Take a dash of Earl Hebner, a cup of Tatanka, mix in a little Hillbilly Jim and top it off with the main course of Bruno Sammartino. Put it in the Holiday Inn in Totowa, NJ on November 19 and you get the latest edition of “The Wrestling FanFestival” known as Fan Slam!
Tommy Fierro, the 28-year-old promoter behind Fan Slam! has a good track record when it comes to running these events. After taking a 19-month leave of absence, Fierro decided it was time to return to the game.
“This wrestling business is in my blood, it’s all I think about 24/7. I sat back for the last year and watched people try and copy the same format as Fan Slam!, The Wrestling Fan Festival, almost right down to a ‘T,'” he told SLAM! Wrestling. “I have been promoting wrestling events for the past 12 years, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed promoting the conventions more so than the actual wrestling events. I have always felt that Fan Slam! has delivered to the fans, I feel that they have always left with a smile on their face and known that they got their money’s worth. I have been itching to run another Fan Slam! for a while and finally decided to get back to the business.”
The bartender from West Paterson, NJ talked a little about why there was a long break between events. “It was a combination of a bunch of different things. The biggest factor was I was having personal problems at the time. When your head isn’t in the right pace it’s impossible to pull of an event like this. Another factor was that everyone and their mother basically stole the Fan Slam! idea and concept and now everyone is a wrestling convention promoter. But, I guess that’s my own fault for being gone for over a year, but still, I can’t believe how many conventions there has been in the last year or so.”
Getting back to business is exactly what Fierro will be doing on November 19 in Totowa. In August 2003, he ran his first Fan Slam! featuring Ricky Steamboat, Kevin Von Erich, J.J. Dillon and Bobby Heenan. He ran another in December 2003, featuring The Missing Link, “Dr. D” David Shultz and Ted DiBiase that had its attendance hindered by a massive snowstorm that enveloped the northeast. In March 2004, Fierro ran a Tribute To Wrestlemania 1 convention which drew around 1,000 fans, believed to be a record in the New York-area wrestling convention industry.
Still, Fierro claims that this Fan Slam! will also hold its own. “I’d say this Fan Slam! measures up very well to previous ones. Bruno Sammartino is one of the biggest names in the business, and I am honored to be having him.”
Though Fierro admits that his Tribute To Wrestlemania 1 was his favorite, he is extremely pleased with his line-up on November 19, “An event like that will be hard to top, but I am excited to have Bruno, I am very excited to have Earl Hebner, who will be making his first appearance and talking for the first time since leaving WWE. I’m excited to have ‘The Barber Shop’ at Fan Slam!, where fans can actually get their hair cut by Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake. Toss in Hillbilly Jim, Tatanka, Ivan Putski, The Young Stallions (Jim Powers and Paul Roma) and Crowbar, and you have a very interesting group of wrestlers.”
Something far from the ordinary will indeed be The Barber Shop. Never before have fans had the opportunity to get their lovely locks trimmed by “The Barber” himself. “I was just thinking of something different to do, something that other conventions aren’t doing. When people steal your idea from you and start presenting it as their own, you have to come up with fresh, new ways to reinvent yourself. I thought having The Barber Shop where fans could actually get their hair cut from Brutus themselves was something new and fresh. These fans watched Brutus on TV cutting wrestlers’ hair for years, and now they can come to Fan Slam! and have the chance to have Brutus cut their own hair. It’s a cool concept and I think fans will dig it.”
While The Barber Shop may be exclusive to Fan Slam!, the one thing that remains constant at every wrestling convention is the traditional question and answer session. With Bruno Sammartino, Earl Hebner and the rest of the gang in the house, it was only natural that Fierro gave each guest the appropriate time to talk. Sammartino will be fielding questions in his very own Q & A, entitled “Between The Ropes with Bruno Sammartino.” Backing him up, Earl Hebner will be “Shooting” for the first time as he hosts his own Q & A, “The 3 Count with Earl Hebner.” To make sure everyone gets a turn, the remaining guests will be participating in a Q & A Fierro dubbed, “Memories of Matches, Manias and Mayhem.”
“I am excited for the Q & A’s. It’s not everyday that fans get to sit down and ask Bruno Sammartino questions, same with Earl Hebner, thats why I gave them their own Q & A’s. I am most looking forward to Hebner’s; there are so many insider questions the fans can ask him. It’s a nice little mix of Q & A’s throughout the day.”
With a pretty full day of events, Fierro plans on making this Fan Slam! one for the books. “For the fans who are coming, I’d like to say that you are in store for a great day of fun, entertainment and surprises. I want to thank all the fans who have supported Fan Slam! in the past, and if you had a good time in the past, you haven’t seen anything yet.”
FAN SLAM! SCHEDULE:
9:00 AM – Doors Open
10:00 AM – “The 3 Count with Earl Hebner” Question and Answer Session
11:30 AM – “Between The Ropes with Bruno Sammartino” Question and Answer Session
12:00 PM – Autograph and Polaroid Session with, Earl Hebner, Hillbilly Jim, Tatanka, Ivan Putski, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Jim Powers and Paul Roma
12:30 PM – Autograph and Polaroid Session with Bruno Sammartino
3:00 PM – “Memories of Matches, Mania, and Mayhem” with all the other guests