Last night I attended my first major indoor event since being fully vaccinated. The event took place at the 2300 Arena (ECW Arena), and it featured Rob Van Dam watching the debut of his new WWE ICONS documentary for the first time, a little bit of stand-up, and photos and autographs with RVD afterward. It was an awesome time. Let me tell you all about it.
I arrived at the 2300 Arena early. So early, in fact, that I was the first person in line. I got to the old ECW Arena as early as I did because lines traditionally form down the block, and I had a general admission ticket, so I wanted to grab a good seat when the door opened.
When I arrived, one of the doors opened, and I spoke with a member of the security team and the event organizer about some details of what was to come. I spotted Bill Alfonso and said “Hello.” He came over to me and gave me a fist bump, which was pretty cool. Then, later on, when the doors officially opened for the event, I donned my mask and went inside.
I got a front-and-center seat and settled in for the action. We were given about an hour or so to eat and get ready for the event itself. Then Bill Alfonso hit the stage, followed by The Blue Meanie, and The Sandman. Then Bill introduced the man of the hour: Rob Van Dam.
I had read online that Bill Alfonso was showing up, but I didn’t know that The Blue Meanie and The Sandman were going to as well. It was a cool little ECW reunion in an intimate setting, so I was happy to be a part of it.
Also, Bill Alfonso reached out from the stage to give me a complimentary whistle. Getting this memento from the Manager of Champions was pretty damn cool.
When Rob got on stage, he welcomed the fans, explained to us that he seriously had not watched the WWE ICONS documentary about him yet, even though WWE sent it to him two days prior to it airing. RVD wanted to experience it for the first time while sitting in the crowd with the fans.
There was also a moment of silence for the recently departed ECW legend New Jack. After the moment of silence, New Jack’s music played. It was a nice little tribute to an influential wrestler who made his name in the very arena in which we were standing.
After doing a bit of his stand-up, RVD sat down with the fans to watch the WWE ICONS documentary with us. He literally went up to someone’s table and joined them for this special occasion. I can’t stress how cool this was. When do you ever get to watch a documentary about a famous person, for the first time, with that individual? Never! And the fact that Rob hadn’t seen the documentary yet either made it even cooler. I’d periodically look over as it aired to see his reaction. Most of the time he was smiling and nodding his head, enjoying what was playing out, and other times he was wiping away tears.
When the documentary was over, Rob Van Dam came back up to share his thoughts on the piece with the fans. I thought it was excellent, as it reminded me of all of the incredible things RVD did in WCW, ECW, Japan, WWE, and TNA. I learned a lot about him by watching this documentary, and it gave me an even greater respect for what he’s accomplished and how he’s never compromised on his vision along the way. When they say that Rob is one of a kind, that’s not a work. It’s a legitimate statement. As noted in the WWE ICONS documentary, RVD had the opportunity to conform to the WWE model to try and politic his way into an even more favorable position, but he refused to do so. Instead, he stayed true to who he is, the fans embraced him, and Rob Van Dam ascended to the top, becoming a bonafide legend in the process.
Meeting RVD afterward was cool for a variety of reasons. He’s the first person who I’ve interviewed for my book about the history of TNA/IMPACT Wrestling that I’ve met since doing the interview. So, that was pretty awesome. I reached out to Rob ahead of the event, letting him know I’d be there, and he was pumped. I reminded him of who I was when I went up to him, and he asked how the book is coming along. I told him that there is much more writing to do, but that I’m plugging away and still doing a few more interviews too. I then picked up the legitimate original ECW World Television Championship belt and put it over my shoulder before striking a pose with RVD for a photo. Bill Alfonso brought the belt with him, and it’s a heavy one. Similar to how I got a photo with Diamond Dallas Page and his original WCW World Heavyweight Championship a couple years ago, this was a unique opportunity to literally wear the gold with the man who defended it in the very arena in which we were standing. I got Rob to sign my WWE Encyclopedia, and I thanked him for his time.
I then chatted with The Blue Meanie for a bit and learned that he lives a stone’s throw from the ECW Arena. He told me that Rob reached out to him about 90 minutes before the event to see if he wanted to come. He said, “Absolutely!” and that was that. As with all of these photos, I asked people if they were vaccinated, told them that I was vaccinated, and then we agreed to take a photo without masks. It’s strange to have to ask such questions, but that’s the new norm. Thankfully I’m not a shy person, so bringing up COVID-19 out of the blue isn’t much of a challenge for me.
Next up was a photo with Bill Alfonso, who was incredibly nice. While speaking with him, I learned that they had a cool poster that they were asking all of the fans, and everyone in attendance, to sign for Todd Gordon, the former owner of ECW. The idea behind this is that Todd is used to signing items for people, so we were giving him something signed by us to express our gratitude for his hard work and dedication. It was a cool way to pay tribute to the original owner of ECW. Naturally, I added my signature to this cool poster.
I’ve gotta say, this was an awesome event! For $65, I got to watch Rob Van Dam’s documentary with him on the day that it aired, witness some of his stand-up, get a photo with Mr. Monday Night, as well as an autograph, and spend time with ECW originals too. It was a fantastic way to finally meet one of the people I interviewed for my book, and a really fun first indoor event following my full COVID-19 vaccination. RVD is, indeed, one of a kind.