Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Get Well, Nature Boy

We join the rest of the wrestling world in sending our prayers and best wishes for the speedy recovery of the greatest wrestler to ever lace up a pair of boots - - "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.

Ric is recovering from surgery that took place on Monday 8/14 and is dealing with a number of various health issues at the moment.

Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and friends during this tough time. Get well soon, Naitch!

Valentine vs. Brisco: The Champ vs. The Champ

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The year of 1974 was a watershed year in the history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.  After being brought into Jim Crockett Promotions in October of 1973, Johnny Valentine soon became the focus of a territory that was about to take off in a big way. After claiming the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship belt at the beginning of 1974, Valentine became so dominant during the course of the year that he was simply referred to by the promotion as the “Champ.”

When NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco made a pass through the Mid-Atlantic area during 1974, he met the number one contender Valentine in a rare television match pitting Champion versus Champion. At the end of 1974, Valentine and announcer Sam Menacker talked over clips of this unique match in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling’s 1974 Year In Review television show.

November 24, 1974  -  Charlotte, NC
(Clipping from the Mark Eastridge Collection)
Valentine began the segment by telling the TV audience, “Well, they sent the World Champion in to make the Champ look bad, but he didn’t fare so well. In fact, he left after this match looking very bad himself and people were wondering why he was champion and not John Valentine.” Johnny continued, “You can see in this match as we go along that I handled him quite easily.”

Menacker noted, “Well, there’s no doubt about it, he’s the World Champion. And of course from what I heard about it you stayed right with him, but it wound up when the match was over he was still the champion.” Johnny curtly responded,  “Well, this was not a World Championship match or any championship match. It was a special TV match…if there were points given for this match I would have definitely won it on points. I was so far ahead it was ridiculous!” Valentine added, “He didn’t even look like a champion in this match.”

“It’s certainly evident that you’re the aggressor here,” Menacker commented. “I’m always the aggressor,” Valentine replied. The Champ continued, “I always strive to go out and win the match, not just waste my time and keep from getting beat because I knew then I was the better man. I had a hold of him for one minute and I knew I was a better man.”

As the film review continued Menacker stated, “Johnny, you really have a terrific arm bar hold on Jack Brisco.” Johnny chuckled, “Well, so far I’m the only one who had a hold…Brisco was strictly on the defensive. He’s backing up again in the ropes; he’s just hanging on for his dear life.” Valentine elaborated, “He expected to come in and make a fool of me, and look who is lying on the mat!”

In large measure, Menacker agreed exclaiming, “There’s Johnny, he’s picking him up, clubs him…man what a smash that was. And Brisco is definitely in trouble right there. I can’t help but agree with you, there’s a hard smash to the heart.” The Champ added, “This man was sent in just to make a fool of me but you can see what happened…the tables were turned! Brisco is out on the floor. Out on the floor, flat on his back. I personally think I should be World Champion.”

Menacker then commented, “Of course, in this television match, now it did wind up as a draw if I’m not mistaken...is that correct?” Valentine snarled, “Of course we ran out of time, lucky for Brisco we ran out of time because you can see who is taking all the punishment. There’s only so much punishment a body can take.”

As the film clip neared its conclusion Menacker observed, “Ordinarily I know those are punishing blows because I’ve seen Brisco and I know you have too where he has exceptionally quick recuperative powers, but in this particular match every time you club him he stays down for a while…it takes quite a time for him to get his bearings back. There he throws a punch, another punch, at you. He’s trying to come back, but he’s still weak. Beautiful move there, he brought you over in a rolling reverse cradle.”

Johnny answered, “Yeah, but I’m the stronger one; I’m able to come out. If I had him in that weakened condition he was in he may not have come out. I believe in hammering my opponent, hurting him, weakening him and then beating him.” Well, you are the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Champion and just watching this match here and having heard about it throughout the country I can understand why people say you should have another match with him besides yourself...naturally you want another match with him,” Menacker said. Johnny ended the segment by countering, “Well, naturally I want to better myself and having his belt will help.”

There can be no doubt that a Jack Brisco versus Johnny Valentine bout on television would be a highlight of 1974…or any year, for that matter. But the timing of this TV match, occurring when Brisco was the World Champion and Valentine was the Mid-Atlantic Champion made it even more memorable. Valentine’s strong showing certainly bolstered his status as Jim Crockett Promotions top dog.

And for sure, the Champ versus the Champ in 1974 was a moment in time on TV to be treasured by all the Mid-Atlantic faithful!

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See also: Jack Brisco's NWA title defenses in the Mid-Atlantic area in 1974. 


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wrestler Weekly: Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood Were Poetry in Motion

"These guys in the ring together were poetry in motion. They were, to the sport of wrestling, what Baryshnikov is to ballet and dance. While watching them perform, you were amazed, astonished, afraid for them, enthused with them, and most importantly, brought to tears of joy with them when they won." - Scottie Richardson, Wrestler Weekly

From the 720wrestling.com article
Just over a month ago, Scottie Richardson (of Wrestler Weekly, @wrestlerweekly) wrote an article about one of his favorite tag teams growing up, Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood.

Steamboat and Youngblood, or "Youngboat" as Jerry Brisco liked to call them, were one of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's greatest tag teams ever. Their most memorable match, most likely, was their victory over Jack and Jerry Brisco at Starrcade '83 to win the NWA World Tag Team championships.

Richardson looks back at the multi-time tag champs, including from the perspective of the other great tag teams of that era.It is a really nice nostalgic look back at one of the great teams ever.

His article is on the 720 Wrestling website and can be found clicking here:

Just Have Fun: Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood 
720 Wrestling (720wrestling.com)


Friday, August 11, 2017

Amazing Ric Flair Promo for the PGA Championship


Weaver Cup Quarter Finals, JJ DIllon Phone Call, more!


Click this link for further details!


The 2017 Johnny Weaver Cup Tournament, now in its fourteenth amazing year, is underway at CWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.

On Saturday, August 12 the Mid-Atlantic bracket and Worldwide bracket collide to see who reaches the illustrious Final Four! The matches take palce at  the Mid-Atlantic Sportatorium in Gibsonville, NC.  All roads lead to the final four of the tournament which will take place Saturday, 8/26.

For more information on this tradition-rich event, check out the CWF Mid-Atlantic Website or look back at the thirteen previous tournaments on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Tully Blanchard Enterprises in the house! Two charter members of the original Four Horsemen, Tully Blanchard and James J. Dillon, will be on hand to help Classic Pro Wrestling celebrate their one year anniversary at their Anniversary Spectacular. The event will be held October 7 at West Point High School in West Point, Virginia. For more details, keep your eye on Classic Pro Wrestling's social media pages. (facebook.com/classicprowrestlin/, @cpwrasslin)

What Happened When with Tony Schiavone and Conrad Thompson
The J.J. Dillon Show with James. J. Dillon and Rich Bocchini
Go Get Over Podcast with Chris and Joey
Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling with Chad and Poz

As always, we thank you for your ongoing support of our website.


Action Figures Friday: Greg "The Hammer" Valentine

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's Friday, and we always celebrate here on the Gateway with "Action Figures Friday" (and usually "Free Fries Friday" at McDonald's, too.)

This week we take a look at a tribute to that iconic image from 1977 where Greg Valentine donned one of the most infamous wrestling t-shirts of all time - - "I Broke Wahoo's Leg" - - after defeating Wahoo McDaniel for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship on TV, and breaking the Chief's leg in the process.

The replica figure is decked out with his own mini t-shirt and tiny replica of the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight title belt that was worn for many years during that era.

Valentine enraged fans back in the day with the t-shirt, often coming to the ring wearing a robe over it and then slowly opening the robe to reveal the shirt and the title belt with a devilish grin on his face.

And then when the robe came off, he would slowly turn so you could see the message on the back of the t-shirt, too - - "No More Wahoo."

And just as iconic as the shirt, and really the only thing that makes that imagery work, is the Mid-Atlantic championship belt strapped around his waist as well.

The Mid-Atlantic title was established in 1973, but has its roots going back to 1970 when the Eastern Heavyweight championship was established. That Eastern was renamed the Mid-Atlantic title in 1973. The complete title history can be found on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway here

The imagery and the memories of that famous t-shirt resulting from that historic televised match are still remembered today, and are even immortalized in a song by singer/songwriter Sweet G.A. Brown. (We've written a lot about that song, most recently here.)

In a short conversation with Greg while getting breakfast at the Univesity Hilton at Charlotte in 2016 at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest, he told me that usually one person will mention this to him at almost every appearance he makes. "I get asked to sign my autograph that way," he told our group. "All these years later, people still remember that."

All these years later, indeed. It's hard to believe it was 40 years ago this September of 2017.

I was the smart-alek who brought it up that morning at breakfast. Greg was in line at the buffet with his back turned and when we saw him, I said out loud, "Watch out folks, this guy broke Wahoo's leg." Greg slowly turned around with a big grin on his face and uttered in that deep, muttering voice, "You're damn right I did."

That is a nice memory of that weekend in Charlotte.

Thanks as always to collector Mike Simmerman for sending us these great photos from his amazing throw-back collection of action figures. To see all the other "Action Figures Fridays" posts, click here.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Crazy Bloopers in Hub City!

File this one high up on the list of "How in the heck do these things happen?"

It was the regular Saturday night card at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium on a cool October night. The main event was one of the hottest matches currently making the rounds in the Mid-Atlantic area: Ole Anderson vs. Thunderbolt Patterson.

The ad for the show ran in that morning's paper. All looked good until you started looking closely at the names wrestling on the mid-card. Heck, you didn't have to actually look all that closely, these odd name jumped right off the page to any fan familiar with the current stars of Jim Crockett Promotions.

In the semi-main event tag match (oddly called the "sub main event" here) the exciting babyface tag team of Jim Dillon and The Avenger (Reggie Parks) were scheduled to meet - - - JEAN Anderson and MASK Marvel.

Not "The Masked Marvel" - - just MASK Marvel.

In the scheduled third match of the night, ROMMIE ARVIN is scheduled to face PONCHO BALDER.

Poncho BALDER?? What the heck?

Lots of odd things about all this - -  

First of all, the fact that whoever put together the ad for the paper would spell Gene Anderson's name JEAN had to suggest that the local promoter called the scheduled line-up in to the paper and the person taking it down just spelled it like his mama's name was spelled. No one in the wrestling office would have spelled Gene's name JEAN. That might also explain ROMMIE ARVIN. Maybe a bad connection and the kid at the advertising desk couldn't hear the person calling it in real well. Although you'd think someone would pick up on the fact that ROMMIE ARVIN doesn't even much sound like a name.

But nothing explains PONCHO BALDER!

The wrestler scheduled to face Ronnie Garvin that night was Pancho Valdez. Actually, depending on the source and the territory, his first name was spelled both Pancho and Poncho. But Balder? How in the world the paper wound up with PONCHO BALDER is one of the great mysteries of these newspaper bloopers. Nothing explains that one. It certainly doesn't sound like Valdez that someone simply misunderstood. Even trying to decipher the worst handwriting in the world it's hard to see how you would get BALDER out of Valdez.

Maybe it was a rib.

One other little mystery is Gene Anderson's partner being billed as the MASK Marvel. While there had been a Masked Marvels tag team in the area before, there was no Masked Marvel in the area at present. Gene Anderson's partner this night was actually a masked wrestler named The Menace, who wore a maroon colored mask and was affiliated with the Anderson Brothers in a big angle at that time. The Andersons and their henchman The Menace were often teamed in 6-man bouts around the area at the time.

So just how did The Menace get billed as the MASK Marvel?

All of these things added together make this one of the strangest newspaper ad bloopers we've come across in some time.

The answers to these questions, if there are any, aren't really worth the time it took to wonder and write about them. This stuff just really puzzles me, how an ad department at a newspaper can get something so wrong. What could possibly explain these crazy errors?

There are other misspellings in names, including Jim GRAGMIRE. Given all these crazy mistakes, it's a wonder they got Mike Paidousis' name correctly. That's often a tough one.

The following day, the newspaper had no problem in getting the names of the wrestlers right, although the results show some changes in the card:
  • Thunderbolt Patterson defeated Ole Anderson
  • Jim Dillon and The Avenger topped Gene Anderson and The Menace
  • Peggy Patterson defeated Paula Kay
  • Ronnie Garvin defeated Pancho Valdez
  • Billy Hines beat Terry Sawyer
  • Johnny Heidman downed Jim Grabmire

For more Bloopers, visit the Blooper Directory.


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Win a Copy of "FOUR HORSEMEN" and a Phone Call from James J. Dillon!

Win a copy of the book "FOUR HORSEMEN", signed by J.J. Dillon, and a personal phone call from J.J. himself. 

All you have to do is:
  1. Post a rating and review of the "JJ Dillon Show" podcast in iTunes. 
  2. Then email JJ at jjdillonshow@mlw.com and tell him in the email which review is yours. 
You are then automatically entered to win!

Two winners will be selected at random and both will receive a copy of the "FOUR HORSEMEN" book signed to you by J.J., as well as a personal phone call from J.J. to say thanks.

For more information, email that same address jjdillonshow@mlw.com or check out the most recent podcasrt (Episode #7, published 8/4/17) with all the information there.

Late edit:
Here is the relevant audio information pulled directly from the 8/4/17 episode of the podcast:

Don't miss JJ on his big Pennsylvania tour this weekend! He will have both his autobiography "Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls" as well as the new "Four Horsemen" book available at his booth or table.

1CW Wrestling
NTW Presents 1CW/Showcase Pro Wrestling
Celebration Hall at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church
6:30pm Doors Open for Meet & Greet, 7:30pm Bell Time
139 Craigs Meadow Road, East Stroudsburg, PA 

Icons of Wrestling & Comic Book Collectorfest
Bud Carson table guest from 9am to 3pm at the 2300 Arena
2300 S. Swanson St., Philadelphia, PA 
For tickets and more info go to http://www.thecollectorfest.com/
For more information on Icons of Wrestling & Comic Book Collectorfest 

Bud Carson's Pro Wrestling World
12pm to 2pm at the Pro Wrestling World store in Allentown
1901 S. 12th St. Allentown, PA
For more info call 610-798-9900 or email prowrestling1@aol.com.

For more of J.J.'s schedule, click here.


United States Wrestling Club: Jake "The Snake" Roberts


In 1981, Jim Crockett promotions developed a club for their fans and called it the "United States Wrestling Club." For a membership fee of $5.00 for one year, fans got the bi-monthly club newsletter "Ringside," a discounted subscription offer on "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine," discounts on tickets to local Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events, and discounts on concessions at those events. Despite being initially well received by fans, Jim Crockett Promotions folded the club after only one year.

The 4th issue of the "Ringside" newsletter for the United States Wrestling Club arrived in November 1981. The feature article was editor Steve Waid's interview with Jake "The Snake" Roberts about his interest in snakes, making furniture, and his tenure in the wrestling business at that point in time.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


If he’s wearing his cowboy hat, chances are the first thing you won’t notice about wrestling star Jake Roberts will be his tall, muscular body or seemingly stone-cut good looks.

Instead, his hat will capture all your attention. It’s a rather nondescript cowboy lid, except when you notice the hatband.

Now that’s a stunner.

It’s the skin of a rattlesnake, complete with head, open mouth and fangs – make that one fang. It’s a chilling sight and it gives the amiable Roberts something of a sinister air.

“I got that hat in Texas and the skin and head of the snake were given to me by a buddy who is a taxidermist,” said Roberts. “I guess it’s the kind of thing you don’t see every day. That other fang broke off just the other day.”

It seems only natural that Roberts would adorn his hat with the skin of a snake, because he has a fondness for the slithering creatures. He has two pet snakes – a huge boa constrictor and a python, both in the 7-foot range.

Don’t let his hatband or his unusual pets fool you, however. Roberts is no “snake in the grass.” He is, instead, a fine athlete who has only recently come into the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling area after successful stints in other parts of the country.

From the town of Sweetwater, Texas, near Dallas, Roberts was influenced by wrestling at a very early age. “My father was a professional wrestler called the ‘Kentuckian’,” he said, “and we shared more of a big brother/little brother relationship than anything else.”

“I would see the huge number of miles he’d pile up traveling and I’d see him get all busted up and I thought a wrestler was the last thing I ever wanted to be.”

As a youngster, Roberts drifted into basketball, baseball and football at Sweetwater High School, and in his own words, “I was the master of none.”

But that didn’t mean he lacked athletic prowess. He got a chance to prove that later in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he had gone to visit his father.


“I was at a wrestling match with him and this guy didn’t show up for his particular match,” Roberts recalled. “Well, it was suggested that I fill in for him. My father was with me and I knew he’d be watching.”

“It was against a guy named Billy Ash. Time expired before he could pin me or I could manage to do anything with him, but I took the worst of it, let me tell you.”

“I went back to the dressing room and asked my Dad what he thought. He said it was the worst thing he had ever seen and that he was embarrassed. I considered that a challenge. I thought then I could be as good as he ever was. And so, here I am.”

That was “six long years ago” and Roberts is quickly becoming one of the more popular grapplers around. But he’s paid a price for it, much the same as his father did.

“I went to Florida to start my career, but had wrist surgery and was out for 18 months,” Roberts said. “Then I started back again in Florida, went to Tennessee, Kansas City and on to Canada, where I started out in Vancouver, British Columbia. Then I went to Calgary, also in Canada.”

“From there, I figured it was time to head back to Louisiana to show everyone what I had learned.”

Apparently, he had learned a great deal. He became the Louisiana State Champion.

But again, injuries plagued him. He separated his shoulder and then broke his arm twice, severely limiting his activities. Upon recovery, however, he had to do his father proud when he won the North American Championship in Shreveport, LA in January, 1980.

He remained in Louisiana until the middle of 1981, when he came to the Mid-Atlantic area to become involved in the competition that exists there.

“I had to keep right on going in the sport I’d chosen,” Roberts explained. “You have to go out and go places to make yourself better and better. And for me, it means a great deal of personal satisfaction, even though I’ve taken a lot of wear and tear on my body.”

“It proves that no matter what the odds are against you, you can achieve anything in this world if you work at it.”

To relax, Roberts makes furniture, in addition to tending his snakes. It seems the creativity of creating a fine chair or other household object is a welcome respite from the rigors of wrestling.

Outgoing and friendly, Jake Roberts has most of his career ahead of him. Even though he didn’t approve of wrestling after seeing his father’s involvement of several years, he’s met a challenge and become one of the best in his profession.

“I never thought I’d be in the position I am,” he said. “I have gained a lot of satisfaction from it.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Special thanks to Peggy Lathan for transcribing the Jake Roberts article.

Click here for all posts on the United States Wrestling Club.