One evening a couple of months ago, I found out about Awesome Con in Washington, DC and saw the guest list. I love the city and in my experience at local comic cons, plus my enjoyment of Washington DC as a whole, this was a no brainer.
So my friend Colston and I made the drive early Saturday morning for the busiest day and got there at 10:15, 15 minutes after the convention opened.
Awesome Con was very protective of its fans by offering one entrance citing security but this really was a double edged sword.
Saturday of any convention is always extremely crowded and Awesome Con is no different. Everyone is off work and ready to start their weekend. Having general admission have to wait 45 minutes after picking up badges just to escalator down to the exhibit hall is a tough ask.
That line wait was tiring for a lot of people. Many fans sat and slid to the next spot and were overheated. The line was organized, but it should not have to come to that.
I understand and respect the mindset behind being safe, especially with the events this past month or two, but paying $200 plus extra to be a VIP so you immediately go down an escalator is not fair to the general admission people who also paid to be there, especially for the first timers of the event. This was their first impression and it was not a favorable one.
While in line, I had a 12 PM photo op and I was close to the front of the line for the escalator at 11:30. It made me nervous about missing my photo op. Even with a map given in the official program, I still had to find everything and with so many people it would be longer than normal to navigate.
Fortunately when I found my bearings I took a quick pit stop to meet my first person on the day, Kel Mitchell.
Kel is most known for Keenan and Kel on Nickelodeon with Keenan Thompson, currently of SNL fame. Mitchell is currently on Game Shakers, which also is on Nickelodeon.
I did this because Kel’s line was rather short at the time and four people were ahead of me.
Kel had a nice selection of 8×10’s and even sold Good Burger hats for $10. I bought a combo getting a signed 8×10 and a picture for $60.
I already felt at home at the booth because Kel turned on music and was just nice to everyone, offering both smiles and handshakes to everyone.
When it was my turn, Kel first shook my hand and as he signed the photo I thanked him for the childhood memories he gave me. He could not have been more gracious.
We then took two photos and of course he called me back because I forgot my photo, a rookie move.
I then went back to the photo op area for my first set picture.
Everyone who knows me is aware that I am a WWE fan so it is no surprise that I ordered a Shinsuke Nakamura photo op.
I was in group one meaning my photo op would come after the VIP’s.
After a small wait it was my turn. Nakamura greeted me with a warm smile and handshake before we quickly posed. We then shook hands as he thanked me and I left to get my stuff. Well worth the $40.
I had another photo op but that was not scheduled for another 20 minutes after I left the photo op era so I decided to go look for Rob Schamberger’s booth.
Rob paints magnificent masterpieces of man WWE wrestlers and I am a big fan of his work.
When I found the booth I immediately went to the autographed prints section and there were many to choose from.
I ended up going with Bayley print and a Miz & Maryse print. Bayley’s piece looked amazing and I had nothing in my collection signed by her and same with Miz & Maryse.
The Miz in my opinion has been the best wrestler on the roster since the Raw after Wrestlemania 32 and his wife Maryse is a big reason for that as well.
Each piece was $50 and that was money very well spent.
Throughout the process I got to interact with Rob and he could not have been nicer.
After the transaction was over, I asked for and was given a chance to get a picture with him.
After this photo, which Rob called his shot how we would pose, an old school wrestling promo style picture, I went back to the photo op area. It was time to meet WWE’s Charlotte Flair.
The wait to line up was longer than it was for Nakamura but that was only because Stan Lee, the headlining guest for the con apparently slept in. He’s 94, that’s more than acceptable.
As a side effect his first of two signings that day was pushed back two hours and all of his fans waited and were clogging up the waiting area.
When they called us Charlotte photo op people we were placed in a line. The session was set to start at 12:45 but at 12:55 we were still standing there and were moved to accomodate the Stan Les photo op people.
After we were moved, the line started moving and in no time I was in.
Charlotte is always one of the friendliest WWE wrestlers and this experience, my first, was no different.
I walked up and quickly was greeted with a “what’s up buddy” and a handshake.
We posed for the photo and she gave me a smile and a handshake. Again well worth the $40.
After the photo op, I saw her handler, former WWE referee Tim White. I have been to several WWE signings in the Pittsburgh area and Tim has practically been to all of them so he quickly recognized me. We shook hands and gave each other a pat on the back before I left the photo op area.
After this I power walked over to Charlotte’s autograph line. I already had a Nakamura autograph and did not need another.
All day I had lugged a plaque I purchased for $20 at WWE Shop. It was from Royal Rumble and Charlotte defeated Bayley there. The importance of this plaque was Royal Rumble served as the final pay-per-view Charlotte won as part of her 16-0 streak before dropping the title at Fastlane in March to Bayley, so this plaque was rather significant.
It was my main goal of the event to get this plaque signed. I could not get in line fast enough.
Though it took a while, I found the back of the line and fortunately someone held my place multiple times.
The first time was because you had to pay $40 for a wristband to secure an autograph from Charlotte or Nakamura.
After this we looked at the time and saw she had a panel scheduled and not much time for autographs since the photo ops went long.
Thankfully we were reassured that a wristband guaranteed an autograph so I would be good to go.
As I waited I saw Ellis Mbeh better known as “Shocked Undertaker Guy” and Malcolm a WWE YouTuber known as “Muscle Man Malcolm”. I had tweeted Ellis a couple of times and for a second time my spot was saved so I could meet them. We got a picture as well.
Later on, I saw Malcolm (pictured left) parallel to me, further behind the Charlotre line which snaked over and told him he could come over by me if he would like. No one objected and we talked a bit more before we got to the front of the line.
Charlotte gave me another “what’s up buddy” when I came up there. She immediately noticed my plaque and asked which color I wanted, which was thoughtful. I told her to go with what she thought was best and that I trusted her judgment.
She took longer to sign it than I thought and when I read it back the inscription included a recognition of the PPV streak in addition to “Do It With Flair”, which I thought was amazing and very generous. She took her time on it which made it even better.
Then we shook hands and parted ways once again.
Please forgive me for the sticky note being at the bottom of the picture. I wanted to take a quick picture of the signing and a combination of excitement and having to wait longer for the sharpie and surface of the plaque to dry, I decided to take this quick shot.
The Charlotte signing used up my last $40 before I had to refuel my cash. This took quite a while as the ATM line by the celebrity area resembled a Black Friday line. This was actually a good thing as it allowed my Charlotte autograph to dry.
It was only after the ATM withdrawal that I could safely put the plaque away, that was a good 20-30 minutes after I got the autograph.
My next stop was to Jerry “The King” Lawler’s booth. For $30, I got a signed 8×10 and a picture.
The picture selection was nice and I settled on a Batman themed one. This picture is sideways but still very readable.
Jerry was very generous with his time and actually did three pictures with me. The $30 was an extreme bargain.
After this I had to take care of a birthday present and got Sean Schemmel to sign a picture and got it inscribed to that person. I just got an autograph on this one.
I then hopped in the line next to Sean’s and that was Phil LaMarr.
Phil has been at Awesome Con each of the five years and though his line was short, went the slowest because he had genuine conversations with everyone and made sure they enjoyed their experience.
He offered a photo/autograph combo for $40 and I could not pay fast enough.
Phil does many voices and impressions but it is his Ollie Williams from Family Guy which always brings a smile to my face. There was an 8×10 of Ollie on the table and I could not grab it fast enough.
After a handshake and a quick conversation we talked Ollie and I did my best “It’s gon rain”.
Phil was more than game and said “It’s raining sideways” back to me and we both laughed.
Phil then came around for a picture before we parted ways with a final handshake.
The only thing I was unable to get that was on my list was a photo with Eliza Dushku. By the time I got to try and buy a photo op ticket for her, it was sold out. Eliza did not do photos at her table as just autographs for a $50 fee were listed.
I waited in line a little bit with others while we waited for her to come back from several different photo ops.
When we did get to her table, the line moved fairly quickly. She clutched a coffee in one hand and a Sharpie in the other.
I, like many others congratulated her on her engagement which was reported on Friday. She offered a smile and we covers see for around a minute before we parted ways.
After buying photo protectors, Colston and I decided to leave. By that point it was 5:30 Saturday afternoon. I got a lot done at the con.
Instead of leaving the area though, we went out to dinner with a friend, George Washington SID Dan DiVeglio.
Of course none of us knew the area well so we went to the first restaurant we saw, Arcadiana. Needless to say my wallet with not happy with my purchase, but the combination of the New York strip steak and red potatoes were very delicious and well worth it.
Dan was fantastic company and we all traded stories and laughs over our meals, biscuits and the desert they gave us.
Despite the hardship of just getting into Awesome Con, the event was well worth going to and I would definitely consider going again next year depending on the guest list.