Moore’s Blog: WrestleMania Week Experience (Part I): Thoughts and notes from the press junkets, travel, and various pro wrestling shows

By John Moore, Staffer (@liljohnm)

Hello, Dot Net Readers! Welcome to my way-too-late WrestleMania 39 weekend recap blog. The biggest reason for the lateness is that it was an exhausting week of pro wrestling, so I needed a kinda-break. Kinda, because I still watched the various television shows and I attended Hoodslam a week after Mania. But without further ado, let’s get to my Mania weekend experience day to day…

Wednesday April 29, 2023 – Travel Day (Minimal wrestling stuff)

I would have gone a day earlier to make the WWE 2K press event, but real life work gets in the way. That and I wanted to enjoy a long sightseeing trip between NorCal and SoCal for once. Los Angeles being my hometown, I travel very often between LA and San Francisco. This time, as opposed to plane or bus, I took the sightseeing Amtrak. Yes, it takes ten hours, but you get two large seats all to yourself, along with views of all of the oceans on the Pacific coast. Definitely worth it, and it’s cheap too.

Wrestling wise, not much here. I finished reviewing NXT the day before, and was off from there. Wednesday was mostly me getting a wave of emails and text on the stuff I’d be doing press wise. I got my access to the Impact Multiverse event, and I ironed out some details on heading over to USC for AEW/ROH’s Supercard of Honor.

Thursday April 30, 2023

So the biggest downside about taking the sightseeing train is due to the sightseeing and mingling with other travelers, I didn’t get my central California nap in. I say this because going into the first press junket, I was running off four hours of sleep in 48 hours. Thankfully the coffee at the wrestlers’ hotel kicked in on time. 8:00 a.m. Press Junket though! At the cafe, I ran into several NXT wrestlers, including Ivy Nile, Brooks Jensen, and Josh Briggs, who had just flown in.

So it was up to upstairs where I met up with fellow Dot Net staffer Will Pruett. It’s always fun to link up with Will, as he’s a chill and funny dude, and that’s all you need to be to be a cool person to hang with. It also helped that Will was equipped with his pro camera and mic setup. I had planned to have my buddy Lawrence, who’s a pro photographer, be my camera dude, but WWE was out of press passes for the junket. “Out of passes” was no joke, because it seemed like every reporter from around the world was at the thing. There were people coming all the way over from Japan.

The amount of press there was massive. Once we got into the junket room, Will and I made sure to claim our wall space. In a fun an odd way, the fight for interviews, wall space, and interview-time was oddly competitive. It was a fun kind of competitive because a lot of wrestling media members were friendly. There were a few grumpy cats out there, but they were few and far in between. What helped Will and I have a upper hand was simply being polite.

Polite in that we had formed alliances with our neighboring press members to fend off the angry press members. Shout out to people like Isa, Jeff, Don, Adrian, and a few others I forgot their names, forgive me. We held our ground. At the same time, it was tiring being on our feet from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

A couple of interview highlights for me included talking with Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn. Fyre was surprised when I brought up her run in TNA as the runner-up in TNA’s British Bootcamp reality show (the winner was Mark Andrews). That was a fun show to watch by the way. I was surprised to hear that Isla Dawn was friends with Alba before British Bootcamp (which was around 2013). I remember Dawn looking very green on NXT UK with a cheesy and cartoony “witch” gimmick (similar to Taylor Wilde’s current bad witch gimmick).

Dawn has really grown as a performer. When she made her NXT-US debut in 2022, she was a totally different “witch”. She was an awesome witch. Totally different and it looks like she’s more herself as opposed to a cosplay character. She went from Hocus Pocus to looking like her body was possessed by a sexy ghost. When I talked to her about this she seemed very touched and her bestie Alba seemed to be proud of her kohai finally finding a character that works. They were both cool ladies and I’m looking forward to see how they do as a pairing. It helps when you tag team partner is a best friend.

Another favorite interview I got in there, was with Legado Del Fantasma. Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, and Cruz Del Toro. There was a tiny member of Legado in shades that I wasn’t familiar with. Santos introduced him as his son, who had just inherited the El Hijo Del Fantasma mask. Therefore, he was El Hijo Del Hijo Del Fantasma (I forget how luchador nameology works, but we went with that). I interviewed the hijo first and he talked about how The Rock and Stone Cole are his favorite wrestlers next to his papa and grand papi.

In all seriousness, I’ve been singing the praises of Escobar ever since I saw him cut promos in 2016. He’s a genus in the ring, but also a master on the microphone. He’s VERY articulate. His strengths are shown best when he’s working in cinematics. The reason he was so good acting in Lucha Underground and in his recent feud with Tony D’Angelo is because in Mexico he was a professional actor. He also told me why he has the best looking Suicide Dive in the business.

He mentioned that most Luchadores focus on acrobatics, but his father, El Fantasma, told him that you’ll stand out if you can do one move better than anyone. Escobar, unlike a lot of luchadors, wrestles more of a methodical British style. His one true “Lucha” move is a simple suicide dive, which he makes look better than anyone. He said the reason he gets a lot of hang time is from his experience as a professional sprinter. Escobar calls his dive “The Arrow from the Depths of Hell”.

Getting back to him being articulate, this guy is going to be money if they put him at the top of the card as a babyface. I saw some of this professional speaking when he explained his whole “kidnapping” storyline in such believable fashion. Here’s hoping that Escobar gets a chance to be the next big Latino star, and I’m sending out good vibes to El Hijo Del Hijo Del Fantasma, that he may end up making his dad and grandad proud once he dons the Fantasma mask. Maybe he can give Dom Mysterio an “Arrow from the Depths of Hell” one day.

Fast forward to the end of the junket, my legs were dead (again, mostly because of running off four hours of sleep). The last person I got to chat with was Zelina Vega, who was one of the last to leave. It was really fun talking about anime and video games with her. I found out that she bonds with husband Malakai Black over playing games and watching anime; though as you would expect, while she’s into the romance and dramatic anime, Malakai’s into the emo, fighting, and dark stuff. On brand for Malakai.

I did hear she’s watching Attack on Titan and was recommended Ranking of Kings (Ranking of Kings is a must watch, I might write a blog for it at dot net because I’m planning on doing “anime for wrestling fans” articles). It’s very cool running across fellow weebs at Wrestling events. I hear the biggest weeb of them all is Omos actually, which is why he randomly pulls out Naruto stuff in his character. For instance, he started in WWE as the giant black ninja and it’s why he’s striking Rock Lee poses against Brock Lesnar.

Between Multiverse and the press junket, I got to hang out with family and friends in Koreatown. We did the usual KBBQ, boba, and karaoke run through in the few hours between both events. I ended up meeting up with friends later too because I left the Multiverse show early. One thing that stood out to me being in LA for the first time since COVID, is WHY IS FOOD SO CHEAP HERE. Three meat mountains of tacos, which in SF would cost $15, cost $4 in LA! Jeez.

The Multiverse show was ok, but I ended up leaving a bit early because my legs were dying and the venue was a bit cramped. They did legitimately sell out, which means body-on-body-on-body with wrestling fants cheering and hollering. Funny thing too, the last match before the Multiverse show started, from WrestleCon, was Black Taurus vs. El Hijo Del Vikingo vs. Kommander. A nice preview as to what was to come on Supercard of Honor. I left for tacos with friends, and off to bed to finally get a good night’s sleep.

Anyway, this always happens to me. I go into an article or review thinking “Oh no! How am I going to fill out this article with material?! I don’t think I can even get three paragraphs out.” Then I go on and get sucked into writing a novel. That’s what happened here. Soooooooooo, I’ll break this up into multiple parts.

Friday April 30, 2023 – I’ll continue that in Part II of this blog




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