NWA Fanfest Review = WOW!

This past week I had the honor of attending the NWA Legends fanfest in Charlotte, NC. as a representive of the CAC. I had made arrangements with the CAC’s office &  Greg Price prior to my arrival and they had all necessary paper work waiting for me at the registration desk.

We arrived Wed. night. Called CAC member Emily Miller and she guided us to the lobby of the Hilton. After a few minutes outside we journeyed to the “work room”. VIP bags was being made for the VIP attendees that would show up Thursday. Annette and myself hung out there for awhile and chatted with Patsy Hughes(another CAC member). We decided to journey up to the bar and get some supper.

Due to the hotel being booked full. We stayed across the street at the Holiday Inn (we had to leave Friday evening in order for me to be back home Saturday to teach school at the local community college). So we headed over to the Holiday Inn checked in and was well pleased with the room. We did book Friday night (for a sat. checkout) at the H.I as we thought we would hang out till about 9pm and then go to the room freshen up for the ride home and checkout roughly around 10pm (that didn’t happen).

Myself, Peggy Lathan, Annette

Thursday morning/afternoon we decided to journey on over to the Hilton. We parked the car and I was standing outside the car waiting on Annette to get some things out of the car and I hear some one hollering, “Dollar man, All right!” Turn around and it’s Jimmy & Angel Valiant! We made our hugs and how ya beens and headed to the lobby. We journeyed downstairs and I looked at Annette and said,”We aint suppose to stand in this long line”. I called Emily again, She said walk on by everyone and keep following the crowd and you will see us. Sure enough 10-15 minutes later we found them. As we was fighting the crowd, We see two more CAC members. Peggy and Clay. Two super fine friends we just met back at the CAC reunion in April. Peggy and myself had heard about each other for years. And back in April it felt like we had known each other since childhood. Annette worked at the gimmicks table with Emily and Patsy along with Emily’s niece, Leigh. And myself,I journeyed around pushing the CAC.

I caught up with Harley Race. Chatted with him about some CAC business along with his wrestling school. It’s always good to see Harley.. Harley is to the Mid Atlantic wrestling scene, like Dean Smith is to the Tar Heels. Was shocked when I turned around and seen CAC member Bruce Tharpe. Bruce and his wife had come to the fanfest. We chatted awhile and went our different ways for the evening. With hopes of catching up later on.

Friday was another busy day(for Annette) as she helped handle the photo ops with Patsy and Emily. Myself, I was pushing the CAC. Emily introduced me to Jackie Crockett. Jackie was the camera man in the Crockett promotions. I would love to tell some of the stories Jackie and I discussed. But to protect the innocent, I will leave them for my “book” some day.

Walked through the vending area and was introduced to Mike Jackson. He was interested in the CAC as I mentioned names that had attended in the past. Talked with the “Patriot”, chatted with Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Then Jimmy Valiant grabbed me and told me to come talk to Ivan.  How many Ivan’s you know in pro-wrestling? I knew right away it was Koloff. I love “old school” And to be standing between Ivan and Jimmy listening to them argue about who could do what was simply amazing. They was working the crowd like normal ! What a blast that was! Old School at it’s best!

Photo Courtesy Bill Apter & "Tadpole's" cell phones.

I was informed I had an appointment made from someone in Illinois named “Tadpole” with Bill Apter. Bill was on the stage doing his thing. He called Tommy Young up on the stage and I really perked up then! After he got his stint done, he walked across the floor and I pointed at him, we made eye contact and he said, Morgan! I said Bill! Problem was, these tables was separating us. Keeping the fans away from the legends. He ask me who was jumping over the table? I told him to not move and I would come around. We had never met before! Now you want to talk about a class act fella. Bill Apter is just that. We discussed some things pertaining to the CAC and of course we talked wrestling. Jimmy Valiant even came around and got in on the conversation. He gave Bill his nick name back years ago. Bill said, hold on a second. He whips out his cell phone, grabs a stranger and says take our picture! This stranger takes Bill and my self’s picture and he said watch this. I stood there and he text this picture to “Tadpole”. We laughed and finished our conversation and agreed to speak again later on. 5 minutes after I leave, I get a text from “Tadpole”! She sent the picture back to me. So now I have it! I seen Bill prob 30 minutes later and said, Bill, check this out, I whip out my phone and show it to him. He got a kick out of that!

Seen a  couple people from the days when I broke in this business. Kimmie and Classic Chris Collins. I always enjoyed working matches with CCC. Every match not only did he get better but so did I. Because of not seeing Chris in about 5 years, I knew exactly how the “legends” felt that hadn’t seen each other in more years than that.

Caught up with another true LEGEND! I’m not talking wrestler. But a true LEGEND. That the history books will say in years to come, a ICON in Professional Wrestling, A true gentleman in every word. Rico Mann. The artist of the CAC reunion belts. Rico and I discussed some things about the CAC. What was in in store for 2011. And a few other items of interest that is not ready for public knowledge just yet.

Patsy introduced me to Tommy Young! That’s right TOMMY YOUNG! The Referee TOMMY YOUNG! I had tried valiantly to gain access to Tommy for several years. Penny Banner was going to get in touch with him right before she got sick. And I didn’t want to push her about it. Wendi Weaver was gonna try and things just didn’t work out. So I figured someday if it was meant to be, it would happen. Well this day it happened. I told him about the CAC and I would like to talk more about it later as Tommy was being pulled here and there. So Friday evening, we went to the bar to grab a drink. I set down and turned around and within two inches of me set TOMMY YOUNG! The Referee TOMMY YOUNG! I ask Annette to give me a newsletter and I said Tommy, checkout this EAR! He said what? Looked at it and when he opened it up and seen the reunion review photos he started talking, pointing,asking, he seamed excited as I was to meet TOMMY YOUNG!  He rips out the membership application, fills it out and within a matter of a few minutes, TOMMY YOUNG was a CAC member! I was on cloud nine! I grew up watching Tommy with his famous “Tommy slide” his arguing with the fans. Jimmy Valiant trained me. But really my years of studying Tommy Young is what really trained me. Have you figured out yet…I’m a TOMMY YOUNG MARK and proud of it!

Annette and myself grabbed something to eat and was heading down to the smoking oasis. When at the bottom of the escalator Annette screams, Humpy! It was Sir Oliver Humperdink.We gave our hugs as he was on a mission to go meet Buddy Roberts. We agreed to meet later on as I had promised him a drink in Vegas and it never happened. So later on we got together and set out on the lounge over looking the lake. Partying at “The House Of Humperdink”! Emily , Patsy and a few other wrestlers and promoters joined us and we just had a good old time talking “old school”. Guess what? The time we was heading back home? Remember? I said roughly 9-10pm. I got to be teaching Class at 8:30 Saturday morning. And it’s roughly 1.5-2 hours drive home. Then another hour drive to school….Well, it’s 1:30ish AM now! We sadly say our good byes. Hugs, Loves and Tears and we walk away from something I just didn’t want to walk away from.

We went across the street and checked out of the H.I. The girl at the counter said, You don’t have to leave till in the morning. I explained to her I had to teach class at 8:30am and she said let me see what I can do. She only charged us 1/2 the cost for Friday night.

Emily Miller, Myself, Patsy Hughes, Peggy Lathan *Photo Credit Peggy Lathan

We get to the car and head down the road. Annette agreed to drive so I could try to get some sleep. That didn’t happen. What did was reflections. reflecting on the friends that was still at the Hilton. And thinking about how dedicated the “boys”&”girls” friendships are even the fans, when they come out to an event like this or the CAC reunion, they are true fans. We come together for one thing. One common interest. We can argue about this match or that match or who was better. But we are all dedicated to a dying art. A art that the younger generations, in years from now, will really not know the true meaning of professional wrestling. The days of nothing more than one light over the ring, or a grey hound bus full of wrestling fans, the smell of cigars and popcorn in the arena’s, or what about the Referee checking the wrestlers boots,knee pads, tights for “foreign objects”, those days are over. Long gone and never to return. but get togethers like the NWA fanfest and the CAC reunions will hopefully always remember “where we’ve been” And the fans that attend these events will hopefully keep this tradition going.

I finally get in the bed around 3:15-3:30 am. The alarm clock screams at me at 7:00am. I get to school barely in time. Sad to admit it. And I hope my boss don’t read this, But the students didn’t learn much this day.

I get home around 4:30pm. Walk in tell Annette I lover her but I’m going to bed! I sleep about two hours wake up with the thought of running back down to Charlotte. I didn’t mention it to Annette cause she would have thought I lost my mind. So later on Saturday night I get a text from one of the “Dollar Dolls” that was in Charlotte. It was a simple and short text message. It said,” Wendi says hi!” WHAT? Wendi Weaver!! I immediately called her and said hand your phone to Wendi! She said she’s on the other end of the bar! I don’t care! Get her on the phone! Wendi gets the phone. Mad as a wet hornet! Why didn’t you call me and let me know you was leaving early? I had ask about Wendi several times. I apologized for not getting in touch with her. But promised her next time I was in Charlotte I would call her. We talked for a few minutes and said our good byes.  A true sweetheart. Just as her mom. Every time I talk to Wendi I get teary eyed just thinking about her mom. I miss Penny and the CAC misses her as well.

Sunday I find out that Bruce Tharpe’s wife fell at the mall in Charlotte and broke her wrist and cracked her tail bone. I want to send out a speedy recovery for those injuries. And the famous Mr. Wrestling, Johnny Walker was rushed to the hospital via ambulance as well. Seams he had fluid build up around his heart. Patsy Hughes went over Sunday and said he was “acting like a typical wrestler” , talking junk and laughing. So the CAC wishes Johnny a speedy recovery as well.

I want to thank Greg Price for putting on a true NWA fanfest. As long as Greg Price is alive, I honestly feel that the NWA will always live in the Mid Atlantic Area. And to, Patsy and Emily or is that Emily and Patsy? Peggy, Clay, Leigh, Sir Oliver Humperdink and all the others I forgot. We appreciate the hospitality you showed us. We all are more that fans. We are more than workers. We are family and we love you all!

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