Being a WWE fan in the UK has some disadvantages. The time difference for live shows can be a real pain. While North America settles down to watch the shows at a comfortable 8pm in some places, over here it’s more like 1am – considering it’s almost always a Sunday, those who have to be up at 5am the following Monday for work, like me, find it hard to do.
This humble columnist hails from Liverpool, which to many readers outside of the UK is famous for one thing – the Beatles. While it’s true there’s pictures of the Fab Four everywhere in the city centre, we didn’t have much else to shout about (besides more music and football). That was until the turn of the millennium and lots of investment was made in the city. Not everywhere has benefited, but one welcome addition the city got was a brand new indoor arena. Gone were the days we’d have to travel to Manchester to see WWE tours of the UK, now they came to our own doorstep. That was great for me as I could take my daughter to some shows if we could get tickets. That was about as close as I’d ever get to the larger than life stars we see on screen every week.
Then a curious thing happened. I was reading an article on this very website and John posted a link for discount tickets to a show called “Wrestler’s Court with Vince Russo.” Curious, I checked it out to find there were only two UK dates; London and Liverpool. With John’s discount code at hand, I snapped up two VIP tickets.
As the date for the event neared, I grew more and more excited. I’ve never met a WWE star before, let alone someone whose name is infamous throughout professional wrestling. As the days ticked down, there was some sad news that threatened to cancel both shows. Vince’s mother was poorly ill so he made the very understandable decision to be with her and forfeit the tour. The organisers of the event offered refunds, but kept both dates, promising some signed merch to VIP ticket holders as a good will gesture.
I arrived at the venue with a good friend of mine just before it started. We made our way into the bar (Shooters Bar, Liverpool One for anyone who’s interested) and took a seat looking at an empty stage. We were told the guys were on their way, so waited patiently while a photographer set up his lights in one corner of the room.
The guys arrived and took a look at the set up. We all had individual photo ops with the four stars. Carlito was first and was a really cool guy, much bigger in real life than I thought. He chatted with my pal about the Walking Dead t-shirt he was wearing. The whole atmosphere was really laid back, relaxed and informal.
Bull James (Dempsey) was next and he was a really nice too. Mickie James was after him and she immediately pointed to my TJRWrestling t-shirt. I told her I write for the site and she chatted for a while about it because she knows our fearless leader John Canton. Last to go up was Nick (Magnus) who was huge! I remember him for being on a UK reboot of the TV show Gladiators. He was really good on that. He was really polite, thanking everyone for coming.
The next part was a one on one interview where Nick would talk wrestling with the other three and they would give their views. It was interesting to hear their insights into the business. Carlito spoke about his father and how wrestling was in his blood. They also joked about the generic Hispanic characters WWE likes to portray on screen, and how it doesn’t matter where in Latin America you’re from, they all dress and act like that according to WWE.
Bull was really cool and to hear the thoughts of a younger guy was different and intriguing. He told some stories about Robbie Brookside – a Liverpool lad and current NXT trainer. Nick was a great host throughout and talked openly about his time as a professional wrestler.
After a group photo opportunity, there was a Q&A with all four guests. It was open forum and I even got to ask a question. Two discussions stand out though; Nick and Mickie spoke about cage matches and to hear Nick talk about working with Jeff Hardy was cool. Mickie also spoke about how WWE moving away from the ‘diva’ term is positive for women going forward. There was also a question asked to Bull as to why he was cut but other NXT talent pushed to the main roster. The questioner mentioned names, but I won’t repeat them here. Bull’s answer was very eloquent and honest. He doesn’t make the decisions, however much he may disagree with them. The booker/writer/boss always has the final say. His answer received a warm round of applause.
With the event over, and this writer feeling a wee bit inebriated, we headed home only to wake up to a terrible hangover and a general ill feeling all day. I tweeted about how much I enjoyed the night and it was liked/retweeted by the guys on stage. There was talk of rescheduling next year to do it all again, this time with Vince. Nick assured us we’d be invited and I have to say I’d go all over again. When you wake up with this picture on your phone, why wouldn’t you?
Big thanks to Mickie, Nick, Carlito and Bull for the night. Hopefully we’ll get to do it all again with Vince.