Monday, August 29, 2016

Mr. Fuji Passes Away

Tenryu and Mr. Fuji
Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions (1981)

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Fuji (Harry Fujiwara) this past weekend.

While remembered more today for his work in the WWE, both as an in ring competitor and manager, the Mid-Atlantic Gateway remembers Mr. Fuji fondly as a champion in the Mid-Atlantic territory, teaming with a young Genichiro Tenryu in 1981 to defeat Dewey Robertson and George Wells for the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship.

He was also in the territory in the early 1970s. Les Thatcher once wrote in one of the promotional magazines for Jim Crockett Promotions:

"His pet hold "the cobra" is the move to watch for. When he locks it on his man, you can start to put on your coat."

Our condolences go out to Mr. Fuji's friends, family, and colleagues.

From the WWE Network
WWE HOF Career Highlights Video

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dream Team: Flair & Valentine (Part 7)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Before diving in to Part 7, check out all the previous installments of the "Dream Team."
Parts: 1  2  3  4  5  6

On the World Wide Wrestling television program that was taped on May 28, 1980 from the WRAL TV studios, Greg Valentine called Ric Flair out to the set and seemingly sincerely said to Ric, “I would like to say one thing. I know you’re the U.S. Champion, you’re a very good U.S. Champion…I wanna tell you that right now. I still have a lot of respect for you, Ric. I wanna say one thing, and I want all the people to hear this as well as you. I’ve made a mistake. I know it’s hard for you to believe that I’m sayin’ this, but I’ve made a mistake. I’ve done a lot of thinking; I’ve done a lot of thinking the last couple of weeks.”

Valentine continued, “Six months ago I came in from New York and I asked you to be my partner again [as we learned in Part 6], and I was very rude to you. Right here, I think it was in this same studio. But I would just like to say right now that it’s never been the same in the ring without you, it’s never been the same outside the ring without you. When we were together that two to three years, it was the most fantastic time in my professional wrestling career…I want you to know that. And I’m speaking from the bottom of my heart, I’m sincere, this is no joke. I wish you would take me or at least consider, or think about it, take me back as your partner. I’m not asking you to come on my side to be my partner; I’m asking you to take me back. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

This feature includes CLASSIC AUDIO from May of 1980
at the bottom of this post.

Announcer Rich Landrum was shocked, and said, “Ric…this is a surprise to me. I would NEVER expect this.” Ric incredulously responded, “I can’t believe what you’re saying. You realize the money we’ve thrown away by you not thinkin’ about this earlier? Remember what I told you? I said on this side of the fence you get to enjoy life; you get nice letters from people that believe in you. You get to enjoy life without people throwin’ stuff at you and callin’ you names. You get to hold your head up high. I told you this six months ago! I can’t believe you’ve come out here.”

Flair paused, and then continued, saying, “I tell ya, I think you’re a helluva man for standin’ out here and admitting it, if you’re sincere. And I really wish you were, because if you and I, if I could believe you were sincere, and you and I could get it together again brother, I got two guys, three guys in line that just couldn’t handle Valentine and Flair standin’ side by side again! But, I just find it hard to believe that you’d call me out here.”

Valentine quickly responded, “Let me say one more thing. Now, maybe a lot of the fans don’t know this…we had one heck of a wrestling match just about a week ago in Greensboro, North Carolina for your U.S. belt, your gold you call it. I just want to say, we went the time limit, it was a sixty minute time limit, it was the toughest match I’ve ever had in my professional wrestling career. I just wanted to let you know that you’re the most fantastic wrestler of all-time, I mean I’m sincere, I’m sincere, you’re one tough dude. Nobody could beat us together in that ring. And I still have all the respect and admiration, I always have for you Ric. I mean, we were the best of friends. I just want to seal it, and I want you to think about being my partner, and I just want to shake your hand, really. I mean, at least do that, at least think about it.”

An emotional Nature Boy said, “Aw man, you know you make my heart flutter when you talk to me like that, because if I could believe you brother…” Valentine interrupted, “I’m sincere; I am sincere.” Flair continued, “If you’re sincere, and you want to come over to my side of the tracks, you wanna lead that life that I’m leadin’ right now? Hey, I’m gonna give it some serious thought. If you can stand out here, Valentine I’ve never said you weren’t a man. And I’ve never said you weren’t a double-tough guy; I’ve told everybody that. I’ll always respect you. You’re on, and I’ll give it some thought.”

Anderson's Army
Ray Stevens, Jimmy Snuka, and The Iron Sheik
Ultimately, Flair gave Valentine the benefit of the doubt and the “Dream Team” reunited, and their first match back together was on June 8, 1980 in the Greensboro Coliseum. Ric and Greg were booked to battle the nefarious team of Jimmy Snuka and the Iron Sheik, managed by Gene Anderson. The tag team match started normally, but it turned out to be anything but a normal tag team bout!

When Flair attempted to tag Valentine in when Ric felt he needed a breather, Greg refused to tag. After that snub, Ric made another attempt to tag his “Dream Team” partner, and the nightmare for Flair began in earnest. Valentine jumped off the apron of the ring, and clearly had no intention of ever assisting Ric. Clearly, Valentine had suckered Flair! Without a tag team partner that would assist him, Ric was brutalized by Snuka and the Sheik before being pinned. If that was not bad enough, Valentine then joined the beat-down, grabbed the cane that Gene Anderson sported in his managerial capacity, and cracked Flair in the face with it. This vicious blow broke the Nature Boy’s nose, and led to a major feud between the “Dream Team” members that went on hot and heavy for the remainder of 1980, including multiple switches of the United States Heavyweight Championship. Valentine would even call himself the new “Nature Boy!”

After this major blowup between Flair and Valentine in 1980, it seemed impossible that the “Dream Team” would ever operate as a tag team again. But lo and behold, fast forward to the end of 1982 and early 1983, and Flair and Valentine would reunite one final time, for a memorable last hurrah!

Stay tuned for the final installment - - PART 8 of the "Dream Team!"

Saturday, August 27, 2016

This Was a Party Not to Miss

by Andy McDaniel
Special to the Gateway

When I think back over my years as a wrestling fan (over 40 now) there have certainly been many great memories. As is obvious, some stand out more than others. I enjoy sharing some of these old stories with my friends here at the Gateway. I was so blessed to spend some time with Dick and David during the recent Fanfest in Charlotte and was so glad to be there to witness their Hall of Heroes induction, it was a great moment indeed. The introduction they got from Bob Caudle was simply awesome to say the least.

I recently came across a picture that reminded me of a special moment in my life as a wrestling fan. In 1974 I attended my very first wrestling match. It was in the historic County Hall located in Charleston, SC. It would become a normal part of my week as a youngster, as me and my dad would make that venture down to County Hall for the 8:15 bell time as many Friday nights as possible. I remember on one of those rides down we were passing a van and as I looked over, I could not believe it, it was Ric Flair. I could not believe that I had just actually witnessed him driving down the road like a regular person. I was thrilled and wanted my dad to drive slow so we could follow him to county hall. (What a silly kid, but I was like 5 or 6.)

There was always something about Ric that just drew me in as a fan, regardless of which “side of the fence” he was on that particular time. Well indeed the years went on and we all know the business changed many times over, but the one constant always seemed to be Ric Flair. He was still “the man.” He was still styling and profiling as only he could do. During 1998 when I was putting together the reunion show we did at County Hall, Ric did some local promos for us and was even coming to the show, but during that time his dad was ill and he was unable to make it. However, it was still pretty incredible that we had his endorsement for what we were doing.

Later the next year, Mike Mooneyham called me and asked if I was busy in the next couple of days. At the time I was still on the road as a deputy sheriff and so indeed I had a shift coming up. Mike asked if I could possibly get my shift covered or simply be out, naturally I asked him why. He would then tell me that if I could make arrangements, that I could go with him to Ric Flair’s 50th birthday party. I could not believe what I was hearing. Here I was, a lifetime fan, and now I had the chance to be at something so personal. I immediately said yes without actually knowing how I would do it. In fact, I didn’t even check, I just went, and called in sick. Looking back now some 17 years later, I normally would not take such a risk or be so spontaneous, but this was a literal once in a lifetime moment, so I went. We had a ball and although short, I got a few minutes to speak with Ric and share a few personal memories and a special personal story of how my oldest daughter, Morgan, was indeed named so because of his middle name also being, Morgan. He seemed truly moved that he meant that much to a fan.

The years have gone by and all of us have gotten older, yes even the Nature Boy, but the memories are still fresh and will never be forgotten. So Naitch, the last 40 some odd years as a wrestling fan have been great and from the passing moment on I-26, to all the great moments in the ring, to the birthday party and now hearing the old stories on the "Ric Flair Show" podcast, I simply say thank you. It's been great. Woooo!!!!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Crockett Foundation: J.J. Dillon's Early Days for JCP

The Crockett Foundation has posted an interview that the Mid-Atlantic Gateway conducted with James J. Dillon exclusively for their Foundation website.

When most fans today think of James J. Dillon, they think Four Horsemen. "J. J.'s Early Days" is a short discussion with Dillon about his early career stint as a wrestler with Jim Crockett Promotions in the early 1970s, before the passing of patriarch Jim Crockett, Sr.

Topics discussed include his memories of Jim Sr., the old Crockett office on Morehead Street in Charlotte, his first match for JCP, thoughts and memories on guys that helped 'Jim Dillon' along the way, and what his time in the 'Charlotte territory' meant for his career moving forward.

Dillon had a hall-of-fame career (he's now in three different pro wrestling halls of fame) and was involved in many aspects of the business as a wrestler, manager, and in management behind the scenes for Jim Crockett Promotions, World Championship Wrestling, and the WWE. He is now a "tag team partner" of the Crockett Foundation.

Check out the interview with J.J. on the Crockett Foundation website.

"Tag in; help out!" 
Support the Crockett Foundation with your purchase of their classic "Four Horsemen" t-shirts, as well as caps and other goodies, all available on the Crockett Foundation online store.

The Crockett Foundations is a tax-exempt 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Official "Ric Flair Show" T-Shirt!

Image on the "Ric Flair Show" official t-shit.
The first official "Ric Flair Show" t-shirt is now available from

The black t-shirt sports the official "Ric Flair Show" logo on 100% preshrunk heavyweight cotton tees and printed with DTG (Direct to Garment) printers.

Support your favorite podcast and purchase your "Ric Flair Show" t-shirt today! They ship worldwide.

The "Ric Flair Show" is part of the MLW Radio Network. A new show rolls out every Wednesday at 9 PM ET. This week's show features two amazing guests, former WWE world champion Kurt Angle and UFC's head honcho Dana White!

For more information on the show including how and where to download it, visit

The Mid-Atlantic Gateway is a proud sponsor of "This Week in History" on the Ric Flair Show!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Rhodes and Slater defend the World Tag Team Titles in the Mid-Atlantic Area - - Almost

by Dick Bourne and Mark Eastridge
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
includes Vintage Classic Audio

As we've discussed in 7 earlier installments in this series, full time wrestlers from both the Mid-Atlantic territory and the Georgia territory made special appearances in each other's areas for one-night events.

While Augusta Georgia was "ground zero" for Georgia Championship Wrestling in this exchange, Georgia stars appeared in many different Mid-Atlantic towns during this time period including Richmond, Charlotte, and Greensboro, and others.

In September of 1976, reigning NWA world tag team champions the Anderson brothers left the Mid-Atlantic territory to go to Georgia, and they took their NWA world tag team title belts with them. A year later, they lost those belts to the unlikely pairing of Dusty Rhodes and Dick Slater on 9/23/77 in Atlanta.

Rhodes and Slater were scheduled to come to the Mid-Atlantic territory to defend their newly won titles on October 30 in Greensboro, and actually had sent in video taped interviews to promote the match to be aired in the local Greensboro TV market. Newspaper ads ran advertising Rhodes and Slater bringing their titles to Greensboro to face former champions Ric Flair and Greg Valentine.

But before Rhodes and Slater made it here with the belts for the 10/30 show, they lost them back to the Andersons on 10/14/77 in Atlanta. Greensboro newspaper ads, seen above, were revised to reflect the Andersons as new champions.

"Dusty Rhodes, you may call yourself  'the American Dream' but you're going up against the Dream Team!"  - Greg Valentine 

Here is rare vintage audio of Valentine and Flair welcoming Rhodes and Slater to town:

Vintage Audio: Greg Valentine and Ric Flair promote their scheduled match with Rhodes and Slater

I've always hated that Dusty Rhodes and Dick Slater never made it here with the tag team belts. It would have been an interesting match-up between them and Flair and Valentine - - to say the very least!

And it's nice to hear Greg Valentine use the term "Dream Team" - - that's the name of David Chappell's ongoing 8-part series about Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's "dream team" of the 1970s, Ric Flair and Greg Valentine.

More of the Mid-Atlantic/Georgia Wrestling partnership to come!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ric Flair's Original Challenge to the Anderson Brothers


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

We've spent some time recently looking in-depth at the story of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's "Dream Team" of the 1970s, Ric Flair and Greg Valentine. One of the main storylines for that team involved an almost two-year feud with the "Minnesota Wrecking Crew" Gene and Ole Anderson. The Anderson brothers were NWA world tag team champions and had held those belts for the better part of the two previous years before Ric and Greg were able to take them away in late 1976. A big part of this story was the "family feud" between Flair and his cousins.

While you might think this family feud first originated when Flair broke away from the Andersons to team with Valentine in late 1976, you would be overlooking a brief exchange that took place almost a year earlier when Ric and Blackjack Mulligan were first forming their alliance.

"You know what, Cuz? We might even remove you from those belts."   -Ric Flair

It was early December of 1975 and Ric was still recovering from the broken back that he suffered in the October 1975 airplane crash. While he was still roughly two months away from getting back in the ring, he was already back on television doing interviews and occasionally sitting in as a color commentator with Bob Caudle or Ed Capral.

The first sign that the cocky, brash, younger cousin of the Andersons might actually be thinking about challenging them for their world tag team titles took place on TV in December 1975 and early January of 1976. Flair announced in an interview with Ed Capral on "Wide World Wrestling" that he would be forming a team with Blackjack Mulligan (who had entered the area not long after Flair was injured in the plane crash) and that they would challenge anyone and everyone, including the world tag team champions.

Ole later responded to Capral:

 "Ric Flair is family. And I hate to get any kind of discussion going about family here on the television, I don't believe in airing your linen. But Ric, Ric is full of a little bit of vim and vigor, and he sometimes gets carried away, he sometimes just doesn't think. But, uh...ah, let's just leave it alone right now, I don't want to get into that family kind of discussion."

But the following week on "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling", Flair made his intentions known directly to Ole during an interview that followed a particularly brutal Anderson match on TV. The interview was the closing interview of the program, and featured all four guys: Ric Flair. Blackjack Mulligan, Gene and Ole Anderson.

For full context of the following audio clip: the Andersons had just fought Tony Rocca and Roberto Soto in the final match of the program, and really put a beating on Tony Rocca's arm and injured Roberto Soto after the match. Host Bob Caudle was incredulous about the tactics of the Andersons. Notice Ric Flair early on was complimentary of his cousins, but moments later would make a quick challenge. Transcript follows, so you can read along. (And the conclusion follows the transcript.)

- - - - - - TRANSCRIPT - - - - - -

Bob Caudle: And here come the Andersons, and again...again, Ole...

Ric Flair: Have you ever seen anything like my great cousins the Andersons? In your life, ever?!

Bob Caudle: ... this was completely uncalled for!

Ole Anderson: These two guys, they shouldn't even get in the ring with us, because we're just too good for 'em. You got a couple of young guys like this that think they are pretty great. They are going to use us for a stepping stone, they think that just by getting in the ring with us that they are going to get a little bit of a reputation. Will maybe they will, but it won't be at our expense. It's going to be at theirs once you see what we've done to these guys, it's a sample of what we're going to do for the new year of '76.

Bob Caudle: Alright...

Blackjack Mulligan:  Let me tell you something, you are looking at right now two of the top rasslers in the world, the Mid-Atlantic Champion Ric Flair and none other than Blackjack Mullgian. And look at what I say: any combination with Flair and Blackjack Mulligan together, or in singles, we're gonna do it! 1976 is gonna be the big year, the big year...I'm gonna tell you right now, if we ever come to your arena, as a tag team, I don't believe there is a building big enough to handle it, Ric Flair.

Ric Flair: ... there is excitement in the air with Mulligan and Flair...everybody knows, individual or as a team, we're the greatest wrestlers in the world. We can go anywhere in the world and beat anybody, and let me tell you something: it gets down to me, I just came to the realization that the Blackjack and I are gonna be tagging up a lot in the future, and you know what, Cuz? We might even remove you from those belts, there.

Bob Caudle: Oooo! Uh oh! What about that, Ole? [Flair and Mulligan leave.] Hey, why did you walk away, Ric?

Ole Anderson: You know they've got enough to do, and uh.... he must be a little bit sick, he comes back...well that's family, and I don't want to get into that kind of stuff.

Bob Caudle: No, no...

Ole Anderson: ...I guess everybody has their days. But right now what I'm concerned about is not Flair and not Mulligan. I'm concerned about these promoters down here that keep putting these ringers against us. They bring in these young guys, they know that they are full of vim and vinegar, they know that they have a lot of endurance and everything else. And they also know, like I've said once before that we're on the road alot and they're hoping that one of these days we're gonna come in really tired and they're gonna get some team out here to beat us, to embarrass us right on television. And Gene and I are just as determined to see that that doesn't happen. And the best way...the best way that we can think of to see that something like that doesn't happen is to make sure  every time we get in the ring, we do something so damaging, so miserable to our opponents, so devastating, that the word is gonna get around, and pretty soon people are going to say "Well, now, we'll wrestle, but we don't want to wrestle the Anderson Brothers."

Bob Caudle: You can't, you can't do that every time. You can't go in and just maim somebody every time they get in the ring...

Ole Anderson: You wanna bet? You wanna watch us? Well then you and all these other people that are watcing right now, you tune in and you watch us. Becasue every time we're on television, we're going to do the same thing that we just did here to this Mr. Soto and "Mr. Wrestler" or whatever his name happens to be. And what we really want to see is guys like Wahoo McDaniel, Paul Jones, Rufus R. Jones, Ken Patera, Tim Woods...we want to see those boys...we want to see their knees start to shake. We want to see them get a little bit scared. We want to see them back out maybe of a few of the contracts that they've got set up for us. And we'll rule as kings forever. The world tag team champions.

Bob Caulde: All right, that's it from the Andersons, fans, and we'll see you next week, until then, so long for now.

- - - - - - END TRANSCRIPT - - - - - -
* * * * * * *

The Aftermath:

In the end, it was all much ado about nothing, at least for the time being. Flair returned to action in late January and immediately began teaming with the Andersons against various combinations involving Johnny Weaver, Paul Jones, Rufus R. Jones, and Wahoo McDaniel. Whatever friction had developed between Flair and the Andersons over the holidays had been smoothed over by the time of Flair's return. Flair maintained a tight relationship with his cousins throughout the majority of 1976 until another young and brash blonde bomber named Greg Valentine hit the Mid-Atlantic scene late in the year. And that's when Ric finally made his move to separate himself from his family and formed the team with Valentine.

To learn more about the dynamic duo of Flair and Valentine and the path of destruction they cut across the Mid-Atlantic area, check out David Chappell's mammouth 8-part series on the "Dream Team" which is currently ongoing on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

And for a look at the entire story of Ric Flair's tumultous relationship with the Anderson family (including the 1980s with younger cousin Arn Anderson), check out the timeline history book of the Andersons in wrestling titled "Minnesota Wrecking Crew." Click the ad below for more information!