Friday, June 24, 2016

Norfolk TV Station catches the Tidewater area up on Tony Schiavone

Norfolk, VA television station WAVY-10 recently did a feature on Tony Schiavone, the voice of the Gwinnett Braves (Atlanta Braves affiliate) radio broadcasts, who is originally from the Richmond area.

It is an EXCELLENT feature on Tony, covering his entire wrestling broadcasting career with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling/Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW, as well as his current work with the Braves. (On a side note, WAVY was once a Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling affiliate on the old 1970s-1980s Crockett Promotions network.)

We are looking forward to seeing Tony in Charlotte this August, as he makes his first appearance at the annual Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest (Aug. 4-7) at the University Place Hilton. Details online at or on their Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Remembering Muhammad Ali Through the Prism of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Exclusive, rare audio recording of Tony Atlas
included within this post.

When “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali passed away recently, it got me to thinking about Ali’s connections to professional wrestling. Without question, Ali was a big fan of wrestling. In fact, Ali admitted that much of his showmanship outside of the boxing ring had its genesis from the pro wrestling world. And on rare occasions, “The Greatest” even entered the wrestling ring or its immediate environs as an actual participant.

Ali’s connections to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling were not substantial, but nevertheless were noteworthy and memorable in my mind. The final portion of Ali’s in-ring boxing career (1974-1981) intersected with a significant number of years from the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling era.

ABC News
My earliest joint recollection of Ali and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling was on November 1, 1975. Traveling to Harrisonburg, Virginia, and what is now called James Madison University (JMU), I had just heard a promo cut by Superstar Billy Graham building a Texas Death Match against Wahoo McDaniel set for November 7, 1975 at the Richmond Coliseum. At JMU, they were showing a replay of the brutal “Thrilla in Manila,” the epic Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight, that had happened a month earlier. On the replay, there were also sound bites from Ali. I couldn’t help but think how Graham and Ali had the same natural charisma, which made you hang onto every word they said. The violence of the fight replay also had me wondering the whole next week if the Texas Death Match in Richmond would be as violent as the boxing match in Manila was. Superstar Graham’s promo certainly suggested that it would be!

During the mid-1970s, when Ali was still a boxing champion or top contender, Ric Flair would occasionally bring up Ali’s name in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling promos. Usually it was in the context of other celebrities of the day, like Joe Namath, Elvis Presley or Burt Reynolds, that the “Nature Boy” would favorably compare himself to. Ric would also take poetic license with some of Ali’s famous lines, and turn them into his own masterpieces. My favorite Ric Flair “Ali-ism” came from the middle of 1975 when Flair told announcer Bob Caudle on a Mid-Atlantic television interview, “I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee…and every pretty lady wants a piece of me!!”

Ali’s most famous encounter with a wrestler in the ring was the matchup against Antonio Inoki on June 26, 1976 in Tokyo, Japan. While not tied to Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, I was nevertheless interested in the outcome and remember listening for updates by round on my scratchy transistor radio. The match and resulting “draw” left many unsatisfied, but it did bring Ali back into a wrestling discussion on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling television! Later in the summer of 1976, “Professor” Boris Malenko managed Bolo Mongol, who had just completed a tour of Japan. Malenko bragged that Bolo Mongol had defeated Inoki three times in three different Japanese cities. Malenko hastened to add for the viewing audience, that Inoki was the same man that Cassius Clay (Boris used Ali’s birth name) couldn’t defeat!

What made this segment particularly memorable was that for the only time I could remember, Bolo Mongol actually spoke on Mid-Atlantic TV saying, “Clay could not beat him; I beat him.” I was told much later in time that Bolo Mongol and the Masked Superstar were actually the same person. At first I didn’t believe it, and went back to the audio I had of that Bolo Mongol statement…and yes, it was clearly the same voice as that of the Masked Superstar!

Tony Atlas and Muhammad Ali  (Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine)

The popular strongman from Roanoke, Virginia, Tony Atlas, also had a Mid-Atlantic connection with “The Greatest” during Tony’s second stint in the Mid-Atlantic area in 1978. Atlas and Ali made a joint appearance of sorts in an edition of a Mid-Atlantic Magazine that was sold in the territory’s arenas in 1978! Posing for a photo together as part of a Friendship Force International function, both Tony and Ali seemed very happy in promoting the “peace through friendship” agenda that the Friendship Force espouses and acts on, by bringing diverse people from all over the world together.

But what comes to mind for me as the most enduring Ali connection with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling also happens to involve Tony Atlas, and it was a promo that Tony did with Rich Landrum promoting a bout against Ken Patera, which was a no disqualification match in Charleston, South Carolina set on August 18, 1978.

Exclusive Rare Audio: Tony Atlas Does His Best Muhammad Ali (Local Promo with Rich Landrum)

Mark Eastridge Collection
Doing his best Muhammad Ali impersonation and in perfect Ali cadence, to the point that I thought “The Greatest” had entered the Mid-Atlantic area for one night to battle the dastardly Patera for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title, Atlas exclaimed, “Everybody’s always talkin’ about Ken Patera, sayin’ Ken Patera is strong…Ken Patera lift a whole lotta weight. Eveybody know Ken Patera lift five hundred pounds. Let me tell you something Ken Patera, when I get you in the ring daddy I’m gonna float like a butterfly and I’m gonna sting like a bee…Patera, your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see!”

Without taking a breath, Atlas continued, “I gonna hit you in your mouth, there ain’t no doubt. Patera, if you come out there I’m gonna put you out! Now Patera, I know you got the title; I want the title. But this is p-funk! Electrify, personify and satisfy daddy! So I’m gonna boogie down; I gotta do it! I am the people’s champion… I’m not the Mid-Atlantic champion… I wanna be the Mid-Atlantic Champion. I want the title daddy; I want some of you to go along with it! We gonna get down, right there daddy! All of it’s gonna happen. P-funk, excitement, pandemonium in the air…Patera come on out, daddy we’re gonna get down, we gotta get down, we’re gonna get down.”

Tony wrapped up the interview reiterating, “Patera, I want the title; I want some of you to go along with it. 500 pounds is gonna be hittin’ back, 500 pounds is gonna be boogying with ya daddy! Patera, you got the title, you ain’t gonna keep the title! I want you Patera; it’s gonna be p-funk. P-funk, excitement...I gotta get there! I’m goin’ there now. Bye ya’ll, I’ll meet you there…"

With Muhammad Ali’s recent death, the tie-ins between the legendary boxer and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling immediately started coming back to me. While the connections might be few in number, they have stuck with me for around four decades. But more than anything else, thinking about them together again, confirmed to me that both Muhammad Ali and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling were each truly, “The Greatest.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dusty Rhodes Wins the NWA World Title - 35 Years Ago Today!

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dusty Rhodes
"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes defeated "Handsome" Harley Race for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on June 21, 1981 at the Omni in Atlanta Georgia.

35 years ago today!

News of Dusty's big win was reported all over the world.

Dusty will be honored at the annual Hall of Heroes Dinner Banquet at this years Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ernie Ladd's Infamous Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Debut

Exclusive audio recording of Ernie Ladd's 1979 Mid-Atlantic
Wrestling debut at the end of this article!

* * * * * * * * * *
by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

A newcomer to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling burst onto the scene on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on January 31, 1979. And what an electric debut it was for the “Cat,” Ernie Ladd! Scheduled to wrestle Herb Gallant in his first Mid-Atlantic TV bout, instead Ladd approached announcer Bob Caudle in his street clothes, with apparently no intention of wrestling.

Caudle admonished Ladd, “You’re supposed to be up in the ring.” Ernie answered, “Look, I’ve asked over and over [for] Andre the dumb Giant! I wanna beat Andre the dumb Giant. I asked the promotion for Andre the dumb Giant, and they never give it to me! I wanna beat Harley Race on TV, and I’m TIRED of gettin’ in the ring with people that are inferior to my ability. And I’m sick and tired of it! So right now you can’t force me in the ring; you can’t make me do anything! I do what I want to do! I’M MY OWN MAN!

Graphic courtesy Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats
Caudle leaned over to the “Big Cat,” and lightly touched him on the arm and appeared ready to make a point. Instead, Ladd yelled, “Don’t put your hands on me…don’t touch me!!” Caudle instinctively drew back. Ernie continued, “Because I don’t have to get in the ring and wrestle! He’s an inferior caliber wrestler to me, so I will NOT get in there and disgrace myself with him. Regardless of what you say or anybody else says...I can be fined, suspended, because I have enough money to do anything I want with it! Now what can I tell you, Mr. TV announcer?"

Color commentator David Crockett chimed in, “How would you disgrace yourself wrestling Herb Gallant?” Ladd quickly retorted, “Listen, I asked for the [World] Champion, number one…” As Ernie was talking, someone in the studio audience shouted for the “Cat” to get in the ring! Ladd bellowed, “Shut up out there!” Referee Sonny Fargo was also calling over to the set for Ernie to step in the ring, but Ladd was having none of it. “Don’t ask me about getting in the ring and wrestle, Mr. Referee. You can’t tell me what to do Mr. Referee…you’re just a referee,” Ladd explained.  The fans in the TV studio were getting more rowdy in response to Ladd’s antics, which prompted Ernie to lash out, “And why don’t you people be quiet!!”

Ladd composed himself briefly and said, “I asked for one man…Andre the dumb Giant. He’s not here. I have not gotten him, and I’m upset and I’m disturbed! I asked for Harley Race…” But then David Crockett got Ladd stirred up again, interrupting him and saying, “You have to prove yourself.” A once again fired up “Big Cat” fired back, “What do you mean I have to prove myself? My record all around the world speaks for itself! World’s greatest football player, international wrestler. I don’t care what they’ve seen, clean their ears out get up close to that television, you see me wrestling out of Madison Square Garden, you see me wrestling out of Atlanta, you see me wrestling all over the world, and I come in here and make a special request to make a proper debut, to beat the World’s Champion on TV…”

Crockett persisted, “You have to prove yourself…” An exasperated Ladd yelled back, “What do you mean I have to prove myself? Look at the referee interfering!” Referee Sonny Fargo yelled towards Ernie, “I’m gonna give you a 10-count to get in here!” Ladd indignantly replied, “He ain’t gonna give me a 10 count…nobody gives me nothing! I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll be the first man to get in the ring and shake his hand, and congratulate him! I’ve had so many awards…”

And then Ladd actually made his way into the ring!

An incredulous Bob Caudle jumped back in saying, “David, he’s dressed…he’s in the ring in his street clothes. He’s just gonna shake his hand, he said.” But unfortunately for Gallant, he received more contact from “Ol’ #99” than a handshake! Caudle described the scene exclaiming, “Whoa, he kicked him right in the stomach! Ladd now with Gallant, he went in to shake Gallant’s hand. He’s got his street shoes on David, those big heavy leather shoes with a hard heavy heel, stomping and kicking Gallant with those! Now he’s hanging him right in the air!” Crockett interjected, “Throws him down right on his back!” Caudle continued, “Look at how big and how strong Ernie Ladd is.”

The “Big Cat,” street clothes and all, pinned Gallant immediately afterward. Crockett said after the three-count, “He finally wrestled, though!” Caudle concurred, “He wrestled, that’s right. He’s not gonna be fined. There’s no doubt he got in the ring and he wrestled, but the way he went about it, the sneak attack on Gallant, I’m not so sure in the minds of all the fans that proved anything...”

As an irate Ladd approached the interview area, Caudle bravely said to him, “With a sneak attack like that on Gallant!” Ladd furiously came back at Bob, “That’s not a sneak attack!! They don’t give big fat Haystacks Calhoun any static about what he puts on, what he has to do or what he has to wear! I’m my own man, I do EXACTLY what I want to do when I want to do it! I’m the best wrestler! And don’t EVER make the mistake and think that Ernie Ladd is gonna give you something!”

Listen to the entire thing play out in this rare, archival audio!

Before he entered the Mid-Atlantic area, Ernie Ladd’s reputation certainly preceded him. And in his first television appearance in the territory, he only reinforced that reputation for trickery, deceit and aggression. The “Big Cat” had arrived, and his claws were clearly out…ready to strike anyone unfortunate enough to be in his path!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Jim Ross Reveals First Film Project "6:05 on the SuperStation" / Facebook
An exciting new "feel good" film is coming from the makers of last years "Mid-Atlantic Memories", a new project that features Jim Ross as one of its producers. It's being called Ross's first film project.

Ross announced the project on his weekly podcast "The Ross Report" which is distributed by Podcast One.

The film project is called "6:05 on the SuperStation" and the initial information is that it will focus on the roughly 20-year period of time (the late 1960s through the late 1980s) that wrestling was a fixture on Saturday nights on Atlanta television station WTCG-17 that later became SuperStation WTBS.

The project will be fan-funded, in a similar fashion to "Mid-Atlantic Memories." There are lots of opportunities for giving at various levels, some of which will allow the contributor to spend time with Ross and others involved with the project at this years Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte (Aug. 4-7.)

Full information can be found at and through links on their social media pages.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mooneyham: Miller Leaves Behind a Treasure Trove of Memories

Wrestling great Danny Miller leaves behind a treasure trove of memories
by Mike Mooneyham, Charleston Post & Courier
June 12, 2016

Provided / Charleston Post & Courier
“I’m just not sure anybody would remember me.”

That’s what Danny Miller told me shortly after he was invited to the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte back in 2013.

Miller had been selected as member of that year’s Hall of Heroes class, a high distinction that honors some of the greatest stars to ever appear in the old Mid-Atlantic territory.

Even though I assured him that certainly wasn’t the case, he still expressed reservations.

“It’s been a long time,” he said, pointing to the fact that 40 years had transpired since his last major run on the circuit.

What the veteran star would come to discover, however, was that nobody had forgotten Danny Miller, a fact borne out by the large, receptive crowd that turned out to meet and honor him during the weekend gathering.

WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Brisco was on hand that night to present Danny at the awards ceremony....

Read Mooneyham's entire article on the Post & Courier website.

Tiggers Are Wonderful Things

Check out that second tag team event - Brute Bernard and Chuck O'Conner (later known as Big John Studd) vs. Sandy Scott and TIGGER Conway.

When I was about five or six years old, I loved when my grandmother would read to me "The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh." My favorite character in those stories was that crazy, knucklehead Bengal tiger known as TIGGER.

When Pooh first met him, he asked innocently, "Exactly what is a "Tigger?" To which Tigger replied:

The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers (Audio)

"The wonderful thing about Tiggers, is Tiggers are wonderful things,
Their tops are made out of rubber, and there bottoms are made out of springs,
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, trouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun,
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is I'm the only one,
I'm the only one!"
Well apparently there were two. The second one was named "Tigger Conway" and he was in the semi-main event of a card in Wilson, NC, in September of 1974.

Because I loved that childhood character, that blooper jumped off the page at me.

Interesting to note the pairing of Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones in September of 1974. The two would famously team up less than a year later in May of 1975 to dethrone Gene and Ole Anderson for the NWA world tag team titles.

But before that took place, Jones would take Tigger Tiger Conway as his partner and in December of 1974, just a few months after these matches in Wilson took place, they defeated Ric Flair and Brute Bernard for the Mid-Atlantic tag team titles. Bernard substituted for Ric's "Uncle" Rip Hawk, who had recently departed the area. Jones and Conway lost the titles in February of 1975 to the Andersons.

See more newspaper ad Bloopers here.

(Newspaper clipping courtesy of Mark Eastridge.)