Pro wrestling legends, Power Rangers at Florida Supercon in July

 

Miami Herald Writer

Wresting and wrestling legends will once again be a focus during the Florida Supercon July 4-7 at the Miami Airport Convention Center.

Meet WWE Hall of Famers Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter and Greg The Hammer Valentine as well as Florida legend Kevin Sullivan.

Florida Super Championship Wrestling provides the mat action, incorporating a few comic book and anime characters in the ring.

Wrestling is just one of many attractions at Florida Supercon, South Florida’s largest comic book, anime, animation, video game, fantasy, sci-fi and pop culture convention.

A highlight will be The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, celebrating their 20th anniversary.

•  Power Ranger interview

It has been almost two decades since Jason David Frank made his first South Florida appearance.

It was in the midst of his initial stint on the wildly popular “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” television show.

The Green Ranger signed autographs at the Festival Flea Market in Pompano Beach with fellow cast member Amy Jo Johnson, who played the Pink Ranger. This 1994 event drew anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000 fans (depending who you ask). It’s an experience that is forever engrained in Frank’s memory for various reasons.

“The show is big, and it’s because the fans are there to support the show,” he said. “How you reach out to the fans is how you pretty much make your career…I was down to do tours back then, and I’m down to do them now. I remember it was hard thing to get Amy there. She doesn’t really do tours at all…We got there and signed for four hours.”

Unfortunately, Frank and Johnson didn’t have the time to sign for such a huge gathering. Many of the crowd who braved the heat in line since the early morning hours left empty-handed and disappointed.

“I will never forget that day because we did upset a lot of fans,” Frank said. “There were 20,000 to 30,000 people who showed up, and we only got through so much. I told them I didn’t want to leave, and they told me we had to. We did the four-hour signing, and they made us leave. To me, that was hurtful to leave everybody that was standing in line to meet you. That day really stands out in my memory. In fact I try to make every show not like that show…I really think me and Amy could definitely fill a house up with 20 to 30,000 fans if she did one with me. I know that for sure.”

The Power Rangers, in its ever-changing incarnations, continue to resonate with viewers and is now celebrating its 20th anniversary. Frank, along with others from the original cast, is among the featured guests at the Florida Supercon that runs July 4-7 at the Miami Airport Convention Center. The stacked line-up will also include George Takei, Kevin Smith, cast members from “The Walking Dead” and more.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Frank said. “It will be great to spend time in Florida on the Fourth of July. I’m bringing my family. I’m excited to see everybody.”

The 39-year-old has been on the convention circuit meeting fans from all walks of life and all ages. The appearances provide one-of-a-kind interactions.

“[Marvel Comics icon] Stan Lee came at my booth the other day and made it a point to see me, give me a hug and told the fans that I’m the man,” Frank said. “I was like, ‘What? That’s Stan Lee. He is a legend, and he took the time to do that for me.’ The Green Ranger has definitely had an impact on people’s lives. That’s why I’m talking to [Haim] Saban about separating the franchise from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to the Green Ranger, kind of like X-Men and Wolverine. I think the Green Ranger in its own self can stand on itself. We’re talking about movies and other stuff like that. So we will see what happens.”

Frank has recently returned from filming in New Zealand for the milestone “Power Rangers: Megaforce”, where he reprises his role Tommy Oliver. Despite fellow alum disassociating themselves from the show over the years, this actor is proud of his time and contributions he has made to the franchise. He contends he is the longest appearing character in the series, with more than 255 episodes and the two feature movies under his belt.

“There are people who have always supported the franchise, and I’ve done that since day one,” Frank said. “Numbers don’t lie. Look at my numbers on Facebook and look at the other ones. There is a lot of jealousy going on and people who have moved on with their life…I make it clear to everybody that this is not my job, as conventions is a hobby for me. I have schools, a clothing line. I don’t need the money. Not to sound that way, but I don’t do it for the money. I do it for the fans.

“On the Power Rangers reunion, it’s nothing about the money for me. I told the fans when this came out that I would do it for free. Did I do it for free? No, but I would have. I told Saban that is one of the reasons why I led the whole 20th year cast’s epic battle. They knew my fans mean a lot to me. Green Ranger is Green Ranger and returns on that show as the Green Ranger.”

The Tommy character has donned other colors including the fan-favorite white uniform, but green has remained the most endearing.

“The Green Ranger has become this world icon like in Hot Topic and everywhere and anywhere you go,” Frank said. “Out of all the other rangers I played it was always green, and I’ve been embracing it for the fans. You look at some of my behind the scenes footage 20 years ago you’ll see me looking into the camera going, ‘Green! Green! Green!’ You’ll see me joking around with all the kids in behind the scenes bloopers, but I’m still like that. I think its cool people have an outlet. I’m not ashamed to embrace it.

“The last show I was at I was told by people that they were abused or this or that and how we got them through life. A couple of people who worked the show told me they weren’t really fans of Power Rangers, but after seeing how I was with the fans and hearing the stories they now became fans. It’s a life-changing experience for people, and I embrace that story.

“I meet a lot of celebrities who I look up to, and when I talk to them, it’s like they end up shattering my dreams. They say things like, ‘Don’t talk to me about that movie? That movie is garbage.’ I never wanted to be that way to my fans. I think it’s important. A lot of people may be like, ‘How can shows change your life?’ It’s like a song. Music changes people’s life. You can hear a song and think, ‘Wow that song reminds me of the time I fell in love or broke up.’

“It brings you back 20 years ago. I meet people who are 28 to 30, and my fan base ranges now from three years old on up to 55 or 60 because of ‘Dino Thunder’, Disney and Netflix and everything else…I never look at myself as a celebrity, and I look at a fan as a fan. I’m a fan of theirs. Their stories pick me up and keep me motivated. It’s a two-way street.”

Even after all these years Frank maintains friendships with some of his old cast members. This includes Jason Narvy, who played “Skull”, and Johnny Bosch, who took on the role of Adam.

“Those guys are really good guys who I stay in contact with,” Frank said. “You know Kat Sutherland, who replaced Amy? I have stayed in contact with her. I start seeing the personality side of the character. I start seeing if they reach out to their fans. Do they care about their fans? So Catherine has built great respect from me in how she has reached out to her fans. Remember she had to replace Kimberly, and that is not an easy role. Seeing her interact with the crowd and people, and everybody loves her now. They tell her, ‘Well, I wasn’t a big fan of Kat, but now I am because you are a Pink Ranger reaching out to your fans after so many years.’ That is important.”

Frank intends to slow down his appearance dates and return to mixed martial arts in the near future. He says he still trains regularly in preparation for a fight down the line. Cameras are also following the actor for footage for his reality show “My Morphin’ Life.”

Follow Frank on Twitter @jdfffn and on his official Facebook page.

For information on his appearance at Florida Supercon, full guest line-up and ticket information, visit www.floridasupercon.com.

“Power Rangers: Megaforce” episodes are airing on Nickelodeon.

Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.

•  Florida Supercon

The Florida Supercon is South Florida’s largest comic book, anime, animation, video game, fantasy, sci-fi and pop culture convention. In its eighth year, the event feature more than 350 comic book, film, television, stage, music and anime guests including George Takei, Adam Baldwin, the stars of The Walking Dead, the stars of Comic Book Men, the 20th Anniversary Power Rangers Reunion and Traci Lords.

There are more than 1,000 activities with celebrity Q&As, industry panels, writing workshops, video game tournaments, bands, dance parties, cosplay contests, cosplay photo shoots and more. The music festival will deliver more than 50 local and national bands. Talent subject to change.

Visit www.floridasupercon.com.

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