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Report of my free trip to WWE SummerSlam 2015


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For anyone who has wondered what it's like to win one of those competitions where the prize is a trip to a big WWE event, here is what happened when I won one ...


Here is Triple H to explain the details of the competition I entered:


I bought $10 worth of tickets the day before the deadline and my name appeared on their website as the grand prize winner on the Wednesday, 10 days before the weekend was due to begin.


WWE eventually got in touch overnight on the Thursday asking me for the full names of both passengers and which airport we want to fly from.

Within 24 hours I received my flight details, and a few days later confirmation of the hotel we were staying in: The Marriott slap-bang in the middle of Times Square!


We flew on Saturday morning arriving at our hotel mid-afternoon with only enough time to chuck the bags in the room and head over to Brooklyn for NXT Takeover.


The Barclays Center is one of those annoying Arenas which only have one front entrance for all 20,000 fans to go through.



In the queue there were frequent chants of "HOW YOU DOIN'?!", "SASHA'S RATCHET!", "NO SHE'S NOT!", "LET'S GO CENA!" and of course "CENA SUCKS!".

One that made me and those around me laugh was a chant of "FIGHT OWENS FIGHT!" eventually dying out allowing one solitary bloke in his forties with bright red cheeks yelling as loud as he could "KILL STEEN KILL!" over and over.

After getting everyone's attention he stopped chanting and yelled: "QUIT CALLING KEV BY HIS SLAVE NAME, YA MARKS!".


I have to admit, the promise of a VIP Once In a Lifetime Experience got me expecting pretty good seats at least. Maybe around ringside. Maybe even front row.




Not quite.


Everyone who watched it knows how good NXT Takeover was.

Things I noticed which were not shown on TV were:

- Triple H preceding his introduction by coming out early for a 10 minute plea for us all to stay quiet while he would be in the ring with the spotlight on him. He would say a few words directly in the camera giving the impression he was in an empty arena and then the lights would come up and we all scream and yell.

A pretty cool idea, but difficult to pull over when relying on wrestling fans to shut the fuck up for a full 30 seconds.

He was realistic about it, taking much of those 10 minutes to repeat what he wanted us to do and gave us two 20 second bursts to "get it all out of your system". But alas, it was not enough.

I could hear a lot of random yelling when I watched it back on TV, but around me in the Arena I could hear annoying chants of "CM PUNK!" and "E-C-W!". But the people then shouting "BE QUIET!" and "SHUT THE FUCK UP!" were twice as loud, so the whole thing was a disappointment.

- The thing I noticed a lot were just how hard the referees work between matches. Like during the entrances and post-match celebrations they are constantly telling the wrestlers when to face the hard camera, when to climb the turnbuckles and pose, and when to stand still and wait for the replays to finish, etc.

- You might have noticed the Tough Enough contestants were sat in the exact same seats on the front row as Flair, Slaughter, & Kana had been earlier in the show. That is because both groups were wheeled out towards the end of a match, were shown on camera enjoying the show, then went backstage again within the space of 5 minutes.

Naomi & Tamina however did stay for the duration of Bayley vs Sasha though.


Sunday morning I turned my phone on to see if the lady from WWE had messaged me. I was immediately greeted by a text from Vadafone warning me that sending messages and/or turning on 3G over there would lead to shitloads of charges and a massive monthly bill (not in those words).

As I did this anyway again that night and the following morning, my usual £30 monthly bill ended up being £215 for August.  :blink:


On Sunday morning a "Breakfast Slam With WWE Superstars" was being held in our hotel.

I have been to these before when on WWE Travel Packages. An admittedly very good breakfast buffet is served up and after an hour or so a few WWE Superstars come in the room to sign autographs and that's that.

They sit us all on tables set for 10 or 12 people. This means you end up sat with a lot of people you don't know, and I remembered that despite all of the stereotypes attached to us we are mostly bloody friendly people who are there to have fun.

On our table there was:

- A guy from Glasgow who had only been a wrestling fan a few years since moving to Dubai where it is apparently always on telly.

- A mother and son from upstate New York, less than an hour up the road. Despite buying WWE Travel Packages for their mental prices, they didn't bother using the hotel room and were going home each night.

- A young couple from Texas. The guy was the kind of jaded smart mark I don't like talking to, and the girl claimed that she took the photo of Undertaker & Sting at the Airport the day after WM31 that ended up on all the news sites.


Suddenly everybody around us cheered and I turned around to see the Superstars walking in were Seth Rollins and Paige.

I was surprised, because at previous events like this I have been to it has been mid-to-lower-card Superstars who maybe didn't have a match planned that weekend who would be used for these signings, so to have the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and arguably the top Diva there was a great surprise.

Jaded fan from Texas across the table was gutted. "I met Rollins a bunch of times at ROH shows years ago" he muttered, adding "I wouldn't have brought my Title belt to get signed if I knew it was gonna be him".


While queuing up to get their autographs I wondered what I should say to them both to not sound like a dickhead.

Maybe mention to Paige that I have spoken to her Dad on the UKFF for many years and her Mum scares the shit out of me, but instead I went with "I was going to try to impress you by saying I'd come all the way from England for the weekend, but half the people in this room seem to be British".


Finally got time to do some sightseeing on Sunday afternoon but had to be back in Brooklyn early that evening for a "Reception with WWE Superstars" before SummerSlam got underway.

My thoughts that morning about WWE only sending lower-to-mid-carders with no matches planned to events like this actually was accurate on this occasion. Jack Swagger and Jimmy Uso came out first, with R-Truth joining them a few minutes later.

All three were very friendly though. Swagger asked everyone where they had come from, Uso said he liked the SummerSlam 1992 shirt I was wearing, and Truth seemed to get a kick out of me telling him the last time I got my photo taken with him was at WrestleMania X-7 fourteen years earlier.




The ticket said this reception would last from 5:00pm to 6:30pm. Everybody had got an autograph and a photo with all three superstars by 5:22pm.

So I assumed when they left that other superstars would then join us. But the lady in charge instead thanked us all and showed us through to the Arena where we could take out seats.


The doors didn't even open to the public until 5:30pm, so it was a weird feeling when the 20/30 of us walked through to a completely empty building.




Live thoughts from SummerSlam:

- I did see Undertaker and Lesnar laughing at each other at the sitting-up spot, but missed lots of other stuff that people watching TV saw like Lesnar saying "suplex city bitch" and the "I will kill you" / "you'll have to" exchange.

- The "ROMAN'S SLEEPING!" chant while Reigns was selling at ringside was deafening in the arena, not so much on TV.

- Michelle McCool was in the front row on the hard-cam side, I don't think she was shown on TV. She was wincing and yelling each time Undertaker took the big bumps he took.


Monday morning was another WWE treat: "A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour with WWE Legends".

The minibus left our hotel and we were taken on a tour of famous landmarks and movie locations throughout Brooklyn (Henry Hill's house from 'Goodfellas', the street John Travolta strutted down in 'Saturday Night Fever', etc) and stopped at two pizza places to have two different styles of pizza.

The first one is apparently pretty famous: Grimaldi's. It was right next to the incredible viewing area next to the Brooklyn Bridge.



We were half way through our pizzas when there was some shouting and commotion at the door. It was Mr Bob Backlund entering the building.

He went table to table signing autographs and taking photos.

Instead of just writing his name, he wrote: "To Mark. Never capitulate. Bob Backlund. P.M.A." and he spent a few minutes explaining to me what Never Capitulate and P.M.A. means.

He's clearly bonkers, but is very friendly and looks in great shape for a pensioner.


I asked him to put me in the chicken-wing for a photo. He put it on pretty tight.



At the second pizza place Howard Finkel was the WWE Legend meeting the fans.

I was sat on a table with a load more Brits. Some had ICW shirts on and another was the guy on the front row opposite the hard-cam at SummerSlam who looked really bored throughout the show.

We were way behind so only got 10 minutes looking around Coney Island and then got stuck in traffic on the way back to Manhattan.


So again we only had chance to quickly shower and change before heading back to Brooklyn for the "Once In A Lifetime" part of the trip we were promised.

Until this point the trip had been really good, but it was all stuff that anyone could have bought a ticket for. Before RAW on the Monday night was when the VIP treatment was really going to kick in.


I was told by the WWE lady I had been communicating with that she would meet me at a side entrance at 5pm, and we would go backstage to meet Triple H.

A few fans were hanging around this side door, presumably trying their look to see if anyone famous was passing by.

I admit I was a little bit smug when this lady walked out and said "I'm looking for Mark" before letting us through.


She started by handing me the replica WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt which was part of my prize.

"I know I said it would be waiting at your hotel for you on arrival, but I thought giving you it tonight would be better so we could get all the wrestlers to sign it". Encouraging start.


We walked through the corridors with storage boxes and stuff you see on TV when people are on their way to the ring. We walked past a table with 3 or 4 women at sewing machines and racks of clothes hanging up like you see on Total Divas.


After passing Michael Hayes wearing impossibly bright red trousers, we finally stopped to wait right next to the Gorilla Position. We could hear people in the ring through the curtain and were positioned next to the backstage interview set.

I stood right next to the camera when they filmed an interview with the ring announcer explaining why he did what he did at SummerSlam.

He took 5 takes to get his lines out properly, and the agent Runjin Singh was getting pretty pissed off. Before that fifth take he literally told the kid "I know your nervous and this is new, but if you don't get it right this time we are done".


The final product went out on the Raw pre-show as follows:


It staggers me to think that it took so much time and effort just to record a 1 minute interview for the RAW pre-show, when they have 3 hours of RAW and 2 hours of SmackDown to do every week.


I should at this point mention I went on this weekend with my Mum.

My son is only 3 months old so my wife understandably didn't want to leave him for 4 days, and my Mum has always wanted to visit NYC. So despite offers from a number of WWE-loving mates, I went with her.

It didn't dawn on me until after we got there that another one of the wrestling-fan stereotypes is that many of us live in our parents houses well into adulthood (not that there's anything wrong with that).


The lady kept checking her phone and saying "Paul is running a little late" and kept updating us on Paul's status.

My mum whispered to me "Is this Paul guy going to take us to see Triple H?".


Waiting a little longer she said we could have a peek through the curtain and wait for HHH while standing next to the entrance ramp.

I was fascinated to see wrestlers and agents in and around the ring going through stuff.

Most of the time we were watching they were planning Braun Stowman's surprise debut later that night.

I recognised him straight away as being one of Adam Rose's Rosebud's in the past.

HHH and Road Dogg were making sure Reigns would be in the right place when Stowman appeared on the apron and were telling him how to react upon seeing him.

Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose standing behind them chatting away like mates was cool too and I told my Mum those two are arch enemies who will be fighting on tonight's show.


Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch New Day practice their entrance singing "New York, New York" with Woods using the trombone for the first time. Miz and Ziggler in particular were in stitches.


Then they were practicing bringing a huge wooden crate into the arena and setting it up in the ring.

The WWE lady apologised again for us being kept waiting and I told her I didn't mind standing there as long as she would let us.

But her idea to take my replica belt through and get some other wrestlers to sign it was a better idea, so we did that.


The best place to meet wrestlers backstage it would seem is at catering.

On the way there passing the buses and lorries we bumped into Damien Sandow.

He was very friendly, signed the belt and took a photo with me.


Then we saw a huge crate containing a life size statue of Seth Rollins.



Once we got to the catering area there were loads of wrestlers heading in and out.

The WWE lady explained that some of the wrestlers who play bad guys on TV take their characters very seriously and don't meet fans. Those were the ones she would say hello to, but wouldn't ask to come and meet us.

But there were just as many babyfaces as heels who fell in that category, funnily enough all four had the same initial: Rollins, Ryback, Rose, Regal.


The 15 people I did meet were as follows:


Titus O Neil and Mark Henry:

Very friendly, Titus couldn't decide which shirt to wear when they were going out to commentate later that night.

It was my Mum who suggested the blue shirt, yellow tie combo he went with.


Darren Young:

Kindly stopped eating to come up and say hello.



I told him the last time I shook his hand was at a 1PW show at Doncaster Dome. "It's a bit different in this place mate" he said.


Lilian Garcia:

Could not have been friendlier. 49 years old, could easily pass for 29. She shooed her husband out of the way so we could take a photo.


The Miz:

He noticed my t-shirt and asked "You're a Charlie Chaplin fan, huh?". "He's my second favourite actor behind The Miz" I lied.


Renee Young and Summer Rae:

Renee was talking to Miz, planning a night out with Maryse, but they then both came over without prompting to say hi.


I was loving this. They were all chatting to me like I was a normal person, not some idiot fan that they are contractually obligated to meet. My mum telling many of them "His wife just had a baby" definitely helped.


Next up an older lady was passing by and saying hello to people.

The WWE lady we were with suddenly got nervous and went up to introduce herself to this lady seemingly for the first time.

Without assistance from the WWE lady I took it upon myself to say hello to this lady and ask if she would sign my belt and take a photo. "I'd be happy to" she grinned.



Finn Balor:

I asked him if he felt rough on Sunday morning after the brutal fight with Owens at NXT Takeover.

"I'm still feeling rough now mate" he replied.


After catching up with R-Truth again, I was delighted to get to meet Sasha Banks.

She seemed really shy, and answered "Aww, thank you so much" when I told her the match with Bayley was one of the best I have ever seen.


"Are you a Ric Flair fan?" was the lady's next question. Stupid question.

I turned around and there he was. "I love your new gear, Ash" he proudly said to his daughter as she joined him.

They were both very very friendly.



That was when we got the call, Paul was ready now.

We went back to the gorilla position and there he was.


"Hi Mark, hi Carol" he said as he came in for a handshake.

They had obviously briefed him beforehand what our names were and where we came from. Nice touch.


I was expecting a quick hello, autograph, photo, and to be sent on our way. He's a busy fella after all.

But we spent what I'm told by Mum was an entire 11 minutes chatting to him about all the times I'd seen WWE at Sheffield Arena over the years, my favourite matches from the weekend, and even our kids!

I told him the Bayley vs Sasha match at Takeover blew me away and he agreed, saying something I found very interesting.

"The women's matches in NXT just get better and better at every Takeover show ... not so much here on RAW but I'm not taking responsibility for that".

He congratulated me on being a Dad and I brought up something the WWE lady had said earlier about his kids being in the ring that day rolling around with Natalya.


Again, being talked to with respect by the people you have looked up to and been a fan of for so many years is an incredible feeling.


One of the photographers from WWE.com was with us, and they kindly sent me a folder of 45 photos he took of our meeting.





Raw was really good.

Amazing to see the Dudley's surprise return, I was expecting Cena to be under the curtain when it was actually Sting, and we both got a kick out seeing Stowman's debut and New Day's entrance a few hours after seeing them practicing it from the ramp.


Ended our final night sitting in Times Square eating cookies until 2am, and came home on the Tuesday.


It was tremendous.   :thumbsup:

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