(yeah I know it’s a month after the event itself and everyone’s moved onto complaining about WWE Crown Jewel but I had Manchester Media Con, moving house, a trip to Amsterdam (emphasis on ”trip”) as well as working 9-5 day-job and watching wrestling 8-6 after this so ‘baaaah” to your moans.)
Botchamania is a weird thing, stuck in the same formula for over twelve years and still fighting YouTube while every other talking-about-wrestling brand has realised ”hey we can monetize if we take screenshots rather than use footage” and as a result are about 1000x more popular as a result. However there’s a lot of really devoted fans who have hung with the series since 2008 and as a result have decided I’m a big deal. And one of those men is Conrad Thompson, who collects podcast franchises like New Jack collects forehead lines. So when he asked if I would like to be flown out to Chicago for the mighty Starrcast mega-con, I remembered Winston’s advice from Ghosbusters:
So ConDad booked the flights and hotel, I’m going to have to bring up the one glaring negative of the trip: As well as doing a panel (more on that later) I was scheduled for a Meet & Greet that people had to pay money for. I appreciate there being a million different things for the good people of Starrcast to be worrying with, which is why no-one noticed the time of meet & greet was er scheduled for ten minutes before my plane landed. So as soon as I got my wi-fi working in the airport my phone was filled with OH HAHA VERY META MAFFEW, NO-SHOWING YOUR OWN DAMN PANEL WOW YOU’RE LIKE ANDY KAUFMAN EXCEPT WE WISH YOU WERE DEAD messages assuming I’m such a smug cunt I’d do it deliberately. It was a mistake that no-one noticed until too late and I did my best to hang around the lobby during most of the week DMing people so they got that all-important photo with a blotchy brit. Here’s one of them as proof it wasn’t all coke and hookers for me that weekend:
When Conrad casually mentioned doing a panel I assumed it’d be a small yet comfortable thing with maybe a projector or laptop like the ones I’d done at MAGFest over the years so I was naturally surprised when Conrad posted the preview image with me, Casio Kid, Ron Funches and uuuuh whathisname oh right former WCW/WWF commentator TONY SCHIAVONE. With the promise of a One Hour Best Of Botchamania to happen during the panel it suddenly dawned on me that this was the biggest thing I’d ever done and I began to shit myself like Sid Vicious wrestling The Undertaker (allegedly). That turned to confusion when I wondered how an hour-long video was going to work with these fine panelists around. Were they supposed to go ”oof, nasty” for an hour while people watched, as that sounded ok for a twitch-stream but not for a panel. So I told Conrad about the idea of having a wheel we could spin and alternate between clips from different companies and anecdotes from Tony so we’d get something worthwhile and interactive for the attendees. He agreed and I spent two months amassing clips under the assumption any footage was OK as we’d be showing the panellist’s faces on the stream and only the crowd could see the videos (that’s an important plot point).
While still nervous, I calmed my nerves on the plane by watching Air Force One (every time I fly I watch something involving a plane disaster to cheer myself up. Executive Decision has been the best overall but Bruce Payne was amazing in Passenger 57) and assuming everything was OK despite having to wake up at what-the-fuck-kind-of-hour-is-this o’clock as I planned on getting an hour or two shut-eye before the panel and everything would be hunky dory. So you can imagine the feeling I got when I checked my phone upon landing and received a message that said ”Jeff Jarrett really needs to see you about the panel.”
The driver who was supposed to pick me up told me it was too busy at the hotel (which I think was carny for ”hmm drive in rush hour traffic for the botch guy or listen to Raven tell ECW stories, gee lemme think”) so I got an uber and told them to go the hotel with ODB selling beef outside it. Even on Thursday the place was rammed with old stars, new stars and podcasters and weirdly it only took me a few minutes to find Jeff Jarrett (the actual one) walking around. I meekly asked ”er I think you’re looking for me?” and I waited to see his reaction to see if I should run like hell. He replied ”ah the botch guy? Do you have anything that isn’t copyrighted we can show at the panel?” When I notified Jeff Jarrett (the actual one) that everything is copyrighted, including the font (probably) and asked him to clarify, he said they had changed their mind and decided to show the clips on stream which meant nothing owned by WWE. I told him I had a bunch of indie clips but they’re still y’know, owned by someone and he laughed and said he wasn’t worried about them suing. It’s always cool seeing alpha males roaming the wrestling kingdom, swaggering around with their dicks out and daring the smaller animals to look at it. The fact I was having to talk with Jeff Jarrett (the actual one) while the former Judge Jeff Jones (Mike Awesome’s manager in ECW) and Dave Penzer helped put me over the edge and I assumed I’d fallen asleep on the plane and everything was alright as I must be dreaming.
This is a lot of pre-amble for a panel (that’s a good name for a show) and if you were reading the start of this, you’d think this was a lot of pyro and ballyhoo for a small deal. Oh boy. With all this sleep-deprivation and last-minute changes going on, I was going to be grateful for anybody showing up. So to add to the weirdness, despite it being Thursday (supposedly the quiet day) we drew more people than most wrestling shows in the area.
You can enjoy the panel yourself by giving money to the FiteTV (what, you’d think I’d fuck with them and put it online when they did all this for me?) but the important things were Ron Funches killing, Tony talking about his cock, everyone enjoying the clip of KeMonito dying so much we played it several times. Oh and Cody Rhodes deciding to gate-crash because he saw the crowd-size and thought ”mine!”
As you can tell by my gormless expression, no this wasn’t planned beforehand and I was half-expecting him to give me a Cross Rhodes off the stage or something. I’m glad someone took this photo as my Nana asked who the man with the hair the same colour as his skin was and if all Americans are like that. Brandi Rhodes was also there and seemed happy to see me (meaning she doesn’t watch the show) while Cody told the story of Ted DiBiase Jr.’s HE TRIED TO FUCK ON ME incident that I’ll definitely be using in Botchamania soon.
I’m glad Cody and Brandi showed up because…I was fucking terrible. The size of the audience as well as the enormous ”BOTCHAMANIA” chant filled me with adrenaline but it still wasn’t enough energy to prop my Weekend At Bernie’s body up as I had been up a legit 24 hours at that point and getting struck with lightning wouldn’t have prevented me from immediately calling the event Starrcade. I rambled and asked dull questions and it was only my accent that prevented me from ruining the show Opie Hughes style. I was very down about how I had performed as I trudged to bed afterwards, ignoring the fact the crowd had let me film them shouting ”FACKIN BULLSHIT” which was used for the ending of Botchamania 373. I felt I’d let down Conrad but when I saw him later, he seemed happy the hall hadn’t burned down and no-one had died. People had nothing but positive things to say about the panel during the weekend because I was the Botchamania guy so it made sense I’d be shit, I mean look at your face. Their backhanded insults really cheered me up and at the end of the day everyone was going HOLY SHIT CODY RHODES WAS THERE, HE’S SO COOL and I’m prone to overthinking things (as well as over-typing, let’s move on).
Oh and after all those weeks of gathering over a hundred suitable clips in the end I think we played six in total. Like I said, I’m a great overthinker.
Typing up everything else that was cool about the weekend would be one long wank-letter to myself so let’s summarise:
-Beating Jessica Havok in the first round of Leva Bates’ Fire Pro PS4 tournament despite me never playing the game before. And her owning it. I lost to Ron Funches in the next round but I was playing as Zack Sabre Jr. so I won the moral victory. Considering it was a PS4 game played locally, it was laggy as hell so I blame Leva for not paying for the Deluxe Edition.
–Matt Striker telling me Vampiro wants a conversation with me, before restarting my heart by letting me know he wasn’t there (he was supposed to be but no-one had his music.)
-Hanging with the Bunny Ears Podcast guys and beating everyone at their clockblockers game because brits take their games seriously, even ”name more wrestlers than the other guy” games. This lead me to meet Frank The Clown who sadly was really cool and not a dick. I know no-one’s going to believe that but eh.
-Finally meeting RD Reynolds and Blade Blaxton of Wrestlecrap in person. I wouldn’t be sat here typing about this bizarre adventure if it wasn’t for reading WC at school during IT lessons and I’m glad I got to meet the pair who were thankfully Frank The Clown levels of non-dick. Here’s us with Katie Vick (the actual one.)
-Getting to meet Jerry Lynn after being told he was a fan and thankfully finding out this was true. The guy was as lovely as you’d wish him to be and I was left very happy…until I found out a week later from Fin Martin that it was seeing himself in Botchamania that made him decide to retire from wrestling. Ulp. I mean it was in 2014 and yeah, it was for the best. But still, that’s like finding out I killed Mufasa or something.
-Copy-paste the above bit with Sean Mooney, Sean Oliver, Simon Gotch, Blue Meanie, Noel Foley and everybody else who was polite enough to give me the time of the day. Seriously, everyone was down to earth and chill, it was like MAGFest with wrestling (or Woodstock with graps, whichever reference you prefer.)
-Laughing for nearly an hour straight watching the ICP talk about Stranglemania, their daughters being furries and giving away ”the shit t-shirts they couldn’t sell.” Regardless of what you think about their music, they are two of the funniest fuckers I’ve ever heard and thankfully the twinks I dragged to the show agreed with me.
-All the fans were gorgeous and thanks for the love but special mention goes to the guy who made me a new Puppet Jack because I off-handily said one time on the Cultaholic Podcast that ”he’s been signed to NXT with the rest of the UK talent” and the fan wanted to keep him around. The little bastard now has a fan-ran twitter account and it’s a beautiful feeling seeing the impact an attempt at humour can have on people.
-Witnessing the guy attempting to steal Jeff Jarrett’s guitar from the lobby. No-one really knew what was going on and the fan believed he’d paid for it so while security held him in place, me and some other idiots sang Big Boss Man’s old theme song to keep the mood.
-Sadly The Death of WCW Panel was mis-advertised in the hotel announcements so only a few got to see Eric Bischoff absolutely dismantle poor RD Reynolds. It was like seeing the cow getting eaten in Jurassic Park. RD got one jab in, printing off copies of the horrible photo of Bischoff from the front cover of the book and distributing them as fans/masks.
I think this is starting to sound like ”what I did on my summer holidays” so let’s skip to All In. If I didn’t mention you or your podcast it’s because I did 18 of the bastards so no offence intended, you were all lovely but you were also Bullet Club shirt wearing bearded dudes.
I was initially sceptical of what the crowd noise was going to be as larger crowds means more different types of fans so 300 die-hards can sound louder than 6000 casuals. I was very, very wrong as there were 10,000 fans in the arena but they were all there for the same reasons and as a result they were LOOOOOOOUD the whole night which really put the room together. Sadly there were no botches (well except for the time issues in the main event but that wasn’t obvious live) so my tweet about ”i’m only here so when someone fucks up the commentator can go ”well that move was in tribute to maffew who is here tonight!” and i’ll stand up and wave and no-one will see me as my seat will be behind a pillar” turned out to be for nothing. Another waste of a plane ticket for poor Conrad.
I was completely co-opted at this point so I don’t blame you for not believing me, but honestly…it was almost as good as European Indie wrestling shows. That’s the highest compliment I can give a USA show so well done. From the Joey Ryan dicks, battle royal, Janela dying (as usual), the earth-shattering pop Cody got for just making his entrance, Okada making us all believe Scurll could actually maybe beat him, to Pentagon vs. Omega tearing the place a new arsehole…yeah it was ok.
I can’t think of anything else to type now and I’ve been going at this for a long-arse time so I’ll summarise by saying USA fans are very different to UK fans. UK fans are very reserved and are more likely to tweet ”just saw maffew” then say hello in person, USA fans will run up yelling ”OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU” while trying not to wee themselves. People have seen this first-hand and they always ask me if that’s weird or if I ever get sick of it.
My answer today and forever will be: fucking never.
the wonderful driver who took me to the airport slowed down in mad chicago traffic so I could get a quick video of a giant-arse sign pic.twitter.com/VV7hs45Het
— MaffewBotchamaniaGuy (@Maffewgregg) September 3, 2018