Ringside Remembrances: New Orleans Wrestling Week-end 2014 Recap
(All photos used in this article are the property of Jay Shannon…but he does extend his thanks to the men and women included in said pictures)
Jay Shannon draws upon five decades as a devout wrestling fan to look at the past, present and future of professional wrestling.
4 violent rain storms, 2 “White-Out” blizzards, a Tornado and a wicked fist fight…and that all happened Before I reached New Orleans.
So, as you all know, I took off for New Orleans on April 1st. I was going to take our little blue truck to the Big Easy, but decided to ride the “Silver Puppy” instead. I left from Reno and went to Salt Lake City, then Denver and on to Amarillo (Texas) and finally Dallas. In Clayton, NM, one of the guys on the bus had a breakdown and attacked several people, including me. Thanks to my training from an old friend (“Bulldog” Darrell Baldwin), I was able to restrain the man who had already assaulted the bus driver and two other passengers. I wasn’t trying to be some kind of show off, I was just doing what needed done to protect an older man who was recovering from surgery and couldn’t defend himself. The local police removed the violent passenger, fought with him and took him off to jail. The only problem was that it made us late getting into Amarillo. That messed up the connection for Dallas.
Thanks to my wonderful Mom, who lives in the Dallas area, I got a ride from Big D to the Big Easy. We had a great 8 hour ride, talking about the family, including my niece, Sarah, who is going to be a mom, herself, in a few months. Mom dropped me off in Chalmette, LA, at the Civic Center, and the Wrestling Week-end was off and running…
Mid-South Reunion (Chalmette, LA)
Everyone that knows me knows I’m a historian of pro wrestling. Walking into the Civic Center was like a dream come true. The Chalmette Civic Center is, in my humble opinion, the ultimate wrestling venue. I has two balcony seating areas to provide perfect viewing for all levels of fans. I was there as part of Rivalry Championship Wrestling and we had a great table location. We were seated right next to the photo op area. Straight ahead of us was Celeste, the former Kaitlyn from WWE. Off to our left was Sam Houston and One Man Gang. Scattered around the room were Legends like Greg Valentine, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, “Franchise” Shane Douglas, Jim (and Stacy) Cornette, Kamala, and Bobby Eaton. In addition, Mr. Wrestling II, the Rock and Roll Express, The Fantastics and Mickie James were there to meet and greet with the fans.
Our hostess was the lovely So Cal Val. She did a fantastic job until her voice gave out. Fans got to meet their favorites from Mid-South, including Bill Watts. I visited with several of the celebrities in attendance, during the all-day event. It was so nice to hear Jim Cornette talk about all the fun times he had with the various versions of the Midnight Express. He held court just inside the front door. At his sides were his beautiful wife, Stacy, and his long-time friend and member of the Midnight Express, Bobby Eaton. Hearing Road Stories from the “Master of the Tennis Racket” was beyond compare.
She shared a fun story about when “Moon” got his infamous head tattoos while feuding with Kerry and Kevin Von Erich. She was not happy for him getting the amateur-looking tattoos without her knowledge. She used their new-born child as a way to conversate with her hubby. “Tell your daddy to take out the trash”. “Tell your daddy that so-and-so called” etc… It was rather a cute story that made both her and Moon smile. Me, as well.
Friday night, about 400 people or so got to enjoy a great card mixed with stars of the past, present and future. Angelina Love and “Superstar” Bill Dundee both had tremendous matches. They also did a very touching presentation of the Fantastics. Tommy Rogers has been having some serious health issues (please keep him in your thoughts and prayers). Bobby Fulton has also had his share of health problems. Tommy was presented with a $1000 check to help aid in his medical costs. The whole place was in tears as the two men spoke to the crowd.
During intermission, I got the chance to meet a couple of great people: “Franchise” Shan Douglas and Mickie James. Mickie was there with her hubby. I went up to congratulate her on her pregnancy and share photos of my horses with her. I knew she loved horses and she just thought Lacey (my girl) was too beautiful. I also stopped to thank Shane Douglas for having the guts to stand up to the “Big Guys” and say he was going to do things his way. He smiled and shook my hand. Shane was there to promote his new film “Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies”. I wanted to post the trailer here but when I watched it, I found that it was uncut and not exactly “family friendly”. You can go see it, if you dare, at YouTube.
We finished up the convention and my two business partners and I headed back to the hotel for a little rest. It was going to be a busy Saturday and Sunday.
The alarm went off at 5 AM on Saturday morning and the party started. We arrived at the Sugarmill around 7 AM, after a nice fruit-based breakfast. As we set0up, we saw so many great stars coming in. The best entrance of the day had to go to “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
He was escorted in by a 3-piece drum and bagpipe group. The crowd popped huge for him. Our table was right across from Piper. Next to us, Jazz and Pat Tanaka met with the crowds.
Thanks to Greg Valentine,I got to meet several of my favorites: The Nasty Boys, Scott Steiner, Bushwacker Luke, Kevin Nash, Rockin Robin, etc… Going with Greg on a stroll around the room introduced me to a very wonderful young lady…Gorgeous George.
The girl that served as “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s valet was just bubbly and sweet. I had to include a photo of her for all of you to see the beauty that we all got to meet.
In addition to the various wrestlers at vendor tables, fans could also enjoy live versions of Steve Corino and Kevin Steen’s radio shows. I even got involved in Matt Striker’s Trivia Challenge. I was doing pretty good until they asked what was the name of Sting’s first tag team. While I knew that Sting’s first exposure was as part of Powerteam USA, I went with his first actual “Team”, Blade Runners. They were wanting Powerteam USA, a faction. I was cool with losing out as I did get a comfy t-shirt out of the deal (which I happen to being wearing as I type this).
There were probably around 10,000 people at the event. While some of the attendees were frustrated with the long waits, most took it along the same lines as waiting for the rides at their favorite amusement park. Those that came by our booth had the unique opportunity to have Greg Valentine put him or her in the Figure Four Leglock. I knew I couldn’t sell something I wasn’t familiar with, so I let Greg clamp on the hold that broke Wahoo’s leg. See Below…
Saturday Night on Bourbon Street:
The first day of Wrestlecon ended around 5 PM. It took the three of us about an hour or so to pack up. Greg Valentine and Andy Anderson went back to their hotel and we went to ours. A little later, we got a call from Andy. He invited us to join him, Greg, a prominent New Orleans businessman and his friends for a night out. Out of respect, I will not divulge the name of the businessman. Our little group of 11 met up at the Bourbon Street hotel where most of the people were staying. We strolled over to a private restaurant and enjoyed a feast. I got to enjoy some unique foods, like alligator, crawfish and fried green tomatoes. After this culinary experience, our little troupe made a journey down Bourbon Street. We stopped at a couple of bars to listen to some great jazz and some heavy rap and rock. We were escorted up to an exclusive area of a converted old house to look out over the people walking up and down Bourbon Street. While walking around on the streets, the local cops (great guys) walked with us to protect The Hammer. We were even involved in a wedding of people that we didn’t even know. It was an incredible evening for all of us. Even though we were all pretty much exhausted from the previous two days, none of us wanted the night to come to an end.
Wrestlecon, Day Two
The second day of Wrestlecon was a lot slower than the first. It gave us time to spend more time chatting with wrestlers, valets, etc… It was hard to say good-bys to Gang and Mary, Pat Tanaka and his lovely wife, Gorgeous George and several others that I had come to meet and befriend over the week-end. One of the nicest people that I met on Sunday was Cliff Compton. I told him about my weekly column about Ring of Honor. He sincerely thanked me for taking the time to watch and talk about he show. Joey Ryan was also really fun to speak with. He laughed when I talked about calling him the “Ron Jeremy of Wrestling”. If you don’t know who Ron Jeremy is, I’m not about to share that bit of information. Smile.
All good things have to come to an end and my bus left New Orleans on Sunday evening. Sadly, my internet connection didn’t work so I missed Wrestlemania XXX, live. I did watch it when I finally got home on Wednesday morning. I want to wish the best to a few new friends that I made on my road rallies. To Heather, my thoughts and prayers are with you as you face your upcoming health challenges. You are a beautiful lady with a good spirit. To Oliver, a cute little pup that serves as a Companion Pup. Keep our friend safe as you travel around the country. To Chad, hope you finally made it home all safe and sound. My friends, we all rode the roads together and experienced the good times and the bad ones. We were all like extended family members at a twisted reunion of strangers. I wish you all nothing but the best.
Dozens of wrestlers from TNA, WWE, ECW, CZW, RCW, and various NWAterritories joined together to entertain thousands of fans. I have so many great photos that I just couldn’t’ post them all here. I want to thank High Spots and RF Video for all their help with meeting the good people that I had the fortune to meet. Most importantly, I want to thank Darren and David, my partners in Rivalry Championship Wrestling. They worked together to give me the vacation of a lifetime. Thank you, my brothers.