Friday, July 31, 2015

New Audio Clips added to "Hot August Night"

We've added three new audio clips to David Chappell's story "Hot August Night" about a great card in Richmond in 1980 - - - 35 years ago today!

These feature Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood, Blackjack Mulligan, and Enforcer Luciano!

Follow the link below to get to the original page, and then scroll to the bottom of that page for the new audio clips. Look for our "Sound Bytes" logo.

Click here:
Hot August Night by David Chappell

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Classic Clipping: Indian Strap Match


On this day in 1982! Loaded card!

Wahoo McDaniel and U.S. champion Sgt. Slaughter had been embroiled in a bitter feud over Sarge's U.S. title all summer. Things were coming to a head and the two were battling around the territory in a series of Indian Strap matches.

It was a big night for a house show. A loaded 7 match card, special radio sponsorship by WRNL in Richmond, and 1000 fans would receive a free poster. Not sure what that poster was, I'll see if David remembers. But a big night in Richmond for sure.

Bell time 8:15 PM! Good memories.

More Classic Clippings

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mark Madden on Ric Flair Podcast

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson on WOOOOO! Nation
Mark Madden is the guest this week of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair on episode #13 of WOOOO! Nation

From the WOOOO! Nation website:
Long time wrestling insider and former WCW commentator Mark Madden shares hilarious stories and doesn't hold back on WOOOOO Nation with Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson. Another Home Run, very entertaining conversation!
Add a little Flair to your life by joining the Nature Boy every week as he talks pro wrestling, sports, tells stories like only he can, and interviews his celebrity friends. No topic is off limits for Flair during his weekly CBS podcast. Come join WOOOOO! Nation!

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson are on "WOOOOO! Nation" right now! Check it out via iTunes or directly download from the WOOOOO! Nation page at the PLAY.IT website.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Little Old Lady Ringside

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives 2006

Fans from the old days of wrestling, the 50s through 70s let's say, will always remember that litlle old lady at ringside who could really get the wreslers going. Every arena had one. It was part of the wrestling experience and part of what made wrestling fun and special. Peggy Lathan's grandmother was just that type of person.

Nannie, as she was called, was a regular on the front row at the Charlotte Coliseum and other venues, raising cane with the wrestlers in the ring, giving as good as she took. Peggy sent me this photo, and although we may not know her personally, we all immediately recognize her. There was a Nannie in every wrestling arena.

Peggy wrote me about her grandmother:


"Everyone loved Nannie. And she enjoyed her wrestling, too. This photo was taken before she started having to use a cane - she really had a good time shaking that cane at the heels. 

"The wrestlers always played up to her.  Jimmy Snuka asked me one time if she was in good health. I told him yes. He said, "she gets so mad at me, I'm afraid she's going to have a heart attack, and if she wasn't in good health, I wasn't going to mess with her anymore." I told him that would just kill her if he didn't fuss with her and to keep it going.

"I loved taking her to wrestling. She was so much fun and so loved by everyone. She had a ton of friends. She loved Ricky Steamboat and Don Kernodle. Those were her two favorites. Once in Charlotte, Steamboat gave her one of his Hawaian leis. It absolutely made her day.

To this day, Don Kernodle always tells me how much he misses Nannie. She was a special lady and I hope I'm going to be just like her as I get older. 

"When she was in the hospital 2-3 weeks before she died, Danny Miller, Johnny Weaver and Wahoo McDaniel called the hospital and talked to her and told her they missed her and hoped to see her back on the front row again soon. Sadly, she died a few weeks later. Danny attended her funeral, and we got a flower arrangement from Jim Crockett Promotions."


Nannie passed way in 1983. Thanks to Peggy for sharing the memories and photos of her grandmother with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.


* * * * *


Can you imagine any wrestling promotion today sending a floral arrangement to a fan's family after the death of a longtime fan? What an amazing time that was.

Peggy tells the story about Jimmy Snuka and her grandmother in John Andosca's documentary film "Mid-Atlantic Memories" that premiers in Charlotte this Thursday at the Mid-Atlantic Legends Fanfest. 

Edited from an original post on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway July 24, 2006.

The Legend of the Hat and the Robe (1978)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway


It is one of the most famous and best loved angles in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history.

Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan were comrades and best of friends. They had formed a terrorizing duo in the Mid-Atlantic area ever since Blackjack had re-entered the area as the man to step into the top heel spot following the 1975 Wilmington plane crash. That crash had robbed the Mid-Atlantic territory and its fans of some of their top stars, some permanently including U.S. Champ Johnny Valentine, others temporarily, like the young up-and-coming Mid-Atlantic Champion Ric Flair.


Throughout 1976, while Flair battled Wahoo McDaniel for the Mid-Atlantic title and Mulligan battled Paul Jones for the US Championship, they were always together during TV interviews. In 1977 while Flair battled Ricky Steamboat and Mulligan battled Dino Bravo, Rufus R. Jones, and Bobo Brazil, they traveled the 600 mile territory in a van they bought together, and partied hard in it along the way. The two were riding fast. Blackjack was accepting gifts like the hat he was given by his friends (and country music legends) Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. They dubbed him "The Pride of Texas." Flair was climbing in the ring every night and showing off a closet full of custom made robes, each worth 7,500 to 10,000 dollars.

Ric Flair wearing the famous peacock robe.
Blackjack was the top dog, but Flair was moving up quickly, and despite their friendship, was ready to take Mulligan's spot if the opportunity ever presented itself. It almost did in 1977 when Mulligan returned after a brief departure from the area, only to find that his best buddy had won the U.S. title from Bob Brazil, the man that had finally toppled the great Blackjack a few months earlier. Blackjack made it known he wanted his title back for a then-unprecedented 4th title reign, and Promoter Jim Crockett immediately signed the match. Before it could take place, though, Ricky Steamboat upset Flair for the title and the collision of best friends was barely avoided.

Jump ahead to April 1978. Ric Flair had just again won the United States heavyweight championship. Ironically, just as he had done with Brazil seven months earlier, Flair had defeated a man who had also taken the U.S. title from Mulligan in "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods. Mulligan had been through another round of brutal matches with Woods, part of a feud that stretched back to 1975. He was exhausted from those battles. And this time, Flair was ready to make his move.

As Bob Caudle interviewed Flair with his newly won championship and wearing his favorite peacock-feathered robe, Mulligan came out to congratulate his best friend, but instead of graciously accepting, Flair began to suggest that Mully's best days might be behind him, and he might need to head back to the Headlock ranch and consider retirement.

Blackjack could not believe what was happening, but maintained his composure until Flair became disrespectful, and as a stunned audience of millions of TV viewers watched, tugged on Blackjack's moustache and told him it was time to hang it up.

Mulligan had heard enough, and literally picked Flair up by his robe and gave him a huge punch with his mammoth right hand that sent Flair flying across the studio. Flair left the set quickly, and Mulligan angrily told Bob Caudle that he had about all he could take from the Nature Boy.




Monday, July 27, 2015

The Pride of the Peacock

by Dick Bourne
From the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives




          “The pride of the Peacock is the glory of God.”
                     
                            – William Blake, 19th Century English Poet


Nineteenth century poet William Blake may have been onto something here in this line from a proverb he wrote on expression and relationships. The relationship between Ric Flair and his fans has indeed been a glorious manifestation of the unique way he has connected with them over his long career. Even as a “bad guy”, most fans have never been able to escape the irresistible bad-boy charms of the Nature Boy. One of those charms has always been his collection of resplendent robes, especially in the 1970s, early in his career, something in which he took great pride. It wasn’t long into Flair’s career that Les Thatcher recognized that Flair’s colorful robes had become his signature, and he put that to work in one of his projects.

Les Thatcher
Les Thatcher is known within the wrestling industry as one of the most versatile and creative minds in the business. For over four decades, he has literally done it all: wrestler, television announcer, television producer, magazine editor, magazine writer, promoter, booker, trainer - - you name it, he’s done it, and done it pretty darn well.

In the 1970s, Thatcher’s work in television and magazine publishing was cutting edge for the wrestling business at that time. He hosted and produced the “Southeastern Championship Wrestling” program in Knoxville TN for Ron Fuller, and created unique segments for the show, such as the “Personality Profile”, ideas that had never really been tried before on wrestling programs. He convinced Jim Crockett Jr. to allow him to publish an in-house full color wrestling magazine, a risky prospect unheard of at the time primarily because of the additional costs involved. Within the pages of those magazines, he would come up with increasingly clever ideas to feature the wrestlers.

When Ric Flair exploded onto the national wrestling scene in the mid-1970s, he had successfully crafted the image of the “Nature Boy”. It wasn’t always going to be that way. Flair originally wanted to be a cowboy, asking promoter Verne Gagne if he could be “Cowboy” Ricky Rhodes, and be billed as the younger brother of his idol at the time, Dusty Rhodes. In a moment of great wisdom and judgment, Verne emphatically told him “no”.

The “Nature Boy” was born a few years later when booker George Scott had a vision of Flair as the second coming of the flamboyant “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, a former world heavyweight champion and one of wrestling’s top stars in the 1960s. Rogers made famous the peacock-like strut that Flair would later adopt and custom in his own image.

Flair carried Scott’s vision, not to mention Roger’s style, to an entirely different level. He became a peacock, embodied in the colorful robes he quickly collected in the years following his return from the 1975 plane crash. Flair commissioned his robes crafted by the great Olivia Walker who made some of the most famous robes in wrestling for some of the greatest names in the business. In fact, one of his most popular robes was a gorgeous creation adorned in colorful peacock feathers. Sadly, and famously, that robe was destroyed in the “hat and robe” angle in 1978; Blackjack Mulligan ripping it to shreds in response to Flair destroying Mulligan’s cowboy hat given to him by Waylon Jennings.

In 1977, Les Thatcher came up with the idea for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling magazine to further allow Flair his expression as the most colorful wrestler in the territory. The famous peacock graphic was born.

Flair at this point had amassed an impressive collection of robes in many different designs and colors. Thatcher conceived of a montage of photographs of Flair in each of his robes, each representing a single feather in a peacock’s plumage. Here is how Les told me it came together:

Thatcher brought photographer Woody Smith into the project. They met at Flair’s house one afternoon and set up a tripod in the backyard. Smith had Flair stand in the same spot so that he would be in identical proportion in each shot. Flair would put a robe on, Smith would take a photo, Flair would change into the next robe, hit his mark, next photo taken, and so forth. In all of the photos Flair had his back turned to the camera, showing off the “Nature Boy” inscribed on each, except for one. The one photo where Flair faced forward was the one where he wore that now famous peacock robe. Flair squared with the camera, arms open wide, seemingly ready at any moment to break into that famous strut. You can almost hear the “Wooooo!”



Thatcher and art director Cal Byers took a drawing of a peacock and placed the photos of Flair inside each of the peacock’s feathers. It was the perfect way to highlight Flair’s colorful, cocky character and to feature the robes which had quickly become his trademark.

It was a very creative idea that resulted in a special graphic image that is still enjoyed today, and kept alive forever here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.


This feature was originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in February 2009





Speaking of Ric Flair's robes and peacocks, our huge look back at the famous "Hat and Robe" angle of 1978 will go up tomorrow (Tuesday 7/28/15.) The robe that was destroyed in that angle was Ric's prized peacock robe. It was one of the most popular articles on the old Mid-Atlantic Gateway website.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Old Wrestling Posters Never Die

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Awhile back I received an email from John Harrison, a nice fellow I met a few years back at a show in Seagrove, NC. He forwarded to me a photo of an old poster he had held onto for nearly 36 years. It looks as though it is stapled to a plywood wall, torn, tattered, ripped, weathered - - it's beautiful.

I appreciate folks who hold onto their early wrestling memories. It is what this website is all about, after all.

"Me and three buddies went to this one," John wrote me, "and we actually pulled this poster from a sign in the middle of Main Street in Biscoe, NC. I was driving, pulled up to the sign and we had to pull this poster off the wooden sign it was stapled to.  A town cop came by and turned around and pulled us over.  He thought we had hit the sign, but we told him we were taking the poster, and he laughed and sent us on our way."

John also pointed out that Biscoe is spelled incorrectly on the poster.

"We used to get a couple of shows locally each year," he concluded. "I was a Flair and Mulligan fan and I remember them coming around as well.  Good times..."

Good times indeed. I can identify with John. Some of my best wrestling memories growing up were going to wrestling shows with my buddies. And I held onto every bit of memorabilia I could get my hands on then, wether it was ticket stubs, posters, programs, you name it.

This particular poster is from January of 1979 for a card in Biscoe, NC which is a small town in Montgomery County located about halfway between Charlotte and Raleigh, just off I-73.  Back in those days, long before there was an I-73 running north-south right by town, Biscoe was a very small town like so many others where Jim Crockett Promotions ran small spot shows, often times in conjunction with a fund-raising effort by a local high school or civic organization.  This show took place just weeks after Paul Jones turned on Ricky Steamboat in the famous two-ring battle royal in Charlotte. (Paul swears it was Steamboat you really turned, but I digress...)

The fact that this poster is in such bad shape just makes it an even better story, more impressive that John hung on to it after all these years. It has no real financial value being in such rough shape. But I'm guessing it has tremendous sentimental value to John and his buddies who were with him that night at the East Montgomery Gym in Biscoe.


Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats: Charlotte 1966

A CHARLOTTE WRESTLING CARD I REMEMBER WELL
by Mike Cline, Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats

The very first Monday night after I received my driver's license in September, 1966, found my friend Jimmy and me planted in our ringside seats at Charlotte's Park Center.

Even though that was a school night, I was permitted to flex my independence somewhat and make my first trip to Charlotte as a licensed driver.

Once this venture was over, I was informed that wrestling (at least attending live matches) would have to be sacrificed for the time being. I had just started high school, and I was expected to hit the books, make good grades so I could get into a good college, so I could have a brilliant career in...whatever. You know the drill.

So back to the regular confinement of seeing wrestling only on WBTV and WGHP every Saturday.

With much begging and persuasion, the ban was lifted six or seven weeks later when I was permitted to return to the Queen City for a "wrestling extravaganza"......

Read the entire story at Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats >>> ...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sound Bytes: Joe Murnick introduces Wahoo McDaniel


Joe Murnick was the local promoter for Jim Crockett in Raleigh, NC, Norfolk VA and other towns in the 1960s and 1970s. But he was probably more famous during that time as the ring announcer for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. 

Joe's voice and vocal style were unique and reminiscent of the classic old-school ring announcers going back decades. 

From time to time we'll post some of Joe's ring introductions as we come across them on audio tape archives. We hope they bring back good memories to those of you old enough to remember Mr. Murnick's smooth delivery. And for those of you too young to remember him, we are happy to expose you to one of the classic television voices in the history of Jim Crockett Promotions. 

JOE'S CALL - April 1976 - Wahoo McDaniel vs. Jim Lancaster





All-Star Wrestling: The Loaded Boot (1967)

JULY 1, 1967 - "THE LOADED BOOT"
By Carroll Hall, All-Star Championship Wrestling

My two brothers and I were really wanting to go to the wrestling matches on that Saturday night in Winston-Salem. It didn't look too promising early in the week leading up to the card because Dad wouldn't be getting off work until 10:00 p.m. that night and I was not
quite old enough to drive yet.

By mid week we got lucky and worked out a deal with Jimmy, a close friend of the family. My brothers and I would help Jimmy chop the weeds out of his tobacco field in exchange for him driving us down to the Coliseum. He loved wrestling too.

My mom had never learned to drive at this point but she had made up her mind to do so. She had just bought a 1957 Dodge with the big fins on the back for $200. She let Jimmy drive that old Dodge to wrestling because the only thing that would run on his farm that day was his tractor. Well, Jimmy must never have driven anything so powerful as that old Dodge. He flew past every vehicle we came upon that night between Mt. Airy and Winston-Salem. Just imagine if you will three kids and one nut(just kidding Jimmy) flying down U.S. 52 in a "Batmobile" going to wrestling!

The old Coliseum was hot that night as it was nearly a full house and I don't believe that grand old building ever had air conditioning.

George Becker had made a promise on "Championship Wrestling" the previous week.....

Read the entire story on the All-Star Championship Wrestling website. >>

Friday, July 24, 2015

Prom Night (April 30, 1976)

by David Chappell
from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives

I remember the day well, April 30, 1976, the night of my High School Prom. At that time I was a junior at Patrick Henry High School, about ready to finish up the 11th grade. Back in those days, the Prom was held on campus at our gymnasium. I remember helping with the decorations and the preparations for the gala event. Yep, I was VERY excited about that Friday night spectacular! However, a funny thing happened to me on the way to the Prom, and it was called Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling!

Jim Crockett Promotions obviously did not know that my Prom was on April 30, 1976 as Mid-Atlantic Wrestling visited the Richmond Coliseum on that same Friday night. What was a young guy to do? Then I heard Les Thatcher announce the main event for that Richmond card would be Rufus R. Jones, Wahoo McDaniel and "The Eighth Wonder Of The World" Andre The Giant against Ric Flair, and his cousin’s Gene and Ole Anderson. With that announcement, my decision was made—I was going to the Coliseum!




You see, that six man tag team match had one of the greatest buildups in Mid-Atlantic history. Throughout the month of April in 1976, a feud was built between Rufus R. Jones and Ric Flair and the Andersons. I will never forget the sight of Rufus having a chauffeur’s cap put on him by Flair and then Ric and the Andersons slapping Rufus while they pushed him down on his knees.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Main Event Memories: The Origins of Wahoo vs. Flair (1975)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Bill Janosik Photo
Things were so simple back in the day. You didn’t have to set anyone on fire to start a feud with them. It could be something as simple as coming to the aid of a friend.

I’ve been listening to old audio tapes of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling from 1975, and I think I’ve found the very beginning of the feud between Wahoo McDaniel and Ric Flair.

On the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling show taped July 23, 1975, Ric Flair, the Mid-Atlantic TV champ, is wrestling Bob Bruggers. Les Thatcher is doing commentary and is giving Bruggers athletic background, talking about how he played football at the University of Minnesota and played NFL football for the Miami Dolphins. He roomed with Wahoo McDaniel while in Miami.

Flair and Bruggers have a pretty even and competitive match, but at the end Flair gains the upper hand, wins the match, and then relentlessly goes after Bruggers after the match, screaming for someone to bring him some competition. Wahoo McDaniel, currently the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight champ having defeated Johnny Valentine less than a month earlier, hits the ring for the save.

Wahoo gets the microphone and tells Flair “That’s a good friend of mine laying there. You say you want some competition, well you’ve got some competition right here, right now!” and they launch into a wild brawl, with Flair finally bailing out after a series of Wahoo’s chops.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Jim Cornette on Ric Flair's Podcast "WOOOOO! Nation"

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson on WOOOOO! Nation
Jim Cornette is the guest this week of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair on episode #12 of Wooooo Nation!

From the WOOOO! Nation website:
Add a little Flair to your life by joining the Nature Boy every week as he talks pro wrestling, sports, tells stories like only he can, and interviews his celebrity friends. No topic is off limits for Flair during his weekly CBS podcast. Come join WOOOOO! Nation!
Ric and Conrad welcome Jim Cornette, one of the greatest managers of all time! Never at a loss for words, Jim, Ric and Conrad share a lot of laughs on this edition of WOOOOO NATION!

Join Ric Flair with Conrad Thompson on "WOOOOO! Nation." Check it out via iTunes or directly download from the WOOOOO! Nation page at the Play.it website.

One Night at the WRAL Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Tapings

by Bruce Mitchell, Senior Columnist for PWTorch.com
special for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway


The line stretched all the way down the sidewalk.

We were in front of the WRAL TV studios in Raleigh, North Carolina early one Wednesday evening in 1980, waiting to get into a Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling show taping. I was the devout fan who would leave the UNC-Greensboro Strong dorm keg parties at 11:30 sharp every Saturday night, bend the rabbit ears around, and settle in to watch a slightly snowy MACW show out of Raleigh on my portable black and white TV. The rest of the group was pretty eclectic – Johnny, one of my old high school friends, his brother Henry, a student at Duke Divinity School, their mother Rose (I still don't know how that happened) and some of the brother's buddies. This group was there for the spectacle, (Henry had worked part-time at Dorton Arena and seen some shows from the back) and included some skeptics. I was the only one who knew who all the wrestlers were and who was feuding with whom.

Henry, the Duke Divinity School student, came in handy, at least his sense of ethics did, because he created a phony church name for us to use when requesting free tickets from WRAL. They gave us more tickets that way.

Not surprisingly, Henry subsequently left the ministry to become a successful lawyer.

As we waited in line it was pretty clear some of the folks waiting with us were regulars who came to the tapings every week. I was a closet wrestling fan at this point who didn't know many other fans, so it was pretty cool to be able to eavesdrop on people in line as they speculated on what was coming next in the promotion. It would take me some years before I would become a member of a community of fans like that.

The wait was broken up a little when Rich Brenner, then the sports anchor at WRAL, came out and greeted some fans on the way to his car. Brenner was drawing huge ratings in the area at the time, and was soon lured to a big market job in Chicago. I mention this because the weekend anchor, Tom Suiter, took his place and remains at WRAL to this day. Suiter is the best local sports anchor I've ever seen, and Brenner isn't far behind. Brenner soon returned to North Carolina and recently retired from WGHP in Greensboro, another station where Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling was taped for years, so I've been watching both guys off and on for three decades. In those days of three television station choices, local news was more intertwined in the lives of the community, so you can see how these two sports guys, their station, and Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling are, to me, all part of the same tapestry.


WRAL today. (Photos by Dick Bourne at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway)

After a wait almost as long as it took me to connect Tom Suiter to pro wrestling, we were let into the TV studio where the wrestling action was filmed. The first thing that stood out, obviously, was the wrestling ring. Since we were all sitting on one set of bleachers every seat in the house was close. I figured it was about as close to the front row at one of these shows as I was ever going to get.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Classic Clipping: Flair & Steamboat form "Dream Team" in Charlotte

July 21, 1979 -- 36 years ago today!
Charlotte Coliseum
Charlotte, North Carolina




Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's dream team of Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat battled reigning NWA world tag team champs Paul Jones and Baron Von Raschke in a Lumberjack match at the Coliseum in Charlotte, NC.

Flair had just tuned "good guy" for the first time ever a few months earlier and was mounting a full court press to defeat Paul Jones (his current arch enemy) and the Baron for the world tag team belts. He enlisted the aid of both Ricky Steamboat and Blackjack Mulligan in that quest.

An interesting tag team combination was featured in the semi-main. The legendary "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers took one half of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew Gene Anderson as his partner to battle the team of Jim Brunzell and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones. Rogers would become the manager of both Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and John Studd, and following an injury to his ear in late 1979, sold the contracts of his charges to Gene Anderson who became the manager of Snuka and several others to form "Anderson's Army."


Monday, July 20, 2015

Tickets for Wrestling at WRAL-TV





During the years that wrestling was taped at WRAL channel 5 in Raleigh (1959-1981), admission was free for the 300 or so folks that could be seated on the bleachers in studio A, but you had to write in for tickets.

Each week Bob Caudle would give TV viewers instructions on how to request those tickets:





That was in the mid-1970s. It was so simple then, you didn't even need a PO Box number or a zip code. Just Tickets, WRAL TV, Raleigh, North Carolina. Later, they would add the PO Box 12000.

Over the years, the tickets changed in appearance. By the end of the run at WRAL, they were actually sending you a letter instead of tickets.



I'm not sure which I format I liked better! The tickets are very cool, but the letter I received in April of 1981 to attend my one and only taping at WRAL was very special for different reasons. It was on Jim Crockett Promotions letterhead and had the Mid-Atlantic and Wide World Wrestling logos at the bottom, as well as the logo for the other family business, the Charlotte O's baseball team.

All of the logos were in color, and I've always regretted not making a color copy of the letter. But color copiers were very rare in 1981, and even if you found one, the copy was very expensive to make.

I am fortunate to have been able to attend a taping at WRAL. In August of 1981, four months after my visit, Jim Crockett Promotions moved the taping of the shows to WPCQ-36 studios in Charlotte.

- Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway






For more on the three decades of TV tapings at WRAL, see this article on the Studio Wrestling website. : Television History: WRAL-5 Raleigh, NC

This article is mirrored at the Studio Wrestling website, part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Wrestling 101

by Wayne Brower
Originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, March 2004

My desire to watch wrestling was limited only by our television’s ability to receive the distant signals. In the early 1960s there was neither cable nor satellite TV available. Most reception was either through “rabbit ears” – with or without tin foil – or from a roof mounted antenna.

Growing up in Trinity, North Carolina did not allow for reception of numerous stations. The area programming of that time was from WFMY Channel 2 in Greensboro and WSJS Channel 12 in Winston-Salem. Neither broadcast wrestling. The best we could occasionally receive with ideal atmospheric conditions was WDBJ Channel 7 of Roanoke and Charlotte’s WBTV Channel 3.

Two events would occur that had a significant impact on my viewing habits. In October 1963 WGHP Channel 8 in High Point signed on the air. Shortly thereafter wrestling was held in their studio on Tuesday nights for broadcast the following Saturday afternoon. Next, my dad purchased an antenna rotator connected by wire to a control box that sat on top of our television. With a turn of the dial pointing to the preferred direction we now had clear signal access to the aforementioned stations, plus another wrestling provider, WRAL Channel 5 in Raleigh. Talk about sensory overload. And it was so much more interesting than anything I was being taught in school at the time.

Viewing multiple hours of wrestling each weekend was not the most accepted form of character development for an adolescent, but I did learn the simple and straight forward good versus evil pugilistic play. The babyfaces always obeyed the rules and listened to the referee’s commands. They acknowledged the fans and signed autographs. The good guys usually had names like friends or family members – George, Sandy, Johnny, Jesse or Bobby. Even their female counterparts were called Penny, Susan or Pat. These folks were so pure that they would occasionally end their interview time by saying “We want to say hello to our sick and shut-in friends” or “Please take time to go to church this Sunday.”

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Classic Clipping: Bobo Brazil Defends the U.S. Title

July 18, 1977  -  37 years ago today!
Cumberland County Memorial Arena
Fayetteville, North Carolina



Bobo Brazil was 11 days into his United States heavyweight title reign for Jim Crockett Promotions in July of 1977 when he put the title on the line in a rematch against former champ Blackjack Mulligan.


An excerpt from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Almanac for July of 1977:

Blackjack Mulligan ran into difficulty almost immediately as the third quarter of 1977 began. A brief series of United States Heavyweight Title matches against top challenger Bobo Brazil ended in disaster for Mulligan on July 7, 1977 in Norfolk, Virginia when Brazil upended the seemingly unbeatable Texan for the coveted U.S. belt.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Wahoo's First Visit to the Richmond Coliseum

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

As fans of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, we all can think back to certain things that hooked us on Jim Crockett Promotions. My full-blown love affair with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling didn’t blossom in total until June of 1975 with the “Supreme Sacrifice” angle on television involving the Anderson brothers winning back the NWA World Tag Team Titles. However, about a year earlier, a major hook increased my interest in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling to levels it had never gotten to before then. That “hook” was the entry into the area of “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel. Wahoo’s first match in my wrestling hometown of Richmond, Virginia was on August 23, 1974.




During the early summer months of 1974, Wahoo was introduced to the Mid-Atlantic television viewing audience as a great wrestler in other parts of the country, and as a former outstanding linebacker in the National Football League. And, of course, he was brought to us as an American Indian, sporting the most beautiful Indian Headdress one could imagine. At the time I followed the NFL, but I couldn’t honestly remember Wahoo McDaniel the football player. Likewise, Wahoo McDaniel the professional wrestler was a complete unknown to me. But it didn’t take long to see that Wahoo was special…very special.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

J. J. Dillon joins Ric on WOOOOO! Nation Podcast

The manager of the Four Horsemen James J. Dillon is the guest this week of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair on episode #11 of Wooooo Nation!

From the WOOOOO! Nation website:
 Add a little Flair to your life by joining the Nature Boy every week as he talks pro wrestling, sports, tells stories like only he can, and interviews his celebrity friends. No topic is off limits for Flair during his weekly CBS podcast. Come join WOOOOO! Nation!
Ric talks to his old friend and running buddy, JJ Dillon. They talk divorces, Dusty, wrestling and even Conrad gets dragged into it. Find out what JJ is up to now.

Join Ric with Conrad Thompson as they welcome J.J.  to "WOOOOO! Nation." Check it out via iTunes or directly download from the WOOOOO! Nation page at the Play.it website.

Third Generation Tessa Blanchard


From our Facebook page:

George South and Tessa Blanchard


Tessa Blanchard (daughter of the legendary Tully Blanchard, step-daughter of the legendary Magnum T.A., and granddaughter of the legendary Joe Blanchard - - whew! lots of legends there), talks about training at Highspots with our buddy George South. Girl has got it together; hope she goes far. Betting she will.



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Main Event Memories: Mulligan vs. Flair on a Hot July Night (1978)

This episode of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway's "Main Event Memories" takes us back to July 14, 1978 when Blackjack Mulligan finally got his shot at Ric Flair in Richmond, VA.

Mulligan and Flair had been close friends (as well as partners in crime) going back to Mulligan's arrival in the territory in 1975. They had dominated the two top singles titles in the territory, the United States championship and the Mid-Atlantic championship, for most of the past three years.

But when Flair finally gained a tight grip on the U.S. belt in the spring of 1978, tension started to develop between the two. Mulligan was a multi-time U.S. title holder who considered the title his greatest achievement and was thought by many at the time to be the greatest U.S. champ of them all. Mulligan certainly thought so! Ric had just won the title for a thrid time himself and was really rubbing it in to his "best friend", the big cowboy from west Texas.

Except Ric and Blackjack really hadn't been best of friends in some time. Greg Valentine had taken that spot in Ric's life. The two had held the NWA world tag team titles together, and had run roughshod over the Mid-Atlantic area over the last 16 months. The two young bucks had begun to look at Blackjack as the old warhorse whose time had perhaps come and gone. Flair saw himself as the new top dog in the territory, certain the man now in control of the U.S. title, and he didn't want Blackjack having any thoughts of trying to regain that spot.

The inevitable explosion finally happened, and the two had a split on television that to this day almost 40 years later is one of the most talked about and remembered angles in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history - -"The Hat and Robe." (Audio Clips to follow...)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Breaking Wahoo's Leg (And Other Transgressions)


Ok, this is amazing.

It's actually kind of sick, too. The song's narrator is all like - - well, I don't know - - like Satan meets Brian Williams. 

I love it.

The song is "I Broke Wahoo's Leg" by Sweet G.A. Brown. Some of the (brilliant) lyrics, as best I can make them out:


Well I'm the man that turned Hank on to heroine,
Yeah, I'm the man that broke Wahoo's leg,
Well I'm the man who taught John Denver how to fly the plane,
And I sold shotgun shells to Curt Cobain.

Well I gave Tyson twenty bucks for Evander's ear,
And I'm the dude that bought George Jones his first round of beers...



There are some other references to shoving Jimmy Buffett off a stage, something on Hank, Jr. and Jimi Hendrix, too. 

The song just rocks.

And by the way, none of us are safe; the devil reminds us that as soon as he figures us out, he'll get us, too. "Your vice is your undoing," he says, "and I'm here for you."

The video features a brief clip of Greg Valentine delivering a "bionic elbow drop" to Wahoo McDaniel. As any old fan of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling knows, the title of the song (which is the the second line of the chorus) is a reference to one of the most famous matches (and most infamous t-shirts) in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history.

I have to tell you, I love the twisted idea of throwing Greg Valentine's evil deed in with all those other tragedies. I guess Wahoo's vice was thinking he could get away with taking the Mid-Atlantic championship from Valentine. He learned the hard way on that sad Wednesday night in 1977 in Raleigh, NC, that he couldn't for very long.

Sweet G.A. Brown is bound to be an old-school rasslin' fan. I love that, too.

- Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway





The song is titled "I Broke Wahoo's Leg" and is written and performed by Sweet G.A. Brown. It is from the album "Wordsmith" and is available for download here.

Find out more at:
A nice review at The Pulse. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Jesus, Elvis, and All-Star Wrestling

One Amazing Week at the Charlotte Coliseum (1972)
by Dick Bourne, Mid-Atlantic Gateway
from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives (originally published July 2010)


The evolution of sports venues is often a sad state of affairs in many U.S. cities. Mid-size cities in particular struggle to maintain financially viable arenas and stadiums, with sports franchises often holding up fans, voters, and city governments for better facilities, usually at the tax-payer’s expense.

Such has certainly been the case in Charlotte, North Carolina. But while most venues are torn down when they become obsolete, the old Charlotte Coliseum has somehow survived while its immediate successor has already been destroyed now years ago.

The original Charlotte Coliseum, now the Bojangles Coliseum

It has seen several name changes, becoming Independence Arena in 1988 (named for its location on Independence Boulevard) after a larger coliseum was built to accommodate an NBA basketball franchise. It later became Cricket Arena and now Bojangles Coliseum through different naming rights agreements.

A visit to the modern day Bojangles Coliseum’s website demonstrates the difficulty the building has in remaining viable – only two events are scheduled for the summer of 2010. How the old coliseum remains operational today is beyond my understanding. But it wasn’t always that way. There were once better days at the venerable old building, once the crown jewel of the south.

Back in the day, the Charlotte Coliseum was the center of sports and entertainment activity in the city, hosting all variety of sporting events, concerts, and assorted other gatherings. And it was also one of the main venues for regular wrestling shows for Jim Crockett Promotions.

My friend Kyra Quinn was visiting Charlotte and attending the NWA Legends Fanfest in the summer of 2009, and while there spent a day or so visiting some of the other local attractions, including the Billy Graham Library. No, wrestling fans, not that Billy Graham – but the Reverend Billy Graham, perhaps the most famous Christian evangelist in the world.

In the lobby of the Library was a photograph that caught Kyra’s eye – the famed Charlotte Coliseum, back in its heyday, its marquee showcasing events taking place over the upcoming week. The photo, in the context of the Graham library, features the dates of one of Graham’s large multi-day evangelical crusades in 1972. But what caught Kyra’s eye further was what else was on that marquee – Elvis Presley, hockey, and wrestling - all in one week! Could it get any better than that?



What a wild and busy 10 days in April 1972 it must have been for the staff and management of the building, hosting events that would draw such huge crowds, if not sellout crowds, each night. A closer look at each event illustrates just how important a center of activity the Coliseum was for the surrounding community. These events weren't just average stops on a tour. They had a special significance of their own, making for an amazing week in Charlotte.

Let's take a close look at each one.....

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Lightning and the Thunder of the Nature Boys

by Bruce Mitchell, Senior Columnist for PWTorch.com
Special for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Edit 9/7/16: Thanks to Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson for mentioning our article about Flair and Landel by Bruce Mitchell on "The Ric Flair Show"

I really enjoyed reading the recent piece Dick Bourne wrote for this website about the main event Battle of The Nature Boys on July 31,1985, the night Ric Flair and the late Buddy Landel set the all-time attendance record at the legendarily unique Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was the best match I ever saw in what I thought was one of the best places to watch Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling. 





The Dorton Arena, built in 1951, is on the list of National Historic Monuments, and with its suspended roller coaster roof and glass exterior walls, may be the most striking public building in the state. If you grew up in North Carolina and went as a kid to the annual State Fair, of which the Arena is the centerpiece, you imagined playing on its swooping curved roof.

Buddy Landel, a charmer who could tell a great story, always claimed this night broke the all-time attendance there set by Elvis Presley. That wasn’t quite true, even if it makes for a great Budro cherry on top of a good yarn. Presley, a big wrestling fan, appeared at Memorial Auditorium and the Ambassador Theater in Raleigh thirty years before, (and also at Thomasville High School, believe it or not) but never at Dorton, which, thanks to horrible acoustics engendered by those high windows, was a notoriously bad place to see, and particularly hear, concerts.

Presley appeared several times at another Jim Crockett Promotions mainstay, The Greensboro Coliseum, including for the concert movie Elvis, That’s The Way It Is. The King took the same iconic publicity photos in front of that Coliseum red brick wall that every great and near great Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling star did in the promotion’s heyday.

The concert that Dorton Arena remains infamous, though, is a Sixties appearance by the faux Beatles TV band, The Monkees. It isn’t so much The Monkees that are remembered from the concert, but that the little kids who came to see Davey Jones or Mickey Dolenz also got to see opening act The Jimi Hendrix Experience. If you’re of a certain age from the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle area, you either claim or know someone who claims to have seen Hendrix that night.

Dorton Arena, though, was an awesome place to watch Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Thanks to its unique design, there are no restricted sight lines and because it is a smaller building and seating rose at a higher angle, fans in any seat were close to the action. Also, because Dorton Arena isn't air conditioned, and its two ends are easily opened to accommodate farm shows, wrestlers often sat in the end zones to stay cooler and watch the show. Fans could walk over to the good guy side and hand down pen and paper for autographs, or head over to the other side to tell the villains what’s what.

I was really excited to see this show, because like everybody else, I wanted to see the main event. With all that Ric Flair has accomplished in his career, it somehow gets forgotten just how good he was at being the hometown, home-grown hero in Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Flair was always the coolest, baddest bad guy there was, a pop culture phenomenon before we knew what that was, and when the traitorous Paul Jones stabbed him in the back the same way he had Ricky Steamboat, the entire area was ready to forgive him the Nature Boy that ringside table-leg and push him all the way to his self-proclaimed destiny, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

"Nature Boy" Buddy Landel
Now that Flair had made everything that came out of his mouth as good as (ten pounds of) gold, here came some unknown hillbilly-mouthed golden-haired pretend Nature Boy. His hair, his robes, his rap were all good, sure, but they weren’t as good as the Great One’s, and yet the guy had the audacity to claim he was the Real Nature Boy.

That’s right, he said it.

Had we all not seen Ric Flair earn his Nature Boy stripes, step by bloody step, paying the price of  a wrestling lifetime, even kicking all-time great Nature Boy Buddy Roger’s ass and sending him straight out of MACW? Who the hell did Buddy Landel think he was? And where did his Colonel Tom Parker, Colonel Sanders, Give Porter Waggoner His Suit Back crooked manager J.J. Dillon get off suggesting that Nature Boy Ric Flair, in the prime of his NWA Championship reign, step aside for this clown?

Dillon was so bent he even backed the big instigator Landel when he screwed up and miss-timed an interfering corkscrew elbow that cost Dillon’s stable mainstay Outlaw Ron Bass the Mid Atlantic Championship against Buzz Tyler at Battlecade in Greensboro. 

It was a grinning Ric Flair, sportsman that he is, who approached Dillon and offered to put up his NWA Championship (“worth $500,000”) and $25,000 on the side (Dillon’s eyes popped big at this) if he would put up his own $25,000, telling announcer David Crockett to count the money, because Dillon’s “integrity isn’t unquestioned.”

As Ric Flair said in a localized WRAL TV promo for this match, he was “too tall, too tan, too rich and too much man to ever back down from a punk like” Buddy Landel.  

So, with all that, I figured I’d better get to the Dorton Arena early. I did, and got a seat about halfway up in the middle, looking right down on the ring. I could look out those high windows and see the lines to those little old-fashioned ticket booths wrapped around the building. An hour into the show, those lines were still wrapped around the building, even though it seemed every seat inside was filled. It was definitely a record-breaking sell out.




It was the end of July, a normally ridiculously hot and humid North Carolina night, but luckily there were thunderstorms in the area and the rain cooled everything down. It even added a little extra to the semi-main event brawl for the US title between Tully Blanchard and Magnum TA, who fought all over the Dorton dirt floor, out into the rain and back into the arena.

I was starting to figure out that if you went to a card with Tully Blanchard on it, that like Ric Flair, you were going to get an all-action fight. It didn’t hurt that this one also featured the brand new, molten-hot Rock’n’Roll Express facing the Russians. This was one of the first wrestling shows since longtime Raleigh promoter Joe Murnick had passed away the previous month.

NWA World Champion "Nature Boy" Ric Flair
By the time the main event Nature Boy Battle was introduced, it was pitch black and raining hard outside. There was a real electricity in the crowd, since Buddy Landel being so full of it meant that new and old MACW fans could unite in their support of the real Nature Boy, instead of split their cheers between two sides, as would happen when Flair defended against Magnum TA or the American Dream Dusty Rhodes.

This match was a great back and forth battle, as a fired-up Nature Boy Buddy Landel, even at this young age, turned out to be one of the best opponents I ever saw Flair face. Landel had an energy and sense of timing to match Flair’s, the best wrestler in the world. Dillon, a master of when to look on pensively and when to find just that right moment to cheat behind referee Tommy Young’s back, helped amp up the tension even further.

Then it happened. Much like the amazing Ric Flair had done years before with the giant Blackjack Mulligan, he reached around Landel’s head and pulled him straight up into that slow vertical suplex, to where he was holding Landel’s body completely upside down.

Just at that pause where both wrestlers were completely balanced, several lightning strikes simultaneously lit up those Dorton Arena high windows, so much so that night turned into day.

Flair continued to hold Landel straight upside-down.

Beat.

Beat.

Beat.

Flair began to bring his rival back to the mat. Just as Landel hit the canvas, the thunder sounded.

I don’t know if it was serendipity, or Joe Murnick in the heavens taking one last look, or the Lord illuminating greatness that made that perfectly dramatic moment happen.

I do know that last November, almost thirty years later, I got to share that memory with Nature Boy Buddy Landel himself at Tracy Myer’s Wrestlecade reunion show. Landel couldn’t have been funnier or more charming as we talked about the night he clearly saw as the best one of his career. What has happened since is a reminder that we need to share these memories and what they mean to us with the people who made them, while we still can.

Still, since it’s Nature Boy Buddy Landel, you can’t help but wonder at what might have been. Can’t you see Nature Boy Ric Flair that infamous Saturday morning in the ring at the TBS studios with George South, when J.J. Dillon brings Buddy Landel out in a stolen Flair Peacock Robe, leading the real Nature Boy into an ambush by Landel, Blanchard, Baby Doll and Ole and Arn Anderson?  Talk about Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!


The glass-windowed walls of Dorton Arena reflect the sunset to the west of the NC State Fairgrounds.



Bruce Mitchell is the senior columnist and a podcast host for PWTorch.com.
Dorton Arena photographs by Dick Bourne, Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The Battle of the Nature Boys post Bruce mentions early in the is article can be found here: Flair vs. Landel: Sold Out in Raleigh

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Tony Schiavone Talks Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on the Ross Report

WWE
Last summer, good ol' J.R. had Tony Schiavone as a guest on his highly ranked podcast "The Ross Report" on Podcast One, which can be found on iTunes and at PodcastOne.com.

There was lots of great discussion and of course the expected back and forth on the WCW days, but I was most interested in Tony's reflections on his early days with Jim Crockett Promotions and his days growing up in Richmond a fan of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in the mid-1970s. He got hooked on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling as a kid in 1974, the exact same time David Chappell and I did as kids.

Tony was always one of our favorites, and although the main focus points of the Studio Wrestling website (where this article was first published) are the Mid-Atlantic television studios in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, the WTBS studio in Atlanta was an important part of the studio wrestling history as a taping location for Crockett from 1985-1988.

When Tony began work for the wrestling arm of Jim Crockett Promotions in 1983, the weekly TV tapings had just moved out of the WPCQ Charlotte studios earlier that year. He was a regular fixture, however, in the make-shift studio on Briarbend Drive hosting many of the local promos over the next years.

Here are two one-minute excerpts from that August 27, 2014 podcast with Jim Ross:

On moving to Charlotte and how he got started with Jim Crockett Promotions (1:00):


On road trips to Richmond, Roanoke, and Greensboro as a fan in the mid-1970s (1:00):



We encourage you to listen to the entire episode at "The Ross Report" via iTunes or the Podcast One website, and to visit J.R.'s sponsors and to support his show directly.

Also visit J.R.'s website J.R.'s Place at http://www.jrsbarbq.com. You hit links to take you to the podcast there, buy some of J.R.'s outstanding BBQ sauce and check out J.R.'s very popular blog.


An earlier version of this post originally appeared on our Studio Wrestling website.