TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – World Wrestling Entertainment’s WrestleMania 37 is right around the corner in Tampa but, of course, it’s going to look much different once again this year.
The event was meant to be held at Raymond James Stadium last year. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was moved to the WWE Performance Center, a training facility in Orlando, and held without fans in attendance.
This year, the event will be held across two nights at the stadium with a limited number of fans in attendance.
Numerous events that surround the “showcase of the immortals” will not take place this year. WWE has not yet said if its fan convention “Axxess” will take place. The event usually features memorabilia, WWE Superstar meet-and-greets and autograph signings.
However wrestling fans don’t need to fret. There is a man in New Jersey who is making it possible for those everywhere to see some awesome memorabilia virtually, from the comfort of their own homes.
Mike Parker runs the Pro-Wrestling Mini Museum, all online. He owns merchandise that spans decades and takes photos of everything to post online to his followers and the wrestling community.
Parker said he started watching wrestling during the first-ever WrestleMania when he was in junior high school. He got his first autographs a few years later and his first ring-worn item, a mask, in 1998.
“The thing that really set this whole thing in motion was, there was a sort of an actual museum/store in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was an antique mall and this guy just had stuff, I mean it made what I have here look small,” Parker explained. “He just had stuff everywhere. I was mesmerized. I would go there, it was like two hours from where I lived, but I would still go there once a month at least, even though I had seen everything, just to look around.”
The museum’s owner decided to close shop around three years ago. Parker said fans were able to fill out a request form for items they would like to purchase, so he picked four of his favorite things.
That’s how the Pro-Wrestling Mini Museum was born.
“I basically made my own version at home and it got bigger and bigger. And now it covers this entire basement, plus a little more. A year and a half ago, maybe, I said, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if I actually put this online?’ Because a lot of people have this kind of stuff. You might hear they have it or something, but they just sit on it,” Parker said.
He said the most unique piece of memorabilia he owns is a feather from a ring-worn robe from WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair, known for his over-the-top, sequined getups.
“I’d love a robe, but I always joke that you can get a Ric Flair robe or you can buy a house,” Parker said. “That’s probably the most off-the-wall thing, where people would be like, ‘why would you want that?’ Because I can’t – at least at this stage. You never know, the old bucket list, I’d like to get one.”
As for WrestleMania and other upcoming wrestling events, Parker said he is waiting to attend. He did offer advice to those who will be attending the event at Raymond James Stadium.
He said to be careful, because “it can end.”
“If people go there and they’re on top of each other and not wearing masks…It’s easy to get excited and get caught up, and things start spreading. It’ll just be like, ‘OK, that’s it. We’re back to where we were to the ThunderDome and before that with no fans.’ Basically I would say, it’s the slow process, enjoy it, but be careful. Don’t ruin it, basically!” he said.