Ex-ECW, WWE performer part of this weekend’s Icons of Wrestling event at the 2300 Arena
By Bill Gelman
When Brian Heffron steps into the 2300 Arena, 2300 S. Swanson St., it triggers the old memories from his ECW — Extreme Championship Wrestling — days as the Blue Meanie. Yes, the wrestling name sounds like a cartoon character, but he was hardcore. There is even a banner hanging from the rafters that reads “2300 Arena Hardcore Hall of Fame Blue Meanie 2014.” He was inducted with the likes of 2 Cold Scorpio, Shane Douglas and Pitbull №1 and 2.
Come Saturday and Sunday, the former member of the Blue World Order, who resides in South Philly, will be back at the old stomping ground talking with fans, signing autographs and selling his Blue Meanie action figure. The Icons of Wrestling Convention and Fanfest will include a who’s who of professional wrestling — the Four Horsemen, Wolfpack Sting, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Mean Gene Okerlund, Paul Orndorff, The Honky Tonk Man and many, many more. The event, which is taking place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., coincides with four straight nights of WWE action at the Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St. The biggie, of course, is going to be Sunday night’s Royal Rumble.
“It’s going to be a fun time, especially for the wrestling fans in the City of Philadelphia, with all of the rich history,” Heffron said.
The stars are coming in from all over the country, but for Heffron, who grew up on Shunk and Rosewood streets, it’s only a 10-minute walk. He has plenty of fond memories of the building, which has gone through its share of name changes over the years, including Viking Hall. As long as it’s standing, the Blue Meanie will be a part of its history.
“It’s very flattering that they took the time to consider me for the Hardcore Hall of Fame,” he said.
He was also there the night Mick Foley gave his farewell speech before departing to the WWE to perform as Mankind. Diehard wrestling fans recall the days when he teamed up with Stevie Richards and Nova to form the BWO stable, which Heffron said was one of the coolest things he been part of during his wrestling career.
“The night we debuted as the BWO was supposed to be a one-night parody,” he said. “The way fans reacted, it ended up being an eight-month run.”
Several years later, fans at WWE events are still wearing the BWO T-shirts.
“The fact that people remember it all of these years later is flattering,” Heffron said. “I did something right.”
Making it to the WWF, now WWE, was a pretty big deal, too.
“Going to the WWF felt like a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies coming out of the crowd and taking a try at hitting the ball,” he said.
His time with the “premier wrestling promotion in the world” even included a WrestleMania moment in his hometown. WrestleMania XV took place at the First Union Center — now Wells Fargo Center — in 1999. Heffron, aka Bluedust at the time, was in the corner of Goldust, who wrestled Val Venis, Ken Shamrock and Road Dogg for the intercontinental championship.
These days, Heffron is working as a trainer at the Paulsboro, N.J.-based Monster Factory, where he shares his knowledge about the mental and physical toughness that is needed to make it in the business. It includes character development, life on the road and the politics of the wrestling world.
“I will help anyone who is willing to listen,” he said. “Someone helped me along the way, so it’s only fair that I pay it forward and help someone else along the way.”
The wrestling fan in Heffron is looking forward to seeing how Sunday’s Royal Rumble plays out.
“It’s one of the four major pay-per-views in the company, so I expect them to pull out a lot of surprises, especially with the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble,” he said.
The Internet has been buzzing that former UFC star Ronda Rousey is close to signing or has signed with the WWE. Maybe, just maybe, fans will finally get an answer on Sunday.
“I think they are going to shock the world with Rousey making her debut,” Heffron said. “When you have the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble, you want to make a big splash.”
He also noted he wouldn’t be surprised if Nia Jax won the whole thing.
In terms of the men’s Royal Rumble, Heffron is rooting for Finn Balor to be the last man standing.
Heffron plans on watching the Rumble from the comforts of home, after he spends some time with the likes of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham, Tully Blanchard and JJ Dillon.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of the guys,” Heffron said. “It’s going to be great to see the Four Horsemen again. It’s also going to be great seeing the NWO Wolfpack Sting with the red paint. He is one of the classiest wrestlers I ever met.”
Before the convention gets underway, Heffron plans on starting his weekend at the 2300 Arena on Friday night for Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore event. The two were part of the old ECW.
“This is going to be a wrestling fan’s dream weekend,” he said.
Follow Brian Heffron on Twitter @BlueMeanieBWO.
Admission to the Icons of Wrestling Convention and Fanfest is $20 and does not include autographs or merchandise. For more info, including a pricing list, visit thecollectorfest.com/tickets.