Since 2004, the Legends of the Ring convention has given wrestling fans the chance to meet some of the sport's biggest names. This weekend, the tradition continues, as the Crowne Plaza in Monroe, New Jersey hosts the ninth edition of the event, featuring a veritable listing of the sport's who's who from yesterday and today.
Promoter Terence Brennan has once again teamed up with James Soubasis of 3-Count Promotions for this year's event. As both of them have been holding signings and appearances for the past 12 years, between them, they've built a huge Rolodex of wrestling talent, many of whom will be in attendance. Main guests include Terry Funk, Mick Foley, Kevin von Erich, Superstar Billy Graham, Ken Anderson (formerly WWE's Mr. Kennedy), Stevie Ray, Teddy Long, Luna Vachon, and "Dangerous" Danny Davis, among others.
Additional stars that are being brought in by the numerous vendors who will be selling merchandise at the event include greats like Carlos Colon, Nick Bockwinkel, Austin Idol, Buddy Landel, Billy Robinson, Kevin Sullivan, and Sir Oliver Humperdink, faves from the '80s and '90s like Tammy Sytch, King Kong Bundy, Steve Corino, New Jack, Ken Patera, Road Warrior Animal, and some of the more modern era stars like Matt Striker, Jackie Gayda, Awesome Kong, and Colt Cabana.
Wrangling all of these stars, and the hundreds of fans who are expected to attend, to create an organized affair sounds like a daunting task. For Brennan, experience is the best way to ensure things don't quickly go awry.
"Organization, and not getting in over (our) heads," he named as the key reasons for the success of his past shows. "We have plenty of staff and organzation to make the shows run smoothly."
It also helps that he and Soubasis are able to separate the businessmen from the wrestling fans before and during the event. Unlike some others who have tried to run similar events and failed, they don't let themselves get star-struck and lose sight of the objective -- which, after all is to run a successful, and profitable, event.
"It seems like everyone thinks they can play promoter sometimes," Brennan said. "You can have all the money in the world and it doesn't make you able to run a show. There are so many little details that go into it. We have build such a fan base that we know how much we can allocate safely to turn out a successful show."
Of course, ultimately that success hinges quite a bit on the stars that make it out. While this year's roster is stacked, the organizers are always willing to hear from the fans as to who else they would like to meet.
"A lot goes into choosing the right balance of talents," Brennan confirmed. "We have a message board that allows the fans to voice their opinions. I read every post and have a repeat fan base that I take into consideration as too who they want to meet."
For his part, Brennan has a couple of names that he would love to see at a future event: Randy "Macho Man" Savage, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
"(He's) number one on everyone's want list," Brennan said about Savage. "Maybe one day he will come out of hiding and start taking bookings. I see Austin as being more realistic one day. A lot has to do with the availability of the talent. We also have a huge want list of lower talent that hopefully we can convince to attend."
One tack that he could potentially consider to get some of the more elusive names is to invite them to be the subject of a wrestling roast. The Friday night roast, presented in concert with Kayfabe Commentaries, was introduced last year as a kickoff event for the convention. This year's honouree is Terry Funk, and the roast will include comedic tributes from stars like Mick Foley, New Jack, Billy Graham, JJ Dillon, Missy Hyatt, Bill Apter (emcee for the event), and Dennis Stamp, who many fans will remember as the man who petitioned Funk for a spot on his retirement show in the movie Beyond the Mat.
Last year's roast of the Iron Sheik became infamous for some controversies, such as Sheiky slapping his long-time nemesis B. Brian Blair, and with Scott Hall accosting one of the comedians after he told an Owen Hart joke. Brennan suspects this year's will be a tamer, but no less enjoyable event.
"I think it will more of classy comedic tribute then what occurred last year," he predicted. Because the roast offers him some down-time from organizing, he is hopeful that he can simply sit back with the rest of the fans and simply enjoy the night. "I think everyone involved backstage has a better idea of what to expect, so I'm looking very forward to it as a fan."
So too, no doubt, are many of the fans who will be attending. Over the years, Legends of the Ring has earned a reputation as one of the premiere wrestling fan conventions. However, at least for the time being, fans outside of the New Jersey area will have to travel to the Garden State to catch it. Though Brennan once thought about taking Legends on the road (a Wrestlemania 3 tribute show in Detroit was one idea), he believes there would be a risk that the event might not turn out as good as the Jersey shows have.
"(It's) risky it is to take something out of your homebase," he said, acknowledging that a lot of the show's success can be attributed to its reputation of always living up to its reputation. "It took a long time to build up to what we've become."
For more information, including the full list of attendees, pricing for the Legends of the Ring event and the Terry Funk roast, and a list of vendor booths, visit www.legendsofthering.com.
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Bob Kapur is going to be flying into New Jersey for the Legends of the Ring convention, and is hoping his arms won't be too tired to hold up a camera. E-mail him your corny jokes at firstname.lastname@example.org.