WrestleMania weekend isn’t just a non-stop stream of wrestling shows from promotions big and small. It’s an all-inclusive celebration of the history of wrestling, and also a chance to meet, talk to, or get autographs from some of your favorite wrestlers. WWE runs the fan convention Axxess over four days (with three different sessions on Saturdays), where fans can meet a variety of wrestlers, check out some memorabilia, watch some wrestling matches, engage in activities like recreating wrestler entrances or cutting promos, and just generally exalt in their wrestling obsession. (Oh, and buy stuff. You can buy a lot of stuff at Axxess.)
Paste checked out Axxess last Saturday, during the morning session (we just missed Breezango as Chett Chetterfield and Mr. Macklemore), and took way too many photographs. If you want to see what Axxess is like, flip through this gallery, which includes multiple photos of Ric Flair entrance robes, close-up shots of some of the bronze statues that WWE has been commissioning of wrestling legends, and more.
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This banner welcomed everybody to the show.
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For this long-time wrestling fan, the best thing about Axxess was the exhibition of memorabilia from this year's WWE Hall of Fame class. First up was a wall of photos from the careers of the Rock 'n' Roll Express and Theodore R. "Teddy" Long.
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A suit worn by Teddy Long and a selection of Rock 'n' Roll Express ring entrance gear.
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An NWA World Tag Team Championship belt held by the Rock 'n' Rolls in 1987.
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Ravishing Rick Rude's robes.
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A selection of ring gear from Kurt Angle.
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For the last five years WWE has been unveiling a bronze statue of a different iconic wrestler during every WrestleMania weekend. The second one, made in 2014, commemorates Bruno Sammartino, WWE's biggest star in the 1960s and 1970s.
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The first bronze statue honors Andre the Giant.
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The statues aren't exclusively tributes to legends who spent most of their time with WWE, WWF or WWWF; last year's honoree, Dusty Rhodes, worked throughout the entire world, but was most popular and most affiliated with Florida, Georgia and the Southeast.
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This year's statue: Ric Flair.