Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Years Greetings review: Iron Sheik - polite heel?

Wrestling fans from around the world gathered in Carteret, New Jersey last Saturday for K&S Promotions' New Years Greetings, the latest in a growing line of professional wrestling conventions. The WFB staff got our hands on one of the coveted VIP Super Tickets, which allow advanced placement in line to meet and greet the stars for those of you who aren't familiar. We'd like to say it went smoothly, but our head writer Don Bishop's personal review of the event is mixed to say the least. Read on as Don tells the world what he thinks are the pros and cons of the New Years Greetings fanfest, interspersed with his colorful recollection of personal experiences at the show.


1. Steve and Ken, the event promoters: Despite a very busy all-day schedule, they were extremely fan-friendly. While running back and forth, both men answered questions from fans (no matter how many times they asked the same thing). Perhaps best of all, Steve and Ken even managed to keep the Super Ticket lines in numerical, single-file order for the majority of the day's events; an accomplishment that isn't easy and didn't occur at the last Legends Of The Ring or Signamania conventions. If Ken and Steve keep this up, they could easily become the next big convention for wrestling autograph hounds.

2. Price gouging? Only with a fork!: Astonishingly, only one of the many talents brought in for New Years Greetings charged extra money at the last minute. Abdulah the Butcher charged $10.00 extra for his trademark "fork to the skull" photo op, but not before informing fans that they had to supply their own fork for the picture! This begs the two-part question: How many always-prepared scouts are wrestling fans, and will they also supply me with cookies? In fairness, it should be noted that Abby's failure to have a fork on him wouldn't have been so bad except that he had been advertised "with fork" beforehand. This left many fans out of luck for their preferred picture. Again, though, this is not a complaint. With the exception of Abdulah, every other wrestler charged what was advertised and everyone else who was advertised as having their gimmick on them for this show did. That, in my book, is a huge pro for the fans attending.

Speaking of gimmicks....


1. The Iron Sheik: Yes, the same Iron Sheik that slapped longtime rival and political homophobe B. Brian Blair last October. I considered him a friend of the blog for that. Unfortunately, New Years Greetings may have changed my mind.

Paul Orndorff was one of the stars on hand. He willingly heard me out about conducting a possible interview (which is more than a lot of others did, and I'd like to thank Mister Wonderful for being open-minded whether we hear from him or not). While speaking with Orndorff, the Sheik came over to our table with his camera crew close behind him. He politely but firmly asked me not to "bother" Orndorff with "that gimmick." I could see him thinking this was a "gimmick" if I were a wrestler, but I'm not. I'm a reporter. A reporter writing about any and every aspect of pro wrestling. Did "Iron Sheik" really think in all honesty that I was at this show to prance around in sequenced-pink tights and clock people with a rainbow-colored folding chair for a camera crew to film? Now that would be a gimmick! Not a "good" gimmick, but it'd sure be one hell of a gimmick. Maybe then I'd finally make it into WrestleCrap.

The point is, I was unobtrusively distributing WFB contact information to talent during a time when they weren't with other fans. I was told to leave by someone who wasn't security, a promoter, Paul Orndorff himself, or a direct neighbor of Orndorff's. Rather than push the issue and cause a scene, I chose to respect Sheik's wish and left the area as requested. I didn't want to help Sheiky baby make his next YouTube highlight reel.

Perhaps I'm just bitter. After all, the Iron Sheik's a wrestling legend. He's gotten himself a ton of publicity the last few years and made a ton of money doing it. He made so much, he even generously gave $10.00 of his take from this show to Robbie McAllister after the Highlanders' line slowed down (he could've gotten a fork to the skull picture for that!). I'm not nearly as famous, well-known or rich. I'm just a weak, non-wrestler writer trying to get his name and the name of his group out there. I understand the Sheik not wanting to speak with me or anyone else from WFB, but why the sudden interest in who Paul Orndorff gives an interview to? Coincidentally, this is also right around the time when convention security started watching me very closely. Which brings us to....

2. Convention Security: I've never been reverse-profiled, but according to security, I can't leave my business card with a potential interviewee for an interview that would happen at a later date, not on the convention promoters' dime. When I asked why, the only response given was that the talents have representatives I should go through. When I asked for the name and/or contact information of such a rep in order to go through the so-called proper channels, I was told to "check MySpace."

I could understand security following me around if I was stealing from the vendors or if I was giving the wrestlers raunchy limericks, but I leave the dirty poetry around here to our good friend Lanny Poffo. "Some wrestlers might be offended by the nature of the blog" one could argue. That's a fair point, except that New Years Greetings also featured appearances by Chris Kanyon and Big Vito, who was dressed in drag. If Vito in a dress is less offensive to someone than receiving our contact information, then someone needs to get their homophobic priorities straight.


1. Fork you: Abdulah the Butcher conveniently "forgot" to return my acquaintances' prop fork to him until asked to do so several $10.00 poses later. After a brief discussion back at the WFB newsroom, we decided the poor guy probably should have charged Abdulah a rental fee. Or at least presented him with the fork by jabbing it into him wrestling-style and running like hell.

2. Better Class of Losers: Longtime enhancement talent Barry Horowitz revealed to me that he's a fan of Alan Jackson music. Over the years the country star won more awards than Horowitz did matches. Maybe Jackson's song I'll Try inspired Barry that fateful match against Skip?

All in all I had a great time. As you can see, most of my gripes weren't with the event itself or the promoters. I'd highly recommend this convention to everyone next year if K&S Promotions continues to consistently put on such a high-quality show.

-Don Bishop

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