Thursday, August 24, 2017

J.W. looks back at "the Granddaddy"

One of our favorite blogs to check in on from time to time is J.W.'s Wrestling Memorabilia. he has memorabilia on display from all eras and all territories and federations. Our favorite stuff, as you might imagine, is anything that has to do with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions.

The 2009 Fanfest program that featured
a reunion of the Four Horsemen.
Recently, J.W. posted his reflections on the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest that has been held most years each August in Charlotte. There is no event this August, and we are sad about that, having had a great time there each year visiting our wrestling friends, many of whom we don't get a chance to visit with except at this event. Plus, it is always great fun seeing some of the great stars of wrestling from years gone by (and some of the new stars today.)

The personal highlight for the Gateway boys last year was our inclusion in the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Hall of Heroes, which was recognition for our efforts on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website. We remain grateful for that recognition and were honored to be inducted by one of our all time heroes, the voice of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Bob Caudle.

So we thought we'd share a link to J.W.'s post of some of his favorite Fanfest memories. Here's hoping for Fanfest to return in 2018!

The "Granddaddy of 'Em All" of Wrestling Conventions
J.W.'s Wrestling Memorabilia

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Crockett Night at Charlotte's BB&T Ballpark Sunday 9/3    

On Sunday, September 3, it's Crockett Night at the ol' ballgame.

This coming Labor Day weekend, make your plans to head out to BB&T Ballpark, home of the Charlotte Knights baseball team, for a great evening of baseball and to visit with some of the great legends of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions.

It's the 2017 Crockett Foundation Night at the ballpark, part of the final weekend of the regular season for the triple-A Charlotte Knights.The event is organized by the Crockett Foundation, the charitable organization run now by Jim Crockett, Sr.'s granddaughter Debbie Ringley.

Crockett Foundation

DATE: Sunday evening, September 3, 2017
WHERE: BB&T Park, 324 South Mint Street Charlotte, NC (Parking & Directions)
TIME: Gates open at 6:00 PM, First Pitch at 7:05 PM (Wrestlers available before the game)
SPECIAL EVENTS: NWA Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends plus Fireworks after the game!

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I recently had the opportunity to chat with Debbie about what's planned for Crockett Night this year.
Dick Bourne: How did "Crockett Night” at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte come about?

Debbie Ringley: It came about as a way to celebrate the 85th anniversary of Jim Crockett Promotions, both baseball and wrestling, last year. I had to come up with a way to put what Granddaddy created and the things that came after his death. Hosting wrestlers at a baseball game seemed to be the perfect way of bringing the two together. Last year’s event went so well that the Knights asked us back and we are going to make it a staple of both the Foundations and Knights events schedule each year.

Bourne: So the purpose for the event is to help raise awareness for the Foundation?

Ringley: It is to raise awareness. The wrestlers will not charge for their picture or autograph but they will be asking fans to throw some money in a jug towards a donation.

Bourne: You guys have some very cool wrestling-related merchandise that you sell on the Crockett Foundation website. Will some of that be available for fans to purchase at this event?

Ringley: We will have shirts, including our new "TBS 6:05" shirt, for sale and we will also have both of our wrestling books.

Bourne: I've seen the new "TBS 6:05" shirt - - very cool, it immediately conjures up memories of so many Saturday evenings where I wouldn't miss "World Championship Wrestling" out of Atlanta with David Crockett and Tony Schiavone.

Crockett Foundation / Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Ringley: The back of the shirt is awesome, too, with our Crockett Foundation logo and signatures of many of the wrestling personalities that are "tag team partners" of the Crockett Foundation.

Ringley: Jackie will be there to autograph his ["When Wrestling Was Wrestling"] and our second book contains stories about three of the wrestlers that will be there that night so it would be a great opportunity for a fan to get the books autographed by the subjects in the books. Both the books and the shirts will be on sale for $15.00

Bourne: Nice to have Jackie Crockett there to sign his book of photographs. He took some really amazing photos in the late 1970s and early 1980s. That is a wonderful collection.

Ringley: Both the books and the shirts will be on sale for $15.00

Bourne: What wrestling celebrities will be there?

Ringley: Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson of the Rock n Roll Express, Magnum T.A., J.J. Dillon, Baby Doll, Tommy Young, and Jackie Crockett.

Bourne: Wow, that's a great line-up and a small "who's who" of some of the big names of Jim Crockett Promotions in the hot period of the mid 1980s.

Ringley: It is, and since there was no [Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends] Fanfest this year, it may be the only gathering of this type in the Charlotte area this year. I don’t know of any opportunity like this around.

Bourne: I always enjoy seeing these guys get recognized and for fans to be able to show their appreciation for all they gave to the wrestling business. Will there be a special introduction of your special wrestling guests that evening at the game?

Ringley: All of the attendees will be introduced on the field prior to the game and just like last year Baby Doll will arrive on her Harley. I will be throwing out the first pitch but don’t expect much from that!

Bourne: Excellent! No pressure there, right?

Ringley: No, not at all!

Bourne: How will fans be able to interact with your special guests that night?

Ringley: They will be signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. All they will ask is a donation of some kind. Or a swag purchase from our merchandise table will get them pictures and autographs.

Bourne: Will Frances be there? Your mom [Frances Crockett] is such an important part of both the family history and baseball history in Charlotte.

Ringley: Yes, she should be. I think one of my sisters is bringing her. I have my hands full with all the others!

Bourne: I'll bet! Debbie, thanks for filling us in on Crockett Foundation Night 2017. I know both wrestling fans and baseball fans will have a blast.

Ringley: Thanks! Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

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

DATE: Sunday evening, September 3, 2017
WHERE: BB&T Ballpark, 324 South Mint Street Charlotte, NC (Parking & Directions)
TIME: Gates open at 6:00 PM, First Pitch at 7:05 PM

If you are in the Charlotte area over Labor Day weekend, come out and support the Crockett Foundation and Charlotte Knights baseball. Buy some peanuts and some Cracker Jack and spend some time with the great legends of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

1985 Calling: Tony Schiavone, George South, and One Magical Phone Call

by Kyra Quinn
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

About a year ago I got a phone call. But it was more than that. It was a link to a cherished part of my past, a connection to my youth and to one of the men who helped make wrestling real to me.

It was Sunday morning, August 7, 2016. I was getting ready for church and almost didn’t answer my ringing phone. But then I looked and saw that the caller was my friend, Mr. No. 1 George South. It was the Sunday of Fanfest weekend in Charlotte, and George knew I was sorely disappointed that I was unable to attend. I knew George was there, and I also knew that one never quite knows what Mr. No. 1 has up his sleeve. So I answered.

I was hailed with an excited, “Hey baby! How are you?” which is a pretty typical greeting from George. I could tell he was pumped to be there, spending the weekend amongst his friends and heroes – guys he has wrestled with and against for several decades. Quickly, George let me know he had someone who wanted to say hello to me. He told me to hold on.

The next voice I heard took my breath away: “Hi Kyra, this is Tony Schiavone.”

Of course, he needn’t have introduced himself. I would recognize that voice anywhere. It was one of the primary voices of my youth, the voice that conveyed magical moments with the perfect blend of exuberance, enthusiasm and realism. My heart pounding, my mind racing, I babbled some sort of ‘hello.’ As usually happens when I meet my wrestling heroes, I was awestruck. Initially, all I could think of was that he had said my name. Tony Schiavone said my name! Immediately I attempted to capture that moment in my mind forever so that I would always be able to recall it.

The conversation lasted a few minutes, and my excitement was such that I honestly don’t recall half of what I said. But I do remember the most important thing: I thanked Tony for helping to make it all so real to me. I discovered Crockett wrestling on Pittsburgh’s WPGH-53 one late summer morning in 1985 at the age of 8, with my introduction being the exhilarating title win of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express over the Russians. I was hooked from then on, mesmerized by the athleticism, excitement, and the struggle between the good guys and the bad guys. From that first Saturday morning, Tony’s voice was an integral part of the spectacle, and of the realism that was the hallmark of Jim Crockett Promotions.  Tony’s love for wrestling came though, but so did his professionalism, in the way he called matches and handled interviews. He was, for me, a huge part of Jim Crockett Promotions, and when he left, some of the magic left with him.

My friends at the Gateway had Tony sign this for me that August in Charlotte.
It was a Fanfest I hated to miss.

Of course, Tony’s departure in early 1989 was only one of a slew of big changes around that time. My favorites, Ricky and Robert, were long gone; the Horsemen had disbanded; the whole talent roster had experienced upheaval; and the look and feel of the shows had changed. But Tony’s leaving was especially upsetting to me. He had been a constant – he had provided the soundtrack – and now he was gone. I was delighted when Tony eventually returned to what had become WCW, and I was always happy when past favorite wrestlers of mine found their way back to the promotion. But too much had changed. Wrestling was never quite the same for me.

When I thanked Tony for being such a big part of helping to make it real, he seemed genuinely grateful. Maybe it’s not a comment he hears very often, but he should. He was so good at what he did, and yet is so underrated. For those too young to remember, those who have simply forgotten, and those who can be critical, I’d suggest a visit to YouTube and a trip back to Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985 or 1986. Those shows have retained their magic. Watch the amazing talent in the ring, listen to the pops of the red-hot crowds, and pay special attention to the professional yet boyishly enthusiastic voice delivering the play-by-play. It doesn’t get much better.

* * * * * * * *

Also by Kyra Quinn on the Gateway:

My Secret Charlotte
Whispers of Magic from the City's Wrestling Relics

Dr. Joseph Estwanik: A Doctor Remembers
Noted Charlotte orthopedist recalls his experiences treating
the wrestlers of Jim Crockett Promotions

* * * * * * * *

Don't miss Tony's popular podcast "What Happened When" with co-host Conrad Thompson. It drops each Monday on the MLW Radio Network and can be found on all major podcasting platforms, including iTunes.

Also don't miss our huge feature with Tony looking back on his days as a fan of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. it was a multi-part series called "Sunday's With Schiavone" and can be found in its entirety by clicking here.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Action Figures Friday: The "Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff

It's Friday, and that means another in this great series of action figure photographs from collector Mike Simmerman. This week it's a shot that takes you back to late 1981 in the studios of WPCQ-TV in Charlotte, where "The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff, master of the Russian Chain Match, is the NWA Television Champion.
Ivan Koloff first held the Mid-Atlantic TV title in 1974, defeating Danny Miller for the belt on 5/10/74 in Richmond, VA. He lost the title a couple months later to Paul Jones on 7/8/74 in Charlotte, NC, and then traded it again with Jones later that same year.

Seven years later, Koloff once again claimed the title, now known as the NWA Television Championship. He defeated Ron Bass for the title on 11/3/81 in Charlotte. He lost the title for a final time to Jimmy "Boogie Man" Valiant on 1/2/82 in Hampton, VA.

His feud with Jimmy Valiant is one of the most memorable during those years and will be immortalized with these action figures in future installments of this series.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The "Terrible Andersons"

From the "Vintage TV & Wrestling Nostalgia" Blog
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Carroll Hall posted these newspaper ads from 1974 on his "Vintage TV & Wrestling Nostalgia" blog several months back, but we somehow missed them at the time.

Graphics for the second weekly taping of
"Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling"
hosted by Les Thatcher
I love the reference in the second ad to "the terrible Andersons." Right around this time, the Andersons were feuding primarily with Sandy Scott who was taking various different partners to challenge the Minnesota Wrecking Crew including Bearcat Wright, Bob Bruggers, Danny Miller, Jerry Brisco, and occasionally his brother George Scott (who was booking the territory at the time and not wrestling full-time.)

I love seeing these ads. WLOS-13 out of Asheville, NC, was one of the two stations I was able to watch Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on growing up. I grew up in east Tennessee but was fortunate that our cable company carried this station back before cable ops were prohibited from carrying out-of-market stations.


During the time period reflected in these ads, WLOS carried a second, separate version of the "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" show hosted by Les Thatcher. Just like the primary show hosted by Bob Caudle, it was taped at the studios of WRAL-TV in Raleigh, NC.

Les Thatcher and Bob Caudle
Hosts for the two separate hours of "Mid-Atlantic
Championship Wrestling" in 1974
The Thatcher show had huge ratings in the Asheville market, sometimes garnering a 60-share in the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville TV market. This meant that 60% of the televisions that were on during that hour in that market were tuned to "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling." These were huge numbers for any program at any time in any era.

In October of 1975, that second hour of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling was replaced by a new program called "Wide World Wrestling" that was hosted by longtime Atlanta announcer Ed Capral. This gave that second JCP show a distinct name and identity.

Thatcher also hosted the localized promotional spots that were inserted into the programs in each market that promoted the arena house shows.

There are two more of these WLOS-13 ads on the page on Carroll's blog. Visit this link for the others:

For more on these shows and where they were taped, check out our Studio Wrestling feature on WRAL-5 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Get Well, Nature Boy

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

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

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

Valentine vs. Brisco: The Champ vs. The Champ

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just Have Fun: Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood 
720 Wrestling (