Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Brother Combinations Chase The Championships




A week or so ago (Sunday, August 23), I posted another in our series of "Main Event Memories" featuring the brother team of Jack and Jerry Brisco challenging for the NWA world tag team championships held by Ric Flair and Greg Valentine in February 1978.

As I took a closer look at that time period, I realized the Briscos were just one of three brother combinations to be challenging for the titles, and all three coming in from different NWA territories:

1. Jack and Jerry Brisco - Florida territory
2. Dory Jr. and Terry Funk - Amarillo Territory
3. Gene and Ole Anderson - Georgia Territory*

Greg Valentine made note of this in an interview during Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in early February 1978:


Greg Valentine Talks Championship Challengers (The link is fixed!)

"Yes, again we're blessing the TV audience with our presence out there, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair and Greg Valentine. You know we've got so many different opponents coming into the area like the Funk brothers, the Brisco brothers ... I even hear a rumor that Gene Anderson is working out real hard trying to get back with his brother. Can you imagine that; the Anderson brothers against us again? When are they ever going to give up? Ladies and gentlemen, we have been the world champions twice over, and we're going to stay the world champions all the way through 1978, 1979, 1980 -- we'll never stop."
 - Greg Valentine


* Gene Anderson was coming back off a neck injury sustained the previous October (1977) when the Andersons lost the NWA world titles back to Flair and Valentine. Gene had been working his way slowly back into action in early 1978, serving as a special referee in several Mid-Atlantic title tilts between Greg Valentine and Wahoo McDaniel, and then working some middle-of-the-card singles matches. He remained in the Mid-Atlantic territory during 1978 working mid-card tag matches with various partners, while Ole Anderson stayed in Georgia.

The brothers were not able to reunite in time to challenge Flair and Valentine for the titles. Ric and Greg were stripped of the championship in April 1978, and a one night tournament was set to fill the vacant titles in Greensboro on 4/23/78. The Andersons finally reunited for this tournament, and defeated the Brisco brothers in the opening round before losing to eventual tournament winners Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat.

Read the story that led to this post, The Briscos Challenge Flair & Valentine, part of our ongoing  "Main Event Memories" series.

- Dick Bourne


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Andersons Don't Wear Fedoras

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Arn Anderson (1985)
As you might have already guessed, I'm a huge fan of the Anderson family in wrestling as is demonstrated by the large number of posts on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway related to them. There is also this little book project titled "Minnesota Wrecking Crew" which details the entire Anderson story. (If you haven't picked up your copy, you should!)

So it was with great pleasure that I and some friends had the chance to visit recently with the legendary Arn Anderson. We chatted about a few bits of Anderson trivia that I had not known before.


BECOMING A MEMBER 
OF THE ANDERSON FAMILY

One of the things that interested me was how Martin Lunde became an Anderson to begin with. I had always assumed, as I suppose did the rest of the world, that Ole had given him the name when the team of Arn Anderson and Matt Borne, managed by Paul Ellering, debuted in Georgia Championship Wrestling in April of 1983. At that point, Arn was billed as the nephew of Ole Anderson. He had an uncanny likeness to Ole and so the whole story was immediately and easily accepted by fans.

Arn had grown up in Rome, Georgia, as a fan of Gene and Ole Anderson, and even remembered watching as a young child in the 1960s when the original version of the Anderson Brothers, Gene and Lars, battled the Torres brothers over the Southern tag team championship.

So when I asked Arn about the origin of his membership in the Anderson family, I expected the answer to be tied to Ole. But Arn was quiet for a moment and took on a very reflective tone.

"You know, it's funny how one brief moment can change your entire life," he said. "I was working under my real name for Bill Watts and he had this meeting with the talent, and he told the group he needed someone to go with Matt Borne to Georgia as a tag team to be managed by Paul Ellering." Arn shifted in his chair as he spoke. "Junkyard Dog was sitting over in the corner; he had never spoken five words to me while I was there. He pointed at me from across the room and said, 'Lunde's ready, send him. He looks like Ole Anderson anyway. Make him an Anderson.'"

"That's how it happened," Arn said. "In that one brief moment, my whole life changed, although I didn't really know it yet."

Arn had written in his book about JYD's suggestion that Arn be the one to go with Matt Borne to Georgia, but until now, it had not been known that JYD also suggested he be an Anderson.

When Arn arrived in Atlanta and had his first meeting with Georgia booker Ole Anderson, Ole reluctantly agreed with JYD's earlier assessment.

"Ole just looked at me and said, 'Well I have to admit it, you do look like me.'"

So Ole made Arn his nephew, although he was later billed as both a brother and a cousin.

The rest, as they say, is history.



TONY SCHIAVONE & THE FIRST FOUR HORSEMEN PROMO

The origin of the "Four Horsemen" name in wrestling has always been attributed to Arn Anderson, but how it actually came about has frequently been misrepresented.

In a late-fall 1985 promotional interview, Arn said these words:

"Not since the four horsemen of the apocalypse have so few wreaked so much havoc on so many."

One of the common stories was that Arn said this at the end of a WTBS broadcast when he and partner Ole Anderson were in the same interview segment as Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard with his manager James J. Dillon.

But it didn't happen there, and in fact no promo has ever surfaced on all the WWE documentaries about the Four Horsemen where that original phrase was uttered. The WWE owns the Crockett video tape library, so if it was said on WTBS, they would have it.


The original Four Horsemen: Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, manager J.J. Dillon, Arn Anderson, and Ric Flair

I have long thought that Arn made that fortunate reference to the biblical Four Horsemen in a local promotional spot, and not within the main body of one of their national or syndicated broadcasts. And during our conversation, Arn confirmed that.

"Yes, it was on a local promo," Arn said. "And in fact, I just said it off the cuff, not really intending to be coming up with a name for us or anything like that. It was Tony Schiavone who actually validated the whole thing. He looked at me after the promo was over and said, 'I think you just named yourself.' And that led to us starting to refer to ourselves as the Four Horsemen."

And again - - the rest, as they say, is history.



THE FEDORA

When Arn arrived in Georgia in 1983 and began his tag team with Matt Borne, he began to wear a fedora to the ring. It was a trademark he kept through his time in Georgia, and later in Southeastern Wrestling in Alabama, and on through his early days for Jim Crockett Promotions.

I asked Arn about the origin of the fedora.

"That was all Matt Borne," he said. "He wore it when he was part of the "Rat Pack" in Mid-South Wrestling teaming with Ted DiBiase. I liked it and so we started wearing them as a team." Their manager, Paul Ellering, would occasionally wear one, too.

Right away, Ole didn't like it.

"What the hell are you wearing?" Ole asked Arn.

"It's a fedora," Arn replied.

"Well I hate it," Ole shot back.

"Ole just shook his head and walked away," Arn told me. "I'm not sure I completely fit the Anderson mold yet."

When Matt Borne was fired from the Georgia promotion a few months later, Arn also lost his spot with the company. Bob Armstrong was leaving the territory too, headed to work for the Pensacola, FL booking office known as Southeastern Championship Wrestling. Bob got Arn booked there and the fedora went with him.

Arn formed a very successful tag team with Jerry Stubbs. Stubbs wore a mask working as "Mr. Olympia" and Arn came in also under a mask as "Super Olympia." Eventually they both worked without their masks and held the Southeastern tag team championships many times. Just as Matt Borne had passed on the fedora tradition to Arn, Arn now passed it onto Stubbs, and the two wore the trademark hats during their championship run there.


Southeastern Tag Team Champions Jerry Stubbs and Arn Anderson in 1984

When Arn went to work for Jim Crockett Promotions in the spring of 1985, he occasionally wore the fedora there, too. This time, when paired with Ole Anderson as the new Minnesota Wrecking Crew, Ole put his foot down.

"Ole told me, 'Andersons don't wear fedoras.' And that was that."

Ole made Arn ditch the fedora (although it popped up a time or two after that) and order the trademark maroon and gold striped boots that had been worn by Andersons going back to 1966 when Gene and Lars first wore them in Georgia. Those boots became the Anderson trademark, and had been worn by Gene and Ole ever since. While Arn didn't wear them all the time, he did often wear them teaming with Ole in 1985 and 1986.

Personally, I always loved Arn in the fedora. It just suited him well and was a common thread through his early career in his first three territories.

So at least one Anderson did wear a fedora. And in the great tradition of the Anderson family, that Anderson had one of the great tag-team careers in the history of wrestling.







Check out the complete timeline history of the Andersons in the book "Minnesota Wrecking Crew" available on Amazon.com or directly from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway (look for the PayPal link.).

For more information visit the Minnesota Wrecking Crew page on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.









Saturday, August 29, 2015

Two of the Greatest Ever

Former NWA world champions Ric Flair and Harley Race
What a great shot of two of the greatest champions to ever lace up the boots: Ric Flair and Harley Race.

The photo was taken today (Saturday 8/29) in advance of World League Wrestling's "Night of Champions" event in tonight in Troy, MO.

That's Harley's replica of the domed-globe version of the NWA world title belt, better known as the "Ten Pounds of Gold."


Weaver Cup Poster for 2015


Main Event Memory: A Local Boy Gets His Shot


"Headlining the schedule will be a tag team match pitting Burlington's Don Kernodle and Ric Flair against Greg Valentine and Roddy Piper."


A quick glance at the newspaper ad above and one might not think anything unusual about Don Kernodle teaming with Ric Flair in the early 1980s. Flair was the Mid-Atlantic territory's beloved top star at that time, on his way to be coming NWA world champion for the first time later that year.

However, Don Kernodle was still wrestling the circuit as a mid-card babyface, having been in that role for over seven years, and struggling to break out to the next level. That break would indeed come in early 1982 when Sgt. Slaughter selected him and Jim Nelson to become his Marine privates. Pvts. Nelson and Kernodle became one of the top tag teams in the territory with Sgt. Slaughter as their mentor, winning the Mid-Atlantic tag team championships. Kernodle later became the partner of Sarge himself, and the two had one of the biggest box-office feuds of the early 1980s with Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood.

But in March of 1981, Kernodle was still toiling away as a mid-carder, one of the top workers in the ring, but never getting the chance to get over at the next level. But on this one night in March in his hometown of Burlington, NC, Don got an opportunity to shine.

Jim Crockett Promotions ran semi-regular spot shows at Cummings High School in Burlington.  Kernodle had grown up in Burlington and was a four-year standout high school wrestler before going on to success as a wrestler for Elon College in the same town. He lettered in wrestling all four years at Elon, and also dabbled in Judo and arm wrestling where he was a 2-time national champion. So he was a well known local name in the area, plus he had been seen on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling television shows for years.

In March of 1981, Ric Flair was in the middle of a tag team feud with his two arch-rivals that had dubbed themselves "the dream team" - - Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine. Flair's regular partner during this run was Ricky Steamboat. So the normal main event for Burlington could have easily been Flair and Steamboat vs. Piper and Valentine, which was headlining major venues all over the territory.  But on this Thursday in March of 1981, booker Ole Anderson had the idea to take advantage of Don Kernodle's local name in the Burlington area and team him with Flair for one special night at the local high school spot show.

Needless to say, that angle worked well, drawing not only the hardcore fans, but also many in the community who knew the Kernodle family and turned out to support Don in what was surely the biggest match of his career by this point. Kernodle and Flair tore the house down and scored a big victory over the "dream team" of Piper and Valentine.

Less than a year later, in early 1982, Kernodle would finally get the push he longed for (and well deserved) when he turned heel and became part of Sgt. Slaughter's marine unit.


* * * * * * * *
Newspaper clippings from the collection of Mark Eastridge.
Check out all the Main Event Memories on the Gateway.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Jim Crockett: Pioneer of Wrestling

PIONEERS OF WRESTLING
The Crockett Foundation (crockettfoundation.com)


Throughout its history, beginning in 1948, Jim Crockett Promotions operated under brand names such as Championship Wrestling, Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling and World Wide Wrestling. Jim Crockett Promotions joined the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in 1952 with a territory that covered the Carolinas and Virginia. By the late ‘70s, this small territory grew to include Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia, Ohio, New York and Canada. Jim Crockett Promotions eventually became better known as Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling which became their primary brand name.

One of the most successful early forms of television broadcasting in the 1940’s was professional wrestling..... >>>

(Read the entire article at The Crockett Foundation website.)


Heroes and Villains: Crockett TV Taping in 1986

Pro Wrestling's Heroes and Villains May Change But Show Remains Same 
by Steve Phillips, Salisbury Post
June 11, 1986


One hundred degrees and rising. The overhead television lights beam down from the rafters and render the air circulation system at Goodman Gymnasium virtually worthless.

At ringside, things are getting hotter. Referee Tommy Young has turned his back to admonish Robert Gibson of the Rock and Roll Express for attempting to enter the rang without mating a legal tag. 

Ric Flair and Arn Anderson know this is their chance. They've got an illegal doable-team going on Ricky Morton and they're having a field day. 

The crowd responds with an angry collective roar. 

Why doesn't Young turn around? How can any referee worth his salt allow two thugs like Flair and 
Anderson to flout wrestling's code of ethics?

By the time Young finally gets back to the business at hand, Flair and Anderson have brought Morton to his knees. But Flair has re turned to his corner, a picture of wide-eyed innocence. He answers Young's glare of suspicion with an exaggerated shrug.

* * * * *

NWA World Champion Ric Flair
Mid-Atlantic Championshsip Wrestling returned to Salisbury Tuesday night with the creme de la creme of the profession in attendance. Dusty Rhodes made the scene, Baby Doll in tow. Jim Cornette waved his tennis racket and screamed at the TV cameras. Magnum T.A. made the ladies swoon.  The Rock at Roll Express, clearly the crowd favorite, wrestled no less than three matches.

I had seats at ringside in Section B, courtesy of a friend who went after advance tickets the day they went on sale. He wasn't the only one. The Salisbury Jaycees reported that all 400 ringside seats ($10 apiece ) were gobbled up three weeks ago.

General admission seats ($8.00) went on sale at 5 o'clock Tuesday afternoon, 2 1/2 hours hours before the start of the first match. A line already stretched from the ticket window down the steps and onto an adjoining sidewalk.

"I must have gotten 100 calls at work and 30 more at home about this thing," said WSTP radio announcer and Jaycee Doug Rice. The Catawba Sports Information office also fielded a number of calls even though the college had no official connection with the event.

Pro wrestling keeps packing 'em in, and will continue to do so as long as the forces of good and evil tug at one another. The names eventually change (although many of the assorted heroes and villains hang around for eternity) but the show remains the same.

And as long as pro wrestling endures, so will the Great Debate. But the lines are clearly drawn on each side and one is better off arguing ACC basketball, politics, or the relative merits of liquor by the drink.