Friday, October 30, 2015

How Johnny Valentine's 1000 Silver Dollars Doubled (Part One)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway


Early in the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling tenure of Johnny Valentine, the “Champ” truly came up with a gimmick match that would entertain fans around the territory for years. Valentine had a stranglehold on the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship belt during the year of 1974, but Johnny felt he needed more competition to keep him sharp beyond merely defending the Mid-Atlantic Title. This led to the birth of Johnny Valentine’s 1000 silver dollar challenge!

Around the middle of the year in 1974, Valentine began bringing a fish bowl full of silver dollars to ringside…1000 silver dollars to be exact. Johnny promised that he would give up the silver dollars to any wrestler that could pin him or make him submit in 10 minutes. These challenges occurred almost exclusively on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television, but as the months went on some of these challenges made it into the area’s arenas.

During the early months of these 1000 silver dollar challenges, Valentine defended his money against a host of challengers at least a couple of times a month. While Johnny said he would take on all comers, he generally defended the $1000 only against lower and mid card wrestlers, mainly on the “good guy” side of the area’s talent ledger. Interestingly, Valentine had very few easy matches defending his money, even against a slew of lesser opponents. Johnny often had to “pull rabbits out of his hat” to prevail close to the 10 minute time limit mark, and even had a few surprising draws sprinkled in.

Listen to Joe Murnick's ring introduction to Johnny Valentine vs. Bob Bruggers
for the 1000 Silver Dollars!

Despite all the close calls, Valentine continued his 1000 silver dollar challenge unbeaten streak against challenger Bob Bruggers on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that aired in many area markets on Saturday July 20, 1974. Immediately after the bout, Johnny was confronted by none other than “Mr. Number One” Paul Jones! Paul challenged Johnny, and “Mr. #1” said that Valentine was afraid to put his 1000 silver dollars on the line against him. Valentine scoffed at the notion of such a match, telling Paul, “Get in line boy! You’re not good enough to wrestle me!” Johnny went on to say that Paul Jones was at the bottom of the ladder, didn’t belong in the same ring with him and should be carrying his bags!

Valentine brushing off Jones’ challenge just made Paul more angry and determined. And Paul had a plan to move himself up to the top of Valentine’s list. Jones said to Johnny, “I’ll give you some incentive boy!” Jones told Valentine and the viewing audience that he would match Valentine’s 1000 silver dollars, and bring the money next week, making it a total of 2000 silver dollars. Paul then said to Johnny, “And I can beat you in 10 minutes, and I know I can! And if I can’t beat you in 10 minutes you can have the 2000 dollars! You just be here; I’ll be here! And I bet you move me right to the top of the list next week!” Johnny, who was on his way out of the ring, immediately turned around when he heard Paul say he would bring money to the ring next week!  Valentine said, “Wait a minute; wait a minute.” Jones responded, “DON’T YOU WAIT A MINUTE ME!!”

No. 1 Paul Jones battles Johnny "The Champ" Valentine

Valentine then shouted at Jones that he still thought that Paul didn’t belong in the same ring with him, but that he saw money now. The “Champ” again queried Jones if he was serious about bringing 1000 silver dollars of his own money to the ring next week. Valentine said, “You’re telling me that if you can’t beat me in 10 minutes your thousand dollars is MINE??” Jones said, “Yeah, that’s EXACTLY right! I knew I’d get you in the ring one way or the other!” Paul went on to say, “I’ll be here next week early with my 1000 silver dollars! I’ll put ‘em in there myself, and match your thousand silver dollars. And I can beat you in 10 minutes…I know I can!!”

After an instant of digesting what Jones had said, a big smile came over Valentine’s face and he exclaimed, “I ACCEPT!”

After Paul left the ring, Valentine continued to roam around the ring with a maniacal smile across his face, shouting at Jones to bring his money next week and yelling at ring announcer Joe Murnick, “I want SILVER DOLLARS…SILVER DOLLARS!!!” The “Champ” clearly had a quite odd fixation on silver coins, rather than paper money!

Listen to the final minute of the Bruggers match called by Bob Caudle and Johnny Weaver and then all of the the classic verbal confrontation between Paul Jones and Johnny "The Champ" Valentine!

To Be Continued..... The challenge has been accepted!

Paul Jones battles Johnny Valentine with 2000 Silver Dollars on the Line