I had one of the best weekends, a wrestling fan could ever have. I was honored to have attended the The 2013 National Wrestling Hall of Fame Weekend where several greats in the world of wrestling were honored.
The 2013 Class consisted of the following: Ric Flair, “Cowboy” Bill Watts, Chris Taylor (posthumously) (Hall of Fame Inductees), “Jumpin'” Jim Brunzell (Frank Gotch Award), George Napolitano (Jim Melby Award), Matt Hughes (George Tragos Award), and last, but not least, Adam “Edge” Copeland (Lou Thesz Award).
There were several events during Hall of Fame weekend, which took place on July 12-13, 2013. Wrestling fans enjoyed events such as the Impact Pro Wrestling Show, autograph signings, lectures, and the Banquet/Hall of Fame Ceremony.
I am going to discuss my personal experience at this amazing event.
First of all, wrestling fans, whether you are into WWE, TNA, ROH, or whatever promotion you like, you HAVE to come to one of these Hall of Fame Events.
Fans should just make the trip to see the NWHOF Dan Gable Museum itself. I was floored by all the books, wrestling artifacts, and a library where you can look up information on wrestling matches in old newspapers.
I ran into one guy doing research with one of these huge books, and he was reading an article from 1946. I was amazed that the news media back then would cover wrestling.
It was so awesome seeing old belts, and tights, and robes. One of Bret Hart’s old jackets was there also.
The museum is a complete wrestling museum. It covers collegiate, amateur, as well as professional wrestling. The museum alone is well worth the trip.
That being said, early Friday morning, I drove about 13-14 hours from Lexington, KY to my hotel in nearby Cedar Falls, IA. I get myself, and my beagle, Ace Frehley settled in.
I then drove to the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center for the Fan Fest that started at 5:30pm, with the Impact Wrestling Show starting at 7:00pm.
The whole place was like a KISS Expo, except it was a Wrestling Convention. There were vendors selling T shirts for various wrestlers. There was a table for Colt Cabana. One vendor in particular, Rob Schamberger paints these amazing pictures of wrestlers.
Edge, in fact, has one as his Twitter avatar. That is how great Mr. Schamberger’s work is.
Anyway, I got to say hello to both Gerry Brisco, and “JR” Jim Ross. Ross and I were talking about Adrian Peterson (Boomer Sooner), and how other teams with injured players can’t expect to have their players recover as fas as Peterson. We also talked about his wife being a Steelers fan.
I walked around the place, and had to go out in the hallway several times, as it was so hot in that gym.
Bell Time was 7pm on the nose, and I took my seat, which was 3rd row at ring side. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a program, but overall, the whole show the Impact Pro Wrestling Crew put on was amazing.
Everyone worked very hard. I finally got to see Colt Cabana work. He is awesome. Hey WWE. Sign him up. I spoke to him briefly after his match, and he was a nice guy.
The highlight for me was the World Championship match with a few of the legends as Lumberjacks. I loved it when Baron Van Raschke locked in his famous Claw on one of the participants. After the match, Baron and Danny Hodge hugged in celebration.
In speaking of Dan Hodge, I did get to meet him, and shake his hand. That man, has so much strength. He took my hand, and told me to make a fist. He then had me open it, and he pressed his hand in mine, and told me he put “magic” in it. I became a huge fan right there. He is so strong. Very sweet man.
I also said hello to Larry “The Axe” Hennig. He was charging five bucks for his black and white photo of himself, Curt (RIP), and Curtis Axel. I didn’t have the money on me, but he just gave me the photo unsigned.
I am sure my readers know I am a huge Edgehead, right? You didn’t think I would leave my encounter with him out of this blog now, did you?
As I walked around during the Fan Fest, I saw so many fans with Edge shirts. The most popular shirt that was worn was the “Done It All. Won It All” shirt. I NEARLY was going to wear that one, but I wore the one I made of me and him together that was taken on July 18, 2008 in Indianapolis at a signing at the then named Deer Creek Amphitheater.
It was a bit early in the Impact Show, and I happened to look up, and there he was. I got up, as I had a bunch of photos for him, and I was a bit antsy, as I had been a bit bummed since his retirement, and if I didn’t get to tell him just about everything I wanted to say, I would never have done it.
So, here Edge was, chatting with Rob Schamberger, and Arda Ocal (the Master of Ceremonies for the Hall of Fame Ceremony), and I was politely standing around waiting.
Finally,I introduced myself, and such. He saw my shirt, and he said, “That’s your avatar on twitter, right?” I told him it was. I told him how he was a hero of mine, and he got me through a lot of hard times, and he was on my prayer list, and I felt bad about his retirement.
He told me not to worry, because he is fine now. We had a nice conversation. He said that he would take photos and do autographs when the wrestling was done, as I had asked him for a photo.
He also addressed me by my name, which to me was mind blowing. I mean, the man has been a huge hero, and an influence on my life, so for that to happen, was awesome.
During the intermission, I got my photo with Edge, and we chatted some more. He signed my photo from the Indianapolis signing. He signed for fans. I then chatted with Danny Hodge again. I then, finished watching the wrestling show.
I watched Edge sign some more. I took some photos of him signing for people as well.
There was this one fan who had like fifteen photos for Edge to sign. Edge signed them though. Near the end, Edge was a bit tired (he had been up 24 hours, and had not had dinner), and finally said, “I’m STARVING!!”
Edge and I had another photo taken doing his famous “Devil Horns” pose ala Ronnie James Dio, but the guy who took the photo cut off some of the fingers.
I went back to my hotel, and that was an adventure. The lady at my hotel was awful at directions, and my cell phone was no help. It took forever for my GPS to get going. Oh well.
The next day, Saturday, the 13th, I went to the NWHOF Dan Gable Museum, and as I said previously, I was blown away by all the artifacts, and memorabilia that was there.
At 11:00am, there was a presentation about the history of WWE. I saw the tail end of it, as I was so busy walking around the museum, and watching a video on the AWA, that was run by Verne Gagne.
I actually chatted with some fans of AWA. Let’s say, they were not fans of Jesse “the Body” Ventura as the Governor of Minnesota. I even chatted with them about their Minnesota Vikings.
Anyway, I saw all the plagues for the Tragos Award winners, the Lou Thesz Award winners. Saw Adam’s plaque. I saw the plaques for the Hall of Fame Inductees.
Just seeing all these names on the wall, such as Bret Hart, John Bradshaw Layfield, Jason Sanderson, Danny Hodge, Lou Thesz, Edge, etc. is amazing.
I said hello to Gerry Brisco, Larry Hennig, and greeted Edge, and Bill Murdock (President of Eblen Charities). Edge got a tour of the artifact room.
He took photos with kids in a wrestling ring that was in the room. Edge let me take a photo of his WWE Hall of Fame ring. The ring is amazing.
There was going to be a Fan Fest starting at 2:30pm that afternoon. Adam was looking at the artifacts, and I was looking at them as well. He and I chatted again. I did get to ask him a couple of questions for this blog.
I just asked him when he went to Wrestlemania 6 (featuring Hogan and Warrior) in Toronto with Jay, did he know he’d become a wrestler. He cleared up my question by saying that Jay wasn’t with him. I explained that for some reason either WWE or the Internet always said that Jay was with him that day.
Of course, on my rookie interview, I ask a dumb question.
I did ask him what was the best advice that his coach, Ron Hutchison ever gave him. Edge said basically that Ron made sure he (Edge) was properly trained.
Edge said Ron wouldn’t let him go out and have professional matches till he was properly trained.
Edge was awesome with the other fans. He was very engaging, and treated everyone with respect. All the guys, Hodge, Hennig, Jim Ross, and Brisco were awesome.
What I really loved about this event was that fans can hold conversations with these legends of the ring. Of course, in the back of your mind, your jaw is dropping.
One fan told me at the Banquet on Saturday night, that at last year’s event, he and Bill Apter were doing imitations of Dusty Rhodes. He told me that he thought it was so awesome.
I am thinking to myself this past weekend, “How did a gal like myself wind up hobnobbing with all these important people?” Part of me was pinching myself.
Danny Hodge was an amazing athlete. Jim Ross, no offense to Gordon Solie (RIP), in my opinion, is the greatest wrestling announcer ever. I am talking to Gerry Brisco. I am hanging out with Bill Murdoch, who runs Eblen Charities.
I am still stunned that I am talking to my idol, Adam “Edge” Copeland on a first name basis. Little ol’ me was hanging out, and chatting with all these legends.
I STILL can’t believe it happened.
Anyway, I do want to mention I got a couple of photos with Danny Hodge back at the Museum. Hodge was so sweet. However, he was showing a couple of the Impact Pro Wrestling workers some moves.
Hodge was really something. He was like a retired stallion that still wanted to race.
I had to skip the Fan Fest as I needed to go back to the hotel and lay down due to injury.
I went over to Edge and Bill Murdock and let them know I couldn’t attend the Fan Fest, but I’d see them at the Banquet. Both of them were so caring about me. I got a photo with both, and left.
Now, I arrive at the Banquet at 5pm for the Hall of Fame Dinner and Ceremony. I sit at a table that is not reserved. I meet this nice couple from Des Moines. It turns out that the husband, whose name I forgot (please forgive me), did a radio interview with Edge earlier that day (right before I had to leave to lay down, Edge did mention he had to do an interview).
He and I had a great conversation about many pro wrestling subjects, including the infamous Bret Hart walk out at this very event a few years ago.
Again, I was hobnobbing with everyone. I took photos of and with Bill Murdock, Matt Hughes, and Arda Ocal. I talked to Mad Dog Vachon’s son, and said a quick hello to Vachon, himself.
Of course, I just had to talk about the use of Vachon’s leg in that “In Your House” match with HBK and Diesel. It was awesome.
Lots of people came dressed up, but there were some that came in T shirts and jeans. I thought at first, with my black dress, that I had out-dressed people. I told Edge earlier in the day I was wearing a black dress.
He replied that he was going to be there in a suit. I think he said in an interview awhile back, or maybe it was on Smackdown, that he wasn’t a “suit guy.”
Anyway, at around 6:20pm, after food started to be served at 6PM sharp (the front tables got served first), I had come back from going out for air. I was getting overheated where I was sitting. About a minute later, Edge pops his head in saying he is here. He and I were pretty formal to one another and I give a bow and a slight curtsy, and we told each other we looked nice and shook hands.
Edge said he heard that people were wondering where he was. One of the guys from Impact Pro Wrestling, and the Museum Director told him they were. They took him to his table.
After we all had eaten, the Museum Director announced that we had 10 minutes to get to the bathroom, get drinks, etc. The woman at my table, who happened to be the wife of the radio announcer who did the interview with Edge, wanted a photo with the “Rated R Superstar.”
When I saw that Edge was finished eating, I sat at his table, and asked when the whole thing was over, could I have a photo with him, and could this woman at my table have a photo with him. He said we could.
I then was talking to him about how I always championed his career, and always was fighting with fans on the net who said the knock against him was that his title reigns were so short.
He said that it was entertainment. I told Edge I knew that, but a lot of these fans just go nuts. He said that he had the Title Eleven Times, who cares? He advised me not to fight with people about it.
Anyway, I thanked him for everything he had done, and it was awesome hanging with him and everyone this weekend, etc. He said, “Thanks Terri.”
I will now discuss the Ceremony itself, which took place on the second floor of the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center.
Arda Ocal was terrific as the Master of Ceremonies. He kept the event moving along. He was funny, engaging, and knowledgeable about the inductees and honorees.
I loved it when he was talking about Edge, and ran through all those titles. So funny, when Ocal said, “Whew.” I loved how he was having a pity party over the Toronto teams, and the Buffalo Bills.
I thought overall that the ceremony was a great event. I wish that the speakers, and the honorees were given more time to speak, but I guess that the museum had the room for a certain amount of time.
There were opening remarks by Kyle Klingman, the director of the museum, and Gerry Brisco. Klingman joked that as long as he is director, no living inductee will show up.
Flair didn’t make it due to personal reasons, and Bill Watts dropped out due to health concerns.
Jim Brunzell (Frank Gotch Award) thanked his parents who were “angels in Heaven.” He went on to discuss his career in AWA, and his three wrestling partners,including Brian Blair.
With Blair, they were known as the Killer Bees in WWE. During his speech, he called the promotion WWF. He said his best partner is his wife.
George Napolitano (Jim Melby Award) discussed how he got in the business of photographing wrestling. He corrected Arda Ocal’s number of 500,000 photos to 100,000.
After the speech, Ocal joked that it was the last time he will trust Wikipedia.
Gerald Brisco accepted Ric Flair’s Hall of Fame plaque on Flair’s behalf. Brisco gave a very nice speech.
He said that he had spoken to Flair recently, and Flair needs our good thoughts, and prayers concerning his deceased son Reid.
Up next, was Jim Ross, who accepted “Cowboy” Bill Watts’ Hall of Fame plaque, as Ross said, Watts’ back acted up after a trip to Amsterdam, NY.
Ross then went on to talk about how Watts headlined Madison Square Garden against Bruno Sammartino only three years of being in the business.
Ross talked about how Watts wasn’t the greatest wrestler, but he was smart, and moved well for a big man.
Ross discussed Watts, as a promoter, making the Junkyard Dog a huge star. Ross also mentioned the quota (unwritten rule)that the promoters had concerning blacks.
A promotion could only have one black wrestler. Ross mentioned that Watts took a lot of heat for making Junkyard Dog perform in the “down” position.
Ross’ speech about Watts was entertaining, and very eye opening to me. He was allowed to run long, but heck, he is Jim Ross.
The widow (since remarried) of Chris Taylor accepted his honor. She was great. She talked about how Taylor had no sense of direction. She was the go to person as far as getting Taylor where he needed to be.
She told a funny story about how Taylor needed to be in L.A. Well,she said he was very tired before the flight, and she managed to get him to the airport, and dropped him off. She thought all was well.
Hours later, she gets a call from either the promoter, or one of the wrestlers (I forgot that detail) asking her, “Where’s Chris?” She said that she dropped him off at the airport.
Well, after a few calls, it was discovered that Chris Taylor wound up on a plane to DENVER. He was so tired and sleepy, he went on the wrong plane. She said the stewardesses drew straws to see who’d wake up a 300 plus pound guy up, and told him he was in Denver.
Anyway, Taylor got to L.A.
He was needled endlessly, she said.
She ended with remarks about being married to a wrestler. She said there is the day you don’t want them to go (out on the road). There is the day he does not want to go. There is the day he can’t wait to go. Finally, she said, there is the day YOU can’t wait till he goes.
Matt Hughes (George Tragos Award) gave a nice speech thanking his wife, God, and everyone who had helped him.
Bill Murdock, President of Eblen Charities presented Adam “Edge” Copeland, the Lou Thesz Award. Murdock gave a nice speech talking about how the charity helps people in Western North Carolina in need.
Murdock went on to say that the Lou Thesz Award goes to the man who uses his fame to help those less fortunate. Murdock mentioned how Adam helped with the Turkey Drive last Thanksgiving.
He talked about how Danny Hodge put a little move on his (Edge’s) ribs. Copeland finished by thanking Jim Ross, the man who hired him.
As one of Edge’s biggest supporters, I could not have been more proud. So happy for him.
Charlie Thesz, the widow of Lou Thesz, finished the ceremony by thanking us for coming, and talking a little about her husband.
Afterwards, the honorees got their photos taken together.
I hobnobbed with everyone, and got more photos, and said my goodbyes.
This was one of the best experiences in my life as a wrestling fan.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan
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