gulf coast wrestlers reunion

There is an old quote that says, “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” And nobody took that to heart more than William Moody, who embraced the history of the world as he stepped forward and forged new ground. The past, present and future were of equal importance to him.

One of the things that William truly embraced was the Gulf Coast Wrestlers Reunion (originally called The Gulf Coast Wrestling Reunion). GCWR was an industry-only event for professional wrestlers and their spouses. Formed by the legendary Lee Fields, a member of the Welch/Fuller/Golden clan, this organization gave a place for those in the business to get together and relive old battles, spark new friendships and celebrate their bonds of brotherhood.

Food, drink and entertainment was always provided. The first day was traditionally a spaghetti feed, with many familiar faces getting up on stage, making fools of themselves for fun. The second day was for the awards. All the food was homemade and plentiful, but there never seemed to be enough of the famous banana pudding to go around!

This was a dry event, meaning no alcohol of any kind was allowed on the premises. If you happened to get caught taking a nip (like Don Fargo or “Hippy” Mike Boyette did on a few occasions), you were usually tossed out on your ear.

You never knew would you would see at the events – that was part of the fun. The Fields family were the hosts, as gracious and as welcoming as you could ever hope for. There was always plenty of good homemade food, tankers of sweet tea and black coffee, and big plates of those special Captain’s Wafers cookies. Informality was always the keynote. Nobody was there to put themselves over, and no one felt the need to have their guard up. It was a special atmosphere.

Board members over the years included “Cowboy” Bob Kelly, Lester Welch, Norman Frederick Charles III, Bill and Ann Bowman, plus several members of the Fields family, including Florence and Ida Fields, who always worked so hard and made you feel right at home. Charlie Smith would always work the gimmick table, and Scott Teal would be bouncing around doing everything and anything to make this event come together.

After years of attending, Bill Moody was given the GCWR Pioneer Award in 2004, something he was extremely proud of and humbled by. At that reunion, GCWR president Bob Kelly asked Moody to be on their board of directors. He accepted without any hesitation. Kelly felt it would help attract more people to the events, given his high profile within the industry.

There's just something about working around my heroes, folks I used to cut grass to buy a ticket to see. I can't get enough of their stories, especially the behind-the-scenes tales during the time I was sitting at ringside. This helps me understand why most internet fans today want to know what’s going on backstage. But you know, hindsight being 20/20, if I had the internet in those days, it wouldn't have been so much fun for me. But... that was then, this is now.

Since the Paul Bearer character was so well known to younger fans, he could attract the new generation of wrestling stars, as GCWR had primarily been for older stars of the past and they needed to diversify. He had already been appearing throughout the region, doing independent shots and getting to know the landscape. For a time, Moody and his partners operated Gulf South Wrestling, operating a wrestling school and promoting shows throughout the area.

William ushered in the GCWR Horizon Award in 2006. As he stated proudly, “This award is unique in the fact that the recipient is selected by the members of our reunion who actually work in the independent scene.”

My career has now come full circle, as I am promoting the sport I love so dearly in my home area. I feel that independent wrestling is the grass roots of our industry. If the roots die, the tree dies. I am on a personal crusade to protect our business on the local levels.

Though he believed in the organization and did everything he could to perpetuate its future, he was also very protective of it. He stated his feelings on many occasions, in multiple forums.

It is not a fan fest, and as a member of the board of directors I do what I can to continue the tradition of our private event.

If you are not familiar with the GCWR, it is a professional convention of those of us involved in the professional wrestling industry. In order to attend you MUST be involved in the business, or retired from the ring. Please understand that we treasure the support of our fans, however unlike our big brother the Cauliflower Alley Club, we do not allow fans to attend. This brotherhood is set aside solely for those of us that have dedicated our lives, and make/made our living from pro wrestling.

WHO CAN ATTEND: To be eligible for attendance, you MUST be actively engaged in a legit form of the professional wrestling business, or retired from a career in the ring. This includes wrestlers, managers, referees, promoters and associated talents.

Unfortunately, persons deeming themselves “wrestling historians,” "internet reporters,” or fans of our sport are not welcome. Just because you bought yourself some trunks and a pair of boots and wrestle in your backyard or free for some self-proclaimed indy "promoter" DOES NOT automatically make you eligible.

You MUST have a legit background in our industry. On the same note, just because you decided to run a show or two, and call yourself a "promoter" DOES NOT make you eligible. ALL APPLICANTS will be screened at the door.

You DO NOT want to be embarrassed and turned away at the door. I am prepared for some to be offended by our strict regulations. I'm sorry, but business is business. "Kayfabe" lives at the Gulf Coast Wrestlers Reunion.

We want to remind you that drugs and alcohol are not permitted on the grounds of our reunion, and everyone is expected to act in a professional manner.

Upon William Moody’s passing, it was decided by the board that he would be honored in 2014.

For further information about the GCWR, feel free to contact the web master.

To learn more about the wrestling of this region:

Ron Fuller’s Studcast -- A weekly show that will give you an incredible education.

Crowbar Press -- A comprehensive wrestling education

The Mississippi Wrestling Territory: The Untold Story by Gil Culkin