Josh Watko is one of the regular contributors to Friendly Encounters. As the creative force behind JW's Wrestling Memorabilia site, Josh has sent many pictures and reports from meeting various wrestling legends.
Today, Josh is presenting a report from the NWA Fanfest, a great event for wrestling fans. I'll let Josh take it from here:
NWA Fanfest is a yearly highlight for me as it is for any wrestling fan who attends. Although this year was a bit of a longer trek than normal being that the event was held in Atlanta, I knew that I couldn't pass it up. Dozens upon dozens of wrestling stars from all eras of the sport converged to meet the fans and reunite with one another. Although names such as Rowdy Roddy Piper, Rob Van Dam, Mr. Wrestling II, Stan Hansen, Nick Bockwinkel and many others highlighted fans "Must Meet" lists, it was the inclusion of female legend Leilani Kai that was my goal at the 2011 edition of Fanfest.
Meeting Leilani's partner Judy Martin at the 2009 Fanfest, I had already "completed" half of the Glamour Girls tag team. Many fans will remember the team's matches against the Japanese Jumping Bomb Angels in the WWF. Both Leilani and Judy had equally impressive singles careers with Leilani being The Fabulous Moolah's evil protege during the famous Rock 'n Wrestling era. Leilani was kind enough to do an interview for my own blog leading up to her Fanfest appearance. For various reasons Leilani had not appeared in the wrestling scene for nearly a decade.
One of the highlights of Fanfest is the annual Hall of Heroes banquet. Each banquet table has a group of fans and one wrestling legend. To my surprise, I was seated with Leilani, Judy, and fellow legend Joyce Grable. Having dinner and discussing the wrestling business with these three wonderful ladies was an experience I'll never forget.
There are so many stories of fans finally getting to meet actors, musicians, and athletes only to be disappointed after all their years of fandom. I can honestly say that Leilani went above and beyond any expectation I may have had. Ms. Kai is a truly wonderful person who was surprised at the reaction of her many fans. I'm honored that Leilani and I have continued to stay in touch since Fanfest. I'm also happy to report that the wrestling world needs to be ready...Leilani Kai is back!
I am always happy to run Josh's stuff. He is an eager and knowledgeable fan. If you like wrestling (past or present), check out JW's Wrestling Memorabilia site and the JW's Wrestling Memorabilia Facebook page.
Judy Martin, Josh Watko and Leilani Kai in Atlanta GA-Summer 2011.