DK Publishing, the company that has produced an unending string of fantastic books about WWE and other pop-culture phenomena, has a new release coming out later this month: WWE Encyclopedia of Sports-Entertainment. DK was nice enough to send me an advance copy of the book to review. I’m happy to report that this is one of the greatest books they’ve ever produced. For all of the details, including a look at what’s inside this sports-entertainment tome, watch my video review below.
Last weekend I was in New Orleans for my first WrestleMania, WrestleMania XXX. It was a blast and I took a ton of photos and shot multiple videos. Below is a day-by-day breakdown of the fun and festivities that took place. Enjoy!
Friday, April 4
To save money, I decided to fly to Dallas and then to New Orleans. This worked in my favor because I ran into WCW legend Bill Goldberg at the airport. It turns out that we were on the same flight, so I politely asked him for a photo and he agreed.
My plane landed in New Orleans on Friday and I checked into the Marriott on Canal Street shortly thereafter. While walking through the French Quarter to grab dinner, I bumped into Hulk Hogan’s manager, Jimmy Hart. I said hello to him and asked if he’d be at WrestleMania Axxess, an annual festival where fans can meet WWE legends and modern-day superstars, and he said he would. It was a surreal experience to see a larger-than-life personality walking through the streets but he was as nice as could be.
After dinner I headed to the Ring of Honor show in Westwego, just outside New Orleans. The show, Supercard of Honor VIII, was my first Ring of Honor event and it was awesome. Ring of Honor is an independent promotion that has some national television exposure but it isn’t as well known as WWE or the second most popular wrestling promotion, TNA. That said, I wouldn’t hesitate to attend another Ring of Honor event. They go above and beyond to entertain the fans.
Saturday, April 5
On Saturday morning I was up early because I had an 8 a.m. meet and greet with the immortal Hulk Hogan. This was easily the most exciting part of my trip since I grew up watching Hogan as a child and also enjoyed his reality show Hogan Knows Best. After waiting for approximately 45 minutes, I made it to the front of the line and got to meet Hulk Hogan. I went up, shook his hand and told him that he was my childhood hero and that I have great respect for what he’s accomplished. He thanked me, autographed by WWE 50 book and we posed for a photo.
After meeting Hulk Hogan, I got in line to meet other WWE personalities, including Christian, Howard Finkel and Pat Patterson.
I also visited an exhibit at Axxess called the Undertaker’s Graveyard. For the uninitiated, the Undertaker is a WWE superstar that, up until this year, was undefeated at WrestleMania for the past 21 years. So, they created a graveyard with tombstones for each of the opponents he beat. This graveyard also includes caskets and other props the Undertaker has used in his matches. Speaking of which, I had a photo taken of myself in one of these caskets, only to find out shortly afterward that this wasn’t permitted. Thankfully, I got this morbid shot before being reprimanded.
They also had a burial plot symbolizing the Undertaker’s opponent at WrestleMania XXX, Brock Lesnar. As you can see, I eagerly took part in this photo opp.
Before grabbing some food, I stopped by the Legends’ House booth and met Jimmy Hart. He let me pose with his famous megaphone, which was surprisingly heavy.
At 6 p.m. I had a meet and greet with the greatest wrestler of all time, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Meeting him was a wonderful honor and after doing so, I was off to the Hall of Fame.
I had a great seat at the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame, just a few rows off the floor where the wrestlers and their families were sitting. And the class of wrestlers being inducted was excellent. In addition to seeing my all-time favorite wrestler, the Ultimate Warrior, I saw Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Razor Ramon (i.e., Scott Hall) recognized by WWE for their prolific and influential careers. But perhaps the best part was the surprise appearance by the Undertaker to pay tribute to his deceased manager, Paul Bearer, who was also part of this year’s class of inductees.
Sunday, April 6
After not getting much sleep, I woke up early, yet again, to visit WrestleMania Axxess on Sunday morning. This time around I met Howard Finkel (for the second time – and he remembered me!) and Roddy Pipper, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff and, lastly, William Regal and several NXT wrestlers.
Before leaving WrestleMania Axxess, I took part in an open casting call for an upcoming WWE Studios movie. All I had to do was read lines off a teleprompter. I have no idea what the film is and I highly doubt that I’ll get called back, but I figured I’d give it a shot. I also went through the museum of WrestleMania memorabilia. Check out the video below to see what was inside.
Then, I headed across the street to WrestleCon, a non-WWE event where legendary wrestlers met and took photos with fans. My main reason for going to this event was to meet the WCW and TNA legend, Sting. It’s rumored that Sting will be appearing in WWE very soon so he can end his career with the company and be inducted into the Hall of Fame, so I wanted to meet him before this historic event takes place. He was as pleasant as could be and I’m glad I took the time to meet him.
After meeting Sting I got an early dinner and headed to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for WrestleMania XXX. My seat for the show was great, and I shot a video of the opening fireworks.
By the time WrestleMania XXX came to a close, I was still in shock over the fact that the Undertaker’s streak of being undefeated at WrestleMania came to an end. The entire arena was in shock and many people were legitimately upset. For non-wrestling fans, I know this is hard to understand. But most fans wanted the Undertaker to retire with the streak intact. While this won’t happen, I’m glad to say I witnessed a historic event, and that I saw Daniel Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship after overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds.
Monday, April 7
On the last day of my long WrestleMania weekend, I was able to sleep late and take my time. That night I headed to the Smoothie King Center (talk about a stupid name for an arena) for WWE Raw, the company’s flagship television show. The show was awesome and I was only two rows off the floor, giving me a perfect view of the entrance ramp and the ring.
In hindsight, what made this edition of Raw so special is it was the last public appearance of the Ultimate Warrior. Tragically, the following evening he passed away at the age of 54, after collapsing in front of his car with his wife beside him. It’s hard for me to fathom how such a young and seemingly healthy person could die out of the blue, especially since he just made peace with WWE’s CEO, Vince McMahon, and was finally recognized for his tremendous in-ring accomplishments. In a way, it’s poetic that he passed away after receiving the adulation he so rightly deserved and I’m glad I was there to witness it. However, I’m sad for his family, including his two young daughters, because they lost someone important to them. To make things even eerier, the Ultimate Warrior’s promo (i.e., speech while in character) on Raw was about a man’s memory and accomplishments living on long after his death. Thankfully, I filmed the whole thing. It was a bizarre case of foreshadowing.
My WrestleMania XXX weekend was excellent. I met fans from around the world, spent time with legendary wrestlers and saw amazing feats of athleticism and entertainment. While I may have witnessed the end of the Undertaker’s streak and the Ultimate Warrior’s last public appearances, I also saw the stars of tomorrow and enjoyed visiting a new city. This trip exceeded my expectations and I will gladly go to WrestleMania again in the future.
WWE, the iconic sports entertainment company that made professional wrestlers like The Rock, Hulk Hogan and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin household names, just announced WWE Network. This 24/7 streaming network, launching February 24, will provide subscribers with access to all 12 live WWE pay-per-views, including WrestleMania, as well as “original programming, reality shows, documentaries, classic matches and more than 1,500 hours of video on demand at launch.” The best part is subscribers only have to pay $9.99 a month for all this content, and it can be streamed through the WWE app on nearly every device you can think of (i.e., desktop/laptop computers, iOS and Android devices, Kindle Fire tablets, Roku, Xbox 360/Xbox One, Playstation 3/4, etc.).
What has me most excited about this news isn’t that I’ll be able to access every WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-view ever – although that is awesome – it’s that this service doesn’t require me to have an existing relationship with a cable provider like HBO GO does. WWE is the first cable content provider to cut out the middle man and provide its product directly to consumers through a paid streaming service. And unlike Netflix and Hulu Plus, WWE doesn’t need to pay movie studios large amounts of money to lease this content because they already own it. For WWE, this will be a huge revenue stream for the company and a smart way to provide pay-per-view content to fans at an extremely attractive price.
Needless to say, I’m very impressed by this announcement and excited to try out WWE Network on February 24. Check out the videos below for a taste of what’s to come.
When I became a wrestling fan, it was in the heyday of larger-than-life characters like Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior and the British Bulldog. Not only did these superstars have otherworldly personas, they had spectacular physiques. While Lex Luger wasn’t known for being the most charismatic performer, his physical presence couldn’t be denied. In the 1980s he was a force to be reckoned with in the National Wrestling Alliance and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and when he came to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) Luger was a top babyface (i.e., good guy). After his stint in the WWF, Luger went back to WCW and became World Champion and eventually joined the rebellious New World Order. Luger had a stellar career but he wasn’t without his vices. His autobiography reveals all of the ups and downs he went through, including the death of the “First Lady of Wrestling,” Miss Elizabeth. I found it to be a captivating read up until the final couple chapters where the book turned into what felt like an infomercial for Christianity. While I’m glad religion helped Luger turn his life around, his heavy-handed use of Bible verses came off as preachy instead of inspirational. Nevertheless, Wrestling With The Devil was an enlightening and entertaining read that wrestling fans should check out.
Pro wrestling sensation Lex Luger was leading a thrill-ride life, with fans screaming his name and money pouring in faster than he could spend it. One of the most memorable figures in the sport’s history, Lex was the ultimate all-American muscleman. The three-time world champion could slam anything that got in his way—and he believed he was invincible.
But outside the ring, Lex was self-destructing. He lived a secret double life that was taking him down and ripping his family apart, culminating when his mistress died from a much-publicized drug overdose. Without realizing it, Lex was fighting for his very life—and the enemy was a host of his own demons.
Yet it wasn’t until he was at his lowest point that Lex Luger began to discover what true strength is all about. That strength would get him through the greatest challenge of his life: a paralyzing spinal cord injury.
In this stunningly honest memoir, Lex Luger reveals behind-the-scenes stories from the world of pro wrestling, recounts his dramatic struggles with personal failings, and shares how—through unexpected faith, grace, and redemption—today he’s standing stronger than ever and fighting the battles that matter the most.
The first WrestleMania took place three days after I was born. Since then, it has gone on to become an annual extravaganza that generates nearly $75 million and attracts nearly 100,000 attendees, not to mention the millions of people watching it worldwide on pay-per-view. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been enjoying WrestleMania from home. Next year, I’ll be there in person, in New Orleans, to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
In addition to the event itself, I’ll be enjoying WrestleMania Axxess, where fans get to meet wrestling legends, as well as the superstars of today, and engage in a variety of fun activities. I’m also attending the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, where the superstars of yesteryear are honored for their impressive body of work. And finally, the weekend will wrap up with WWE Raw, where I’ll get to see how the aftermath of WrestleMania plays out.
Being a lifelong wresting fan, I’m thrilled to have the chance to attend WrestleMania; and with it being the event’s 30th anniversary, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I’m equally happy that it’s taking place in a vibrant, historical city I’ve yet to explore. It will be a fantastic weekend that I’ll remember for a long time to come.
For a taste of what WrestleMania is like, here’s a video of the “Top 10 Championship Changes” to take place at the event:
It’s no mystery that I’m a big KISS fan. I met the band 10 years ago, and I’m going to meet them again on KISS Kruise III in October. But a lot has changed in 10 years. The band has released two new studio albums and Peter Criss is once again no longer KISS’ drummer. Peter was always one of my favorite members of KISS, so I was eager to crack open his autobiography and learn about his wild adventures over the past 40+ years in the music business.
The autobiography started off with Peter Criss holding a gun in his mouth, ready to commit suicide. It was reminiscent of Hulk Hogan’s recent memoir, My Life Outside the Ring. Needless to say, this got my attention and the rest of the book held it up until the chapter about Peter’s religious beliefs, which I skimmed. It was fascinating reading about his career prior to KISS, how he joined the band and his opinion on the others members as the years progressed. Of course, this was a one-sided story, which I kept in mind while reading it.
The other members of KISS have accused Peter of being a whiner and out of control. This comes through in his autobiography. He did a massive amount of drugs, wasted a ton of money and didn’t do a great job of controlling his temper. Reading these stories made me feel bad for the guy. Thankfully, Peter saw the error of his ways and got his act together during KISS’ reunion tour. Unfortunately, all the bad blood he created during the band’s heyday caused Paul and Gene to never trust him again. Peter’s stories about this time period were especially interesting since this is when I became a fan of the band.
Overall, this is a great read for fans of KISS and/or classic rock autobiographies. It’s filled with humorous and heartbreaking stories that kept my rapt attention; and it gave me a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to part of, what I consider to be, the greatest American rock band of all time. Check it out.
Growing up I’d watch wrestling incessantly. Nowadays I don’t have that luxury. With WrestleMania 29 quickly approaching, I want to share with you my all-time favorite match from the “grandest stage of them all.”
If you asked asked me who my two favorite wrestlers of all time were, I’d tell you Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior. Hogan personified the American spirit, had awesome ring entrance music and knew how to pump up the crowd. Ultimate Warrior was a face-paint-clad, larger-than-life superhero. With colorful attire, mysteriously confusing promos and a ridiculous physique, he captured the attention and support of millions of fans in the early 1990s, including me.
At WrestleMania VI in 1990, Hulk Hogan was the WWF (now WWE) Champion and Ultimate Warrior was the WWF Intercontinental Champion. The main event was these two titans going head to head, title for title – a first in wrestling up to that point. Having two babyfaces (i.e., good guys) go against each other was also a first for WrestleMania and it tore the crowd in two. Half of them wanted Hogan to win, while the other half was cheering for Warrior to reign supreme. Another element that gave it a big-match feel was the terrific commentary by Gorrila Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. These legendary commentators had a wonderful chemistry that made the spectacle even more entertaining. It was a fantastic main event that is required viewing for wrestling fans, which is why I’ve included it below. It tells a great story that I still enjoy to this day.