Catching Phantom Of The Opera With Vince McMahon: More Wrestler Run-Ins

Inspired by the saga of "Wrestling Superstar Virgil," we continue with readers' encounters with the titans of the squared circle. If you've had your own run-in with pro wrestlers past or present, e-mail us, subject line "Virgilbag."

Chris:

It was June of 1987 and my mother had scored tickets for Phantom of the Opera in NYC, which at the time was a nearly impossible feat. Once we arrived at the theatre, sitting in the upper balcony, mind you, my dad, who started me on pro wrestling when I was all of six years old, turns to me and says "hey, look over there, its Vince McMahon!"

At first, I didn't believe him, but after prodding by both of my parents, I walked by where he, Linda and Shane were sitting (yeah, no Steph...too bad), just to confirm that he was indeed VKM. And by god, he sure was, wearing one of his classic powder blue blazers, just like he did on TV every weekend. So, while the rest of the crowd watched the first half of the show, all I could do was stare at Vince and wonder why someone like him was sitting up in the balcony with regular people like me and my parents. When the show reached intermission, my mom told me that she was going to get a drink and that I should come with her because maybe we would run into Vince. I was petrified at this point, because one thing had totally blown me away from that earlier walk by: Vince was HUGE!!! At that point in my life, I had never seen a guy that was that big!

After trying to back out of the trip to the concession stand, I begrudgingly went, and there he was, standing right on line in front of me. Because I was so star-struck (remember, I was only 12 years old), I could not/would not say anything to him, so my mother took the initiative and tapped him on the shoulder and introduced herself and me to him and informed Vince that I was a huge WWF fan and never missed a show. He cranked up his TV announcing voice/character and asked me if that was true. I must have looked like Ralphie seeing Santa in A Christmas Story at this point and vaguely remember nodding my head and grunting in the affirmative. My mother proceeded to smack me in the back of the head and told me to talk to him because I'd probably never get the chance again.

Vince laughed and asked me if Hulk Hogan was my favorite wrestler, as I guess he thought would be the stock answer of a kid growing up in that era. In a daze, I told him that it was not Hogan, but Rowdy Roddy Piper. Vince did a double take and looked dumbfounded. He then asked my why I liked Piper and I told him that he was cool and because he hit Jimmy Snuka with the coconut a few years before. Vince asked my mother "is he okay?" to which my mother just shook her head and asked "what can you do, right?" Vince laughed, said he totally understood and that his son was very similar. He then graciously autographed my Playbill from the show, which is still one of my most prized possessions.

Josh:

About five years ago, my roommate, a couple girls we knew and I decided to go out to a shitty chain restaurant for half-price beers. This was not unlike any other night in Lexington, KY except that the WWF was in town. We get a table in the bar and start drinking mass amounts of Bud Light. About 20 minutes after we'd been sitting there, in walk two of the biggest guys I've ever seen. I'd not watched wrestling in a decade, but these guys had to be wrestlers. My brother, who was/is a huge wrestling fan, had gotten swamped at work and not gotten to go to the "show" that night. I texted him and let him know the wrestlers were there. Meeting wrestlers had to be cooler than watching them lay all over each other for three hours, right?

My brother is stoked and gets up there in about 10 minutes. The kid is about 22 at the time, but is acting like a goddam schoolgirl. He chugs a beer and has enough courage to go talk to Randy Orton and some other wrestler. I'm watching from a distance, and can only imagine what idiocy my brother is spewing to this semi-celebrity. They talk for a couple minutes and all of a sudden, they're walking towards the bathroom together. Holy shit, my brother is going to go blow Randy Orton in a shitty chain restaurant bathroom.

Catching Phantom Of The Opera With Vince McMahon: More Wrestler Run-InsAbout a minute later, they reemerge from the bathroom. I figured this would not have been long enough for anyone to get blown. Randy Orton and my brother, however, had switched t-shirts. After a quick photo, Orton sits back down at the bar and my brother comes back over to the table. My brother is fucking giddy. Apparently, while trying to talk to the wrestlers, Randy Orton wouldn't stop talking about my brother's t-shirt. My brother kept trying to ask him questions, but all he'd say is, "That shirt is really cool." Finally, my brother just suggested they switch if he liked it that much. Randy replied, "Let's go get naked!"

As you can see in the picture, my brother really came out on the losing end of this. This may be a decent story for him to tell his friends, but he still had to wear an Affliction t-shirt for a night.

Edward:

I spent about 10 years living in the Washington, DC metro area. For several of those years I was heavily involved in Brazilian Jiu-JItsu and trained under two very well-known black belts. On days when I wasn't training BJJ I would periodically go to a regular gym to try to force myself to do normal exercise. One day, in walked the largest human being I'd ever seen in my life. I recognized him immediately—it was Batista. When I got home I did some Google sleuthing and found that he had family in the DC area. I swore to myself that if I ever saw him again I'd say hello.

About a month later my wife and I were back at the regular gym taking the escalator to the lower level. At the bottom of the escalator there was a row of a few heavy bags. Most of the times the guys hitting those bags looked like the guys in the Eric Kelly video everyone in the world has seen at this point. On this particular day though, there he was—Batista, hitting one of the bags with some Muay Thai strikes that were so hard it looked like the bag was going to explode into a cloud of dust. In addition to the Muay Thai, he also had on MMA shorts, which gave me a conversation starter. Keep in mind that at this point Batista was inactive in the WWE and hadn't wrestled in a while because of injury.

Anyway, I approached him, told him I recognized him, and after a brief chat asked him if he does any BJJ/MMA training in addition to the Muay Thai. This leads to me and Batista (he goes by just plain ole Dave) breaking out some mats that were stacked up in the corner and doing some live BJJ training. At that point in my life I wasn't the world's best BJJ guy by any stretch. If anything I was a good weekend warrior. But, just by virtue of having trained for several years, I wasn't bad. Nevertheless, I could do nothing with Batista. His sheer size and strength made him virtually invincible on the mat, at least to someone at my skill level. After we finished we swapped phone numbers and I told him if he was ever back in town to let me know and I'd bring him around to my BJJ gym where he could get some work in with some legitimately world-class guys. He was super nice to both me and my wife and we part ways, with me thinking that was cool but I'll never hear from him again I'm sure.

Well, about a month later, my phone rings and lo and behold, it's Batista. He says he wants to take me up on my offer. So I give him directions to the gym and sure enough, an hour later, in he walks. Everyone in the gym was simultaneously amazed/shocked/confused as to what WWE's Batista was doing there. He spendt a solid two hours training with everyone in the place and by all accounts really enjoying himself. Afterward we all go out to lunch, Batista included. We spend another two hours eating and shooting the shit. Throughout lunch, about every fifteen minutes a nerd or trashy girl approached to seek audience with the great Batista for one reason or another. One of the girls actually got him to sign her cleavage. Batista was super nice and down to earth and accommodated everyone who wanted to meet him. Finally the check comes and Batista picks up the bill for all of us, about 8 people. He really could not have been nicer and more of a regular, normal guy.

Javier:

I was at a strip club for my 21st birthday in 2001 in San Francisco, CA. It was a grimy joint but my friends wanted to take me there and a famous porn star was going to be there too. As one stripper was about to give me a lap dance in the dance room, I notice a hulking man walk into the room with blond hair and rocking shades at 1:00 in the morning! As he gets nearer, I realize it's freaking Scott "Big Poppa Pump" Steiner. It was around the time his contract with AOL-Time Warner expired and WWE didn't immediately bring him over for their failed WCW/ECW Invasion angle so he was a free agent, I believe.

Only a few strippers recognized him and I was definitely the only guy there who knew who he was, being a huge wrestling fan at the time. The place had a strict policy of only one dancer per session, per person, but he got 3 of the hottest dancers there all to himself, including the one porn star, at the same time and they hollered "Big Poppa Pump" to him so everyone could hear! I was a few feet away from him and couldn't help but look his way instead of the dancer in front of me but she understood because she recognized him, too. After the lap dance I got, I sat there waiting for an opening to approach the Big Bad Booty Daddy, even though I've long heard of his loose-cannon reputation. It turns out, he caught me staring at him and yells out, "Hey, do you wanna fuck me or something?! There are other places you can go for that shit!"

I must have subconsciously been asking for a death wish because I immediately blurted out, "No man, it's not like that, I just can't believe I'm seeing the Big Poppa Pump right here in SF!" He stops the dancers and whispers something to them, looking pissed off before he stands up and walks right towards me! I stay seated, wondering what the hell I just got myself into. He stands right in front of me, still with his shades on and then proceeds to flex and says, "Who's the man?!" I'm like, "Uh, obviously, you are, you got the largest arms in the world." He says, "Damn right. You're all rright, boy!" He sits next to me and says something about being told these were the best strippers in town but that he's fucked ECW groupies that looked better than "these hooches". I laugh nervously as if I were Ray Liotta laughing at Joe Pesci's jokes in "Goodfellas" but he was cool with it. He then gets up to leave and I tell him I hope WWE picks him up so he can show the world he's the best in the business, yeah, I really kissed up to him. He turns around and tells me to stay tuned and then leaves to go to the "Champagne Room". I was about to rejoin my friends and tell them of my encounter but then the same 3 dancers who gave Steiner a dance came up to me and told me they were giving me a dance and that it was on Steiner! He hooked me up! Big Poppa Pump WAS my hook-up that night! He was way cooler than his reputation, that's for sure. Great night.

Tom:

May 16, 2011 – A Monday morning flight to Tampa and I had to connect/change planes in Philly. It was very close to departure time in Philly and I had to run to get to my gate. Once there, I walked onto a very full plane and found my assigned middle seat (I am 6' 1") towards the back of the plane. The window seat next to me was empty and I thought I would be able to relax and spread out. Twenty minutes later and it was obvious they were waiting for the last passenger to arrive and presumably sit in the seat next to me. Finally, on comes a guy dressed wearing a black velour suit, sunglasses and a bandana. You can tell he was hammered as he was stumbling all the way back to his seat next to me.

He squeezed in to take the window seat and you could smell the alcohol dripping out of his pores. I had no idea who this guy was, but I was disgusted that I had to spend the next two hours next to him. Of course, the plane failed inspection and we had to stay on until they fixed the issue. As I sat there waiting, the drunk guy next to me was in and out of consciousness and had his blackberry in his hands. He would randomly wake up, refresh his Twitter account and immediately fall back asleep. The third time he did this, I spied his phone to see what his Twitter handle was and saw @therealxpac. This sounded familiar to me so I checked Twitter and realized that he was professional wrestler X-Pac. I snapped a picture of him drooling all over himself and sent it to my friends (unfortunately, I have since deleted it). Luckily, the person in the aisle seat was a skinny female and I essentially sat on her lap trying to get as far away from the sweaty wrestler as I could. There were multiple times where he would cough in his sleep and I thought he was going to puke all over me. He stayed asleep the entire time and didn't spew, but it was still the worst flight I have ever been on.

Roy:

Back in 1999 I attended Wrestlemania XV in Philadelphia. The night before the event I also attended the "Wrestlemania Rage" party at the Philly Convention Center. The $80 ticket got me food provided by Chef Boyardee (giant metal buckets full of beefaroni and other foods from the Chef) and entertainment provided by such diverse acts as Big Pun, Isaac Hayes, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and a band called the Beer Nuts (who had a song that consistently repeated "We're the Beer Nuts and you suck"). The party was shown live on USA network, but the highlight for attendees was supposed to be the fact that we would be rubbing elbows with WWF superstars on the convention floor.

Instead of seeing any true superstars, like Austin, The Rock, or anybody in DX, we got the poor midcarders/jobbers/has beens. The Hardy Boyz (who at the time were nothing more than "enhancement talent") were front and center, with just about everybody on the floor ignoring them. Terry Taylor, who I think worked backstage at the time, was attempting to sign autographs. Nobody wanted any. Rocco Rock of Public Enemy was walking around, deep in the heart of ECW country, but was largely ignored. Some of the announcers were signing autographs as well, except for Jim Ross. Him and "Dr. Death" Steve Williams made a quick appearance on the floor surrounded by security before they were whisked away somewhere backstage.

I wound up talking to wrestler Brian Christopher with a group of other attendees. I was being a typical wrestling nerd, bringing up his time in USWA, and some other bullshit when two blonde women walked over to him. They interrupted our conversation to introduce themselves to him, and they began coming on to him. Both women were sort of attractive in a very trashy sort of way, and both were drunk or high or a combination of the two. We all watched incredulously as the older woman proceeded to put her hand down the front of his jeans. Both women made it known that they wanted to go home with him. The three talked quietly and closely for a bit (with a hand still down Christopher's pants) and the ladies walked away, but promised to come back for him at the end of the night.

After they walked away, Christopher turned to us and informed us that the ladies were mother and daughter, and they wanted to join him in his hotel that evening. He seemed quite shocked and amused at what just happened. He was fairly composed for a guy who basically got half of a handy in the middle of the convention floor. I said something funny to him in response (but I can't remember what it was, dammit) and he wound up laughing loudly and high fiving me, which was, in my 18 year old mind, the coolest thing ever.

Later in the evening, as my friends and I walked to my car on the streets of Philadelphia, I saw the two women. Mom was sitting on the curb and her daughter was trying to lift her to her feet. Both women were laughing hysterically and completely loaded. I don't think Brian Christopher took them up on their offer.

Stephen:

I used to travel for a living as a software trainer and part of the perks of traveling every week was free first class upgrades most of the time. I was on an evening flight from Atlanta to Hartford, Conn., about five years ago, and as I was sitting in my plush Delta first class seat I saw a 7-foot-tall white guy with long hair walk by me. I thought to myself "That's Kevin Nash" and thought nothing of it as I had stopped watching wrestling back when WCW went defunct.

So midway through the flight I had to use the restroom and Kevin is standing up at the front chatting up the flight attendant who was a moderately attractive middle aged woman. So as I walk by I kind of nod to him as I am about to walk into the bathroom. He says something along the line of "you don't want to go in there". I asked if someone had taken a dump and he made the universal sign for something that smells like shit. So I smile and go in anyways. (It didn't smell at all).

As I exit the restroom I decided to tell him that I was a huge fan of his past performances when I was a kid. His line back was priceless. "What, the gay porn?" and then he cracked up and shook my hand and I went back to my seat laughing my ass off. He was an all-around good guy!

Brian,

At the beginning of the '92-'93 football season, my buddy had been haranguing me to join his fantasy football league, despite my assertions that I know fuckall about football. Towards the end of the season, he tells me some amazing news. One of the chumps that ended up joining his league was some guy with the last name Wright, and his brother was a dude named Chuck Wright, none other than voodoo man Papa Shango himself. Shango was scheduled to wrestle in the upcoming Royal Rumble, despite a very serious injury he had received by missing a spot during a match with the Undertaker. He was to run into the Rumble in progress, and get immediately thrown out, eliminating him in a matter of seconds. He would be able to get us into the show for free. To say my friend and I were huge wrestling fans is the understatement of the century. How huge? We lived in south Los Angeles, and the Royal Rumble was being held at the Arco Arena in Sacramento. My buddy said he'd been looking for a reason to drive north and visit his grandma anyway, so we pack a bag, load up some booze, and up I-5 we go.

We spent the first evening of this lost weekend having dinner with his grandmother, who is a wonderful lady. We go back to our hotel, get piss drunk, and talk about the insanity we will likely see backstage when we pick up our tickets the next day. Sure enough, the wrestlers' entrance to the arena is crowded with underage Shawn Michaels groupies, and other assorted freaks. Unfortunately, our tickets are not at will call. Not anywhere, in fact. Papa Shango "was either hungover or forgot." After driving almost 400 miles to see the show, we were ready to leave, when a kind-hearted scalper stepped in and sold us some really cheap tickets because the show had already started. They ended up being ringside seats. Despite the fact that everything worked out, we hated that guy for the remainder of what passed for his wrestling career, and whenever I saw him on TV, I referred to him as "that motherless fucker, Papa Shango."

Jeremy:

It was the day after the live Raw in '99 in Moline, just after Owen Hart was killed in KC. My buddy and I got to the arena early because we were WWF stalkers at the time. We were the first car in the arena parking lot. Next thing we know, a big red truck with Billy Gunn and Big Show parks right next to us. We get out freaking and Gunn hops out and tells us "GET THE FUCK AWAY AWAY FROM ME RIGHT NOW".

I look at my buddy in shock and Show gets out, says "shit, I'm hung over. Let's make it quick boys," puffing on a smoke the whole time. Gunn tells us to move our car and to get a life and just bolts. Soon, tons of WWF guys are pulling up left and right. Next thing we know the security guards barricade our car in the lot. We had parked in the wrestlers' parking lot.

Catching Phantom Of The Opera With Vince McMahon: More Wrestler Run-InsSomehow we snuck up some stairs behind the building. We get the top and about shit ourselves. It's the Hardys and Christian and Prince Albert. We kinda turn away in fear when Jeff yells out "Hey Rocker guy, come here." We go to their table as they are eating. Christian says "nice Hardy Boys shirt." (I, being a d-bag at the time, had on an old Rockers T-shirt, with a ton of wrestler autographs.) Christian asks if he can do something to it, and writes "Jeff" with an arrow pointing to HBK and "Matt" with an arrow pointing to Marty. These are the nicest dudes ever! At one point the wind caught Matt's paper plate and landed right on my shirt full of autographs. He tried to wipe of the shirt with his napkin, and got most of the mess. We hung out with them for a while time until Billy Gunn walks out and sees us and says "Oh, fuck me. What do you want me to sign?" I was like, we're cool, no problem.

Later on we see Road Dog and Jeff Jarrett get out of their car and some dipshit says to Jeff, "Sorry about your friend." Jarrett looks at him and nods and I swear he teared up right there.

Later that year WWF was making up a cancelled house show in Peoria due to Owen Hart death. Who do we run into the airport parking lot but The Hardys, Christian and Edge. Jeff sees us and says "Hey it's The Rocker guys!" I couldn't believe he remembered us. The Hardys and Christian talked to us like we were old friends. Christian then introduces us to Edge, "hey, this is Adam." We go inside the terminal, and there was Gangrel freaking out because he didn't have enough money for his ticket. The Big Boss Man had to loan him fifty bucks.

One more from that day is we were in the Holiday Inn stalking wrestlers and in walks in Ken and Ryan Shamrock. This was during the storyline when they were supposed to be brother and sister. Ken tells the hotel lady that if his wife calls, to tell her that he isn't staying there. I take a pic of my buddy and Ryan when Ken walks up and says, "you better be nice to her." She is my sister you know and had the biggest grin on his face. Ken was totally cheating on his wife with his "sister!"

Casey:

Back in 2001, I worked as a bellhop at one of the fancy Marriotts here in Dallas. I was alone working the late shift one night when at about 1 a.m. I see a rented Lincoln Town Car pull all the way up the driveway really slow, and park with its front bumper almost touching the front doors. I went to confront the driver until out steps The Rock with a few other roadies or wrestlers I didn't recognize. I greet him without naming him and walk him into the building.

After they checked in, The Rock came over to me and asked where he could get a steak. I had a big
responsibility here and let him know the only option at this hour was Waffle House. Then I had an epiphany. I knew the bar manager at a T.G.I. Friday's, so I called and asked if he would keep the grill open for The
Rock. My buddy laughed and said, "Yeah sure, whatever." The Rock didn't tip me, so I felt I could ask for an autograph. He didn't act thrilled about it, but gave me "The People Eyebrow", looked at my name tag and signed an autograph on hotel stationery (that I recently gave my 12 year old boy). It said "Casey, The Rock".

The Rock turned and told his group "We are either eating at TGI Fridays, or The House That Waffle Built." They all agreed on TGIF and drove off into the night.

Christopher:

A few years ago, I was taking reservation calls for a hotel chain. I was about a month into the job, still working the swing shift because that's always where you start, on a Tuesday night, and I get a call around 8PM (Pacific) from a guy whose voice sounds vaguely familiar asking about a room in some small city in Pennsylvania for that night. I ask if he's a member of our frequent guest program, he gives me his number, and I say, "So, let me just verify your name is Theodore Long and your email address is (I don't remember exactly what, but it was)@WWE.com..." And then I realize what I just said. I have Teddy Long, (then-)general manager of Friday Night Smackdown (which, as it happens, tapes on Tuesday), on the line.

He confirms the name and email address, and I say, "Wow. Pardon me for saying so, but I'm a big fan and you're the first celebrity I've talked to on this job." As soon as the word "fan" passes my lips, he slips right into character, calling me "Playa" and whatnot. I avoid sidetracking into fannish questions and chit-chat, because hey, I'm working, and I have a chance to be a Big Damn Hero to somebody I watch on TV, who is calling me at 11 at night looking for a place to rest his head. So I check availability, and... SOLD OUT. I check our one other hotel in driving distance, and it's also completely booked. So I deliver the bad news, apologizing profusely, and he took it very well. I didn't, though; I was kind of miserable for the rest of my shift, thinking I blew it (even though there was absolutely nothing I could have done differently) and wondering if he ever found a place to sleep. I still wonder what circumstances led him to have to book his own hotel room the night of the show. I'm sure there's somebody at WWE's corporate office that handles that kind of thing; did they drop the ball? Did he get kicked out of the hotel they booked? Was there some epic story that ended up with a hotel getting burned down? I'll never know, I guess.

David:

In the first half of the 1990s, a guy named John Arezzi had a well-known wrestling radio show in New York and also promoted annual "Weekend of Champions" wrestling fan conventions at the Ramada Inn by LaGuardia Airport. In 1993, one of the wrestlers doing signings was Terry Funk, and as you'd expect, was the nicest guy in the world to precocious 8 year-old me and signed his page of the event program "Stay out of jail! -Terry Funk"

Unfortunately, in 1999, my family's apartment building had a fire. Thankfully, our floor only got water damage from the effort to put out the fire and we were able to salvage just about everything we'd want to rescue, with the rest being covered by insurance. Still, one of the spots where the ceiling buckled was right over my bed. That program was in a box of old wrestling magazines under it the bed and nothing in the box was salvageable.

So, four years later, in 2003, when Jersey All Pro Wrestling announced the awesome main event of Jerry Lawler vs Terry Funk and someone organized a cheap (as in $25 including the ticket to the show) bus trip from Manhattan, I knew I had to go, and I made sure to take something for Funk to sign. The show was in a nice looking small venue, some kind of "Hungarian-American Hall" in Woodbridge. Before the show, Funk came out and walked behind the row I was in along the back wall of the building, shaking hands with every single fan. He shook my hand, walked past me, stopped, and then turned around.

"So, didya stay out of jail?"

HOLY SHIT.

Somehow, 59 year-old punch drunk Terry Funk who had been wrestling around the world for 38 years and met countless fans recognized 18 year-old me as a kid he met exactly once for a couple minutes 10 years earlier and made a point of letting me know and asking how I was doing as I sat there in shock and awe. A little later, when he was signing the magazine I brought, he apologized for not remembering my name.

P.S. Yes, I know he regularly signs autographs "Stay out of jail!" That doesn't make what happened any less amazing.

Vincent:

In the nineties, a family friend of ours owned a sporting goods store in Bedford, New Hampshire. They were big wrestling fans and owned one of the few places you could get WWF shirts retail in the state. They also had from time to time, appearances by WWF talent. I still have a personally autographed photo of Sunny and an autographed polaroid of my awkward 15 year old self wearing a Stone Cold "Wanna Raise Some Hell?' T-shirt sitting right next to her.

The coolest memory I have of that place though, is of meeting Kane before his appearance. If you think he looks huge on TV, you have no idea until you are three feet away. He was much younger back then and was a seven foot wall of muscle. He was also incredibly nice, signing an autograph for me and even talking about his career. He told me and the few others there that after two years of terrible gimmicks (Isaac Yankem DDS and The "New" Diesel), he was so grateful to be given a gimmick that was not only awesome, but instantly made him a main eventer. He said the only downside was that, even in a time when kayfabe was dying a slow, painful death, was that he had to make all public appearances completely in character and that he had to take extra precautions not to be caught around a WWF show or appearance out of costume. I had to wait until this signing began before I take get a picture; he and the WWF didn't want anyone scanning a picture of him without his mask and plastering it on the internet. The most amazing thing, besides his terrific demeanor, was how much he nailed the Kane character, even at a signing. He never spoke, signed autographs, posed for pictures and scared people with that masked glare of his.

N.C.:

About 12 years ago WCW came to London to tape Nitro and I remember it being a pretty awesome night. Afterwards people were loitering outside the arena as you do, when as if by magic Normal Smiley turns up next to me and my friends in a jumper and jogging bottoms. "Hey boys, want an autograph?" I was admittedly kind of awestruck (not that Smiley was anywhere near the top of my wish-to-meet list) and managed to say nothing, while he took one of my signs and autographed it. My friends weren't as into wrestling as I was and didn't even recognise him, they just stood there watching. Smiley handed me back my autographed sign, ruffled my hair and jogged off onto another group of fans. Bizarre, but I still have the sign somewhere. Thanks Norman!

We close, as always, with a Virgil story. Or, in this case, two! Anthony:

Oh my god. I thought I was alone on this. I didnt know there was a support group. Here's my story:

My friend and I were walking around South Hills Village Mall in Pittsburgh back in 2005 and stumbled upon Virgil sitting at a table in the middle of the mall. Just him at a table selling his merchandise. This was not a show or anything, just some sort of Virgil mall kiosk. Seeing that he was alone and no person was talking to him, I knew engaging would be a bad idea. As we walked by I said "Hey Virgil. Loved your work. I had your action figure". He replied "Thanks, I have some if you want to buy one". Again, seeing the situation, we knew it was a bad idea to engage, so we walked away. About a minute later, I realized that he was still continuing the conversation despite the fact that we were about 50 feet away. He was talking about what all he had for sale. I replied something about how cool it was when he won the million dollar belt and then ducked into a store.

It didnt stop there. Thinking he was still at the table, we went back out and kept on walking. My friend stopped at a kiosk further down to talk to a woman selling phones, mostly cause she was hot. In about 2 minutes, Virgil came up from behind and came into the conversation. Literally, no clue as to what he was talking about, but somehow he interjected to the point of now hitting on the woman. As he was trying to get her phone number, my friend and I made an exit and tried to get away. At least a half hour later, he came up and talked to us again in a completely different part of the mall. At this point, I had to ask if anyone was watching his table. He brushed it off and kept talking. I think we faked a death or something to get out of there. When we left the mall, I kept looking in the mirror to see if he was chasing us down like the T1000.

David:

In the Summer of 2003, I went to one of Frank Goodman's infamous USA Pro Wrestling shows in Long Island. CM Punk came out to watch the show after his match and we chatted for a while before he went to look at some photos some fans had taken at another show. In the meantime, since the match in the ring was an awful one featuring Goodman's trademark ticket sellers (untrained guys who get on the shows for selling X number of tickets), I went to look at the gimmick tables. This is where I encountered...

WRESTLING SUPERSTAR VIRGIL!

Well, this predates the banner and meme, but there he was in his NWO shirt, doing his thing. As I approach the table, it looks like he has nice 8x10 glossies of a pretty cool looking WWF Magazine cover with him and Ted DiBiase, so I figure there's no harm in asking, as his rep wasn't as well known yet. As he tells me the price, I got a closer look at the photos: Instead of scanning the magazine cover, he took a photo of it, and he did such a terrible job that there was flare from the flash right in the middle of of the print. Obviously I wasn't going to buy it, so I decided to make my escape with an "Umm, ok, I'll think about it for now." At this point he does the usual switch from fan-friendly Virgil to the Virgil who's going to try to bully you into buying a photo, so I walk away.

Fast forward a little bit.

Punk ends up sitting at Virgil's table and talking to him for a little while. After going to the restroom or another gimmick table or something else I can't remember, I was walking by the table to get back to my seat. Virgil is STILL pissed off at me for not buying one of his awful photos, and decides that he needs to get revenge. By shooting rubber bands at me.

A grown-ass man and minor celebrity decided to shot rubber bands at me for having the temerity to ask how much his awful photos were and then not buy one.

So I stood there wondering if I was hallucinating as an angry Virgil shot rubber bands at me while CM Punk looked on, stunned into silence with this amazing "What the FUCK?" look on his face.

Keep those stories and photos coming.