Morales emerges as highlight of reunion
CHRIS SOKOL - SLAM! Wrestling
- photos by Steven Johnson
CARTERET, NJ -- The legends came out to play in for Wrestling Reunion III on Saturday, headlined by the reclusive former WWWF champion Pedro Morales.
The Holiday Inn in Carteret, NJ was jampacked with hundreds of fans and many wrestling stars, both past and present.
The convention opened at 10 a.m., and fans were greeted by many vendors and independent stars and legends such as Jimmy Valiant, Demolition Ax (Bill Eadie), S.D. Jones, Nikolai Volkoff, Tammy Sytch/Sunny and former WWE and movie star Zeus. Throughout the day, they themselves paid homage to Morales whose appearance was yet to come.
"He was a good guy to me," said S.D. Jones, who often rode with Morales when they wrestled in the Northeast. "He treated us just like one of the guys, even though he was the champ."
Jimmy Valiant fondly remembered the heyday of Morales, "He was very popular. We had some great battles with him because the fans really loved him."
The morning autograph session was packed with stars including Ron Simmons, Butch Reed, Kimberly Page and Savio Vega. Jim Powers stopped by as well to sign free autographs on all personal items. The stars were very kind and shocked as how many fans came out to see them.
"I'm very impressed with the turnout," said Ron Simmons, formerly known as Faarooq in the WWE. Simmons sat side-by-side with Butch Reed to showcase the reunion of Doom, although the two said thay keep in regular contact outside of the public eye.
Ron Simmons visits with Sunny (Tammy Sytch)
The second autograph session was the home run, as fans turned out in droves, causing such a massive buildup that the session lasted three hours instead of two. This session contained Johnny Rodz, Jose Estrada, Abdullah the Butcher
, Carlos Colon and Morales. The appearance of Morales was easily the highlight of the Wrestling Reunion. Event organizers said they worked for years to land Morales, who was WWWF champion from 1971 to 1973.
Morales, who lives in New Jersey, said he was "very pleased" about the reaction of the fans. Morales, who was WWWF Intercontinental champion and tag team champion (with Bob Backlund), greeted convention goers with a broad smile and handshake, and took time to talk to fans who approched him almost reverently.
"I thought it was going to be mostly children," he said, in explaining his reluctance to attend fanfests, "But it is mostly adults."
The day was capped off by a Q & A session which featured all the attendees. From there, Jimmy Valiant, Johnny Valiant, Demolition Ax, Zeus and Nikolai Volkoff went over to a local East Coast Professional Wrestling (ECPW) event. Ron Simmons and Butch Reed also appeared unscheduled to watch the matches and give pointers to the wrestlers. All the stars who came down were absolutely tremendous and really touched the hearts of the stars and fans.
May 15, 2005: Reunion to bring Valiants back together
Nov. 19, 2004: Wrestling Reunion II: The Mountie steals the show
Nov. 14, 2004: Wrestling Reunion II: Legends reunion a success in NJ
June 2, 2004: New Jersey reunion for wrestlers too
Wrestling Reunion website
East Coast Professional Wrestling
Chris Sokol attends way too much wrestling, being blessed by living close to so many events from his Long Island, NY home. He can be emailed at CJS137@aol.com
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