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COMMENT





ROH & Stone Cold salvage SF convention
By BOB KAPUR - SLAM! Wrestling




After its spectacular collapse on Saturday, people would have understood if Wrestle Fan Fest 2007 closed its doors and shut down entirely on Sunday. But under the stewardship of a skeleton crew of organizers and a handful of wrestlers, the event soldiered on, delivering majorly on two major fronts: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Ring of Honor, two of the most popular events of the entire weekend.

Austin was one of the few wrestlers who apparently didn't have an issue with receiving his fee, and arrived on the scene promptly for his 1 p.m. signing. If he had misgivings about attending such a poorly-reputed event, he showed no signs of it, and he happily chatted for the next three hours with the few hundred fans on hand. Like Goldberg the day before, Austin spent a lot of time with each person, shaking their hands, posing for pictures and thanking them for coming. A truly class act that had the crowd buzzing for the full three hour session.

Others making their first appearances for the weekend were Chyna, Vince Russo, Road Warrior Animal and Cryme Tyme. While Sunny, April Hunter and JD Michaels, Dawn Marie, Greg Valentine, Larry Zybysko, Baby Doll, Steve Williams, the Blue Meanie, Francine, and Virgil were also on hand, possibly attempting to salvage a low, or no-paying weekend with a few more sales of merchandise and pictures.

Meanie shared his thoughts about the weekend with SLAM! Wrestling: "The wrestlers who are here today, what we're trying to do is make the best of a bad situation to try to entertain the fans. The ones who really got screwed here aren't the wrestlers so much as it was the fans."

Larry Zybysko echoed Meanie's comments, noting that while some of the no-shows were for valid reasons, such as Lex Luger's medical emergency, others were less so. "From what I understand, a few of the (wrestlers) tried to screw over the promoter at the last minute, but (to heck with) them anyway."

Zybysko also raised the point that some of the fans in attendance did have a good time, despite the disorganization of the weekend. "The biggest names were here -- Stone Cold and Goldberg. The fans got to meet and talk to their favourite wrestlers. A lot of them had a great weekend, I think."

Attendee Luis Costa didn't go that far, noting that the weekend was plagued with problems. But Costa also conceded that, notwithstanding the problems, he was able to successfully accomplish his two main goals of the weekend, namely buying some DVDs and seeing the Ring of Honor card on Sunday night.

That show was a definite highlight of the weekend, and the company deserves a ton of credit for their efforts in salvaging the weekend. The three hundred or so stalwart fans who stayed until the 4 p.m. belltime were rewarded for their commitment, as the entire roster gave it their all to entertain them despite the circumstances of the weekend. Highlights included a huge brawl between the teams of Davey Richards & Rocky Romero and Jimmy Jacobs and the Necro Butcher. This was a rollicking affair which had the raucous crowd on their feet to watch the carnage unfold. Butcher and Jacobs eventually stood victorious after the dust cleared. In the match of the night, Brian Danielson and Austin Aries put on a mat-based technical clinic that Danielson eventually won with a rollup. This was another shining performance by Danielson who was rewarded with several "Best in the World" chants throughout.

After the main event pitting Nigel McGuinness against Jay Briscoe, a number of run-ins ultimately led to Claudio Castagnoli standing alone in the ring. He thanked the audience for attending the show and offered for himself and other ROH superstars to remain after the show to sign autographs and pose for pictures at the merchandise table, as a bonus experience, earning the company chants of "Please come back!" from the fans to express their gratitude to the company for living up to their commitments.

That they would was never in question, owner Cary Silken told SLAM! Wrestling before the show started. "The show must go on. People know what's going on with the convention and the promoters and they're disappointed. But be that as it may, we are focused on putting on a great show and exposing the people to our product. People who have paid to see Ring of Honor, and have flown or driven here, we are not going to disappoint them."


Steve Williams ("Stone Cold" Steve Austin's real name) and "Dr. Death" Steve Williams (his real name) share a laugh.
Photo by Mike Mastrandrea
While the ROH show and Austin appearance may have taken some of the sting off from those fans who felt cheated, it didn't help the wrestlers who didn't get paid. Nor did it provide any consolation to the various vendors, many of whom traveled fair distances to the event to sell their wares.

Robert Sykes, for example, was extremely upset with the weekend. "We were promised certain things that weren't provided. When we got here, there was nobody here who knew what we were supposed to do, where we were supposed to set up. Things just were handled really, really poorly. The last wrestling show I went to was handled really well. This one just leaves a bad taste in everybody's mouth."

Which pretty much sums up the weekend for all concerned. Though some were able to see a slight tinge of silver lining in the situation -- the Blue Meanie, for example, who chose to think of the weekend as a mini-vacation ("If there's a plus side, it's that I got to come to San Francisco and meet some fans and see some of my friends who I haven't seen in years. You have to look at it that way, make the best of a bad situation -- if you don't, you're going to go nuts.") -- most could not. Perhaps Jeff Wilson, an attendee, summed it up best, saying, "It was a complete disorganized mess. It wasn't an entire waste of a weekend. But it was awful close."

Ring of Honor results from San Francisco

  • Chris Hero defeated The Human Tornado
  • Roderick Strong defeated Claudio Castagnoli
  • Adam Pearce defeated Karl Anderson
  • Brent Albright defeated Delirious
  • Necro Butcher and Jimmy Jacobs defeated Rocky Romero and Davey Richards
  • Bryan Danielson defeated Austin Aries
  • Nigel McGuiness defeated Jay Briscoe


RELATED LINKS
  • WrestleFanFest Gallery 1
  • WrestleFanFest Gallery 2
  • WrestleFanFest Gallery 3
  • Ring of Honor in San Francisco Photo Gallery
  • WrestleFanFest action from Friday night
  • Oct. 21, 2007: SF convention a complete disaster
  • Oct. 17, 2007: SF convention built to scale
  • www.wrestlefanfest.com

    Bob Kapur ate a Cherry Garcia ice cream cone on the corner of Haight and Ashbury this weekend ... and that was groovy, man. E-mail him with your wishes for peace, love, and understanding at bobkapur@hotmail.com.