• 04/15/2013 (7:28:14 pm)
  • Bob Mulrenin

August 1st – 4th in Charlotte, NC…

Mid-Atlantic Memories


Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest

August 1-4, 2013

Charlotte, North Carolina

"Minnesota Wrecking Crew" Original Returns!

Mention the name Anderson to a wrestling fan, and chances are good that the conversation will quickly turn to one of the greatest tag teams in the sport's history. Few names have such a rich heritage in the wrestling business. The Anderson Brothers represent tag-team wrestling royalty, and set the bar high for duos that would follow and try to emulate their style and success.

The Andersons were rugged and brutal, but their strategy was simple. They would methodically wear down their opponents - often working over one particular part of the body - before finally pinning or making their victims submit. And when their foes would attempt to make a tag, the Andersons would employ their patented blocking technique to prevent it.

Most fans will remember the latter and more recognized Anderson Brothers version of Gene and Ole. The original "Minnesota Wrecking Crew," however, was composed of Gene and Lars Anderson, with Ole eventually being introduced as a third member. Years later Arn Anderson, a fictitious nephew/cousin, would be brought in as a member of the extended family and would team with Ole as part of the legendary Four Horsemen.

Lars Anderson, now 74, will be a featured guest at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest to be held August 1-4 in Charlotte. Anderson, whose real name is Larry Heiniemi, has many fond memories of working in the Carolinas-Virginia territory during the '60s. It was a special time, he says, and he's hoping to catch up with some of his old colleagues at the August event.

"I'm looking forward to it because that's where we got our first big break. I'm also looking forward to talking to the fans. It always took two to make it all work out."


Continue reading at NWALegends.com...

Former NWA World Jr. Champion Returns To Fanfest!

Former NWA World junior heavyweight champion Denny Brown says he's no stranger to rejection. At 5' 8" and 170 pounds, the undersized performer had doors shut on him right and left as he tried to break into the business.

"Nobody really wanted me because I was so small. Everybody beat the tar out of me," he says. But that didn't deter the tenacious grappler from achieving his dream.

"How many people do you know that come from my type of a background that gets to experience what I've experienced? The thing that I'm most proud of is that I got it." What Brown got was respect from his peers in the wrestling business and four runs with the NWA World junior heavyweight title during the mid-1980s.

Brown, now 57 and still in good enough shape to do some damage inside a wrestling ring, will be a featured guest at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest August 1-4 in Charlotte.

"I attended Fanfest in 2005 and enjoyed it. I'm really looking forward to this year's event."


Continue reading at NWALegends.com...

Bob Caudle To Host This Year's Fanfest Festivities!

Bob Caudle, the longtime television voice of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, is the latest featured guest to be announced for this summer's Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest Weekend August 1-4 in Charlotte.

Caudle's easygoing, straightforward approach at the announce desk made him one of Mid-Atlantic wrestling's most beloved figures; a staple of wrestling in the Carolinas during the '60s, '70s, and '80s and its fans who religiously tuned in each Saturday for their weekly dose of TV grappling.

For years the affable broadcaster served as lone commentator for the show that was taped on Wednesday nights at the WRAL-TV studio in Raleigh, where he also worked as an on-air personality doing the news and weather.

"I guess most old people are like me. We like to think back a lot and reminisce about when things were good. And those, to me, were really good times. They were the best," says Caudle, who will turn 83 during Fanfest weekend.

Caudle, who has missed only two Fanfest events, says he loves attending the annual reunion. "It's a wonderful event. I don't see how Greg (Price) does it each year, but he does a great job."

An inaugural inductee into the Hall of Heroes in 2007, Caudle says he is amazed - and humbled - by the response he receives at the event. "Even older people will come up to me at Fanfest and say they grew up watching me. A lot of younger people also come up and ask for an autograph. It's amazing to me since they're so young."


Continue reading at NWALegends.com...


Legendary Ox Baker Is First-Announced Vendor Guest!

Loud, boisterous and intimidating are three of the more kind words that can be used to describe 6'5" and 325-pound Ox Baker. The iconic wrestling figure has had a prominent career that started in 1962, and Baker quickly gained a reputation for being a "rough, take no prisoners" heel who would antagonize the fans even more when they booed him by replying "thank you, I know you love me."

Baker would gain an unenviable reputation in the ring for using his "Hurt Punch" (renamed from the after Stan Stasiak objected to Baker using the name Heart Punch,) to not only incapacitate, but was blamed for the death of Alberto Torres in 1971 and Ray Gunkel in 1972. Though Torres actually died from complications due to a ruptured appendix and Gunkel from a legitimate heart attack after the match, Baker was blamed for their untimely demise.

Though there would be many a scrape with fans and foes alike over the years, nothing would compare to the night in 1974 when Baker would start a riot when he interfered in an NWF Championship match between Ernie Ladd and Johnny Powers and attacked Ladd. Baker gave Ladd the "Hurt Punch" and as he started to lay in more punches fans charged the ring, wielding chairs, throwing bottles and other trash, and the wrestlers had to fight their way to safety.

Traveling across the country, Baker headlined most everywhere he would work with the exception being in the WWWF. He was set to enter into a program with then-champion Bob Backlund, but Vince McMahon Sr. did not like Baker's look or in-ring ability and quickly sent the Ox packing. 

Baker would hold a number of titles across the country but one of his most coveted was the WWA Heavyweight Championship he won from "Cowboy" Bob Ellis in Indianapolis, working for Dick the Bruiser. "I loved working for Bruiser, he was the best," Baker said. He'd also hold the WWA Tag Team Championship with Chuck O'Conner who would later go on to become "Big" John Studd, the WWE Hall-of-Famer who died in 1995 from liver cancer and Hodgkin's Disease.

Baker had just as an interesting career outside the ring, having been cast in several movies including Jackie Chan's "The Big Brawl" and a starring role in the cult classic "Escape from New York" with Kurt Russell. Baker also had a role in the movie "Blood Circus" as well as making an appearance on "The Price is Right" television show where he lost in the "Showcase Showdown."

"Everyone wanted Ox Baker in their movies because it meant more money, and on their TV shows because it meant bigger ratings," Baker said. "Everybody loved 'the Fabulous Ox Baker' especially that no good Kurt Russell. I made him a star, the no good bum."

For over 50 years Baker has been a larger-than-life figure in professional wrestling, from training future stars (Adam Bomb) to publishing a cookbook to making movies and personal appearances where he is always a featured and favorite attraction.

At this summer's Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest Weekend in Charlotte, Baker will once again be making a highly anticipated appearance as the guest of vendor WrestleStuff Inc. "All my fans need to come to this convention and see Ox Baker, the Fabulous Ox Baker, the star of the show. All the rest are just bums."

James J. Dillon To Induct Thatcher Into Hall of Heroes!

Most wrestling fans fondly remember James J. Dillon as the colorful manager and strategic leader of the famed Four Horsemen. That elite unit, with Dillon at the helm, is universally regarded as one of the greatest factions in the history of the business.

Some fans might be surprised, however, to learn that Dillon had been an accomplished wrestler in his own right with an impressive resume.

Did you know that Dillon once defeated Mr. Wrestling II for the Florida heavyweight championship and held the Florida tag-team title with Roger Kirby? Or that he had the opportunity to don the tights inside "the Mecca of pro wrestling" - Madison Square Garden? "It was my one and only time. It was late in my career against Tito Santana," Dillon recalls.

He had his first televised match in Pittsburgh against the great Killer Kowalski. Dillon even wrestled the legendary Mexican star El Santo - twice. "He was bigger there than Hulk Hogan ever was here or anybody else anywhere else in the world," notes Dillon. In fact, the mercurial manager took part in more than 3,200 professional matches during his career, and held a collection of impressive titles.

But Dillon actually broke into the business as neither a wrestler nor a manager, but as a referee who spent the first few years of his career officiating inside the squared circle.

He had dreamed of being a wrestler since the first time he watched the spectacle on his family's black and white television. "I was hooked," says Dillon, whose early fandom included serving as president of the Johnny Valentine Fan Club back in the late '50s. "I realized he was great without really understanding why at the time because I was just a kid."

Dillon went on to enjoy an illustrious career in the wrestling business that was highlighted by an induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012. The honors will continue with Dillon's induction into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, New York in May.

Another event that Dillon is excited about is the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest this summer in Charlotte. Dillon will be on hand to induct an old buddy and partner, Les Thatcher, into the Hall of Heroes. "He was right there in the beginning with me, and I always look forward to seeing him. I'm honored that he wanted me to do this," says Dillon.


 Continue reading at NWALegends.com...

Tiger Conway Jr. To Make First-Ever Appearance!


Tiger Conway Jr. never forgot the advice his father gave him. "Work is like taking care of a baby. You give it tender loving care. Don't hurt that baby, and remember that the baby's going to crawl before it talks or walks."

Tiger Conway Sr. was alluding to the wrestling profession, and his words of wisdom were absorbed by a son who would learn by example and eventually follow his dad into the business. Those words also would provide added impetus for Conway, a black man, to succeed in a business that was dominated by whites during a period when segregation wasn't a distant memory.

Conway was one of wrestling's young lions when he broke into the pro ranks during the early '70s. An athlete who could move like a cat and perform high-flying maneuvers effortlessly, Conway earned main-event status because of his ability in the ring and a strong connection to his fan base.

His father had been a longtime star in his home state of Texas, but young Conway had seen his dad scratch and claw to make a decent living for his family. As a youngster he recalled his father coming home off the road, sometimes bruised and battered from a grueling match earlier that evening. But before the morning sun had time to rise, his dad was back on the clock, working a second job putting up fences. "Everything was manual labor for my father. He was a very strong man," says Conway.

His strong work ethic and family values endeared the elder Conway to some of the most respected men in the wrestling business. "That's why I think guys like Lou Thesz, Luther Lindsay and Danny Hodge were his close friends. I never heard anybody in the business say anything bad about him," says Conway.

The youngster turned down athletic scholarships from several colleges, including the University of Nebraska, to pursue pro wrestling. And he was really good at it.

Several years into his pro career, he got the call from Mid-Atlantic booker George Scott, who knew Conway's dad and had seen Tiger Jr. begin his career in Houston while Scott was working in that territory. Conway made an immediate impact in the Carolinas, which had become one of the hottest areas in the country, and never looked back.

It's one of the reasons he's excited to be making a return as a featured guest at this summer's Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest August 1-4 in Charlotte. It will be Conway's first time ever at Fanfest, and he is eagerly looking forward to the occasion.

"I'm so happy to be making the event," he says. "I really wish I would have made the others, but I believe I'm happier at this time than ever before. I'm really looking forward to seeing all the fans." 


Continue reading at NWALegends.com...

Wrestling Legends Offer Rare Training Opportunity!

Another exciting addition to this year's fanfest activities is Dr. Tom Prichard's Future Wrestling Legends Training Camp, a four-day talent search for the country's top young male and female wrestling hopefuls.


Prichard, a 30-year mat veteran and, since 1996, one of the most respected trainers in wrestling, will be joined by a bevy of legendary guest coaches including Les Thatcher, Jerry Brisco and Leilani Kai. More guest coaches will be announced over the coming months.

This is a very rare multi-day opportunity, providing more than 30 hours of in-ring training and locker room study. The benefit for the young wrestlers is almost 'once-in-a-lifetime.' It's a very rare opportunity to train with and have unprecedented access to so many wrestling legends at once and over multiple days.

Though the training camp is intended for experienced young wrestlers and referees, beginners and those with aspirations of possibly becoming a wrestler will have a chance to observe, as well.


Continue reading at NWALegends.com...

Gunner To Wrestle Twice Here During Fanfest!


Impact Wrestling's Gunner, who won the inaugural NWA Future Legends Cup competition here three years ago, has been signed to wrestle on both of the live wrestling cards during this summer's Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest Weekend in Charlotte.


A 30-year-old former Marine and graduate of Saint Stephens High School in Hickory, Gunner has had much success in a relatively short period of time.

A former NWA National champion, he defeated Davey Richards in the finals of the NWA Future Legends Cup competition at our 2010 fanfest weekend and wrestled for the NWA World championship before joining TNA. He's also a former TNA Television champion.

This year's fanfest weekend features two live wrestling cards, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

Our VIP "All Access" Pass includes a reserved Ringside seat for both events and early entrance, prior to non-VIPs.

More details about the live wrestling matches at fanfest will be available in the coming months. 

Jerry Brisco Confirms Fanfest Appearance This August!


Some of professional wrestling's younger fans might not remember Jerry Brisco beyond his role as a talent scout for WWE, or stretching back even further, as an on-camera "stooge" for outspoken boss and chairman Vince McMahon. But Brisco didn't exactly become a Hall-of-Famer for that part of his career portfolio.


Floyd Gerald "Jerry" Brisco, younger brother of the late NWA world champion Jack Brisco, was a top-tier performer in his own right for many years before joining WWE and eventually settling into an office position. April 9 will mark Brisco's 30th anniversary with the organization. "It's hard to believe. Anybody that can handle me for 30 years, and I can handle them for 30 years, somebody's obviously doing something right."

It's been a great ride with WWE, says Brisco, who nowadays scours the landscape in search of WWE's "next big thing." But it was in the Mid-Atlantic area where Brisco made his first big splash in the wrestling business.

That's one of the reasons he's excited about his guest appearance at this summer's Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest Weekend where, in addition to signing autographs and taking photos with fans, he'll also be observing and critiquing talent at a 4-day Future Legends Training Camp run by Tom Prichard.

This will be Brisco's third Fanfest, and he is eagerly looking forward to the event. "I absolutely love them. I've seen a lot of fan events across the country, but Fanfest is the best one that I've attended. Greg Price does a tremendous job organizing and putting on these events. He runs them in a very respectable manner."


Continue reading at NWALegends.com...

Mr. Wrestling #2 Confirms Fanfest Appearance!


More than three decades have passed since John Walker has heard those nightly roars from the crowd that would get his blood pumping and adrenaline flowing. Rabid fans would explode into chants of "Two! Two! Two!" as the white-masked hero set his opponent up for his signature, running "million-dollar kneelift."


Nowadays, at age 79, Walker's physical feats are but a distant memory, but the cheers from those adoring fans who idolize the man known as Mr. Wrestling #2 remain golden. While Walker admits his memory might be fading, the rush he got from his days in the wrestling business will be with him until the day he dies.


"You just don't forget something like that," he says. "It was a wonderful time. I wouldn't trade it for anything."


Walker hopes to relive some of those magical memories as a featured guest at this summer's Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest Weekend August 1-4 at the Hilton University Place Hotel in Charlotte. That weekend, he says, can't get here soon enough.


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