Today, I am so proud and honored to have a very very special guest. One of the greatest female wrestlers of all time. She was big in the 80’s. Former WWE Woman’s Champion and Woman’s tag team champion with the famous tag team The Glamour Girls managed by the Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart. She was part of the Rock and Wrestling era. She is still active today. The one, the only Leilani Kai. Welcome to Tales from the Turnbuckle:
TFTT: Growing up as a kid, who where some of your favorite wrestlers to watch?
LK: The Hollywood Blondes managed by Humperdink, Bob Roop, Archie “The Stomper”
TFTT: What made you decide you wanted to be a pro wrestler?
LK: I saw Bonnie Watson and Sherry Lee having a match and it really grabbed my attention. I began asking around and was directed to Moolah’s.
TFTT: After high school, you began your wrestling training. What made you decide you wanted to get trained by the Fabulous Moolah?
LK: She was the only school that I was told about. I didn’t even know who Moolah was. I had just seen two women do it and knew that I could as well.
TFTT: Moolah gave you the name Leilani Kai because she tought you looked Hawaiian. What where your thoughts when Moolah told you, you where going to be a hawaiian wrestler?
LK: I had some family in Hawaii, but I had only been there when I was young. I thought it was a great idea. I was excited to represent the islands.
TFTT: Did you enjoy working the indie leagues before getting signed to WWE?
LK: Oh yes, very much so. I missed it afterwards. It was always adventurous. Girls didn’t stay in territory’s long then, so we were always traveling.
TFTT: What are your thoughts on Eddie Graham, did you enjoy working with him?
LK: Enjoyed working with Eddie very much. It was my chance to come back home to Florida where im from and work and be around friends and family at the same time.
TFTT: I hear alot of mixed reactions of people who worked for Verne Gagne, how was your dealings with Verne?
LK: Verne was always good to us and paid better than anyone else. It was a pleasure being there.
TFTT: Who was the one that discovered you to get signed by WWE?
LK: Moolah was connected with the company and she booked me there. Her girls were the only ones that they would use.
TFTT: I heard that one of the tag matches you did with Moolah, that she didnt want to tag you in during the match and you got heat from that. what happened with that match and after it?
LK: I wasnt very knowledgeable to the sport at that time. Moohlah being the villian that she was, she was in full effect being herself. She was in control and I was still learning. Afterwards, she scolded us like she always did.
TFTT: What are your thoughts on working with Fabulous Moolah in the WWE in the ring and behind the scenes?
LK: She was a tough coach and taught us alot. She was very well liked there and we were all privlaged to be able to go to all the places that she had connections with to learn and work.
TFTT: Do you have any interesting Fabulous Moolah stories?
LK: Once she left her wallet behind a can in the dressing room. She was hiding it and forgot about it. We drove all the way home and had to turn right around and go back. It was 300 miles each way. We were so exhausted by the time we finally made it home. Another story, we all used to live in apartments on Moolahs property. She had binoculars and she would spy on us with them.. (Laughs)
TFTT: Did Moolah really take most of the money they gave her to pay you and other female wrestlers?
LK: Since she’s gone now, id rather pass on that question.
TFTT: What where your thoughts on Bret Hart?
LK: I think Bret is wonderful. I love his whole family. I’ve stayed over night before at his parents house.
TFTT: I heard Andre The Giant liked you. What where your thoughts on interacting with Andre The Giant during your time in WWE and any interesting Andre stories?
LK: Andre had a circle of friends. I was lucky to be in that circle. I took care of Andre on the road alot. We were once all on a small plane and we were in a bad storm. He kept me comforted during that trip. I was so terrified. We were in a very bad storm in a seven seater plane. Andre always treated his friends great, he would rent entire restraunts out for us to eat at. And you never would know who Andre would have coming to the restraunt when he would rent them out.
TFTT: Was Andre always in alot of pain?
LK: Yes, he would try to not show it but pain was a issue. I remember him being in bad pain at the first Survivoir Series.
TFTT: What where your thoughts on Bruno Sammartino?
LK: Bruno was a huge star when I first got there. I didnt get to interact with Bruno too much.
TFTT: How was your interactions with Pat Patterson?
LK: He was always good to me. We went out a few times. He was so great to work with, a real mastermind for the business. I like him alot. Because of him, we were able to do The Glamour Girls.
TFTT: How was it like working for Vince McMahon, is he as mean and bad as some wrestlers say he is?
LK: Vince was always a perfect gentleman to myself and the co workers around me. You cant appease 3000 people. I think hes done a great job running his business. Hes taken out sport to the next level, in many ways.
TFTT: Did Vince ever rub you the wrong the way?
LK: Never, if I had something to say…he would look you straight in the eyes and you could say it.
TFTT: What are your thoughts on working with the late great Sherri Martel and any funny Sherri stories?
LK: Ahhhhh Sherri, Sherri, Sherri. She had the most wonderful heart. We were close friends before she even started in wrestling. We we’re once invited to Jerry Lee Lewis birthday party. Sherri had alot of friends and is missed everyday. There were times that we would be so broke, and Sherri would always find a way.
TFTT: What where your thoughts on working with Cyndi Lauper and the whole Rock n Wrestling Connection?
LK: Rock n Wrestling was a great connection for the time. Cyndi was kind to me. I remember coming back from Japan and my hair was fried. Cyndi had her hairdresser give me a make over before the event. Ill never forget that.
TFTT: After Wendi Richter defeated Moolah for the championship, WWE decided to put the championship on you. How did you feel when wwe told you that you where going to be getting the championship from Wendi at the war to settle the score?
LK: It was kept from me for a long time. Don Muracco was the one who actually told me. He come up to me at the event before and started raising my hand up and down. I was nervous to be honest.
TFTT: What where your thoughts on Wendi Richter an dropping the belt back to her only one month after you defeated her for it?
LK: Wendy was very popular at the time. I enjoyed being a part of everything that we did. I was happy for Wendy as I knew she would carry the belt well. In my mind at the time, I was still interested in wrestling in Japan.
TFTT: How was it like interacting with Velvet?
LK: She was fun loving, could sew great, lived next door and was a great friend. We had slumber parties alot.
TFTT: Did you ever get a chance to interact with Miss Elizabeth, was she a nice person?
LK: Yes, Liz was a great person and Randy was very protective of her. She would ride with Judy and I places and he would be waiting in the parking lot for her when we arrived.
That wraps it up for Part 1 of the interview. Tomorrow I will post the final part of the interview. Really enjoyed hearing these stories from Leilani. Very nice person!