On Friday night, I ventured to Levi’s Stadium on a pilgrimage to meet one of my childhood heroes.
When I was a kid, I used to spend weekends with my maternal grandparents. It became a Saturday evening tradition that my grandmother and I would sit together in the living room and watch Studio Wrestling, which begat NWA Wrestling and WWF and AWA and through the years lots of other organizations.
My grandmother’s favorite wrestler was Hulk Hogan. She liked him so much that when she passed away, I buried a Hulk Hogan trading card with her in her casket.
Hogan became a hero for me. Someone I could look up to while saying my prayers and eating my vitamins like his catchphrase used to say. I think he singlehandedly caused a high spike in childrens vitamin sales with that one.
But it took many years to see the man in person.
WrestleMania is coming to Levi’s Stadium on March 29. I bought tickets to that event on Thursday morning and got some awesome seats. On Friday, the WWE had an On Sale Party featuring Hogan as a special guest as well as a bunch of other WWE talent.
For a somewhat ridiculous but fair price, I bought a VIP ticket to the event and got a presigned autographed photo as well as a chance to meet and greet Hogan and longtime manager Jimmy Hart.
In the end, the event was awesome for me. I got there early enough to eat a complimentary meal and take photos with and converse with six WWE superstars. When the stars came into the VIP lounge, I angled myself in front of six time champion Booker T and got a photo with him. At the same time, a WWE camerawoman took my photo with him and it ended up on WWE’s WrestleMania website.
Next I got in line to meet Charlotte, the daughter of Ric Flair and the current NXT women’s champion. A swarm of press kept jumping in front of me and then Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart arrived.
I eventually got out of Charlotte’s line after hearing the same story about how her first babysitter was Wahoo McDaniel and this was her first on sale event and how excited she was to be there.
I met Wade “Bad News” Barrett next and said I hoped he gets the opportunity ti have a match at WrestleMania. He has been having complications following surgery and is struggling to get cleared by his doctor and the WWE doctor.
I caught up with Charlotte as a handler was trying to take her away. She defiantly said “No, I don’t want to go make an appearance on stage, I’m here with my fans who paid to see me.” It reminded me a lot of when Poe’s tour manager tries to drag her away from fans at post-show gatherings. Charlotte was a very fan friendly person and had a lot of respect for the people around her. I’m hoping she has a lot of success as she is now my new favorite female wrestler. Come to think of it, she’s probably my first favorite female wrestler.
I met Rosa Mendes. Not sure really who she is but she was rather abrupt and just took a photo and walked away.
Then I joined the Hogan and Hart line.
They cut off the line behind me but I got to shake both of their hands, thank Hulk for a lifetime of entertainment and take an awesome photo with them.
After that, the WWE superstars headed downstairs to the general admission stage and did pretty worthless Q&As and then each of them with the exception of Hogan and Hart but with the addition of Tyler Breeze and Daniel Bryan, made their way to their respective autograph tent corrals.
I was instructed to join the VIP line which it turned out was only for Daniel Bryan’s autograph.
By the time I got that out of the way, Booker T’s line was 1500 long. I eventually got Charlotte and Tyler’s autographs after an entertaining hour in line behind a Macho Man Randy Savage cosplayer.
I bought a WrestleMania tee shirt and all of the other lines were capped for autographs so after just three short hours, I headed home.
The VIP experience was great for me because I knew it would be loosely organized and accomodated for that. I got everything I wanted out of it.
That said, it made me less enthusiastic about the WWE Axxess convention that comes to town WrestleMania week. After meeting Hogan and the others in VIP and then spending the rest of the event in line, it just doesn’t feel like spending more time in line for autographs seems worthwhile at Axxess.
With WWE Raw televised on Monday after WrestleMania, that leaves me looking fot just one more set of tickets for the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony the night before WrestleMania.
Photos available here.