Folks, I try as hard as I possibly can whenever I sit down to write something to be as objective as humanly possible. I try to conduct myself as a journalist as much as I can, to give you my opinion without beating people over the head with it. This is not going to be one of those times, because quite frankly; I’m pretty pissed off.
This past Friday, I had to make a rare trek to the Philadelphia airport to pick up some members of the family that were coming in from Florida. My son’s birthday was the next day and everyone was pretty well excited to see each other. As I am walking back from the parking garage with my wife and son I look to my side and I see a familiar face about three feet away, right in our walking path.
The person in question was a man named Kip Sopp, more commonly known as Billy Gunn. Now I stop very briefly to make sure that this is the person I think it is. After all, you don’t normally run into WWE wrestlers or guys that used to wrestle for them on a daily basis. He’s standing there looking at something on a cell phone and I very politely say, “Excuse me…” Before I can get out another word, without even looking up from his phone he just mutters, “Yes, I am.” And gives me a look as if I had broken into his house. He had no idea who I was, he had no idea what I wanted. I was just a guy walking past him in an airport with my family that happened to notice his presence. And without another word ignores me as if I am some guy taking out his garbage.
He made me look like a complete shit in front of my family. I’ve been a wrestling fan all my life. I’m relatively sure the first television program that I watched when my folks brought me home from the hospital was Mid Atlantic Wrestling. I’ve religiously watched since I was a child and have tried to get my son into it as well to continue what my father started with me. Billy Gunn should be damned lucky and grateful that in 2011 someone would recognize him at an airport, let alone a wrestling arena. This is a guy that wouldn’t have a damn bit of what he had if it weren’t for people like me defending professional wrestling when he was a cowboy shooting a starter pistol at the ceiling of a half empty arena during the WWE’s lean years. I hope to Christ that this isn’t the way he treats every wrestling fan he comes across. It's people like him that make me embarrassed to be a wrestling fan.
I should state, that I didn’t come up and stare at him like some form of zoo animal. I didn’t try to get his autograph while he was using a restroom or making a rental car reservation. Hell, at the time he was apparently trying to find a ride from the airport. The gall that someone can blow off a fan that was merely attempting to say hello is disgusting. And my kid saw the whole thing. I’ve taken my son so a couple of WWE shows the past couple of years and I try to project that a good portion of the guys are very approachable if you see them in public, because they are grateful for what we, the wrestling fans have bestowed on them with their success as entertainers. Now I’m not so sure that I was doing the right thing by saying that it’s ok to walk up to your favorite athlete and say that you appreciate what they do.
But Billy Gunn pissed right over that notion. He made me look like an asshole for just wanting to say that I appreciated his work. I had to backtrack and look like I was asking what time it was to save face in front of my family. In three words, he got more heel heat from one person than he ever did in a wrestling ring. I’m only putting this out there for one reason, even if you come up to some guys totally respectfully, and do not ask anything of them; some of them will just act like jackasses to you. So when you see guys like this, don’t support them with your dollars. Don’t buy those autographs at signing shows or their damned pictures. Because you’re not worth a damn to them if you’re not shoving money right in their face. Billy Gunn is damned lucky someone recognized him in an airport, and he should have realized that. Hopefully next time he runs across a fan, he will be a hell of a lot nicer than he was to me.