendo stick, baking sheets, chairs, and tables were all used to inflict major damage.

Ivelisse got the win after wrapping a chain around Taya’s neck and almost bending her over completely in half.

Eli Drake defeated Jack Swagger with Catalina Swagger and Johnny IMPACT 
to retain the Global IMPACT Championship

Some of the same issues that plagued the WOW entrances seemed to affect this match as well. Music was being played when it shouldn’t and mics weren’t working when they should have been. It took a while, but Dutch Mantell introduced Jack Swagger, then Johnny IMPACT made his way to the ring, followed by Eli Drake who cut a promo right in front of me.

This match looked good on paper and came off very ho-hum. It was decent, just nothing special. Drake got the pin (with his feet on the ropes) after Johnny IMPACT hit Starship Pain on Swagger.

The most memorable moment of the match is where Catalina Swagger got involved. Eli Drake picked her up and pressed her, causing Jack Swagger to come in and make the same. Johnny IMPACT used Drake as a lever which hit Swagger straight in the nuts causing Catalina to become upset. She slapped Johnny and Taya Valkerie came out to carry Catalina to the back.

Best Matches of the Night:
1. Ivelisse vs. Taya Valkerie – No DQ

2. Caleb Konley/Juventud Guerrera/Super Crazy vs. PJ Black/Willie Mack/Jason Kincaid

3. Jerry Lawler vs. George South

Things I Didn’t Like:
1. I feel bad for anyone sitting more than a couple rows back, because the venue is not well designed to watch wrestling in.

2. There was a major issue with fans rushing from the back to the entrance barrier trying to touch wrestlers. One of the gentlemen at the table in front of us eventually found a staff member who got a profanity laden rant about this behavior and had this person sit at the table with him to help deal with this situation. The staff member said they were allowed to run over to the barrier, but had to leave once the match started which was a little helpful. But this still meant that a lot of people who spent good money to sit close were unable to get to the ringside barrier and take good pictures, because a swarm of grown women were constantly running over. I actually stood up to take up some space and try and prevent this from happening and instead the women climbed over our seats and all over our coats and bags.

Of course, we had no problem with kids coming over, but these women quickly pushed the kids away and they eventually stopped coming over. This is the type of thing that happens when you have a four foot gap against the guard rail because you have tables as your front row. Children don’t get to greet their heroes.

Final Thoughts:
This was my third year attending Wrestlecade and I had a lot of fun. The wrestling matches were great and it’s wonderful walking into a room with all your favorite wrestlers. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves wrestling.

There is still quite a bit of work that needs to be done organizing and executing the event, especially as it continues to grow. I had planned on attending all of Sunday’s events, but after spending so much time frustrated at not knowing where to line up, not entering events on time, and not being able to find any staff members to help with anything, I decided it was best to just call it a weekend and go home. I figure I’ll watch the Smokey Mountain Panel and skim through the other events once they make their way onto the AML Network or onto DVD.

I hope Wrestlecade returns next year and some adjustments are made to make this the best wrestling convention in the country!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wrestlecade 2017 Recap – Saturday’s Fanfest (Part 2 of 3)

Wrestlecade’s Saturday is broken into two parts: the morning from 10:30 AM-3:00 PM is the FanFest where all the vendors and wrestling personalities set up tables to interact with fans, and in the evening the Wrestlecade SuperShow takes place.

I arrived at 9:30 AM and found a line of several hundred fans already snaking across the lobby and down the tunnel leading towards the hotels. Since Ihad already picked up our tickets the night before, I hopped in the long line to wait until the doors opened.

I mentioned in the last post my displeasure at the lack of staff and directions, and Saturday was more of the same. Two lines existed, one for will-call and one to actually get in. Neither line was labeled nor was there anyone out to help direct people into the correct lines. Lots of the fans were voicing their displeasure for there not being a separate line for everyone who had passes for early admission. Confusion ran rampant and there was a lot of frustration at people cutting in line because there was no one there to manage it. You’d see groups of five to ten people joining up with their friends and it really wasn’t necessary. I’ve seen much bigger conventions handle way more people; all it takes is some man power, some barriers, signs, and a little initiative.

As 10:30 approached, someone finally came along the line and told those with early tickets to separate into another line and prepare for our bags to be checked. Things went rather smoothly and we were in the doors within ten minutes. But right before we made it inside, I noticed a large man with a rolling suitcase behind me, and it was none other than Dan “The Beast” Severn. He asked me where everyone was entering and I explained that all of the doors led to the same place. He jokingly remarked back, “But yea, will they open the doors for me in those other places.” I laughed and told him I didn’t think of that and he thanked me for the help before moving towards the same entrance us fans were funneling into. He seemed like a really nice guy.

As we approached the door, I looked for a staff member to ask my one question, “How do I redeem my Terry Funk/Mick Foley photo op?” No staff was around, so I went inside figuring I’d find someone to ask. Of course, I couldn’t find a staff member inside either, but that wasn’t nearly as frustrating as the room layout.

The Fanfest room is 18,300 square feet but a good portion of that is taken up by a wrestling ring, an entrance, twenty feet on two sides for seating and ten feet on the other. That means only a set path can be followed throughout the FanFest floor. This makes for some massive traffic jams and it’s not unusual to get stuck in a crowd for three or four minutes with no moving. It also doesn’t help when the organizers place Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard across from Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express with no more than eight feet between the two tables. It’s not fan friendly nor wrestler/vendor friendly. It’s hard to stop and talk, or to even look at things because there is constantly a massive crowd of people trying to get by you. Lines for the wrestlers become confusing because people are lining up two different directions, and no one can tell who’s in line and who is stuck in the crowd just trying to get through. I said it last year and the year before, the ring has to go. I love wrestling and I was introduced to AML through the FanFest matches, but they do not have enough room with the ring and entrance taking up so much space. It also isn’t fair to the wrestlers and vendors because if you are located near the entrance to the ring, you are constantly doing battle with the announcers and speaker system.

Here is an incredibly crude layout I made in Paint of what the layout looks like. The brown represents tables, the black lines are barriers that you cannot cross, and the arrows represent the traffic flow.

Because of the lack of space, it becomes incredibly hot quickly. We were inside for under an hour and the doors were already being held open by security trying to cool things down. The ring has to go next year. They have to move the matches into another room for the fans who want to watch them or move the vendors and tables into the lobby. Something has to give. It’s not comfortable, safe, or fun when you spend almost all your time just trying to navigate through the crowd.

So, I made it inside and immediately get stuck in the crowd of fans visiting with The Boogeyman, Tatanka, and Curtis Hughes. Once I managed to make our way all the way around to the backside of the ring, I decided to redeem my Jerry Lawler photo op. 

I introduced myself to Mr. Lawler and took a photo with him. I was expected to be shooed along, but he took a couple of minutes to talk to us. I was shocked, because the only other wrestler I’ve ever had actually take time and not push me along was Cody Rhodes. I told him I grew up in Memphis and we discussed the various malls in Memphis as well as that show I met him first at since it was held in a mall and was memorable because they put the ring on the ice skating ring. He was incredibly cordial and only confirmed that I had made the right choice in favorite wrestler.

When coming out of the line, I heard a fan say that Terry Funk was not coming. I decided to check the Wrestlecade Facebook page and sure enough, Funk had to fly home after his wife fell ill. I was bummed, but a sick family member is way more important than a bunch of fans. I hope she recovers quickly and maybe I’ll catch Terry the next time he comes to North Carolina.

One of the best parts of Wrestlecade is just standing there and taking it all in. You glance around the room and you see nothing but legends and memories. Everywhere you look there are so many amazing people it’s hard to contain it all or even process where to go next. I ultimately decided to go see how much Jake the Snake was charging for pictures. He wasn’t at the table, but his handler told me twenty bucks and I decided to go get my Brutus the Barber Beefcake photo while waiting for Jake to return.

I mentioned it briefly in the last post, but I didn’t grow up a Brutus fan. In fact, I really didn’t care for the guy. The set sold me on the photo op and once I came over to him, I found Brutus to be very fan friendly. I watched as he made a special effort to make sure everyone got great photos and he took his time and gave hugs freely to fans. He made sure I was comfortable in the chair and that I posed with the clippers properly. I was holding them the opposite way and he told me that was blasphemy and you always had to hold them the other way. I never imagined he’d be so friendly, and it was just another amazing wrestler interaction at Wrestlecade.

Jake came back to his table after he obviously had left to take a smoke break. He was sweating bullets, but looking healthy. I paid his fee, shook the man’s hand, told him how much I enjoyed his documentary, and he smiled and sent me along. It was by far the shortest wrestler interaction, and Jake didn’t seem up to interacting with the fans, but he wasn’t a jerk or anything like that. He just wasn’t overly friendly.

I fought back through the crowd found Ken Shamrock. I was a huge Shamrock fan in both the UFC and his WWF run. Ken Shamrock, like almost everyone else I interacted with at Wrestlecade was very friendly and seemed to enjoy interacting with his fans.

I cut back through the crowd and back towards the entrance taking time to look through the booths to the best of our ability. I noticed Highspots was selling a New Japan ringer shirt that looked similar to the one I saw on ProWrestlingTees. The cool thing about the Highspots booth is many times local wrestlers, who I guess are employed by High Spots, will be selling their merch as well as running the booth. When I walked up “Man Scout” Jake Manning was working the booth so I asked him about the shirt and he mentioned it was long sleeve, but they did have my size. I ended up picking a new copy of Memphis Heat, since I’ve somehow misplaced my original copy, and later that night at the SuperShow I purchased the NJPW shirt.

The matches had begun by this point and things went from loud to super-loud in the FanFest area. The sound of the ring, yelling wrestlers, cheering fans, and a huge speaker system does not mesh well with the whole wrestler/vendor interaction. I noticed Kevin Kelly was watching the action and decided to swing by and get a photo with him.

Like Jerry Lawler, he took a few minutes to chat wrestling with me, and I told him that I was a huge fan of his work with Memphis Championship Wrestling. He seemed to get a kick that I brought that up, especially since he was sharing a table with Kevin Thorne who he met in MCW wrestling under the name of Seven. We both agreed that had HD cameras been around that footage would have been highly sought after considering the roster at the time.

I grew frustrated trying to talk with Mr. Kelly having a speaker blasting in my face during the entire exchange. The temperature in the room had gotten even hotter and by this point the room was even more crowded. We decided to make our way ringside to watch a couple of matches, but it was so uncomfortable we were both ready to go.

I wanted to snag one last photo this time with Katarina Winters now known as The Temptress over at the WOW booth, but it was crowded, so we made our way out the doors to the much cooler lobby and decided to call it a day. I’m not going to lie, I was a little bummed. There was plenty more to see and more wrestlers to chat with (I’d only gotten a split second to tell Super Crazy how much I enjoyed his work at House of Hardcore the weekend before) but I was wiped out. There was not nearly enough room for the people, vendors, and ring.

I walked a block over to Mellow Mushroom and then swung by the Mast General Store to kill some time before the SuperShow. I made it back to the convention center around 2:30 PM and decided to peek inside and see if the crowd had died down some. It had, not by much, but it gave me time to meet Katarina Winters and browse some more booths.

After the final match, which saw Zane Dawson defeat White Mike, the announcer mentioned that the SuperShow would be opening up at 4 PM for those with early passes and 4:30 for general admission. This was not the same time advertised on the website and Facebook page, so I decided to go talk to the ladies handling will call to see what time we needed to line up. Neither one of them knew, and instead they just kept guessing times, so we decided to get back near 3:30 PM just to be safe.

When I got back to the convention center it was even more chaotic and confusing than it was before. Two giant lines lined both sides of the convention lobby and every person you talked to told you something different. One line was supposedly for food (it was not), another line was for early admission (it was not). I know I’ve said it before, but I just want to convey how confusing and frustrating it is to walk into a massive lobby with hundreds of people everywhere and have no idea where to go or what to do nor have anyone near to ask.

Luckily, I picked the line that they let people in first and the security guys at the door were sending away anyone without an early admission pass. We were guaranteed a seat in rows 1-4, but by the time I made it in, most of the seats had been taken. I picked the best row four seat and my view was this.

See, Wrestlecade also sells table seats that surround the ring. So row four is more like row ten. It also doesn’t help that the flat rectangle room makes for absolutely horrible angles and there is no live video to watch from. I was not happy, not happy at all. I would have been even more upset had I been in the other line that got let in after us.

Luckily for me, the guys in front of us did not have Superstar/Legend passes and once security made a second announcement that they were checking passes, they decided to move out of the seats. So I moved into the third row which was better. Then right before the show started, a group that had empty table seats came over and fetched their friends in the front row and that gave me a chance to move to the front row which was WAY better. I went from being pretty miserable and upset about horrible seats to being very satisfied.

I hope I’m not giving the wrong impression with my recap of the day’s events. It was a lot of fun and I loved being around the wrestlers and around wrestling in general, but the execution and organization of the FanFest and the event as a whole needs some major work. Wrestlecade has grown and they cannot continue to run this event the same way they’ve run it every year. This is not a slightly larger AML event, this is a whole other beast. I realize they do not have the budget nor the staff of a Wizard World, nor do they have enough content to solicit volunteers, but maybe they need to contract a temp agency because the in-ring content and FanFest content is amazing, they just need more staff and more thought given to the fan experience.

With that being said, I do not want to discredit the large amount of hard work that it takes to plan an event like this. It is part convention, part pay per view, and part independent wrestling show. They are managing guests, ticket sales, a locker room, booking matches, managing audio/visual equipment, dealing with building/equipment issues, and I’m sure quite a few egos. I’m sure its stressful just putting on one wrestling event, let alone three, including one that is a live iPPV for the first time with new cameras. It’s amazing that the folks at Wrestlecade manage to put all this together and make it work and they deserve some major kudos for that. I’m also very appreciative that each year they come back and offer us fans here in North Carolina an incredible opportunity to interact with our heroes and watch some amazing wrestling. I just wish they’d stop making the same mistakes each year and improve the fan experience in some areas.

In my final post, we’ll cover the actual SuperShow and why I skipped out on Sunday’s events.