Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Clickjab Wrestling FanFest PT1

Last month I found out off of Ric Flair’s official Facebook page that he would be a part of a wrestling convention in Phoenix and Tucson. Checked out the link that he posted and found out that the VIP ticket had a $150 price for a picture and autograph with every celebrity there ….. only for Flair I remember that 2 years ago in LA they were charging $200 for a pic & autograph. And considering that stars like Bret Hart, Goldberg & Edge, plus my favorite TNA Knockout Brooke Adams would be there, it was a no brainer.

The event in Phoenix on Saturday June 19 was from 1 to 5, with a Q&A session with Flair & Goldberg one hour prior (12 to 1).

The event in Tucson on Sunday June 20 was scheduled from 2 to 5, with a Q&A session with Flair & Goldberg one hour prior (1 to 2). Understandable that it was shorter, considering that Phoenix is a bigger city and that it’s closer to the Cali peeps.

I checked out of my hotel room like at 11:45, thinking that there wouldn’t be a lot of people at the Grand Ballroom, boy was I wrong ….. the line was already like 150 people deep. Fortunately at around 12:15 the staff opened the doors for ticket sales & wristband pickups for those who purchased VIP tix online.

Things went smooth, I picked up my wristband and bought some extras: inscriptions ($15) for Flair, Hall, Lita & Edge (WWE HOF) and Brooke Adams (personalized). Plus an additional pic with Flair. If you had already purchased a pic or autograph from the celebrity, the price was $5 to $10 cheaper.

Purchased some TNA Knockouts pictures because the quality of the ones I bought on EBay was really bad. Merchandise available was very good and with reasonable prices.

Once inside, a lot of fans rushed towards the stage for the Q&A with Goldberg & Flair, I got in line for Flair. After 15 minutes I decided to go grab something to eat because I found out that you can leave the place and go back in (unlike Summerslam Axxess).

When I got back (like 1:45) the lines for Flair, Hart & Goldberg were huge, so I decided to get in Brooke Adams’ line because I did a sign for her and if I got her autograph-pic first I would be able to leave the sign & her poster I bought back in my car and be able to move easily.

Event started a little late, like 10 minutes late …. mainly because the organizers did intros for all the celebrities.

I had Brooke sign a poster and a 8x10 I had, plus our picture together. She was awesome, told me she will be back on TNA TV in November.

Lines for the female wrestlers were empty, so I decided to get them first. Taryn Terrell was next to Brooke, so I went to her and got an 8x10 autographed. The guy before me told her that she looks prettier in person, she didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I talked to her about her great matches before she left TNA when she was pregnant and how glad I was that she was back on TV with TNA.

Maria Kanellis was next, I bought a lot of magazines online for the celebrities that were going to be there and of course I was going to get the Playboy she was featured in the cover. After signing it she asked me if I watched ROH, I told her the truth ..... that I don't, but that on social media I saw she was dating one of the wrestlers there, she corrected me and told me that they were actually engaged. I promised her I'd check out their show more often and she said that I should because she's the women's champ!

Lisa Marie Varon, formerly known as Victoria in WWE and Tara in TNA was right next to them and same thing ..... no line. She's so nice with the fans! As she signed my 8x10 I told her that I got excited when she started following me on Twitter and she stopped me and said "And I unfollowed you like 10 seconds later, right" and I was like "Yes!". She let me know that there's something wrong with her account, that it wasn't intentional.

After we took a normal photo, she faked like she grabbed my throat .... that was a pretty cool photo.
I decided to get in my first big line of the day, Scott Hall. It was pretty crowded, even though it was the Grand Ballroom of the Double Tree Hotel, it wasn't big enough for the # of fans that were there early. After waiting around 25 minutes, I finally got Hall's (Razon Ramon) autograph ..... paid for his WWE HOF inscription.

Got 2 pics with him, the "Clique/Wolfpack" hand signal and the other one with his closed fist under my chin.

Kept seeing big lines for the big names, thought that eventually those lines would lower down ..... so I went back to getting autogprahs/photos with the ladies that were there, thinking that how they weren't that busy they might finish early and there would be a chance on me missing out on them. Candice Michelle and Chirsty Hemme were together at a table, but Candice took a quick break as I headed there ..... so went to Christy, had her sign a 8x10 because I didn't buy her Playboy magazine (she was a last minute addition).

Angelina Love's line was empty, so I went straight to her. She's a really good wrestler! I only wished that Velvet Sky could've been brought to this event.

Lita's line had a crowd, but not too big .... so she was the next one. Funny part, VIP line was crowded and General Admission didn't have but 2 people ..... so I went to the GA one because I also paid for an extra autograph and inscription. Got her to sign a WWF Raw magazine with her on the cover, had her add the HOF inscription and 4 time Women's champ.

Talked to her for a bit, asked her for her favorite diva in the current WWE roster and she said Paige .... asked for favorite superstar and took her a while, but she went with Cesaro.

Candice went back after her break and I got her to sign the Playboy mag I bought online, didn't know what color to get it autographed (silver or gold) ..... so I asked her which looks better (I mean, she has signed thousands of those) and she said that it looks good in blue.

She said that we were going to do 2 pictures, I was more than fine with that (only paid for 1).

I'm a huge fan of the WWE Divas and TNA Knockouts, so getting to meet these ladies was an awesome experience.

I'll upload another post soon with the other 6 superstars I met: Ric Flair, Edge, Sean Waltman (X-PAC), Kevin Nash, Goldberg and Bret Hart. Plus my comments on this event organized by Clickjab Entertainment and the FanFest's they're going to have on September in Phoenix and Southern California.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Chihuahuas vs Isotopes graphing in El Paso

Southwest University Park opened its doors on April 28 and is the new home of the El Paso Chihuahuas (AAA Affiliate of the SD Padres).

I was really excited since the beginning of this project because I'd be able to cover AAA baseball and get to watch a lot of baseball in the city I'm currently working in.

This was my first weekend of going to games with the objective of getting autographs (I work M-F and get Saturday's & Sunday's off), and what a better team to do it with than with the AAA affiliate of my LA Dodgers: the Albuquerque Isotopes.

Stadium doors open 1 hour before first pitch, so that takes BP out of question and makes autograph opportunities a little bit more limited for fans, but fortunately I'm not in LA where there's hundreds of graphers.

I had a ticket for a general seating area (lawn in center field), so the first thing I did was go to it and put my Brooklyn Dodger fleece blanket to mark my territory. Great view and a great deal for $5!

With 35 minutes left until first pitch I walked over to the first base side, where there was a small crowd of approximately 15 people waiting for autographs (only 5 or 6 with baseball cards or ROMLB baseballs, all the others rookies with tickets, Chihuahuas programs, etc.).

As the players started walking out they were all really cool and walked over to the fans and signed. Clint Robinson was the first to sign for me, I went with 8x10's that day.

Joc Pederson was personalizing most items, I have no issue with that because I don't sell or trade.

Trayvon Robinson and Cuban sensation Alex Guerrero didn't sign before stretching, they said they would get us later. They didn't disappoint, Trayvon actually caught me off guard, just asked: "Still want my autograph?". I had a picture of his amazing catch on his MLB debut, asked him to give me a second to get a silver marker, he personalized it too .... this has to be one of the best autographs I have in my collection.

Alex Guerrero was the player that had the most fans wanting his autograph, I had 2 pictures but he was signing 1 per. Unfortunately I gave him a blue marker (thinking he would sign in the white jersey area), but he signed in the darkest part, so you can't notice it a lot. But still, I had the experience of meeting this great player.

I was surprised to see starting pitchers walking out and signing too ..... Zach Lee being one of them, he signed my 8x10 and I was pissed I didn't give him a silver or metallic blue marker.

As I was walking back to the center field general seating area I noticed that Paco Rodriguez was in the bullpen, I had a picture of him so as Stephen Fife finished his warm-up pitches with Fed-Ex I called Paco over and he signed for me, man does this one look amazing with the silver auto!

This was my first time watching a game from center field, it's a great view and it was really cool congratulating Joc Pederson after each of his 2 homeruns and even more awesome him saying "thanks!" afterwards.

Alex Castellanos, former Dodger player & now with the EP Chihuahuas, was cool enough to toss a ball at me before the start of the 8th inning. I was so happy I didn't drop it that I decided to give it away to a kid that was decked out in Dodger blue, hope that it made his night better.

Sunday was a 1:05 pm game, so I got to the stadium around 12:40 pm. I stopped by the press box first to get a lineup card and a roster ..... to my surprise AJ Ellis waas in town with the Topes! I was pretty disappointed because I didn't know about it and he's a pretty hard autograph to get at Dodger Stadium because he's the catcher and they're pretty busy.

 If I had known I would've taken a picture I have of him I bought like 3 years ago. For this game I had an assigned seat I bought at the Santa Fe Pavillion for $18.50, so I didn't rush to leave my stuff and took my backpack next to the dugout. Met another grapher' named Robert and started talking to him about the hobby at the stadium and how AJ Ellis was in town, caught him by surprise to and I won't lie ..... as we were talking about AJ, he walks right by us. Wished him luck!

First 2 players to walk out to stretch were Clint Robinson & Joc Pederson, how I had already gotten them to sign 8x10's the previous day, I started a team baseball with them, the other 8 players that ended up signing it too were: Matt Magill, Colt Hines, Zach Lee, Paco Rodriguez, Griff Erickson, Carlos Triunfel, Trayvon Robinson & Mike Baxter.

While waiting between one autograph and the other, I started talking to Robert about wanting to get AJ's autograph and he told me that at the end of the game some players sign autographs next to the dugout, so I already had a plan for the end of the game. Unfortunately after the position players finished stretching I walked upstairs and AJ Ellis signed around 4-5 autographs after him & Red Patterson finished warming up in the bullpen. 

I went to my seat in the SFP I was talking about earlier, this time neither of the center fielders threw a ball at me. Not even the Dodgers bullpen catcher who I called by name .... sometimes you're lucky, sometimes you're not. But hey, the view was amazing!

At the start of the 8th inning I left my seat to buy a ROMLB, because I wanted AJ Ellis to sign it instead of my team ball. Team store sells them for $25 plus tax ($27.5, pretty expensive). Lines were moving quickly, so I just missed around half an inning. Went next to the dugout and also took out my Stephen Fife 8x10 that I couldn't get signed Saturday because he was the starting pitcher.

 As soon as the game finished me and a group of around 6 people stood next to the dugout and Fife was one of the first players to walk out, asked him for his auto and he was kind enough to sign the 8x10.

AJ was picking up his equipment and he had his hands full, I told other people "I doubt that he's going to sign". Guess what? We asked and he said he was putting his equipment away and he would walk out ..... he did it. Got thim to sign the ball in the SS, pretty rushed but I don't care about it .... I got AJ's autograph once in LA and once in EP!

A huge surprise while Ellis was signing autographs was that Clint Robinson walked out and put his bat up and after nobody said anything he just said: "Does anybody want it?", of course I said: "ME!", but a little kid was a better option .... I guess my day was good enough already with 12 autographs, so I can't complain.

For this being the first time I ask for autographs at Southwest University Park I consider it a great success! Had fun, way easier than the majors, got to see the Dodgers AAA prospects and the starting catcher of our major league club.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Summerslam Axxess Sunday - Session 3

Sorry for the delay, I've been crazy busy at work! I'm at Ft. Lauderdale waiting a connection to another flight that is going to take 3 hours, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to finally attach the pics to this post that was supposed to go up 3 months ago:

Last session for fans to meet fans. WWE had announced a list of Superstars/Divas that were scheduled to appear, but didn't specify if they would sign autographs, make an appearance in the NXT ring or otherwise.

This time as I entered I went straight to the National Guard stage, which had like 15 fans in it already . . . . but when I heard that Kofi Kingston was going to be the Superstar signing I decided to go to another one (no disrespect to Kofi, but I was looking for a bigger name).

I went over to the Doritos Jacked stage, which was the only one without anybody in line, waited there for around 10 minutes without nobody getting onto the stage. I was freaked out about the possibility of a tag team to go there because there was 3 markers with 3 different autograph pages set up there.

But I was lucky enough that Damien Sandow (current WHC Money In The Bank holder - NOT ANYMORE) was the designated superstar to sign there. I was the very first one to get his autograph & a picture with him, he was kind of serious . . . but I was just happy for hitting a homerun in that opportunity.

 Sandow attracted a lot of fans to his lines, which left the other ones not that big for the rest of the fans.

Saw that the Zack Ryder line was like a 20 minute line and took advantage of it. Got his autograph, which he inscribed with his WWWYTHI (Woo Woo Woo, You Know It) inscription and a photo with him too.

Right next to him were 2 superstars in the same stage: Justin Gabriel & Tensai/Sweet T, which had a very short line. So with the intention of getting the most amount of autographs in the session I went in it.

Gabriel signed an article from the April 2013 WWE Magazine he was featured in and Tensai this picture that was also from another WWE Magazine issue.

The WWE person that was up there taking pictures for the fan cut off Justin Gabriel from the pic, so I only got a photo with Tensai.

 There was 1 hour left before the Superstars/Divas switch from the ones that were there to the new ones. I saw that Kofi (line I was first in and then bailed) was signing with Rosa Mendes, like I mentioned in the previous post . . . . I have a huge crush on Rosa.

While I was in line, I was carrying 2 foam 30x20's that were protecting my Shawn Michaels 30x20 photo I was going to get signed. I thought that a cool way to attract Rosa was to do a "I love Rosa" sign in Spanish.

Line was easily going to take 1 hour, so while I was in it I made that sign and sure enough while she was going on stage after signing for handicap fans, she noticed it, waived at me and blew a kiss to me.

That was good, but the line was pretty slow and surely enough 3 people before me the line was stopped because R-Truth had arrived to do his autograph session, I was looking to Rosa and she told me: "I got you".

Sure enough, Rosa told the WWE personell to let me walk up, they also allowed the 2 guys that I was talking to in line to get their autographs and a picture taken with Kofi and Rosa.

 Rosa & Kofi both signed an autograph for me.

Afterwards Rosa let me take a picture with her standing next to me (but Kofi kind of blocked part of her face). 

Rosa also asked me to take a picture with her for her twitter account that she later uploaded on instagram and twitter. Now that was awesome!

When the switch for other superstars happened I started walking around to see who was there. No doubt that I wanted to get Jim Ross' autograph (WWE HOF announcer). While I was in line for J.R. a huge crowd started roaring, Rob Van Dam was on his way to the stage that was next to ours. Some fans left J.R. line, but I stayed because I had already met RVD when he was with TNA last year.

Line wasn't too bad, got to the stage like 40 minutes later. Jim Ross is a huge Oklahoma Sooners Football supporter that travels with the team to most of the games they play, OU played their season opener last year in El Paso against UTEP . . . . but I wasn't able to meet him because I was up at the press box calling the game and he was on the field. Talked to him for a minute about college football, it was great meeting a legend of wrestling broadcasting ..... never thought that his 'retirement' would be announced a month later.

 After getting JR's autograph I went back to the Shawn Michaels VIP signing, fortunately one of the guys that I met at the Rosa & Kofi line was kind of in the middle of the pack and told me to get in line with him, that easily saved me around 20-30 minutes.

Like I mentioned earlier, I had a 30x20 from Shawn Michaels' entrance in his final match ever (Wrestlemania 28) ..... a lot of people in line thought it was pretty awesome when I took it out. And that's what I was thinking about when I paid that kind of money for these autograph's (Cena, Punk & HBK), better get something very cool signed by them if I'm paying that much.

When I saw Michaels I noticed his beard, no doubt the picture didn't come out like I expected it ..... that facial hair makes him really hard to distinguish as the 'Heartbreak Kid'.

As he signed my picture, I asked him if he could please inscribe 'Mr. Wrestlemania' ..... the WWE assistant immediately said "No personalization", I replied that it wasn't a personalization .... Shawn simply said "Sorry man, there's a lot of people in line and if I inscribe for everyone it'll take me forever". I understood it, still think it came out pretty sweet.

All in all I think that session 3 was my favorite session of the weekend, got lucky with the Sandow line .... got 5 more 'superstars' to sign in the first group and then got a pair of HOF'ers in the last couple of hours.

There's rumors that Summerslam might be heading out of LA for next year. Hope that doesn't happen because I enjoyed building my vacation around it and had a blast at the show that was a really good card from start to finish.

Hope you enjoyed the post!