Friday, February 24, 2017

Anticipation Building for Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo in Richmond

http://www.wrestleexporva.comAnticipation continues to grow for the first ever Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo in Richmond, VA this May. The event takes place May 19-20 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center downtown, right next to the famous and historic Richmond Coliseum that hosted many great Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions events over many years.

The list of talent appearing at the Wrestle Expo continues to grow and includes:

Demolition (Bill Eadie and Barry Darsaw), Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson of the Rock & Roll Express, James J. Dillon, Nikita Koloff, Jimmy Valiant, Road Warrior Animal, Greg Valentine, The original Patriot (Del Wilkes), Bushwhacker Luke, Jim Cornette, Tommy Dreamer, the Barbarian, CW Anderson, Vader, Tommy Rich, Bobby Fulton of the Fantastics, George South, Nikolia Volkoff, Magnum T.A. and many others!

Plus former WWE executive Bruce Prichard and former WCW executive Eric Bischoff will be making appearances, along with legendary referees Tommy Young and Earl & Dave Hebner. The Crockett Foundation will also be there.

And don't miss Richmond's own Rich Landrum, the voice of "World Wide Wrestling" for Jim Crockett Promotions from 1978-1982, who will also be a big part of the event.

The event features a big dinner Friday night, special Q&A sessions on Saturday, and a wrestling event that Saturday night. Plus autograph sessions and photo-ops throughout the day on Saturday. 

A full list of wrestlers and talent scheduled to appear as well as a full schedule of the event and ticket information can all be found on the official Wrestle Expo website.

Don't miss the biggest fan event of the spring - - the Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo in Richmond!

SI Media Podcasts interviews Conrad Thompson

Richard Deitsch interviewed our friend Conrad Thompson on his SI Media Podcast for Sports Illustrated. It is a fascinating look behind the scenes of the enormously successful podcasts that Conrad developed and co-hosts with Bruce Prichard (Something to Wrestle With) and Tony Schiavone (What Happened When Monday) on the MLW Radio Network.

As most of you know, Conrad was an instrumental part of helping me research and put together my book "Big Gold" about wrestling's most famous and storied championship belt. 

This podcast is also a nice look at Conrad's background and how a Huntsville, Alabama mortgage banker wound up developing two of the nation's most popular pro-wrestling podcasts.

Deitsch and producer Lou Pellegrino do an outstanding job with this bonus edition of the SI Media Podcast. We've embedded it above via Soundcloud, or you can download it on all major podcasting platforms.  - Dick Bourne

Thursday, February 23, 2017

An Embarrasement of Riches for Paul Jones in 1975

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In the illustrious Jim Crockett Promotions career of “Number 1” Paul Jones, a career that spanned from the late 1960s through the late 1980s, Paul experienced an untold number of high water marks. But there was probably no higher high for Paul than in the late autumn of 1975, immediately after Jones defeated Terry Funk for the United States Heavyweight Championship on November 27, 1975 in the Greensboro Coliseum.

Paul’s first interview as the new United States Champion on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television was conducted on December 3, 1975. Having just aced the U.S. belt, Jones was considered the number one contender for the NWA World Heavyweight Title in many circles. And at that time, Paul was also the reigning Mid-Atlantic Television Champion. Truly, an embarrassment of riches for Mr. #1!

Announcer Bob Caudle began the show, telling the fans, “First of all, we have a guest right here with a new championship belt…the new U.S. Heavyweight Champion Paul Jones, and Paul, you defeated Terry Funk.” Jones slipped onto the set and emotionally replied, “Well, that’s right. I’m so proud of this belt, I’m lost for words. But I want to say, I want to thank the people that stood behind me, the long fight to get this belt, and finally I won it, and I just feel great all over.”

However, not all of Paul’s news was good. Jones continued:

“But I also have some bad news tonight. You know, this Mid-Atlantic TV belt here…I’ve won this belt three times. It’s real close to me, and I feel like…the U.S. belt, I’m going to have to travel all over the United States to defend this belt in every city every state, so I feel like I won’t be able to do justice to the TV belt, which I have a lot of respect for and I’m real proud of it.” Paul then broke the bad news about his TV belt, explaining, “But what I’m going to have to do; I’m going to have to put it up for grabs. As much as I hate to, with all the hard matches I’ve had to win this belt. So I hate to do it, but I feel like I wouldn’t be doing the TV belt any justice by keeping it and carrying it around the country with me, and I’m just going to put it up for grabs.”

Caudle commiserated with Jones, commenting, “Well Paul, I know you hate to do that, like you say you’ve had it for a long, long time and it’s a beautiful belt.” Jones replied, “It really is, and I hate to part with it, but this belt here, I have to defend it all over the United States…and I just don’t have time.” Caudle countered, “Well, Paul, you’re going to be a great champion, a great U.S. Heavyweight Champion, I’m sure of that, and congratulations to you again.” Jones answered, “Thank you Bob,” as he exited the interview area.

Before running down the television card, Caudle interjected, “So Paul Jones, the new U.S. Heavyweight Champion, and David, he is relinquishing this TV championship belt.” Color commentator David Crockett offered, “And one thing, Paul has made this Mid-Atlantic TV championship belt mean more than any other TV championship belt in the whole United States.” Caudle added, “No doubt.” Crockett continued, “And also, when Paul Jones won the United States Heavyweight Championship from Terry Funk, he had to go through the whole Funk family, so that’s a great accomplishment, because Terry Funk is one of the greatest wrestlers in the world, and Paul Jones has the right to win that belt…he’s something else.”

‘Something else’ was the right way to phrase it, as Paul Jones was unquestionably on top of the wrestling heap in December of 1975, to the point he gave up an excess title! An embarrassment of riches for sure, but wrestling wealth that was well-earned and well-deserved in the minds of his legions of Mid-Atlantic fans.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Moving Video Honoring the Life of Ivan Koloff and have released a free video in memory of wrestling legend Ivan Koloff titled "The Russian Bear" Honoring the life of Ivan Koloff. It's one you shouldn't miss seeing.

"Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff
Mid-Atlantic Champion
Ivan Koloff, one of pro wrestling's biggest stars passed away on Saturday February 18 at the age of 74 after fighting liver disease for a decade.

The video can be found here:

Ivan is best known as a Russian bad guy who did the impossible in Madison Square Garden in 1971 when he defeated WWWF World Champion Bruno Sammartino in one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history as it ended Bruno's 8 year reign as champion. That match is a moment that Bruno will never forget.

"That night in the Garden when Ivan beat me I really believe that was a first in the history of wrestling. Because people were so stunned that night there was a fear of a riot but it was the complete opposite." said Bruno. "You could hear a pin drop. We had twenty-two thousand people paralyzed. They couldn't believe it because as you know I had been champion for eight years."

Ivan was also famously remembered for his role in Jim Crockett Promotions as "Uncle" Ivan to his nephew "Nikita" (seen in the graphic above) and later in life Ivan shed his mean Russian gimmick to be known by fans as a gentle man who put his lord and savior Jesus Christ first.

"Everyone knew Ivan as "Uncle Ivan" and I called him that as well but we here at Highspots knew Ivan as a friend. Ivan was someone we loved working with and enjoyed hearing his stories about his career and life." said Michael Bochicchio, owner of Highspots. "We wanted to honor the life of Ivan by sharing his stories and the stories of others who knew him well. That's why we put a free video on our website for everyone to enjoy. We we blessed to work with Ivan one last time this past November as he shared his stories about Dusty Rhodes with our cameras. Ivan deserves all the respect in the world from wrestling fans and we want to show our respect by keeping his memory alive anyway we can."

You can view the free hour long tribute for Ivan at

Blooper! Ricky Steamboat Wrestles Ricky Steamboat! 
Hampton, VA  April 20, 1980

Holy cow! Not sure if this counts as a blooper or if this is the result of a late-night desk editor's acid trip.

Check out these results in the Newport News Daily Press from an April 1980 card at the Hampton Coliseum.

We always knew Paul Jones was really the devil; the Daily Press just confirmed it for us. Plus, he lost a "fench" match - - whatever the heck that is.

And it is no mean feat to wrestle yourself - - and get disqualified against yourself - - as was apparently accomplished by Ricky Steamboat.

Ray Stevens was actually Steamboat's scheduled opponent that night in Hampton. Perhaps he no-showed and Steamboat put himself in a choke hold and failed to break by the count of five.

And having nothing to do with these bloopers, but could there have possibly been a slower moving tag team in 1980 than Ox Baker and Brute Bernard? I actually kind of dig that combination. Slow, yes, but don't let them catch you!

Thanks to Mark Eastridge for the clipping and Mike Cline for the line about Steamboat. You can view more classic newspaper bloopers by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Remembering the Crazy Koloff/Valiant Feud

by Andy McDaniel
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Hearing the news of the passing of Ivan Koloff was sad. Ivan was one of those characters from the wrestling world that was always believable. The memories are far too many to record in one writing. The phenomenal electricity/anger he could muster from a crowd by just entering the arena is something that cannot be taught. Ivan was truly a natural.

Just as powerful of a character as Ivan Koloff was, those he feuded with equally made the matches something special. Today, while reflecting, I remember the truly special times Ivan shared with the one and only “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, another “one of a kind” talent in his own right. The feud was red-hot that year and the local promos for the upcoming matches were always a favorite time of mine during the weekly broadcast. (I sure do miss those.)

The show was coming to Sumter, SC. The hook for me was the New York City street fight between The Russian Bear and the Boogie Man. It was must-see for me. The promos back then, were ones that sold tickets. Ivan promised to hand a very clear defeat to Jimmy, but the Boogie Man had a different kind of promise. He told everyone that he was going to strip “the Bear” naked. I can still hear it right now.  “Wooo! Mercy daddy, I’m gonna strip ya naked, like the day you was born, yeah!”

So, not only did the Boogie man promise a good old fashion whipping, he promised to embarrass the Russian villain for all he had done and his terrible attitude toward America. No one expected a classic Lou Thesz-style match that day. Instead, everyone came to watch a fight and I can tell you -- they both delivered.

There were fists, chains, chairs, blood and chaos as both had promised to bring that day, but there was also the other promise Jimmy Valiant had made: stripping Ivan naked. Little by little as the match proceeded, Jimmy began to tear off the clothes of the Russian Bear until he was down to his wrestling singlet. The crowd was cheering every moment. The back and forth match seemed to be going Ivan’s way, but the Boogie Man brought out his trusty chain (hiding in his boot) and got the knockout punch on Ivan for the 1-2-3.

The cheers were deafening, but the promise to strip the bear “bare naked” had not been completed, so as Ivan was still reeling from the effects of the chain, Jimmy, indeed grabbed Ivan’s tights and pulled them down. Instantly Ivan grabbed his crotch (covering himself) and dashed toward the dressing room, with his naked butt shining for all to see. It was a truly funny moment and being true to his word, the Boogie Man, sent the crowd home happy.

Later in life, I was blessed to be at a ministry event with Ivan. We shared some wonderful memories and our mutual love for the Lord. I reminded Ivan of this story with Jimmy and he laughed while saying “Oh, that Jimmy, there is only one.” Indeed, Jimmy is a unique character and Ivan certainly was too. These great characters from our childhood will live on forever in our memories. When we lose one, it is absolutely like losing an old friend.

Thanks for the memories, Ivan, you will be missed. Until we meet again in Heaven.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Gateway Interview: Tony Schiavone (Part 4)

We all remember what it was like to be a fan of wrestling when we were young, no matter what area of the country you lived in or what wrestling territory you first discovered. Tony Schiavone grew up in Virginia a big fan of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, watching with his Uncle John as a kid and later driving the 6+ hour round trip to Greensboro to see classic matches that took place there.

So with the launch of his podcast "What Happened When" (WHW Monday) on the MLW Radio Network where Tony and Conrad Thompson will look back on memorable moments in wrestling through his career with Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW, we thought it would be fun as fans to hear Tony talk about his experiences before he got started in a career that would eventually lead to him becoming one of wrestling's most recognizable broadcasters. There are Tony's memories as a fan.

After all - - David Chappell and I are the same age as Tony and we grew discovering Mid-Atlantic Wrestling during the exact same time period as he did. So this is the most fun for us, getting his memories and perspective on things that we love talking about.

So now enjoy PART 4 of what we like to call "Sundays with Schiavone." And be sure to check out the earlier installments of David Chappell's interview with Tony: PART 1  PART 2   PART 3

- Dick Bourne

* * * * *


David Chappell: Spot shows in the Mid-Atlantic area were great, but nothing beat going to a live show at a coliseum or a building in a bigger town, wouldn’t you agree?

Tony Schiavone: I didn’t know they were called spot shows then, but at the spot shows Butchie and I never saw a title switch and we never saw blood…and that’s what we wanted to see. I guess they just wouldn’t bleed for those spot shows!

Chappell: (laughs) It’s a shame you had to travel further to see blood!

Schiavone: So, we would go to Roanoke and we would see blood and we would see triple main events. (laughs) I remember Butchie the first time we saw blood saying ‘TONY, WE SAW BLOOD…WE SAW THEM BLEED!’ We were so excited!

Chappell: (laughs) And we’ll be coming back to the Roanoke Civic Center!

Schiavone: (laughs) That’s right! But we would never see a title switch, so then we would go to Greensboro…

Chappell: You definitely saw title switches there!

Schiavone: Yes, then we saw title switches. I know I saw Wahoo beat Greg Valentine for the Mid-Atlantic Championship.

Chappell: Right, the payoff in early 1978 from when Greg broke Wahoo’s leg. But then Wahoo lost it right back to Ken Patera.

Schiavone: I saw the U.S. Title and the World Tag Team Titles switch hands in Greensboro.

Greensboro ring announcer Tom Miller and RicFlair
Chappell: Going to Greensboro back in those days, you saw some of the greatest matches put on anywhere in the world. Do you have a favorite that comes to mind?

Schiavone: David, I’ll tell you the greatest match I’ve ever seen. The way we found out about the match, because we didn’t live in the Greensboro market, was that Tom Miller would announce it on the show before.

Chappell: Right, Truckin’ Tom Miller, the legendary ring announcer in Greensboro!

Schiavone: Right! Truckin’ Tom would say, ‘Fans coming to the Greensboro Coliseum, our next event will be October 23rd' or whatever. So one time he announced, ‘And you will see, the World Tag Team Champions DUSTY RHODES AND DICK SLATER defend their tag team belts against Ric Flair and Greg Valentine!’

Chappell: Yes, I remember Rhodes and Slater, who weren’t in Jim Crockett Promotions then, originally being billed as the champs for that match!

Schiavone: All right, now here’s what happened. We came back [to Greensboro], and it wasn’t Slater and Dusty, it was the Anderson Brothers.

Chappell: Yep!

Schiavone: Which kind of pissed me off!

Vintage Audio: Greg Valentine and Ric Flair promote their scheduled match with Rhodes and Slater

Chappell: (laughing)

Schiavone: (laughs) But, nevertheless okay, that match… [the Anderson Brothers] dropped the straps to Valentine and Flair, that match was like the greatest match I had ever seen!

Chappell: And to be there in person for that historic October 30, 1977 title change…unbelievable. I believe Gene Anderson was injured in that match.

Schiavone: I remember I had a friend of mine with me, named Tommy, and we went to the event and as the event was going on I remember looking at Tommy and saying, ‘This is the best match I’ve ever seen!’

Chappell: What made that match the absolute best in your mind? 

Schiavone: (pauses) I guess because we had four great workers, right?

Chappell: For sure.

Schiavone: But the fact of how they would get heat on each other, and they would go down on the floor and they would bleed…

Chappell: (laughs) I figured you’d mention the blood!

Schiavone: Yeah, and the other team would make a comeback, and then they would stop the heat.

Chappell: I bet the ebb and flow was tremendous, and you had a title change to boot.

Schiavone: You know, Flair and Valentine weren’t babyfaces back then…

Chappell: They were definitely heels back then. This was a “Battle of the Bullies” type deal.

Schiavone: Yeah, it really was. And then I remember later on, Tommy and I…his nickname was ‘Hippie.’

Chappell: (laughs) You mean like the 1960s hippies?

Schiavone: Everybody had nicknames when I was growing up! He would always go with me to Greensboro…others would always come up with some excuse, but Hippie would always go.

Chappell: Smart man, that Hippie!

Schiavone: Hippie and I would always try to get the ringside seats that were at the end zone where the wrestlers came out. And we would always try to get the ringside seats, you know where the first eight or nine maybe ten rows were on the floor but then they would have risers, that would go up a little bit…

Chappell: Better sight lines.

Schiavone: Right, so we would get seats that were on the risers so like you said David, we didn’t have to look around people’s heads!

Chappell: Certainly makes for a better viewing experience.

Schiavone: And we tried to get the ones on the end, where the heels came out…because we wanted to see them up close and we wanted to boo at ‘em!

Chappell: (laughs) Of course!

Schiavone: And I remember we went to Roanoke one time and all these heels came out and we booed ‘em, and Angelo Mosca came out and we were too afraid to boo him!

Chappell: (laughs) Completely understandable! They didn’t call him “Big Nasty” for nothing!

Schiavone: He looked big AND bad, okay?

Chappell: No doubt…

Schiavone: (laughs) Yeah, then after I got to know him years later I really got to like him. He was kind of a jovial old big guy and I remember telling him, ‘You scared the hell out of me one day, and now look at you!’

Chappell: (laughs) I’d be interested to hear what you think made Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling one of the best, if not the best, territory in the professional wrestling world.

Schiavone: Well, I didn’t watch any of the other territories. The only way I heard about the other territories was reading about them in the magazines.

Chappell: Right…

Schiavone: The magazines were how you found out about the other territories…

Chappell: It’s hard to believe, now that we’re in the Internet age, but that was very true back in the 1970s.

Schiavone: But I think what made [Mid-Atlantic] great was the great workers. Like Flair and Mulligan, like the Andersons…like Tim Woods, like Ricky Steamboat.

Chappell: We were blessed to see some phenomenal talent over the years.

Schiavone: David, that’s kind of a hard question. I just knew that I loved it.

Chappell: I think maybe a better way to have phrased the question would be what did you enjoy most about Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. Because you’re absolutely right, most of us didn’t see the other territories back then to compare Crockett to.

Schiavone: I think back then the Crockett’s knew how to make you want to watch them. And it’s an art that’s long gone…because they show everything on TV now.

Chappell: Yep, very true.

Schiavone: But you would watch those TV shows knowing that you would not necessarily see a good match, you’d see a squash match or a job match, whatever we’d call it now.

But you’d still watch it because you’d watch it for the interviews; you’d watch it for those two and a half minute interviews to see where Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling was coming to your town…

Chappell: Yes…

Schiavone: And sometimes you would tune in and you’d see Ricky Steamboat win the television title or see a title switch or see some sort of angle. But to me back then, the angles and the interviews were what drew you in and made you watch, and not necessarily a great match between two guys.

Chappell: The TV show was done to get you out to buy a ticket for the arena shows, but it was still must see TV.

Schiavone: Exactly…it was just the way they packaged it, and the characters they had, that made me come back week after week!

* * * * * * *

Stay tuned for PART FIVE of our ongoing interview with Tony Schiavone. And don't miss Tony's podcast this Monday with co-host Conrad Thompson. It's "What Happened When" (WHW Monday) and it drops every Monday on the MLW Radio Network and everywhere you get your podcasts.

Read all about the world tag team title match that never was - -Rhodes & Slater defending the NWA World Tag Team titles against Ric Flair and Greg Valentine in Greensboro - - and how that led to the greatest match Tony ever saw as a fan: Rhodes and Slater defend the World Tag Team Titles in the Mid-Atlantic Area - - Almost by Dick Bourne.

See also:

Memories of Pro Wrestling That Will Never Grow Old by Tony Schiavone
Conrad Thompson Announces New Podcast with Tony Schiavone

Follow Tony Schiavone at @tonyschiavone24
Follow Conrad Thompson at @heyheyitsconrad
Follow the MLW Radio Network at @MWL
Follow Tony's podcast at @WHWMonday

Check out Tony's new T-Shirts and support the WHW Monday podcast!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ivan Koloff: Rest in Peace

The Mid-Atlantic Gateway is saddened to learn of the death of Ivan Koloff, who has passed away following a battle with liver cancer.  He was 74 years old.

Ivan was one of the true legends in professional wrestling and also one of the nicest people we ever met, in or out of the business.

Our condolences go out to the friends and family of the great Ivan Koloff.

by Mike Johnson, PWInsider

Saturday TV: World Wide Wrestling 2/27/88

United States Heavyweight Championship
Steel Cage Match
"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes 
vs. Bobby Eaton