Longtime Memphis wrestling stars Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee appeared at this year’s NWA Legends Fan Fest over the weekend in Atlanta, joining such former Georgia Championship Wrestling performers as the Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie), Mr. Wrestling II, Harley Race and Tommy Rich.
In between signing autographs and posing for pictures, Lawler stopped by renowned belt-maker Dave Millican‘s booth, where he was happy to find an exact replica of the AWA Southern title that he often referred to as “my belt” in promos for several years in Memphis.
KFR reader Jeremiah Evans surprised Lawler with a pristine copy of the ’76 City of Memphis Magazine with the King wearing the NWA World title. Evans ordered the rare mag through this site after I convinced an employee at the publication’s office to search their warehouses for the back issue and she kindly obliged, digging up dozens of copies to place on their online back-issue order section. (They quickly sold out.) Apparently, Lawler had not seen the issue in years and even showed Dundee, who was sitting nearby.
As a favor to Jerry Jarrett, Lawler briefly worked the Atlanta territory during the Peach State’s wrestling war in the early ‘7os, managed by Gary Hart. (According to Gary’s book, Hart and promoter Jim Barnett were very impressed with the young Lawler and tried to persuade him to go to Roy Shire’s territory in San Francisco following his Atlanta run, but the King’s heart was always in Memphis. Gary didn’t think much of Tennessee wrestlers but called Lawler “the best of that briar patch of hillbillies”–I love a good backhanded compliment.
In early 1982, Lawler returned to Atlanta for a feud with Roddy Piper, which never materialized after weeks of promos between the two. (Booker Ole Anderson fired Piper shortly before their first scheduled bout at the Omni.)
Shame Dundee and Lawler weren’t on hand two years ago for the Memphis Roundtable at the NWA Fan Fest in Charlotte in 2009–would have been great to have them on the panel.