Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway! We are thankful for all of you, and thankful for the fact you join us to help keep the memories of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions alive.
- Dick Bourne and David Chappell

Along with your turkey and pumpkin pie, I hope you'll feast on these great memories of Thanksgiving events from years ago:

Starrcade '87 Turns 30!
 Hard to believe it's been 30 years since Starrcade '87. It was a tumultuous time for Jim Crockett Promotions as they entered into what would be their final year of existence before the family business was sold to Ted Turner. Check out some memorabilia from that show, including a look at some rarely talked about results from the Superdome for Bill Watts in advance of the PPV telecast.

Don't miss Tony Schiavone and Conrad Thompson talking Starrcade '87 on "What Happened When" on the MLW Radio Network and wherever you get your podcasts.

Our buddy Jeff Jewett posted some terrific photos on his Twitter account of his wrestling belt and figures collection paying tribute to Starrcade '87 and giving thanks to Tony for covering it on his show. It's like Action Figures Friday came a few days early. Great photos, Jeff!

The Forgotten Prelude to Starrcade '85
When most folks think of events leading to the Flair/Rhodes main event at Starrcade '85, they think of Flair and the Andersons turning on Dusty in the cage at the Omni. However, it got it's start much earlier than that. Read about an angle and an important part of that story largely forgotten in the saga of Starrcade '85.

Thanksgiving Retro: Greensboro and Norfolk 1975
A look back at a huge night of action in the Mid-Atlantic territory featuring NWA champion Jack Brisco, U.S. champion Terry Funk, Wahoo McDaniel, Paul Jones, Andre the Giant, Superstar Billy Graham, Gene and Ole Anderson and so many more!

Thanksgiving Wrestling Through The Years for Jim Crockett Promotions
Links to pages featuring info on annual Thanksgiving cards for Jim Crockett Promotions from 1967-1987.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Magazine Memories: Starrcade '85

What a great photo taken in Atlanta's Omni at Starrcade '85. It features the Atlanta crowd watching Greensboro's closed circuit broadcast featuring the legendary Johnny Weaver with the old Greensboro Coliseum logo behind him. Great memories. 32 years ago. (More on STARRCADE '85)

We also should point out one of the photographers listed for the photos that would follow in the article from Greensboro was Mid-Atlantic Gateway contributor Eddie Cheslock.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Cotton is King in 1976

Rufus R. Jones gets Blackjack Mulligan in his favorite match.
Includes Mid-Atlantic Gateway SOUND BYTES

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

When summer morphs into autumn around Southside Virginia, one of the impressive sights around the area’s farmlands are fields turning white with fluffy cotton bursting from its bolls. I can always turn any sight or sound into a Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling memory, but this one is particularly easy. In the early fall of 1976, Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones came up with his own specialty match…none other than the Cotton Field match!

During the summer of 1976, the battles between Rufus and United States Heavyweight Champion Blackjack Mulligan were becoming hotter and hotter. Mid-Atlantic fans were sensing that Rufus, also sometimes referred to as the “King of Wrestling,” had a legitimate shot at taking Mulligan’s coveted championship belt away from him. Blackjack told me several years before he passed away that he pushed the promotion to give Rufus a run as the U.S. Champion at that point in time. While Mulligan’s protestations fell on deaf ears, the promotion did set in motion a scenario where Blackjack would get his comeuppance. Rufus would take Mulligan to his own personal wood shed…the cotton field!

In several of the larger Mid-Atlantic cities, including my wrestling hometown of Richmond, Virginia, during late September and early October of 1976 Rufus battled Blackjack in Cotton Field matches. The special rule in the Cotton Field match was that after the regularly scheduled match was concluded, there was a 30 second rest period and then a two minute “anything goes” encounter with no referee!

In the lead up to the Cotton Field match in Richmond on October 2, 1976 Mulligan told announcer Les Thatcher, “Let me tell you something, I’ve never been in a cotton field in my life. Where I come from I hire people to do stuff like that. I don’t know what the rules are about; I have no idea. This is Rufus R. Jones’ type of match; I don’t even know what’s gonna happen in this thing!”

Blackjack then queried Thatcher, “You say it’s two minutes with no referee?” Les responded, “That’s right, anything goes.” Mulligan retorted, “Well, I’ll tell you what Rufus, I’ve never been in a cotton field but I’ll tell you one thing…if everything goes, you ask anybody in the world and they know I’m at my most dangerous when anything goes. You get me trapped in a corner, and I’m liable to come up with a hogleg or something, you never know. So, be VERY, VERY careful Rufus!”

When Rufus had his chance to address the Richmond faithful with Les Thatcher he exclaimed, “Listen Blackjack, I told you before I was gonna get you back. Now I’m comin’ for you again! You had your kind of match; you had your Texas Death match! You bust my head open! I tell you right now Blackjack…this is my kind of match! A Cotton Field match!!”

Rufus R. Jones batters Blackjack Mulligan
The Freight Train then added, “Because I’m from the country. I know what it’s like. And once it’s over there’s no referee…two minutes! I can do anything in my power that I wanna do.  I can reach down and choke you, kick you, stomp you, bite you; anything I want to do to you Blackjack! I got two minutes, with no referee…to do what I want to do to you! And this is my kind of match brother, I’m gonna tell you right now I’m comin’ for you Blackjack and this time I’m gonna show you just where it’s at…a Cotton Field match!!”

And show him, Rufus definitely did! In Richmond as in the other towns that hosted Cotton Field bouts, the “King” avenged an earlier defeat weeks earlier in that venue by Mulligan to win the regularly scheduled match, and then proceeded to whip Mulligan soundly in the referee-less two minute free-for-all. In Richmond, the crowd noise approached record levels as Jones ran roughshod over the massive Texan!

After Blackjack told me that he pushed for Rufus to become the United States Champion in the bicentennial year, I’ve always speculated that the Cotton Field match was the mechanism that Jim Crockett Promotions used to give the “King” a title run of sorts. No, Rufus never officially became the U.S. Champion but for the ecstatic fans that witnessed Rufus’ Cotton Field matches in 1976, Rufus R. Jones performed like a champion and certainly gave new meaning to that age-old saying, “Cotton is King.”

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.