Memories of Pro Wrestling That Will Never Grow Old

A few months ago, a fan sent me a question on Twitter.  The inquiry was about today’s professional wrestling.  More specifically, why was I not a fan any more.

My response:  I prefer to remember it the way it WAS.

And the way it was, was on full display this past weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina at the NWA Legends Fan Fest.

Paul Ellering, the Road Warriors manager and Tony Schiavone (Courtesy NWA Legends Fan Fest)

Paul Ellering, the Road Warriors manager and Tony Schiavone (Courtesy NWA Legends Fan Fest)

I got into professional wrestling in the fall of 1983 when the Crockett Family (whom I worked for in baseball at the time), needed someone to go to the home of Ric Flair and interview him about his NWA World Title bout with Harley Race at the upcoming Starrcade ’83 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Two longtime friends (and at one time roommates) Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross (Courtesy NWA Legends Fan Fest)

Two longtime friends (and at one time roommates) Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross (Courtesy NWA Legends Fan Fest)

I jumped at the chance.  I grew up in Virginia watching Bob Caudle, David Crockett, Rich Landrum and Johnny Weaver on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and World Wide Wrestling.  I was a big fan way back before watching wrestling was cool on a national level.

That day in October changed my life.  I began doing more and more in wrestling and less and less in baseball until in 1986, I went into pro wrestling full-time.  Thanks to the Crockett Family, Vince McMahon, TBS and Eric Bischoff, I was able to stay in the business for the next 15 years.  I made good money, but more importantly, made countless friends and incredible memories.

Tony Schiavone and Lex Luger, who lives in Buffalo, NY now. (Courtesy NWA Legends Fan Fest)

Tony Schiavone and Lex Luger, who lives in Buffalo, NY now. (Courtesy NWA Legends Fan Fest)

Because of my work with UGA Football and Basketball and the Gwinnett Braves, I never had a chance to appear at a NWA Fan Fest in Charlotte, but this year, thanks to the schedule (the Gwinnett Braves were playing in Durham) I was able to attend, meet fans, sign autographs, pose for photos, do a Q&A session and be part of a roast of the great Ole Anderson.

JR  and I have talked on the phone and sent Tweets back and forth for the past few years, but had never seen each other since 2001.  Bob Caudle and I had not crossed paths since 1988.  I was thrilled to be able to spend time with these two for a weekend an re-connect:

And yes, there is no one like Jim Cornette.  The “Rock Hudson” line was one he used on me back in 1985.  It was an inside joke, and one that brought back memories.

I was also good friends, back in the ’80’s, with Nikita Koloff.  I hadn’t seen him since 1988:

Because of the limited time I had (still had to do baseball each night), I wasn’t able to see everyone in attendance.  But I did get to see and re-connect with others like Kevin Sullivan, Road Warrior Animal, Paul Ellering, Sunny, Jimmy “The Boogie Woogie Man” Valiant (no, he did not kiss me), Paul Jones, Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Tim Horner, Rick Steiner, Mike Rotundo, Lex Luger, Henry O. Godwinn, Ricky Morton, Tommy “Wildfire” Rich, Bobby Fulton, Don and Rocky Kernodle, Bill Apter and others.

Anytime you get a chance to hug Sunny "The first Diva" you do! (Courtesy NWA Legends Fan Fest)

Anytime you get a chance to hug Sunny “The first Diva” you do! (Courtesy NWA Legends Fan Fest)

There were also countless others I missed.  However, they are gearing up for another Fan Fest for next summer, and it is something I hope to be part of each year.  Greg Price, Janie Engle, Monica Jennings, Jim Valley and the countless others who worked and organized the event did a fabulous job.

More information on the event and on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and the NWA can be found at nwalegends.com

If you love the great memories that I am proud to say I helped create, they you will love this.

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