Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New York Comic Con 2014 - Hulk Hogan And The Wrestling Legends

In my first of two posts covering the 2014 New York Comic Con, I'm focusing on my adventures with the various legends of wrestling that I interacted with at the show.  A dream of mine came true when I met Hulk Hogan.  I had to start the post off with that great picture, though the story will build up and end with my Hulkamania filled exploits.

There were a lot of legends at NYCC.  Hulkster was the biggest attraction for me, but meeting all these characters that I had (have) action figures of was a huge thrill.  I recently bought WWE 50, a beautiful hardbound book covering the history of my favorite wrestling federation.  The front has a blank white page that is dying for autographs.  I've met a few wrestlers in the past at various shows, but now that I have this book, I want everyone's signature in it.

I started off the convention completely lost.  The show is huge and there are different levels and floors.  While acclimating myself to the show, I happened upon The King Jerry Lawler's booth.  I had the fortune of spending some time with Jerry at Hazzard Homecoming in 2012 where he was in the main event of the wrestling show Ben and Alma hosted.  We talked a little Dukes and he said he would like to do more Dukes shows.  Let's see if we can make that happen.  Jerry is a very talented artist and paints covers for comic books.  My Dukes, wrestling, and comics worlds all collide sometimes.

The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase  and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan had a nice booth at the show.  Ted looks like such a nice guy in this picture.  He was the baddest bad guy to me when I was a kid.  He used to drive me and my sister crazy when he would promise to give a kid in the audience $100 if he could dribble a ball ten times only to have his bodyguard, Virgil, knock the ball away when the kid was at bounce number nine.  He played the villain perfectly.  He later went on to join the nWo, which I, of course, loved.  I had a nice conversation with Ted about my memories of him.  He is a really nice guy.  Ol' Hacksaw was also really fun to talk to.  It is just so cool interacting with these legends.

Honky Tonk Man saved my butt.  Honky Tonk was also a heel, or villain when I was a kid.  I loved booing him and all the bad guys.  But what a nice guy he is.  I pulled out my WWE 50 book for him to autograph.  Most wrestlers like looking through the book when I show it to them.  He signed on the front page and leafed through it.  We talked a little about Pittsburgh shows and how he will be at the Steel City Con.  His associate (pictured sitting down) has been to some Dukes shows and recognized me.  I always love talking Dukes.  I shook Honky Tonk's hand, snapped a picture, and was on my way.

The main floor of the comic con is huge.  I walked about halfway across the floor when I heard someone yelling "Hey Hulkamania!"  I was wearing my go to yellow Hulkamania shirt.  I turned around and saw the Honky Tonk Man running for me.  When we were leafing through the book, my ticket for Hulk Hogan's photo shoot had fallen on the floor behind his booth.  Honky chased me down to return it.  I am so grateful to him for doing that.  If I had lost my ticket, I would have been sick.  I thanked him there and then and returned to his booth twice to thank him again.  What a great guy. Thank you Honky Tonk Man!!

This is turning into a post about my memories of wrestling when I was a kid...and that's just fine with me.  It blew my mind when Sgt. Slaughter, someone I'd known from wrestling forever, showed up as a cartoon on G.I. Joe.  At my young age, it made me question what I knew about cartoons and reality. I thought it was possible for any real person to be a cartoon and vice versa. I'm still not sure I've been set straight on that subject.  Sarge was great to talk to.  I spoke with him later in the day and got to spend a little time with him at his booth.  He look through the hardcover book a little and we talked about his time as a bad guy who was against America.  I told him I knew he would set things straight when I was a kid because he was a G.I. Joe.

I must have said something wrong to the former drill sergeant because he threw a cobra clutch on me. It was a pleasure to hang out with Sgt. Slaughter.

Mick Foley was a popular guy at Comic Con.  He had autograph sessions at two different booths on different days.  I have met Mick several times in the past few years.  He signed a copy of his first best selling book  for me when it was released way back in 1999.  I have since seen him perform a comedy show while I was at college at Cal U, and ran in to him at a few other shows.  Even though I had his signature on other items, I really wanted to add him to the new book.  I had set a reminder in my phone when he was going to be signing, but had the location wrong.  I went to the booth where he would be on the next day.  After I made a fool of myself, I went all the way to the other side of the convention floor and found the right booth.  The line was crazy long for Mick.  Because of the limited space on the main floor, his line zig zagged around other booths.  One poor exhibitor who was selling high priced original art was completley shut off by the line.  They looked pretty upset about it.  I felt bad for them, but didn't want to bring it up.  I just nodded to them as I checked out their work.  I think I may have jumped a huge portion of the line as I was blindly following it around a bend and realized it went nowhere.  I told the organizers I wasn't getting in the back of the line and about ten people backed me up.  Squeaky wheel and all that.  I may have jumped line, or maybe not, I still can't figure it out.  Mick gave out copies of a comic that his eleven year old son, Hugh, wrote.  It is called Crazy Christmas and is a fun book about Hugh and Mick saving Santa Claus and Christmas. Mick signed the comic as well as my book for me.  He never charges for autographs.  He was taking donations for Toys For Tots and raised over a thousand dollars.  Mick is passionate about his charity work.  Nice to see you again Mankind.

On Friday, I took the standard fan route and got in line to meet the Hulkster. I'd already bought a pre-arranged photo op picture and wasn't going to miss adding his autograph to the book.  As soon as I got the book, I put a post-it note on the center of the blank page knowing that only Hogan could sign there.  My photo op was at 2:30 and his signing started at 1:00.  I got in line a little early when the line wasn't too long.  I'm glad I did because it quickly got huge.  By the time Hulk got there, the line was back to the opposite wall, and the signing look place at what would normally be the loading dock.  The Mouth of the South, Jimmy Hart, Hulk's on screen and real life manager, was there and got the crowd hyped up with his signature megaphone.  I got to talk to Jimmy a little at Hogan's Beach in Tampa, FL last summer.

The Immortal Hulk Hogan came out from behind the curtain and the crowd went nuts.  I sure was excited.  The only other time I'd seen Hogan was at a WWE event during his last title run in 2002. I've been chasing the Hulk for years.

The tickets they sold were collector items in their own right.  More on that later.

I snapped a couple of pictures while Hulkster was signing other people's items.  They weren't doing photos at the booth on Friday.

Jimmy was taking photo with people.  Gotta love his signature blazer.

Hulk signed a ton of pictures, action figures, shirts, and everything else.  He signed my book right in the center of the page.  I had just a minute or two with him as they had to move the line along.  I knew I was going to see him again at the photo op and had something else up my sleeve.  I shook his hand again and headed out.

I then went over to the photo op line.  I got there right when the line started and got to the front. Then the Macho Man walked by.

This guy looks just like Randy Savage.  This was my favorite costume of all that I had seen at Comic Con.  My next post will have a lot of costume pics in it.  I had to take a picture with the guy who looks just like Macho.  Imagine him in my 2011 Halloween Macho Man costume.  He needs to invest in a championship belt like mine and carry it with him at all times.  Great job Macho!

This picture I took with Hulkster is one of  my favorite pictures I've ever taken.  It came out perfect. Our pythons look almost identical.  WWE recently released a pink Hulkamania shirt to promote breast cancer awareness.  It is a great cause but I really hoped he wouldn't be wearing it for the appearance.  I'm so glad I wore the yellow and he had the red on.  This picture is perfect.  I got the extra print and also had it emailed to me.  I'm gonna frame them both and have one in my room and one in my office.  Stop on in anytime to see it for yourself.  The company who did the photos was super organized.  They had the picture printed out and waiting for you as soon as you were done. They offered photos with many different celebrities at the show.  I'd recommend working with Epic Photo Ops in the future.  Maybe we could get them at a Dukes event.

This Hollywood Hulk Hoganed fellow took a really cool stare down pic with the big man.  He did a great job on his costume, especially the pants.

I love Macho's picture with Hulk.

It's reminiscent of the Mega Powers era when Hulk and Randy were an uneasy tag team.  The handshake became a signature after each match.  This guy knew his wrestling history and played the part perfectly.  This is a great homage to the legendary, late, Macho Many Randy Savage.  The photo op only lasted for about a half hour and Hogan went back to signing at his booth.  His line was huge all day.  I then went to explore more of the show.

My next post will cover the the show as a whole and feature several great costumes, but I had to include the couple other wrestling outfits I saw.  I'd never seen Macho Man costumes at a comic con before I wore mine at the Pittsburgh Show a few years ago.  In my opinion, the title belt really sets it off.  I would rate the Macho that took the picture with Hulk as the best because he looks just like him. Then I'd say mine is better than these guys, because it's mine.  But these two both did a commendable job.

This Macho put a lot of work into his robe and glasses.  He also went very specific (which I appreciate) and went with Macho King with Sensational Sherri.  Sherri's makeup looks great.  It's great to see the love for Macho Man.  He was taken away from us too early.  We miss you Mach!!

This is not wrestling, but boxing.  But I decided to add it to this post.  It is a group of costumers recreating the classic Nintendo game Punch Out.  I am at a bad angle because they also have a referee Mario.  Good job guys.

Jerry Lawler, Ted Dibiase, Honky Tonk Man, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Bruno Sammartino, George The Animal Steele,

Before the New York Comic Con, I had three autographs on my book.  They were Pittsburgh's own Bruno Sammartino, George "The Animal" Steele, and Virgil, the bodyguard of Ted Dibiase.  At the show I added a bunch more.  The book now includes "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, The King Jerry Lawler, Bushwacker Luke, Mick Foley, Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, Honky Tonk Man, Jimmy Hart, Sgt. Slaughter, and Hulk Hogan front and center.  I am very proud of this book.

I also had current Raw announcer and former world champion "JBL" John Layfield  sign it.  He started the second page.  Next I'm going to try to cover that page.

Saturday I actually had some business dealings with Hulk Hogan.  I had a quick meeting with him.  I knew I was going to have the meeting, but didn't want to chance not getting a picture and signature. Friday was a great fan day, but Saturday I was on the inside.  I hung out backstage with William Shatner, Jack McBrayer, Patrick Stewart, Carl Urban, Gillian Anderson, and Giancarlo Esposito.  It was so much fun.  After my meeting with Hulk, I stuck around and his crew asked me to help out a little.  I felt like I was at a Dukes event because I worked his line and sold picture and autograph tickets.  I kept a couple of the tickets too, for the collection.  It was a dream come true.  I had a lot of one-on-one time with the greatest wrestler of all time.  I got to talk to a lot of fellow fans and had a blast.  What a wonderful, genuine man Hulk is.  Jimmy too.  It was a dream come true, I worked for Hulk Hogan.  I've now met my three heroes.  John Schneider, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Hulk Hogan.  Amazing.

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