Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Very Young Arn Anderson Makes His WTBS Debut

It's Saturday, so time for a little more Georgia Wrestling this week, especially in light of all these new complete shows being posted on YouTube from a time when there was so much cross-utilization of Mid-Atlantic talent on the Georgia TV shows (as discussed last week here.)

It was the first show of 1982, and current Mid-Atlantic star Paul Jones was making the second of two guest shots on "Georgia Championship Wrestling" for booker Ole Anderson, who was booking both the Georgia and Mid-Atlantic territories at that time.

What is more notable from a historical perspective about Jones's appearance, however, was his opponent on this show. His name was Jim Vertaroso and host Gordon Solie billed him as a power-lifting champion out of Rome, GA. What you will see is a big guy who is pretty green in the ring, but shows great promise. The longer you watch though, you will notice that the young man in the ring with Paul Jones is the future Arn Anderson. believe this was Arn's television debut. 

Virtaroso (and we're assuming that's how he would spell it) would later wrestle under his real name Marty Lunde in Georgia and the Mid-South area before Ole Anderson gave him the name Arn Anderson when he came back to work for him in 1983.

Arn's look here in early 1982 is quite different as he is much heavier and with that big 70s looking mustache. Who knew watching this show just after the new year's celebrations were over that they were seeing a future superstar and Hall of Famer in action against "No. 1" Paul Jones.

The match with Paul Jones vs. Jim Virtaroso (Arn Anderson) is at 12:54 in this video.

The show features co-host Roddy Piper with Gordon Solie, and also includes The Masked Superstar and the Super Destroyer, Dick Slater, Stan Hansen, Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk, Tommy Rich, Buzz Sawyer, Mike Jackson, and many others. Plus, fellow belt-marks will enjoy the presentation of new National tag team title belts to reigning champions Bob and Brad Armstrong at the opening of the show.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ken Conrad Added to Crockett On-Air Talent Roster

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

For years we've wondered about the name of one of the promo announcers for Jim Crockett Promotions in the early 1980s. Through the recent help of some friends of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, we've solved that mystery.

We can now confirm that the man interviewing Jim Crockett, Jr. in the video above is Mr. Ken Conrad.

Conrad worked for Jim Crockett Promotions from the fall of 1981 until around February of 1982 (we're still researching the exact dates) hosting the local promotional spots that were inserted into the syndicated programs "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "World Wide Wrestling." He began not long after Crockett moved their studio television production from WRAL in Raleigh to WPCQ (now WRET) in Charlotte. He was a local radio personality at that time and may have even been involved with studio work at WPCQ.

Ken Conrad in 2009 (WTVI Blog)
Conrad has been on the radio in the Charlotte area for several decades, including successful stints at WEGO-AM in Concord, WAVO-FM in Rock Hill, and WNMX-FM and Lite 102.9 WLYT-FM in Charlotte. He currently serves part-time on the creative staff at WTVI television, the PBS affiliate in Charlotte. You may also recognize his voice as the P.A. announcer at BB&T Park in Charlotte for the Charlotte Knights baseball franchise.

With a little help from our friends, here's how we confirmed his identity:

I recently posted a photo of Conrad interviewing Dusty Rhodes and asked if anyone could help us identify him. Greg Price at Fanfest linked our post to a Charlotte Radio/TV forum on Facebook and a fellow named Roy Rosen responded that it was Ken Conrad. Greg googled it and found a WTVI blog post about Ken joining them with a photo that pretty much confirmed it was him. The final confirmation came from Debbie Mrozinski of the Crockett Foundation who confirmed through Tommy Viola at the Charlotte Knights that our interviewer in 1981-1982 was indeed Ken Conrad. (He is listed on page 4 in the 2016 Charlotte Knights Media Guide.)

We are happy to finally know his identity and add his name to the roster of on-air broadcasting talent that worked for Jim Crockett Promotions over the years. That list can be found on the right hand side of the Studio Wrestling website, which is part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway family of websites.

Ode To The Legends

Mac McMurray
(photo by Peggy Lathan)

Les Thatcher recently sent us a poem written by his longtime friend Mac McMurray that Mac wrote before attending the annual Gulf Coast Wrestlers Reunion in Mobile, AL in 2008. Les thought Mac wouldn't mind it being shared with all of us.

It is a wonderful sentiment written by a very nice man we wish we knew better.

From 2008, updated for 2016, the poem by legendary referee Mac McMurray, "Ode To The Legends":

Ode To The Legends.  (Gulf Coast Wrestler's Reunion)

As 2016 begins to fade and gracefully we age
Our thoughts begin to dwell upon our turning a new page.
The days appear to drag along as March comes into view.
Reunion memories abound while planning things to do.

Now comes the time to make the trip, the planning soon pays off.
We hit the road, we take a plane not taking time to cough.
The highway's clogged with many cars, the airport's not much better.
The wind is blowing, it's raining hard it couldn't get much wetter.

But then the weather starts to clear, Mobile is now in sight.
Our journey's ending, the Red Roof's near, we'll soon bed down tonight.
The sun comes up, the skies are clear, our hearts begin to pound.
The building's just a little West near a race track that is round.

The boys are starting to arrive some young, some old, some gimping.
The younger ones are struck with awe, the older ones just limping
But one thing that we know for sure is that we'll all grow old.
The legends that we'll meet today were known through stories told.

But years have come and years have gone and never will return.
Our peers today will have to try to be their best, to learn
What years of bumps, a million miles, the struggle to survive,
Taught utter joy of a job well done, the joy of being alive.

The legends will accept the praise with modesty and glee,
The hardest part is knowledge that there will never be
New talent coming up the ranks whose hearts are full of fight
New talent that will miss the chance to be in the spotlight.

For most of us the legends live and will for ever more.
Their stories, tales and memories create amazing lore.
But from here on as time goes by, our legends pass with grace
But what I see that's sadder still, there's no one to take their place.

Respectfully submitted by:

Mac McMurray
August 2008

Monday, October 17, 2016

The "New" Paul Jones Returns

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

From the late 1960s through the late 1970s, Paul Jones was one of the most beloved wrestlers in Jim Crockett Promotions. Then, shockingly, Jones became a rulebreaker at the end of 1978, infamously turning on his friend Ricky Steamboat during a two ring Battle Royal in Charlotte, North Carolina. Through the entirety of 1979, “Number One” seemed to relish his newfound heel persona, teaming with former foe Baron von Raschke to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship and treat his ex-friends with disdain. Early in 1980, Paul and the Baron had a falling out after dropping the World Tag Team Titles to Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. By March of 1980, Jones had disappeared from the Mid-Atlantic area, seemingly without a trace.

Then, out of the blue, at the taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show on July 23, 1980 an old familiar face appeared on the set. An excited announcer Bob Caudle exclaimed, “Hey, David, I see a surprise just walking into the studio! Here is a surprise indeed! There is Paul Jones, David. Fans, Paul I know all of your many, many fans that have watched you for years see you here and they wonder what in the world is Paul Jones doing here?”

A contrite and rather subdued Paul Jones responded, “Well, Bob, actually I don’t know where to start. I want to say this, I just flew in from Florida. A lot of people ask why I left here in such a hurry. Well, I guess you might say that I woke up one morning, looked myself in the mirror, and didn’t like what I seen. You know, whenever you follow the devil, you’re taken away by not only being possessed by money, jealousy and a number of other things. I’ve hurt a lot of fans that have stood behind me for years. I’ve hurt a lot of wrestlers that were good friends of mine, like Steamboat over money, greed, jealousy. Listen, I could have stayed away from here, Bob, and never came back. But I think one of the hardest things to do, is to go back and admit you’re wrong, and take the punishment, and try to ask forgiveness. The good Lord forgives all if they want forgiveness. I’m here, I’m shaking in my shoes, nervous...”

Caudle then interjected and asked, “Are you saying Paul that you want to turn over a new leaf, that you want to be friends again with those old friends that you were friends with?” Jones responded, “Listen, Bob, I’m not apologizing to the people, to the wrestlers, for being a coward. I am a man, a man that’s seeing a new light. I’m no longer following the devil. I ask for forgiveness. I’m not very good with words…all I want, is the opportunity to make it up. I feel like I can pay the people back, pay the wrestlers back, with the opportunity to do it in a square ring like I’m looking at right now. Listen, I’m ashamed of what I did. I left somewhere to get my head together, I even put a mask over my head I was so ashamed. But I’ll never put another mask over my head again. And I’ll never have to go to the people or the wrestlers and say I’m sorry.”

Jones continued, “I’ve been down a wrong road, and I realized it Bob, David. And all I want is the opportunity. I paid for this trip myself, I’m here tonight, if you want to charge me for the TV time, I’ll pay for it! I just wanted to come here tonight; I feel like a new man right now. I got it off my chest. It’s up to the people, it’s up to the wrestlers…I’m gonna talk to as many of them as I can. I just want to say this, I want to repeat myself, I don’t have any matches lined up in this area right now. I just got on the airplane and come straight here, said what I have to say, and thank God I’m on the right track. Thank you.”

Paul immediately walked off the set and Caudle commented, “Thank you…Paul just walked away. But I think it can be worked out to get Paul some matches, David.” David Crockett responded, “If you remember the way Paul was, good and bad, he was a heck of a wrestler. And I just hope it’s true.” Caudle answered, “Well, at one time, he was the idol of many, many people David, and had a great number of fans.” Crockett concluded, “There are a lot of fans out there that still love Paul Jones, there really are. And, we’ll just wait and see.”

Later that same summer night in the WRAL TV studios, Paul Jones paid a visit to the World Wide Wrestling television show taping, hosted by Rich Landrum and “The Dean of Wrestling” Johnny Weaver. Johnny exclaimed, “Hey, we have a surprise guest!” Landrum responded, “We do that! Paul Jones, as I live and breathe; I never would have expected to see you. Paul, good to see you again!” Jones answered, “Listen, while I’m in the area here, I’ve been visiting with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, and I didn’t want to leave you all out, as I’m talking to a lot of the same fans that feel the way they do about me.”

Jones proceeded to tell the World Wide Wrestling audience many of the same things he said on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show. For instance, Jones told Landrum and Weaver, “I know that deep down inside, even though I’ve done wrong things, I’m man enough to stand up here and say I’m sorry. I’m not asking the people to get down and say, ‘Hey Paul Jones welcome back, we still love you…we this and that.’ I want to earn my forgiveness, and I want to do it in that square circle right there, in that ring. I want to prove to the people that I am doing the right thing. And so help me God, I’m not standing here and telling you a lie; this is not a swerve job.”
As the fans in the studio audience listened intently, Jones continued, “I wouldn’t get up here; I didn’t have to come back. But I come back to take my medicine. Things I’ve done to wrestlers like Steamboat, God, this man, he would do anything for me, and I turned on him for a measly $10,000.00…and I want to make it up to the people, and I want to do it in the ring. And believe me one thing, you’re gonna see a new Paul Jones. And I guarantee you another thing…I’ll never, EVER, take the wrong road again. You people have been so good to me and I just hope someday, that you will come up to me and say, ‘Paul, I want you to be my friend again.’ Listen, let me tell you something right now, if you never speak to me again it’s my loss, not yours. But I hope you do, because I’m here, if they want me, if they’ll have me, to make up for the wrong I’ve done. Thank you very much.”

At this juncture, Johnny Weaver commented, “Paul, I certainly hope you’re sincere. I’ve said on many interviews in radio stations, that I know when you went the other way you had to give up a lot as a man that had to stand alone, and I’m sure that you reached the point that you could evaluate what the fans did mean to you.” Jones concurred by offering, “Well, that’s right John. Also, another thing, well I feel much better now. I feel like I’ve seen the light, I just feel like something’s been lifted off my head that’s been on my mind for months, I couldn’t sleep at night. And John, one of the hardest things was too, was you and I were friends for many years, and when I would walk down the street or around this building, I would look at you and you wouldn’t even look me in the eye, you were ashamed of me. But I guarantee you John, I wanna make it up to you too…just give me a chance.”

Paul Jones was given that chance, and returned to the Mid-Atlantic area to once again battle the forces of evil. Many of Jones’ former friends on the “bad guy” side ridiculed his turn back to a fan favorite, such as Ray Stevens who referred to Paul as the “preacher man.” While Jones wrestled in main events and had an extended run as one half of the NWA World Tag Team Champions with the Masked Superstar from the fall of 1980 into the spring of 1981, he never fully recaptured the magic that he had during his many earlier years as a “good guy.” By the summer of 1982, Jones once again turned into a rulebreaker, this time for good. Paul remained in Jim Crockett Promotions until 1988, primarily working in the role as a heel manager for most of that time.

Thinking back on all the dastardly things that Paul Jones and his “Army” did to Jimmy Valiant during Paul’s last run with Jim Crockett Promotions, it puts Jones’ words on that night at TV on July 23, 1980 under the microscope. While the commentators wanted to give Jones the benefit of the doubt, they also clearly took a wait and see attitude as to whether Paul was truly sincere in his plea for forgiveness. Their hint of skepticism, seen through the prism of time, turned out to be warranted. On July 23, 1980 the “new” Paul Jones returned and talked a very good game, but in the end, he couldn’t continue to walk that “good guy” walk again but for so long. Regrettably for the longtime fans of Paul Jones, the spots on that leopard had never really changed.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

As Close To Perfect as it Gets: The Greenville Memorial Auditorium

There was hardly a better arena for pro-wrestling than the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in Greenville, SC. There wasn't a bad seat in the house in the "old brown box" as it was known to locals.

The photograph above appeared in the Greenville newspaper following a big card on October 28, 1974. The main event that night was a big six-man tag team match. On one team you had the superstar tandem of Wahoo McDaniel, Paul Jones, and Andre the Giant. Across the ring was Ivan Koloff, the Super Destroyer (Don Jardine), and Chuck O'Connor (who would later be better known as Big John Studd.) This main event drew a sellout crowd with a huge turn-away crowd, as described in the caption above. The photo caption states there were approximately 3000 people turned away for this show.

The undercard featured Brute Bernard vs. Tommy Seigler, Klondike Bill vs. Frank Valois, and Joe Furr vs. Johnny Heidman.

Thanks as always to Mark Eastridge.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Georgia Wrestling Saturday (with a Mid-Atlantic Connection)

Georgia Championship Wrestling - November 14, 1981

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's Saturday, so why not watch a little wrestling? Back in the territory days, Saturday was the primary (and usually only) day for wrestling in every territory in the United States.

YouTube user "KrisZ891979" has been uploading some great Georgia wrestling from 1980 and 1981, including some complete shows from the fall of 1981 like this pristine video of the entire November 14, 1981 program that aired at 6:05 on WTBS.

Reigning Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Roddy Piper had joined Gordon Solie as co-host of the program two weeks earlier, and the two became quite a broadcast combination over the next year. Piper was the perfect cocky-heel counter to Solie's dry straight-forward approach and the two meshed really well in an unconventional way, especially for those times.

Ole Anderson was booking both the Mid-Atlantic and Georgia territories at the time, and one result was a small sharing of talent between the two groups. In particular on this program:

  • Mid-Atlantic Champion Roddy Piper, who is never acknowledged as such by Solie or Piper, but is acknowledged by Ivan Koloff as Mid-Atlantic champ in an interview on the program
  • NWA TV champion Ivan Koloff, carrying his championship belt and announcing his intention in defending the title in Georgia. (The title was a Crockett title)
  • Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champions Chris Markoff and Nikolia Volkoff (managed by Lord Alfred Hayes) are seen on the program in a tape from the Knoxville "NWA Championship Wrestling" program hosted by Les Thatcher. The team would be wrestling in the annual Thanksgiving tag team tournament at the Omni in Atlanta a few weeks later. The Knoxville office was closely affiliated with Jim Crockett Promotions at the time and used a number of pieces of talent from the Charlotte office. 
  • Ray Stevens, currently a top heel for the Crocketts and an occasional tag team partner of Ole Anderson's
  • and of course Ole Anderson himself, who along with his brother Gene, were the reigning NWA World Tag Team champions, primarily a Crockett area title.

That made for a total four Crockett Promotions champions appearing in one way or another on this Georgia program. Throw in Mid-Atlantic star Ric Flair, who had just recently won the NWA World Championship from Dusty Rhodes, and it's fair to say their was more than a small Mid-Atlantic influence on the Georgia promotion at the time. Flair is not on this program, but had been on almost every Georgia show since winning the title, and would be on the following week as well.

This Georgia show is loaded with a lot of great talent that were hallmarks of the Georgia Championship Wrestling promotion at the time including Tommy "Wildfire" Rich, Mr. Wrestling II, the Masked Superstar, Bob and Brad Armstrong, Austin Idol, Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy, Mike Jackson, and others.

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling was and always will be my first love, but Georgia Wrestling during this time was on fire, and was an important part of every Saturday as well.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Snapshot in Time: A TV Saturday in February 1974

This is a newspaper ad that ran down the Saturday line-up for WLOS-13 in Asheville, NC on February 16, 1974. WLOS was the Jim Crockett Promotions affiliate station for the "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" B-show hosted by Les Thatcher.

And at the bottom of this ad, you will see the listing for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling featuring George Scott, Joe Soto, and....


 You've got to love that. No doubt Ole would have.

Wrestling aired at 11:15 each Saturday night on WLOS, following the local news. it later moved to 11:30 PM in 1975 when the local Saturday night newscast expanded to a half-hour.

WLOS also holds a small place in the studio-wrestling history of Jim Crockett Promotions. In the early 1970s, promoter Paul Winkhaus (the local promoter for the Crocketts) would provide film clips of the shows at the Asheville Auditorium or the Civic Center to be played on the late news, usually hosted by Munsey Millaway. They would occasionally tape interviews with the wrestlers right there at the TV station, all in support of the local cards in Asheville. Winkhaus was a great promoter to have as your man on the ground.

It's also interesting to take a look at what else was on TV at the time, including the Pro Bowlers Tour, auto racing, and a preview of Evel Knievel's next motorcycle jump on the venerable sports show "ABC's Wide World of Sports."

"The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat...."

It also seemed odd that a show like "Shock Theater" would be airing at 1:00 PM in the afternoon. I would think a show like that would be much more fun late at night.

Thanks to Mark Eastridge for passing this newspaper clipping along to us.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Can You Identify the Announcer?

Can you help us identify the announcer interviewing Dusty Rhodes in this image? We have been unable to determine his full name name.

Update - Sunday 10/16: We have identified him as Ken Conrad, a longtime radio personality in the Charlotte area and P.A. voice of the Charlotte Knights baseball team. Thanks to Greg Price at for doing a little digging and solving this long held mystery.  We will be updating the site with full information on our mystery promo announcer this week.

Fans of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling from the early 1980s will remember him doing the 2 min 30 sec. local promotional segments that air twice during each syndicated episode of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "World Wide Wrestling." He only did this for a relatively short time period, from mid-1981 into early 1982. (The above screen capture is from October of 1981.)

We believe his first name is Ken, but we have no idea of his last name. He was interviewing Jim Crockett, Sr. on the "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" show taped 1/20/82 and Jim twice called him "Ken." Occasionally TV people used "working names," but we will assume at this point that Ken is his first name. That's all we've got to go on at this point.

We are guessing that he was either (1) a TV personality at the station where this was taped, WPCQ-36 in Charlotte, or (2) a local Charlotte area TV or radio personality.

Can you help us? Do you know the identity of our mystery announcer? Please write us using the address on our CONTACT PAGE on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

See the complete video of this promo plus more info over at the STUDIO WRESTLING website.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The 1980 Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Reunion on Monday Night Raw

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Photo from

Back in 2009 on WWE's "Monday Night Raw" (3/16/09), Ric Flair made a special appearance and brought out some of his old pals from his Mid-Atlantic Wrestling days. It was a part of a build to an angle with Chris Jericho in the wweks leading up to WrestleMania that year.

For a brief moment Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, Ric Flair, and Ricky Steamboat all stood shoulder to shoulder on the RAW stage. It made for a really cool moment for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling fans who will remember that all four were top stars together for Jim Crockett Promotions in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

WWE Network

It's also interesting to note that all four were United States heavyweight champions during that era. Ric Flair both won and lost the U.S. title to all of the other three at one time or another. Three of the four (Flair, Piper, and Steamboat) held the Mid-Atlantic heavyweight championship as well.

WWE Network

A very cool moment indeed on WWE TV. This episode of Raw is available on the WWE Network, and the Mid-Atlantic moments are at 59:15 in that show.

* * * * *
This is an edited version of an article we first posted on the now-domant "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling On Demand" website back in 2009, part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.