Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Letter from Jim Crockett Sr. in 1950

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Historian Matt Farmer recently posted on his twitter account (@mattfarmer93) a letter from Jim Crockett, Sr. to Jack Phefer, a famous (and sometimes infamous) pioneer promoter of pro-wrestling from the 1920s to the 1960s.

The letter was written in July of 1950 and is seeking advice from the veteran promoter Pfefer, who at various times promoted or booked wrestling in New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Masachusetts, and Illinois.

We're particularly interested in the restaurant Mr. Crockett mentions in the second paragraph in the letter, in relation to a framed photograph he thought to be stolen.

It has been reported in many places that Jim Crockett ran his businesses in an office in the back of a small restaurant in Charlotte, but have never know further details. Charlotte Observer columnist Tom Sorensen wrote in a 1987 column:
"Crockett first worked out of his home. Then he owned a series of restaurants - the Queen's Soda & Grill, a predecessor to the Town House on Providence Road; the Ringside Soda Grill in Elizabeth; Wesley Heights Grill; Jim & Jake's. The restaurants were his office."

As always, we're  hoping to eventually learn more and will report back here at that time.We love these little bits if history about Mr. Crockett and Jim Crockett Promotions.

From Friends to Foes: The Bloody War between Ivan Koloff and the Iron Sheik

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

When the autumn of 1980 arrived in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling “Hossein the Arab,” the Iron Sheik, was riding high in the territory. The Sheik was the reigning Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion, and he also held the Canadian Heavyweight Championship. If holding all that hardware wasn’t enough, the Sheik was set to form a tag team that had the potential to shake up Jim Crockett Promotions in a very big way.

The Iron Sheik came out on the World Wide Wrestling television show that was taped on September 24, 1980 and made a major announcement to the Mid-Atlantic fans. The Sheik told announcer Rich Landrum, “I have new news for Mid-Atlantic area. The newcomer, gonna be my partner, one of the toughest, roughest rugged wrestlers in the world, from up north my country Russia, and they call him Russian Bear…Ivan Koloff. You guys so lucky! You are so lucky American people to see the toughest, roughest man from old country to America. And we’re gonna show to you American people, what is wrestling about…what you people can see about wrestling. And you punks, young students, you should come see Ivan Koloff, the great Sheik, the best wrestler in the world.”

Absent from the Mid-Atlantic area since early 1975, Ivan Koloff made his return to Jim Crockett Promotions in early October of 1980. And while the Russian Bear did team at times with his friend the Iron Sheik in the early days after his return, Koloff initially got embroiled in a feud with the masked Sweet Ebony Diamond. At that same time, the Sheik was in a heated battle with Ricky Steamboat over the Mid-Atlantic Title. In November, when the Sheik lost the Mid-Atlantic belt to Steamboat and Ivan’s feud with Ebony Diamond began to fizzle out, Koloff and the Sheik started to team more frequently. The result of that increased teaming was surprising, to say the least!

Stunningly, issues between Koloff and the Sheik came out in the open as the holiday season of 1980 commenced, specifically during TV programming that was taped on November 26, 1980. On that World Wide Wrestling show when the two “friends” were being interviewed by announcer Rich Landrum after an easy victory over Special Delivery Jones and Jerry Caldwell, both the Sheik and Koloff were espousing the superiority of their respective home nations, Iran and Russia.

During the interview, the Sheik moved in front of Ivan as the Russian Bear was talking, and ended up cutting Ivan off and talking himself, laughing in the process. When Koloff got the microphone back he commented that, “Sheik is a great wrestler, but he is becoming a little hoggish of the [TV] time.”

But by far the biggest blowup between the Sheik and Koloff occurred on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show taping on that same November 26, 1980 date. Ivan and Hossien the Arab won another tag match, but there was some confusion at the end of the bout. Koloff appeared to be telling the Sheik to work on the opponent’s midsection, but the Sheik instead used a salto leading to the pin, with the Sheik’s foot grazing Koloff’s head in the process and leading to some heated words between the two in the ring. Announcer Bob Caudle commented, “Koloff and the Sheik are having a dispute, and they’re about to have a fight right in the center of the ring. I don’t know what caused that!”

When Caudle interviewed the two after the bout, he said, “Ivan, you and your partner, the Sheik right here, you guys are partners! Why are you all having a disagreement and a fuss in the ring?” The Sheik jumped in and was extolling his virtues and that of his home country, Iran, before Koloff could get a word in. Ivan then blurted out, “I think this interview was for both of us out here.” Koloff then went on to argue the superiority of the Russian athlete and their dominance in the Olympics. When the Sheik interrupted Koloff at this juncture, things started to get heated.

Agitatedly, the Sheik said, “Mr. Koloff, listen, I have a lot of respect for you, and I want to tell you something Mr. Koloff, you are older than me…I don’t want to INSULT you! You don’t know NOTHING about Olympics; everybody knows Iran is the oldest country. Maybe Russia gets a lot of medals, but not for wrestling! Russia gets the medals for swimming, for basketball, for hockey, for boxing Mr. Koloff…not for wrestling!” Ivan was none too pleased with that comment saying, “Don’t be stupid Sheik! Everybody know, and I know, what the record book says, that the Russian athlete excels in every sport…” Caudle then interjects, “This must be over national pride, Koloff? Is this what this is about?”

Ivan then takes this issue to a more personal level saying to the Great Hossein, “Another thing, this was no accident in the ring right now! I see on the monitor, on the instant replay, you do this intentionally. Is this not true?” The Sheik responded, “Mr. Koloff, you wrestling for many years, you must know, anything sometimes come by accident; probably was accidently. You know I didn’t do purpose…HA HA!” The Sheik went on to exclaim to Koloff, “I’m better than you; I’m better than lot of people!”

Ivan countered that the Sheik was in the Olympics at some point, but that didn’t mean he was good at the present time. Koloff continued, “I tell you in the ring to work on the stomach, to go after his weak point. The man’s stomach was weak on him, and you’re too STUPID to listen to me! You already say I’m more intelligent than you, that I’m older than you…only by a few months. Why can’t you respect the fact then that I am smarter? If it wasn’t for Russia, Iran wouldn’t even exist! You know this; the world wouldn’t exist without Russia!”

Sheik struck back saying, “Mr. Koloff, this is the last word I’ll tell you. I don’t want to tell you that you’re stupid, but you don’t know that much! Iran is older than Russia, Iran is older than America and Iran was always best for wrestling! You better know, and then talk on the national TV! Always people know, old country is Iran…Iran is the best, and still is the best!”

Koloff, raising a shovel he had been carrying around for some time to “bury” Sweet Ebony Diamond, retorted, “It just goes to show you Sheik that you’re not too smart. If you were smart, you’d listen to me! If you were smart, you wouldn’t lose your head. You wouldn’t go doing stupid things like you did in the ring!” The Sheik fired back, “I don’t have to listen to you; I don’t have to listen to nobody!” The two started to entangle physically and Caudle exclaimed, “I’m gonna get out of the way; I’m really gonna get out of the way of that shovel!” Ivan then excitedly added, “It looks like he needs a few more scars on his head to teach him a lesson. The man is not only an idiot, he is STUPID! And he’s going to find out, one way or another, who the boss is…who the smart man is, who is managing this team. If I have to slap some sense into him, I’ll do it!”

A flabbergasted Caudle blurted out, “All right fans, you heard ‘em and you saw ‘em! And I’ll tell you, I don’t recall ever seeing an argument among partners break out like that, and be as rough on each other as they really were…Ivan Koloff and of course the Iron Sheik!”

The next week at the December 3, 1980 taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show there was a match between Koloff and Sweet Ebony Diamond. Ivan was still trying to “bury” the masked man with that same shovel he carried around with him, seeking revenge for Diamond previously running him out of the west coast in a Loser Leaves Town match. The Iron Sheik joined Bob Caudle and David Crockett on television commentary, and he told the fans that he didn’t like either Diamond or Koloff but admitted they both were tough wrestlers.

As for Ivan, the Sheik said, “That Russian Bear, he’s older than me and has a lot of experience, don’t get me wrong, but you know and Mr. Crockett knows Iran is long, long, long time ago and the toughest wrestler in the world is from Iran. That’s because I’m here… Russian man come over here, he thinks he is the best; he think he’s the greatest at everything. Maybe the Russian man is the best compared to American wrestler. But still never ever compares to Iranian wrestler….the Sheik is always the best!”

The Sheik soon after that comment came from the announcer’s area into the ring with his street shoes on, and he began stomping on Diamond! After throwing Diamond out of the ring, Caudle commented, “And now [Sheik] has a chair, and he’s gonna go in the ring and go after Koloff with the chair!” David Crockett yelled, “OH MY WORD!! He nailed him with that chair!” Caudle added, “He put a dent in that chair that just won’t quit!”

After the Sheik smashed Koloff in the head again with the chair and attempted a third time, the Russian Bear got the steel chair away from the crazy Iranian. Caudle excitedly said, “Now Koloff has got it, and he conks the Sheik with the chair, and now across the back!” As the Sheik dove out of the ring, Koloff hit him again with the chair and then the two fought on the floor at ringside, with referee Sonny Fargo unable to restore order for quite some time!

Koloff and the Sheik then began their “Battle of the Bullies” program in earnest in the territory’s arenas around Christmas-time, with a particularly brutal battle between the two bad guys occurring at County Hall in Charleston, South Carolina on December 26th. The two former friends then traveled several hundred miles north to Lynchburg, Virginia on December 28th to close out the wrestling year on an extremely bloody note.

And on the last Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that aired in most markets just before New Year’s, on December 27, 1980, Koloff told announcer Bob Caudle, “You see the Sheik in there wrestling just a little while ago? He kept looking around, looking over his shoulder. He knows I’m after him! I’m going to pay him back, one way or the other Sheik. I don’t have to come out here and attack you from your back and hit you over the head with a chair or the shovel or anything like this. I got your name on a contract to wrestle you in different areas, so don’t worry about it Sheik. I’m going to have my time with you, and a good time I’m going to have. I’m going to enjoy every minute of it, and believe me it’s not going to take me too many minutes to maybe break your arm, break your leg. Believe me; I’m going to put you through as much pain as I can to pay you back for what you tried to do to me.”

Koloff was true to his word, as the first half of the month of January in the new year of 1981 saw he and the Sheik go at it in matches of unparalleled violence. Fans in the Palmetto state of South Carolina saw these bruising battles up close and personal, particularly in the cities of Greenville and Sumter. In both of these towns, Koloff and the Sheik battled to wild double disqualification finishes in the first bouts, which led to Russian Chain match return bouts in both towns. The Russian Chain match was Koloff’s specialty match, and the Russian Bear prevailed in both of these bloody return matches, the second of which occurred in Sumter on January 15th.

The former friends then headed north the next night to again do battle, this time in Richmond, Virginia at the Richmond Coliseum. Both had lots to say in the promos leading up to the January 16th Richmond match. Ivan was first, and he told promo announcer Rich Landrum, “In Richmond on the 16th Sheik, you won’t have time to go out and get a chair, because I’ll have you tied up and you won’t have no one to go back and cry to whenever you have something to do and you can’t get it done…get advice, or anything like that. Because I’m gonna run you out of this country; I’m gonna finish you in wrestling for what you tried to do to me!”

The Sheik in a later promo segment told Landrum, “Ivan Koloff in the Richmond, I’m not done with you. You’re gonna get it more. Your gonna get it more than chair; you’re gonna get it more than anything. You bring that goofy shovel, and you bring that goofy chain. I’m not Sweet Ebony Diamond…you’re gonna get it more.”

The Richmond match was another vicious encounter, with Koloff getting the dukes after a chaotic finish. The two protagonists continued to go at it hot and heavy for the rest of the month of January in spirited contests in the Charlotte Coliseum on January 18th, in Lynchburg, Virginia on January 23rd, at the Greensboro Coliseum on January 24th and at the Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina on January 27th. Koloff dominated the results in these later January bouts, but they were all highly competitive, blistering hot affairs.

February of 1981 marked the end of this brief Battle of the Bullies program between Ivan Koloff and the Iron Sheik. The last bout pitting the Sheik and Koloff took place on February 14, 1981, Valentine’s Day, but there was no love shared in the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium that day! Koloff triumphed again in this final encounter, before both men went their separate ways. Ivan began teaming up with Ray Stevens, and the two set their sights on the NWA World Tag Team Titles held by Paul Jones and the Masked Superstar, winning the belts on March 1st and having a brief three week championship run. The Sheik segued to a feud with Blackjack Mulligan, that he came out on the short end of, and the Great Hossein Arab exited the Mid-Atlantic area in early May of 1981.

While the rift between Koloff and the Sheik was brief and a mere footnote in the history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, it was noteworthy in that it was one of booker George Scott’s last programs, and a very rare instance of Scott pitting a bad guy against a bad guy. Prior to Scott taking over the Jim Crockett Promotions “book” in 1973, Battle of the Bullies programs between wrestling heels was something that Jim Crockett Promotions fans expected periodically, with some very interesting short term pairings occurring as a result. In that sense, it was a throwback in time to see the hated Sheik and the hated Koloff go from friends to foes before our eyes!

The Battle of the Bullies, version 1980-81, between the Iron Sheik and Ivan Koloff gave the Mid-Atlantic faithful a rare chance to cheer both wrestlers into beating the heck out of the other during and around the festive holiday season! It was “Season’s Beatings,” with out a doubt!

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Gateway Interview: Jim Brunzell (Part 3)

Interview by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

(Catch up on the introduction and what you missed in Part 1Part 2)

Available at
Jim Brunzell: When I look back on my wrestling career, and I look at different parts of my book ‘MatLands’ which encompasses my whole career, it went by so fast, David. Honestly, you never realize it. And now I’m 67 years old and I think, ‘Holy Jesus!’

David Chappell: Time flies when you’re having fun!

Brunzell: I remember at 22 and 23 I was the youngest guy in the locker room. And I do remember when I was working independents when I was almost 50 years old, and I thought, ‘S*#t, I’m the oldest guy in the G*# damn locker room!’

Chappell: (laughs)

Brunzell: How times have changed!

Chappell: Yes! Before we dive into Jim Crockett Promotions, there’s one question I’ve always wanted to ask you. Being a big NFL and Washington Redskins fan, didn’t you try out for the Redskins and if so what can you tell us about that experience?

Brunzell: I did! I played in the Central States Football League, which was in Wisconsin and I got an opportunity to go to the George Allen free agent tryout camp. This would be for the 1972 season…they went to the Super Bowl that year.

Chappell: I remember it well!

Brunzell: I was there for three days. There was no contact, and it was basically agility drills, sprints, catch the ball…blah, blah, blah. Boyd Dowler was one of the end coaches, and so was Bobby Mitchell.

Chappell: Wow…

Brunzell: Those guys were great pros, and they had a lot of players there. I recognized a few guys from the Big 10 who I played with when I was at Minnesota. I think they only kept one or two guys, and one guy was named Herb Mul-Key…

Chappell: Right, the kick returner! He was a great player for a couple of years.

Brunzell: Yeah, he was the fastest guy. And this is the honest to God truth…it had rained for a couple of days and we were running our 40 yard dashes in mud. They had me as a tight end, and I had the fastest time for a tight end which was 4.9. You know, I ran a 4.6 at Minnesota…

Chappell: Which was probably not in the rain!

Brunzell: Yeah, and all of a sudden I heard this 4.6 and it was this Herb Mul-Key and he had run faster than anybody in the mud! And he winds up being an All-Pro kickoff and punt returner the next year.

Chappell: They used to make a big deal about those open tryouts, particularly early in George Allen’s career.

Brunzell: Oh sure. There were about 150-200 guys there and [George Allen] says, ‘I’m gonna tell you right now, there might be one or two of you that will make this team.’ That’s what he said! (laughs)

Chappell: (laughs) George was about as brutally blunt as Verne Gagne was to you!

Brunzell: That’s true; that’s true! I remember leaving there, there was about four or five of us that went out for a beer, it wasn’t too far from the White House, we all thought ‘holy smokes,’ what an experience that was!

Chappell: (laughs)

Brunzell: And after that I went back and enrolled in school, and then Greg called me about his Dad’s camp…it was really a twist of fate.

AWA Tag Champions
Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell
David, if anybody would have told me when I was 18 or 19 years old that I would have had a 27 year career as a pro wrestler I would have told them they were crazy!

Chappell: You just never know which way the roads will lead you. Do you still stay in touch with any your wrestling cohorts?

Brunzell: It’s funny, Greg and I and Brian Blair as the Killer Bees, we still occasionally will get together. You know, a fan signing or fan convention. And you know, it’s AMAZING how these people remember things!

Chappell: Oh yeah!

Brunzell: They’ll remember a match here and a match there…it’s amazing! There are still a great amount of fans out there, and it’s fun for us. The fans are having a great time meeting the old guys that used to wrestle, and we’re at the same time thanking these people that supported us during the many years.

It’s always fun to do those…we do a couple a year. It’s really fun.

Chappell: That’s great…

Brunzell: Yeah, I was down in Charlotte a couple of years ago and it was huge!

Jim Brunzell at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling
Legends Fanfest in Charlotte (Wayne Casstevens Photo)
Chappell: Greg Price does a great job with the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest, and they’re still going strong!

Brunzell: It was fun, that year they were featuring the Four Horsemen and Ric was there two or three days in a row. I was there one day. God, there were a lot of people! That was one of the biggest ones I’ve seen. I’ve been to one in New York, and they had a huge amount of people come over the course of three hours at this big ballroom, and it was just filled with memorabilia.

Chappell: You mention New York, Jim. And while your WWF stint is not the focus of this interview, I would be interested in your thoughts on the WWF as you were there when Vince McMahon was going national in a big way.

Brunzell: Actually, David, what Vince did was he created and subjugated all the fans to what he wanted to portray as his wresting product. There was no continuity; nothing meant anything. And everybody was tougher than hell and nobody cheated and nobody cowered off…there was no good or bad, they were all ‘superstars.’ When I saw where he was going I said ‘Holy Jesus!’ I know he had the numbers. I’ll never forget when I first went up there, the first night I was up there I did Poughkeepsie TV, and there were 60 guys they featured and they ran three towns a night. And this went on, and I have it in my bookings…these little Franklin books I kept year to year to year, and when I went to New York starting in ’85, Brian and I once they put us together, we wrestled 27 days a month for three years straight…

Chappell: Geez…what a grind that must have been!

Brunzell: And we had many times when it was 40-45 days in a row. And I remember I broke my hand with Greg Valentine in Rockford, Illinois. He had blocked this double wrist-lock takeover, and I could hear the bone in the middle of my hand just pop…

Chappell: Ouch!

Brunzell: And I said ‘God dang it,’ you broke my hand! And I went home for one day, and they waited until the swelling went down and then they put a cast on my hand. Then when Brian and I got back together, the Killer Bees won more matches with me clubbing these guys in the head with my cast than we did with putting the masks on, and trying to use the masked confusion to deceive them!

Chappell: Whatever works!

Brunzell: Yeah, whatever worked! They didn’t care whether it made any sense at all.

Chappell: Well, your stuff in Mid-Atlantic made a lot of sense! Do you remember your debut match for Jim Crockett Promotions?

Brunzell: Spartanburg…I remember it like it was yesterday!

Chappell: Amazing!

Brunzell: I had always been known for my dropkicks, so I remember talking to George Scott and the first night they booked me there I was in Spartanburg. I was working with Rene Goulet, who used to work up here in Minnesota…

Chappell: Goulet got around!

Brunzell: Rene and I had many matches. I loved the guy; he was a great worker! They’re giving us the finish, and George Scott comes up to me and he says, ‘I want you to use your dropkick on Rene tonight.’ And I said that was fine, but then he said, ‘I want you to hit him with SIX dropkicks.’ And I said, ‘What?’

Chappell: (laughs) Wonder how he came up with the number six?!

Brunzell: He said, ‘SIX!’ I said, ‘George, that’s like shooting a guy in the head once, and then shooting him in his torso five more times to get the job done!’ It was funny, because the first drop kick I hit Rene with was right about his forehead, the next one was by his jaw, the next one by his neck, the fourth one was in his sternum, the fifth one was just a little lower than that and the other one was what we call a wrestler’s vasectomy…

Chappell: (laughing) Ouch!

Brunzell: (laughs) Because I just about hit him right below the belt! Six dropkicks, and first of all I was blown up by the time I was covering him! Jesus Christ!

Chappell: I can understand!

Brunzell: You know, he popped up, I popped up, he popped up and then he got slower and slower. And then afterwards I thought the people were gonna say, ‘What carnival act is this!’ (laughs)

Chappell: (laughs) Spartanburg was a hot building…literally and figuratively!

Brunzell: Oh God, it was hot and it was small! And I remember, I had an hour draw there with Jimmy Snuka. George Scott used to book these hour draws all the time, honest to God.

Chappell: Yep, there were a few!

Brunzell: Anderson, South Carolina…in my book I talk about the match I had there with Ric Flair. He was the U.S. champ then. Anderson, South Carolina was non-air conditioned, and it was hot and humid as a son of a gun.

Brunzell at first fought, and then later teamed with, the
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair
(Peggy Lathan Photo)
So the match was Ric attacking me, I made a little comeback and threw the figure four on him and he submitted and they rang the bell. But the referee said something wasn’t right and we had to start over again! So, we started over again and did an hour draw! (laughs)

Chappell: (laughs) Oh my goodness!

At the beginning of your Crockett run in the late spring of 1979 you hit Ric right as he was slowly morphing into a good guy after five years as the Mid-Atlantic’s consummate bad guy. Then when he did the full-fledged babyface turn, you all became tag team partners on occasion.

Brunzell: I had three one hour draws with Ric in [the Charlotte territory]! Honest to God, we worked our asses off, but everybody was in such good shape…

Chappell: (laughs) Guess you all had to be to survive!

Brunzell: You know, Ric was in consummate shape. He was up and down and up and down. The match we had in Anderson, I mean, we were so lathered by the time it got to 60 minutes, there was so much sweat on our bodies, we couldn’t even grab on to one another!

Chappell: (laughs)

Brunzell: And I’ll never forget, I got out of the ring and I made it to the locker room and I just sat down and I had a bottle of Gatorade, before I had the beer…

Chappell: (laughs)

Brunzell: I’m drinking the Gatorade and Tony Atlas, who had ridden with me down there says, ‘Come on Brunz, we gotta get going!’ I said, ‘Tony, just wait a little bit…I’m not in any hurry!’ So he got pissed at me because I wouldn’t hurry up! (laughs) I’ll never forget, I think I had one Gatorade, and I drank six beers so quick…I was so dehydrated!

Chappell: No doubt.

Brunzell: There’s another one of George Scott’s finishes, you know! And I liked George; I just thought he was a horrible booker. I never, never got in tune with his booking. You know, his finishes, et cetera.

Chappell: George was definitely a Mid-Atlantic mainstay for us Crockett fans, but I’m sure he was a different type booker than you had dealt with before. I’m sure all the one hour broadways were a big change for you.

Brunzell: A couple of these stories I tell in my book…

Chappell: An outstanding read by the way, Jim!

Brunzell: Thank you, David.


Saturday, December 03, 2016

Wide World Wrestling Theme Music 1975-1978

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Includes rare, exclusive audio tracks below.

When I first got "hooked" on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, one of the things (other than the great wrestling) that I liked most about both Crockett shows was the great theme music.

I'm not talking about wrestler's theme music. This was in 1975 and almost a decade before every wrestler had their own theme music.

I'm talking about the opening theme music that started off each show. It was a signature element of each of the two programs that Jim Crockett Promotion produced, and is today as much of the sentimental or nostalgic aspect of those shows. That's something long ago lost as it regards pro-wrestling on TV today.

Over the many years, I've enjoyed collecting theme music from the various wrestling shows I watched in the 1970s and 1980s. Some used edited versions of popular commercial music, some used "production" music written especially for that use.

Ed Capral with NWA champion Harley Race
on the set of "Wide World Wrestling" in 1977
My favorite wrestling TV-show theme of them all was the music for "Wide World Wrestling" in 1975-1978. "Wide World Wrestling" was Jim Crockett's "B" show. If a TV market only featured one of Crockett's TV shows, it would always be the "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" show, which was the "A" show. If a traditional Crockett TV market featured both Crockett shows, then "Wide World" would be added as the second show in that market, or the "B" show.

The show began in October of 1975 and was hosted by longtime Atlanta wrestling broadcaster Ed Capral. When Capral left in 1977, he was succeeded by hosts Russ Dubuque and then Tom Miller.   In 1978, Crockett changed the name of the program to "World Wide Wrestling" as host Rich Landrum took over the show, and by the early 1980s, this was the show that started going into Crockett's expansion markets, as well as remaining the "B" show in Crockett's home markets.

"Truckin'" Tom Miller, host of "Wide World Wrestling"
for roughly 6 months in 1978
The opening theme music for this show was awesome! The opening video package that ran under the music was a quick montage of various wrestlers doing various wrestling maneuvers that flew by at quick pace that matched the upbeat tempo of the music. The music and video open had sort of a "Wide World of Sports" feel to it. ABC's "Wide World of Sports" was one of the most popular sports programs of the era and as much a part of Saturday afternoons as wrestling was in that era.

Recently our friend Craig at Wrestling Media ( was kind enough to send us the original recording of the music used for "Wide World Wrestling." I got his very nice email on Thanksgiving Day - - what a wonderful gift on Thanksgiving! I was thankful indeed for his generosity and for remembering at all that this was something I had been looking for for years. He was able to identify it solely by the low-resolution recording I had of it on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archive site.

The music, titled "Diamond Head" was written and recorded by Walter Murphy, who had a #1 pop hit back in 1976 called "A Fifth of Beethoven." Murphy has an extensive resume of production music and there are several vinyl recordings of his still floating around. The album that has "Diamond Head" was titled "Major Production Music", Vinyl 6088 on Major Records (now known as Valentino.) It is track 3 on side B of the record and was recorded and released in 1975 (the same year "Wide World Wrestling" debuted.)

The "Wide World Wrestling" theme was created by taking various segments of the original 1:30 recording and piecing them together to make the final 25 sec. version you heard each week to open the show. The tempo of the wrestling version was also a little faster than the original, although at the same pitch.

I took Murphy's original recording and edited a version together that is nearly identical (in arrangement and speed) to the classic 1975 wrestling theme, and happily present it here.

There are no known video recordings of the 1975-1978 "Wide World Wrestling" show, which is a very sad thing. The theme hasn't been heard in this arrangement since 1978, so only fans who are roughly in their 40s or later would even remember it. But for those that watched "Wide World Wrestling" every single weekend without fail as I did each week, this will be a wonderful trip down memory lane and a nostalgic reminder of a great era in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. And for those hearing it for the first time, this is what a real wrestling theme sounds like.

Wide World Wrestling - Opening Theme (1975-1978)

Wide World Wrestling - Closing Theme (1975-1978)

More on this album of production music on the Discogs website:

Thanks to Craig at Wrestling Media ( for his forwarding this information and for providing me the original track that resulted in my favorite wrestling theme music of them all.

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling 1975 Yearbook

Friday, December 02, 2016

Recently on the Gateway

We appreciate all the recent feedback on the Thanksgiving features and the ongoing Jim Brunzell interview. If you've missed any of that over the last couple of weeks, we've gathered the links for you below.

Also, we've recently collected one of the rarest pieces of theme music for the Crockett TV shows ever, and will be posting that tomorrow. If you loved the territory TV show themes of the 1970s and 1980s, this will make a nice piece to add to your collection. Saturday is a good day for wrestling, so check out that post tomorrow.

Thanks as always for your support of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

The Gateway Interview: Jim Brunzell
Part 1   |  Part 2
Part three coming this Monday.

Thanksgiving Flashbacks
Last week we had several posts focusing on Starrcade memories and Thanksgiving wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions in general:

Thanksgiving Night Meant Wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions

Starrcade Memories on the "Go Get Over" Podcast with guest David Chappell

NWA World Champions on Thanksgiving for Jim Crockett Promotions

32 Years Ago: Starrcade '84

Best of the Gateway: The Early Lead-up to Starrcade '85

29 Years Ago: Starrcade '87

Big Events coming in 2017

Wrestle Expo in Richmond VA May 2017
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte NC August 2017
And we're pretty sure our friend Tony Hunter has some special things up his sleeve!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Gateway Interview: Jim Brunzell (Part 2)

Interview by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

(Read the introduction and catch up on what you missed in Part 1

David and Jim continue their discussion about booker George Scott.

Chappell: The Gateway got very close to Blackjack Mulligan, and while he liked George Scott personally, he called him “the taskmaster” because of the way he pushed the talent.

Brunzell: [Blackjack] was a wonderful guy! I gotta tell you a quick story…

Chappell: Please!

Slam! Wrestling /
Brunzell: One night we were wrestling, I can’t remember the town but we were driving back to Charlotte, and we had three or four days off…

Chappell: (laughs) George Scott must have been out of town!

Brunzell: (laughs) I was gonna get home, and in the morning my wife and I were gonna fly back with our kids to Minneapolis. So, we’re driving down the road and Don Kernodle was in another car and he had three guys and I had three guys. I had Blackjack Mulligan and ‘Quickdraw’ [Rick] McGraw, and we got stopped at a roadblock.

Chappell: Uh oh!

Brunzell: So I pull off to the side of the road and a State Trooper comes up with his gun drawn at me! I pulled down the window and I said, ‘Officer, can I help you?’ He said, ‘Get outta the car!’ (laughs) They handcuffed me! And they said I was going 105 miles an hour down the road, and we think your car looked like the same car that was involved in a robbery…

Chappell: This thing is going south fast, Jim.

Brunzell: I said Jesus Christ, I just got done wrestling and I’m driving back to Charlotte. So the guy, he’s handcuffing me! (laughs) Meanwhile, Jack Mulligan, he gets out of the car and says, ‘Is this really necessary, Officer?’ Then the cop put his hand on the gun!

Chappell: Geez!

Brunzell: He told Jack, ‘Get back in the car!’ He put me in the cop car, and we went to this small town. But they take me in and they book me for speeding. He said I was going over 100 miles an hour, and I posted bond and then I left. It was funny, because we got in the car and I said ‘Holy Jesus!’ We’re in the car and we’re finally driving back to Charlotte and we get back, and we all take off. I wound up calling Jim Crockett, and Jim said, ‘Don’t worry, we have a good lawyer that takes care of our guys if there’s any trouble.’

Chappell: (laughs) I bet that lawyer was busy!

Brunzell: Yeah! So this guy calls me and said he needs 600 bucks, so I give him 600 bucks.

Chappell: (laughs) Typical lawyer, and I’m a lawyer!

Brunzell: So a month later, I have to go to Court in Stanley, North Carolina. I go to Court and there’s nobody there…

Chappell: The lawyer isn’t there?

Brunzell: No, they call my name, boom, and I get up there and the Judge says how do you plead and I said ‘not guilty.’ I said I wasn’t going 100 miles an hour, but I was going 70 I said, but here’s what the Judge said to me. He says, ‘I’m going to suspend your license for 60 days, I’m going to fine you 25 dollars and the court costs are 25 dollars. So, it cost me 50 bucks, and I did this all myself and when I got back I called Jim Crockett and said, ‘Why the hell did I give your lawyer 600 dollars? He didn’t do a damn thing for me!’ (laughs)

Chappell: (laughs) You might have lucked out with the lawyer not showing; you might have ended up in jail if he had riled up the Judge!

Brunzell: (laughs) But getting back to the Mid-Atlantic, God it was beautiful down there and we really enjoyed the people we met, even though we didn’t have much time to socialize.
Chappell: Before we hit Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling full throttle, I wanted to go way back to when you started in the wrestling business. Weren’t you in Verne Gagne’s brutal training camp in 1972 with Ric Flair, Ken Patera and the Iron Sheik, Hossein Khosrow? Three guys that would figure prominently in your Mid-Atlantic run.

Brunzell: Yes I was.

Chappell: I’ve heard all about that Class of 1972, but I’ve never heard your take on it. Was it as tough as others have said it was?

Brunzell: Unbelievable…it was horrible! Six days a week, six hours a day. And Billy Robinson, who has passed away and God rest his soul, he was a little bit of a sadistic guy…

Chappell: That seems to be the consensus on Billy!

Brunzell: He would inflict pain on us! You know, we were giving our body to him. But it was a great training period.

Chappell: I know Ric has said it was so tough that he tried to quit several times because it was so tough, but Verne wouldn’t let him quit!

Brunzell: Oh yeah, but what happened was we’d start off our session with these Hindu squats, which are free squats. And we’d do them in sets of a hundred. But by the time we were done, we’d be doing a thousand free squats a day!

Chappell: Holy cow…

Brunzell: (laughs) My legs got so damn big that I thought, ‘Jesus!’ I did a lot of squats and everything, but I thought, ‘Holy Christ!’ You know, Verne and them put us through a lot, but it really sort of taught us the respect that pro wrestling really needed, especially from the guys that were employed by them…you know, the guys that went out there every night. It was quite a deal and it was hard, but I wouldn’t have known any other way.

Chappell: It had to toughen you all up, the Verne Gagne way!
Brunzell: I think when I went around and went to Kansas City, and I went to Charlotte and I went to Atlanta then I finally went to New York…I realized that a lot of these promoters that I had dealt with along the way were so jealous of Verne. You know, Verne had a real horrible reputation with other promoters, because they were jealous of him. And also the fact that Verne was such a great amateur wrestler himself…

Chappell: That’s right.

Brunzell: He became a self-made millionaire. He did it all himself, and I think a lot of the guys along the way that were from his era were a little jealous of the fact that he succeeded as well as he did. You know, he was a ruthless guy. He had a good side, and he had a bad side.

Chappell: Stay on the good side, right?

Brunzell: That’s right! I’ll never forget, in 1985, things were really going south and Vince [McMahon] had taken almost all the talent from 26 different territories that were running then. And I went to Verne; I had opened up a gym called Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell’s Gym…

Chappell: Catchy name, Jim!

Jim Brunzell's Book "MatLands"
Brunzell: I did it then to have something to fall back on. Well, what happened was in ’82 I opened the gym and in ’85 it got so bad at the AWA that, holy smokes, I was using a lot of my wrestling earnings to defray the costs of the gym. So, it wasn’t working out and I went to Verne and I said, ‘Verne, you know I realize that things are bad, but Greg and I have had a hell of a run together. We’ve been together since 1975, and I need to have you give me a personal contract that I can insure that I can take care of my family and my gym financially.”

Chappell: Seems reasonable.

Brunzell: But then he says, ‘Well, what do you want?’ And I told him I wanted 95,000 dollars a year. It sounds like a lot, but you know, we were in that same area of making that amount of money before the roof caved in and Hulk Hogan left and everybody else.

Chappell: Sure…

Brunzell: But Verne looked at me and said, ‘You’re not worth it…go to New York.’

Chappell: Wow, that was pretty cold-blooded…

Brunzell: And it just crushed me. I thought, ‘Man!’ Then I told Greg, ‘Your Dad just said I wasn’t worth it.’ And Greg said, ‘He was joking.’

Chappell: Could’ve fooled you, huh?

Brunzell: (laughs) He didn’t fool me much!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Magnum T.A. currently on "The Ric Flair Show"

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In case you missed it, go to "The Ric Flair Show" and check out the current podcast with guest Magnum T.A. It is one of my favorite episodes so far, and great to hear some stories from one of my favorite periods of time for Jim Crockett Promotions.

Magnum has a new documentary DVD out called "I Never Quit: The Magnum T.A. Story" produced and edited by documentarian Michael Elliot for We reviewed that DVD earlier on the Gateway

No word yet on this upcoming week's guest, but the show debuts every Wednesday night MLW Radio Network (, so stay tuned.
Along with his co-host (and friend of the Gateway) Conrad Thompson, "The Ric Flair Show" drops every Wednesday at 9 PM  later on the MLW Radio Network (,, iTunes and many other podcast platforms.

Look for the Ric Flair show every Wednesday night! Ric will review the big news in pro-wrestling for the week, travel back in time on "This Week in Wrestling History", plus the call of the week, contests, and so much more. Wooooo!

In weeks to come, you’ll hear the Nature Boy talk about the “good ole days” with his friends like Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Sting, Bret “the Hitman” Hart, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Terry Funk, Kurt Angle, Eric Bischoff, and every other major name in wrestling from the last 40 years.

Ric has some of his other friends on the show too like NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor and even Grammy Award Winning Darius Rucker.

The fans even get a chance to be involved with the show and ask any question they want using #AskNaitch. Don’t miss a minute by subscribing to the "Ric Flair Show" today on iTunes."

Monday, November 28, 2016

"Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo" Coming to Richmond in 2017

Commonwealth Productions has announced the inaugural "Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo" for May 19-20, 2017 coming to the Greater Richmond Convention Center in downtown Richmond, VA. The two-day fan event will feature appearances by some of the great legends in pro-wrestling.

Already announced is the return of Demolition to Richmond for the first time in over 20 years. Not much else is known at this point about other talent making appearances at the Expo, but it is early and announcements will be forthcoming in the next weeks and months.

Based on information currently on their website, it appears the event will be broken down into three main phases:

(1) a "Dinner with Demolition" on Friday night
(2) the main Expo/convention with autographs, photos, and memorabilia on Saturday
(3) wrestling matches Saturday night

They have a tentative schedule on their website at, and other information there as well.

We've long  thought that Richmond would make a great place for a wrestling convention. This one takes place a stone's throw away from the historic Richmond Coliseum where many of the great Mid-Atlantic Wrestling / Jim Crockett Promotions took place in the 1970s and 1980s.

We will continue to pass along updates as we go get closer to the event. You can follow the Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo on their website, on their Facebook page, or by following them on Twitter.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Gateway Interview: Jim Brunzell (Part 1)

Interview by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell was a major star in professional wrestling during the 1970s and 1980s, with most of his fame and notoriety coming from his “High Flying” tag team with Greg Gagne in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and later with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as part of the “Killer Bees” tag team with partner B. Brian Blair. What is often overlooked in Jim’s career is a successful stint he had with Jim Crockett Promotions in 1979-1980, where in his own words he wanted to see if he could “cut the mustard” as a singles competitor. 

“Gentleman” Jim certainly flourished in the Mid-Atlantic area as a singles wrestler, defeating the seemingly unbeatable Ken Patera for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Tile, and later battled the legendary Ray Stevens for that same belt, ultimately triumphing in his feud with the “Crippler.” Even when Jim eventually dropped the Mid-Atlantic strap to the dastardly Iron Sheik in May of 1980, the two had a spirited program over the title until Jim’s departure from the area in August of 1980. So while other significant parts of Jim’s wrestling career are touched on, this interview was done for the primary purpose of shinning the spotlight on Jumpin’ Jim’s 16 month run in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. 

Jim, a huge fan of the legendary Bruce Springsteen, also has an outstanding book out entitled “MatLands” available through where he shares a series of wonderful wrestling stories, including a number of which feature Mid-Atlantic favorites! (See the Gateway's plug for "Matlands" here.)

So without further ado, let’s turn it over to White Bear Lake, Minnesota’s own…High Flying Jim Brunzell!

 * * * * * *


David Chappell:  Jim, thank you so much for making time for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway today. I’d like this interview to be a little bit different from the ones you’ve done before, in that I’d like it to focus primarily on your run in Jim Crockett Promotions in 1979 and 1980. I don’t think your work in the Mid-Atlantic area has ever gotten the attention it deserves.

Jim Brunzell:  You know, I enjoyed my time down there. The weather was great, and we had some great talent down there…Steamboat, the Nature Boy [Ric Flair] and Jack Mulligan…

Chappell: It was a ‘who’s who’ talent-wise, wasn’t it?

Brunzell: It was; it was great! You know, when I came from the AWA down there, I didn’t know what to expect. And George Scott, who was the booker in the Mid-Atlantic, had worked briefly in the AWA in the early 70s when I was starting, and I knew George and Sandy. They had been a tag team in Canada, and had bounced around a little bit.

Chappell: And when you came to the Mid-Atlantic territory, you were primarily known for your tag team work in the AWA with Greg Gagne.

Brunzell: I was sort of tired of being the ‘High Flyer’ with Greg for four and a half years and I thought geez, am I ever going to get a singles break? I didn’t see that in the future, and it was a good opportunity for me to just go some place new. I wound up getting booked down there, and it was fast and furious. I think I was down there for about 16 months, counting the time that George Scott had fired me, and I had worked six to eight more weeks in Atlanta for Jim Barnett.

Chappell: You were fired by George? Didn’t expect that piece of news!

Brunzell: But you know it was a great time. I bought a house down in Charlotte, and my wife loved it and our kids were like three, two and a half, and almost a year old. You know, it was a great opportunity. The only problem, David, was that George Scott was notorious for no time off.

Chappell: I’ve definitely heard that before!

Booker George Scott with Andre the Giant on the set of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling"

Brunzell: I remember the first time I walked in the office before I started working down there. I just got to Charlotte, and I was staying in a hotel for a little bit before I got my wife and family down there. I went in and talked to George and he said, ‘Jimmy, I wanna tell you right now…there’s no time off. So don’t ask for time off.’

Chappell: (laughs) Wow, what a welcoming to the NWA!

Brunzell: Yeah! He says, ‘But you’ll be home every night, though, by at least 12:30 or 1:00.’ (laughs)

Chappell: (laughs) What a guy!

Brunzell: Yeah! You know, it was a new adventure for me. And also, it was a little different because you know I had been in Kansas City in ’73 when I first started, and I saw a little bit of how the NWA worked. How it was working every night…

Chappell: Kansas City was your first territory, wasn’t it?Brunzell: It was.

Chappell: I was going to ask you about Kansas City for that reason, and also because Ric Flair has often called the Kansas City territory the ‘Siberia’ of wrestling territories. Was it really that bad?

Brunzell: Well, here’s the problem. God rest their souls, but Pat O’Connor and Bob Geigel were part owners, along with Sam Muchnick in St. Louis, and they ran the Kansas City territory. That was Kansas, Missouri and a little bit of Iowa. Gus Karras, who at that time was the oldest promoter, he ran St. Joe, Missouri. The problem was, those guys didn’t want to spend any money.

Chappell: That’s a problem!

Brunzell: Yeah, they operated a lean thing. You know, there was just nothing there. Their TV show was…

Chappell: Bare bones?

Brunzell: Yeah, really bare bones. They’d have three matches, and it would be an hour to an hour and a half! (laughs) You’d make 20 dollars, and you might work 45 minutes or an hour. That was at St. Joe. You know, all the guys would make their money when they went to St. Louis. I remember when I was there it was great for me because I worked twice a night…

Chappell: And I’m sure that was important, just starting out…

Brunzell: Yeah, because the more you worked the more you learned your trade. And plus, it enabled me, David, to see the different talents. Jack Brisco came in, and Dory Funk and Terry Funk and Harley Race, and it was really eye-opening.

Chappell: I’m sure.

Brunzell: Those guys never came up in the AWA. It was Nick Bockwinkel, Verne [Gagne] and different guys. Although the talent level in the AWA was incredible too. But when I went to Kansas City it opened my eyes.

But when I went to Charlotte, in the Mid-Atlantic, it was REALLY eye-opening because Crockett had a great promotion, and he had unbelievable business that they did. All of us made a good living down there, but the only problem was that you didn’t have time to enjoy it! (laughs)

Chappell: Never a moment to catch your breath!

Brunzell: Thanks right!