DISCLAIMER: This is a LONG one

Date: 7/6/2014
Time: 9:54PM
Location: Chicago, IL

I won’t get Into a lot of specifics here, because I want people to download the podcasted shows and I don’t want to spoil anything. So instead, I’ll talk about new friendships, respect, and some of the amazing people I met this past weekend.

I’m currently on a plane, during takeoff from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. My mind is rushing with so many amazing memories of so many amazing people. I grew up as somewhat of a loner. Sure I had friends, but I wasn’t exactly “Mr. Popularity”. A lot of my friends moved away, got married, created families. Not me. Heck, I again live in the house I grew up in. I had my own apartment for 7 years, but both of my parents became ill a while back so I moved back home with them to help take care of them in any way I could. Funny thing is, their health improved while mine got worse and I underwent surgery to repair my spine, which was severely-injured due to wrestling. In fact, I still have two more surgeries upcoming, on my neck and my hip. But those are a different story for a different day. Anyway, I’ve been a professional wrestler for over 14 years now. I’m not famous. I’m not rich. I’m not seen on national television every week. Thousands of great wrestlers forever work the independent circuit, and never get that one “big break”. That’s simply the way it is, in any industry. Some of the best are also some of the least-known. Not that I’m saying I am one of the best wrestlers on the indy circuit, just saying not everyone gets a chance at the big time but that doesn’t mean those who don’t are any less qualified than those who do. A lot of times, it’s who you know, or right place/right time. This weekend, I felt “big time”.

I attended FrogPants Studios’ annual “Nerdtacular” event. Which is a 2-day convention specific to FrogPants Studios and their works. The convention consists of discussion panels, live podcast recordings, costume contests, tabletop gaming, and so much more. But THE most important part of the convention, for me, was the love & respect I was shown from everyone there. I honestly went there thinking “I’ll go to this once and meet everyone and that’s it. It’ll be the same thing next year, so no real need to come back.” Bullshit. Within 20 minutes of arriving at the Snowbird resort, which housed the event, I had met so many great people that I decided I would be there again every year that I possibly could attend. As I said before, I’m not famous or well-known. The people who work for/with and maintain FrogPants Studios are more well-known than I am. But this weekend I was made to feel just as important as all of them. I expected to introduce myself to everyone and make some friends. What happened was, most people already knew who I am and thought the whole “wrestling thing” is cool. I was amazed, and so so humbled. I was told several times that I am “famous among our FrogPants community”. That blows my mind, that people whom I’ve never met in person, could consider me famous and asked for pictures with me and autographs. I even signed a few 8×10’s for some pretty important people. The most surprising situations for me were when people whom I’ve never spoken to (Twitter, Facebook, email) knew who I was just on sight. That is what made me feel famous or important. People know me? But how? I’ve never really done anything of any merit. Nor do I deserve this recognition. The two guys who come to mind first that knew who I was without having spoken to me in the past are Scott Fletcher and Brian Dunaway. I’m sorry if I’m rambling, but this was just an amazing weekend.

I want to take some time right now to talk about, and directly address, just a few of the people I met this weekend, with one more quick note at the end. I cannot talk about everyone because I simply don’t have the time, so if I’ve left you out, PLEASE do not take offense. Also, I’m sorry if some of this comes off as sappy or whatever, but I’m an emotional guy and I honestly appreciate people and respect more than anything in the world.

Scott Johnson: First of course. The man who captains this here Nerd ship, and does it brilliantly. This guy is simply a tremendous person, a great guy, and a terrific husband and father. I began listening to Scott’s shows a few years ago, back when Andy and then Randy were on The Instance (WoW podcast). We speak frequently via Twitter as well as a few emails, and I’ve been a guest on Scott’s morning show “The Morning Stream”, along with his co-host Brian Ibbott. Doing that show was such a huge thing for me. I appreciate Scott’s passion for what he does, and it shows through in his work. But more importantly than that, I love his passion for his family. The love and respect that his family (wife and 3 children) have and show for one another is so amazing to see, especially in today’s times where everyone is so isolated and buried in their own electronics’ screens that people in the same room sometimes don’t even speak to each other verbally but instead tweet or text, while sitting in the same room. Scott & Kim have raised three great children and again, the love and respect shown just melts the heart. If I ever marry and have children, I’d model my family after the Johnson’s. I cannot thank Scott and Kim enough for such a tremendous event, and for bringing together a community of people who are some of the most amazing I’ve ever met.

Brian Ibbott: Another terrific guy. It was so great to finally meet you and it was a pleasure to meet your wife Tina and son Tristan. I wish we had more time to talk and hang out, but I sincerely appreciate the time you took to chat with me. Thank you sir, and I look forward to seeing you again next year.

Justin Robert Young (JuRY): What can I say dude, you are so the man. You and your woman are two of the coolest and kindest people I am honored to know. From always being funny, to stopping me every time we saw each other this weekend for a hug and a quick chat, you are just an awesome guy. I look forward to the next time I see you and I look forward to chatting when we can. And dude, set aside an hour every 2 weeks so we can record!

Willie Dills: DUDE! One of my closest FrogPants friends. We finally got to hang out and party together after talking about it for a couple months. Such a great time getting to hang, bro. I wish we had more time to hang but I appreciate the time we did have. I will see you soon, my friend. Thank you.

Tom Merritt: I’ve been a supporter of yours for quite a while. You are the reason I began watching TNT. You’re also the reason I stopped watching TNT and began watching DTNS. It was great to meet you and hang out for a bit when there was time. I appreciate all your kind words and I hope we can work together in the future on that secret “possible” panel we discussed. Thank you sir for your kindness and respect. Oh, and one last thing: F Leo! Just kidding! Maybe.

Not Patrick Beja: Patrick is a f’n great dude, who’s not only funny but totally cool to just listen to. Especially on a live show, totally entertaining. I wish we had more time to hang out. I actually didn’t even “officially” meet Patrick until a few hours before I was leaving on Sunday. He was very busy most of the time and anytime I did see him, I didn’t want to interrupt. But Sunday we had a chance to meet and chat a bit, and I was very appreciative. Keep doing what you do, man. You’re awesome. Thanks. And anyone who offers me chocolate is ACES in my book!

Les Gebhardt: Dude, it was so great to meet you after being Facebook friends for a little while now. I really enjoyed our CAH game the other night. You’re a terrific guy and I am very happy that we got to hang out. I hope to see you and your daughter again next year. Thank you, my friend.

Caitlin Lambert: What can I say? One of my favorite people I met. You and Mike are good people and I look forward to seeing you again soon. Much sooner than next years Nerdtacular, ya know. Such a sweetheart with a great guy. I dig you both. I really enjoyed talking to Mike about our injuries and comparing, very informative. Thank you, and please keep in touch. Text me, tweet me, FB me. Whatever 🙂

Kathy Hopkins: The cheesiest of G’s! Really dug hanging out with you and doing your show. Thank you for the great times, and for having dinner with me Saturday night. You’re awesome!

Scott Fletcher: Terrific meeting you! Thank you so much for the favor you did for me. I look forward to seeing you again next year. Thanks man, you too are awesome!

Darrell Skeels: You, young man, are a terrific person. Can’t tell you how great it was to meet you and hang out. I’d been looking forward to it for a while and it was a blast! Thanks for introducing me to Jeremy, too. He’s a great kid with a great dad. Stay in touch!

In closing, let me say this: the display of respect and community that I saw this weekend proves that there ARE good people out there, and there’s more than you may think. Thank you FrogPants. Thank you Scott Johnson. Thank you nerds. I love you people. -Joey Image

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