I’ve attended some great events over the last few years. I’ve been to Wrestlemania, Axxess, Starrcast, and the Hall of Fame induction weekend in Waterloo, Iowa. Each event is unique in its own way, and if you’re a true fan, you should give every one of them a try at least once.
Cauliflower Alley Club has been on my “to do” list for a few years, and it definitely belongs in the category with the above events. Actually, it tops most of the above because not only is it an unforgettable experience, it’s for a good cause and, well, it’s in Vegas.
The 54th Annual Cauliflower Alley Club reunion took place at the Gold Coast Casino and Hotel, just a mile from the Strip. The Gold Coast is a wrestler’s hotel in the true sense of a word, a definite bargain price wise, and to be honest, the room was nice and clean if the view unspectacular. (My window opened up on a spotlight shining on a giant wall. Wow.)
But let’s face it – you’re not going to CAC to sleep. This is an event that allows you a 24/7 opportunity to rub shoulders with wrestlers, promoters, managers, valets, writers, photographers, and other fans. This is the place you come to sit down and have a drink with someone you’ve watched on television for decades. This is the place where you can meet an old timer who wrestled Lou Thesz. (Shout out to the great Reggie Parks!) This is where you get hugs from an original GLOW girl, a photo with Haku, and buy a stack of books from a host of great wrestling authors. This is where you can not only mark out over your favorite wrestlers, but see some of your favorite wrestlers mark out for their favorites, like Tyrus did when he saw Dr. D David Schultz.
Reunion week kicks off with the free independent wrestling show Sunday evening (a non-CAC event hosted by a local promotion, featuring wrestlers from around the globe). The same promotion hosts a second free show on Monday night as well. You’ll see big names like Sabu and future stars like Heather Reckless (whose name I’ve passed on to Girl Fight promoter Mad Man Pondo) and everyone in between. This year, Rock Riddle worked a match against Matt Striker, Joel Gertner read some dirty poetry, and La Rosa Negra dazzled fans with her high energy style. (I gave her info to Pondo as well.)
Monday through Wednesday, fans can mingle in the “Nostalgia Room,” where writers like me are set up with book tables alongside wrestlers like Sabu, Jerry Lawler, the GLOW girls, Haku, Barbarian, and even Dory Funk, Jr. You can shop, talk, or just sit and enjoy the atmosphere. Or if you prefer, you can hang out in the casino or the TGI Fridays bar, which was constantly full of attendees.
Tuesday evening is the Bockwinkel Blowout, a traditional “wrestler’s meal” highlighted by bologna sandwiches. No, I’m not kidding. You can have bologna on your choice of bread, or you can choose from a number of other cold cuts. The first half dozen or so awards are handed out after dinner, and then everyone moves back downstairs for drinks and stories well into the early morning hours.
The event concludes Wednesday night with the more formal banquet, where the bigger awards are handed out. It was on Wednesday that I presented Dr. D David Schultz with his Male Wrestler award. Nick Aldis presented Dory Funk, Jr., with his, and D-Lo Brown presented Mark Henry. Jim Ross played host for the evening in front a packed house, and he was delightful. Ross had no filter and no shame, repeatedly taking shots at a former employer for rewriting history in its own image while imploring attendees to spread the word about CAC and bring their friends next year.
This was my first time attending CAC, and while it was by no means a “perfect” event, it’s one I’ll never forget and one I hope to experience many more times. I met dozens of friends I had only known on Facebook prior to the event, including one of my long-time supporters and enablers, Tom Burke. I got a photo with Haku (one of my big regrets from Starrcast), and while I can’t disclose anything at the moment, I discussed two future book opportunities with wrestlers while there.
CAC was unforgettable, career-changing, and eye opening for me. I’m proud to be a member of the Club, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come. I’m also very grateful for all the friendships made and deepened last week. CAC is the most immersive experience you can have as a fan and an invaluable opportunity for anyone, regardless of age, who wants to advance in the business of professional wrestling. You can join the club now on their website to subscribe to their newsletter and become a part of the great work they are doing to help others. Once you become a member, you will certainly want to be in Vegas April of next year.