Wednesday, May 04, 2016

NWA Champ Terry Funk Defends His Title in Greensboro

A flashback to this month 40 years ago, a big card at the Greensboro Coliseum, headlined by Terry Funk defending the NWA world title against the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. 

May 30, 1976

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Power of the Claw

This is hilarious. You can't beat the Baron! He's still got it!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

The Masked Avenger Saved His best For Last

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The Masked Avenger (Bill Janosik Photo)
In July of 1974, a masked newcomer calling himself the Avenger arrived in the Mid-Atlantic area. A bit undersized but in fabulous condition, the fans took an immediate liking to the new guy in town. At that time, the masked Super Destroyer was running roughshod in the territory. In his early interviews, the Avenger told the fans that the Destroyer had injured him in another area, and that he had come to Jim Crockett Promotions to get his revenge by taking the mask off of the Destroyer.

From Thanksgiving of 1974 until the end of March 1975, the Avenger and the Destroyer engaged in a very entertaining program. The Super Destroyer’s vaunted claw hold had limited effectiveness against his masked opponent, as the Super D. had great trouble gripping the Avenger’s head because of the slick mask covering the Avenger’s face. The feud between the masked grapplers had its climax in mask vs. mask bouts in the territory’s larger cities in March of 1975, where the Destroyer prevailed after a series of brutal battles.

After coming out on the short end against the Super Destroyer, and after many fans saw him unmasked, the Avenger slipped into mid-card matches. Promos and interviews were never a real strong suit for the Avenger, and when he was no longer wrestling in main event matches, the necessity for him to be on the mic was no longer present. Though he continued to wrestle in the Mid-Atlantic area into November of 1975, the Avenger’s last TV interview was on May 21, 1975. To me, the Avenger’s very best interview was his last one!

At the end of the May 21, 1975 TV taping, announcer Bob Caudle said, “Fans at ringside, and of course the Avenger, and it’s always a pleasure to talk to him. And all of the fans love to see you, and it was a great match you had in there.” The Avenger responded, “Thank you very much Bob. I was back there watching the two Anderson brothers. And believe me, I’ve been in wrestling for a good time now, and these two are the lousiest tag team I’ve ever seen…”

Before the Avenger could finish, he was rudely interrupted by none other than Ole Anderson. Only five days earlier the Anderson’s were defeated by Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel for the coveted NWA World Tag Team Titles. So, Ole was not in the best of moods! He cut the Avenger off, saying, “What are you doing here, Avenger?” When the masked man said it was his interview time, Ole yelled back at him, “This is OUR time, and you take your little boat and sail it somewhere else. Get out of my sight! The problem around here is that there’s no competition. Every time we get in the ring it’s an easy win for us, because there’s nobody here that will stand up to us and fight us. These guys are no exception…”

This time, a suddenly fired up Avenger interrupted the big bully, Ole Anderson! The Avenger exclaimed, “Now wait a minute!” Ole dismissively countered, “You still here? Get out of here!!” The Avenger, now fully engaged, fired back, “You talkin’ about competition; you talkin’ about competition?” Ole smirking, said, “Yeah!” To which the Avenger replied, “Why don’t you wrestle me sometime? You’ve never wrestled me! Why don’t you wrestle me sometime?"

Ole continued to belittle the Avenger, sarcastically asking him, “What, are you gonna wrestle Gene and I both? Are you going to wrestle both of us?” When the Avenger didn’t answer quickly enough to Ole’s satisfaction, Anderson derisively said, “You know any words??” The Avenger then came back and said, “No, no, I’m not going to wrestler you by myself…I’m going to get myself a partner!”

Now, Ole was intrigued. He questioned the Avenger, “Who you gonna get?! Who you gonna get?!” Then the Avenger gave the repeated responses that made this interview so memorable for me, saying, “Never mind…never mind.” Ole, getting frustrated, hollered, “Who you gonna get?” Again, the Avenger answered, “Never mind.” Now, Ole was in a full boil, screaming, “What do you mean never mind; who you gonna get?” AGAIN, the Avenger’s response was, “Never mind.”

Ole Anderson, doing his best to compose himself , continued, “Well, I tell you what, you go get your partner whoever it is, and you come back and I’ll wrestle you next week right here on television, how’s that? Does that suit you? Now tell me who’s it gonna be.” The Avenger’s answer was, “Never mind…I got a partner, and you’ll find out who it’s gonna be.” Ole lost his composure again, “Get him out of here! He can’t even talk…he doesn’t know what’s going on! I’ll wrestle you and anybody you bring into the ring. Some people think that we’re avoiding all this top talent. Whoever it happens to be, I don’t care. You bring in whoever you want Mr. Avenger, and we’ll wrestle him. But the guy should have a little courtesy…”

At this time, the Avenger, who had stepped away from the camera, stepped back into the picture. Ole chided him, “You back again?” The Avenger then said, “I’m back again.” Ole then lectured the masked man, “You should have a little courtesy and at least let me know who your man’s gonna be?” The Avenger, getting riled up himself exclaimed, “You wanna know who it’s gonna be?” Ole, egging him on, responded, “Who’s it gonna be…Kernodle…Furr?” The Avenger was now shouting nearly as loudly as Ole, and bellowed, “You wanna know who it’s gonna be?” Ole yelled in response, “Who ya got…who ya got?” The Avenger answered, “My partner next week…” but was then interrupted by Ole who said nastily, “I couldn’t care less!” The Avenger then assertively cut Ole off before he could utter another word, shouting, “FAT BOY, FAT BOY…my partner next week is gonna be PAUL JONES!!!” 

Ole was livid! Foaming at the mouth, Ole wailed, “WHAT??? PAUL JONES??? You bring this Jones out here…you can’t have Jones!! For what, to wrestle us… next week? You’re out of your mind!!” Even the normally silent partner Gene Anderson could be heard yelling in the background about the choice of Paul Jones! Gene and Ole were rightly upset about having to wrestle Paul Jones, as he was partly responsible for taking away their World Tag Team Titles a few days earlier. The Avenger used what would turn out to be his final Mid-Atlantic interview to put the “Minnesota Wrecking Crew” in their place.

The match itself the following week was anti-climactic, as the Avenger was not able to use the bout against the Anderson’s as a springboard to get himself back into main event matches. Instead, the masked man continued slipping down the cards into preliminary matches before his exit from Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in November of 1975.

I can remember to this day how the “never mind” responses from the Avenger were the talk of my circle of 10th grade wrestling friends at the time, to the point that any question to any of them had the distinct possibility of being answered with a “never mind,” followed by a big smile, all the way to the end of that school year! Never one for a doing a great promo, the masked Avenger managed to participate in a memorable one in his last interview, when he stood up to the bellicose Ole Anderson! Yes, I think the Avenger saved his best for last. And if you don’t think so, well, as the masked Avenger would say…never mind!

Photos of the Avenger on this post were provided by photographer Bill Janosik.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Hart and Ringley on a "Championship Wrestling" Special

"Playboy" Gary Hart and JCP's John Ringley (1972)

In 1972, John Ringley hosted a special episode of "Championship Wrestling" that aired on WBTV-3 in Charlotte that focused on Rip "The Profile" Hawk. Ringley and Hawk's manager, "Playboy" Gary Hart were situated on a set in the WBTV studio. They reviewed 16mm film footage shot at the Charlotte Coliseum and Greensboro Coliseum featuring Hawk against various opponents including Jack Brisco in a battle over the Eastern Heavyweight Championship.

Matches included:
  • Rip Hawk and Swede Hansen vs. Johnny Weaver and Argentina Apollo
  • Rip Hawk and Swede Hansen vs. Johnny Weaver and Art Nelson (Greensboro)
  • Rip Hawk vs. Jack Brisco (Hawk wins Eastern title) (Charlotte)
  • Rip Hawk vs. Art Nelson (taped fists match) (Greensboro)

We recently had a conversation with Mr. Ringley about booking changes back during this very time period. That article can be found on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway by clicking this link.

This post was originally published on the Studio Wrestling website, a sister-website of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ric Flair: The "Drug Store Wrestler"

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

“In your area” promos that Paul Jones and Ric Flair cut for a match at the Richmond Arena in Richmond, Virginia in the spring of 1975 would bring about two new monikers for Flair that I had never heard Ric called before. One name would become synonymous with Flair to this day, while the other was probably never heard again after this Richmond match.

The promos were done on April 23, 1975 promoting a championship bout in Richmond for the Mid-Atlantic Television Title between the champion Flair, and his bitter rival and former TV champion, Paul Jones. The TV announcer for these Richmond promos was the legendary Bob Caudle.

May 2, 1975   Richmond VA
Paul began his promo, “You know Bob, you’ve heard of drug store cowboys…dressed up like a cowboy sitting on a bar stool at a drug store? Well, Flair, I wanna know one thing. Are you a drug store wrestler, or are you a wrestler that has the ability to be a champion? Well, you gotta do one thing; you gotta prove it to me! Where’d you get that big belly at, from eating banana splits? Where’d you get those 22 inch arms, from drinking cherry cokes? I think you are a drug store cowboy; I mean a drug store wrestler!”

A fired up Jones continued, “But you gotta prove it to me that you aren’t, Flair. And let me tell you something else, I guarantee you I’m goin’ to be in Richmond early. And I guarantee you that I’m gonna walk around town, and if I’m gonna check every drug store and if I see you on that bar stool I’m gonna knock you right off that bar stool right there. And then that night, I’m gonna get you in the ring where I can win the belt in front of everybody.”

Paul finished up his promo by saying to Flair, “You’ve embarrassed me, you’ve harassed me…you’ve caused me to lose sleep at night! Just because you STOLE that belt from me! The people don’t wanna see you wear that belt; the people wanna see Paul Jones, Number One, wear that belt. And after Friday night in Richmond, you’re gonna see right wear the belt belongs…right around ‘Number One’s’ waist. So let me tell you something you drug store, soda jerk…you better be ready!"

A very angry Ric Flair a little later in the show responded back to Paul saying with lots of venom, “I want to answer Jones; I was sittin’ in the back and heard Jones shooting off his mouth. Well let me tell you something Jones, if you call having blonde hair that Elke Sommer likes running her fingers through; a body that looks like it was carved out of granite by Michelangelo, and a body that Raquel Welch would give her right arm to rub suntan oil on every day…YES, I am a drug store wrestler! That’s my answer to you!”

Ric wasn’t through, as he then told Jones, “Let me tell you something else Paul Jones. Along with this belt…the day I won this belt I went out and bought a Cadillac. I went out and bought a house. I bought a whole new wardrobe, and I bought a couple of my girlfriends a whole new wardrobe. And you know why? Because this belt right here is 100,000 big ones a year; that’s just sittin’ home, that’s not goin’ out the front door. Just owning this belt makes me a very wealthy young man. It brings my life style way up here, high in the sky, just the way I like it! I like pretty ladies coming by early in the morning, pretty ladies coming by in the afternoon, pretty ladies coming by at night.”

Flair concluded his promo by having Bob Caudle hold his TV belt exclaiming, “Jones, I like everything I got right now because I’m wearing that belt and because I’m the champion. And if you think for one minute that you’re gonna get in that ring with me Friday night and do me damage, pound knots on my head, mess with my body, mess with my mind, mess with anything about me you’re wrong! Jones, I’m gonna take you like any bare wild animal would, and I’m gonna break one of your arms and then maybe you’ll be walking around drug stores looking for somebody else to beat up on, because it won’t be the Nature Boy! WOOOOO!"

In the last sentence of his promo, Ric referred to himself as the “Nature Boy” for the first time that I had ever heard. That name, of course, has stuck with Flair though the next 41 years. The “drug store wrestler” nickname bestowed on Ric by Paul Jones, luckily didn’t stick!

The May 2, 1975 TV Title bout between Ric Flair and Paul Jones was a hot battle that saw Flair leave Richmond with his belt still intact, but it was tough for any match to live up to those two incredible promos preceding it. The promos that I will always associate with the “Nature Boy” reference that I heard for the first time of thousands upon thousands more times to come, and the “drug store wrestler” reference that I never heard again!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Crockett Cup Anniversary

April of 2016 is the 30th Anniversary of the first Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup tag team tournament, honoring the memory of one of the great wrestling promoters in the history of the business.

The first Crockett Cup tournament took place on April 19, 1986 at the Superdome in New Orleans, LA. The Road Warriors defeated Magnum T.A. and Ron Garvin in the finals.

In the photo above, Jim Crockett, Jr. and Bill Watts stand with the Crockett Cup trophy in front of the seedings board for the tournament.

Learn about the history of this special and rare photograph on this earlier post on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway:
Robert Riddick: Crockett and Watts at the Crockett Cup

Saturday, April 23, 2016

NWA Title History (Japanese Magazine)

The Japanese magazines still do an excellent job of remembering the old NWA champs. These are images from a special section of a magazine in japan that looked back at the history of the NWA world title and presented a special interview with Harley Race.