It’s that time of year, the only part of convention season I usually get into—Dragon Con. Oh, you haven’t heard of it? It’s a big deal here in Atlanta, mostly a science fiction convention, but they’ve been branching out and always have Dragon Con Wrestling, which is worth it. Furthermore, superstars Ricky the Dragon Steamboat and The Monster Kane—gracious enough to fill in for Ric Flair, due to his health—made several appearances and signed autographs. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was seeing Glenn Jacobs in street clothes but with the Kane mask on talking it up with fans like he was hosting a chill barbeque. I hate I missed the Legends panel with those two, but I had bigger game to hunt.
I’ve been attending the convention for years, but for the past several, my goal has been to hunt down New Day member Xavier Woods. For anyone who missed it somehow, Austin Creed is a bit of a nerd, a fan of anime, the right video games, and some parts of geek culture I’m not even familiar with. The thing is that I’ve always liked his work, even before I knew any of that. I enjoyed his moves pre-New Day, loved watching him work when he was billed from Angel Grove like a true Power Rangers fan in NXT, and respected his work as a Rocky knockoff in TNA under the name Consequences Creed. The list of wrestlers I really want to meet, interview, and grab a drink with is pretty long, but he’s certainly at the top. Well this should be easy, because he’s been attending the convention longer than I have. Last year I even went to his panel for that hit YouTube channel UpUpDownDown. It was fantastic, but apparently he can’t talk about his time in TNA much, so boo.
So each year when Dragon Con comes up I make sure to double check Twitter, as he often posts pics of himself wearing a wonderful array of cosplay, featuring everything from video games, cartoons, and wrestling, as I am sure many have seen. A few of those occasions even come with a message about where he is, where he’ll be, and they often show the faces of happy people who were lucky to meet him and hang out for a bit.
I hate those people…
For years I’ve looked, even had other wrestling fans within my group helping me, all to no avail. We seem to always be just a few minutes late, pick out the wrong person dressed as Birdie from Street Fighter, or like that one time where he was on the opposite sky bridge we were. As another con ended though, I realized this has become quite frustrating. I’ve heard so many stories about how great he was to meet, how nice he is, how cool it was to have an impromptu dance party—it was with a guy dressed as La Parka this year. I’ve even had personal friends meet him there, just not when I was around! I couldn’t even meet Michael P. S. Hayes that time they all ran into him on the elevator and he was confused about the people in costumes. Knowing what I do now about Woods, with the YouTube channel and some extreme nerd cred, I want to meet and ask him questions even more!
What’s my point?
Well, part of this is about the bone I want to pick with Xavier Woods (jokingly), or really, me just being legally blind and really bad at Where’s Waldo, but there is more. I was looking through some of Woods’ cosplay pics and a few sites that were even posting gifs and videos of him being there and stumbled across these ‘gems,’ and I’ll edit them down to something more intelligible.
“God, what a nerd culture loser…” –Anonymous
“Yep, watched the video and it’s confirmed: still a gamer loving loser.“ –Anonymous
Now, I don’t know who these douche bags are, and no one should care, because there are always going to be some attention seeking toxic people in the community; it’s the action I’m addressing. Perhaps they are a little sore that he pulled off that Bayley costume so fabulously, or that he can work hard and play harder, I don’t know. What I do know is that these types of comments show a disgusting trend in how some fans perceive the personal lives and actions of wrestlers. Over the years I’ve seen it become more of an issue, with fans pushing these small facts to use as vitriol. People judge what superstars do outside of the ring, especially with the way social media has spread that information more.
My wife has always liked Alexa Bliss’ pseudo-cosplay gear choices and the whole five feet of fury heel persona, but now that she’s learned of Larry Steve, Bliss’ micro-pig, she won’t shut up about the champ. A few stars however have been judged for their religious beliefs. No, I’m not talking about AJ Styles coming out as a Flat-Earther (that was a joke… I think… I hope). Big Cass also recently received some criticism for his political stance backstage. None of this bothers me. Seeing Woods dressed up as a diva or Kane in his mask and comfortable pants discussing favorite restaurants doesn’t affect what they do in the ring or the entertainment they give me, and I’m not going to make snide comments or fun of any of them, even if I find out Rusev is a Brony or Shinsuke has a closet of suits for his fursona.
This seems appropriate to discuss also with Sasha Banks recent comments about fans. Not siding with her, just saying: don’t be a stalker, be polite, but beyond that try not to be an asshole concerning how they spend their personal time as well. Shouldn’t be hard. For me, some of these aspects made me like a wrestler more, but short of a crime, I know how to separate the little things I don’t like from what they do in their day job.
Anyway, about to buy my tickets for the next Dragon Con, maybe my luck will change next year.
Follow me on Twitter: @StephenWilds