LIVE EXPERIENCE REPORT: WrestleMania 34 weekend “WrestleCon” including review of fan experience, observing wrestlers including Stone Cold, Goldberg, Lanny Poffo, Sabu

By Dominic DeAngelo, PWTorch contributor

WrestleCon 2018

From the Philly Wizard World to WrestleMania Axxess, I’ve done comic conventions and wrestling conventions quite a bit in my day. With every one comes a few key requirements: an exorbitant amount of patience ready to be displayed and the willingness to be extremely close to an eclectic mix of folk (some without the proper dosage of underarm deodorant.) If you’re in line for a photo-op or autograph, prepare yourself for any length of time to stand there with not only a great lack of cellular data but to admire fellow attendees’ fortitude to carry around a trophy case worth of memorabilia and/or replica belts.

WrestleCon 2018 in New Orleans was no exception to the usual convention potholes, but if you let your optimism overshadow such forgone troubles, then it is at the very least worth the price of a one-day general admission ticket.

Where else are you going to see Sabu in his full Arabian regalia add creamer to his venti latte in a hotel Starbucks? Or witness “Stone Cold” Steve Austin announce his distaste for elevator operations and rag a passing by Robert Gibson? Gems like these are one-of-a-kind moments two eyes will never witness again.

The doors on Saturday were supposed to open at 9:00 a.m., but us fanboy cattle were herded in at 9:20ish. First couple wrestlers I saw were Colt Cabana and Lex Luger as my brother and I went to get in line for our 9:00 a.m. Goldberg photo-op. Directions were shady at best as to how everything was going to be structured regarding autographs and pictures. We never got a good answer until the line finally started moving, but that was a rock solid hour-and-a-half later. My brother and I took turns holding our spot in line as we went back out to keep our non-wrestling fan buddy company. He knew some faces, but the majority of them were as foreign to him as a bag of Mr. Fuji’s salt.

Goldberg didn’t arrive until 9:45 and then had to do pro photo shots before that because of the time frame. All in all, the wait was absolutely worth it as he was extremely nice and thankful to the people who paid to see him. I showed him a picture of when I met him 20 years ago as an awkward 13-year-old (who, unlike current me, had hair at the time) and he said now he feels like he should be dead.

Next we all just wandered the floor. I was surprised with the lack of variety and quantity to the vendor merchandise tables had. The newest wrestling figures were bountiful, but if you were searching for anything other than that you may have had a tough go of things.

Wrestlers and personalities at promo tables were extremely accessible and approachable. You could pretty much go up and talk to anyone. Although I did hear from other fans that some wrestlers wouldn’t want a whole lot to do with you unless you were paying, but all my experiences were positive. I shook hands with Luger and Larry Zybysko and got my Bret Hart biography signed in a snap. Lanny Poffo approached my brother since he was wearing a Pirates’ Willie Stargell jersey to chat with him about baseball and shared stories of Randy Savage’s minor league days. My other buddy had no clue who Lanny was until after the conversation and was floored to learn that the “Randy” he was talking about was that “Randy.”

Christian looked good, Goldberg looked great, Ron Simmons arms were massive, and Greg Valentine hasn’t changed in 20 years. From what I heard Edge was very nice too. I chatted up the “We Watch Wrestling” podcast guys for about seven minutes as they were taking in the atmosphere too.

The photo-op wait for Stone Cold was all in all, pretty efficient. When Austin did show up it was a few minutes late, but only because the escalators in the Sheraton were all being operated on so everyone was bottlenecking to the elevators (hence his distaste for them.) The WrestleMania 30 Undertaker meme guy was in line so that was wild. Austin looked super happy to be there and was friendly with everybody.

I will say I did not witness any of the Jake Roberts and Davey Boy Smith Jr. altercation. I actually believed it to be a work for that night’s House of Hardcore event (since Davey Boy was on the card), but learned later on that that wasn’t the case.

If you’re not a fan of lines or people, do not go to WrestleCon or anything of similar ilk, but if you’re just looking to take in the atmosphere, there are plenty of opportunities for some surreal experiences. Patience is absolutely a virtue.

NOW CHECK OUT THIS RECENT ARTICLE: LIVE Q&A REPORT: “Something to Wrestle” with Bruce Prichard live in New Orleans including Jarrett, Patterson, Bischoff, JBL, Hurricane Helms

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