CHARLOTTE – The theme of the day is “the line forms here,” be it waiting to get registered, waiting for autographs, waiting for photo opportunities or waiting to meet one of the vendor guests; it’s the price you pay for so much talent in one place.
The first full day of the NWA Legends Fan Fest is always full of new vendor guest faces and new autograph stage wrestlers. Fans are exciting to see some old standbys like Greg Valentine or to stop by Jim Cornette’s table to personally get a tie autographed or buy a DVD or his book. Over the past few Fan Fests, promoter Greg Price has learned how to better manage lines and to keep things rolling for those attending. There may be lines but they don’t last long.
And there were guys trying their lines on “Sunny” Tammy Sytch but she has heard them all before.
6:08 AM- Wait a minute why am I up with less than six hours sleep? Time to shower and grab some breakfast at Shoney’s.
7:30 AM- Shoney’s breakfast buffet lays the heavy foundation for a long day of waiting. Wes Weger and I discuss our day of airport shuttling and balancing that with what we want to do at Fan Fest today.
9:00 AM- I pick up Greg Valentine at the airport, he shows me his knee injury that has kept him out of the ring for some time.
10:00 AM- Back at the hotel NWA Fan Fest is open and in full swing. Barbarian and Warlord have a huge line to get a photo with them. Fans are buzzing and money is flowing in the vendors room. At some point I buy a few old Los Angeles programs from Michael Baum and an autographed ring-worn necktie from Jim Cornette.
12:00 PM- Just hanging out talking to old friends Amber Gertner, Brad Stutts and Jeff Rudd at the Highspots.com table. Those $5 ROH DVDs are disappearing from their bargain bins. Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Matt Borne appear and are taking photos as is Shelton Benjamin at the Highspots tables.
12:30 PM- Have lunch at Zapatas with Wes and our new friend Yolando.
1:15 PM- Sitting with Ken Spence and Lumbee Warrior discussing the finer things about Sunny as she sets up her table.
2:00 PM- Go to airport to get Sir Oliver Humperdink, Scandor Akbar and Jerry Brisco only to find no one got Sonny King or Buddy Roberts, so we decide to give those waiting the longest a ride and go back for my original trio. Sonny King shares his thoughts with me on wrestling then and now. Sonny is not a fan of Johnny Powers and Pedro Martinez and the IWA. Lets just say the story and language are very colorful. Humpy calls and says they found a ride with Percy Pringle so no need to return.
4:00 PM- Sit in lobby and talk old wrestling bulletins with Mike Mooneyham and Jim Ryan.
5:00 PM- Go to room to check email and Wes brings Terry Funk in for a beer. We get some delightful conversation with Mr. Funk. I help get Terry directions where he needs to be at 7 o’clock for the Hall of Heroes. I hope he makes it.
6:00 PM- Meet in lobby with Pete Lederberg and Jeff Bowdren and others to go to the Penguin for dinner. The place was packed so Pete and I eat at wall counter so I can get back to make later airport run. Again a long line to eat here.
9:00 PM- Hall of Heroes was delayed and the inductions begin. Jerry Brisco can really tell some stories about Johnny Valentine and Greg Valentine. Greg says he wishes he still lived in Charlotte and is grateful for the honor. I need to get Valentine to the airport but it’s 9:20 and he won’t make his flight. Dave Millican inducts Reggie Parks who says at last count, he has made over 4,000 belts. The Assassin (Joe Hamilton) inducts Mr. Wrestling II (Johnny Walker) and put each other over. Dory Funk Jr/ is talkative and does a nice job telling the tale of the Blanchards. Joe Blanchard is equally as reaching in his induction. Terry Funk does a great job putting over Billy Robinson and somehow talks forever without mentioning the AWA or Verne Gagne in his praise for Billy. Jim Ross inducts Danny Hodge and to no ones surprise Ross paints Hodge as the great American athlete.
During this Greg Valentine, finds out his flight had been delayed until 11:30 PM so we are off to the airport in the rain and fog and a long line of traffic but we make it on time.
10:45 PM- The line at the bar for a beer is unreal. Hang with Jim Ryan, Wes and others, see Sonny King sitting in the back so join him and he tells me his tales of working for the original Sheik, Ed Farhat and being trained by Lou Klein. Billy Robinson and Jerry Brisco renew a old friendship while Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Jim Ross and Reggie Parks enjoy a cocktail and meet their fans.
Midnight- It is time to go renew that internet connection that expired now and write my recap.