Written By Matt Fike
It started out the Friday prior to Wrestlemania. I flew out of Indianapolis with the woman I was seeing at the time to Atlanta to spend the weekend enjoying the Wrestlemania festivities. I had been looking forward to this trip ever since I purchased tickets three and a half months prior.
Prior to leaving Indianapolis, there was a show I wanted to attend that Friday night, but tickets were extremely scarce and it looked like the first night in Atlanta would be spent relaxing and not doing a whole lot of anything. However, after checking the Twitter machine, I realized that there was a big to-do going on downtown at a club with Kevin Nash along with some other wrestlers.
Now, prior to this weekend, I had always known Kevin Nash to not have the greatest reputation, professionally and personally. I had always heard that he was always out for himself and didn’t really care about the fans. Mona (my traveling partner for the weekend) mentioned that going to the party would be better than nothing. After a little thought, I agreed, so, once we touched down in Atlanta we headed right downtown as time was tight as it was…
We get to the venue and it’s a rather small club in a basement of a building in downtown Atlanta not too far from the CNN Center. We get inside and there were wrestlers and fans alike everywhere having a great time. The cover charge to get in included a picture with both Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman, which I have attached along with this note. After having a few beers, we got in line to get our pictures with Kevin and Sean.
After waiting about 15-20 minutes in line (they moved the line rather quickly), it was our turn and I suddenly got nervous. I don’t know why, but I did. Mona went first and didn’t really think much of it because she had no clue who these people were. However, I had grown up watching these guys on TV every Monday night. I walked up to Nash and Waltman, got between them, and took the first picture. After taking the picture, I shook their hands and talked to Nash a bit and told him how I had been a fan of his for about as long as I can remember watching wrestling.
He graciously shook my hand and said he was happy to have met me. He then wanted to tell me, and he specifically told me he wasn’t hitting on her (lol, right) that he wanted me to know how beautiful my wife was. I laughed and said she wasn’t my wife, but thank you very much. We took another couple pictures together, shook hands again and I thought that was that…
Mona and I walked over away from the area where the pictures were being taken and I was still kinda in awe that I had met one of my childhood icons. As cheesy as it may sound, it kinda felt surreal and it was just an awesome experience. So, we talked about it a bit and decided that we were going to have another beer or two then call it a night as the next couple of days were going to be rather busy.
I finished my last drink and right as I did, Kevin walked out of the picture area and made a beeline right for us, walking through probably 250-300 wrestling fans. He came right over to her and me and immediately asked if we were having fun. He had a glass of red wine and appeared to be having a blast with this entire event.
As shown in the pictures, I was wearing my “Indiana Drinking Shirt” and upon seeing this, he asked where I was from. I told him Fort Wayne, Indiana and his eyes lit up and he got a huge smile on his face. The first thing he said out of his mouth was that he remembered being on stage in his underwear hanging upside down from the pole at Stewies; I immediately knew that he knew exactly where I was talking about.
He then said that when he was growing up in Detroit and prior to joining the Tennessee college basketball team, he took part in and taught many summer basketball camps in Angola, Indiana and specifically mentioned going to get donuts for the players at, “Tom’s Donuts…not too far from the circle, right?” It was awesome hearing things like this. To make a long story kinda not nearly as long, we stood there for about 45 minutes talking to each other. He made you feel like you were the only people in the room and he overall had a very personable manner and I couldn’t have been more impressed.
Somewhere during the conversation, I had mentioned to him that Mona and I were wanting to go to the wrestling show up the road prior to finding out about the party…I then mentioned that tickets were impossible to find. As soon as I said that, he looked down (he’s every bit of 7’ tall) at me and said, “All you had to do was call me.” I then informed him that before about 30 minutes prior, I wasn’t buddy-buddy with Kevin Nash. He then asked if I had my phone on me. I did, and he asked that I take his phone number and said that if I ever needed anything to call him and that he would gladly take care of me. I was blown away.
He was needed to make a speech and the event organizers were pulling him away and he was rather slow to leave our conversation. They then gave him the high sign that he HAD to go and before he walked away, he said, “Matt, I mean it. If you ever need anything, just give me a call. I’m not hard to get ahold of.” I thanked him profusely and honestly thought I would never need to use the number, but what an awesome story this night would be to tell my brother, which was my first instinct after everything concluded. Boy, was I wrong…
Fast forward to Wrestlemania Sunday. Mona and I were sitting at the CNN Center just outside the Georgia Dome (where the event was to be held) having a few drinks. Time was getting close for the doors to open, and I was getting stoked. We decided to head over to the box office to pick up our tickets, which were “purchased” back in January and were to be held at will call.
I put “purchased” in quotes because when we went to retrieve the tickets, none were found under Mona’s name. To make another long story short, I picked up transportation and tickets for other events, Mona volunteered to get the Wrestlemania tickets, which I thought to be rather fair of her. At first, we obviously thought it was a mistake. Upon further investigation, it was true: we had no tickets to the one show that we traveled 800 miles to see. I seriously could have thrown up…it was as if someone had kicked me right in the stomach…about 41 times.
So, in an effort to try and make a bad situation better, I asked what tickets were left for the show. The only tickets that were available were seats on the floor at an affordable $850. This was obviously out of the question. Panic was starting to set in that I wasn’t going to be able to see the one thing I traveled to Atlanta to see.
At this point, Mona asked me, “Well, do you have his number?” I knew she meant Nash and I said of course I do. She asked to see my phone and called him. I was half-panicking and would have bet all of my upper teeth that he wouldn’t have answered the phone. Sure enough, he answered the phone on the second ring and Mona explained the entire situation to him. He told her to hang the phone up and text our info to him and he would have a WWE staffer send tickets down for us. We did, and so began the longest wait of our life.
After she talked to Nash, a security guard standing not more than five feet away from us had overheard the entire conversation and asked for the skinny on what was going on. Mona and I were both at wit’s end and explained the entire situation to him, to which you could tell he was genuinely sorry for us. I then told him that Kevin Nash would be sending tickets down for us and asked where they may be coming down to, to which the guard said probably over at the Press Will Call…on the OTHER side of the Georgia Dome (which, let me tell you…is a WALK).
We decided that I would stay at one will call window while Mona would go check over at the other window. She walked to the other side of the building and about 15 minutes later, Nash called me back and asked if we had gotten in yet or if the tickets were down there. I told him we hadn’t heard anything and Mona was over on the other side of the building at press will call. You could tell he was getting agitated at the situation (at whoever he asked to handle it, not us) because when I told him that, he said, “They should have been down there by now. I don’t care if I have to bring them down, you guys will get in.” Immediately, my initial thought was that these people DEFINITELY don’t want to see a pissed off Kevin Nash come down from the Skybox.
I told him that I will call him if anything changes, but that was where we stood for the moment. He said to call if the tickets aren’t down in 15 minutes. I obliged and we hung up. The security guard I mentioned earlier heard the entire conversation and asked if he knew if Kevin was up in the Skybox. I said, “Yeah, he just mentioned that.” Right as I said that, Mona rejoined and asked if there was any progress on my end since she had none on her end. I filled her in and while I was, the security guard interrupted and said, “I can get you up to the Skybox.”
Mona and I were stunned. The guard couldn’t have been more than 23 or 24, and you could tell he genuinely felt bad for us. I told him that if he could get us in front of Nash in the Skybox, he could certainly get us to talk whoever we needed to in order to get the tickets. This kid had to sweet talk three different levels of security with us behind him…explaining the story to each person he brought us to. The last girl he brought us to mentioned how if they brought us up there, she could lose her job and that she was trusting him and that he owed her big time. From here, this girl took us the rest of the way. Prior to departing the first guard, we thanked him beyond profusely and asked for his contact info, which he didn’t want to give…he just wanted to help and didn’t want anything in return.
We finally got to the top walkway at the very top of the Georgia Dome and came to a long hallway. When we were walking down the hallway, I saw several woman dressed in very nice dresses and a couple of guys in suits and the wheels in my head started turning: Where are we going, exactly? We turned the corner and my thought became a reality: We were in the wrestlers’ and their families skybox. I was in absolute awe.
We walked in a few feet and there stood Ric Flair (who at the time was contracted to another company) talking to Rowdy Roddy Piper. Mona walked by like they were any Joe off the street, but I was frozen. I couldn’t believe where I was. I looked around and saw essentially a who’s who that wasn’t backstage for the show: Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Sgt. Slaughter, Ricky Steamboat and an entire slew of others. This was the definition of marking out. Merely 20 minutes before, I couldn’t even get into the building, but now here I was in the VIP Skybox with WWE Hall of Famers, their families and other celebrities. I saw Ludacris eating with a few of the wrestlers and I truly couldn’t believe where I was.
Mona looked at me and saw that I was going to be of absolutely no use while I was up there. She turned to talk to me and as she did, one of the WWE staffers asked us who we were. Upon hearing this, I IMMEDIATELY noticed that everyone in the box had a wristband – we did not. Mona took the lead and explained the situation and that we were looking for Kevin Nash. The woman then immediately asked if we were Matt and Mona. To our excitement, we said, “YES!”. She then said, “We literally just sent your tickets down to the will call window about five minutes ago.”
We were somewhat deflated because of how long it took to get to the top of the Dome, but were elated that there were finally tickets waiting for us! The staffer then asked someone in the Talent Relations Department to escort us down to the window. We then walked to the back of the box where there was (thank God) an elevator. We waited on the elevator to come up and John Laurinaitis joined us three on the elevator ride down. Another “DO YOU KNOW WHO THAT IS?! Moment” that I seemingly screamed to myself on the inside.
We got to the bottom and had to walk ALL the way back around the Georgia Dome. We got to the Will Call window and it was just as if we had struck the lottery: the tickets were there waiting for us. We took them and got inside as soon as we could. I was hoping we would see the original security guard somewhere along the way, but unfortunately we didn’t. We got inside the arena and it seemed like the holy grail: we had finally made it.
I walked over to an usher and handed him our tickets which I hadn’t even looked at. He said, “Follow me.” We followed him and the tickets that we had were amazing seats that were literally the first row off the floor. We had the most amazing view of the entire show. I have also attached a picture from our seats. We were absolutely exhausted from the stress and walking from side to side of the building, but you couldn’t have surgically removed the smile from my face.
I’m sharing this story for a few reasons. One of them is that people often meet childhood heroes and are often left with either a sour taste in their mouth or are completely let down by the experience. I can say, without a doubt, what happened that weekend not only one of the most amazing things that has happened to me being a wrestling fan, but in my entire life, period.
I would like to publicly thank Kevin Nash as well as WWE for their kindness when they just as easily could have looked the other way. Your giving and kindness made my Wrestlemania 27 weekend a time in my life that I will never forget.
Matthew Fike, life-long fan
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I love the fan encounters where we learn that certain wrestlers are just as cool and down to earth as we thought - Mick Foley, Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, etc. But what's even better is when we read something like this, and learn that a guy like Kevin Nash, who is often unfairly vilified as being egotisical, selfish, and self-serving, proves all the critics wrong and reveals himself to be one awesome MF. Cheers to Matt for sharing this great story.
If you have a cool story of your own from a time you met a wrestling legend, why not share it with thousands of readers from all over the world? Simply email your story to me (preferably with at least one photograph) to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will publish it here on the site. For more information on stories from IMAW readers and other guest submissions, click here. Thank you, Matt!
UPDATE:Big thanks to Kevin Nash for visiting the site, reading Matt's article, and retweeting the link to thousands of his followers!