Saturday, January 20, 2018

Georgia Championship Wreslting on HBO (1976)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Back in mid-1970s, the fledgling HBO cable network occasionally featured pro-wrestling cards, usually from the WWWF in Madison Square Garden. However, in 1976 they aired a card from Georgia Championship Wrestling in the Omni in Atlanta.

While video of his event has never surfaced, a brief clip of Vince McMahon opening the broadcast with Georgia host Gordon Solie was included on an HBO interview with Vince McMahon conducted by Bob Costas.




The date of this wrestling event was December 10, 1976 and featured an NWA World Heavywight title match between champion Terry Funk and challenger Mr. Wrestling II.

Here is the full card:

  • NWA World Championship: Terry Funk vs. Mr. Wrestling II
  • NWA World Tag Team Championship: Gene and Ole Anderson vs. Ricky Steamboat and Dusty Rhodes
  • Georgia Championship: Dick Slater vs. Mr. Wrestling I
  • Mongolian Stomper vs. Bill Dromo
  • Mike Graham vs. Bob Orton Jr
  • Black Atlas (Tony Atlas) vs. Scott Irwin
  • Raymond Rougeau vs. Bill Howard 

What a rare and unusual pairing of Ricky Steamboat and Dusty Rhodes challenging the Anderson Brothers for the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

Very cool finding out that the NWA World title was defended on HBO. A little less than two months after this card, Funk would lose the NWA title to Harley Race.


SOME MID-ATLANTIC CONTEXT TO THIS GEORGIA CARD:

  • The Andersons had taken the Crockett version of NWA World Tag Team titles with them to Georgia Championship Wrestling when they left the Mid-Atlantic area in the fall of 1976. They lost the titles to Ric Flair and Greg Valentine a couple of weeks after this Atlanta card. Flair and Valentine brought the titles back to the Mid-Atlantic area at that time, although their feud with the Andersons continued throughout 1977. 
  • Ricky Steamboat was still for all practical purposes a rookie, and was in the middle of a long stint in Georgia. He would come to the Mid-Atlantic area in the spring of 1977 and break into the main events when he upset Mid-Atlantic TV champion Ric Flair on television for that title. It began one of the classic feuds in all of pro wrestling history.
  • Tony Atlas, wrestling on this show as Black Atlas, got his start in the Mid-Atlantic area, but was about to break big in the Georgia territory. I don't know the storyline here, but I believe he was wrestling on this show under a mask.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Action Figures Friday: The Hat and Robe!

PART ONE: THE HAT
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Photographs from the collection of Mike Simmerman

By far and away when people write us or post on our social media about their favorite angle form the 1970s in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, the one they bring up most often is the 1978 angle known popularly by fans as "the Hat the Robe." It's our favorite, too.

Click here for our story "The Legend of the Hat and the Robe"

We won't run through the whole story here. There is a detailed (and we mean detailed) article on the the whole angle and its aftermath that was originally published in 2004, and then updated and republished in 2015. You can catch up on that whole story by going there first if you'd like.

Mike Simmerman sent us photos from his custom action figure collection that re-enact the famous angle. PART ONE this week will feature Ric Flair tearing up Blackjack's hat. Next week, we'll see photos of Blackjack returning the favor (and upping the stakes) tearing up Ric Flair's peacock robe.


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/2015/07/legend-of-hat-and-robe.html
Images from TV captured by an 8mm home movie camera show Ric Flair wearing Blackjack
Mulligan's hat coming to ringside to talk with Bob Caudle while Blackjack Mulligan wrestles
in the ring. Moments later, the hat would be destroyed.
Afterward, Blackjack holds the remains of his prized hat
originally given to him by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
Blackjack would soon get his revenge!



Next week! On "Action Figures Friday!"
Blackjack ups the ante as Mike Simmerman's action figures will paint the picture in Part Two: The Robe."

See all of our Action Figure Friday" posts.

http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Lost Art of Classic Ring Announcing

Legendary Joe McHugh introduces "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I have a fondness for many of the old-school ring announcers. They all had a a certain flare for the dramatic, and made the introduction of any match seem special. 

Good ring announcing is something of a lost art today, if you ask me. Every WWE ring announcer today sort of sounds like every other WWE ring announcer. Maybe that's their objective. For example, they all have that annoying habit of pronouncing the word championship "champion-she-ip."

WWWF Ring Announcer Joe McHugh
I guess the art of classic ring announcing went the way of the old smoke filled rooms that were the classic old venues in pro-wrestling.

One of my favorites might surprise you; the great Joe McHugh of the old W.W.W.F.

McHugh was a wrestling and boxing announcer going back to the 1950s, most famously with wrestling fans at the W.W.W.F. television tapings at Allentown, Pennsylvania's Agricultural Hall. When I first saw WWF "Championship Wrestling" on WOR-9 out of Secaucus, NJ in around 1981, I thought to myself, "Now THAT is a ring announcer."

I found a recent match on YouTube from the Philadelphia Spectrum that included a wonderful ring introduction of "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers by McHugh, and decided to include the audio here. I loved the way McHugh included the historical mention of Rogers being the only man (at that time) to have held both the NWA and WWF world titles.Those details mattered and meant something to fans.

The audio of that introduction is included here:



I always thought Joe McHugh and Raleigh's Joe Murnick (my favorite ring announcer of them all) were kindred spirits, at least in their ring announcing style, and both with accents of speech that clearly demonstrated from where they hailed. They are both at the very top of my list.


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/big-gold.html

Monday, January 15, 2018

Strange Goings-On in Greensboro (Part 2)

The Baron appeals to NWA President Bob Geigel
by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

Miss PART ONE? Catch up by clicking here.

When the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show taped on September 6, 1978 came on the air, color commentator David Crockett surprisingly turned the mic over to Baron von Raschke just as the opening theme music had ended. “You know, we lose the World Tag Team Title belts to Paul Jones and Rick Steamboat,” the Baron explained. “But immediately after the match we filed a protest with NWA President Bob Geigel. We sent him film from the match, he was review the film, he was send it back and we now have it in the control room,” Raschke elaborated.

At this point, the fans watching at home, but even to a larger extent the faithful that had been at the Greensboro Coliseum a mere four days earlier must have been getting very anxious. The German then continued to a puzzled TV audience, “We asked before the show to start, Ricky Steamboat and Paul Jones to come out with the World Championship belts that they are supposed to have won from us!” Jones and Steamboat appeared on the set, and they seemed just as dumbfounded at the turn of events as everyone else.

“Let me tell you something, you asked for us to come out and we wondered what you wanted,” Paul Jones exclaimed. “We thought you wanted a rematch or something,” a highly agitated Jones continued. At this juncture, Raschke became equally confrontational. “We want you to watch the film that Bob Geigel, President of the NWA, sent back…roll the film and you will see,” the Baron barked back.

“All right, here it is right here,” announcer Bob Caudle said as the film began for the TV audience. The Baron spewed, “Look at this! You know we are in control of the match the whole way. This is what is injustice…” As Ricky Steamboat attempted to respond, Greg Valentine interrupted him and pronounced, “Hey, let me tell you something Jones and Steamboat, I just want you to watch right here. I want you to watch coming right up here, just how you beat us. You say you all can always beat us fair and square, that you can always beat us fair and square, but right here this film right here we got will show you.”

An increasingly animated Jones then reacted to a portion of the film where he appeared to have the “Hammer” pinned, but Raschke came in for the save to stop the count at two. Paul yelled to Greg, “I had you beat right there!” Valentine retorted, “That was a legal save…that’s a legal save right there!” The Baron added, “We are obeying all the rules. We are making fair tags; legal tags. We are in control of the match, from beginning to end.”

Caudle questioned the Baron on that last statement, which led to Valentine taking over the commentary on behalf of the bad guys, “Raschke is the legal man in the ring and so is Paul Jones and Raschke’s got the claw…now watch this carefully, watch this carefully. Jones is back there working on Raschke’s leg and there’s a legal tag and now I’m in the ring. A big bionic elbow on that mush head of yours, Jones!”

From this segment of the film it was clear that the Baron uncharacteristically let go of his claw hold to properly tag Valentine into the ring. Valentine then vociferously hollered, “Raschke let go, now I’m the legal man in the ring and Jones is the legal man in the ring. NOW REMEMBER THAT!”

At this point in time it was apparent that Valentine was going to follow up with an explanation of a forthcoming in-ring sequence that he hoped would cast doubt on the legality of the Jones and Steamboat title win in Greensboro. Would this sequence and upcoming explanation be persuasive to the fans, but even more importantly, to NWA President Bob Geigel?

This was about to get VERY interesting…

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 3

PART ONE  |  PART TWO 


http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com

Friday, January 12, 2018

Homecoming: Mid-Atlantic Wrestling October 3, 1981

THE MISSING EPISODE 
featuring 30-seconds of highlights from 10/3/81.
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The WWE Network has just recently uploaded nearly 100 episodes of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling to its on-demand streaming service, a development we've long looked forward to here at the Gateway. The shows span the time frame of September 1981 through October of 1983.

However, some key episodes are missing, one of which perhaps for me is the one I wanted to see the most from this stretch of shows. It is an episode very sentimental to me, and a show that is historically significant as well. It is the show from Saturday, October 3, 1981.




I was a junior in college in October 1981 and unable to regularly watch wrestling for much of that time, not having a television of my own. But on the weekend of October 10, I went home for high school homecoming, to go to the football game, visit friends, and of course binge on wrestling, too.  Little did I know that I would be able to enjoy Jim Crockett Promotions and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling having a little homecoming of their own: the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair making his first appearance on Mid-Atlantic TV with the "ten pounds of gold." Just 13 days earlier, Ric had defeated "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes to win the NWA title.

I was lucky to see this particular show at all. And it really hurt when I took a look at the listing of shows that were now on the WWE Network - - and the October 3 show was missing.

I lived in east Tennessee, outside of the main Mid-Atlantic territory, but our cable system also carried other TV stations from surrounding areas which included WFBC-TV channel 4 out of Greenville, SC and WLOS-TV channel 13 out of Asheville, NC. These stations were both in the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market and these were the stations I grew up watching Mid-Atlantic and World Wide Wrestling on from 1974 until I left home for good in 1982.

WFBC was one week removed on JCP's syndicated "bicycle", meaning the show they aired each Saturday was one week removed from the original air dates in the larger markets. In this case, the Charlotte market bumped up next to the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market, and WBTV-3 in Charlotte got the first run show, and the next week WFBC-4 in Greenville got that same show.

This was actually a good situation for folks who lived between the two as they could get both stations either over the air or on their cable system. They got to see a "replay" airing the following week, and it meant two different Mid-Atlantic shows airing on any given weekend.

So when I came home that weekend of October 10, the Mid-Atlantic show I got on WFBC out of Greenville was actually the show that aired in Charlotte, Richmond, Greensboro, and other major markets a week earlier on October 3rd. 

Wednesday nights were the regular night for Crockett TV tapings, taking place in those days in the cramped confines of WPCQ-36 studios in Charlotte. The October 3 show was taped three days earlier on Wednesday, September 30. Ric defeated Rhodes on Thursday, September 17 at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, MO.  But when the next Crockett TV taping took place on Wednesday, September 23, Flair wasn't able to be in Charlotte to celebrate his victory with his home-area fans. He was defending the title that night against a former champion in Columbus, GA - - Tommy "Wildfire" Rich.

David Crockett and Bob Caudle welcome new NWA
World Champion Ric Flair.
That homecoming celebration would have to wait one more week, and on Wednesday, September 30, Bob Caudle and David Crockett welcomed the new NWA World Champion back home.

"It's the greatest honor that I've ever achieved in any aspect of my life," Flair told them, cradling the NWA belt in his left arm. "This is the ultimate trophy, it is the most prestigious award in all of professional wrestling."

Flair took a moment to thank those who had supported him in his long journey for the title.

"On behalf of the people out there, on behalf of the people that stood behind me, Crockett Promotions, I will do my best to be a great world champion. I will do my best to show everyone out there that I deserve the recognition of being called the National Wrestling Alliance World heavyweight wrestling champion."

And with that, Ric thanked them again, and walked off the set to the cheers of the crowd in the television studio.

Although Ric was originally from Minnesota, he now made his home in Charlotte. He had arrived in early 1974. He had been hated and he had been adored during his time wroking for Jim Crockett Promotions, but for the last couple of years he had been like their favorite son. Mid-Atlantic fans had waited nearly ten years to see their hometown hero claim the ultimate prize in the sport. There had never been an NWA champion that had come from their territory before. Flair was the first.

The man Ric beat for the championship was also making a rare appearance on Mid-Atlantic television that same week. Dusty Rhodes came out for an interview carrying his Sony Walkman cassette player and wearing his headphones and apparently enjoying his music. "Let me put down my Victrola right here," he told Bob Caudle. And then the dream got down to business.

"Everybody be askin' me about Ric Flair, and that's great," Rhodes said. "I'm glad for Ric Flair, I'm glad for his family. But let me tell you something, somewhere down the line you gotta meet the Dream again, daddy."

I was fortunate to be able to see that show. Had we not received the show one week delayed on the syndication bicycle, I would have missed it. My high school homecoming allowed me to see a most special Mid-Atlantic Wrestling homecoming. Ric promised to do his best to live up to the expectations of the championship; I think we can look back and comfortably say he most certainly did.

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

For the record here are some other details about this show:

  • Wahoo McDaniel and Jay Youngblood brutalized thoroughly thrashed young Jim Nelson and veteran Charlie Fulton. 
  • The Grappler and the Super Destroyer defeated Frank Monte and Vinnie Valentino when Super D took Monte out with his devastating "superplex." The suplex from the second turnbuckle was cutting edge for its time.
  • Dusty Rhodes defeated Rick Harris (the future Black Bart)
  • Roddy Piper and Mid-Atlantic champion Ivan Koloff defeated Steve Muslin and Ron Ritchie. After wards they kept beating on Ritchie until Wahoo McDaniel hit the ring and cleared house of Piper, Koloff, and even Ole Anderson who was trying to get involved. Ricky Steamboat came out to help Wahoo even the odds.

Interviews included Wahoo McDaniel, TV champ Ron Bass, Bad Bad Leroy Brown, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Local promos for Greenville and Spartanburg included Johnny Weaver, Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat and Ivan Koloff.

Roddy Piper tormented Wahoo McDaniel through much of the show, using a plastic trashcan for war drums to open the show and later playing a funeral dirge on the bagpipes for him. Wahoo had finally had enough and charged the ring after Piper's tag match and gave Piper and partner Ivan Koloff a big beating.

Great show. I hope it shows up on the WWE Network before it's all over. It is a sentimental favorite of mine, and I'd love to see it all again.

Action Figures Friday: Make Believe Gardens

http://mapleleafwrestling.blogspot.ca
This week we take another brief departure from Mike Simmerman's awesome collection of custom figures and photographs to take a look at another collection presented north of the border on the excellent Maple Leaf Wrestling Blog published by Andrew Calvert.

Barry Hatchet Photo

MLW contributor Barry Hatchet has taken some great photos of some custom figures on his custom designed Maple Leaf Gardens set. Similar to the custom designed TV studio that Mike uses for many of his Mid-Atlantic photographs, the little details in Barry's Maple Leaf Gardens set are what make these photos really work.

And Barry's detail is incredible! Right down to the 1980s boombox sitting at ringside for Jimmy Valiant's ring intro music. Plus ring steps, ringside table and ring bell, tag ropes, etc. Awesome stuff.

Here are two page links to posts on the Mapple Leaf Wrestling site with lots of incredible photos.

Make Believe Gardens !
http://mapleleafwrestling.blogspot.ca/2017/11/make-believe-gardens.html

More from Make Believe Gardens!
http://mapleleafwrestling.blogspot.ca/2017/12/more-from-make-believe-gardens.html

http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Don't Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Borrowing from the French philosopher Voltaire, I offer some sage advice. And as I offer this advice to you now, I confess to have repeated this advice quietly to myself several times over the last few days; don't let perfect be the enemy of good.

Is this treasure trove of early 1980s Mid-Atlantic Wrestling programming on the WWE Network perfect? No. But is it good? You bet it is. It is very good.

I've been waiting for the WWE Network to add Mid-Atlantic Wrestling to their network for four years, since the day it first launched back in February of 2014. Yet I find myself fretting over the things I don't like, the things that are missing, the things they had to change. And it is here that I keep telling myself those same words:

Don't let perfect be the enemy of good.

Over the last few days I have found myself alternately excited and frustrated by this new material (and the lack thereof) now included on the WWE Network service. I'm not complaining about the period of time covered by the drop (September 1981 - October 1983). That period is just as relevant as any other period in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history. We all enjoy certain time frames more than others, we all have our favorite periods, usually determined by when we first started watching wrestling. They'll get to the rest of what they have at some point, I feel confident.

No, what I keep reminding myself of is how blessed we are to have this material available at all.

Many people like to demonize Vince McMahon as the devil incarnate. Hogwash. Without Vince McMahon and the WWE owning those libraries of old tapes, none of this material would have likely ever seen the light of day in its current form. These are the folks investing millions of dollars in a digital delivery system (i.e.; "the network") to archive and make available these shows. And I, for one, am very grateful for that.

Some people respond that YouTube has a lot of old Mid-Atlantic Wrestling shows, so we don't need the network. To be sure, there are many random clips and complete episodes on YouTube, and I actually enjoy those very much. But nothing there matches the volume and the comprehensiveness of this material on the WWE Network (both what they have put up and what is still yet to come.)

Now, all that being said, I have been just as deeply disappointed in what has been omitted within this time frame as I have been excited about what is there. Friends of mine that are more familiar with how the network works have encouraged me with their experience of the network continuing to add material in subsequent weeks after a big drop, often filling in gaps and adding shows that are missing in the sequence. Glad to hear that.

Some of what's missing can't be blamed on WWE. The sad fact is a few of the shows are simply missing and no longer exist and those could never be added. But not all of what's missing falls in that category. In fact, likely not most of it.

My problems is, I'm just paranoid enough about this stuff to imagine they have selectively omitted things for reasons known only to them. (Not really, but I just told you I'm paranoid about it.)

Here are several examples:

  • The October 3, 1981 show is missing, which includes Ric Flair's first appearance in his home area as NWA World Heavyweight Champion and a warm interview with host Bob Caudle. This is one of the most historically significant shows of that fall. It's missing.
  • A full three weeks of shows (2/19, 2/26, and 3/5) are missing leading up to the huge and historic Greensboro cage match featuring Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle vs. Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. This show is known generally as the "Final Conflict" and was the show that convinced Jim Crockett Promotions to try closed-circuit events, which led to the first Starrcade later that year.  
  • One of the most shocking heel turns of the era was the Brisco Brothers turning heel. Three of the shows in a row (4/30, 5/7, and 5/14) that build up to that, including the show with actual turn itself, are missing. While clips are replayed on later shows, these shows kicked off the bitter feud that would eventually culminate at Starrcade '83 seven months later. And they are missing.
  • In those same shows is the angle where Greg Valentine injures the ear of Roddy Piper, which set up the feud that would also lead all the way to Starrcade '83. Piper called it the "year of the ear." Most of that initial material is missing (although they show clips of it later.)


Bob Caudle and David Crockett congratulate Ric Flair on winning the NWA World Championship
on the 10/3/81 episode of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling." Sadly, the episode is not
currently included on the WWE Network.

These are just a few examples. It'd odd that it doesn't seem to be random shows missing, it seems to be key shows missing.

But given what I'm told the network did earlier with the drop of "World Class Wrestling" and "World Championship Wrestling (WTBS)" shows, I have hope that they fill in these gaps at a later date. But it begs the question - - what purpose is served by holding those back now? They are part of a story being told that is missing for no apparent reason and it greatly disrupts the flow of these things.


http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com


THE OPENING THEME MUSIC

One of things people have been unhappy about is the removal of the opening theme music. This really isn't the WWE's fault, and we knew it was probably going to happen. Because they don't own the rights to the music originally used and don't want to get into the additional cost of licensing the music in perpetuity, the network removes or drowns out all unlicensed music and uses canned music they own or license to replace it.

The original theme music during those years, with its familiar opening bass line, was taken from a 1978 minor disco hit titled "Got to Have Loving" written and performed by 1970s disco producer, arranger and performer Don Ray. Jim Crockett Promotions started using a custom edit of the song for its opening theme music sometime in 1979 and continued using it until the spring of 1986 when the name of the show was changed to "NWA Pro Wrestling" and a new musical theme was introduced.

I will admit is is jarring when that familiar opening sequence of the Mid-Atlantic logo begins and you hear something totally foreign. Your brain expects to hear those descending bass notes leading into the synth jungle-disco drum line to follow, and then the familiar sight and sound of Bob Caudle welcoming us to another hour of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Now we hear a generic sounding theme that has sort of a funky-soul-disco feel to it, like it also came straight out of the late 1970s.

And it's not just the opening of the show. It is used to replace the original music when bumping out to commercials, or during slow-motion instant replays, and in place of the closing theme, too. At the end of the show, this new music completely removes the familiar, almost ritualistic, barter declaration:
"Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling has been furnished to this station for broadcast at this time by Jim Crockett Promotions in exchange for commercial consideration"  
And because they lay this new music over the original audio throughout the show to drown out the original music but still allow us to hear what Bob Caudle is saying (sort of), it is much louder than the normal audio level of the show itself, and it becomes a little annoying.

Actually, it's not that bad of a replacement tune if a replacement had to be made to begin with. I sure would prefer the original, but I like the funky horns in this replacement and if we had to lose the original, this suits me fine. But to be sure, it does take you out of the moment every time it plays.


THE LOCAL PROMOS

Also missing are most of the the custom local promotional spots for each market that were inserted into the original shows. That's also understandable, but that also eliminates the very familiar announcement that always announced those promos:

"Let's take time for this commercial message about the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events coming up in your area."
A few of the local promo spots survived if they were on the original tape to begin with. (We're compiling a list to be posted here later.) In their place in many of the shows are interviews taped live in the studio that most people never saw because they were seeing their local interviews in that spot. For many months, the time was used to allow underneath (enhancement) talent the time to work on interviews, something they never had the opportunity to do in these shows otherwise. Some of these are painful to watch. In the shows from late 1982 and the spring of 1983 that I've watched so far, the promos feature the main event talent and seem to be aimed at the Florida market where Mid-Atlantic Wrestling was now apparently being seen. It's actually kind of fun hearing those as there is lots of discussion of the wrestlers working then for Championship Wrestling from Florida.

All of these shows are great to see again, but they aren't perfect. But here again, I keep reminding myself - - - - don't let perfect be the enemy of good.  And I'm having a really good time watching these shows again, most of which I haven't seen since they originally aired over 35 years ago. I'm not going to let the fact that they aren't perfect ruin an otherwise good time.

Besides, if you really are missing the original theme music and need your fix, here it is for you to enjoy (from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives site):


MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING THEME (1979-1986)



We'll even include Don Ray's original 8-minute opus from YouTube to enjoy as well.




Now, go get the network, watch and enjoy these old shows. And let the WWE Network know on their Facebook and Twitter pages how glad you are they have added Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

30 Day Free Trial at http://www.wwe.com/wwenetwork 

Also see:
All related Gateway articles about Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on the WWE Network.

http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Death of Bolo Mongol and the Birth of a Superstar

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It was one of the greatest "slight of hand" moments in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history. In one 24-hour period, Bolo Mongol was banished from the territory and the Masked Superstar arrived. What no one noticed was that it was the same man in the role of both characters.

Poster from the collection of West Potter
In 1976, Professor Boris Malenko managed the fearsome team of the Mongols, Bolo and Geto, the famous IWA tag team champions who had jumped from that organization and had come to Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA and had brought their IWA tag belts with them.

In the NWA, the team was briefly recognized as the "International" tag team champions. It was a way of acknowledging that the IWA (International Wrestling Association) tag champs were in the area without actually using that organization's name.

The team ran roughshod over the Mid-Atlantic area in the late winter through early fall of 1976. They had numerous matches that were seen, if not billed, as title unification matches with the Anderson Brothers, who were reigning NWA World tag team champions for most of that year. The Andersons eventually won that war. And the IWA eventually got their belts back after threatening legal action. That's a story for another day.

International Tag Team Champs the Mongols
managed by Professor Boris Malenko

(Photo by Gene Gordon/Copyright Scooter Lesley)
By the fall of 1976, the Mongols had broken up as a team and Geto left the territory. Prof. Malenko still managed Bolo Mongol, who was embroiled in a bitter feud with Chief Wahoo McDaniel. Malenko wanted revenge for Wahoo breaking his false teeth in a memorable moment on Mid-Atlantic television, and so a match was set for the Greensboro Coliseum where the loser would have to leave the territory, a stipulation known in that era as a "loser leaves town" match. In addition, Malenko added the stipulation of hair vs. hair.

Actually, Bolo had a series of loser-leaves-town matches in the days leading up to Greensboro across the territory, against both Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones. But it was the Greensboro match with Wahoo, with the added stipulation of hair-vs.-hair, that would prove to be Bolo's Mongolian Waterloo.

It was the main event of a big card in Greensboro on September 26, 1976, a wild an woolly affair, eventually won by McDaniel, who proceed to cut the top-knot off Bolo Mongol's head after the match. But the more critical repercussion of the match was that Prof. Malenko's prized client would have to leave the Mid-Atlantic territory for good.

And so he did, not only leaving the Mid-Atlantic area, but disappearing from wrestling forever. But he didn't truly leave, because you see, the man who portrayed the character of Bolo Mongol was the legendary Bill Eadie, and the very next night, he reappeared on the scene as a new wrestler, the Masked Superstar from parts unknown, once again under the managerial genius of Professor Malenko.

Prof. Boris Malenko and
The Masked Superstar

(Photo by Bill Janosik)
The most amazing thing about these events at that time was that no one was the wiser; fans didn't have a clue that the new wrestler behind the mask had just been dispatched days earlier as Bolo Mongol.

"One day we finished Bolo with a hair match in Greensboro against Wahoo on a Sunday evening," Bill Eadie told the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in a 2003 interview, "and Monday night I was in Greenville as the Masked Superstar…and nobody knew."

It was an amazing transformation and an incredible feat to pull off, especially for someone so relatively new in the business. Eadie had only been wrestling at this point for a few years. It was Malenko who was instrumental in preparing Eadie for the switch.

"As I was still wrestling as Bolo Mongol, Boris Malenko took me to Park Center in Charlotte every Monday during the day when we had off time to try to change my approach. I would focus on more wrestling and less stomping, and would work on interviews," Eadie told us.

That preparation paid off. The Masked Superstar was presented as more of an intellectual and technical wrestler. He did "Russian leg sweeps" and "flying swinging-clotheslines" and won with the dreaded "cobra hold." Bolo Mongol just beat you to death, and when he was through with that, would kick and stomp the crap out of you as a bonus for good measure. Malenko presented the Superstar on TV in interviews as having a doctorate in psychology and having been a medal winning athlete in the olympics. The Superstar gave long, eloquent interviews; think Nick Bockwinkle, except with a mask. All Bolo Mongol ever did was grunt occasionally. And with Superstar's verbal eloquence and that mask and the different gear, no one had a clue that Bolo Mongol and the Masked Superstar were one and the same.

The whole idea of the Masked Superstar as a character came from the fertile mind of George Scott, who was the booker for Jim Crockett Promotions in those years.

"George [Scott] just came up to me one night and told me that we’d always had a masked guy in the area and asked if I’d be interested," Eadie told the Gateway. "I told him it would be up to Geto, but at that point Geto really wanted to go home. After Geto and I talked about it, I told George that I’d try it."

And the rest, as they say, is history. The Masked Superstar went on to become one of the most famous and successful wrestlers in the world, splitting most of his time between the Mid-Atlantic and Georgia territories, but also as a top title challenger in the WWF to both Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan, as well as a top star for New Japan Pro Wrestling in Japan, feuding with Antonio Inoki.

Eadie made another famous transformation later in his career, becoming "Ax", one of the founding members of the Demolition tag team in the WWF. He also wrestled in both the WWF and New Japan as the masked Super Machine.

From the collection of Andy McDaniel
 The transformation from Bolo Mongol to Masked Superstar is one of our favorite moments from one of our favorite years in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.

The Transition Dates:
  • Sunday, September 26 - Wahoo McDaniel defeats Bolo Mongol (mgd. by Prof. Boris Malenko) in a hair-vs-hair, loser-leaves-town match in Greensboro.
  • Monday, September 27 - The Masked Superstar (mgd. by Prof. Boris Malenko) makes his in-ring debut, defeating Johnny Weaver in Greenville, SC.
  • Wednesday, September 29 - At a TV taping at WRAL studios in Raleigh, Bob Caudle and Wahoo McDaniel review the film from Greensboro where Wahoo defeats Bolo Mongol, cuts off his top knot, and sends him packing. On the same show, Prof. Boris Malenko introduces his new man, the Masked Superstar, to the Mid-Atlantic fans. 

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Monday, January 08, 2018

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling shows debut on WWE Network

The WWE Network has added approximately 100 episodes of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling to the on-demand section of their website. The shows have their own category under the "Vault" section.

The shows begin with the 9/12/81 episode and conclude with the 10/22/83 episode just over two years later. Interesting that they pause right as the Starrcade '83 build begins with the huge press conference episode from Florida. Hopefully, more shows will be added in the weeks to come.

But what a treasure trove we have to begin with. From the first shows where Ric Flair as announced as new NWA World Heavyweight Champion, to the 1982 classics such as Brisco vs. Piper and Slaughter vs. Wahoo, to the big feuds between Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood with the teams of Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle and the Brisco Brothers.

WWE NETWORK
Inexplicably there are some missing shows, and some key ones at that. For example, the three episodes leading up to the huge Greensboro cage match between Steamboat/Youngblood vs. Slaughter/Kernodle in March of 1983 (known as "The Final Conflict.)

Another missing gem is the early October 1981 show where Ric Flair makes his first appearance back in his home area as NWA world champion. Former champ Dusty Rhodes also appears on that show. How they can leave that one out is beyond me.

But in general, most shows are included during the time span covered.

If you have never subscribed to the WWE Network before, now's the time! They have a free 30-day trial of the entire network and you can stream these shows to your smart TV or streaming device (such as AppleTV, Roku, etc.) or to your phone or tablet. or simply watch in your Internet browser on your computer. For more information, click here: wwe.com/wwenetwork.

Let the WWE know you want more Mid-Atlantic by simply viewing the shows they have on there now. They keep statistics on what we watch. Now is a good time to hit those shows hard.

The "WWE Network News" website has a comprehensive list of the shows that have been added so far:

UPDATED WWE NETWORK ADDS CLOSE TO 100 EPISODES OF MID ATLANTIC TV, LINKS INCLUDED
http://www.wwenetworknews.com/2018/01/08/wwe-network-adds-close-to-100-episodes-of-mid-atlantic-tv-links-included/

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/big-gold.html