Without a doubt, Wrestlemania is the biggest destination even for pro wrestling fans every year. Even if you’re not a WWE fan, there are so many promotions running shows, so many things to see, and so much to do (including Wrestle Fest), it’s a huge draw every year.
That said, there are a few other annual events that die hard fans should seriously consider attending in 2019 or beyond. These events are smaller but they provide a much better opportunity to interact with stars of the past and present.
First up is the annual Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion April 29 through May 1. Founded in 1965, the Cauliflower Alley Club holds an annual reunion to honor stars of the past and present and provide an opportunity for wrestlers and fans to gather and celebrate professional wrestling. The CAC Reunion takes place at the Gold Coast Casino in Las Vegas. Special rates are available to the event, and discounted tickets are available to CAC members. (Yes, fans can join too!) CAC does a lot of work helping older, ailing wrestlers, and it’s the one annual event where wrestlers are honored by their peers.
Second is the Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, held in Wichita Falls, Texas at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. The class of 2019 has already been announced, and this coming spring they will honor Charlie Fox, Baron Michele Leone, Lord James Blears, Abdullah the Butcher, Ronnie Garvin, Owen Hart, Bob Roop, Gory Guerrero, Beverly “the Hammer” Shade, Ann Laverne, Johnny “Red Shoes” Duggan, Wally Karbo, and the Midnight Express. The PWHF hosts an entire weekend of festivities, and like the CAC Reunion, gives fans a better chance to interact with the wrestlers in attendance than other fan fests.
Finally, there is the Hall of Fame Induction Weekend at the George Tragos and Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame at the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa. Just like the events above, fans and wrestlers mingle for three days in a much more intimate, personal setting than regular fan fests. The Dan Gable Museum us a treat for wrestling fans, well worth the visit, and you just can’t beat the access you get to the stars of the past. I attended this event myself in 2018 when Booker T, Owen Hart, and Dan Severn were honored, and I really enjoyed spending time hearing stories from folks like Bruce Hart, Rock Riddle, and Koji Miyamoto. I hope to go again in future years.
This is not a call to skip Wrestlemania weekend or even Wrestlecade in the fall. It’s a challenge to diehards to go beyond Wrestlemania, to celebrate the past, and to connect with your childhood heroes. Professional wrestling has a rich history that deserves to be preserved and celebrated, and I would love to see more fans do just that by supporting these organizations. Whether you prefer Vegas, Texas, or Iowa, make plans to attend one of these events in 2019 or 2020. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.