Friday, November 17, 2017

Action Figures Friday: The Legion of Doom

Mike Simmerman's cool representation of the Legion of Doom, the Road Warriors, on the set of Superstation WTBS-17 in Atlanta, GA.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday Updates

David Chappell of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway talks Starrcade history with Jim Valley on "Wrestling Road Stories" on the PWTorch Livecast. The show is part of a huge line-up of live and archived podcasts that are part of the PWTorch media group that is an industry leader in pro-wrestling and MMA news.

You can become a PWTorch VIP member by surfing over to and checking out all the benefits of that program. They occasionally offer free trials and other promotions. And, of course, there's Bruce Mitchell, so hey - - what more needs to be said?

Jim Valley and David Chappell are up on the PWTorch Livecast site now at

Over at our sister-website "Studio Wrestling" check out Dick Bourne's latest article "No Antenna? You're Missing A Lot. Especially Wrestling." featuring a 1960 newspaper advertisement for WRAL TV touting their popular pro wrestling program hosted by legendary sportscaster Ray Reeve. It's part of our ongoing effort to document the great voices of pro-wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling throughout its history.

Don't miss our weekly feature ACTION FIGURES FRIDAY tomorrow featuring Mike Simmerman's look at the Road Warriors.

Plus this Sunday, David Chappell looks back at Rufus R. Jones cornering Blackjack Mulligan in a "Cotton Field Match," complete with audio, photos and newspaper clippings.

And next week, it's Thanksgiving and of course that means our annual look back at Jim Crockett Promotions' annual Thanksgiving traditions, one of which was STARRCADE.

Our well-received series on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's "Texas Connections" continues with three installments so far and more coming next week. These include great newspaper clippings and vintage audio clips. History lives on the Gateway!
PART ONE   Hailing form the Great State of Texas
PART TWO  Crockett's Texas Connections with Joe Blanchard's Southwest Wrestling (1978)
PART THREE Crockett TV in Texas in 1977-1978 (including US Champ Ric Flair in Amarillo)
PART FOUR (Coming Next Tuesday) Terry Funk takes Crockett's U.S. Championship back to Texas
Did you know you can buy the FOUR HORSEMEN book directly from James J. Dillon wherever he is making appearances? Get all the details here and check out JJ's appearance schedule hereAnd don't miss the popular J.J. Dillon Show podcast dropping each Thursday on the MLW Radio Network.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Crockett TV in Texas (1977-1978)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Did you miss our earlier installments? Check out PART ONE and PART TWO now.

Previously in PART TWO of our "Texas Connections" feature, we took a look at the stars of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling that were making trips in 1978 to the "Southwest Championship Wrestling" territory promoted by Joe Blanchard. These included Ric Flair, Greg Valentine, Blackjack Mulligan, Wahoo McDaniel, Ricky Steamboat, and Tiger Conway, Jr.

In PART THREE, we take a look at the Crockett Promotions TV shows that aired on local TV in that area, as well as in the Amarillo Territory promoted by the Funks, and Crockett's U.S. championship appearing on Amarillo TV during that time as well.


In 1977, Ric Flair made an appearance on the Amarillo promotion's television program during his first reign as United States Heavyweight Champion. Not only did the match air on Western States Wrestling's "All Star Wrestling" show, but it also aired nationally on Superstation WTCG-17 out of Atlanta. (WTCG would later change its call letters to WTBS.)

The action in the match was called by legendary Texas wrestling announcer Steve Stack, who also later called matches for Joe Blanchard on his "Southwest Championship Wrestling" show. His color commentator was former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk, a member of the legendary Funk family that promoted the Amarillo territory for over two decades.

Flair was in prime form during his 5-minute TV match against Gary Star, even leaving the ring to come over to the broadcast position and jaw a little bit with Terry Funk.

Here is a rare audio of the ring introductions, Flair's appearance at the desk, and brief commentary by Steve Stack and Terry Funk as U.S. Champion Ric Flair wrestles on Amarillo TV:

Flair defended the U.S. title in the Amarillo territory in August of 1977 against Abdullah the Butcher and Ricky Romero (father of Ricky Jr., and Jay, Mark, and Chris Youngblood), and returned in September to defend against former NWA champion Dory Funk, Jr.


On the 2/18/78 broadcast of "Wide World Wrestling", host George Scott and co-host Johnny Weaver passed on greetings to all the wrestling fans in the Corpus Christi, Texas, area who were now watching their show on their local airwaves. They don't mention the specific station, but we are working on trying t o figure that out through newspapers from that era.

Here is the transcript of their discussion:

George Scott: "You know, we've got a lot of friends down there in Corpus Christi, Texas, and I want to say hello to everybody down there, our friends who are watching the wrestling from here now. I know you like to go down there yourself sometimes, John. It's great country.

Johnny Weaver: "We certainly do, we're starting to get mail from the people down there, George, and this is the only way right now for us to say hello to them is right here on this program.

George Scott: That's very true, and I know Mulligan is from Texas, I know he's been down there defending his belt, that U.S. heavyweight championship. And also, Wahoo has been going down there, Wahoo McDaniel. And I guess Wahoo's a legend in Texas, as he is all over the country.

Johnny Weaver: Well it will certainly make for some great matches in that area, and you fans - when you see us down there, be sure and come out, because we'd like to say hello to you in person. You're going to see some great matches, just like George said, Wahoo's been going down there and Mulligan has been defending his belt down there. I know they're going to have great matches, just like you see right here.

George Scott: Also, you know, Tully Blanchard was here, he made a big name for himself around this area, he's down there now, so let's just say a salute to Texas, we love it down there.

"Wide World Wrestling" aired on KRIS TV* channel 6, an NBC affiliate.


A few months later, Bob Caudle and David Crockett welcomed Austin, Texas television station KTVV to the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling network. (KTVV-36 is now KXAN in Austin.)

Listen to this short audio clip of Bob Caudle and David Crockett:

This announcement took place on the 5-13-78 broadcast of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling", and that very next Wednesday night, Ricky Steamboat traveled to San Antonio from the Mid-Atlantic area to challenge Tully Blanchard for his Southwest Heavyweight Championship belt. (It was a loaded card. See the details in PART TWO of this series.)

With both of Jim Crockett Promotion's television programs airing in the south Texas territory, Joe Blanchard booked many of Crockett's top stars to appear on some of big cards. His home base of San Antonio fell in between Corpus Christi and Austin and so much of the main territory fell with in broadcast range of these two shows.

Next time in PART FOUR, we'll take a look at one of the most famous nights in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history, the night in November 1975 Terry Funk won the United States Championship in a huge one night tournament in Greensboro and threatened to took the U.S. title out of the Mid-Atlantic area back to Texas. Thanks to another Texan, Paul Jones, that didn't last for long.

All the details next time in "Texas Connections."

Did you miss our earlier installments? Check out PART ONE and PART TWO now.

*Thanks to Jeff Baxter for writing us and identifying the station that carried "Wide World Wrestling" in 1978 in Corpus Christi, TX.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mooneyham: Fame and fortune came at a high cost for 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair

Fame and fortune came at a high cost for 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair
by Mike Mooneyham 
Charleston Post & Courier

Charelston Post & Courier / Provided by ESPN Films
Few professional wrestlers and sports entertainers in the modern era have enjoyed more mainstream appeal than Ric Flair. An icon in the wrestling business for several decades, Flair made a career out of generating excitement and dazzling crowds with his impeccable athletic ability and in-ring skills. His charisma and rapport with his fans endeared him to a devoted following from coast to coast.

It was Flair’s out-of-the-ring exploits, though, that earned him a reputation as the “limousine-ridin’, jet-flyin’, kiss-stealin’, wheelin’-dealin’ son of a gun.” It wasn’t just a wrestling catchphrase. Flair walked the walk, talked the talk and truly lived the life he boastfully advertised.

But it came with a heavy price.....

Read the entire article at the Post & Courier website:

Friday, November 10, 2017

Action Figures Friday: Johnny Weaver and Tim Woods

Representation of NWA TV Champion Johnny Weaver and
United States Champion "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods

The original photo from which Mike Simmerman
based his action figure photo.
 Thanks to Mike Simmerman for the photos for this ongoing series on action figures, and Scooter Lesley for the Gene Gordon photo of Weaver and Woods.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Crockett's Texas Connections with Joe Blanchard's Southwest Wrestling (1978)


Did you miss PART ONE? Go back and check out some of the many wrestlers that appeared in the Mid-Atlantic area that hailed from the great state of Texas.

 * * * * * * * *
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In PART TWO of our feature on the Texas Connections with Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, we take a look at a brief working relationship in 1978 between Jim Crockett Promotions and the new Southwest Championship Wrestling promotion headed up by Joe Blanchard in San Antonio.

Joe's son Tully had been competing in the Mid-Atlantic territory as a rookie getting experience in the opening matches of the cards in the Carolinas and Virginia. He arrived in the area in May of 1977 and spent the rest of that year there.

Tully left Jim Crockett Promotions in December of 1977 around the same time his father took over promoting the San Antonio territory which had just been renamed "Southwest Championship Wrestling."

The Lone Star State was divided into several small territories in the 1970s. The Amarillo territory, run by the Funks, covered Amarillo, Lubbock, the panhandle and points west. Dallas was promoted by Fritz Von Erich and covered Dallas, Ft. Worth, and the entire metroplex. The city of Houston, was promoted by Paul Boesch. South Texas (except for Houston) was now run by Joe Blanchard, and the territory included everything from Waco south, including Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and other towns in the Rio Grande valley.

Along with his core group of wrestlers, Joe Blanchard would occasionally book talent from other territories which included some of the top stars from Jim Crockett Promotions. The relationship was apparently developed though Blanchard's history with Crockett booker George Scott.

In early 1978, Crockett landed a time-slot for its program "Wide World Wrestling" on a Corpus Christi station, and in May of that year placed their flagship "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" show on a station in Austin. Blanchard's home base of San Antonio lay right in the middle, and the exposure of the Crockett stars each week in much of Blanchard's territory allowed him to occasionally book some of Jim Crockett Promotions' top stars for key events. This included Crockett's U.S. and World Tag Team titles being defended there, too.

The following is a short summary of some of the appearances Crockett stars made in Southwest Championship Wrestling over roughly an 8-month period. We know there are many others, but we just haven't unearthed them yet. We're working on it!

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

December 15, 1977 - Corpus Christi, Texas
NWA World Tag Team Title Match: 
Ric Flair & Greg Valentine vs. Tully Blanchard & Tiger Conway, Jr. 
Wahoo McDaniel vs. Ox Baker
Only days after one of his final regular shots in the Mid-Atlantic area, Tully Blanchard returned home and teamed with Texas favorite (and a current regular mid-carder in the Mid-Atlantic area) Tiger Conway, Jr. to challenge NWA World Tag Team Champions Ric Flair and Greg Valentine for their world title belts. It is thought to be the first time the Crockett version of the NWA world tag team title was defended in Texas. On the same card, Wahoo McDaniel came in and defeated tough Ox Baker. Flair and Valentine retained the NWA tag titles, and headed back home with Wahoo and Tiger for the Mid-Atlantic area's traditional two-week break before Christmas.

May 17, 1978 - San Antonio, Texas
Southwest Championship match: Tully Blanchard vs. Ricky Steamboat
Ricky Steamboat had become one of the top stars in the country off of his feud with "Nature Boy" Ric Flair in the Mid-Atlantic area, and so it elevated both Tully Blanchard and his Southwest title to successfully defend it against Steamboat in San Antonio.


The title match was part of a huge San Antonio card that was headlined by NWA World Champion Harley Race defending the "ten pounds of gold" against the man he dethroned for that very title, Amarillo's own Terry Funk. A third title match on that big card featured Dale Valentine (Buddy Roberts) defending the Texas Heavyweight Championship against Killer Karl Krupp.

June 21, 1978 - San Antonio, Texas
NWA World Title Match: Harley Race vs. Ricky Steamboat
Steamboat must have proven to be a good draw for them, because Joe Blanchard brought him back a month later to headline San Antonio against the NWA World Champion Harley Race. Also on that card, Tully Blanchard was attempting to regain the Southwest title he had recently lost to Alberto Madril.

August 3, 1978 - Corpus Christi, Texas
United States Championship match:
Ric Flair vs. Blackjack Mulligan
In August, Joe Blanchard booked Jim Crockett's hottest main event to headline his own big show in Corpus Christi, a U.S. title defense by Ric Flair against his former partner and now top challenger, the big man from Eagle Pass, Texas, Blackjack Mulligan. Blanchard had also booked two top young stars catching fire in Dallas, Kevin and David Von Erich. Dale Valentine (Buddy Roberts) defeated Kevin, and David topped Don Kodiak. Tully Blanchard and Rocky Johnson wrestled to a draw. (There is reason to believe this may have been a TV taping.)

There were likely other occasions during 1978 where Crockett's top stars made appearances, and we continue to try to uncover them.

In PART THREE of our "Texas Connections" series, we'll take a closer look at Crockett TV airing in Texas in the territory days, as well as Flair defending his U.S. title in the Amarillo territory. And looking ahead, we'll be listening to some vintage audio clips from Mid-Atlantic Wrestling with a decidedly TEXAS theme to them. Stay tuned!

Did you miss PART ONE? Go back and check out some of the many wrestlers that appeared in the Mid-Atlantic area that hailed from the great state of Texas.

[Special thanks to Mark Eastridge for the newspaper clippings and for inspiring this Texas series.]

ESPN 30-for-30 on Ric Flair TONIGHT 10 PM ET

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Prof. Malenko on newcomer Kim Duk: "1977, Here We Come!"

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

On the first Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program that aired in 1977, New Year’s Day to be exact, the Masked Superstar and his manager “Professor” Boris Malenko unveiled a new addition to their “family.” Kim Duk, nicknamed the Korean Assassin, had been teased as coming soon to the Mid-Atlantic area for several weeks leading up to this show. I remember thinking how large Kim Duk looked in his first live television appearance, appearing nearly as big as the Superstar who weighed in at about 285 pounds. Normally, grapplers from the Far East were much smaller. Duk looked the part of a wrecking ball who could do real damage.

Kim Duk (on the right) with partner Masked
Superstar and manager Boris Malenko
Legendary announcer Bob Caudle opened the segment saying, “Fans with us at ringside right now…Boris Malenko, Kim Duk and the Superstar. And Superstar, your partner is here with you now.” The masked man responded, “My partner’s here after a long awaited time and investment on our part…Boris’ and my part. And I think it’s gonna be a very prosperous and Happy New Year for our family, and I call it the family because we’re so close.”

Superstar brought a beautiful sparkling new watch into view and continued, “I wanna make note of the gift that I gave Boris over the holidays, I want you to make note of this. I gave it to Boris because he’s a 24 carat first class…” Malenko then chimed in loudly, “HUMAN BEING! Now, I’d like to say something also. Being a human being, being what you’d call a person who has humane feelings…I’ve brought in here, along with the Superstar, the greatest karate, judo, any kind of martial arts person that has ever been seen here in the United States!”

The Professor went on to say, “And we are teaching him a little English. He is from Korea, he is a Korean ASSASSIN! And he will get whatever we tell him to do. Isn’t that right?” Duk then responded in extreme broken English, “That’s right, I come to state, America. I love it, I’m happy I’m here.”

A proud Malenko then exclaimed, “What else can you say, he’s happy to be here! And he will make us happy that he’s here, because with him and with what we have to tell him and what he will do when we tell him to do it, he will be the BEST, the MOST, the colossal individual that there is in the wrestling world today! There is no way that he will go wrong with our advice. Because we have plans for him!”

Boris concluded, “We will take championship after championship for the year of 1977! It’s a one way street, and he’s going right up there in the right direction along with the guidance of Superstar and myself. Because we own him, we own his contract and we will not let him down and he promises to us he will not let us down. Need I say more, we’re on our way for 1977…HERE WE COME!”

After such a buildup, it seemed that Kim Duk would be a major force in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. And during the first several months of 1977, Duk and Superstar were a top tag team in the area. Duk also broke boards on TV with his bare hands in a memorable demonstration and when Wahoo McDaniel said he could break just as many boards with his famous chops Duk suckered Wahoo, rupturing a blood vessel in Wahoo’s throat. This set up a brief program between Duk and Wahoo over McDaniel’s Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship, with Wahoo dominating those bouts.

As the spring of 1977 wore on Duk and Superstar stopped teaming frequently and Duk’s association with the Malenko family was no longer mentioned on TV. The Superstar concentrated on an epic feud with the Mighty Igor while Kim Duk slipped to mid-card status before departing Jim Crockett Promotions during the fall of 1977.

The ringing in my ears of Boris Malenko, with Kim Duk by his side, yelling “HERE WE COME” 1977 on New Year’s Day had me completely convinced that his Korean Assassin would wreck havoc in the Mid-Atlantic area. But Duk had already peaked by March of 1977 and much like it’s said about the windy month of March…Duk came in ferociously like a lion but left out more like a lamb.