Photo used with permission: Tampa Tribune – Fred Bellet/Tribune file photo (1997)
Gordon Solie and Wrestlemania XXIV: Part 2
I arose Friday morning and couldn’t help but wonder which WWE stars that I might encounter on
the day before the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, Class of 2008. Pam and I got ready to head out for
breakfast so I removed the do not disturb sign from the door handle outside our hotel room.
I still have the door hanger to this day. On the front is a photo of the Big Show and Floyd “Money”
Mayweather Jr. with pictures below them of Triple H, Randy Orton, John Cena, Edge and the
Undertaker. Even our room key card (which I also still have) is black with a green Wrestlemania XXIV
logo on the front.
After returning from breakfast, we re-entered the hotel and I immediately recognized a man who was
seated in a small booth in the hotel lobby. It was Rocky Johnson and he was accompanied by his wife,
Sheila. Pam and I went over and introduced ourselves and hit it off with the Johnsons. We probably sat
there and chatted for over an hour. During that time we were joined by Tony Atlas. The man still has
gigantic biceps; he was very friendly and happy-go-lucky. Tony stopped for a moment to pose with a
family and to do his hilarious Shrek impersonation for some small children. Tony drew a crowd while
performing and received a loud ovation when he was done.
After excusing ourselves from the table, Pam and I headed toward the “Green Room” which was the
headquarters for the WWE performers. As we approached, we noticed Jack and Jan Brisco along with
Jerry Brisco. It was good to see them again and we had a nice visit.
By this time, the hotel was under lockdown. Without proper credentials, people were not allowed to
enter the hotel. Evidently, the year before, the Wrestlemania host hotel was over-run with fans seeking
out the WWE performers.
Pam and I decided to step outside and get some fresh air for a while. We found a nearby bench and sat
down with some folks outside during a beautiful 70 degree Florida afternoon. Pat Patterson was there
and we chatted for a bit. Another lady we were speaking with turned out to be Edge’s mother. There
was a reporter from Japan getting ready to board a bus with a slew of media people preparing to go out
and cover some of the other WWE event sites.
My next encounter was with a man that I always wanted to meet: Stone Cold Steve Austin. As you
might imagine, he was extremely pleasant and demonstrated that great personality and humor that
won over so many fans. I shared a story with him about a night back in the late 90s when Pam and I
accompanied her father, Gordon Solie, to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Gordon was honored by the WWF that evening with a Lifetime Achievement award, and Austin was as
hot as anybody in the business at the time when he was introduced for his event.
As evening approached, more WWE personnel continued to arrive at the hotel. I was happy that I had
been able to meet more of them on Friday but that didn’t hold a candle to the sheer volume of stars
that I would see on Saturday.
When I returned to my room, I received a phone call from Shannon Rose. He was coming over on
Saturday to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony and we made plans to meet for breakfast at a local
Next up: Day 3 – The 2008 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.
More information about Gordon Solie is available at www.soliesports.com