Here comes the money Axxess all areas

7am on the Saturday and I'm thinking, fuck, hangover. This is less than ideal and moderately surprising given the not vast pile of booze drunk on Friday. Maybe it's predominantly exhaustion. Another couple of hours kip seems to back this idea up, because at 9am I feel fine. Though confused by the clock on the microwave - for some reason there's a microwave in our room - being an hour out. I'm also annoyed by the SMS from MBNA telling me the hotel's attempt to put a charge on my card was rejected, and I should text them if it was legit. Fuck yes it was legit, Jesus, just let me use my credit card.

Breakfast finishes at 10am, so downstairs we go. Ian had said breakfast here was awful, but my experience is not so bad. Not exactly classy though - we eat off styrofoam disposable plates using plastic cutlery, chowing down on circular sausage meat and scrambled eggs. There are yoghurts in a fridge, at least one of which already with its seal broken. There are "biscuits" (warm savoury soft scones), and "gravy" (some horrible white sauce I never understand or touch) because America carries on being wrong in lots of ways.

classy breakfast is classy

The food tastes OK. There are a few other wrestling fans in the room because that seems to be the only people in the whole city. Later we walk around the streets a lot and see no-one except wrestling fans. But let's not get ahead here. Back up at the room, with a takeout giant cinnamon danish, I start to blog Friday. It takes me ages, and features regular interruptions from two types of folk:

  • people asking where my blog post has got to
  • people imploring me to either hurry up or give up

The latter group are everyone here. Wooj and Del have both asked what time we're getting there, and Ian has discovered that Axxess this afternoon might be worth visiting more than we'd previously thought. Our tickets are for the 1pm-5pm session. I eventually finish, grab a shower, and order a cab. Yet more surge pricing.

The weather is gorgeous, cloud free but not too hot at all. I'm ecstatic to be in shorts for the first time in ages (running shorts notwithstanding). Even the sunglasses are in action. The cabbie talks wrestling with us, he's lost touch and had no idea it was so popular but back in the day he was a serious fan of Ric Flair and the Von Erichs. Proper Texan, he even points out some tourism to us - hello, Deeley Plaza.

But enough with the historic sights. At the Sheraton we grab Del and Wooj in the bar who are already 2 pints in, but there's no time to play catch up. It's about 1215 and should walk to the Kay Bailey Hutchinson convention center, the same place we saw NXT last night.

Since the walk had been so easy when we came back, we figured walking in the lovely weather would be the right thing to do. And not being able to remember the exact route wasn't a problem because actually there were painted squares on the pavements with arrows on leading us the whole way.

On Friday the route had been a simple two street walk. The signs took us all over the fucking show. It felt way longer in distance and time, and took us over masses of intersections including the one where the cop shouted at us to cross the damn road while we were waiting patiently at a red signal.

Finally at the center, oh look, a whole bunch of wrestling fans. Up the escalators we joined a fairly short fast moving queue, at 1255, behind a British family who said they saw a queue and so joined it. But the bloke went off and discovered this was actually for VIP ticket holders. The general admission queue was up the other end of the building.

Not quite true. The end of the general admission queue was in the building next door by the Aviation Week convention. Eesh. But once the doors opened it moved quickly enough such that we were through the doors to Axxess within 15 minutes or so, and that got us... into another huge snaking queue. Well, the same queue as we'd already been in I guess. Damn this place is popular.


Eventually it took us something like 35 minutes to get in. The first thing in front of us is an Elimination Chamber photo-op, with a long queue. There's a huge Wrestlemania sign and then we walked around loads of the other things Axxess provides, which are basically all further opportunities to queue. Want a photo with Sheamus? Queue. Ziggler? Queue. Jake the snake Roberts? Queue. And so on.

Elimination chamber

None of us were hugely bothered about the photo ops and autographs though. The reason Axxess had been suddenly a thing worth visiting is the story of further NXT tapings taking place this afternoon. Maybe we could see a match or two and, oh look, over in the corner there's a ring and some people fighting. Looks like Eva Marie vs Asuka, might be worth a watch...

For those that care: there might be spoilers ahead, though I've tried to avoid them being too bad. You'll see fixtures and may be able to figure out results but I'm trying not to be explicit. Watch NXT!

The seats are full, of course, but we can stand about 10 people back by the corner and it's not an awful view. There's some turnover and we manage to get a bit closer when the Revival come out against some new tag team. I take a pic I'm pretty damn proud of.

"This is Dawson! This is Dawson!"

The crowd are in great form and by now our view is fantastic. Seems like we might hang around for a bit and maybe take a few photos of the wrestlers we see.

One of these men shouts "I'm respecting the rules!" loudly at the ref, and we all laugh.

The Hype Bros vs Blake & Murphy. I'm disappointed that Murphy isn't dressed as appallingly as usual.

Zack don't need no pesky shirt

Nakamura's second ever WWE match happens right in front of us. Wow!

Goddamn fake sport.

S! A! W! F! T!

Ready, willing, and Gable. There's a couple behind us, and the woman repeatedly implores Enzo and Big Cass not to damage Jason Jordan's beautiful face.

This man's name is "No Way Jose". We steal the Sami Zayn chant for him.

His opponent is a German, wearing nazi trousers.

Uhaa Nation, sorry, Apollo Crews comes out...

... to face a very angry Samoa Joe.

The crowd turn into hilarious assholes, all of us. When mounting offence directly in front of us, Crews makes these "sha-BOOF" sounds with each blow.

So we spend the rest of the match chanting for some sha-boof and shaBAM and stuff. "Shoulda shaboofed him one more time, Apollo!"


Against a man whose gimmick is wearing a bandana, and pretending to stir a bowl.

This man's name is Angelo Dawkins, though the black couple repeatedly shout out other black wrestler names because they all look the same, right? "Hey DeeLo! Hit him, Truth! Get him, Virgil!" and so on. Those of us who couldn't possibly get away with that just laugh our heads off.

Earlier, Blake & Murphy had come out with Bliss's name on the screen but she was nowhere to be seen. Now, she turns up without her chumps helping her.

Tully Blanchard's daughter Tess is her opponent.

Then more tag teams. Ciampa and JOHNNY WRESTLING!

Pretty sure Gargano hurts his arm with a ludicrous somersault out of the ring.


"SImon, be more manly!"

Baron Corbin looks like my beer from Friday: arrogant bastard.

and then, it's Bayley! Everyone loves Bayley! Except Del, who hates everything good and pure.


10! 10! 10!

Tye Dillinger is fantastically entertaining.

Fuck me, Nakamura's fighting again!?

He bloody is! Crazy. Two fights in two hours!

Huh so yeah. We saw a fuckton of wrestling and spent most of it just 3 people from the front, dead centre of the ring by the boom cameras and so where all the wrestlers threw their poses. It was fucking amazing. We stood there for over 2.5 hours watching top class NXT performances, saw masses of the roster up close and personal. Wow.

By now it's around 4pm. There's an hour left of this session. The Undertaker is doing VIP signing sessions, other people are also offering up opportunities to queue. But we all want a beer. There's no booze in Axxess, so we leave, via an extended trip to the WWE Superstore mega-merch booth where we browse everything and buy nothing. But there's some serious coin being spent here.

Outside, there are people protesting, with a crowd heckling them back with all manner of wrestling chants. Apparently God is great and we must repent all sins except those of bad grammar.

Probably due to having barely eaten or drunk, I'm a bit cranky. I just want to get to a pub, but y'know what even with all the walking we've done so far we haven't actually seen any in Dallas city centre yet. I get Google maps directions to the American Airlnes Center, for the evening's Hall of Fame ceremony, and figure there must be somewhere to drink near there.

It's a long, boring walk with virtually no shops, definitely no bars, and pretty much only wrestling fans on the street. After a long while we stumble across the House of Blues, near a Hooters and a place called Dick's. The House of Blues has seats outside and we get beer and food. Things are looking up!


We get another beer, and a third. My pulled pork sandwich is great, Wooj nearly orgasms upon tasting his burger, and Ian's chicken wings don't look bad neither. Apparently the chips are great, but I wouldn't bloody know would I? There are predictions made for 'mania - not specifically match winners, but "who will walk out of the event with the belts" plus a bonus "control of Raw" card. There's money on this, a $20 pot.

I'd put my credit card behind the bar at the start and so go in to settle up. My credit card gets declined, sigh. MBNA are such twats. So I try an Amex and it works fine. I forget to ask for the waters we need, so leave Ian at the bar to carry them while I take out 3 beers. Ian appears and tells me I need to go back in because I wrote the tip down, but didn't actually sign for the bill. God damn it why am I being so absent minded on this trip?

The WWE Network app says the HoF starts at 7pm, but our tickets say 6.30pm. We're a bit late and still a 15 minute walk away, but arriving at 7.15pm at least means we didn't have to suffer any queues. Our seats are easy to find, are 4 next to an aisle so we don't have to piss anyone off by making them stand up, and the view of the stage is fantastic.

Also where Raw will be on Monday.

When we arrive, Vader is on the stage telling stories about wrestling Stan Hansen and having his eye pop out during a match, hanging down on his cheek. They put it back in and finish the match. I'm feeling sick just typing the damn story out. Shut the fuck up, Leon. Jesus.

Honestly I'd had no real idea what to expect from the Hall of Fame ceremony. I've never watched it on TV and don't really care a huge amount for the backslapping or profundity, but it ends up being a pretty entertaining show, kinda like a series of podcasts just with no quality control of the interviewee. Also our seats let us play "spot the wrestler" because they're all sat directly in front of us.

Mark Henry and Big Show get aisle seats. Wonder why?

There are loads of concession stands but none of us get any food or drink throughout the show. However, we seem to be on the row of the most agitated audience members in the whole block, maybe the whole arena. We are up and down loads of times as people pass by, not to mention the endless standing ovations for each introduction and speech and stuff.

There are some fantastic moments. New Day are totally hilarious when introducing the Freebirds, who are pretty damn funny themselves and that part ends with Michael PS Hayes singing Badstreet USA and it's AWESOME. Kevin Von Erich comes out and the whole crowd laugh and get chatty when he says a couple of things which could have done with a bit of editing: not a great idea to refer to "the New Gay guys" at the start, nor concentrate on how these 3 black fellas are "brothers". But he rescued it at the end with a beautifully stereotypical save: when in doubt, lean in to the mic and shout "God bless Texas!"

There's a lot of references to God. Maybe those protestors at Axxess had some success after all. Afterwards we're talking about how comes God always gets credit for good things but never blamed for the bad. I mean seriously, have some damn consistency.

Bubba tells D-Von he's only allowed to say "testify!", so D-Von tells him to get his own damn tables in future.

Jacqueline makes a speech that sounds like a primary school "what I did in the holidays" essay. "I saw an advert and I applied to wrestle and I went to a gym and I won the championship and I won the championship again and made lots of friends and the rest is history". Um, OK then.

We are hugely offended by being told to applaud at some bits.

Flair loses it so much at the end of his introduction speech, he seems to think he's the one being inducted and that we're still in the 1900s. Get with it, Ric!

The non-wrestlers are a bit cringeworthy, though I call it correctly that Cena will induct Snoop Dogg. The latter makes a terrible rap from lyrics on his iPhone. And finally at the end, there's the icon: Sting!

They only play his moody vigilante era music, meaning I don't get to sing "he's the man called Sting! The man called Sting! The man called Sting! The man called Sting!" for like an hour, which I really wanted to.

At the end of his speech, Sting retires. The sense of shock and disappointment in the crowd is audible. Who would have thought an injured man in his 50s would retire!?

We file out and there are people everywhere. The road back to the Sheraton is just one road, but it's a long and annoying walk with closed pavements in a few places. By the time we get there, there's a queue, of course, to get into the bar. We hadn't walked past any pubs because Dallas still seems not to fucking have any, and no-one (apart from me, perhaps) can be arsed queueing so actually screw it, the night is over.

Ian heads upstairs to pick up some stuff he'd left in their room, I try not to let my phone battery run out. It's at like 8% and I still need to get Uber. Because of my previous two credit card fails I joke that perhaps I've not actually paid for any cabs yet and will get a bad rep from Uber. Then I fire up the app and it says my last cab ride payment was declined so I'm not allowed to order another one until I fix that. I mean for fucks sake. If that credit card wasn't so damn lucrative for miles I'd ditch it and MBNA in an instant.

Thankfully I manage to pay, and order a ludicrously eye-gouging (argh! Vader flashback!) 3.5x surge-priced cab back. Battery really worrying and I wonder if it'll die mid-call as the driver phones me, because he hasn't come into the pick-up area. But thankfully not; we are in and 10 minutes later, back at the Holiday Inn. Before entering, we go into the drive through off licence shop in our car park, and there are a LOT of fridges.

All of this is beer!

I don't actually buy any beer though. The only singles are giant cans or bottles of rat piss, even though there are multi-packs of good stuff. Bah. But I do exploit being in the USA by buying two varieties of low calorie Dr Pepper, a zero calorie and a ten calorie variety. Huzzah!

And then, it's gone midnight and we're back in the room. Next door pipes up with some extravagantly loud sex which lasts an impressive amount of time. It's quite disconcerting as I'm trying to transfer and edit photos of wrestlers onto my iPad. Oh, and being post-midnight means something - Wrestlemania is TODAY!

Created By
Darren Foreman

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.