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Virtually Challenged: Wrestling Promoter Tommy Fierro Piledriving the Pandemic Through Virtual Signings

An era defined by larger than life characters with even larger biceps, ‘80s wrestling is commonly referred to as “The Golden Age”. From Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant to the “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection”, the decade spawned pop culture’s love for the business that we see today. For wrestling promoter Tommy Fierro, it’s the era that started it all.

“It was the greatest time period in the history of professional wrestling,” Fierro said.  “They all became household names. They were pop culture. That time period and those wrestlers will live forever.”

Fierro took his love for the wrestling world and turned it into an occupation, hosting and promoting wrestling conventions centered around the legends of the business, along with creating ‘80s wrestling social media accounts that have amassed over half a million followers. 

“I started them all from zero followers,” Fierro said. “I started it just as a hobby for fun, because I love that timeframe of wrestling and it brings back such memories as a child. I had no idea it would turn into the following I have today. Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, The Rock, Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre, Edge, Sasha Banks, Ronda Rousey, Chris Jericho, Dolph Ziggler, Finn Balor, and tons of other big names follow the accounts. It got to the point where I said to myself if I didn’t try and capitalize on the following I had, I’d be insane. That’s why I returned to promoting last year after being away from it for so long.”

However, with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, wrestling conventions like Fierro’s 80’s Wrestling Con have been put on hold for the foreseeable future. That hasn’t stopped Fierro from giving fans the opportunity to experience the joy of their favorite wrestlers signing their autographs, only this time that same experience can be had virtually.

“I can’t take credit for Virtual Signings because they started popping up here and there, but I knew immediately that this would be the new norm for the foreseeable future,” Fierro said. “ I am in a really unique situation to capitalize off of Virtual Signings right now due to the social media platform that I created. I have over a half a million followers between my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr 80’s Wrestling accounts. I was so intrigued by the idea of being able to bring the Superstars of 80’s Wrestling right into the fan’s living room for a virtual meet and greet. I don’t have to just cater to fans in the New Jersey area, I can hit the entire 80’s Wrestling fan base I have all around the world. It’s a no brainer.”

Fierro’s next virtual signing takes place Oct. 19 with former WWE Heavyweight Champion Sgt. Slaughter followed by Demolition’s Ax & Smash Nov. 16. Fans can learn more about the virtual signings on the 80’s Wrestling Con website, Facebook and Instagram pages.

Read the full interview with Tommy Fierro and Back Sports Page’s Tommy Smith below.

What is like getting to work with people you grew up admiring?

It’s super cool. Honestly, I’ve been doing it for so long I don’t even look at it that way but if you stop and think about it for a second- it’s mind boggling. I grew up the biggest wrestling fan. I had all of their shirts, posters, magazines, and action figures. My parents took me every month to watch it when they came to New Jersey. I’ve been blessed to be able to be a part of something I love so much.  

What are changes that you’ve had to make from a regular con to a virtual con?

80’s Wrestling Con 3 was scheduled for April 19th of this year. At the beginning of March when the coronavirus started hitting the United States hard, I postponed the event right away. Obviously there was no way I would have been able to hold it anyway, but I postponed it before there were laws in place for only a certain amount of people to be allowed indoors. I rescheduled it for September 26th, thinking in the beginning of March that would be enough time for things to get back to normal. Who would have known in the beginning of March it would have turned into the pandemic that it did. To reschedule it again to a new date without seeing how the next few months pan out would just be foolish. I hope and pray 80’s Wrestling Con 3 happens in 2021 but I needed to figure something out if I wanted to keep the momentum of the 80’s Wrestling Con brand going. 

I can’t take credit for Virtual Signings because they started popping up here and there, but I knew immediately that this would be the new norm for the foreseeable future. I am in a really unique situation to capitalize off of Virtual Signings right now due to the social media platform that I created. I have over a half a million followers between my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr 80’s Wrestling accounts. I was so intrigued by the idea of being able to bring the Superstars of 80’s Wrestling right into the fan’s living room for a virtual meet and greet. I don’t have to just cater to fans in the New Jersey area, I can hit the entire 80’s Wrestling fan base I have all around the world. It’s a no brainer.

What is the ultimate goal? Obviously making money is a major goal for everyone, but is there a deeper goal, such as introducing younger audiences to classic wrestling?

The ultimate goal is to obviously make money but yeah, it’s cool to introduce younger fans to classic wrestling. They can obviously watch all of that on the WWE Network and YouTube, but some of these classic photos I post they never have seen before. I posted a Rockers picture the other day and one fan thought it was so cool because he didn’t know Shawn Michaels was in a tag team. So yeah, it’s rewarding to educate today’s wrestling fans through classic photos I post from 30-40 years ago.

What is your favorite wrestling moment as a fan?

That’s tough, there’s a lot. For some reason, it always stands out to me when Paul Orndorff turned on Hulk Hogan and joined the Heenan Family. The angle was done so good. I remember being at my aunt’s house for a family party and everyone was outside and I was inside alone watching it. I felt like the world stopped when it happened. So to be able to remember where exactly I was and what I felt so vividly over 30 years later speaks volumes of that moment for me. 

What is it like seeing where the WWE Network was from when you started working on it to where it is now? 

I was literally only with the WWE for a cup of coffee working on it. I would just sit in a trailer and log footage every day. It is super cool though to look back now and say I had a very small hand, with a lot of others that were also doing that job- in helping get it off the ground. I can say I signed a contract to work for WWE and received paychecks from them, even though it was super short lived. 

What makes 80s wrestling so special compared to different eras of wrestling?

Everything about it. The larger than life characters. The presentation. The storylines. The managers. The talk shows. The merchandise. The jobbers. Everything. It was the greatest time period in the history of professional wrestling. They all became household names. They were pop culture. That time period and those wrestlers will live forever. 

Is there someone you havent been able to get at a convention that you want in the future? 

It’s not that I haven’t been able to get them- it’s just that I haven’t had them yet. Hogan, Flair, Bret, Sting. There’s a handful of big names I haven’t had yet that I’d love to. I am very grateful though for all of the names I have had over the past 27 years at my events. There are many stars no longer with us that I have had including Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Bruno Sammartino, “Captain” Lou Albano, Fabulous Moolah, George Steele, Nikolai Volkoff, JIm Neidhart, Eddie Gilbert, Sensational Sherri, SD Jones, Missing Link, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Chief Jay Strongbow just to name a few. I also had guys like Kevin Von Erich and Rick Martel- who are super rare to get now. 

How has promoting events changed from when you first started?

It’s changed tremendously. Back in the 90’s when I started promoting events, there were only a handful of promoters in the area running events. There was no social media back then and fans just couldn’t Email or DM wrestlers and ask them how much they want to sign autographs at a show. Wrestlers weren’t so accessible back then. You just couldn’t get their phone numbers so easily back then. You had to be a part of the business or know someone very well to do it. 

Social media also plays a huge help promoting today. You can literally reach thousands of people and promote your event for free. I am watering from the mouth just thinking about how big my events could have been back in the day if social media existed then. 

With a virtual con, you’re able to get a wider audience from around the world. Are there any challenges with managing that large of an audience compared to being in one city and having people flock to that location?

I find it way less stressful honestly. At a regular Con, I’m bringing in 15-20 guys. That’s 15-20 airline tickets, that’s 15-20 hotel rooms, that’s 15-20 pick-up and drop-offs at the airport. That’s the stressful part of doing the regular Cons. With the Virtual Signing, I’m renting a hotel room and bringing in one guy at a time. I’m running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off at the regular Cons. A virtual one, while still a lot of work to manage due to all the moving parts- it’s, for me, a hundred times less stressful.

Social media is a very important factor in branding now and you have grown a lot on these platforms since the beginning. What is it like seeing those pages grow and are there plans to introduce any new social media accounts for your audience?

I started them all from zero followers. I started it just as a hobby for fun, because I love that timeframe of wrestling and it brings back such memories as a child. I had no idea it would turn into the following I have today. Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, The Rock, Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre, Edge, Sasha Banks, Ronda Rousey, Chris Jericho, Dolph Ziggler, Finn Balor, and tons of other big names follow the accounts. It got to the point where I said to myself if I didn’t try and capitalize on the following I had, I’d be insane. That’s why I returned to promoting last year after being away from it for so long.

How do the wrestlers react to being approached by you for these signings?

Everyone has been great so far. These guys have been affected just as badly as everyone else. They were traveling every weekend all around the United States to events and signings. It’s been a huge financial hit to all of them I’m sure. So for them to be able to sit in a hotel room safe and sign things, I’m sure it’s a no brainer for them as well. 

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