Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Poster: Hot Night in South Boston

by Jody Shifflett
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

Here is a great card from 1978 featuring pretty odd tag teams on both sides. Captain Redneck Dick Murdock and Mr. USA Tony Atlas against the duo of the Nature Boy Ric Flair and strongman Ken Patera.

I’m hoping Flair and Patera won but who knows what happened at this hot spot show where anything could happen back in the day. 

The undercard was pretty good with a great mix of veterans and newcomers. I’m sure the fans got their moneys worth on this hot July Monday night!

NO. 7 IN THE SHIFFLETT POSTER SERIES

Monday, September 26, 2022

"Greenville is My Town" - 1978 Article in The Tiger mentions WFBC's Billy Powell

Ring announcer Billy Powell (R) with
Greenville promoter Paul Winkhaus

FROM THE STUDIO WRESTLING WEBSITE
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Back in November of 1978, the student newspaper at Clemson University called "The Tiger" ran an article on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in the area. The two page spread included discussion of the current popularity of pro wrestling (including an interview with Ric Flair), the skeptics (including the Clemson collegiate wrestling coach), and the fans. 

A large photo was included of Ric Flair battling Blackjack Mulligan at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium, less than an hour away from the Clemson campus in Greenville SC. With some examination of the Monday cards that took place in the weeks prior to this article's publication, I've determined that the photo is from their Texas Death Match in Greenville, the main event of the October 23, 1978 card at the Auditorium.

Of particular interest to me, though, was a brief discussion of Greenville ring announcer Billy Powell, an institution in Greenville, and whose involvement in Greenville wrestling went all the way back to 1960 and the early television tapings of pro wrestling that took place at the WFBC TV studios in Greenville.

Here is a transcript of the portion of the article that dealt with Billy Powell:

A big part of Monday night wrestling is played by the ring announcer. In Greenville, the announcer is Billy Powell, a well known personality who has gained most of his popularity through the Monday night matches.

"You bet your hat I'm a wrestling fan," Powell said. He has been announcing the matches in Greenville since 1960. "We originally did the TV wrestling here, but the program was moved to Raleigh a few years back," the outgoing Powell stated. 

Wrestling in Greenville used to be held in Textile Hall, and that is where Crockett Promotions sanctioned some of their first matches. Crockett operates from its Charlotte base under the sponsorship of the National Wrestling Association (sic). "If the matches are not sanctioned, the NWA will have nothing to do with you," Powell stated.

Concerning the wrestlers as people, Powell said, "They're all nice guys. Did you see Gene Anderson in the ring tonight as he fixed my mic cord? In the ring he is a bad dude, but outside he is just a teddy bear," Powell finished.

Asked if he would ever leave the area, Powell said, "No, because Greenville is my town."

 

Greenville fans who only watched on TV and never attended a Monday night Memorial Auditorium wrestling event were still intimately familiar with Billy Powell. Twice each Saturday during the one-hour broadcast of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling on local NBC affiliate WFBC-TV channel 4 (later WYFF), Powell did exclusive 1-minute narrated promos for the card upcoming that Monday. They featured only his voice and a still artistic depiction of two wrestlers in battle. They always began the same way - - "Hello everybody, this is Billy Powell, inviting you to joins this Monday Night at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium..." These promotional segments aired twice during each show in addition to the local promotional interviews with the wrestlers taped at WRAL in Raleigh. In that way, Billy Powell's voice was as much a part of the Greenville experience of watching wrestling every week as host Bob Caudle or any of the wrestlers. 

Not only would Powell run down the matches for upcoming card, he would also briefly touch on what happened the previous Monday night, too, tying everything together. He was the man Greenville wrestling fans trusted and was a warm and familiar voice each and every week.  

For more on Billy Powell, visit the Billy Powell page on the archived Mid-Atlantic Gateway site, and check all of his related posts on this blog. You can also learn about the history of TV wrestling in Greenville on the WFBC-4 page of our guide to the studio locations for wrestling in the Mid-Atlantic area.

And you can also read the full article on wrestling in Greenville from the Nov. 3, 1978 edition of "The Tiger", which includes an interview with a young Ric Flair, archived here. It's on pages 12 and 13 of the paper, within the downloadable pdf.

 


Audio: Holiday Greetings from Billy Powell
during the beginning of one of his local promos. 

Originally published on the Studio Wrestling website in April 2001.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Johnny Weaver's Big Angle in 1978: Baron Von Raschke

JOHNNY WEAVER 1975-1984
NOT GOING GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT
A Multi-Part Series
by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Series Introduction
1976 - Greg Valentine (Part One)
1977 - Greg Valentine (Part Two)

1978 - BARON VON RASCHKE

Johnny Weaver’s primary main event angle in the year of 1978 started in February of that year and went on into April of 1978. It really began without any fanfare or buildup, but once it got going it was quite intriguing.

At this point in time, Baron von Raschke was the Mid-Atlantic Television Champion. Any time the TV Champion wrestled a match on television, his belt was at stake for the television time limit of ten minutes. On the February 8, 1978 taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program, the Baron wrestled Johnny Weaver, with of course the big German’s TV belt at stake.

Raschke had more than his hands full during this televised bout. Johnny controlled most of the match to the delight of the packed studio audience. As the match drew close to the ten-minute time limit mark, Weaver caught the Baron in his patented Sleeper hold. Raschke was flailing around like a fish out of water, gasping for breath and appeared poised to submit or lapse into unconsciousness. But miraculously the Baron held out until the ten-minute time limit expired, and was thus able to retain his TV Title though he was flat out on the mat while Weaver was up jumping around. This strong showing against Raschke emboldened Weaver, who then challenged the Baron to a novel “Sleeper versus Claw” match on TV.

So the following week on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television, Johnny Weaver and Baron von Raschke squared off in a truly unique competition. Each wrestler would have the opportunity to put their signature hold on the other for a maximum of two minutes, and the grappler that lasted the longest in the other’s favorite hold would be declared the winner.

The event started with a coin toss to determine which wrestler would start first. Johnny won the flip of the coin, and everybody figured Weaver would elect to put the Sleeper hold on Raschke to start. However, Johnny surprised everyone by electing to have the Baron put this Claw hold on him first. A surprised announcer Bob Caudle told the fans that what Weaver did was much like a football team winning the coin toss but electing to kick off. Bob said if he was Johnny, he would have chosen to put the Sleeper hold on Raschke first.

Using some great quick thinking and making the ropes several times while in the clutches of the Baron’s fearsome Claw hold, Weaver was able to withstand Raschke’s onslaught for the allotted two minutes without submitting or losing consciousness. Almost immediately after the bell rung at the two-minute mark, Johnny caught the Baron in his vaunted Sleeper hold. Raschke was not so fortunate, and while he protested that Weaver was illegally choking him, he succumbed to Johnny’s favorite hold and went to sleep in just over a minute giving Weaver a clear victory in this most unusual contest.

The Baron was infuriated that Weaver had embarrassed him by using an illegal choking hold in the Claw versus Sleeper Challenge, and clearly put a bullseye squarely on Johnny. To up the stakes, right as the 1978 calendar flipped over to the month of March the National Wrestling Alliance instituted a tournament for all of its TV champions across the country to claim a single NWA TV Champion. Being the Mid-Atlantic Television Champion, Baron von Raschke was the representative for Jim Crockett Promotions in the national tournament, and the Baron prevailed and brought the brand spanking new NWA Television Championship belt to the Mid-Atlantic area.

But before the Baron could even catch his breath as the new NWA Television Champion, he was upset by Johnny Weaver on March 5, 1978 in the Charlotte Coliseum. Johnny would actively defend his new belt for about a month, including numerous successful defenses against Raschke that were especially brutal. During the month of March, Weaver also put up his NWA TV belt against fellow fan favorite Ricky Steamboat and the big man from Eagle Pass, Texas, Blackjack Mulligan.

As March turned into April, the storm clouds that were moving in on NWA TV Champion Johnny Weaver turned into a damaging storm in Greenville, South Carolina on April 3, 1978. That night in the Greenville Memorial Auditorium, Weaver put up his NWA TV Championship against Raschke in a No Disqualification bout with a 60-minute time limit, where the match could only be won by Johnny using his Sleeper or by the Baron by using his Claw. 

To the dismay of the packed house in Greenville, the Baron was able to hit Weaver with a chair and knocked Johnny out in the process, enabling the big German to finish off Weaver with his Claw hold. While Johnny had a number of return TV Title matches with Raschke during the remainder of the month of April, Weaver was unable to recapture the prized belt. But what an eventful three-month main event run it was for Johnny Weaver in 1978!

NEXT UP 1979---Ken Patera, and later a different role for Johnny Weaver!

Bonus: Johnny Weaver's Impact in Maple Leaf Wrestling (by Andrew Calvert)
Bonus: Weaver Still TV Champ after Battle with the Baron (photo by Charles Robinson)

Friday, September 23, 2022

Action Figure Friday: Bravo and Valentine in Toronto

Barry Hatchet / MapleLeafWrestling.com

There is no one that does detail on staging classic wrestling action figure photos quite like Barry Hatchet in his "Make Believe Gardens" series on MapleLeafWrestling.com.

This photo features Canadian Heavyweight Champion Dino Bravo vs. challenger Greg Valentine. 

From the Maple Leaf Wrestling website:

Dino Bravo and Greg 'Hammer' Valentine had some great bouts in Toronto over our Canadian Heavyweight Title. This could be any one of 3 where Bravo was champ at introductions. Valentine would eventually beat Bravo for the title in April but would lose it back in June.

Bravo had recently turned back the challenge of Ric Flair and had tagged with Ricky Steamboat against the team of Flair and Valentine before starting this series.


Jim Crockett Promotions and Toronto Promoter Frank Tunney had a working relationship between 1978 and 1983, where Tunney booked a majority of his talent appearing on Toronto cards from the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling territory. The Canadian heavyweight champions during this era also appeared for Jim Crockett Promotions on cards in their cities, as well as on the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and World Wide Wrestling TV shows, with the Canadian title belt.

More excellent photos from this staging can be found here.

 
Originally published in May of 2019 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.
 
 
The Canadian Heavyweight Title by Andrew Clavert
and more at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Book Store.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

N.C. Artist Competed Against Don Kernodle in Weight Lifting

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

North Carolina artist, United States Army veteran, and longtime Mid-Atlantic Wrestling fan Ronald Ragland passed away earlier this summer. His daughter Allison White wrote us with the news and shared an interesting wrestling connection about her late father she was reminded of when going through some of his papers.

Back in 1971, Ragland competed in a weight-lifting competition and one of the other competitors in his weight class was none other than future pro-wrestling star Don Kernodle. Both lifted in the 242 lb. weight class. Ragland won the competition with a total of 1,190 pounds lifted across all categories. Kernodle came in second with a total weight lifted of 1,083 pounds. (See the meet results sheet here.)

Don Kernodle with Ronald Ragland
at the NWA Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte
 
"He talked about this many times and that he and Don Kernodle competed," Allison wrote me. "The best highlight for him was he actually got to meet Don Kernodle at the 2008 Hall of Fame event in Charlotte.  Don was so friendly, you would have thought they were best buddies all their lives.  And till the day Dad died, he would tell this story and how nice it was to meet him."

It was just one of a few other wrestling connections her father had. "Before Dad got married in the 50's he lived at the Charlotte YMCA and lifted weights with Bob Fink (Rock Hunter, Ivan Koloff's Manager.) He was offered a job as a wrestler, they needed more wrestlers for TV, but he was already working at his first advertising company."

Ragland and his daughter were fortunate enough sit with Rip Hawk at one of the Hall of Heroes banquets at an NWA Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte. The two exchanged letters and emails afterwards, with Rip sending Ron several personally autographed photos.

Ragland's lifelong love of wrestling got Allison hooked on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, too. "Dad took me to the Dorton Arena on my 12th Birthday in March 1976," she wrote me, "and I was hooked also after seeing the main event Blackjack Mulligan vs. Paul Jones. Dad had connections at WRAL since they were working on Kerr Drug Commercials with them at that time. I got to go to several TV tapings."

Ronald Ragland was a commercial artist for all of his career. Following retirement, he created a limited edition series of old country artwork. WRAL TV in Raleigh did a feature on Ragland for their "Tar Heel Traveler" series before his death, which can be seen on their website here:

A tribute to late Raleigh artist, award-winning weightlifter Ronald Ragland :: WRAL.com
Featured on Tar Heel Traveler

 Photos provided by Allison White.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Mid-Atlantic Arm Wrestling: The Most Obscure Championship (Part 4)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway


Catch up on PART 1   PART 2    PART 3


PART FOUR:
The Aftermath


Despite the tremendous buildup for this event, to the point of the President of Jim Crockett Promotions being its TV announcer, the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Arm-Wrestling Championship vanished from the scene as quickly as it arrived. To my best recollection, this championship was never defended. In fact, I don’t believe that it was ever even mentioned again after the Avenger hoisted the trophy signifying his championship victory.

The two finalists in the championship match, the Avenger and the Super Destroyer, were in the early stages of an extremely rare program of masked man versus masked man that would go on for a number of additional months. It seems odd that this battle for a championship would not have factored in and played some kind of role in what would become a red-hot feud between the masked men. But, alas, it never did.

There would be several times later in the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling years where arm-wrestling would work its way into feuds and angles. A couple that come immediately to mind were the Mighty Igor versus Blackjack Mulligan in 1977 and Tony Atlas versus Ken Patera in 1978. If there was ever a time that the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Arm-Wrestling Championship would have become relevant again, these two programs should have brought it out of the mothballs. But again, it didn’t happen.

To me, the saga of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Arm-Wrestling Championship will always leave me wondering why this championship was created with such fanfare on television, but was never followed up on despite the fact that the Avenger and the Super Destroyer, the two finalists, were in the midst of a heated program that was about to get a lot more heated. None of that is clear to me looking back. The only thing that is clear to me, is that the “one and done” Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Arm-Wrestling Championship had to the most obscure championship in the promotion’s history!

Friday, September 16, 2022

Action Figure Friday: "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, U.S. Champion


Very cool customization of "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka with a custom U.S. title belt, presented by our friends at @wrestlerweekly.

Snuka was United States champion in 1979 and 1980 and had a memorable, long, bloody feud with "Nature Boy" Ric Flair over that title belt. You can read all about Snuka's run as United States champion (as well as the entire history of that championship) in our full-color book "Jim Crockett Promotions' United States Championship", available on Amazon and via the Mid-Atlantic Gateway bookstore


Originally published in March of 2022 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1517463386/

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Poster: Queens NY hosts Mid-Atlantic Wrestling (1985)

by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

When it comes to old Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling posters, this one could be considered somewhat of an oddity as it promotes a spot show in -- of all places -- "The Big Apple". 

It took place on Wednesday September 25th, 1985 at the Holy Cross Catholic high school gym in Queens, NY and featured quite a lineup of wrestling stars. Jimmy Valiant challenged Abdullah The Butcher (managed by Paul Jones at the time) in the main event while Terry Taylor and Black Bart fought for the NWA National Heavyweight belt in the semi. 

The remainder of the card included Superstar Billy Graham, Pez Whatley, Baron Von Raschke, Curt Hennig, and Larry Zbyszko. 

With a vertical layout, the poster has all black print over an attractive tri-color background and 4 wrestler images. 

* * * * * * * * * * *

MID-ATLANTIC GATEWAY NOTES
by Dick Bourne

Man, I'd love to know the story behind this very rare and very unusual poster. First of all, for the poster to promote "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and to be taking place in the borough of Queens, NY is a pretty big disjuncture in an off itself. 

Secondly, this line-up, which featured a card almost entirely made up of semi-main event and mid-card talent for that time in Jim Crockett Promotions (except for the AWA talent I'll mention in a moment), indicates it was a sold spot-show and certainly not part of a JCP plan to expand northward into the heart of WWF territory. Otherwise, it would have featured the likes of Flair, Rhodes, Magnum, Blanchard on top.

In fact, this card features much of the roster (other than Dick Slater, Buzz Sawyer, Jim Cornette, and the Midnight Express) that was largely relegated to the old Georgia Championship Wrestling territory at this time after JCP had purchased it earlier in 1985 and tried to continue to run it as its own touring territory. (The exception to that, of course, was Atlanta and the Omni, which always received a loaded card full of all the top JCP talent.)

Lastly, making this card even further a bit of an oddity are the unusual billed appearances of AWA talent who were not appearing for JCP at the time, including Baron Von Raschke, Curt Hennig, Larry Zbyszko, and Tom Zenk, an indication that the nearly defunct "Pro Wrestling USA" alliance of late 1984 was still a thing, if only held together by a thread.

Most of this same crew worked a show the next night in Staten Island, NY. 

What an unusual card and fascinating poster. Thanks to Brack for sharing this one.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Flair Confronts Wahoo on the Set of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling (1977)

Wahoo McDaniel Regains the Mid-Atlantic Title from Greg Valentine (1977)
Ric Flair confronts the new champion on the set of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

On Tuesday, August 9, 1977, Wahoo McDaniel regained the Mid-Atlantic heavyweight championship from Greg Valentine at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, NC. Valentine had defeated the Chief earlier that summer in Greensboro.


The next night at the taping of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling", David Crockett introduced the studio audience at WRAL-TV to the new champion, and the crowd gave Wahoo a huge ovation.

These were always some of my favorite moments - - when a new champion was introduced at the beginning of that week's TV show.

Wahoo's celebration was cut short when he was interrupted by the U. S. champion Ric Flair, who made it clear that Wahoo had no chance of getting his title from him.

Wahoo told host Bob Caudle that he was going to make history that week, as he had shots at both the U.S. title held by Flair and the NWA world title held by Harley Race.

"If the man wrestled with his mouth, he'd be unbeatable. But he has to get in there and defend that title, and I'm on a lucky streak right now, I'm gonna take his title and get Harley Race - - I got a chance at the world title. Three belts in one week, it's never been done." - Wahoo McDaniel

Here are the first 5 minutes of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling that aired on Saturday, August 13, 1977.




Indeed, Wahoo was ready to go after Flair that very night. He and Flair left the WRAL studio (separately, I'm sure!) and drove to nearby Rocky Mount, NC where Wahoo fought Flair for the U.S. title that same night. He had another shot at Flair two nights later in Richmond. Then on Sunday, he challenged Race for the NWA world title in Greensboro.

While Wahoo wasn't successful in winning those three belts in a week, it was nevertheless quite a six day span for the big Chief!

AUGUST 1977
08/09 Raleigh, NC Wahoo McDaniel beat Greg Valentine to win NWA Mid Atlantic Title
08/10 Rocky Mount, NC Ric Flair beat Wahoo McDaniel (U.S. title match)
08/11 Lynchburg, VA Wahoo McDaniel & Mighty Igor beat Blackjack Mulligan & Masked Superstar
08/12 Richmond, VA Ric Flair beat Wahoo McDaniel (U.S. title match)
08/13 Spartanburg, SC Wahoo McDaniel double DQ Greg Valentine (Mid-Atlantic title match)
08/14 Greensboro, NC Harley Race beat Wahoo McDaniel (NWA world title match)
 
 
 

Originally published December 2015 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.