On Sunday 19 October, we had the opportunity to attend the London Film and Comic Con (Winter) organised by Showmasters who claim to run "The Coolest Collectors Fairs In the World". For those that haven't yet attended a convention, Danny sets out his experience together with some tips for wrestling fans:
You'll certainly know when you've arrived at a Comic Con. My first indicator was a lady bedecking herself in red and black, metamorphosing in front of me into erstwhile batman nemesis Harley Quinn. If the lady in question was as crazed as her comic alter-ego, then the mania had certainly spread. It wasn't long before I had encountered Predators, Jawas and of course, Jedis.
The film and comic conventions are an ageless extravaganza for comic collectors, film buffs and science fiction aficionados. There are rows upon rows of memorabilia, collectables and merchandise. Looking for an Oscorp T-Shirt or a signed Pulp Fiction poster? The London Film and Comic Con is a must.
What sets these conventions apart from other fayres is the cast of stars and extras from films that are on hand for autographs and pictures. This year's guests included the original Karate Kid Ralph Maccio and Alan Ruck, whom played Cameron in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. As part of their offering, Showmasters have for some time been inviting wrestlers to join the great and the good and for Winter 2014, this included Rikishi and Too Cool, Shelton Benjamin, Marcus "Buff" Bagwell and Alberto "Del Rio" Rodriguez.
To some extent, the convention is a tale of the good, the bad and the ugly. The good news is that if you are a fan of any of the wrestling talent appearing, you'll likely have an opportunity to meet and talk to them. Given this is not a wrestling convention, there are periods when the long tables at which the wrestlers and others are seated remain quiet. Marcus Bagwell in particular seemed to be happy to talk and take pictures with people (some were a little less forthcoming). Whilst it was somewhat sad to see these wrestling greats sitting alone for stretches of time, the access it permitted was tremendous.
Unfortunately, if you want to talk to the talent, it won't come cheap. At £15 an autograph, you're going to have to dig deep if you want your five minutes chat. Many will consider this a very worthwhile charge - if not a bargain. However, if a particular individual has a photo shoot organised during the day the chances are they won't be offering posed photos at their table, rather you'll need to pay again for your professional photo-shoot and so it's a £30 minimum for the whole bundle
The photo shoots themselves are entirely functional, so don't bank on a long chat with the stars as you'll be in and out before you know it. That said, the professional shot you are given as you leave the staging room is of a high quality. Unfortunately, jpegs aren't on offer and so a home scanner is a must.
If chatting over an autograph and getting your snap taken isn't enough, Showmasters do offer question and answer sessions. Whilst, understandably, Alberto Rodriguez absented himself from this winter's talk, the event wasn't short of controversy. Brian 'Grandmaster Sexay' Christopher of Too Cool opened with a scathing attack on the promoter whom had brought the group to the UK.
Unfortunately the session started late and so there was only time for three questions. We heard about the star's "favourite finishing moves" which for Rikishi - paying tribute to his wrestling family - included the Rock Bottom and the Banzai Drop. Shelton Benjamin meanwhile paid tribute to Rikishi's very own Stinkface. Fortunately for Benjamin, Rikishi revealed that he had been wearing his clean thong when delivering the move that day. His soiled one, he said, had been reserved for Vince McMahon. We also heard from Buff Bagwell about his time working with Scott Steiner in WCW and from the panel about what had inspired them to become wrestlers. For Brian Christopher, a major influence was his father, Jerry the King Lawler.
All said, the Comic Con is worth visiting if the talent you wish to see are appearing. My advice would be to wait until the timetable is published on the showmaster's forums and arrange your day around either the talk or the photo opportunities or both if they coincide. Keep an eye on the Showmasters website as that's where the guests are announced. Looking to the future, there's Rockstar Spud and D-Lo Brown in Milton Keynes and Davey Hart Smith Jnr in Cardiff.
Overall it was an enjoyable day but pre-planning is essential to maximise your enjoyment, live long and prosper.....