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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Most Amazing Escalator Ride Ever
February 8, 2006 by Mike Robbins


Reading Euan Williamson's article about the joys of being "a mark" triggered one of my greatest memories as a wrestling fan or more accurately, as a kid.

There I was, minding my own business in the middle of a commercial airport, giving no more thought to my day than, "Dad, are we there yet"". Before I delve into it, perhaps I should back up a little and set the scene.

It was the summer of 1992. This was the era of house shows; 4 pay-per-views per year, No RAW, No Smackdown!; just Superstars of Wrestling and Primetime Wrestling on USA. Needless to say, inside information-type wrestling forums were not available. For Wrestling news, I read WWF Magazine and Pro Wrestling Illustrated. To put it plainly, kayfabe existed, and kayfabe existed ALONE. That was it. I was 12 years old and I was a big time mark.

After catching a flight home with my father to Atlanta from Washington D.C., I was walking through the airport; as, when you're in an airport, unless you're waiting for a connecting flight, that's pretty much all you do - walk through it. I was riding up the escalator to the baggage claim at Hartsfield; my dad taps me on my shoulder, and says "Mike, who's that"". I look up, and the person in front of me is an enormous man with a mo hawk... who happens to go by the name Road Warrior Animal. I'd been reading my trusty copy of WWF magazine on the plane, so I pulled it out of my bag and asked Animal if he would sign his picture on the "Legion of Doom vs. Money Inc." portion of the WWF SummerSlam preview. He asks me my name, tells me that he's in town for a show in Macon, GA and says "Hey Mike, turn around".

I found this a bit odd at the time, but it's Animal, and therefore there is no way on the planet I wasn't going to do whatever he told me to do. I turn around to see most of the WWF roster coming up the escalator: Ted Dibiase, IRS (Mike Rotundo), Tatanka, Sgt. Slaughter, Kamala, Papa Shango (The Godfather), Shawn Michaels, Rick Martel, Crush, Repo Man (Barry Darsow) and... The Undertaker. The Undertaker was actually carrying his big black hat! Are you kidding me" I ran around like a mad man trying to get all of my heroes to sign the magazine next to their pictures in the Summerslam Preview. On a side note, God bless the Summerslam 92 preview. Papa Shango wrote "Michael, Beware of Voodoo", Undertaker wrote "Mike, Rest in Peace." I literally was having trouble breathing. (I could remember thinking that this Papa Shango dude was going to go really far. Of course, Papa didn't but his offspring character the Boogeyman seems to be captivating us.)

This was amazing but I couldn't help but wonder where Randy Savage was, where Ultimate Warrior was, where Bret Hart wa.... Oh My G-d, Bret "The Hitman" Hart is standing by the baggage claim. I'm quite sure I could have qualified as an Olympic sprinter at that point. I ran towards the Hitman, stood right next to him and opened my mouth. Sadly, I froze. I couldn't talk. I was standing there with the look of "I'm about to say something", but my brain, body, and mouth all refused to cooperate with one another. I just held up my magazine and pointed at his picture opposite Davey Boy Smith's. Then, out of nowhere, the flood of words came: "Mr.Hartwillyousignmymagazine Itwouldbesoawesomeifyoud signmymagazineawesomesoawesome", or something to that effect. Bret writes "Mike, Stay Cool, Bret "Hitman" Hart I-C Champ". He probably should've written "Get Cool", but whatever. The fact is that Bret Hart signed my magazine and I couldn't have been a happier kid.

After that, I didn't speak, I just observed while my parents got our bags. I just stood there (and keep in mind I was 12) and took everything in. Tatanka was getting a rental car with IRS, but one is a good guy and one is clearly a bad guy. I thought, "What's up with that"". Kamala is talking; I didn't even know he could talk. But what I mostly observed was that these guys were all pretty close. Did storylines mean anything" That was the first time I realized that most of what I saw on WWF programming was not real. It's comparable to finding toys under your parent's bed on December 23. But it will always be okay, because I wouldn't trade the airport experience for anything in the world - except for maybe the full-time WWE return of Bret Hart, or an extended face-run for Kurt Angle.

by Mike Robbins ..


Andrew Betts wrote:
WOW man that is a once in a life time chance to meet and get autographs alomost the entire WWF roster of 1992 how cool is that you got so lucky i'm very jelous of your luck I wish had a chance like that thank you for your story
Ernesto Diaz wrote:
OMFG!!!!! You got to meet Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, The Undertaker and others!!!!!! You are one lucky man. I can't believe it. Thanks for your story
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