Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

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AJLe
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Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by AJLe » July 1st, 2018, 2:39 pm

Made my way down to Knoxville, TN to do Fanboy Expo, and finally cross off one of my hobby bucket list items - a signed piece and group photo with the Four Horsmen. Although I would certainly get the original Ole/Ric/Tully/Arn version if it was ever doable for me, my favorite version was 1988 Ric/Barry/Tully/Arn group - which was the version Fanboy Expo had booked. Of course, the risk is that when you're travelling for a five person group (JJ Dillon was booked as well), if even ONE member cancels, the trip is essentially ruined. But I figured that these guys likely make significantly more money doing a comic con as a group than they would a regular wrestling con booked separately, so barring illness or flight problems, there was a pretty high chance that they'd all show.

I left for the road trip after work on Thursday, knocked half of the trip out then, then made the second half casually on Friday and got a hotel 10 minutes from the con. On Friday, I had lunch at the Dairy Queen in Hyden, Kentucky. The significance of that is that the Hyden DQ is the location of Jim Cornette's infamous "Dairy Queen rant", which was filmed in a van after a Smokey Mountain Wrestling show in the 90's. Long story short, Jim ordered a big order for the workers in the van (Chris Jericho and Lance Storm among them), but when they got to the window, the lady said she thought they were joking about it, and said they were just starting the order now. Jim got out of the van, stuck his head in the drive through window, and gave her a vulgar verbal beatdown. It's on Youtube if you never saw it. Anyway, I got a selfie at the Jim Cornette Dirve Through Window, lol.

But each night on my trip down to Knoxville, I would desperately search the con's website and social media for any cancellation news. At my hotel on Friday night, I saw fans posting pics on social media with Ric, Barry, Tully and JJ, but Arn was advertised as Saturday only. So I messaged the con's official account and asked if Arn was still on schedule to be there, and they confirmed he arrived in Knoxville, so finally my cancellation fears could be put to rest.

I got to the con when the doors opened at 10:00, and went right to the Horsemen tables. The staff said that their official signing times were from 12-4, but that Flair had come down earlier on Friday. If they followed their times strictly, this would be a potential problem - the Horsemen group photo op was at 1, and Flair's solo pro ops were at 1:30, so if Ric was only signing for 4 hours, and he'd be in photo ops for at least 45 minutes to an hour of that time, that might present a problem. Fortunately, Ric came down at about 10:15, and was signing by 10:30. As soon as I saw Flair enter the room, I got right on his line, so I knocked out the Horsemen with the biggest line fairly quick. Barry, Tully, and Arn came down at around 11, and JJ showed up on time at noon, so I was able to get all of my autographs done before my photo op at 1. So the plan was, that if there wasn't any issues, I'd be on the road with my photo op in hand by 1:30, or two o'clock at the latest and start heading home. But unfortunately, there would be BIG problems with that plan.

First of all, the con's photo company was still one of those "come back in an hour" operations. I thought most of the bigger cons used companies that basically printed out photos as you left the booth these days, but these guys were still doing it the long tedious way. And the real monkey wrench in the deal was the fact that the con booked the Backstreet Boys, and two of them had their flights delayed on Friday, so Saturday was the first time the gazillion fangirls they drew got their photo ops, and the photo op company got completely swamped.

I came back in an hour as instructed, and saw that the Ian McDiarmid ops (which was the last op at my booth before the Horsemen one) were done and on the table, so I figured that the Horsemen would be out next, right? WRONG - we got the runaround forever, even with one staffer claiming they were "coming out right now" (which was false), before being told the truth - they were still printing out Backstreet photos (apparently with the output only being a half dozen or so photos being finished every 20 minutes or so), and that there were "technically difficulties", and the Flair solo ops, which happened AFTER the Horsemen ops, would have to print before the group ops would be coming out. It's already been a two hour wait at that point, and people were getting restless. The boss/owner of the photo group came out to try to diffuse the situation, but one guy with a Horsemen op got into a shouting match with him, and I thought it was about to literally turn into punches being thrown, but thankfully it did not.

The head photo guy was offering a compromise where if fans didn't want to wait, they could either come back on Sunday, he'd give them his business card and you could contact him to basically sneak them in so they didn't have to pay Sunday admission, or you could email him with a description of your pic, and he'd physically put it in the mail for you. At that point, after the total disaster they'd made of this show (it was already THREE hours after the Horsemen ops happened and we didn't have our photos, and there were still new photo ops being taken, which obviously weren't going to be done before the show closed), most of us had ZERO confidence in this guy's "deals". If they couldn't get it right at the show, we're supposed to trust that he will get it right trying to sneak us in back doors and communicating via email? Uh...no thanks, dude.

So at around 4:30, I FINALLY get my Horsemen photo op in hand, which I was happy with - me wearing my Ole Anderson "DAMN I AM GOOD" shirt, throwing up the four fingers with guys - and start on my 6 hour+ drive to my hotel. What was supposed to be a casual drive to get to a hotel by dinner time, turned into an after-midnight arrival. But all turned out well in the end. I got a 16x20 Horsemen poster signed by all five people on it, and a photo op with the guys. Another bucket list item checked off.

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The "Jim Cornette Dairy Queen"

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Four Horsemen autographed poster
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Four Horsemen Photo Op


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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by mrira » July 1st, 2018, 2:48 pm

Great photo, may be a cool thing for Wrestlecon, but who knows since Arn & Ric still work for WWE. Photo problem sort of reminds me of what happened with the Stallone photo's at NYCC, where we had to wait a good 2 or so hours to get our photo.

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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by WOODMO » July 1st, 2018, 3:33 pm

Awesome stuff AJ! Great read as well.

If this group was offered at Wrestle Con I may actually bite.

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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by Greg2600 » July 1st, 2018, 4:55 pm

Awesome Group shot AJ.

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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by class316 » July 1st, 2018, 10:19 pm

Why didn't you get a jpeg instead?

Also, all 5 BSB were there? How much was that op?
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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by AJLe » July 1st, 2018, 10:38 pm

class316 wrote:
July 1st, 2018, 10:19 pm
Why didn't you get a jpeg instead?

Also, all 5 BSB were there? How much was that op?
The jpeg's are supposed to be uploaded in a few days - they were not available day of the con. And they screwed everything up sooooooo badly, I don't 100% trust them to get all of the jpegs uploaded, so the only way I was guaranteed to get the op I paid for was to leave with the physical copy.

As a male in my 40's, I couldn't even name any of the individual Backstreet Boys, but feel free to go to the con website and see which ones they booked. The area where their tables were was a constant cluster-f, so I avoided that part of the convention center like the plague and never even laid eyes on any of them.

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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by crossfire » July 2nd, 2018, 9:12 am

Great stuff! It was awesome Jim Cornette retweeted your picture too!

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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by ICW » July 2nd, 2018, 10:10 am

Terrific photo op and I love that you visited the infamous Dairy Queen lmao
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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by mikeyicon » July 2nd, 2018, 11:28 am

good story, love the Dairy Queen trip and photos, and that Four Horsemen photo came out amazing and as I believe you are a legit fan of the Horsemen, definitely something worth the trip and experience.

Enjoyed this report a lot, good stuff.

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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by 16times » July 2nd, 2018, 11:48 am

You got a great photo with the Horsemen, and you were smart to stick around until they gave you the physical photo.

Kinda reminds me of the fiasco at WW Philly in 2012. They hadn't upgraded to the instant print technology yet. Norman Reedus was there and blew the printers up. The mob just got angrier and bigger waiting for their photos.

It's so nice to see Flair doing the cons and meeting fans. 11 months ago, when he was fighting for his life, I thought those days were over for sure.
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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by AJLe » July 2nd, 2018, 10:02 pm

Flair's obviously a little thinner and more frail than he was before his health issues, but he's still got the Flair swagger and personality. And he had a consistent line at his table from when he started signing until I left the show, so he's probably not going to stop doing the con circuit anytime soon.

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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by lanza218 » July 3rd, 2018, 5:00 pm

Woooooooooooo!

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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by class316 » July 3rd, 2018, 5:09 pm

Don't forget Flair a fresh name there. He didn't have so much of a line at great philly comic con.
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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by AJLe » July 3rd, 2018, 5:21 pm

class316 wrote:
July 3rd, 2018, 5:09 pm
Don't forget Flair a fresh name there. He didn't have so much of a line at great philly comic con.
He did the same con in the same city in 2016. I think the combination of having all four horsemen, plus booking other wrestlers that had history with Flair (Steamboat, Rock n Roll, Magnum) really bumped up the wrestling fan turnout, and Flair was the common denominator in all of those fans' needs.

If a con draws a strong old-school wrestling fan demographic, Flair is a top level name. In a generic comic-con crowd with no other big wrestling presence on the guest list, he'll still do well, but probably nothing exceptional.

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Re: Trip to Horsemen Country - the Knoxville Fan Expo report

Post by class316 » July 7th, 2018, 3:35 pm

So AJLe, did you get your jpeg?
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