In the winter of 1985, Tommy Fierro slept over at his grandparents’ house in West Paterson every Friday night.
One Saturday morning in March, Fierro’s grandpa turned the television to a channel showing a World Wrestling Federation match.
Fierro, who was eight years old at the time, was sitting on the floor playing with toys. But then he looked up at the screen.
“My eyes connected and I was hooked,” he said.
Three and a half decades later, Fierro is a 41-year-old marketing agent in California Pizza Kitchen’s corporate office in New Jersey. He also has a wife, a daughter and a house up in Wayne, which is located about six miles from West Paterson in Passaic County.
But deep down, Fierro is still that kid who got hooked on pro wrestling. It’s not just deep down, either. Fierro is as public about his side passion as you can be.
He runs three “’80s wrestling” social media accounts with over 250,000 combined followers. Fierro started the pages late in 2016 “as a hobby,” he said. But after they blew up, he realized he needed to capitalize on the attention.
The wrestling junkie decided to create an ’80s wrestling convention. He booked over 20 big wrestling stars, including Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Wendi Richter, from the sport’s golden era.
Fierro scheduled the convention for April 27 at the iPlay America center in Freehold Township.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., ’80s stars will sign autographs and take pictures with fans. Attendees will also be able to bid in an auction that will include items like “Hulk Hogan’s bandana,” Fierro said.
“It’s like Comic-Con but everything’s wrestling instead,” Fierro said.
After discovering pro wrestling in 1985, Fierro became obsessed. He collected action figures of his favorite stars. He made his parents take him to the Brendan Byrne Arena, now the Meadowlands Arena, in East Rutherford for matches. He also never missed the sport’s biggest event: WrestleMania.
Fierro’s passion never subsided with age, either. As a senior at Passaic Valley Regional High School in Little Falls, Fierro skipped his prom to promote a nearby wrestling event.
“Once it’s in your blood, that’s it,” Fierro said. “It’s hard to get out.”
The lifelong New Jersey resident promoted local conventions and shows for almost two decades. But he stopped in 2010 to focus on his marketing career.
Wrestling helped him figure out what he was good at.
“I love promoting,” Fierro said. “Not just promoting wrestling.”
After years away, though, Fierro missed his side hustle. He created the social media accounts to promote his favorite era, the ’80s. Wrestling was just more fun back then.
“Everyone was a character. You’d have a giant, a fat guy, a million dollar man, a cop, a guy with a bird, a guy with a dog,” Fierro said. “Guys today are just all jacked up.”
Fierro plans to continue promoting wrestling events after this one. He is also super excited to have so many of his favorite stars in one room.
“It was larger than life for me as a kid,” he said. “If you’re a wrestling fan and you walk into that, it’s like being a kid on Christmas morning.”