Best: This Is Seriously The WWE ’13 Panel
I attended the WWE ’13 panel (at the GRAMMY MUSEUM … like 30 feet from Whitney Houston’s National Anthem jumpsuit and an escalator away from Cinderella’s drum kit), and THQ did a fun thing where they didn’t tell us who was going to be there so it’d be a surprise. In my mind I was like, “okay, Punk will probably be there because he’s on the cover of the game, and maybe I’ll get to meet Alicia Fox or whoever isn’t busy”. I get there, and lo and behold the panel is (if you can’t make them out in the picture) Jim Ross, both world champions, the entire Funkasaurus crew, pantsuit-ish AJ Lee, Dolph Ziggler, Mike freaking Tyson and Stone Cold Steve Austin. I sat there the entire time completely and totally unable to believe anything that was happening was real.
The only people on the panel I didn’t get to meet or pee beside in the Grammy Museum’s one bathroom were Brodus Clay and Mike Tyson. Brodus because he bailed early to sell his leg injury (which was I guess more important to do on Saturday than on Raw Monday), and Tyson because being vegan and the star of one of the best Nintendo games ever doesn’t really make up for being the rapist version of The Iron Sheik.
Here is a quick selection of stories from the press junket after party, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. The show starts on the next page, I swear.
Best: Meeting Sheamus And Getting An Apology
Here is the transcript of the time the Best And Worst Guy met World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus.
Me: “I’m only going to meet you so many times in my life, so I need to tell you this … I am a huge Daniel Bryan fan and went to WrestleMania.”
Sheamus: “You probably hate me then.”
Me: “I DO. I wanted to tell you that I’ve been watching wrestling my whole life, and in less than 30 seconds you made me so sad that I almost got up and left a WrestleMania I’d flown across the country and paid 200 dollars to see.”
At that point, he pats me on the shoulder and says (remembering that I can’t really type his voice), “I’m sorry for ruining your WrestleMania experience. But I think we made it up at Extreme Rules.” We talked briefly about how awesome that match was, shook hands again and as he was walking away, he said the two best parts of WrestleMania were not getting sunburned and being in “the pub” before the show was over. Sheamus The Actual Guy is an absolute delight, and I was able to move on from all that weird pro wres hatred I’d built up since April.
The next day he did some stuff with Alberto Del Rio and f**ked it all up.
Best: Paul Heyman Introducing Himself To Me, Because Oh My God
I was waiting patiently to get a picture with CM Punk when one of the guys near me casually mentioned running into Paul Heyman. My brain goes PAUL HEYMAN WHAT WHERE and tells my body to just start moving in whatever direction it sees fit. Heyman wasn’t announced to be there, and I’m not sure if he just showed up to get a free buffet or what, but sure enough, I looked across the room and Paul E. Dangerously was standing right there.
I went over to him in a group, and he started up a conversation. Suddenly, almost in the middle of a sentence, he turns and locks eyes with me, holds out his hands and says “Paul Heyman”, like I didn’t know who he was. I shake his hand, and my response is “uhhhh heh heh” like the biggest goon on the planet. I had some material prepared (“I really like when you hated Missy Hyatt” was my opening line) but he caught me off guard. Thankfully he smiled ear to ear and said, “well THAT’s a response”. I told him the Dangerous Alliance was my favorite thing in the history of pro wrestling (which he said he didn’t understand, because it was so short) and was nice enough to take a picture with my uncool wearing-a-minor-league-baseball-hat-and-a-Dolph-Ziggler-shirt-to-a-press-junket ass and be right up there with Eddie Guerrero on the short list of the nicest pro wrestling dudes I’ve ever met.
I didn’t even remember to talk to him about Missy Hyatt.
Best: Being Impromptu Interviewed by Stone Cold Steve Austin
My other great interaction was with, uh, Stone Cold Steve Austin. It’s been three days and I still thought I was lying when I typed that.
I was in the THQ group, so when personal Godsend Aubrey Sitterson was done interviewing him I’d made enough “you? me? me? you? you? me?” Night At The Roxbury gestures to get in for a conversation. Austin’s thing is being super aggressive and Stone Coldy to everyone who interviews him, so he turns to me and is all WULL HELL SON or whatever, I can’t really remember. I immediately tell him this is huge for me because I was the biggest Stunning Steve Austin fan ever when I was 12 (which is the truth, I wasn’t trying to be all “hey Paul Thomas Anderson, your best movie is Hard Eight” about it). He turns and announces that he’s found the one and only Stunning Steve fan, then asks me where I’d come in from. Thankfully, Texas was my answer.
That leads into several question from Austin about where in Texas I live (and my Round Rock Express hat), how he was born in Austin and how he wishes he could take the L.A. weather and put it south of San Antonio. Aubrey hands me the microphone, and I stand there like an idiot while Austin asks me questions. I guess eventually I derped into the microphone enough that he let me loose, but I can now formally say that the most successful wrestler in history asked me a bunch of questions about myself on camera.
I staggered away with stars in my eyes, about an hour and a half into a two hour thing where I’m supposed to be playing video games.
Worst: I Am Going To Starve To Death
Oh, and to work a Worst into the first two pages and talk about something you care about even less than how goony I was at a respectable luncheon (dinnereon? Meal grammar is like trying to name Pokémon), the only downside of staying and meeting wrestlers in L.A. Live is the barren wasteland of tourist food. Every restaurant is just BEEF SANDWICH WITH CHICKEN SAUCE, FRIED CHICKEN WITH FISH REMOULADE, GRILLED FISH WITH MOOSE SPREAD and so on.
Thankfully (and surprisingly) my best vegan option was at the ESPN Zone, where they had WWE-themed SummerSlam menu items, including a DANIEL BRYAN YES YES YES GARDEN BURGER. In addition to seeing an American Dragon poster outside of the Staples Center, I ate a meal at an ESPN restaurant with his name on it. Here are some pics I took of the menu, which are pretty great:
Fun fact about the Daniel Bryan burger: It’s not vegan unless you get it without the sauce. I got mine with ketchup and mustard, which knowing the ESPN Zone were probably made out of raccoons anyway. And yes, as some of you mentioned on Twitter, the funniest part of the menu is Zack Ryder being listed under “MAIN EVENT” anything.