Whenever there’s a WrestleMania, you can bet on one thing: there will be a WrestleCon. And this year is no different.
After a scaled-down version of the event last year in Tampa due to the coronavirus restrictions, the annual WrestleCon is back with a bang in Dallas with around 200 guests scheduled to be part of the three-day convention.
This year, WrestleCon will be held at the Fairmont Dallas hotel on N. Akard Street in downtown Dallas. The hotel will also play host to the several in-ring action where promotions such as Impact Wrestling and AAA will hold shows.
For Michael Bochicchio, who owns Highspots.com and runs WrestleCon, this is his company’s first full-scale WrestleCon since WrestleMania 35 in New York/New Jersey. The planned WrestleCon at WrestleMania 36 in Tampa ended up being a nightmare.
A couple of months before that was set to take place, everyone’s lives went upside down with the COVID-19 pandemic having just started. WrestleMania was moved to the Performance Center with no fans inside, leaving WrestleCon hanging in the balance financially.
It took a while for Bochicchio to recoup his money and get out of some “crippling” contractual agreements with venues and hotels booked that weekend, but still a lot of money was lost.
“There were a lot of purchases made that we completely wasted, a lot of flights where only the talent was able to use the tickets, etc,” he said. “We survived and that was a big ‘if’ at one point.”
Bochicchio said he was very proud that they were able to refund every customer their money within a week of cancellation and felt for fans who booked other events and never got their money back.
“I know how frustrating it was for fans when concerts, sporting events, flights were all impacted and nobody seemed to want to return the money. We went the opposite direction, we never considered a ‘credit’ on a future event nor did we ask for a “donation,” he noted.
Fast-forward a year, and WrestleCon was back at WrestleMania 37, albeit in a scaled-down version. Asked if last year’s convention was considered a success and if he’d still do it if caught up in the same situation, Bochicchio replied in the affirmative.
“It was an absolute success! We had less than two months to completely plan it and we knew the scope of it was going to be significantly smaller than other events,” he said. “I feel like if we had another 2 months, we would have been able to pull off a more traditional event, but in April 2021, things were still chaotic and there were still a lot of people fearful to be in any type of large group.”
He added that the number one goal of last year was to keep everyone safe and comfortable and for those who were willing to take the journey to Tampa, he felt like they needed to give them a small taste of the fan/talent interactions that WrestleCon has traditionally brought to Mania weekend.
While the pandemic is – officially – still going, 2022 has brought in better news and the state of Texas, for better or worse, doesn’t care much about coronavirus anyway. It all boils down to politics and if you were to hold an event free of restrictions, well, Texas is the place to do it.
“I think Vince and the WWE were very smart to change 2021 to Florida and 2022 to Dallas. However, I think we could have easily pulled off a full scale convention in any city in the U.S., but Texas has certainly moved on from COVID faster than the rest of the country,” Bochicchio said.
He noted how at the New York Comic Con last fall, organizers handled the convention in one of the strictest cities in America and realized that they could handle a full-scale WrestleCon no matter what conditions dictated.
With local state rules requiring no masks at all, WrestleCon will be abiding by those rules and there will be no mask requirements to enter the premises but Bochicchio suggests that anyone who feels more comfortable in wearing one, they should absolutely do so. Apart from that, the Fairmont Hotel staff will be assisting at WrestleCon in continuing to make this a safe event for everyone who attends.
While thousands and thousands of North American fans will attend WrestleMania weekend, Bochicchio noted that international fans are still a bit cautious of traveling, and while he’s pleasantly surprised with the early attendance sales from overseas fans, it’s clear that it does not come close to past events.
“I take for granted how things are in the United States, but I realize that other countries certainly have a different mindset on where we are at in our overall recovery from COVID,” he said. “Hopefully next year, the international fans are back on board 100%.”
This year’s WrestleCon will bring in around 200 current and former wrestling stars. WrestleCon, through its website and social media, was announcing a talent per day since early December and now they’re announcing three to four new names daily and this will continue until it’s show time. And the fact that there’s no traditional Axxess this year from WWE helped WrestleCon get more talent.
“For whatever reason, and it happens every year, the last three weeks we always see a swarm of late commitments. Once WWE announced there was no Axxess events, we had a lot of talent that traditionally waited for that event, they have now decided that WrestleCon was their best opportunity,” Bochicchio noted.
This year, WrestleCon introduced the $139 Superfan ticket, a discounted ticket that gives attendees access to all days and some other perks.
“Every year we have had feedback from our best customers that they wish we could just sell one ticket where they have full access to all the sessions. We decided this year was a good opportunity to try it, since we have had two years off from our full scale convention, and to test it out,” Bochicchio explained.
Superfan is limited to 1,000 fans only and it’s close to being sold out. One of the best perks of the ticket is that the Friday morning session is dedicated exclusively to these ticket holders, making it easier for them to get photos and autographs.
“We have also given them early access to just about everything we have released, from live event tickets to pro photos, and they get a discount at our Superstore,” he continued.
For those who never attended a WrestleCon before, fans can purchase an admission ticket through the WrestleCon website and then purchase photo ops and autographs directly from the talent or vendors on the floor on the day of the event.
Talent scheduled to be available at WrestleCon include Ric Flair, Bray Wyatt, Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett, Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle, Lita, Mark Henry, Mickie James, RVD, Toni Storm, Trish Stratus, and many, many others.
Many of the talent do not accept pre-orders online, something that Bochicchio says is a “hassle” for talent especially when it comes to customers who don’t show up and demand a refund.
“Generally at events like these, the talent is busy from open to close, and they serve everybody that wants to meet them, it’s not a limited ticket event that requires pre-orders. I always tell fans just wait to buy the talent autographs and photo ops when you get there,” he said.
Lines will vary depending on the talent so avoiding pre-orders will increase your options and you could make a decision on the spot where you want to spend more time.
“The only thing we recommend to purchase in advance is admission and we suggest you don’t do that until you’re 100% sure of what sessions you wish to attend.”
There are four sessions available in total, one of which, as explained, is only for Superfan ticket holders. The convention starts on Thursday, March 31 and the first sessions is from 5PM to 9PM. The second morning session on April 1 is reserved for Superfan tickets and the third session is on April 1 from 1PM to 5PM. The fourth session is from 9AM to 1PM on April 2. All individual sessions are priced $38 each.
Apart from live events and meet and greets, WrestleCon will also run a WrestleMania bus, transporting fans to and from the AT&T Stadium which is quite a drive away from downtown Dallas. But tickets for the buses have sold out.
With WrestleCon just a couple of weeks away, Bochicchio and his team will waste no time in working for next year’s event in Los Angeles.
“We already have the contract with the hotel and we will likely do a site visit before the end of April,” Bochicchio told us, adding that he will take two weeks off to completely disconnect from all-things WrestleCon following Dallas.
“We anticipate we’ll likely make some significant changes to our LA model as we continue to see that fans have different expectations running an ancillary event to WrestleMania, but we would like to get feedback on Dallas before making any decisions on Los Angeles.”
For more information and tickets, visit WrestleCon.com.