The last weekend of January is shaping up to be a big one for local fans of the WWE. As we previously reported, the multimillion-dollar professional wrestling company will be putting on its action-packed Royal Rumble pay-per-view (one of its biggest events of the entire year) at US Airways Center on Sunday, January 27, which is certain to pack the place with close to 19,000 fanatics.
Turns out that it won't be the only blockbuster wrestling event taking place in downtown Phoenix that particular weekend, as the WWE has announced it will be presenting a special Fan Fest outside of the arena one day prior on Saturday, January 26.
Pro wrestling aficionados certain to turn out in droves to the all-day, which will take place at the arena's outdoor plaza near the intersection of First and Jefferson streets, since it will feature appearances by many of the same spandex-wearing WWE Superstars they see doing battle on such TV shows as Raw and Smackdown every week.
The list of superstars scheduled to appear at the Fan Fest include former world champs The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler, and "The Great White Hope" Sheamus, as well as the high-flying Kofi Kingston, Brodus "Funkasaurus" Clay, and tag team partners Kane and Daniel Bryan (a.k.a. "Team Hell No").
Meet-and-greets and autograph sessions with some of the wrestlers will take place and a ring will be set up in the middle of the plaza for a variety of matches between WWE competitors. Food trucks, live music, and interactive games and activities are also planned.
One of the big highlights of the event for WWE die-hards is certain to be the three different Q&A sessions that are scheduled to go down on both Saturday and Sunday. Each discussion is being described as "Shooting Straight Panels" and will offer a chance to peek behind the curtain into the backstage dealings of the wrestling world and will feature superstars speaking honestly (a.k.a. breaking kayfabe) about some rather contentious topics.
One panel will cover the "Montreal Screwjob," the real-life event in 1997 where WWE honcho Vince McMahon and wrestler Shawn Michaels conspired to screw over the legendary Bret "The Hitman" Hart. Its widely considered to be one of the most notorious moments in wrestling history and the Q&A, which starts at 3 p.m., will feature not only Hart and Michaels, but also longtime WWE announcer Jerry "The King" Lawler.
A second panel will be devoted to Degeneration-X, the infamous group of prankster wrestlers who helped define the WWE's Attitude Era with their controversial antics. It runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and will star such DX members as Triple-H, X-Pac, and the New Age Outlaws.
The final Q&A will cover the rise and fall of World Championship Wrestling, the chief competitor and rival organization to the WWE during the 1990s, and will feature such panelists as Kevin Nash, The Big Show, and Booker T. It starts at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Each of the panels will run fans $90 to attend (start saving your cash now) but includes such perks as a VIP reception attended by a slew of wrestlers and autographed swag. Sure beats getting a t-shirt or a replica belt.
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WWE's Royal Rumble Fan Fest takes place at noon on Saturday, January 26, at US Airways Center. Admission starts at $10, VIP all-access is $250, and the discussion panels are $90 each.
The Royal Rumble pay-per-view takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 27, at the arena. Admission starts at $25. See Ticketmaster for more details.