Thanks to Thomas Riordan for sending in his account of the WWE AXXESS events including a report on the live crowd at the Hall of Fame ceremony. Warning: the email below is intended for mature audiences as it contains profanity:
My family and I had tickets to Axxess Saturday morning and what should have been an awesome experience turned sour really quickly. The doors to the Izod Center opened at least 10 minutes after the event started cutting into the signing time of the starting superstars significantly which that extra time would have cut down on my particular problem at least for me anyways and a few others.
First thing I did upon entering was line up for Paul Heyman's signing session and was quickly seated as they were sitting us in rows and taking a row at a time up the stairs to be signed which was a good idea having us sit and watch what was happening on the arena floor. But the rows barely moved for two hours because they kept pulling Mr. Heyman out to sign for the handicap people which I understand they need to accommodate them as well but it should have been handled better. Rather than pulling Mr. Heyman out of signing for the masses to sign for a few people perhaps they could have had him sign for them later.
Close to two hours of sitting and passing up the chance to meet people like Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan and whatever legends they had on hand and waiting on line for the person I wanted to meet most the following happened. The event staff gets to the row I'm in and says this is the last row Mr. Heyman will sign for and then he's done. So I'm thinking I'm really lucky because I'm one of the last few people to go up. There's two people in front of me, two behind me. We're going up the steps and are within 5 feet of meeting Paul Heyman and he's pulled out. He turns to us and tells us he'll be back in 3 minutes after he goes and signs what he needed to sign. The event staff tell us he'll be right back to finish up and then out comes JBL and we're told that Mr. Heyman won't be coming back. They pushed him out to do an interview rather than letting him come back and sign 5 autographs and if they air that interview you're likely to see me along with other pissed off people coming out of JBL's signing behind him.
I'm sorry but that's a pretty shitty thing to do to fans of a company that supposedly values their fan support at what is supposed to be the ultimate fan event and I'm not sure who is at fault. I don't blame Mr. Heyman, nor do I blame Mr. Layfield who I did get an autograph for and who I'm sure probably got an earful from the people still waiting after me who were a very vocal bunch and clearly pissed off and with a right to be, but the 4 people around me have every right to be angry because that was fucked up. I really wish I could have caught the people waiting in line around me coming out because we should get some kind of justice for this incident because I don't deserve to be treated the way I was, the people waiting with me didn't deserve that either.
I didn't make a scene because it probably would have just ruined the experience for those there for JBL but I'll be writing a letter to WWE and taking it to Twitter, Facebook, who ever will listen and I really hope the others who had this experience or similar experiences at Axxess do too because no one deserves to be treated this way. I'm an adult and it upset me but just think if this was a child who spent Axxess passing up other Superstars for a chance to meet John Cena, only to get up to his signing and have him pushed out and replaced with a jobber, not than Mr. Layfield wasn't worth the autograph, but he wasn't the person I waited 2 hours for and passed up a lot of other things for in order to meet him only to have him yanked away only feet away from me. A lot of the signings were left overs from other signings and that didn't help things either because you basically couldn't get an autograph in the second session for that morning unless you were already in line for the first Superstar. I would have loved to have gotten an autograph from Mark Henry but there was no way that was gonna happen but if I was handicap I probably could have done every signing and photo session in the building.
Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that the problem is the handicap people, the problem is they should have handled the set up better. A separate signing would have been easier on everyone it seems because Mr. Heyman wouldn't have had to be constantly sitting and getting up. He could have sat for one session and then just went from wheelchair to wheelchair taking pictures and signing for people and it would have moved things along a lot faster and provided a better experience for all involved.
I actually had tickets for Sunday morning's session as well and didn't go because the Paul Heyman incident just left such a bad impression of the experience that it just wasn't worth the effort to travel from New York to New Jersey just to sit two hours waiting for an autograph only to have the person pulled away. I have to say that experience was the single worst thing that I experienced this weekend as far as WWE interaction was concerned. The Hall of Fame was excellent with something that should have been taken care of and wasn't. Before it started Michael Cole came out two times and told us that this was a special night for the legends and to respect them, no offensive chants, no cat calls, etc. And while there were chants they weren't all that disrespectful and more of a joking around type of deal like hating on Trish's husband with the "we hate Ron" it was a little bit but it was in a playful manner and Trish was rolling with it so people kept it up.
But when it came time for the Bob Backlund induction that's when it got ridiculous. Grant it, I had no idea who Maria Menounos was or her connection with Bob Backlund and didn't have any interest in hearing her talk, but I respect Mr. Backlund so I sat and listened. There were a group of people a section to the left of us who were literally chanting "get the fuck off the stage!" at her and security did hardly anything if anything at all about it. It's not the language that bothered me but the downright disrespect because they continued being disrespectful during Bob Backlund's speech and still nothing happened and we could see the floor security looking up for them but little to nothing was done. It got to the point that I really wanted to stand up and tell them to show some fucking respect because it's stuff like that gives wrestling fans a bad image.
If you have that little class then stay home from the Hall of Fame because all wrestling fans are not classless assholes. As a matter of fact the people we met and interacted with this weekend were all very nice people. Not that we exchanged emails or even really knew each others names but we met people from Canada, England, etc. and everyone got along fairly decent and I'm not a person who goes out of my way to interact with people but we talked for hours with some of them. The group behind us at WrestleMania who we thought were going to be assholes like the ones at the Hall of Fame actually improved the experience for us because we talked to them throughout WrestleMania and the section of the crowd wasn't dead for the matches. By the time it was all over we were fist bumping and saying goodbye like we were friends and in all honesty we never knew their names or them ours. It made the experience better and a positive one with a few negative experiences dragging it down.
We had a good view so thankfully we weren't among those who paid an arm and a leg only to get an obstructed view which while the set looked amazing they should have worked the set around the seating and not the seating around the set. I thankfully was sitting 16 rows back in the 100 level pretty much right across from the ramp and other than one bright light was a wonderful view. The line was clear across the parking lot when we walked up to the gate which we timed so perfectly because they opened another line and we were first in line. We were among the first thousand people in the stadium and coming out to our seats at our first WrestleMania and seeing that set was breathtaking. So that was a positive turn of events compared to the previous day which we spent lost in New York following the Paul Heyman incident.
For spending $3,000 on the package deal it would have been worth it but it would have been better to have the travelers staying in New Jersey and traveling to New York for the one event which there was a Sheraton within walking distance of everything in New Jersey. It would have made more sense but it was what it was. Some goods brought down by one negative experience which I'm sure others had similar experiences.