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Wrestling Today's Date:

Falls Count Anywhere

11-15-05 (continued) (Smackdown!)

Rob Van Dam does what comes naturally when meeting Garcia.
Saturday’s FanFest in Newark
Like 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 went.

I got 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.

I talked 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.

Virgil amongst the Amish.
When 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).

Sunny 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 nice.

The 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.

Later, 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 cared.

With 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.

In the iron grip of Rocky Johnson.
What was 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.

I then 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.

Next 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.

As always, Bret Hart is happy to be here.
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!

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.


Talk about today's column in the forums!

Chris Garcia

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