By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dot Net reader David Daniels attended the Starrcast in the Chicago, Illinois area and sent the following report.
-I went only for the day for meet and greets and to check everything out at the convention and did not purchase the podcast portions or any eat and greets, so I feel like I saw only a small portion of the entire weekend – and it was still a ton to digest with so many fans, wrestlers and wrestling media converging together. An incredibly unique experience that was worth the three-hour trip just to check out. It was like you landed in an alternate wrestling universe once you walked into the hotel.
-The hotel in Schaumburg was easy to get to and had plenty of parking. The branding inside was well done. Tons of merchandise available, signs everywhere including the podcast sets and photo backdrops, and the regular hotel employees wore Starrcast shirts. One of the bartenders told me it was the busiest the hotel had ever been and the busiest weekend ever for the hotel workers. I believe the menu for food had also been renamed to items like “Bullet Club sandwich” and things of that nature. On Saturday, no more day passes were sold because they had reached full capacity in the hotel according to fire code.
-There was some disorganization with the meet and greets, but there were only so many conference rooms so talent being moved to different locations didn’t seem like a big deal to me. There was an information desk and the Starrcast staff did their best to direct people. It was a massive undertaking for the crew and considering it was a first (and maybe only time) deal, I think if people had complaints, they were being way too picky, except one thing…
-My major gripe was the NWO (Hall, Nash, X-Pac) meet and greet. It was $100, and they sold too many tickets. Fans were rushed through with just barely enough time to take a photo. One awkward moment when I was in line was when Don West (who was everywhere throughout the day) came to talk to Nash about something. Hall looked annoyed and said, “Do you mind, brother? We’re trying to do business,” and West ignored him to keep talking. Conrad Thompson opened the door and was telling the crew to hurry it up. I talked to one of the three later in the hotel, and he said he thought it was “bullshit.” No fault of the three though, all were really cool and friendly to the fans and as personable as possible. I think the rushed meet and greet happened again with the Horsemen.
-I think I saw over 60 wrestlers during the day. Everyone I spoke with was in a great mood and seemed happy to be a part of the weekend. It was cool seeing wrestlers greet each other when they saw one another with such happiness. Plus, the mix of older talent from WCW, ECW, WWE and today’s new talent from Impact, ROH and independents gave something for everyone.
-Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi were treated like The Beatles. They showed up (I believe a brief surprise appearance) in the vendor room, which was downstairs, and you would have thought it was Paul McCartney and John Lennon in 1965. Or Hulk Hogan in 1985. Or…whatever comparison you prefer.
-Samuel Shaw was drawing at his table. I’m not sure if they were all fan requested or not, but when I walked by, I was blown away by how talented he was.
-I heard from some of the fans who were there on Thursday and Friday that the Roast of Bruce Prichard was their favorite of the podcasts so far. Each podcast was really like a little event in itself, so fans likely could go into great detail about each one.
-Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, who were not advertised, were a part of the roast on Friday night. They did an impromptu signing on Saturday morning. Very funny and cool guys. One moment that struck me as extremely odd though was when Patterson had no idea what Coliseum Video was – he asked when he saw a fan with the logo on a shirt. Brisco explained it to him and Patterson didn’t seem to have any memory of it. He also kept making jokes about people being in the closet.
-I was able to get into the Keepin’ It 100 podcast with Konnan, Disco Inferno, The Hurricane, and Joe the producer. I hadn’t made plans to go to Starrcast until Wednesday, so I was happy I could at least see one podcast (and my personal favorite). This was great entertainment. One fan asked if there would ever be another true alternative to WWE, Helms said, “You’re at it.” Helms also stated the importance of WWE for the industry and said everyone is doing better when WWE is doing better.
-A large chunk of the podcast became about Roman Reigns and they took input from the audience from people who do not like him. None of them seemed to articulate good reasoning until a 10-year old kid said his reason was “he’s trash on the mic” which drew a huge laugh from everyone. Later a kid came up to defend Reigns, and Disco jokingly asked him how he was going to handle the other kid who didn’t like him. The group was going through the world-famous Disco List when, So Cal Val had to wrap them up for the Fite TV schedule.
-I ran into Wade Keller in the hotel lobby. I did not ask him how he got to the convention since he joked on Twitter he was looking for a ride. Actually, I heard a lot of the Starrcast crew wondering how they were going to get from Schaumburg to Hoffman Estates for the All In show. Apparently, transportation was limited around there. One cool thing with Wade was when I heard a veteran telling him that his website has kept him stay up to date with wrestling when he was overseas serving.
-ODB had her food truck outside and had lines every time I peaked outside. I didn’t get a chance to try the food but did hear that wrestlers were helping her or stopping by to eat too.
-There was a room that had a lot of used championships from the NWA, AWA, WCW, WWE and TNA. There was also a Ric Flair robe fans could try on for small fee and autographed memorabilia on display. The coolest thing in the room, in my opinion, was ring-worn Macho Man gear that had been signed by him. There were the old WWF arcade games in the lobby too. Very nice touches. Plus, there was a video game tournament that raised money for charity.
-The longest lines for meet and greets were for anyone on the All In show, the Horsemen, and the NWO. Outside of that, Raven was one of the longest from the meet and greets that were pre-sold. A lot of individual tables like Sgt. Slaughter, Madusa, The Beautiful People, Scott Steiner, Buff Bagwell, Jeff and Karen Jarrett, Scarlett Bordeaux and too many others to name had people stopping by all day. Oscar from Men on a Mission, David Schultz, Joel Gertner, and a few others had plenty of time on their hands.
-Everyone was cool, but if I had to pick from the best conversations I had it would have been Sgt. Slaughter, Madusa, Bill Apter, Dutch Mantell, and Awesome Kong.
-The Barbarian apparently went home on Saturday and skipped his signing. I guess he and Brutus Beefcake were late to the Friday Dungeon of Doom signing too. Kevin Sullivan was incorrectly listed to sign on Saturday and wasn’t scheduled. They say refunds are coming this week to anyone who had tickets to sessions they did not get to or did not happen.
-David Arquette’s flight was delayed so he missed his Saturday signing. This was a big disappointment for me since it was my one day down there, and I’m a big fan of the Scream movies and one of the minority fans who got a kick out of him winning the WCW championship. McCauley Culkin was around doing his bunny ears thing and thumb wrestled Scott Steiner and Jeff Jarrett. Svengoolie from MeTV, who apparently is a big wrestling fan, was also hanging around all day.
-Conrad Thompson couldn’t have been any cooler. He did look stressed every time I saw him though. If he doesn’t do a Starrcast II if there is an All In II, I will understand it. I can’t imagine the planning that it took to get so many wrestlers in one spot, organize podcast times, signing times, eat and greets, etc. The crew worked so hard to create a unique experience and accommodate everyone – fans and wrestlers – that they deserve big credit.
-Overall, thumbs way up as an experience. Other than the other big conventions which I can’t speak to, fans just can’t get this kind of atmosphere that’s mostly laid back with so many wrestlers hanging around them. Where else can you see stuff like Scott Steiner asking Buff Bagwell if he can trade cash for a credit card machine to accommodate fans who didn’t have cash or joking with Bagwell about the prices of his t-shirts? I experienced just a small percent of the weekend and it was enough to have a memorable time with too many interactions and anecdotes to even remember. This isn’t even including the podcasts, viewing party, after party, being interviewed by Tony Schiavone or Sean Mooney, or any of the other unique things fans could do if they wanted.
-A real one of a kind event, especially since the live podcast convention had never really been done before in wrestling. They went all out to add every touch they could, including on Sunday when fans could smoke cigars with Cody or take a shot with Brandi. There were wrestlers around Thursday, Friday and Sunday that weren’t around the other days so there was reason to stick around too.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...