This year, it was in sunny (and sticky) Orlando, Florida for Friday, Mar. 31 and Saturday, April 1. It was especially important for Sabu and Super Genie since it was our first big appearance since the hip replacement surgery late last year.
Sabu was particularly nervous about how the event would go, so we packed our bags and headed out early that Thursday morning with our driver Tom and started off on our six-hour drive by 8 a.m. Or really more like 8:20 a.m., as Sabu forgot an item back at our home, LOL. He’s notorious for forgetting something before we head out on road trips. I’m thinking of getting doubles of everything and keeping them packed so there’s no more circling back on our trips.
As the years have gone by with my involvement with pro westling, I’ve become more organized and aware of how to do things in the most efficient way. The business can be brutal, and the travel is often the worst of it, so the simpler, the better.
After about two hours of traffic, and passing a bad car accident that someone almost certainly lost their life in, we were finally outside the perimeter of Atlanta and hit a good pace. The plan was to arrive at our hotel by about 3 p.m., relax a bit, then head to Altamonte Springs, Florida to do a radio show on Orlando’s WORL-AM/FM, which goes live from 5-7 p.m with a show that is an interesting combination of politics and pro wrestling.
By the time we finally got to The Castle Hotel, it was just before 5 p.m., which was the time the radio show began. We didn’t need to be there right at 5 p.m., but we did want to get there at a time we could do at least an hour interview. As it turned out, Altamonte Springs was almost an hour away and along the busiest tourist strip, so it became apparent we needed to reschedule. No big deal, the people at the radio station were cool with us coming in on the next day. We all decided it was best after this drive that turned into a nine hour trek instead of a six hour one, that we all relaxed, stretched our legs, took a tour around our gorgeous hotel (crystal chandeliers, furry pillows, cool modern furniture, full-bar and two restaurants, gym, pool and hot tub). Then Sabu and I, after showering up, went for a walk to check out the immediate area for a bite to eat.
There were several restaurants in the area, but a big red “lobster car” drew our attention to this one place, and I do love seafood. So after snapping some funny photos of Sabu pretending to bite into this massive lobster, we went inside and were escorted to our table.
Thankfully, the air conditioning was blasting in the restaurant, which was such a relief! The Orlando weather was so hot and sticky. It was an all-you-can eat seafood buffet that looked amazing. But Sabu and I decided to order crab legs with a couple of sides. I also wanted to try a mango-strawberry margarita.
It was so good! The past several months have been difficult ones. For those of you who don’t know, late last year Sabu had to have hip replacement surgery, with no health insurance and it cost over $50,000 USD. That, with not being able to wrestle since then until now meant his (and therefore my) finances nosedived.
Working with Sabu has been my main work the past 2 1/2 years, with modelling and training people, and it’s been good work. Lots of bookings and lots of travel to interesting places like Japan – twice – and the U.K. as well for a week. Sabu has such a unique and strong reputation in professional wrestling. He is considered the icon of hardcore wrestling, and its single-most identifiable star from ECW. Fans love to watch him in the ring and he is booked constantly. It’s been a great position being his Super Genie.
Another reason this Wrestlecon was so crucial for Sabu and I … we needed to catch up on bills. A GoFundMe was set up for him under recommendation of many fans for anyone able or wanting to contribute to his recovery. We also had to consider the several months as our earnings affected our ability to reconnect with the fans, bookers, and promoters while still showing everyone that he is still the big-name draw and that this hip surgery was not the end of his career. It was the start of showing the wrestling world that he is still Sabu.
A big weekend for us, for real.
It was important for us to relax that evening and get ready for the next day and that delicious plate of crab legs and one delicious (yes, just one) margarita was a wonderful ending to that Thursday, and the beginning of what I’ll call a magical weekend. The Castle Hotel was one mile from the Hyatt hotel where Westlecon was being held, and it was the perfect place to be our home away from home for this weekend. Much thanks to our sponsor, TitleMatchWrestling and Telly Bistis, for taking such good care of us!
6:15 AM – My iPhone alarm rings. I hit snooze and by 6:30 a.m. … time to get up and get ready. Gotta love those 9 a.m. signing times! But seriously, they tend to be the time fans have the most money, so it’s definitely a good thing Telly from TitleMatch had us scheduled that early for both mornings. Of course, it takes much longer for me to get ready than Sabu, plus he tends to steam up the whole bathroom with his long hot showers (they make his aches and pains feel better), so I like to get in there, shower and get my makeup done before it gets damp from his morning ritual. I knew I’d be sweating a lot from the Florida heat and humidity, so I had the feeling putting on much makeup was an exercise in futility. Still, I proceeded with the program, though I figured the makeup would all melt off in the first hour of meeting fans, and hugging old friends from my time at developmental and other places.
I make a point of putting on false eyelashes. They make such a big difference, and for sure, my nails are done nicely. All those Genie poses for photos draw a lot of attention to my hands, and I’ve always regretted photos where I didn’t have or take the time to do them. We needed to be down in the lobby by 8:3o a.m. for our ride to the Hyatt, which was the venue of WrestleCon, so I did my best to get my makeup as fool-proof as possible. But in retrospect, looking at all the photos, I realize I have to make my makeup application more foolproof, LOL. Then on to my hair, which I knew was also going to present a losing battle from the humidity of Orlando. I tried to subdue my hair’s natural frizzy curl by spraying on a lot more hairspray. Sabu got up around 8 a.m., since he didn’t need to do much to get ready, and by that time I was pretty much as together as I was going to be. For this event, I decided to go with a long black gown. I have tons of glamorous dresses I haven’t had the chance to wear because most of the past two years I’ve been wearing my red and pink “I Dream of Jeannie” outfit.
It was a nice change to wear something new.
Tom went to get Sabu something to eat and at this time of the morning I wasn’t much in the mood to eat anything, so I skipped breakfast (a bad thing to do), and after a brief panic because Sabu thought he had forgotten his headband, we headed down to the lobby, met our ride and went to WrestleCon.
We arrived early, and were immediately met with fans calling out “Sabuuuu!” And doing the “point up” pose, LOL. That set up a good feeling for the rest of the day.
Our booth was close to the front door of the room all the signing tables were in. That’s always a great spot. Big John Studd’s son was at our table, and Shannon Moore. Fans immediately came to the booth and so right from the start, Sabu and I were busily signing the 8x10s Telly supplied us, and getting up and down non-stop for photos. Many times we got up to greet old friends. We had little breaks in action here and there, which we took the opportunity to walk around to see all who was there.
It was so good to be back in the scene.
Since Sabu’s surgery last October, we have been out of touch with a lot of people. It’s always so hard when wrestlers get injured and are forced to take time off. We are so used to being on the road, being active in the gym and ring, hearing from and interacting with fans, promoters, airline people or gas station attendants, LOL. Sabu really has just been trying to get through the past several months as quickly as possible, as was I. It was a lonely time the past five months not being on the scene. We felt so good after the Friday morning events. Our sponsor was super happy with the constant steam of fans coming to see Sabu and I. Sabu was happy too, seeing that fans missed him and were waiting for him to get back in the ring. Many brought some pretty cool old magazines from the day that Sabu had been in, some with his uncle, The Sheik, some from Japan – which was where Sabu truly started his heyday in the ring – and became know as “The Flying Magician, The Houdini of Hardcore,” then brought this style back to the states to Eastern Championship Wrestling, which soon became ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling ) under Sabu’s influence.
At noon, the next shift of stars showed up to do their appearance at the TitleMatch booth. Telly squared up with us, and then Sabu and I got a ride back to the hotel where we could get out of our clothes and shower up again. It felt good to get out of my long black gown. It was so long that sometimes fans stood on it by accident during photos and at one time it almost got yanked off! What a scene that would have been!
Friday was the day we had postponed the radio interview, so we had about an hour and a half to get some food and then drive to the radio station, which with today’s traffic was going to take longer to get to than the GPS said yesterday. I wanted to feel fresh and clean all the sweat off my body, plus feel more comfortable than I had that morning at WrestleCon, so I jumped in the shower, scrubbed all the makeup off my face, then put on a black Sabu T-shirt, and army green cargo pants. Much better!
Sabu drove and we fought our way through all the tourist traffic to get to the radio station to do their 5-7 p.m. show, “American Adversaries”, a political wrestling show. Cauliflower Alley Club (CAC) president and Killer B Brian Blair, along with his niece Chelsea Diamond, who is now starting a successful wrestling career, were also going to be on the show. Sabu and I got to WORL-AM/FM just before 6 p.m., which was perfect timing. Sabu is very modest and doesn’t really like to talk very much about himself, so he prefers to keep things short and sweet. I’m very communicative so unless I’m super tired, I enjoy a good radio interview.
Half-way through, Brian and his niece arrived, so we continued a joint interview with all of us talking about the different countries we have wrestled in. Chelsea is about to travel to wrestle in China, which is a new region to experience the artform of pro wresting. Sabu talked a lot about his time in Japan and my furthest trip besides Japan with Sabu was a tour of Nepal in 2011, when I was more actively wrestling instead of managing. Once the clock hit 7 p.m., the show was over and then the producers of the show took us out to eat at his amazing Italian restaurant where I had tuna and Sabu, a rack of lamb.
It was so good!
I made a point of chatting up Brian Blair. Last year, the CAC Benevolent Fund kindly donated towards Sabu’s hip surgery and Brian had been a big part of that. Before dinner, he ran down an unfortunately impressive list of injuries he had, and gave us the name of an excellent neck surgeon. Always good if you are a wrestler to know who the best surgeons are. It’s a tough business on the body. It’s like wrestlers can bond over discussing their injuries and surgeries.
Poor Brian has really busted himself up over the years too. Comparatively, he sounded like he’s in rougher shape than Sabu. And honestly, based off the crazy high-impact moves Sabu is famous for, I’d have to say he has avoided a lot of injuries over the years. He could be much worse. After taking to Brian, I realized really how tough and how lucky Sabu has been. It’s just having surgery without health insurance that is the nightmare.
At about 9 p.m., we were socially pooped out and headed back to the hotel. Another 9 a.m. start time for Saturday was coming up, so once back in the room, we quickly got into bed and went off to dreamland.
7:15 AM – I’m up and doing my morning routine before heading over to WrestleCon. Today I’m wearing a short red sequin dress with one long sleeve, and my red sequin Genie cap. I’ve worn this outfit a few times in the past, but it’s a good one so I’ll give it one last wear, LOL.
I woke up a few times during the night so I am tired, but in this business you just go with the flow and do your best. I have a job to do, so I just do it. It’s not like it isn’t fun to meet all these fans, it’s important to be on point the whole time, especially when you are Sabu. He’s so intimidating to most people, with his history with barbed wire and scars, that I hear over and over again how scared people are of him. And sometimes even fans who take photos with me after I leave our table and head somewhere else, they sometimes take that opportunity to get a quick photo because they tell me Sabu scares them to death. Sabu is actually pretty shy, or if he is in pain he may not be especially chatty. I guess people read that wrong though. So I hope anyone reading this who has that impression of Sabu also, please don’t. He isn’t being quiet because he’s arrogant or angry or mean, he may be going through a shy moment, or be particularly sore, tired or in pain. Those type of conditions for sure make it hard to be sociable. He’s actually one of the nicest most honest pro wrestlers out there.
And one of the most humble.
Another really productive day, we saw a few new people who were booked at different times the day before (Lucky us, we got the early shift both days, thanks Telly! J/K).
Every year, Kevin Nash has a big Wrestlemania party. One year when it was in Atlanta, I was hired to be one of the hostesses, so it’s kind of a tradition. I really wanted to go to that. Sabu and I planned on going, so we snoozed a little, and then went out for a walk. We picked up some wine for me, then went back to our room.
Then all hell broke loose.
I got a bunch of messages from old friends who were in the area either for WrestleMania or lived here, and these girls and guys came over to hang out to go to the Nash party. I took a bunch of photos and it really was a good time. Then we set out to go to the party, which was almost a mile drive, but we all decided to get some exercise and walk. Really super fun night, fans were asking Sabu to get them in, and then he bumped into his old tag partner RVD. They hung out and talked for a bit, while I bumped into a ton of people I hadn’t seen in so long. I still need to track down some of the photos from the weekend, but this diary has some of the best ones.
We left to go back to Georgia the next day. Sabu only wanted to go there to work, he wasn’t planning to stay for WrestleMania, so we didnt stay. We got home to the Atlanta area around 9 p.m., and I’ve been recovering from the weekend ever since! There was no time to sleep Saturday night, but for sure it was worth it.
There was some really positive comeback weekend for Sabu and I. Check out the video clip of him showing fans and other workers how well he can move again.
Success is sweet!