Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Michael "P.S." Hayes on WOOOO! Nation

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson on WOOOOO! Nation
Michael "P.S." Hayes of the Fabulous Freebirds is Ric's guest this week on the 22 21st episode of WOOOO! Nation!

From the WOOOO! Nation website:
Ric and Conrad welcome the legendary and hopefully soon Hall Of Famer Michael Hayes to WOOOOO! Nation! Wrestling fans will love hearing Ric & Michael swap awesome stories.
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, September 29, 2015

Teams That Never Held the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles (But Should Have) - #4

by Dick Bourne and David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

We continue our countdown of the 5 teams that competed in the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling area that never held the Mid-Atlantic tag team championships - - but should have. For our explanation of the process and our thinking behind this countdown, visit the original page here.

We've selected five teams that we felt fit that mold and should have been recognized or rewarded by the booker or the promotion with the Mid-Atlantic tag team championships but for whatever reason were never given that shot.

We are going to spotlight those five teams over the next few weeks, counting down to the number one team we thought should have been given that championship - - but wasn't.

Last week we discussed #5, the brother team of Randy and Lanny Poffo. This week we take a look at another brother team, although originally, fans didn't know they were brothers. 


NUMBER FOUR: Roberto and Manuel Soto (El Rayo)

Manuel and Roberto Soto
as Louisiana Tag Champs
DC: At the very beginning of 1976, it looked like this high flying duo would be a major threat to the World Tag Team Champions Gene and Ole Anderson. After coming close to upsetting the Anderson's, the "Soto Brothers" team lost steam, particularly after El Rayo unmasked to reveal himself to be Roberto's brother, Manuel. Regardless, the Soto's exciting ring style would have made them formidable Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions, when the area's landscape was filled with talented tag teams.

DB: This great tag team from Puerto Rico earned several shots at the world tag team titles in great matches with the Anderson Brothers. El Rayo unmasked on TV to reveal himself to be Roberto's brother Manuel Soto. These two had a style unique to the area, especially for that time. One of the most "high-flying" teams we had here in those years, they held great promise for a short time, but could have greatly benefitted from a small push as Mid-Atlantic tag champs.


Next time: We look at a team that held regional championships elsewhere, but didn't here. They should have! Joins us in a few days when we take a look at team #3 in our countdown.

The countdown so far:

1. 
2.
3.
4. Roberto and Manuel Soto (El Rayo)

The Patriot: Life Beyond the Mask



Del Wilkes - The Patriot: Behind the Mask

From the Highspots website:

Behind The Mask: Del “Patriot” Wilkes story chronicles the life and career of one of wrestling’s most memorable masked men. This 3 Disc documentary set not only highlights Del’s success in the world of professional wrestling but it also documents his impressive career on the gridiron at the University of South Carolina.

Del Wilkes is only one of four Consensus All American football players to come from the University of South Carolina. You will learn of his leadership and determination on the football field that helped fellow teammate George Rogers win the 1980 Heisman Trophy and as the leader of the 1984 USC “Black Magic” football team become the highest ranked team in the school’s history.

After Del’s football career was cut short he joined the professional wrestling ranks where he was trained at legendary Fabulous Moolah’s school. You will learn of Del’s path to becoming The Patriot, becoming a superstar in All Japan, his successes in WCW and WWF. Also for the first time ever Del goes in depth about what led to him spending nine months in a South Carolina penitentiary and hear about how he overcame his faults to be the man he is today.

Behind The Mask: Del “Patriot” Wilkes is a story of tremendous success, mistakes, and redemption. Also included on this 3 disc set are over 10 matches from Del’s career, bonus stories, and a private tour of Del’s memorabilia. This DVD set defines one of the most athletic masked big men in pro wrestling history.

Documentary approx. 2-hours  Total run time approx. 7-hours


Monday, September 28, 2015

Mid-Atlantic Stars Challenge for Georgia Gold in Augusta, GA (1977)

PART THREE
by Dick Bourne & Mark Eastridge
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Our ongoing series spotlighting the talent exchange between Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1977 continues this week with an awesome show in Augusta, GA the first Monday in May.

In PART ONE, we looked at the Valentine's night show in Augusta. PART TWO featured a look at one of Georgia's top babyface Thunderbolt Patterson making special appearances in the Mid-Atlantic area challenging for the U.S. title and the world tag team titles.

In Part Three, we return to Augusta, GA, which was ground zero for these talent exchanges, located right on the Georgia/South Carolina border and in the television mix of both promotions. The May 2nd card at the legendary Bell Auditorium had an incredible line-up where all of the challengers for the Georgia titles were from the Mid-Atlantic territory.


PART THREE: THE MID-ATLANTIC CHALLENGERS

Paul Jones vs. The Masked Superstar for the Georgia Heavyweight Championship

Paul Jones was the reigning Georgia heavyweight champion. He had been a long time regular in the Mid-Atlantic territory for many years, but was campaigning in the state of Georgia for the spring and summer of 1977. His challenger for the Georgia title was the Masked Superstar, who was one of the top heels in the Mid-Atlantic territory and in the middle of a red-hot feud with the Mighty Igor there. Later in 1977, Jones and Superstar would begin a heated and violent feud in the Mid-Atlantic territory that even resulted in the Superstar cutting Paul Jones hair. And years later the Superstar would become a regular star in the Georgia territory in the early 1980s. But for this one night, he unsuccessfully challenged Jones for the Georgia title, losing on disqualification for outside interference by Boris Malenko. Malenko was also a guest on this Georgia card, but was Superstar's manager in the Mid-Atlantic territory. 

Thunderbolt Patterson vs. Boris Malenko for the Georgia TV Title

The second main event that night was "Professor" Boris Malenko challenging "T-Bolt" Thunderbolt Patterson for the Georgia TV championship. Malenko was a veteran of all the southern NWA territories and was a recognized name in Georgia. Thunderbolt had been a big part of this talent-sharing period with the Mid-Atlantic territory, and had just days earlier been in Hampton, VA teaming with Wahoo McDaniel to challenge Ric Flair and Greg Valentine for the NWA world tag team championships in a Mid-Atlantic main event.

The Anderson Brothers vs. Johnny Weaver and Tiger Conway, Jr. for the Georgia Tag Team Titles

The third main event that night featured the reigning Georgia tag team champions Gene and Ole Anderson being challenged for those belts by the Mid-Atlantic duo of Johnny Weaver and Tiger Conway, Jr.

The Anderson Brothers were Georgia regulars during this time, but were still making regular Mid-Atlantic appearances in their old home territory trying to regain the NWA world tag team championship from Ric Flair and Greg Valentine. The Andersons had brought the world tag team titles to Georgia in the fall of 1976 and planned to keep them there until Flair and Valentine had snatched them away right after Christmas of 1976.  In the meantime, the Andersons had won the Georgia tag titles and were taking on all challengers, including the unusual Mid-Atlantic challenge of Weaver and Conway this night in Augusta.


A "MID-ATLANTIC FEEL" TO THE CARD

Fans in Augusta had to be thrilled to see some of the top Mid-Atlantic stars making their town and challenging for the top titles in the Georgia territory.

The Mid-Atlantic challengers appeared to be in for one-shot deals as the Masked Superstar, Boris Malenko (managing Superstar at that time), and Tiger Conway were back in the Mid-Atlantic territory the next night in Raleigh NC, and Johnny Weaver was in Columbia, SC the next night as well.

This Georgia card had a great Mid-Atlantic feel to it with all of the Mid-Atlantic challengers and former Mid-Atlantic regulars in the main events. But the undercard had a Mid-Atlantic feel to it as well with the opening two matches featuring all guys who had been regulars in the Mid-Atlantic territory in 1975-1976 - Randy Savage (who had teamed under his real name Randy Poffo with his brother Randy Poffo in 1975), Roberto Soto (also teaming earlier in the Carolinas and Virginia with his brother Manuel Soto and battling the Anderson brothers), and Charlie Fulton and Don Kernodle (who had been opening card talent for Jim Crockett Promotions for several years.)

The following week, however, the crossover of Mid-Atlantic/Georgia talent would present one of the most amazing breaks from kayfabe during an era where those breaks were very rare. Stay tuned for May 9 in Augusta, GA next time we visit the Mid-Atlantic/Georgia talent exchange!


* * * * * * * * * *

Summary of articles in this series.
View all current articles in this series on one page.

Mooneyham: Lance Russell Returns To Memphis

Lance Russell with Bob Caudle
Mike Mooneyham's recent column in the Charleston Post & Courier updates us on Lance Russell, the longtime voice of Memphis wrestling. Lance will be making a return to the Memphis area on 10/24 for a special night in his honor. Check out all the details through the link below.

Lance Russell, legendary 'voice of Memphis wrestling,' finding his way back home
by Mike Mooneyham, Charleston Post & Courier

I'll always look back fondly at the year 1989 when Lance came to the new Turner-owned WCW and teamed Bob Caudle on NWA Pro Wresting for a short time. Good memories!




Sunday, September 27, 2015

NWA World Champions in the Mid-Atlantic Era and the Titles They Held Here

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

During the Mid-Atlantic era of 1973-1986 (when the territory went by that name) there were several NWA world champions that held regional titles here either before or after they were world champion.

We take a look at those champions and the titles they held.


Dory Funk, Jr.
Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship (1983, 1984)

Okay, I'm already cheating a little bit here. Technically the "Mid-Atlantic era" began in October 1973 when the Eastern title was renamed the mid-Atlantic title, and the Atlantic Coast tag team titles were renamed the Mid-Atlantic tag team titles. Jack Brisco was NWA champion by that time. But since we've broadly listed the Mid-Atlantic years as beginning in the year 1973, I thought I'd include the man who was NWA champion at the beginning of that year, Dory Funk, Jr.

Dory won the the Mid-Atlantic Championship in early 1983, nearly 10 years after losing the NWA title to Harley Race in Kansas City. I always loved the fact that the man he defeated was none other than his arch rival in the 1970s Jack Brisco. Funk/Brisco was the defining rivalry of the 1970s, and so it was very cool to see these two legendary figures trade our territory's championship all these years later.

Funk also held the Mid-Atlantic title in 1984 wrestling under a mask and known as the Masked Outlaw.


Harley Race
United States Heavyweight Championship (1975)

When booker George Scott decided to establish a United States championship in the Mid-Atlantic area, the man he chose to launch that title was former NWA champion Harley Race. Race had held the title for three short months in 1973, and that line on his resume helped give the new title credibility right off the bat.

Race was brought in to defend the title against Johnny Valentine, putting Valentine over to establish the championship in the territory. He was announced on area television as U.S. champion weeks before the July 1975 match with Valentine, but in reality he was champion for that one night only - bringing the title to the ring and dropping it to Valentine in what is still remembered to this day as a classic.


Jack Brisco
Eastern Heavyweight Championship (1971, 1972)
Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship (1982)
World Tag Team Championship (with Jerry Brisco in 1983 and 1984)

Jack Brisco held area championships both before and after he was NWA world heavyweight champion. He won the Eastern heavyweight title (the forerunner to the Mid-Atlantic title) from the Missouri Mauler just after Thanksgiving in 1971 at a High Point, NC TV taping, and then traded the title with Rip Hawk in 1972, a little over a year before winning the NWA title from Harley Race.

Brisco was never a regular here in the early 1970s, despite winning our area's championship twice. His home area was always Florida, but he was booked out to lots of territories for exposure as he was being groomed for an NWA title run. He made lots of shots here in 1972 and 1973 leading up to his NWA title victory over Race, usually over a weekend, but sometimes lasting a whole week.

Brisco's first full-time run in the Mid-Atlantic area began in the spring of 1982 and lasted until jumping to the WWF in 1984 after selling his stock in the NWA Georgia promotion to Vince McMahon. In 1982 he had great feuds over the Mid-Atlantic title with Roddy Piper and an old Florida rival from the early 1970s, Paul Jones. He eventually lost the title for good after his 6th title reign (which included the Eastern title reigns) to career arch-rival and former world champion Dory Funk, Jr.

Following his Mid-Atlantic title run, Jack reunited with his brother Jerry to defeat Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood for the NWA world tag team titles in the late spring of 1983 and held those titles multiple times over the next year before losing them in April of 1984 to Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood right before leaving for the WWF.


Giant Baba
None

Baba obviously never held a title here, but did wrestle here on a few occasions, most notably a 1977 card in Greensboro that shared talent between Jim Crockett Promotions and Baba's All-Japan Wrestling. Baba defeated Baron Von Raschke on that card.

Image from The Domed Globe Website at tenpoundsofgold.blogspot.com

Terry Funk
United States Heavyweight Championship (1975)

Funk was given a short run as U.S. champion in November 1975 to set the stage for winning the NWA title in December of that year.

Following champion Johnny Valentine's career-ending airplane accident in October 1975, Funk was tabbed to win the tournament to fill the vacant title. Funk defeated Paul Jones in the finals of the Greensboro tournament, and then returned three weeks later on the big Thanksgiving night show in the same city to drop the title to Jones. Two weeks later, Funk defeated Jack Brisco to win the the NWA world title in Miami Beach, Florida.


Dusty Rhodes
NWA World Tag Team Championship (with Dick Slater in 1977, Manny Fernandez in 1984)
NWA World TV Title (1985, 1986)
National Heavyweight Title (1985)
United States Heavyweight Championship (1987)

I'm cheating a little bit again here by listing the NWA world tag titles in 1977, because even thought Rhodes and partner Dick Slater did indeed hold those belts for four weeks, they never actually defended them in our area. But those NWA world tag team titles were Mid-Atlantic area titles, established here in early 1975. The Andersons took the titles with them to Georgia in late 1976 and basically were there with them for the better part of a year, trading them with Flair and Valentine during that time. It was while they were in Georgia with the belts that they lost the titles to Dusty Rhodes and Dick Slater in September of 1977.

Rhodes and Slater were set to defend the titles in Greensboro on 10/30/77 against former champions Flair and Valentine but lost the titles back to the Andersons a week or so before that scheduled match.

Rhodes, however, did win the world tag titles with Manny Fernandez in 1984. It was at the beginning of his run as booker for Jim Crockett Promotions, and in the next four years would give himself multiple runs as NWA world TV champion in feuds with Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson. He also had a run as National heavyweight champion, awarding himself the title after firing Buddy Landel in December of 1985.

Rhodes won the U.S. championship from Lex Luger at Starrcade '87. He was stripped of the title after accidentally hitting Jim Crockett with a baseball bat in 1988. It was a title Rhodes had chased at various times since the title had been established in 1975. He was Johnny Valentine's first challenger in Greensboro, and challenged Flair for the title in a memorable match in 1979 that involved special referee Buddy Rogers. After that long chase, it was nice to see him finally win it.


Tommy Rich
None

Tommy Rich never held titles here, but he did wrestle here on occasion, most notably a short run when Ole Anderson was booking both the Mid-Atlantic and Georgia territories simultaneously in 1981. He also wrestled here for about a month in late 1983.


Ric Flair
Mid-Atlantic TV Championship (1975, 1977)
Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship (with Rip Hawk in 1975)
Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship (1975, 1976)
United States Heavyweight Championship (1977, 1978, 1979, 1980)
NWA World Tag team Championship (with Greg Valentine in 1976 and 1977; and Blackjack Mulligan in 1979)

Ric Flair first won the NWA world championship in 1981. Prior to that he held every regional and national championship there was in the Mid-Atlantic area. Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling was his home area, and he is the only world champion to come straight out of our territory.

His first championship was the Mid-Atlantic tag title with his "uncle" Rip Hawk in 1974. He followed that up with his first singles title defeating Paul Jones for the TV title in early 1975.

But his break-out run began with winning the Mid-Atlantic title from Wahoo McDaniel in September of 1975, just weeks before being involved in the same plane crash that ended the career of Johnny Valentine. Though he was told he would likely never wrestle again, Flair returned better than ever in early 1976 and held the Mid-Atlantic and United States singles titles as well as the NWA world tag team titles over the next 6 years before finally winning the ultimate prize, the NWA world heavyweight championship.


Kerry Von Erich
None

To my knowledge, Kerry never wrestled for Jim Crockett Promotions, although I could be wrong. Please let us know if I am! His two older brothers did, though. Kevin and David teamed in a January 1982 tag team tournament  in Charlotte, NC.

* * * * * * * * * *

Thanks to Mark I., Danny W., and Chrissy B. for reminding me of a few Dusty titles I had briefly forgotten!

For more information on these great champions of the National Wrestling Alliance, check out the book "Ten Pounds of Gold."


Friday, September 25, 2015

Five Teams That Never Held the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles (But Should Have)

by Dick Bourne and David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Growing up watching Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in the 1970s, there seemed to always be an up-and-coming tag team combination that got your attention, that stood out from the rest. I'm not talking about established main-eventers who are paired together like Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones were in 1975. We knew they were headed for a world championship. I'm talking about two new-comers to the area or perhaps the pairing of two guys that had been toiling away on the undercard. You see them, and you think, "Hey, these guys have got something."

After the NWA world tag team titles were established in early 1975, the Mid-Atlantic tag team championships were a good place for teams to take that next step. Previously, that title had been the number one tag team title in the territory. But with the world tag team championship making its home here, the Mid-Atlantic tag titles seemed an appropriate way to recognize other teams. These should be  teams that weren't necessarily going to make it on the world title level, but were championship calibre none-the-less.

COUNTDOWN
We've selected five teams that we felt fit that mold and should have been recognized or rewarded by the booker or the promotion with the Mid-Atlantic tag team championships but for whatever reason were never given that shot.

We are going to spotlight those five teams over the next few weeks, counting down to the number one team we thought should have been given that championship - - but wasn't.



NUMBER FIVE: Randy and Lanny Poffo (1976)

DC: These two young and talented performers teamed in the Mid-Atlantic area during much of 1976, and for the large majority of time when the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles were inactive. The Poffos came into the territory with a bit of a push, and getting the Mid-Atlantic tag belts would have been a great way to give them a major rub. Despite their youth at the time, with their athletic ability and work on the mics that we saw in later years, there is little chance the Poffos wouldn't have thrived as the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions.

DB: One could easily argue that this legit-brother team deserved to be higher on this list. They got a decent mid-card push and were second generation wrestlers (father was Angelo Poffo) that already showed a good amount of ring savvy. Randy would go on to have a monster solo career as Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Both were gifted on the mic. This team above all others would have been a great excuse for Jim Crockett Promotions to bring back the Mid-Atlantic tag titles a lot earlier than they did when the titles were dormant in 1975 and the first half of 1976.


Coming up next in the countdown - a high-flying team comes in at #4! 

The First U.S. Title Switch in the Greensboro Coliseum

It's often said that the night Johnny Valentine beat Harley Race for the United States heavyweight championship in 1975 was the first time the U.S. title changed hands in Greensboro. But that would be wrong. It actually happened in 1962 when Hans Schmidt defeated then U.S. champ Pat O'Connor for the honors in front of 5,800 fans in the Greensboro Coliseum. O'Connor regained the title in the same building about 5 weeks later.

Anyone could be forgiven for not knowing about two such events 13 years apart. I never knew about that title change until I began research for my upcoming book on Jim Crockett Promotions' United States Championship (coming out this fall.) I was not even a year old when the 1962 matches happened. But additional research by Carroll Hall and Mark Eastridge shed light on this historic switch during an earlier era.

Carroll Hall recently posted both newspaper clippings from those two cards on his All Star Championship Wrestling blog. You can take a close look at those here:

The First U.S. Title Switch in the Greensboro Coliseum
Post by Carroll Hall
All Star Championship Wrestling

As an additional reference point about this time in history, O'Connor had been awarded the United States championship by the National Wrestling Alliance after Buddy Rogers had defeated him for NWA world heavyweight championship. It was during a brief time when the NWA board actually recognized a U.S. title in that era.

It's fun to take a look at who else was on that card:
  • Long time area veteran George Becker teamed with national sensation Argentina Rocca. 
  • Even in 1962 Johnny Weaver was already battling Rip Hawk. 
  • Abe Jacobs was a perennial star in the area over two decades.
  • Women wrestlers were prominent on the cards, as Johnny Weaver's wife Penny Banner was on the July card wrestling Ann LaVerne. She would become one of the biggest names in women's wrestling. The August card featured a women's tag match with four African-American women wrestlers, a rare such booking in wrestling during the era of segregation.  They were Babs Wingo, Fuzzy Robinson (replacing Marva Scott), Ethel Johnson, and Virginia Franklin. 
  • Ringside seats were only $2.50 in 1962!



A blooper alert - - We noticed in the results clipping for the August 16th card where O'Connor regained the U.S. title, Johnny Weaver beat Luis Tillett on the undercard with a dreaded SWEEPER hold!


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ric Flair Hits the Road as Champion

"The new champion must fulfill the obligations of the previous champion." - NWA Bylaws

Following Ric Flair's first NWA title win in September of 1981, he immediately took the bookings of previous champion Dusty Rhodes and had to miss some of the bookings he had previously scheduled in his home area of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.

The first of those was Richmond, Virginia where he was scheduled to team with Wahoo McDaniel to battle Roddy Piper and Abdullah the Butcher.

The second was in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina where he missed teaming with Wahoo and Ricky Steamboat to go against Piper, Abdullah, and Ole Anderson.  He was replaced on that show by Jake "The Snake" Roberts.

The Charlotte Observer reported in their results from the Charlotte card:

"Ric Flair, scheduled to be teamed with McDaniel and Steamboat, was replaced by Roberts because of other commitments as the new National Wrestling Alliance heavyweight champion."


Here is a brief look at Ric's first week as NWA Champion:

Friday, September 18
After beating Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City Thursday night, Flair travels 190 miles north on I-35 to Des Moines, Iowa, and successfully defends the title against former champion Harley Race. (Flair was originally booked to wrestle in Richmond, VA.)

Saturday, September 19
Flair takes the red-eye to Atlanta, Georgia, for his first televised appearance as NWA champion on "Georgia Championship Wrestling" at the studios of WTBS-17.

After the Atlanta TV taping, he hops a plane back to Kansas City and makes the 120 mile trip due west on I-70 to Junction City, Kansas and defends the title against "Bulldog" Bob Brown. (Flair was originally booked to wrestle in Charlotte, NC.)

Sunday, September 20
Flair leaves the heartland to head back to his home area and wrestles on a 3:00 PM matinee show in Asheville North Carolina, teaming with Wahoo McDaniel to face Ole Anderson and Roddy Piper. He then hops a chartered plane to Toronto, Ontario, to again team with McDaniel vs. Anderson and Piper in the Maple Leaf Gardens. The Toronto office was being booked by Jim Crockett Promotions during this time.

Monday, September 21  - Wednesday, September 23
Flair spent the early part of the following week in the Georgia territory defending the NWA title against old rival Jimmy Snuka in Augusta, the Masked Superstar in Macon, and Tommy Rich in Columbus.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hearing the News

Finding Out Ric Flair Just Won the World Title
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

When Ric Flair first won the NWA world title in September of 1981, it is fair to say that it came out of nowhere. That's not to say that Flair wasn't considered one of the top contenders for the NWA championship; he certainly was and in our minds at least, the most worthy contender of them all. It's just that there was no indication that the title change was getting ready to happen right at that moment. And that was consistent with most world title changes in the 1960s and 1970s. When the "big show/pay-per-view" era began in the mid-1980s, it usually became clear when world title changes were going to happen. All things built towards those big shows. But  there was no "big show" here.

The first notice fans in Charlotte got that Ric Flair had won the NWA title on Thursday 9/17 was from a short article in the Charlotte Observer Saturday morning 9/19 promoting Jim Crockett's show at the Charlotte Coliseum that night.

"Ric Flair, who won the National Wrestling Alliance heavyweight title Thursday night, will anchor a six man tag team bout tonight at the Charlotte Coliseum," the first words of the article said. "He conquered Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City for the belt."

I was just starting my junior year at nearby Davidson College, and remember vividly sitting stunned on the couch in my dorm room reading that blurb in the paper. It was almost hard to believe that it had finally happened.

I looked up the number for Jim Crockett Promotions, picked up the phone and called the office, hardly expecting anyone to answer on a Saturday morning. The voice that answered was unmistakably that of the one and only Johnny Weaver.

"Is this Johnny Weaver?" I asked, incredulous.

"Yes, it is. How can I help you?" he replied. (Okay, I was already marking out before getting to my question. I was talking to Johnny Weaver on the telephone!)

"Oh my goodness," I replied. "Is it true? What I just read in the paper? Did Ric Flair win the world heavyweight title?"

"He sure did!" Weaver replied enthusiastically. "Won it Thursday in Kansas City."

"That's fantastic!" I was almost giggling like a little school girl at this point.

"It sure is," Weaver replied. Ric Flair had won the world title and I was talking to Johnny Weaver on the phone about it. Was this happening?

I know it comes across that I was perhaps a little too excited about all of that, but you have to remember - - in 1981 Ric Flair was a bona fide local hero in Charlotte and the Mid-Atlantic area. He was our guy. He was the guy we had watched chase Harley Race and the NWA title for years. The world title changing hands was relatively rare and a big deal in those days. I'm not sure anybody really thought he'd ever win it. Not that he wasn't worthy, that's not my point. It was just that nobody from our area ever won the world title. It seemed like all the world champions in those days came from St. Louis or Texas or Florida. But not the Mid-Atlantic.

Johnny Weaver had been the living legend in the Mid-Atlantic area for the decade before Flair's rise to the top spot. To folks in this area in the late 1960s, Weaver was just as big of a household name as Richard Petty or Joe Louis or Johnny Unitas. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. So to have Johnny Weaver telling me on the telephone that Ric Flair had just become the world champion was surreal to me as a 20 year old fan.

Frustratingly, but understandably, there was no mention of Flair winning the title on "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling" or "World Wide Wrestling" television that weekend. Those shows had been taped on that previous Wednesday night at WPCQ-36 studios in Charlotte, before the title change had taken place. Flair did fly in to Atlanta Saturday morning for the taping of "Georgia Championship Wrestling" that aired that same evening on Superstation WTBS. Some fans may have known it from that if they had cable.

I didn't attend the show that night in Charlotte, but it would have been interesting to hear the buzz that certainly had to be moving through the fans there about what had happened two nights earlier. I've always wondered what kind of announcement was made. Jake Roberts replaced Flair in the six-man main event that night. I'm guessing there was a mighty big roar in the Charlotte Coliseum that night when ring announcer C. J. Underwood announced why.

I remember that short Saturday morning telephone conversation with Johnny Weaver like it was yesterday. I remember the enthusiasm that I heard in Johnny Weaver's voice, as if he, too, were celebrating the fact that their local boy had just won the world title.

For memorabilia and video related to that big night in Kansas City, navigate here: A Championship Anniversary: Ric Flair Wins the NWA World Title





For those of you that follow our Bloopers series on the Gateway, you've probably already noticed the two in the newspaper clipping above:

(1) RICKI Steamboat (Really?)
(2) JOEL Youngblood (Who knew? Jay, Mark, Chris, and JOEL)


Eric Bischoff Returns with Ric on WOOOOO! Nation

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson on WOOOOO! Nation
Eric Bischoff is Ric's guest this week for Part 2 of their conversation on the 21st episode of WOOOO! Nation!

From the WOOOO! Nation website:
Ric and Eric continue the conversation that most of us thought we would never hear! Listen for amazing stories and behind the scenes happenings, one of Ric's best shows to date!
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, September 22, 2015

Classic Studio Images: Rich Landrum with Dusty Rhodes




One of the things I loved most when I was a kid watching wrestling was when they would show a taped interview of a wrestler sent in from another territory's TV show. For some reason this was always very cool to me. It was a glimpse into another territory's TV studio, their announcer, their studio backdrop - - anything that gave a little of the flavor of that territory and their program.

Usually it was a tape of the reigning NWA world champion who was getting ready to tour the area and would send in a tape from where ever he happened to be at the moment. All of the NWA promotions cooperated with each other and would send tapes to each other in this regard. Other times it would be of a new or returning wrestler getting ready to come into the territory and he was sending in an interview from the territory he was getting ready to leave.

However, I never really thought about then that there were tapes recorded in our studio (Mid-Atlantic area) that were being sent to other territories, too. It obviously makes sense, but I just hadn't ever really thought about that side of it.

This image of Rich Landrum interviewing Dusty Rhodes is a great example of that. This was likely during the time Dusty was NWA world champion in 1981, and he was taping a promo while in the Mid-Atlantic area that would be sent to air on "Georgia Championship Wrestling" to promote a world title defense at the Omni in Atlanta.

The studio backdrop you see in this image was one of my personal favorites, and was used on "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" in the 1970s until it was replaced in 1977. But it was maintained for use during the local promotional spots taped the afternoon before the Wednesday night WRAL tapings until Crockett relocated their studio television tapings to Charlotte in August of 1981. One of those local promo taping sessions would be when this would have been taped. Rich Landrum wore a suit for those tapings, but would change into a tuxedo for the taping of the "World Wide Wrestling" show that he hosted from 1978-1982.


* * * * * * * * * *

For more information on memories and memorabilia related to the studio wrestling era, visit the Studio Wrestling website, part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

This story originally posted 9/10/15 on the Studio Wrestling website.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ric Flair Wins His First Mid-Atlantic Championship

Main Event Memory
September 20, 1975 - Hampton, Virginia
40 Years Ago Today!

The year 1975 was a big year for "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, although he actually wasn't the "Nature Boy" yet.

The year started off well for Flair, winning his first singles championship ever, the Mid-Atlantic Television Championship, defeating Paul Jones for the honor. Flair continued to improve throughout the year.

During the summer of 1975, he began to feud with Wahoo McDaniel as he began his chase of the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship. The veteran McDaniel had maintained the upper hand on the young, cocky upstart Flair until Flair finally laid down the ultimate challenge: he would put his beautiful blond hair on the line against Wahoo's title.

Hair vs. Title.



Wrestling fans from all over the Tidewater area turned out to the Hampton Roads Coliseum hoping to see Ric Flair's head shaved in the middle of the ring.

Hear these rare recordings of the local promos for the two main events on this show featuring Ric Flair, Wahoo McDaniel, Tim Woods, and Johnny Valentine. Hosted by Les Thatcher.


Local Promos for Hampton 9/20/75 (Low Fidelity)

But the fear of losing his hair was enough motivation to put Flair over the top. He was finally able to defeat Wahoo and win the Mid-Atlantic title.

Wahoo was pounding Flair with his trademark tomahawk chops when Flair was against the ropes. As the referee backed Wahoo away, Flair went into his trunks and pulled out a pair of brass knuckles. When Wahoo came back around, Flair decked him with the knucks and then covered him for three-count. The referee never saw the foreign object, and Flair's hand was raised and he was presented with the title belt.

Flair's victory over Wahoo McDaniel established him as one of the top stars in the territory, and began to get him attention outside of the Mid-Atlantic area as well. His star was on the rise.

However, just two weeks on his way to an outdoor stadium show in Wilmington, NC, the airplane Flair was traveling in ran out of fuel and crashed short of the runway. The crash ended the career of the legendary Johnny Valentine as well as Bob Bruggers. David Crockett and Tim Woods were also injured in the crash.

Flair was told by doctors he would likely never be able to wrestle again. But defying the odds, he returned to action just under four months later. It was at that point that booker George Scott gave Ric the "Nature Boy" moniker, as Flair reminded him of the great "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers.

Upon his return, Flair resumed his feud with Wahoo McDaniel and the two battled the entire year of 1976 over the Mid-Atlantic Championship, exchanging the title several times through the course of the year.

But his big rise to main event stardom began forty years ago today, September 20, 1975.

Check out all of the Main Event Memories features on the Gateway!




No doubt 1975 was the breakout year for Ric Flair who would go on to become one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport, and certainly its greatest champion.

Relive all the events of the landmark year of 1975 in the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling 1975 Yearbook.

The book includes reproductions of all four issues of "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine" that was sold as the arena program that year.

Plus a huge collection of newspaper clippings, posters, and complete results for the entire year. Plus our signature "Almanac" material featuring a complete roster of wrestlers for the year, and summaries of all major feuds and matches for the year.





Saturday, September 19, 2015

Blooper! The Minnesota Matador!

UPDATED 9/19/15 8:30 PM

Can you find the blooper in this newspaper ad? It is a minor one, and it may not jump out at first.





The answer after the jump!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Main Event Memories: A Championship Anniversary

RIC FLAIR WINS HIS FIRST WORLD TITLE
34 YEARS AGO TODAY - THURSDAY, SEPT. 17, 1981



The closing minutes of the match where 
Ric Flair beat Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City
for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship
With special referee Lou Thesz!





Ric makes his first television appearance as 
NWA World Heavyweight Champion
Georgia Championship Wrestling
Saturday, September 19, 1981




Shout Out

A special shout out to my good buddy Brian Rogers, who ALWAYS checks the Gateway for updates at 1:00 AM.......

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Thunderbolt Patterson Makes Guest Shots from Georgia

by Mark Eastridge & Dick Bourne

PART TWO
The following is our second in a series of articles spotlighting the talent cross-over between Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1977.

In Part One, we discussed a Valentines Night card in Augusta, GA where the Hollywood Blondes (Mid-Atlantic tag team champions Jerry Brown and Buddy Roberts) came to Georgia for one night and challenged Mr. Wrestling I & II for the Georgia tag team championship. Paul Jones was also in for one night to face Gene Anderson in a singles match. If you missed that article, click here to read all about that card, which was taking place at the same time as what we focus on here in Part Two.


PART TWO: 
THUNDERBOLT PATTERSON MAKES SPECIAL APPEARANCES
IN THE MID-ATLANTIC AREA

1977 would see many stars from the Mid-Atlantic area make one-night appearances in the Georgia territory, primarily in Augusta, GA. In exchange, one of Georgia's flagship babyfaces Thunderbolt Patterson would make several appearances that year in various cities around the Mid-Atlantic territory.

Thunderbolt was no stranger to fans of Jim Crockett Promotions. He had headlined here in the early 1970s, teaming regularly with Jerry Brisco and battling many foes, chief among them the hated Anderson Brothers, who he continued to battle with now in Georgia. Patterson was a huge draw in the Carolinas and Virginia, particularly in 1972-1973.

The night before the mixed card in Augusta, Thunderbolt ventured back to the Carolinas for a special return to Charlotte to challenge Blackjack Mulligan for his United States Championship in Charlotte, NC.




It was a huge night of action in Charlotte that also saw NWA world heavyweight champion Harley Race defend his title against Wahoo McDaniel.

Later that same week, Thunderbolt returned to the Mid-Atlantic territory, this time making a special Thursday night appearance in Winston-Salem, NC. On this night, the number one good-guy in Georgia would team with the number one good-guy in the Mid-Atlantic to challenge the one of the top bad-guy tag teams in the territory - - Thunderbolt Patterson and Wahoo McDaniel vs. the Masked Superstar and Kim Duk managed by Professor Boris Malenko.

Thunderbolt would make two more appearances the following month of March, on 3/10 in Savannah, GA and 3/19 in Hampton, VA. On both occasions he would challenge the Blackjack Mulligan once again for the United States championship.



Thunderbolt returned to the Mid-Atlantic twice in April, teaming on 4/8 in Charleston, SC, with Johnny Weaver and on 4/30 in Hampton, VA, with Wahoo McDaniel. Both times they challenged Ric Flair and Greg Valentine for their NWA world tag team championships.



In May, Thunderbolt would make his final two appearances in this four-month series of guest appearances in the Mid-Atlantic territory, appearing on Thursday 5/12 in Norfolk, VA against Ric Flair, and Friday 5/13 in Richmond, VA making one final bid for Blackjack Mulligan's United States title.



*  *  *  *  *

SUMMARY OF THUNDERBOLT PATTERSON APPEARANCES
02/13/77 Charlotte NC vs. Blackjack Mulligan
02/17/77 Winston-Salem NC with Wahoo McDaniel vs. Masked Superstar and Kim Duk
03/10/77 Savannah GA vs. Blackjack Mulligan
03/19/77 Hampton VA vs. Blackjack Mulligan
04/08/77 Charleston SC with Johnny Weaver vs. Ric Flair and Greg Valentine
04/30/77 Hampton VA with Wahoo McDaniel vs. Ric Flair and Greg Valentine
05/12/77 Norfolk VA vs. Ric Flair
05/13/77 Richmond VA vs. Blackjack Mulligan

*  *  *  *  *


Coming up in Part Three, we look at the amazing month of May in Augusta GA where several Mid-Atlantic stars made appearances over several weeks, including promotion for a match that gave away the result of a huge main event in Greensboro - - before it actually happened!

http://midatlanticwrestling.net/yearbooks.htm

Hell Freezes Over: Eric Bischoff on WOOOOO! Nation

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson on WOOOOO! Nation
Eric Bischoff is Ric's guest this week on the 20th episode of WOOOO! Nation!

From the WOOOO! Nation website:
Well, hell has frozen over! Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair go one on one for a two part series. Learn all about Eric's career and get inside information on WCW and the NWO, as well as the history between Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff. Epic episodes!

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, September 15, 2015

My Heel Turn

by Wayne Brower


Becoming a surly teenager was probably no different for me than most others.  You remember the routine - hormones going crazy; too old to be a child; too young to be an adult; looking for hypocrisy in others while ignoring your own; questioning authority.  All of the typical emotions while being a rebellious youth.

It was about this time when I began to view wrestling in a somewhat different light.  As most young fans I started out liking what people knew as the good guy or babyface characters.  But at this age I found myself in the “leave me alone” state of angst that infects many adolescent minds.

Wrestling in those days was a fun athletic play where everything is obvious.  My frustrations were brought out by certain good guys who in my opinion were condescendingly explaining to us what the bad guys, or heels, had just done and we had clearly seen:  “He cheated!”; “It’s not fair!”; “I’m going to the promotion with this!”  What a bunch of whiners.  They reminded me of the kid in class that was always crying “I’m going to tell on you!”

My sarcastic mindset was:  Hey guys, we get the picture.  We know right from wrong.  We have to obey our parents, teachers and the rules.  We don’t want to hear that stuff when we are being entertained.

When not preaching during their interviews, many of the babyfaces enjoyed telling us about their stature among the citizenry.  “I’m a common man” some would say to draw adoration from the viewers.  “I’m the average guy, just like you” others would state while looking directly into the camera.  Nothing wrong with that, I thought – as long as your goal in life was to be common or average.  

Swede Hanson & Rip Hawk (© Scooter Lesley)
In contrast the heels usually came across as cool, confident operators; just like us teenage boys thought we were.  Rip Hawk would turn slightly to the side, lift his head and proudly say that he is to be known as “The Profile.”  Rock Hunter, being complimented by his tag team partner after destroying a couple of good guys in a television match, answered with “You are right, I am great.”  The Great Bolo minced no words when describing in detail what he was going to do to his next opponent, then would top it off by saying in a most serious tone “And there is nothing you can do about it.”

The bad guys always talked about their luxury cars, fine homes, exquisite dining, beautiful women, but more importantly their wrestling championships.  “I’ll do anything…I’ll stop at nothing to keep this title!” they would proclaim into the microphone while pointing at the belt which defined supremacy.  Like any real men would do, the heels defended what was theirs.

The babyfaces were always getting out-smarted by the bad guys.  A heel would challenge a good guy to an impromptu match when he had the obvious advantage of his associates lurking nearby.  The good guy, all alone, would unbelievably accept.  I don’t need to tell you what would happen next.  Anytime the favorites were presented with an award or other tangible gift they always seemed to leave it sitting just outside of the ring as they climbed in for the next bout.  Once the match started other heels came from back stage and took great pleasure in destroying the property, all while the television host would be ranting “I can’t believe this is happening…I’ve never seen anything so despicable!”

Charlie Harville interviews manager Homer O'Dell
with Bronko Lubich and Aldo Bogni
Many of my friends and relatives strongly voiced their displeasure about my cheering for the bad guys.  It got tough at home, even to the point I had to conceal some of my overt appreciation for the antics of Brute Bernard and Skull Murphy to retain my television privileges.  Some of my buddies at school got so upset they wouldn’t speak to me for several days after Aldo Bogni and Bronco Lubich defeated the popular George and Sandy Scott in an extensively hyped match on WGHP-TV.

In frustration one of my best pals finally came to me and said “How can you like those cheaters?”   I explained with my then passionate thoughts that the heels were the true definition of success.  “Look, they’ve got the titles, the money, and everything that goes with it.  They don’t care what anyone thinks about them, so they are never on a guilt trip.  They ask permission from no one for anything.  They never complain or explain themselves.  The good guys are saps.  They get the same tricks pulled on them each week on different channels.  Their so-called friends never come to help them.  You’ve heard their boring interviews.  Some of them even say they are proud of being mediocre like the people in the audience.  Now, who would you rather be like?”

A few weeks later the same friend and I were talking and he delivered my first wrestling associated compliment.  “I’ve been watching for what you told me.  You were right; the bad guys are the best.”

It was his heel turn, and I was so proud.


Originally Posted on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
May 2004



Monday, September 14, 2015

Jim Crockett, Sr. Profile

JIM CROCKETT, SR.
by Jeff at The Crockett Foundation (crockettfoundation.org)


Jim Crockett, Sr. was born to very poor parents in rural Virginia. His mother died at a young age and his father traveled to support his young sons. Life wasn’t easy for Jim but he always knew there was something bigger in store for him.

As a youth, he became a fan of pro wrestling, which had thrived during the 1920s with such grapplers as Strangler Lewis and Joe Stecher dominating the scene. In 1935, a 25 year old Jim, who was already a theatre and restaurant owner in Bristol, moved his businesses to Charlotte, NC along with his wife Elizabeth. Jim and Elizabeth had four children Frances, Jim, Jr., David and Jackie.

It didn’t take long for Big Jim to fine tune his ability to know how to give the people what they wanted.... >>>

(Read the entire article at the Crockett Foundation website.)


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ric Flair Gets Exposure in Other Territories

I came across this interesting post on the Kayfabe Memories (KM) wrestling board. It was posted by username "BattleRoyal" on July16, 2013.

I love lists like this, and have always been interested in Ric Flair's appearances outside of the Mid-Atlantic territory. it may have actually been compiled using the wrestling results for Ric Flair compiled by David Baker on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

This is a great list. I've added some formatting enhancements to better identify the territory. 

I've also added some title/championship notes where appropriate. These are indicated in yellow text and are in italics. I always thought it was cool when Mid-Atlantic territory titles were defended in other territories. These notes do not absolutely stipulate in every case that Flair was acknowledged as champion or defended the titles while there, although this was often the case. it most always was the case in Georgia, Florida, and Texas.

-D. Bourne



KAYFABE MEMORIES
Old School Hodge Podge » Ric Flair getting over in territories

BattleRoyal: Back in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and early 80s, the NWA World Champion had to travel to the different territories to get over before getting the NWA Board's blessing as champ. Here is a look at Ric Flair's appearances outside Mid Atlantic in the late 70s and early 80s. Crockett's goal was to get Flair exposure outside the Carolinas/Virginia. Seems like Flair lost a lot of matches outside the Mid Atlantic area in 1977 but bounced back quite nicely in 1978

1977 
Georgia Championship Wrestling 
7/22 Atlanta, GA Ric Flair beat Sandy Scott
7/23 Atlanta, GA (TV) Ric Flair beat Randy Alls
Western States 
8/18 Amarillo, TX Abdullah the Butcher beat Ric Flair (United States champion) by countout
8/19 Lubbock, TX Ricky Romero beat Ric Flair (United States champion) by DQ
8/20 Amarillo, TX (TV) Ric Flair (United States champion) vs. Ervin Smith
Georgia Championship Wrestling 
9/2 Atlanta, GA Ric Flair (United States champion) beat Steve Keirn
Western States 
9/15 Amarillo, TX Dory Funk beatRic Flair (United States champion) (11:29) by countout
Georgia Championship Wrestling 
9/23 Atlanta, GA Tony Atlas beat Ric Flair (United States champion) by DQ
9/24 Atlanta, GA (TV) Ric Flair (United States champion) beat Ted Allen
Georgia Championship Wrestling 
10/17 Augusta, GA Dick Slater beat Ric Flair (United States Champion) by DQ
Western States 
10/27 Amarillo, TX Dory Funk beat Ric Flair by reverse decision
10/28 Lubbock, TX Ricky Romero beat Ric Flair by DQ
Georgia Championship Wrestling 
11/28 Augusta, GA Ric Flair vs. Dick Slater
11/30 Columbus, GA Ric Flair vs. Dick Slater
12/2 Atlanta, GA Dusty Rhodes beat Ric Flair by DQ
12/5 Augusta, GA Ric Flair vs. Dick Slater in a lumberjack match
12/9 Atlanta, GA Dusty Rhodes beat Ric Flair
Big Time Wrestling 
12/15 Corpus Christi, TX Ric Flair/Greg Valentine (NWA World Tag Team Champions) vs. Tully Blanchard/Tiger Conway, Jr. in best two out of three falls match
12/16 Houston, TX Ric Flair and Jose Lothario battled to a draw
Championship Wrestling from Florida 
12/21 Miami, FL Rocky Johnson beat Ric Flair by countout

1978 
St. Louis Wrestling Club 
1/6 St. Louis, MO Ric Flair beat Omar Atlas at 8:42
Georgia Championship Wrestling 
1/23 Augusta, GA Ric Flair beat Tony Atlas
St. Louis Wrestling Club 
1/27 St. Louis, MO Ric Flair beat Dory Funk at 21:01
Georgia Championship Wrestling 
1/30 Augusta, GA Ric Flair/Ole Anderson/Stan Hansen beat Dusty Rhodes/Dick Slater/Tony Atlas
2/3 Atlanta, GA Tony Atlas beat Ric Flair
2/4 Marietta, GA Ric Flair/Ole Anderson and Tony Atlas/Dick Slater battled to a double DQ
2/6 Augusta, GA Dusty Rhodes beat Ric Flair
St. Louis Wrestling Club 
2/17 St. Louis, MO Ric Flair/Chuck O'Connor(John Studd)/Bob Brown beat Pat O'Connor/Greg Gagne/Ron Fuller via pinfall at 9:01
Georgia Championship Wrestling 
3/1 Columbus, GA Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes
St. Louis Wrestling Club 
3/3 St. Louis, MO Ric Flair beat Pat O'Connor at 21:02
Georgia Championship Wrestling 
3/8 Columbus, GA Ric Flair vs. Tony Atlas
St. Louis Wrestling Club 
3/17 St. Louis, MO Dick The Bruiser/Andre The Giant beat Ric Flair/Buddy Wolfe/Ox Baker via pinfall in a handicap match
Georgia Championship Wrestling 
3/20 Augusta, GA Thunderbolt Patterson beat Ric Flair
4/5 Columbus, GA Ric Flair vs. Mr. Wrestling II
St. Louis Wrestling Club 
4/7 St. Louis, MO Rocky Johnson/Dick The Bruiser/Pat O'Connor beat Ric Flair/Ivan Koloff/Bob Brown at 14:29 via pinfall
Georgia Championship Wrestling 
4/16 Atlanta, GA Stan Hansen beat Ric Flair (United States champion)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Mid-Atlantic Stars in Augusta, GA (1977)

by Mark Eastridge & Dick Bourne
PART ONE

Editor's note: If you've visited this website for any length of time, you know the name Mark Eastridge. Mark is one of the greatest researches I've ever known, and provides historical newspaper clippings that you see on so many posts on this website.

Mark recently sent me some interesting clippings from Augusta, GA from 1977.  Augusta was a city in the Georgia territory promoted by Atlanta promoter Paul Jones. However, in the spring of 1977, several Augusta cards featured visiting talent from Jim Crockett Promotions. The Bell Auditorium cards on Monday nights began featuring some of the top stars of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling."

Augusta was about 75 miles from the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling city of Columbia, SC and fans in the Augusta area could get Mid-Atlantic TV out of Columbia if they had an outdoor rooftop antenna. There's also a good chance that cable systems at that time were carrying Columbia market TV. So fans in Augusta were familiar with both promotions. 

Over the next month or so, I am going to be presenting some of those cards here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, including some historical context for each. We're getting started with a Valentine's Night card, and I'm including the edited text of Mark's email to me that accompanied these clippings. 


PART ONE: 
THE HOLLYWOOD BLONDES & PAUL JONES COME TO GEORGIA 
FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY
Bell Auditorium, Augusta GA
February 14, 1977

Here's another Augusta card with Mid-Atlantic wrestlers in for one night.  Paul Jones is in to wrestle Gene Anderson.  He appeared the next night in Columbia, SC.  Paul would become a regular in Georgia in mid-March for several months through the end of July.

The Hollywood Blonds (Jerry Brown and Buddy Roberts) came in to challenge for the Georgia tag team titles.  I especially am interested in this match because the Hollywood Blonds were actually the Mid-Atlantic tag team champions then.  I doubt that this was mentioned prior to the match taking place, but Augusta fans could watch Mid-Atlantic wrestling on TV so I'm sure there were plenty of people in attendance that knew this. I think it would have been neat to have seen two regional tag team champions wrestling in a title vs. title match. 

Gene & Ole were the Georgia tag team champions when they came to Charlotte in May 1977 to wrestle Flair & Valentine for the NWA world tag team title, but I don't think that was mentioned either. (The Andersons defeated Flair and Valentine in a cage for the titles that night in Charlotte, and Paul Jones, by then a Georgia regular, made a surprise run-in.)

Steamboat was on this card, losing to Jack Evans in the opener as he had been on several shows. Who knew that he would be elevated to such great matches with Ric Flair in the Mid-Atlantic territory in just a few short months?

Also, I wonder if this was the first card that had both Ricky Steamboat & Paul Jones scheduled.

Then, there is the main event between Ole & Thunderbolt Patterson.  How many years would the two of them go at it, both in the Mid-Atlantic area and in Georgia?  Thunderbolt (working full-time in Georgia) actually had a few Mid-Atlantic appearances during February. I guess that could be considered part of the talent swap that appeared to be taking place between Mid-Atlantic and Georgia.


- Mark Eastridge



The ad says "Popular Prices Prevail." That was good news to the fans who already were seeing a rare and special card in Augusta. 

We'll be taking a look at other Georgia Championship Wrestling cards from Augusta in the coming weeks that spotlighted Mid-Atlantic Wrestling talent, including one that gave away a huge Mid-Atlantic Wrestling world title change. Look for it soon!

As always, thanks to Mark Eastridge for his contributions to our website.

PS - Charlie Harben was the local promoter on the ground for Atlanta promoter Paul Jones during these years. Not sure if he was the local man at the time of these Augusta cards. If any Georgia wrestling aficionados or historians out there can clarify for us, we'd love to know.

And yes, I realize the "Georgia Championship Wrestling" logo in the Mid-Atlantic/Georgia graphic at the top of this page is from the early 1980s and not 1977. We're simply using it to spotlight articles on cards that featured talent from both promotions in the 1970s and 1980s.     -Dick Bourne

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Johnny Weaver Blog and Studio Wrestling Updates


Here are some links to recent posts to the Johnny Weaver Blog and the Studio Wrestling websites, both part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway family of wrestling history websites.


JOHNNY WEAVER BLOG




STUDIO WRESTLING




Tuesday, September 08, 2015

A Proud Moment for Buddy Rogers


"If you were my son, I couldn't love you more, baby." - Buddy Rogers to Greg Valentine

Greg Valentine spent most of the year of 1979 wrestling in the WWWF.  The year long tour included two main events in Madison Square Garden against WWWF champion Bob Backlund, including a one-hour time limit draw. It also included a feud with Chief Strongbow, where Valentine broke the Indian's leg in a story similar to his more famous feud with Wahoo McDaniel in the Mid-Atlantic area in 1977.

Greg was set to return to the Mid-Atlantic territory in December. But a couple of months in advance of that he made a special one-week appearance on Mid-Atlantic television set the stage for that return.

Here is how David Chappell described it in his Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Almanac entry for October of 1979:
The October 10th taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show had its fair share of surprises. In the first match, the “Hammer” Greg Valentine returned, defeating Coco Samoa easily. When Valentine was interviewed, he told Bob Caudle that while he was preparing to wrestle Bruno Sammartino in a couple of weeks in New York, he was on his way back to the Mid-Atlantic area. Valentine was also perplexed by the “good guy” metamorphosis that Ric Flair had undergone since Greg departed the Mid-Atlantic area, but told Caudle that all he wanted to do was talk with Ric, suggesting he could reform Flair back to the “dark side.”

Buddy Rogers interjected himself into Valentine’s interview, giving the fans a very different glimpse into the personality of the original “Nature Boy.” Rogers said he was instrumental in Greg’s father, Johnny Valentine, becoming as great a wrestler as Johnny became. As great as Johnny was, Rogers said Greg Valentine would be even greater. Buddy said Greg was developing fabulously, and he couldn’t love him any more if he was his own son.
Here is rare audio of the "halftime" interview segment on "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling," hosted by Bob Caudle and featuring "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine:



Buddy Rogers talks about Johnny and Greg Valentine

That was an amazing moment, and seemed to be almost a break from Kayfabe, and perhaps caught Valentine by surprise. Greg seemed a little subdued, likely somewhat moved by Roger's statements but also puzzled by the current state of affairs with his former best-friend and partner Ric Flair.

The Rogers appearance with Valentine in this interview didn't lead to anything between the two. I have speculated that Rogers was laying the groundwork to manage Valentine on his return to Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, likely in a feud with Flair. But Rogers left the territory suddenly around the time Greg returned in December.


Historical Perspectives

Rogers was in the middle of a program with Flair, not only managing U.S. champ Jimmy Snuka against Flair, but he also a couple of rare singles matches with Flair, too. The last "Nature Boy vs. Nature Boy" confrontation took place in Norfolk, Virginia on Thanksgiving night. The finish to that match had Rogers caught in Flair's figure-four leglock only to have Rogers take out a pair of brass-knucks and bust Flair open resulting in DQ. That was to surely set up a return match, but Rogers departed suddenly thereafter.

Valentine had a brief series of matches with Flair on his return, and then the two would go their separate ways for about 5 months - - Flair chasing Snuka's U.S. title (Snuka now managed by Gene Anderson) and Valentine teaming up with Ray Stevens to feud with Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood over the world tag team titles.

Eventually Flair and Valentine would collide over the U.S. championship, a story thoroughly explored as part of the history of Crockett's U.S. title in an upcoming book about that championship and the belts that represented it.

The reference Greg made to wrestling Bruno Sammartino at Madison Square Garden in a few weeks was true. Greg wrestled Bruno on the October 10, 1979 MSG show. The match was reportedly stopped for blood after Bruno rammed Valentine's head into the exposed metal turnbuckle. (The WWE has a brief clip of this match on its website.)

- Dick Bourne