My experience meeting wrestlers

With my career as a sports journalist, I find going to a sporting event as a ticketed patron bizarre. Sure I can enjoy myself a bit, but it does feel like a task where sometimes I feel that there is the shift back into journalism mode.

WWE is the one thing sports related where I certainly do not feel like that. I do not feel like I am breaking any code or anything by meeting a wrestler or attending an event. I always go to WWE events in Pittsburgh with the same couple of friends and it’s just a great release where I actually can enjoy myself and not feel like I should be writing something.

Because of this I have taken advantage of losing plenty of money to the WWE. I have met quite a few wrestling performers. For those of you negative Nancy types who are complaining about a grown man paying to meet someone, just leave this post now. I spend my money how I choose.

Anyways after that digression, I wanted to break down my experience meeting each of the wrestlers and will try to put it in as much order as possible.

1. Paige Wizard World Pittsburgh 2015– Paige was the first WWE person of any kind that I had the chance of meeting, so I really had no clue what to expect. I paid for the VIP package so I was guaranteed to be among the first to get a picture and autograph from Paige. At the time, Paige was easily the most over women’s wrestler in the WWE and was different in a great way.

As you can see by the picture, I was wearing a Total Divas polo and when I went up           to her any nerves I had were instantly gone when she complimented my choice of             attire since she was on Total Divas at the time. She did a different pose for everyone           and I had her autograph the physical copy of the picture. She made the experience             fun and it was well worth the money. If there is a convention type setting or way to           meet Paige, I would recommend it.

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2. Titus O’Neil and Darren Young 96.1 Kiss FM Stuff A Bus 2015– This was at the local event that Mikey and Big Bob DJ’s of the 96.1 Kiss FM Morning Freak Show in Pittsburgh do every December where individuals can donate new and unwrapped toys to Toys For Tots on school busses.

Titus and Darren were in town because there was going to be a Monday Night RAW in Pittsburgh that specific day. The pair came and those who donated a toy that morning were able to meet the duo.

I probably could have found something to get signed, but I never went there, it just did not feel right. The funny thing is that WrestleMania 31 jacket was modeled by Titus on wweshop.com and we actually talked and laughed about it.

These two are genuine guys and I am glad to see Titus succeeding again with his Titus Worldwide gimmick. As for Darren, he is just as genuine of a person and I perhaps that is why both may have done their best work together.

Both of these are great people to meet. They can easily get down to your level and have a genuine conversation.

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3. Daniel Bryan Pittsburgh World of Wheels January 2016– This may have been my favorite individual to meet. He takes his time with the fans and just gets it.

Really I should not have had any chance of meeting “D Bry” at all to be honest.

I got off work at 6 PM when the event started and all you had to do was pay admission to get into the event and then you could meet him.

I could have gotten right in line but instead waited on a couple of my friends. This was a no brainer because this was a relatively cheap signing but also because several people had Bryan among the top people in WWE to meet.

When the three of us got in line, they had already cut the line but we figured why not try and stay in line, just to see what happens. Sure enough, the person who was cutting the line went away. Daniel Bryan wanted to sign for all of his fans.

I bought a copy of his autobiography prior to the signing and he personalized it for me.

Everyone was asking about Daniel Bryan coming back for the Royal Rumble since he was cleared by most if not all of the doctors except the most important one, WWE’s. I did not go that route and though he was kind to everyone, I am sure he was sick of talking about it with everyone.

I decided to talk to Daniel Bryan about why he was the only person who called then WWE wrestler Ryback “The Ryback”. We easily talked for 2-3 minutes about it and he laughed the entire time. It was such a great exchange and he was super nice.

Definitely meet Daniel Bryan if you have the chance. He has such a warm, infectious personality and he gives you time.

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4. Sheamus Cricket Wireless July 2016– I had such high hopes for this signing because so many people had great things to say about when they met Sheamus, but really, this experience was forgettable.

Sheamus was a heel at the time, but I really did not think that had anything to do with this.

I had him sign a Royal Rumble 2014 DVD since it marked his return to the WWE after months away due to injury. I try to strike up a quick conversation with him and he just did not seem to want to talk back to me.

He seemed like he wanted things to just move along. Really I do not blame the guy. It was over 90 degrees outside and the travel everyone does with the WWE is just grueling and maybe it just was not his day.

I do not blame Sheamus, really I don’t, but a lot of these experiences were great and this one was kind of forgettable.

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5. Bob Backlund Bradley’s Books Century III Mall July 2016– Century III Mall in Pittsburgh sadly is what it is at this point and sadly there is not much left in the store.

This was the second of two signings Bob Backlund was doing around the Pittsburgh area and this proximity was much easier for me then what I believe was Upper St. Clair.

All you had to do was buy a book so Backlund would sign and then take a picture.

When I got to that particular store, there was one person talking with him and that was it so the line was sadly nonexistent.

WWE Shop was selling autographed copies for less money as Bradley’s was selling them for list price, but I wanted the experience of meeting Bob Backlund for myself.

Bob was a nice guy and he was certainly unafraid to converse and we talked about his time with the WWE. He was generous with his time and we probably spent a good 10-15 minutes talking. We spoke about his “Make Darren Young Great Again” gimmick and he told me that Darren was treating him well and with respect.

When it was time to part ways, he gave me his card so that I could e-mail him what I thought of the book. I have heard great things about the book, but have not had a chance yet to read it for myself. I will contact him at some point though, and if/when I do hear back from him, I will update this section if at all possible.

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6. Lita Steel City Con December 2016– This signing was a bit on the forgettable side as well to be honest.

Steel City Con occurs several times a year in the Monroeville part of Pittsburgh and they do a great job of booking wrestlers for the event.

With Lita I met her first because the line was on the shorter side and I knew most of the rest of my time would be spent in Chris Jericho’s line.

Though Lita’s table had a decent amount of 8×10 photos there to be signed, I already had purchased one prior to the convention of her with Edge and Edge had pre-signed the piece.

Lita saw this picture and just was not in the mood to have a conversation. She pretty much offered a hello and after she signed it, she said “glad I was able to complete the set”.

She said it kind of aloofly which seemed odd and said it again after the picture. It is towards the bottom of my list with Sheamus too.

I would not call it a bad experience, she at least said something and made eye contact several times.

I like her signature in that it’s clear and of course her rivalry with Trish Stratus is one of if not the best in WWE women’s wrestling.

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7. Chris Jericho Steel City Con December 2016– I had heard things both positive and negative for Jericho with the negative mostly coming when he was a heel.

In December 2016, Jericho was still a heel though his List of Jericho was a big success with the WWE Universe. At age 46, Jericho was having his best run as a WWE performer.

I waited for three hours in his line and it was well worth it.

When I first walked up to Jericho he apologized for my having to wait so long, which he certainly did not have to do. I had a picture of him at Wrestlemania 32 to sign and he personalized it with the G.O.A.T. extra inscription.

We were talking and I thanked him for his wrestling, Talk is Jericho podcast and for Fozzy. He talked about each with me and then right before the picture was snapped asked what my favorite Fozzy song was. I froze not expecting that but recovered in time for the photo.

Jericho was willing to give everyone time which more than made up for the wait.

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Also as a sidebar, Jericho did a livesigning.com to promote his book No Is A Four Letter Words and I was one of two people that had a phone conversation with him to ask a question. Others got to ask as well but not by phone. During this conversation I kind of got a mulligan of sorts talking Fozzy and music with Chris which was awesome. The Instagram post is not of the conversation because that was an over three minute conversation but one which confirms I was the last person he called or texted even though it was through a representative’s phone.

When you get to talk over the phone to Chris Jericho and he acknowledges it on a live stream.

A post shared by Zachary Weiss (@zacharymweiss) on

8, 9 & 10 The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) December 2016– This was prior to WWE’s Roadblock End of the Line pay-per-view at Toys R’ Us. It was an event which was limited to 200 people but the wait was still three hours for them.

The event itself was free and Toys R’ Us made it sound like we could not bring our own stuff for them to sign so I got an 8×10 signed by all three.

Big E was making different faces for everyone and all three were very nice. We actually all talked UpUpDownDown, Xavier Woods’s YouTube gaming channel, specifically about the Madden Tournament, which gave them all something to talk about. This being a Sunday, they all had not seen the finished episode I was talking about but it was great.

The New Day still are the longest reigning tag team champions when they were on Monday Night RAW, breaking Demolition’s record.

Later on the same day, The New Day lost to Sheamus & Cesaro ending their streak but it does not take away how these three came together and made fans care about them. Thank goodness Vince McMahon listened to this trio and for them being persistent.

Meeting The New Day is a great experience that I certainly would recommend.

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11. A.J. Styles World of Wheels Pittsburgh January 2017– A.J. Styles is great to his fans and similar to Daniel Bryan, he wanted to get to everyone. I cannot knock Styles for that, but everything definitely felt rushed because of it.

Just like the Daniel Bryan signing the year prior, all I had to pay was the admission price.

I had him sign a TNA DVD I picked up for $1 that had Sting on the cover. Styles was on Team Sting for that PPV but never even reacted when he saw it. I was at least expecting a look of surprise but he just took it and signed it. I was fortunate to get a handshake, a lot of people before me never did.

This is not meant to rip on Styles at all, I still enjoyed my experience, but not much of it was memorable outside of just being able to say that I met A.J. Styles.

Would I still recommend meeting A.J. Styles? Absolutely. He is a nice enough guy and wants to make sure he gets to meet all of his fans. I just was hoping for a little bit more of an experience.

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12. Sting Steel City Con April 2017– Again Steel City Con is a great place to meet wrestlers so long as you can afford it.

I knew Sting in face paint would attract a crowd and learning my lesson from last time, I got in Sting’s line first. This turned out to be a smart decision as I was only in line for two hours. That being said I lined up as soon as I got in knowing Sting would not arrive until an hour later, so that wait time is a bit skewed, but if I only got in line when Sting did then the wait would have been at least three hours.

Sting was not a man of many words but the experience was still a good one. I had him sign the TNA DVD A.J. Styles already signed. He was pleasant enough and Sting was someone I wanted to meet, so that got checked off the list.

In terms of overall experience, it was kind of quick and middle of the road but Sting is one of the best so it was definitely worth it.

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13. Kurt Angle Steel City Con April 2017– Angle’s line kind of did not know where to turn in the middle, but of course the local guy had a nice line.

I bought his autobiography at the library for $2, definitely a worthwhile purchase.

Each of these wrestlers have handlers and Angle’s handler was the same one who was kind to me at the Lita signing. He saw the book and told me “wow, that’s the first time we’ve seen the book today”.

That was a great feeling and I love bringing things the wrestlers aren’t used to signing because it is a great way to make conversation which hopefully leads to a positive experience for both myself and the person signing.

Angle saw the book and smiled and we had a quick conversation before he told me to sit next to him for the picture.

Meeting Kurt Angle was a great experience and a minute of two longer than the Sting experience 30-45 minutes prior to that.

Also Angle did personalize the autograph inscribing “It’s true” and wrote “HOF ’17” after his name.

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14. Shinsuke Nakamura Awesome Con June 2017- This was the first time I really traveled to meet a wrestler as this convention was in Washington, DC. I did blog a bit about this experience back in June but I’ll write something here so that everything is all together.

There were different groups to meet Nakamura and I was in group two. Group one was for the VIP’s so it was probably 10-15 minutes before any of our lines started moving but another 15-20 minutes later I was in the little tent area to meet him.

I wanted to say something in Japanese to him but everything was rushed and I did not have that chance. Shin was nice enough and smiled for the picture. I did not pay for him to sign anything because I had an autograph of his personalized I ordered from England.

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15. Charlotte (Flair) Awesome Con June 2017– Let’s just cut to the chase. If you have a chance to meet Charlotte, do it. It is well worth your time and money to meet her.

Charlotte is so sweet to her fans, whom I believe she calls Charloteers.

This line process was longer than Nakamura. This was for a variety of reasons. For one, Stan Lee slept in and his photo ops would be around these and both Charlotte and Nakamura had a duo phoyo op before this one.

I even heard the Awesome Con people say they would try to knock our line out quickly and they soon after moved us over to another pod so Stan Lee’s line would have more room.

This did not really matter to me as within minutes after the move, I got to meet Charlotte. I got a “what’s up buddy” from her and got a smile from her, which she usually does not smile, so I was super happy.

I then got in the back of a long Charlotte autograph line and soon after left it with my spot being held because you had to buy an autograph ticket for her line.

All day long I lugged this plaque of Charlotte around from Royal Rumble which was the last PPV she won as part of her 16-0 streak. I only paid $20 for the plaque which was significant.

In my opinion, Charlotte has already secured a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame.

When I went up, Charlotte greeted me with another “what’s up buddy”, saw the plaque and wrote her “Always Do It With Flair” personalization with my name on top. She then surprised me by adding 16-0 on there without asking.

I was shocked and that alone made the $40 for the autograph well worth it. Again, Charlotte truly cares about her fans and goes out of her way to make sure you have a great experience. Heck, she even asked what color Sharpie I wanted on the plaque. She understood I was going to be keeping this piece and wanted it to look amazing.

It seems like such a small gesture but many people are particular about that and Charlotte asked in case I had a preference. I let her decide and she went silver.

Once again, Charlotte is definitely someone you’ll want to meet if you get the chance whether it’s a signing before Smackdown Live, a public signing, WWE Live VIP, Wrestlemania Axxess, Summerslam Meet & Greet, or any other event. She is a true sweetheart.

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16. Jerry “The King” Lawler Awesome Con June 2017– When I saw that Jerry Lawler would also be at Awesome Con, I knew that I wanted to meet him.

For $30 you had a chance of a combo with an autograph and a picture. I wish I had spent more to get a comic and his DVD, really I should have, but I am extremely happy to have a picture which is a classic picture of Lawler with Batman.

He signed it in yellow Sharpie and then shook it a few times before opening the marker so he knew it would sign, a small detail. We then took three pictures because he wanted to make sure I had a great picture.

The inscription on the photo reads “To my pal Zac Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler WWE HOF ’07.

Lawler is also someone who gives you a firm opinion on anything WWE related which was refreshing as well.

It was great to meet him and a very fair price. If he is at a convention or wrestling event and you have the chance to meet him, do it.

17. Tim White Wizard World Pittsburgh 2015, World of Wheels Pittsburgh 2016/17, Awesome Con 2017– I am going to count this one since we have said hello to each other when Tim is at a wrestling signing I am at.

Tim of course is a former WWE referee and worked as Andre the Giant’s assistant as well. He is still with the WWE traveling in different capacities including these signings.

When I first met him it was when Paige was signing as part of her Wizard World afternoon in Pittsburgh. I got the chance to talk to him first and knew of him and found him to be very pleasant to speak with.

Clearly I made a good enough impression because a little over four months later at the Daniel Bryan World of Wheels signing we connected again and had another quick but great conversation.

He may have been at the Sheamus signing as well, I do not remember, but when he was at World of Wheels with A.J. Styles we picked right back where we left off as if we had been friends for a while and took the picture you will see below.

We also saw each other at Awesome Con and briefly said our hellos once again. Tim is great and if you ask for a picture, he will more than likely let you do it.

I always look forward for an event Tim is the agent for because I know I will get a firm handshake, a smile, great conversation and at the end a nice pat on the back.

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BONUS Rob Schamberger Awesome Con 2017– I will briefly touch on my meeting with Rob Schamberger. It is not included as a number on this list because he is not a wrestler but he is contracted to make great pieces on anyone and everyone in the WWE and does fantastic work.

I bought two prints from him a Bayley and one of The Miz/Maryse. He and his wife Katy are both fantastic people who you can clearly see absolutely love what they do.

Hopefully I am at another convention next year where I see them both and gladly give them more of my money.

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18. Becky Lynch SummerSlam Week Barnes & Noble 2017– I wanted to meet Becky Lynch SummerSlam week but there was no way I was going to Toys R’ Us and standing out in the hot sun for 4-6 hours and likely not even get to meet her, so the fact I met her the night before at Barnes & Noble was a surprise even to me.

I got off my Megabus and looked at the time seeing 5:35 on my cell phone. I knew Becky had a 6 p.m. signing and opened Google Maps and saw the destination was doable but I had to get the subway right on the first try.

New York City subways are difficult to figure out for those who do not live in the city and I knew I would lose time trying to get a new Metro card.

I did end up picking the right subway and got into the Barnes & Noble at 5:58 p.m. I immediately went to the customer service desk because you had to buy a comic book to gain access to the signing. I went over to ask if they had additional books, since only the first 300 people would gain access to the signing and sure enough, they did.

I was surprised but the signing was before a lot of people got in so that certainly helped my cause and avoid a wasted trip.

It was then to the checkout line, where I got my book and at exact 6:02 p.m, I got in the back of the line, which was exactly when Becky came out to do her signing, so I was not late at all.

The wait was easily over two hours but it was because Becky Lynch talks to her fans and genuinely enjoys it.

In the meantime, I made small talk in line with those near me, a great idea for anyone to make the time pass.

Soon enough it was my turn and everyone was allowed two autographs. One had to be the comic and the other was an item of my choosing whether it be another comic book or a personal item.

The comic was a Seth Rollins comic with no mention of Becky Lynch even in there. Luckily, because I just had gotten off the Megabus, I had all of my belonging with me which included the WrestleMania 33 program, I bought at Monday Night RAW in Pittsburgh a couple of weeks prior for $15.

The WrestleMania program is huge so it was in the biggest backpack pocket I had. I completely blanked out and did not have her sign the big Smackdown Live ladies match but instead her little section of a page.

That led to a funny exchange

“Where am I on here,” she asked.

I had bookmarked the page already to save time for her and in consideration of those behind me.

As I looked she had already found herself.

“Oh there I am, red hair, duh,” Lynch cracked. “How can I miss that?”

We posed for the picture and parted ways after a second handshake. Also if you see my one hand looking awkward in the picture, that is because I was holding the program open. I did not want it to hit Becky.

Meeting Becky Lynch is a great experience and really it does not have to be at a meet and greet style event. If you are someone who can wait hours before a show, Becky Lynch is likely to stop before a Smackdown Live show, or a Smackdown Live VIP signing, a Wizard World and so on.

It is clear that Becky appreciates her fans and you just feel good when you meet her.

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19 & 20 Apollo Crews and Nia Jax SummerSlam week Brooklyn Cyclones game 2017– This is a cool event the Brooklyn Cyclones have done each of the last three years since SummerSlam has been at the Barclays Center.

The Brooklyn Cyclones have a SummerSlam night where fans have different options to participate, or of course can just ignore all of that and just enjoy the ballgame as well.

I opted to spend $25 on the SummerSlam package which was for a ticket right above the Cyclones’ dugout and a SummerSlam shirt. The shirt had this year’s SummerSlam logo on the front and a Brooklyn Cyclones logo on the back.

Additionally the first 100 fans to line up at a certain area got to donate $20 and meet two of four wrestlers between Apollo Crews, Nia Jax, Carmella and Mark Henry. Nia was a very last minute replacement as Charlotte was originally supposed to be in the quartet but was unable to make the trip due to a very understandable family emergency.

I thought the people in charge would just assign us wristbands at random but the setup was nice. I was one of the first 30-35 people and got to pick who I wanted.

It was a tough decision but I went Apollo & Nia.

As I have mentioned on this blog before I had a serious eating disorder, which very nearly ended my life and also had severe body image issues at the same time where I was never satisfied with how I looked to the point that even at my low weight of 105 lbs, I still saw the 180 lbs version of me and thought I had to lose more weight.

Nia has had to overcome body image challenges and she was part of the reason why I came to terms and grips with this challenge whether it is viewed as a setback or roadblock.

I wanted to be able to explain to Nia what I went through and was hoping to meet her during SummerSlam week to thank her in person.

I was third in line and was pleased to add both to my WrestleMania 33 program.

Just a quick sidebar for the card collecting people that read this, Apollo Crews did not sign a small “AC” for me like he does in the Topps product. He gave me a decent sized signature with more letters.

I had Apollo sign the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal page. As he signed it, he looked at me and had a question.

“Don’t you think I should have won the Andre the Giant Battle Royal,” Crews asked.

I started with an “uhh” and a shaky sure.

Nia immediately answered for me

“No you should not have won that,” she exclaimed.

It was fun to see those two playing off of each other and made the mini meet and greet all the more special. You could tell the two wanted to be there and were enjoying themselves.

When I talked to Nia I got serious and explained what I went through. She offered me a high five and as I kept talking, I could tell what I said meant something and had an impact on her.

Of course because I told her my story, I forgot to ask for a picture.

I did come back after I forgot my picture and explained to an employee what happened. The employee and I spoke earlier before the pair of wrestlers came in so he knew I traveled from Pittsburgh and offered to help me out. The security person had no problem at all with it, so I got back in line.

When it was my turn again two minutes later, I told Apollo and Nia I forgot to do my photo and they both told me they wanted to change that.

We smiled and then I turned to Nia again.

“I know what’s coming,” I said. “It’s okay, you can call me nerd.”

The background of this for those who do not know is that Nia and both Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows always get on backstage interviewer Mike Rome for trying to be cool and do the Too Sweet hand signal screaming “nerd” at the top of their lungs.

So when I mentioned this to Nia, in character she screamed “nerd” and it made me smile.

She then offered a correction.

“You’re not a nerd, that’s Mike Rome.”

I laughed even harder and we all parted way.

The exchanges I had with these two were fantastic. Nia is definitely worth meeting if you get the chance. I know she does not do as many signings so if you have the money do a WWE Live VIP on the Monday Night RAW side and maybe you’ll get to meet her. Either that or do a Wrestlemania Axxess signing or maybe a public signing will work out. Either way, she loves her fans and you will love meeting her too.

Apollo is definitely someone worth meeting too. He had a smile pretty much the entire time and enjoys the fan interactions.

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21 & 22 Carmella & Mark Henry 2017 SummerSlam week Brooklyn Cyclones game 2017– This one was a surprise. We were told upon coming in that we could only pay $20 to meet two of the four wrestlers.

Might I add that the $20 donation went to the Boys & Girls Club of America so it was a win-win for everyone.

While I was in line for Apollo Crews and Nia Jax, I was told that there were more wristbands for the second pair which was Carmella and Mark Henry for another $20.

I found the ATM after I met the first duo and quickly raced over to ensure I got to meet the other two.

The line moved fairly quickly and I had both sign my WrestleMania program. Mark Henry signed his squared space on the page and Carmella signed the Smackdown Live ladies WrestleMania match page.

Mark Henry was first and at the time I did not realize he was a surprise guest for one of Sam Robert’s podcasts earlier in the afternoon, so it was a long day for him.

I talked to him about the retirement jacket which put a nice smile on his face. Looking at it now, I almost wish I talked about Neville to him now. If I do meet him again, I will discuss that.

Carmella was nice and of course I fell into the trap of asking how she was.

She responded “fabulous” in character and I pretty much wanted to kick myself for even asking.

There was a younger fan in front of me in all out Carmella gear and I was about to get my picture with the two but the WWE people wanted to have her hold Carmella’s Money in the Bank briefcase.

I probably could have posed with the briefcase but as you see here I did not. I wanted to speed the rest of the line up. Mark Henry pretty much smiled for the kids and that was it, so I was glad to steal a smile here so I wonder if my trying to move the line along helped out.

Either way, both were pleasant to meet. Mark was not too big on conversation but was what I expected in a good way. Carmella is super sweet and great to her fans. I would definitely meet both of them again.

Mark Henry still wants to have one more match before he officially retires, though he mostly is doing backstage stuff rigth now and helping Neville grow as a performer.

It is rare to see Mark Henry do a signing so the place to get him is probably a Wrestlemania Axxess kind of setting. Carmella usually from what I have heard does not sign before going into the arena unless you are decked out in Carmella gear so WWE Live VIP or a signing are probably the best bets and her WrestleMania Axxess line was pretty filled up this year.

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23, 24 & 25 Asuka, Alexa Bliss, Naomi WWE SummerSlam meet & greets 2017 Barclays Center– These were the ticketed meet and greets which after tax cost $154. These tickets were limited and I of course had to pay more thanks to Ticketmaster. I bought my ticket from someone on eBay and overpaid by a good $70 but I wanted to meet Alexa Bliss so it was well worth it.

It was a great thing that I bought from this seller for a variety of reasons.

We kept in touch over eBay messages which then turned into Twitter direct messages where we just communicated about the event, meeting up and answering any q’s the other had.

On the day of the event, I was stuck in the back of the line, but my buddy was in the front, so up to the front I went.

My reasoning for meeting Alexa was the same as Nia and I was looking forward to talking to her. I even put on an Alexa Bliss shirt for the occasion.

It was complicated what I had everyone sign because each of the three ladies got something different.

Asuka got an NXT match card which I purchased shortly before I got in line. Little did I know it would be Asuka’s final match in NXT. She will go down as maybe the best NXT performer and hopefully WWE uses her properly.

Naomi got the Smackdown Live women’s WrestleMania match page from the WrestleMania program. She lost her title to Natalya, something which still confuses me.

Alexa got the rare and numbered to 500 double mat relic plaque which commemorated her being the first woman to win both the Monday Night RAW and Smackdown Live women’s titles.

For those who wonder how I got the picture I took the tape protecting it out and then was able to take the prongs protecting it carefully out. A few using a screwdriver and the rest gently by hand.

From there you can either bubble wrap it down or take one of those bigger unbuilt packing boxes and cut it down to fit the picture. The end were taped but there was a slit so the picture could easily be taken out or placed back in without damage. Because of this arrangement, it did not fit in my backpack and had to go in the bottom of the traveling suitcase so that it was supported.

The people with me in the front of the line had lots of plaques but either did not have or bring the one I did which they said would look awesome and it did.

I wish I could have had the plaques personalized but that did not happen. The people running the area were almost militant.

At least you did not have to take the picture in a chair like in year’s past but these employees took your stuff and you did not get to interact.

The ladies were quite reserved in the beginning too, which I do not blame them for, I blame the handlers. Fans paid so much money to meet these ladies and I get moving the line but giving everyone an extra minute or so to talk would not hurt, especially when this was the last signing for SummerSlam meet and greets for that side.

It was almost as if having three ladies in one signing made them try to speed everything up.

I wanted to speak a little Japanese to Asuka and that did not happen. I obviously wanted to talk with Alexa and that did not happen until only briefly after but I did not get to fully explain what I overcame and how she helped me. I was ready to have a quick conversation with Naomi as well and that did not happen.

When it came time for the picture, Alexa said to me “I like your shirt”.

Naomi quickly fired back “Well I don’t”

I told both of them “There are three of you, I am sorry but I couldn’t please everybody,” and they both laughed.

Both Asuka and Naomi walked right back and Alexa spoke with me for 10-15 seconds and that was it.

Alexa is hard to meet since she does not really do too many community signings. Wizard World may be the best way to go to meet her since WrestleMania Axxess can be crowded, though that is another option.

Naomi does a lot of signings so there is a good chance you can meet her in a city.

Asuka is injured right now but she has an October 7 signing in New Jersey from 10 a.m.- noon EST at a place called Adventureland. I do not know how much she signed at NXT but she is certainly an autograph you will want to get, especially then because once she is healthy again, she likely will go on Monday Night RAW and be the champion sooner rather than later.

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26 & 27 Stephanie McMahon & Triple H WWE SummerSlam meet & greets 2017 Barclays Center– This was quite expensive once again thanks to TicketMaster. I guess this again is where my friend who sold me the Bliss trio meet and greet ticket comes into play.

We both were on it in regards to the on-sale time but TicketMaster had other ideas. The secondary market was absolutely brutal with tickets ranging from $800-$1,200 just for one ticket.

Fortunately I was on SeatGeek and found two tickets for $350 each including the $20 off code so we got lucky and met these two.

Triple H does maybe one public signing a year at WrestleMania Axxess though that did not happen last year and this is Stephanie McMahon’s first public signing I believe, so yes this was definitely a golden ticket.

Again I had both signing different things.

Stephanie had an 8×10 picture of her in the ring against Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 31 and Triple H had an 8×10 of him in the ring at WrestleMania 31 against Sting that was already signed by Sting.

The wait to get back into the Barclays Center after the previous meet and greet was a good 2.5 hours so I went to a store across the street to buy myself a couple of waters and then get in line where I was one of the first 10 or so people.

When Stephanie saw the photo, she immediately laughed.

“You got the one good photo,” she said through more laughter. “You got the one photo of me looking strong against Ronda.”

She quickly slid the photo for Triple H to see and he couldn’t help but smile which was awesome. Here is the photo autographed so you can see what she saw.

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We then gathered for the picture which was taken and after a couple of handshakes, we parted ways.

Everyone who came in also got a Connor’s Cure bracelet which was a nice touch.

The good news for people who did not make this signing or want to add to their collection is that the duo appears to be having autographed Topps WWE cards in future products which is exciting, albeit not in person.

I could easily see these two doing this again next summer. Either that or Triple H may do another signing as a VIP at WrestleMania 34.

As for Stephanie McMahon unless there is a partnership with Connor’s Cure this may be the last signing she does for a while. I know she had a book that was set to come out that got pushed back until an undetermined date. She may do a few book signings when and if that comes out.

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So that is everyone I have met thus far. I hope you enjoy reading this and got a sense of each individual. Now know that each day is different and sometimes wrestlers have good and bad days, so your experiences may vary.

I will update this post when/if I meet more wrestlers, something which may be in doubt this year, but that remains to be seen.

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My experience at Awesome Con 2017

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.

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We then took two photos and of course he called me back because I forgot my photo, a rookie move.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

image.jpegThe 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.

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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.

image.jpegPhil then came around for a picture before we parted ways with a final handshake.

imageThe 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.

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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.

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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.