Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Richmond Countdown #15 - 12/30/79

Chap's Top 15 Wrestling Cards in Richmond (1973-1986)
#15 - Sunday, December 30, 1979
by David Chappell, Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Graphics and Vintage Audio Mastering by Dick Bourne
Newspaper Clippings from the collection of Mark Eastridge

This feature includes CLASSIC AUDIO from December 1979.

I'm proud to share my memories of my personal Top 15 cards ever in Richmond. Join me as I count down some of the most exciting thrill packed nights of wrestling action the Mid-Atlantic area ever saw!

* * * * **

Richmond's Top Cards: #15
In addition to a number of great matches, this card at the Richmond Coliseum had some unique features. This event was promoted for a good three weeks beforehand, as the holidays had caused the wrestlers to skip Richmond for several weeks. This event was a very rare Sunday card. Matches were almost always held in Richmond on Friday. Something else unusual was that this event was a 2:00 p.m. afternoon card. For whatever reason, Richmond was not a city that had its wrestling during the daylight hours. This spectacular afternoon event was also the last card held in Richmond during the decade of the 1970’s. What a fantastic decade the 1970’s were for Jim Crockett Promotions, particularly the mid and late 1970’s!

The main event of this card saw United States Heavyweight Champion Jimmy Snuka successfully defend his crown against Tim Woods. Gene Anderson had just become the manager of Snuka a week or so before this bout. The feud between Snuka and Woods had been building throughout the Fall of 1979 when Snuka (managed by then manager Buddy Rogers) injured the neck of Woods in a television match that aired on World Wide Wrestling. Woods came back sporting a neck brace and carrying a baseball bat (he called it the "ding-bat") vowing revenge on Snuka. Woods went as far as to print up and distribute "Wanted Posters" for Rogers and Snuka in arenas during this time frame. (See the poster at right.) This match in Richmond represented the end of this feud , with Snuka coming out on top. This would be Woods’ last Main Event ever in Richmond, and he would wrestle only one more time ever in Richmond-two weeks later in January in a mid-card match. A somewhat inglorious ending for one of Jim Crockett Promotions’ biggest stars in the 1970’s.

The semi-final bout saw Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Jim Brunzell defeat newcomer Ray "The Crippler" Stevens. Brunzell was at the height of his Mid-Atlantic run with Jim Crockett Promotions. Stevens had just entered the area about a month previously with a tremendous national reputation. Stevens immediately singled out Brunzell and his title. In interviews leading up to the match, both competitors brought up their previous feud in the AWA. The heat between these two seemed genuine, and their styles both in and out of the ring were completely different. With these contrasting styles, it all added up to a terrific match where Brunzell came out on top, but Stevens ultimately became a bigger and more long-lasting star in the Mid-Atlantic area.


Ray Stevens: "I like to hurt people."

Jim Brunzell: "That belt would make a nice Christmas Present."

To show you what a tremendous card this was, the third match from the top was a grudge match between Ric Flair and Greg Valentine! This match would have been the top match on most cards in Richmond, particularly at this time as Flair and Valentine had never wrestled against each other before. Ric Flair had turned face in the middle of 1979, at a time when his former partner Valentine was tearing up the WWWF. When Valentine came back to the Mid-Atlantic area in December, he was anxious to team back up with Ric. The two met face to face on Mid-Atlantic television with Flair saying he had seen the light and would not team with Greg as long as he was a rule-breaker. Valentine was furious, and the feud nobody ever thought they would see had begun. Flair took the measure of Valentine in this match, and Greg would focus on tag team wrestling for about six months before again turning his attention to Flair and the U.S. belt. (Read more about how Flair and Valentine came to be facing each other in Part 6 of "Dream Team: Flair and Valentine.")


Greg Valentine: "I can't digest this."

Ric Flair: "We've Done It All"

The undercard saw the team of S.D. Jones and Rufus R. Jones defeat Frankie Laine and Mr. X. Rufus was the dominant performer in this match. The ageless Johnny Weaver had no trouble putting away Doug Sommers. Don Kernodle and Rick McGraw took care of David Patterson and Frank Monte. During this time frame, Monte was faring much better in the world of bodybuilding than the world of wrestling. Brute Bernard got a rare win during this time of his fading career, besting Bob Marcus. Coco Samoa opened this memorable Richmond card with a win over Tony Russo.

This was a truly great event to usher out the 1970’s and bring in the new decade with a bang!

Coming up Next: Countdown #14
May 21, 1982

This feature is being re-published from an earlier feature on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.