FanFest in Newark
Van Dam does what comes naturally when meeting Garcia.
I said, I usually don’t go in for Fanfests or Reunion
shows, but this time, I did. I headed over to Newark for the
Big Time Wrestling FanFest, which cost 69 bucks for the SuperTicket,
but proved to be completely worth it. Here’s how it
there extra early, with doors opening at 10 I arrived at
9:30. I thought three things: first, I’d get to chat
with other wrestling fans, which is always a plus. I ended
up in line with a guy who goes way back, like to 1945. We
talked about Whipper Billy Watson and Stanislaus Zybysko
and many other old timers. He’s a big fan of Piper,
plus he likes the current stuff, which is odd for a long-time
fan to say.
a bit and listened to his stories and then they let us in,
which was the highlight. I was among the first fifty or
so, and I got to the video tables before anybody else. Sadly,
there wasn’t much to buy. I did get a couple of videos,
most importantly the History of the Tag Team Championship
from about 1986 and a history of the Exploding Ring Death
Match from FMW in Japan. The latter was a DVD I’d
been meaning to get, though when I finally got it home,
I found that the matches themselves were pretty slow, though
the explosions were psycho! The first one I know I’ve
seen, but I got it so I could get The Iron Sheik to sign
the cover, which he gladly did.
the doors opened, there were four people signing. Sunny
and surprise attendee Virgil (or the NwO’s Vincent),
both of whom you had to pay extra to get autographs (and
I did for Virgil).
amongst the Amish.
looked very puffy, and with the year she’s had and
the general lifestyle she chose for so many years, it’s
completely understandable that she’s not looking her
best. Still, I saw her holding a little baby for a ton of
photos during the matches later in the day and she was very
other two were two of the reasons I came: The Iron Sheik
and Captain Lou Albano. Capt. Lou is best known as the Manager
of Champions, leading so many tag teams to the title belts
that he used to own the belts because he would have guys
who held them so often. I got his autograph first. He was
looking better than he had the last time I saw him on TV,
but he wasn’t feeling very talkative early on, so
I only got a handshake.
he took the mic and laid out a great “I’m here
with the Iron Sheik” promo that was amazing. He signed
a Capt. Lou figure for me. I got a picture of Virgil, then
headed out to watch the matches.
Big Time Wrestling isn’t the best wrestling you’ll
ever see, but two of their guys, L’emporeaur and Hop
Sing Lee, are both really cool. The Emp even pointed me
out as looking like Hillbilly Jim! That was awesome. The
matches were weak, and the main event of L’emporer
and Jason Styles vs. The Dream Team of Brutus Beefcake and
Greg The Hammer Valentine was awful, but at least the crowd
the exception of the group of SmartMarks I was sitting with,
no one made much of a fuss. It was kinda sad that the washed-up
guys were getting the best reaction.
Then came the time for the main autographing session. We
got into line and waited. And waited. And waited. Then we
slowly started to file through.
nice about the long wait was that we all got a chance to talk
to the guys for a couple of minutes. This was very cool. Rocky
Johnson, father of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson,
was the first on the trip, and he wasn’t talkative either.
I got a photo with him, which you can see at right.
In the iron grip
of Rocky Johnson.
got a chance to chat with Rick Martel, the former AWA World
Champion and WWF Tag Team Champion. We talked for about
five minutes since there wasn’t a lot of demand for
his time. I brought up his former partner, Tony Garea, and
his friend Johnny Garcia, long-time New Zealand champ. He
said he saw Johnny, who had never really wrestled in the
US much, and said that I was probably the first American
who ever asked him about the guy.
was Rob Van Dam. We talked about the time he knocked me
down at an ECW show. He then did the photo where he tried
to hit me with the ECW TV belt. He was way cool and easily
got the most cheers, save for the star of the show.
Then was the most impressive part: Roddy Piper. I came up
and he couldn’t have been nicer. I told him that one
of his matches was the first that I remembered. He asked
who is was against and I answered “someone who’s
never been much of anything, Chavo Guerrero” who was
his first big feud. He said that he wrestled every Guerrero
except the Mom of the family, and she made him soup. He
also said that if I found him in a bar after the show, he’d
let me buy him a drink!
always, Bret Hart is happy to be here.
Last was Bret Hart and Jim the Anvil Neidhart. Bret didn’t
want to talk, or even shake hands, Neidhart was very friendly.
He shook hands, said nice to meet ya and then I went on
my way. Bret never even looked at me. It happens.
I’d like to say that Big Time Wrestling has another
show that’s focused on the wrestling in the ring,
since they’re bringing in Harry Smith and Frankie
Kazarian, and they’re rad. L’Emporeaur is an
indy star in the making. I’m not a fan of his matches,
but he is great in his gimmick.
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