Every year in August, Pro Wrestling enthusiasts mark a weekend on their calendar. It’s a weekend, in which they get the chance to meet their heroes from squared circle wars past, to rekindle the passion they once had. To remember what it was like to be at the local civic center. To transplant themselves back to their living room on a Saturday afternoon sometime in 1985, 87, 75, 78, etc.
That event is the NWA Legends Fan Fest, which for the first time will be held in Atlanta, Georgia this year. The event, which got started and traditionally is held in Charlotte, is on August 4th and runs through the 7th. The venue for the festival is The Airport Marriott. This years fest, will no doubt have a heavy WTBS era/ Georgia Championship Wrestling feel to it; and the tag line for the event is ‘The Last Battle of Atlanta’, a reference to the brutal and classic Tommy Rich/Buzz Sawyer feud which tore through the territory in the early 80’s.
The man, who runs the event, is a man who may sound familiar to fans of the current incarnation of the NWA, Greg Price. Price has put together, in my mind, the fan fest when it comes to wrestling reunions and nostalgia. He is also, as you may remember, the man who was behind the short-lived NWA: New Beginnings promotion based out of Charlotte.
I had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Price recently, as he took some time from his busy schedule in preparation for the coming month’s big event, to talk about a wide array of topics.
Now, we didn’t get to cover some of the things asked. Simply wasn’t time. But Mr. Price was very honest in his answers he was able to give, and said that when time permitted, he would address some of the other topics in more detail. I was able to pick his brain a little bit, though, and his answers provided some nuggets that I think, old and current, fans will find interest in.
The NWA had a reputation of being a ‘Southern Rasslin’ group in the 80’s. That is because of The Crockett Family’s take over of the territories who remained active and loyal to the alliance, and well, you would be hard pressed to come up with any viable territory in the NWA at the time who wasn’t based in the south. JCP, GCW, and Championship Wrestling from Florida were the big boys in the NWA at that time.
While the NWA may have gotten the image of doing most of it’s business down here in the south, that by no means was any indication of it’s fan base. Thanks to WTBS, GCW could boast a truly nationwide fan base. Atlanta wrestling was hot, and it’s fans where vast and spread out before the Crockett’s came in and got the TV. Which of course was after Vince McMahon totally dropped the ball on it.
For me it’s a toss up to the better, old school, NWA City. Charlotte (Greensboro by extension) or Atlanta? The fan fest got it’s start in Charlotte. It plays to a lot of the old school JCP fans. It makes perfect sense. But, Atlanta had WTBS, and GCW. This year, the fan fest hits the road and tries to tap into Atlanta.
I asked Price, his feelings on taking it to Atlanta. “I’ve always thought Atlanta would be bigger than Charlotte.” He stated and continued with, “That’s not a knock, but due to TBS and the national exposure of Georgia Championship Wrestling, the fan base isn’t relegated to just a few states. “ Price also noted the exposure and reach WTBS had and it’s effects on a fan base for GCW and the scope it provided. “There are a lot of folks in many states, even non-Southern states, that grew up watching wrestling on the Superstation.”
Price made his feelings about Charlotte known too, though: “ I love Charlotte. It’s home for me, and I look forward to returning here next August 2-5, 2012 for our 11th NWA Wrestling Legends Fanfest Weekend.”
Shifting gears, we talked about the NWA: New Beginnings promotion he started up, the current NWA, and current wrestling in general.
“The promoter’s pockets weren’t deep enough,” He said with a smile when asked about the demise of the short-lived group. The promotion collected the brightest youngsters on the Carolina and Southeastern Indy scene, all under the NWA banner. The action was good, and after working out some things, could have looked very polished and outstanding. Local Fox Sports Anchor, Bruce Snyder was brought on board and gave them instant credibility from the TV presentation standpoint. And he seemed like he genuinely enjoyed doing his on-camera role.
Besides, Tully Blanchard was the booker. How can you not appreciate a promotion that gives the reigns to Blanchard? If you have any sense at all, you have to appreciate it.
Tully was his point man. Everything came from and went through Tully. He was the be all- end all from the product standpoint.
“Tully has a tremendous mind for the business” Price spoke of Blanchard. And, if you have read any reports of Blanchard on the net about his past or his all-too brief role with WWE Creative, Price gave his honest evaluation of Tully.” incredibly honest and trustworthy person to deal with”, and He (Price) gave his full vote of confidence in Blanchard’s ability and mind for the business.
Blanchard, as it is well known, now counts running a prison ministry as his full-time occupation. Blanchard has been involved with ministry work since leaving the business as a full-time performer after his WWF run as one half of ‘The Brainbusters’ with Arn Anderson.
Would he do it again, though? Did he have plans to get back into promoting shows? “No plans”, He stated. He did not rule it out, but he did touch on the financial standpoint of running a quality show. If you want a classy product, one that looks professional, and isn’t just some part-time insurance agent running a show with backyard rejects in a volunteer fire department, it takes money.
I kind of took from this that in order to run a show that he would want to sign off on, and to represent himself as a promoter, he simply doesn’t have the financial avenues at this time to do so. Basically, I feel his belief is if your not going to do it right, don’t do it.
We touched on the current NWA. I asked his thoughts on it. He gave me an honest answer. It’s how he sees it. Some may not agree with this, and it may even anger a few. However, I agree with him. I basically asked him how Today’s representation of the NWA compared to the NWA of the 70’s and 80’s. Now, keep in mind, the ‘Dead Years’ and all that Mike Rapada as champ stuff, does not factor as much into as one would think. Well, from my stance anyhow.
So, what was his stance on it? Did he see any relation between the NWA of old and today?
“Other than three letters, the “10 pounds of gold” looking the same and a handful of real, quality athletes, there are no similarities”, is the opinion of Greg Price. I share that opinion. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy today’s NWA. I do. I wouldn’t post on an NWA-centric web site if I didn’t. But, at the same time, it’s not the same NWA. And, I’m not saying that is either good or bad, all I am saying is that it is simply just not the same. I do feel that the NWA exists the best way it can in today’s marketplace and still attempt to resemble a familiar NWA.
It’s a whole different world, and as Mr. Price put it, the two ‘eras’ of the NWA are “As different as night and day.”
And, before a crusade is started, No, Greg Price does not keep up with any current product in great detail. As he put it, the only wrestling he sees nowadays is “ the headlines I read on the net.”
The NWA Legends Fanfest returns home to Charlotte next year. This year, some of the faces fans have gotten used to seeing appear at such events will make the trek to Atlanta to meet fans, old and young alike, and rekindle and relive glory days of the past. Some may even re-tell events; some may be reminded. Without a doubt though, good times will be had by all.
The Hall of Heroes banquet will be given a Georgia Championship/WTBS feel for sure this year, as Ted Turner will be inducted into the Hall of Heroes, alongside other dignitaries of past mat wars, of which includes ‘The Dean’ himself, Gordon Solie.
Several meet and greet opportunities abound at Fan Fest each year, and as always the popular ‘Q and A’ sessions will be held throughout the weekend. Also special to this year, ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper will make his first appearance and current TNA Star Rob Van Dam will also be on hand for the festivities. A night of great in ring action will coincide with the Fest, as near by Carrolton will host a night of action that tentatively set will feature some of the best in the world. Advertised for that show are former NWA Champion Adam Pearce, a man whose name has come up a lot on social networking sites, Colt Cabana, TNA’s Gunnar, formerly known as NWA National Champ Phil Shatter, and current ROH Champion Davey Richards. And…. The Alabama Junior Heavyweight Champion, Mike Jackson. The NWA Future Legends Cup will also return to the fold and be decided on the card in Carrolton. Last year’s winner, Phill Shatter (Gunnar) will present the trophy to the winner.
Travel and lodging discount packages are available. For more info on the guest list, schedule of events and the matches in Carrolton, as well as pricing, go to NWALEGENDS.COM.