Wednesday, March 30, 2016

World Tag Team Title Head Scratcher

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Going back in time to the frigid days of late January 1976, NWA World Tag Team Champions Gene and Ole Anderson appeared to be on top of the world. The “Minnesota Wrecking Crew” had just dispatched the challenge of Tiger Conway and Steve Keirn, and were battling the high-flying duo of Roberto Soto and El Rayo. But the young challengers weren’t seasoned enough to pose a major challenge to the champs. All seemed well for the Andersons, and no new challengers seemed poised to make a run at their prized championship belts.


But unexpected happenings were beginning to percolate in Columbia, South Carolina, and things would change abruptly on January 27th. On that date, the Andersons were pitted against the formidable duo of “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel and Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones in the Township Auditorium. Wahoo and Rufus were not regular tag team partners at the time, and the promotion had not pushed them in any way towards a run at the World Tag Team Titles. However, Columbia did see Wahoo and Rufus beat Gene and Ole by disqualification on January 13th, and then on January 20th McDaniel and Jones won a Lumberjack match over the champions.

Another anomaly in this picture was that this third match in Columbia between these two teams in as many weeks was a best two-of-three-falls bout. This stipulation was exceedingly rare to be seen in 1976. In the 1960s into the early 1970s the two-out-of-three-falls concept was prevalent in tag team matches, but not so much thereafter. Could something big be going on with this stipulation? As it turned out, it was, as Wahoo and Rufus upset Gene and Ole on 1/27/76 to become the NWA World Tag Team titlists! And outside of Columbia, nobody knew these four had become tag team rivals.

The head scratching became stronger a mere one week later when the new champs defended for the first and only time, against the “Wrecking Crew” at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina on February 3, 1976. On the following Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that aired in the territory, Wahoo and Rufus were brought out to comment over filmed highlights from that match. Explaining to the fans how they had lost the World Tag Team belts after only a week was quite painful.

Announcer Bob Caudle introduced Wahoo and Rufus as the former World Tag Team champions saying, “Wahoo, you and Rufus held them for only a brief time but I know you wore those belts with a lot of dignity and you really hated to lose them.” McDaniel responded, “I know they have a film of what happened and I don’t know what happened myself because I was on the floor, but I would like to see myself exactly what happened.”



The film began with Wahoo in the ring with the ultra-tough Gene Anderson. Wahoo commented, “We’ve got ‘em going here pretty good; I thought we had command of the match all the way here.” Wahoo then got a good suplex applied to Gene, but the Chief stunned himself as he went down as well, but he was able to tag Rufus. Jones said, “Right here I give Gene a head butt, and right here, boom, down he go. Referee isn’t in no place to count him out there.” Caudle then remarked to Wahoo, “I don’t believe anybody could get up from a suplex and then a head butt from Rufus Jones.”  Wahoo concurred, and at that moment McDaniel was battling with Ole on the film with fists and chops flying!

Rufus still had Gene in a bad way, but then the “good guys” opted to throw the two villains together! Pandemonium reigned in the Dorton Arena! But Ole also ran into the referee, causing the official to go down. Wahoo commented, “You see right there, Ole’s elbow hit the referee in the eye, which he got seven stitches above his eye. And it’s like I told the fans, the referee is not used to taking all the physical punishment that we do every night, and he was hit with quite a blow to his head.”

The “Freight Train” again took over on a groggy Gene Anderson, and appeared to have Gene beaten. Rufus said, “I got Gene covered again there, got him beat, the referee is out of the ring there, all the referee has to do is count him down. Right there he’s beat, see?” Wahoo then attempted to pick the bloodied referee up, but a rejuvenated Ole hammered Wahoo in the back, and then ran the Chief viciously into the ring post. Jones head-butted Gene just to make sure he wasn’t getting up. Rufus exclaimed, “Gene was beat there. He’s stayed down for the count of a hundred. Gene was beat there!”

Raleigh NC 2/3/76
With Wahoo down and out on the floor, Ole jumped off the top turnbuckle right on an unsuspecting Rufus Jones. Rufus went down like he’d been shot out of a cannon, and Ole physically pulled up the injured referee and put him on top of a prone “Freight Train.” Caudle interjected, “Rufus, there you are being counted out, after you could have counted a hundred on Gene.” Rufus replied, “That’s right, baby. One thing for sure, if we get another match with ‘em, I think Wahoo and I will beat ‘em. We had ‘em beat all the way through the match. We had ‘em beat there. Ole came off the top on my back there, and that’s how we lost the match there. They didn’t win it fair…they cheat.”

Bob Caudle concluded, “Alright fans, there it is, that’s a look at how the belts were re-won by Gene and Ole Anderson from Wahoo McDaniel and Rufus R. Jones. Fellas, I know you feel really bad about it Wahoo, but you may have lost the war, but you really won the battle.” Wahoo countered, “Well, the thing that would really make me feel bad is if we actually lost the belts, which we didn’t. People saw how they beat us; we had them beat all through the match. There’s no way they could have beaten us unless they pulled something. The referee happened to get knocked down, which is a very unfortunate circumstance. The man suffered seven stitches above his eye, and it’s just one of those things. But like Rufus said, they did not beat us; we don’t feel they beat us. We have one of the belts…if they want it; let ‘em come get it! Because let me tell you something, we’re certainly not afraid of them.”

Caudle closed the show saying, “If they come after it, it’s gonna be a tough time isn’t it Rufus?” The “Freight Train” replied, “Just let ‘em come on baby, anytime they get ready, Wahoo and I’ll be ready. We’ll be ready for them anytime.”

The fact that Wahoo and Rufus had physical possession of one of the World Tag Team Title belts after losing the titles did not propel them to any return matches with Gene and Ole. The Andersons moved on to a short program with Bolo and Geto Mongol, and Rufus and Wahoo went back to mainly singles matches. Wahoo and Rufus’ one week reign as World Tag Team Champions really passed into oblivion as quickly as it came. Wahoo mentioned that he and Rufus were former World Tag Team Champions a couple of times over the next few years, but otherwise it went virtually unnoticed.

Without any territory-wide buildup for the victory, and no follow up after the defeat, the one week World Tag Team Tile reign of Wahoo McDaniel and Rufus R. Jones was a head-scratcher at the time. And with the passage of many years since it happened, and thinking about how this major NWA title flipped twice within the span of a week, my head itches more than ever.

Newspaper Clippings from the collection of Mark Eastridge



http://midatlanticwrestling.net/andersons.htm

 
Steven Medford caught a blooper we'd missed in the Raleigh newspaper ad above - - Larry ZABISCO.  As Steven put it, perhaps the ad editor was hungry for some Nabisco crackers when he made that error. But hey, all these years later and I still can't spell Larry's last name!

We love all the bloopers. (Take a look at them all.)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Booking Changes at Jim Crockett Promotions (Early 1970s)


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I recently had the pleasure of a casual conversation with John Ringley, at one time the most trusted confidant of promoter Jim Crockett, Sr. He had graciously agreed to talk with me for a feature I am constantly working on and updating related to the old TV studio tapings of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling as well as some information on the various local promoters that worked with Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1960s and 1970s. But we also touched on a few other subjects, one being the major booking change in 1973 that changed the face of the Mid-Atlantic territory.

Ringley was the man who recruited and hired George Scott to take over the booking responsibilities of the promotion, a move which changed the face of the company in the coming years. He and Scott immediately brought in Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel, and Don Jardine to the territory, which shook things up on top of the cards and began to redefine the territory as a "singles territory" at least in terms of the main events.

This was the booking change in the company that is most remembered and discussed historically. But before hiring George Scott, Ringley had pushed Jim Crockett, Sr. into making another major change in booking a few years earlier.


David Crockett, Charleston promoter Henry Marcus, and John Ringly (circa 1973)

Ringley told me he felt things had become a little stale with long-time booker George Becker in the late 1960s.


"(Becker) had started regularly booking 6-man tags as the main events, and I was frustrated with that direction," he told me, as an example. "What was next? 8-mans? 10-mans?"

Ringley began lobbying Crockett Sr. to make a change. Crockett resisted at first, but they finally came to a compromise. Becker would step down as booker to be replaced by the tandem of Johnny Weaver and Rip Hawk. Both Weaver and Hawk had assisted Becker with finishes and other booking chores for years. This change took place in late 1969 or early 1970.

But Ringley explained that he always saw wrestling in 7-year cycles, and felt that the company was in the bottom of one of those cycles at that time. He still felt that the company needed a more significant change in direction.

"After Mr. Crockett died (in April of 1973), I decided to make a wholesale change," he said. That's when John Ringley hired George Scott.

Scott immediately began making changes, the most significant being changing a tag-team driven territory to one with more singles-oriented main events. He was given full reign to make those changes by Crockett Sr. and Ringley. Scott's changes in booking strategy, as well as bringing in a whole slate of new talent, including a promising rookie named Ric Flair, eventually went on to set the territory on fire again.

Ringley, however, wasn't around to see those changes pay off. He left the company not long after Scott was hired.

"Jim Crockett was like a father to me," he told me. "He had a big heart and helped a lot of guys out when they first came to into territory." Ringley's own father died when he was young.

Ringley went to work for Eddie Graham in Florida. While there he was recruited by music promoter Buddy Lee to come work for him in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a good fit given Ringley's vast experience working for Jim Crockett Promotions as a promoter of music events and such attractions as the Harlem Globetrotters. Lee had been a wrestler who worked for Jim Crockett, Sr. back in the 1950s and formed a music promotional company in Nashville in the 1960s. The company he started, Buddy Lee Attractions, is still one of the largest talent agencies in Nashville. Ringley later worked for wrestling promoter Leroy McGuirk in Oklahoma.

John Ringley's push to change the booking direction of Jim Crockett Promotions had lasting effects on that family's business, and the wrestling business in general,  for years to come.

I'll have more tidbits from my conversation with John Ringley in future posts.
 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Alleluia! He is Risen!

Happy Easter!
to everyone from all of us at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

First World Wide Wrestling of 1985

WORLD WIDE WRESTLING 1-5-85
with your host Tony Schiavone 


Featuring:
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair
NWA World Tag Team Champions Dusty Rhodes & Manny Fernandez
The Road Warriors
Ricky Steamboat
NWA TV Champion Tully Blanchard
Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions Ron Bass & Black Bart
The Barbarian with Paul Jones
The Assassin
Superstar Billy Graham
Magnum T.A.
Don Kernodle
"The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff
"The Russian Nightmare" Nikita Koloff
 
 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ronnie Garvin: Airplanes and Rear View Mirrors

by Peggy Lathan
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

As most everyone knows, Ronnie Garvin is a pilot and he used to fly to the matches. I would pick him and whomever was flying with him up at the airport and drive them to the arena,  One day, who should get out of the plane but Tony Atlas and Tiger Conway, Jr.

Tiger Conway had some BIG HAIR
in the 1970s
Everyone climbed into my car. Ronnie rode up from with me. Tony and Tiger were in the back seat and both of them had these HUGE afros back then, and they completely blocked the view out of back window.  All I could see was big hair!  I had to tell them many times to "part their hair" so I could see what was behind me! At least one of you lean to the left and one of you lean to the right!

* * * * *

Here's another funny Ole story straight from Ronnie.  Ronnie would try to get Ole to fly with him, and Ole never would. I don't remember why - if he was scared of flying or if he was scared of Ronnie!

In any event, Ronnie finally talked Ole into flying with him. Ronnie's plane had something like a glove box and it had broken so Ronnie had taken it out of the dash to fix it. So there was a gaping hole in the dash.  He knew Ole was nervous, so he decided to play a rib on him.  He put the broken box back in the dash and during pre-flight, he was telling Ole about the plane. He pointed to the box and told Ole that that was the most important part of the plane that kept it airborne and to be careful and not to bump it or anything.

When Ronnie took off, gravity took over and that loose box fell out right in Ole's lap.  Ronnie played up the rib, saying we're going to crash, and Ole was just having a fit. Ronnie started laughing and told Ole not to worry that everything was okay.  I'm betting Ole found another way back home that night rather than fly back with Ronnie!

Believe me, if Ronnie flew like he drove, I would NEVER have gotten in an airplane with him either.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Falls Count Anywhere

The "Flying" Scott Brothers and the Anderson Brothers battle all over the
Memorial Auditorium for a four week period in Greenville, SC.

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

There's very little I enjoy more than talking old school wrestling with some of my friends who are familiar with wrestling from an era just before I started watching as a regular fan. For me, that's the late 1960s and early 1970s. From Carroll Hall to Mike Mooneyham to Chuck Thornton and Don Holbrook, these guys have taught me so much about a time I just missed out on.

George and Sandy, the "Flying Scotts"
What I wouldn't give to be able to hear those "Two Ton" Harris promos when he complained to the NWA president Sam "Munch-nick" or to see the fiery red-headed manager J.C. Dykes and his team of the masked Infernos. I was just born about 10 years too late.

I was recently having one of those discussions, via email, with my friend Don Holbrook who grew up in Greenville, SC and attended most Monday night cards at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in the late 1960s and 1970s. Don was telling me another tale of a wild night of wrestling at the GMA.

"I remember one time (promoter) Paul Winkhaus told me on the previous Tuesday in Columbia, SC, Brute Bernard was chased all over the building and out the front door into the street and back to the ring by George Scott during a main event," Don wrote me. "I asked Wink a couple weeks later whatever happened next, and he said the next week they had a "falls count anywhere" rematch. Can you imagine 9:45 at night driving down Taylor Street in Columbia and seeing George Scott chasing Brute down the sidewalk?"

Don continued: "Funny thing is, a few months or so after he told me this, George Scott chased Gene Anderson all through the lobby and back to the ring in Greenville, followed the next week by a "falls count anywhere" bout between the Scotts and the Andersons."

Gene and Ole Anderson
"The Minnesota Wrecking Crew"
I loved that story. I thought I'd try and track down the newspaper clipping for that show and post it here, and asked Don if he remembered exactly when that was.

"By now you know I'm terrible with dates and time-frames," he wrote, "but I'm going to try to figure out a date or at least a year for you. I do remember Sam "Lucky" Roberts was the referee because he was running behind George and Gene with his face all red and his pot-belly, trying to keep up with them as they ran around the building. Also, the cops were going nuts because people were trying to follow them."

Mark Eastridge has an amazing collection of newspaper clippings we are blessed to be able to present here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, but without a year to at least narrow it down by, and with Greenville running around 50 shows a year in those days, it would be like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.

So I called Carroll Hall, who is a as close to walking, talking encyclopedia on 1960s Crockett wrestling as you will ever find. I told him Don's story and he immediately was able to give me a year.

"1969 was the only year Brute Bernard, the Scotts, and the Andersons would have all over-lapped in main events," he told me. he popped that off without even a hesitation. I'm telling you, Carroll Hall is other-worldly when it comes to that stuff.

So I went to the Eastridge archives kept hidden away in the back of the batcave and started looking through Greenville newspaper ads for 1969.

And there it was - on a Monday night as usual, March 10, 1969. George and Sandy Scott vs. Gene and Ole Anderson.



The Greenville ads in those days, written by local promoter Paul Winkhaus who was one of Jim Crockett, Sr. and John Ringley's trusted lieutenants. Winkhaus took great care in including a brief bit of info in each add that gave some matter of context to the main event. For this week it was written:
  
"Falls will count wherever they are scored, in the ring or out, in this return match between bitter rivals." 

As I looked at other adds around that same time, I discovered that Greenville ran this match as their main event for four -- yes, four! -- weeks in a row! Each week built on what happened the previous week, and each week added a different stipulation. It's a great look into how wrestling was booked back in those days when you had to draw a house every single week.


THE SCOTT BROTHERS VS. THE ANDERSON BROTHERS

Match #1 - Monday, February 24, 1969
The "Flying" Scott brothers meet the Anderson brothers. The ad proclaims "Ranking teams meet in a tag team match." The newspaper result says the Andersons won that bout in two out of three falls. This would have been the show Don remembers where George Scott chased Gene Anderson around the building. it set up the "fall count anywhere" affair two weeks later.


Match #2 - Monday, March  10, 1969
With no wrestling card held the following week 3/3, wrestling returned on 3/10. After last week's chase around the Greenville Memorial auditorium, the Scotts met the Andersons in a falls-count- anywhere stipulation. (See the newspaper ad above.) The ad read "Falls will count wherever they are scored, in the ring or out, in this return match between bitter rivals." The newspaper reports that once again the Andersons were victors in the 2-of-3 fall contest.


Match #3 - Monday, March  17, 1969
Apparently the Andersons continued to use under-handed antics to win these matches, because the following week, the two teams met for the third straight show with Texas Death match rules in effect. The ad read: "In a Texas-style DEATH MATCH the falls scored do not determine the outcome of the match. There is NO TIME LIMIT and the two teams wrestle until one or the other cannot answer the bell for the next fall or concedes the victory to the other." The newspaper result states the Scotts outlasted the Andersons in this contest. We're guessing that the Anderson ran from the ring at the end of this brutal affair, because these two teams were going to meet one more time.


Match #4 - Monday, March  24, 1969
Two weeks later, the two teams met for the final time. This time the stipulation was a "LOGGER TAG TEAM MATCH." A logger match was another name for a lumberjack match. The newspaper ad read: "Eight big wrestlers will surround the ring with orders to immediately throw back onto the mat anybody who attempts to run away. There will be NO ESCAPE FOR ANYBODY in this match." Lumberjacks were Abe Jacobs, Les Wolff, Billy and Jimmy Hines, Bobby Paul, El Gaucho, Randy Curtis, and Pancho Valdez. The newspaper results report that the Scotts were victorious in this final chapter in their month long saga.

See TV Wrestling every Saturday at 1 PM on channel 4! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"World World Wrestling" Theme Music (1986)




Always liked this particular version of the "World Wide Wrestling" theme music. Someone has taken the opening video and added the remainder of the music through to the end of the cut. Well done.

There were at least three instrumental variations/arrangements of the final bars of this song that played out over the years. One in particular was a bit of a different take used in 1988. I'll try to locate that and post the audio of that here as well.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's own Big Boss Man


by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

When word came out recently about the Big Boss Man, the infamous prison guard from Cobb County, Georgia being selected for inclusion in the WWE Hall of Fame, it got me to thinking about another Big Boss Man in professional wrestling. While Ray Traylor’s Big Boss Man character was the most famous under that moniker, it’s probably been forgotten or is a well kept secret, that Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling had a “Big Boss Man” of their own in the late summer of 1974. And the man using that name to describe himself was none other than a young Ric Flair!
Yes, before he was the “Nature Boy,” Ric Flair was the self-proclaimed “Big Boss Man!” Flair only referred to himself as the Big Boss Man for around a month or so, but Ric was at his obnoxious best while he was doing it. Flair wasn’t posing as a renegade prison guard; it was just Ric being loud-mouthed Ric!

In the summer of 1974 Ric Flair teamed up with the legendary Carolina’s veteran Rip “The Profile” Hawk, and they soon became the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions. On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program that was taped on August 14, 1974, Flair and Hawk were interviewed by announcer Bob Caudle. The rambunctious Flair told Caudle, “Let me tell you something daddy…I’ve got a new name for myself! Everywhere I go the people are shouting, WOOOOO, there goes the Big Boss Man!! You know why? Because every BOY like Conway and like King, they gotta have a boss! And when they see me they say, ‘WOOOOO, what’s happening Big Boss Man,’ that’s what they say to me! When they get in the ring with me they say, ‘WOOOO, what’s happening Big Boss Man?’ They say, ‘Please Big Boss Man don’t hurt me; please don’t hit me too hard.’ Ain’t that right, Mr. Hawk?” Naturally, Rip agreed!

Of course, back in 1974 professional wrestling and society in general was much different than it is today. The “Conway” and “King” Ric referred to were two beloved African American wrestlers, Tiger Conway, Jr. and Sonny King. Both Conway and King had arrived in the Mid-Atlantic territory in the early summer of 1974. Conway came in as an athletic high flying newcomer, while King came in to challenge the “bad guys” that injured his brother, Bearcat Wright. Both of these great black stars, particularly Conway, were pitted frequently against Flair, who at the time was also a relative newcomer to Jim Crockett Promotions.

The racially tinged “Big Boss Man” comments in 1974 certainly did not then, and do not now, reflect the feelings of the man Ric Flair. However, the professional wrestling character Ric Flair at that time was able to generate lots of “heat” with black and white fans alike, by going down what would be called today a politically incorrect road. Racial stereotypes were utilized, insinuated and implied regularly in professional wrestling in 1974, and Ric Flair playing the role as the “Big Boss Man” had its existence within the culture of that day in time. No matter what we may think of the propriety of Ric Flair anointing himself as the Big Boss Man, one thing is for sure, it gave the Mid-Atlantic fans in 1974 yet another reason to hate this young “bad guy” star on the rise!

The shelf life of Ric Flair, the Big Boss Man, as mentioned above was actually quite short. Within a month or so, Ric gradually stopped referring to himself by that name in the fall of 1974. Interestingly, Flair didn’t “boss” around Tiger Conway, Jr. or Sonny King much in the ring! Conway’s first run in the territory lasted until February of 1975, and Tiger fought Ric on pretty much even terms. Ditto for the in-ring results between Flair and King, with Sonny leaving the area in July of 1975.

Ric Flair as the Big Boss Man is certainly well housed in the moth balls of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling history. I’m glad the contemporary Big Boss Man, Ray Traylor, was brought back to the forefront recently. It jogged my memory to go back in time and reflect on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling’s Big Boss Man, and a vastly different era in professional wrestling.

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/us-title-book.html


Saturday, March 19, 2016

All in the Family: Anderson Blood is Thicker Than Water

In 1978, Gene Anderson helped Ric Flair keep the United States Championship from falling back into the hands of Ricky Steamboat. It wasn't a conspiracy; Flair never saw it coming. Gene Anderson did it for family.


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One of my favorite angles from 1970s Mid-Atlantic Wrestling is one of many great wrestling angles from the past that are largely forgotten today. It's part of why David Chappell and I publish this website; we intend on keeping these memories alive. This particular angle involved Ric Flair and the Andersons. The major component of that fondly remembered angle connected with me on a base level because it supported an important personal belief as well as an age old proverb - -  blood is thicker than water.

Ric Flair was written into two different wrestling families when he entered the Mid-Atlantic territory in early 1974. It was first explained that he was the nephew of veteran Rip Hawk. Hawk had recently spilt with longtime tag team partner Swede Hanson, and booker George Scott decided it would be good if Flair could become his new tag team partner, and in the process get the rub from the legendary "Ripper." Together, the pair won the Mid-Atlantic tag team titles in the summer of 1974, giving Flair his very first championship wrestling championship.

When Rip Hawk left the territory shortly thereafter, Scott decide to make Flair a cousin of the Anderson Brothers, the famed "Minnesota Wrecking Crew." This familial relationship stuck, and the tale of Flair as a member of the famous Anderson family continued to be an ongoing part of wrestling story lines for the better part of next 25 years, as Flair and "cousin" Arn Anderson continued to work together as part of the legendary Four Horsemen in WCW until the late 1990s, and the family relationship was always acknowledged.

But the family relationship between Flair and the Anderson was a tortuous one in the 1970s and early 1980s with various splits in the family over that 15 year period.

The first fissure took place in the fall of 1976 when Flair took recently-arrived Greg Valentine as his tag team partner and the two defeated Gene and Ole Anderson for the NWA world tag team championships. That break-up between Flair and his cousins captured the imagination of wrestling fans at the time and those two teams did big business in the territory in the year 1977 even though it was basically part-time business. The Anderson Brothers were full time in Georgia Championship Wrestling where Ole was now booking. Basically, their feud with Flair and Valentine was conducted with the Andersons making semi-regular weekend shots into the Mid-Atlantic territory to chase the titles.

Flair and Valentine had their share of supporters in the feud, mostly younger fans who identified with the two cocky, blond wrestlers. Most longtime fans, though, supported the Andersons and they actually became major fan favorites during that time period in the Mid-Atlantic area.

As the year 1977 rolled on, the Andersons would regain the world tag team titles, taking them to Georgia and trading the titles with Dusty Rhodes and Dick Slater in the Georgia area. In late October, Valentine and Flair regained the titles and brought them back to the Mid-Atlantic territory. In the process, they badly injured Gene Anderson, and although the injury was part of the ongoing story, Gene Anderson was in real-life need of neck surgery and was out of action for months. His surgery was written into the story as an injury from his cousin Ric Flair.

When Gene returned to full time action in the spring of 1978, he remained popular with the fans and even served as a special referee for several single matches between Wahoo McDaniel and Greg Valentine for the Mid-Atlantic tag team championship, as well as for a U.S. title matche between cousin Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat. It was thought that Gene would be totally impartial in these matches because of the animosity with cousin Flair and Greg Valentine, but also because he had no particular allegiance to the babyface dressing room, either.

Gene Anderson and Ric Flair
(Photo courtesy Brad Anderson)
But that's where family ties finally won out.

On July 16, 1978 in Greensboro, NC, in the middle of the white hot feud between Flair and Steamboat that had been going on for well over a year, Gene Anderson was appointed special referee for a U.S. title match. Flair was the defending champion and was furious that Gene was named referee and felt the fix was in with Steamboat to steal the title from him.

For most of the match, Gene appeared to officiate the action right down the middle. Flair had the advantage early on, but as the match wore on Steamboat began to take control, with several near falls. Finally, Steamboat climbed to the top turnbuckle to deliver his signature flying body press. It appeared to everyone that Steamboat was moments away from regaining the coveted United States Championship belt.

But as Steamboat leapt from the top turnbuckle, Gene shoved Flair out of the way, causing Steamboat to crash to the mat, momentarily stunned from missing the big dive. Flair quickly covered  him and Gene made a very fast count. Flair had retained the title.

As you can imagine, fans were furious over what they had just seen. But you could almost see on their faces that they were as angry at themselves as they were with Anderson and Flair. After all, fans told themselves, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We just knew we couldn't trust that dirty rotten bastard Gene Anderson. But we did, and he turned on us, and he tuned on Steamboat and cost him his shot to regain the title.

After the three-count, Flair looked up in disbelief. It was almost as if he couldn't believe what had just happened. That's what made this angle work for me: it wasn't a conspiracy between Flair and Gene Anderson. Flair had no idea Gene was going to interfere and help him retain the title. When it came down to brass tacks, and Gene saw Steamboat ready to take the title, Gene made the personal decision to help his family. When Flair fully realized what had just happened, he ran forward and leapt into the arms of his cousin, the two embracing for a moment in the ring.

Gene handed the U.S. title belt to Flair who triumphantly held it over his head and taunted Steamboat as well as the fans. Things were starting to get out of hand at ringside with angry fans pounding the mat, pointing and swearing at Anderson. Debris was being thrown in the ring.

The Greensboro Coliseum began to riot.

Back in those days, there was very little in the way of security, maybe just a couple of cops at ringside. There were no railways lining the aisle to the locker rooms. Heel wrestlers sometimes literally had to fight their way to the back. It looked like the two cousins, reunited at last, were getting ready to have to do just that.

The 16mm film of this whole thing was shown on "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling." As a teenage fan watching this on television, I loved this angle. I had chosen sides with the Andersons in their feud with Flair and Valentine over the last years. Seeing family win out in this way - - that blood was truely thicker than water - - connected with me in a big way. For the first time as a wrestling fan, I became a bonafide fan of the heels. What Gene Anderson did was certainly a "bad guy" thing to do, and it had cost precious Ricky Steamboat his shot at regaining the U.S. title. But I could't help myself. Seeing the family reunite, seeing Flair literally leap into the arms of Gene Anderson (which is still my most vivid memory of the whole thing) after the deed was done, was just amazing to me.

And this wasn't the first time the family aspect had played out with the Andersons in a major Mid-Atlantic angle.  The other great example of that was the angle that hooked me as a wrestling fan to begin with, when in 1975 Ole Anderson sacrificed his own brother Gene so that the two could regain the NWA world tag team titles from Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones. It was two brothers doing what was necessary to win championships. Admittedly, it was all sort of weird and sick and twisted as only wrestling can be, but still it was the story of family winning out in the end.

Even though Flair had reunited with his cousins in 1978, the family would be ripped apart again in 1981 when Flair and Ole Anderson had some of the most bloody battles of their careers. They would reunite again, this time with cousin Arn Anderson, during the early years of the Four Horsemen. It would be Ole's turn to fall out with the family in early 1987 as Flair and Arn kicked Ole out of the Horsemen in early 1987. They would all three reunite once again 1989.

Every detail of the Anderson family drama involving Flair and his cousins over those 25 years is laid out in great detail in the book "Minnesota Wrecking Crew", which is a timeline history of the Anderson family including all of the Andersons (Gene, Lars, Ole, and Arn) as well as Ric Flair anytime he was involved in the family story. You can buy the book for under $10 on Amazon.com. It is jam packed with rare photographs of the Anderson family and Flair throughout.



Post Script:
So if Ric Flair was the nephew of Rip Hawk, and also the cousin of the Andersons, then that must make Rip Hawk and the Andersons related in some way, correct? Makes perfect sense to me. Of course, that story was never officially told, but I've often day-dreamed how it actually might have been possible. I once even tried to diagram a family tree! That story, a bit of "fantasy Anderson family" booking is coming someday soon on the Gateway.


Friday, March 18, 2016

The Ace of Belts





Cool video about one of my best friends, Dave Millican, without whom I simply couldn't have written "Ten Pounds of Gold."

Yeah, he's a ROCK STAR.

(Note: Video may take a few seconds to load because, well, ....it's Yahoo video.)

Remembering the Super Destroyer

by Don Holbrook
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

During the mid-1970s, Jim Crockett Promotions hired a man named Don Jardine. Some people may not recognize him by that name because he was better known as the masked wrestler The Super Destroyer.

Signed photo to Don Holbrook from Don Jardine.
Jardine wrestled as both the Spoiler and Super Destroyer
Upon his arrival in the Mid-Atlantic area, Jardine had already had great success in other areas as The Spoiler. Jardine brought something unique to Crockett Promotions. A big man by the standards of that era, he could not only wrestle but he could move like a cat. Many times in the matches, he would walk the top rope like a cat. He was also able to work the crowd, draw heat and motivate fans to buy a ticket.

Some of Jardine’s biggest feuds while in the Mid-Atlantic area were with Wahoo McDaniel, Jerry Brisco, and Sonny King. He also teamed quite frequently with men like Johnny Valentine, Ivan Koloff, Brute Bernard, and others.

I will never forget seeing the Super Destroyer Monday nights in Greenville, SC, at the Memorial Auditorium and on Saturday nights in Spartanburg, SC. Like many of the other heels that appeared in the Spartanburg memorial Auditorium, Jardine would usually park on the campus of Wofford College, which sits directly behind the Auditorium. As he would make his way toward the Auditorium, he would walk right past a dormitory where students would be standing at their windows, some cheering and some booing and swearing at him. I remember seeing the little kids, mostly little black children, standing on the bank that looked down at the back side of the auditorium and I remember seeing one of them one night getting up enough nerve to chunk a rock at the Super D and Johnny Valentine, narrowly missing them. I will always remember Super D turning around and looking up at the kids and all of them scattering as quickly as possible, scared to death.

To this day, I regret that Jardine left Crockett’s territory so suddenly after having a disagreement with booker George Scott. It was, to me at least, a sad day for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Jardine never returned to the Mid-Atlantic area, but will never be forgotten by many of us who followed wrestling in the Carolinas during the 1970s. The Super Destroyer was the consummate performer. People loved to hate him. He could make any bout with any opponent interesting.

Don Jardine is now retired from wrestling living in his native Canada. I am so fortunate to chat with him from time to time on the computer. He is a true gentleman and a great guy. I know from talking to him that he still loves the wrestling business and misses it. He always responds to my e-mail and in my opinion, he is one of the all time greats masked wrestlers.


This article, originally titled "I Remember the Super Destroyer",
 was published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in the early 2000s, 
 before Don Jardine's death.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Childhood Heroes at WGHP-TV Wrestling

FROM THE GATEWAY MAILBOX:
A Letter to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway following the posting of our WGHP Television Studio feature. Michael Roach talks about meeting two special childhood heroes. 


I spent many days at the TV tapings at High Point, and I got to know a lot of the guys, at least as well as a little kid that was star struck could. Two of my earliest memories are from those tapings.

WGHP wrestling announcer Charlie Harville
interviews Johnny Weaver
I never had a dad around, and even as a very young man I was already showing signs of going down a bad road. I was fighting and telling lies. My mom saw where this kind of thing could lead. Well one day after we went to the tapings at WGHP, she went over to Johnny Weaver and talked to him for a few minutes, then she called me over. I was in awe. The studio was empty other than us. Johnny was sitting on the ring near were the seats were and I was standing there next to him looking up at my hero. My mom had let him in on my acting up, and he asked me what was going on. I really don’t remember what I said, more than likely not a lot, people that have known me for a long time would be shocked that I was ever at a loss for words, but I was then. I do remember that he asked what I wanted to do with my life, and I said with out a moments thought that I wanted to be a wrestler. He smiled and said if I acted right at home and did not give my mom problems, and did good in school, that he would one day teach me how to wrestle.

Well I thought of that many times in my life after that. I ended up only being 5'8 so I never did call him on it! But I have no doubt that it changed my life. I did stop telling lies, and tried to be a good person, and I, to this day, try my best to live a life where I help people. In Just a few minutes he became my role model, and I will never forget that.

Then one day when we went to the taping, there where no seats left. I remember being upset that we would not be able to see the show, but then the coolest thing that could have happened to a kid happened. We ended up sitting with the wrestlers.

There was a small room that led into the studio. After the people were in there seats the guys would come in and sit there waiting for their matches. The guys were talking, and sitting around. I was looking at the monitor seeing the show, and then someone sat next to me. I looked over and it was Bob Bruggers. He said hello and talked to me for a bit. I asked him about himself, and then he told me that he had played football for the Miami Dolphins. WOW! That just blew me away.

Growing up in High Point we had no teams around, and the team that I loved was the Dolphins. This was near the end of the tapings there, around 1974 I think. After a few minutes he went out and did his match. I can not even tell you how cool it was to sit there and watch him walk away and then he was on the screen in front of me. I was yelling for him to do well. I remember the guys getting a laugh watching me get so into it.

Well you know what happened in 1975 not long after that. When the plane crash happened, I was in shock. When I heard he was in that plane, I felt that my friend was gone. What a damn shame that was, but I will always remember him for the kindness he showed a little kid one day in High Point.

I have so many good memories from that point in my life, going to the shows in Greensboro, and Winston Salem, and all over really. Thank you for starting this website. It is great to have these memories, and to know I am not the only one that really misses the days when the best show in the world was in my backyard.

- Michael Roach
February 2006


Monday, March 14, 2016

Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Super Destroyer: Round 1

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

When “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel entered the Mid-Atlantic area in the summer of 1974, he knew he was walking into a “lion’s den” of top villains who were looking to further their impressive reputations by knocking off the former NFL star. One of the biggest and meanest of that bunch was none other than the masked Super Destroyer.

On an edition of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on August 14, 1974, and that aired in many markets on August 17, 1974, the Destroyer decided to make his move against the Native American Mid-Atlantic newcomer. It was a move that the masked man would immediately regret!

After belittling Wahoo’s NFL career that had ended several years earlier, calling him a “has-been,” the Super D. laughed at how inferior McDaniel was to his former New York Jet teammate, quarterback Joe Namath. These reprehensible words were bad enough, but then the Destroyer, still in his street clothes, tried to get physical with Wahoo. Bad move!! The Destroyer lost a nice dress shirt, and a lot of his dignity, when Wahoo got hold of him briefly. The Destroyer then ran to the safe confines of the dressing room, at least for the short term dodging any more physical damage from the Indian.

But after a commercial break, Wahoo had plenty to say about this first confrontation against his masked rival. When speaking to announcer Bob Caudle, McDaniel was every bit as serious as President Richard Nixon was when he was addressing the nation six days earlier announcing his resignation from office. Wahoo told the viewing audience and the Destroyer, “I’ll rip that mask right off your face…I’ll rip it off! I know what you look like! I’ll rip it right off!” Caudle then commented, “Well, I tell you, you ripped his shirt right off up there in the ring, Wahoo. I’ll tell you, when they say when you get an Indian mad you got trouble, here’s a mad Indian right now!”

Wahoo was trying to cool down, but it was difficult! The Indian continued, “If you don’t think there’s any good competition around here, you just come poking your nose in my business. Because that’s the reason I came here, because there’s some good wrestlers here. And I’m not taking anything away from you. You’re probably great, you’re big, but you’re not super to me. I don’t think there’s anybody that’s super in that ring…there’s good and better.”

Bob Caudle then interjected, “Well, of course you know, he claims, and I don’t know whether it’s a fact or not, but that he’s had the mask for 12 years Wahoo, and he claims that he’s got to be great and he’s got to be super because nobody in the 12 years has been able to defeat him and unmask him.” A defiant McDaniel retorted, “No such words as ‘never’ and ‘can’t.’ If he messes with me, I promise you the mask will go. That little cheap shirt I tore off you…it’s nothing! When I rip that mask off you, and the people see who you are, and you don’t make any money, and that’s what you’re in the business for is to make money, and everybody knows who you are…then you can go somewhere else and wrestle. I’ll say Destroyer, I’m not going to say Super Destroyer, but like I said…there’s nobody super.”

However, Wahoo certainly wasn’t taking the Destroyer lightly. “He’s great…no doubt about that. But if you want some competition I’m here, and I’m here to stay. A lot of Indians around this area, I have a lot of pride. Been pushing Indians around for many years, well, the pushing is over! I’m stopping right here, the Carolinas, I’m going to spend a long two or three years here playing golf and wrestling. You the Destroyer, Valentine, Koloff, any of you, bring ‘em on. I’m here to stay,” McDaniel exclaimed.

What seemed to gall Wahoo the most was the Super D. downplaying his professional skills, particularly when he was playing football. Wahoo explained, “I’ve got a good background. When you said has-been, boy, you got my dander up. Because I’ll tell you what, being a has-been is better than being a never-was! And my record speaks for itself. And I don’t want to be like Joe Namath.” Caudle backed the Chief saying, “No, I agree, I don’t think you would be one to look up to a fellow like Joe Namath, Wahoo.” McDaniel shot back, “That’s right! I did my share in football, and I’m doing my share right in this ring. If you don’t think I have…check the records!”

This was the first salvo of an on- and- off war between Wahoo and the Destroyer over the next year. There were multiple battles between these two, with a number of stipulations involved. While the matches were often inconclusive as to their outcomes, Wahoo made several comments along the way about taking the Super Destroyer’s mask off before the end of the year 1975. And as it turned out, nearly a year after “Round 1” between Wahoo and the Destroyer, August 20, 1975 to be exact, it was announced on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV that the Super Destroyer was unmasked by Wahoo and two others, and was revealed to be Don Jardine. Wahoo was then no doubt harkening back to “Round 1” between these two and thinking to himself…not too bad for a has-been, huh?

Slam! Wrestling: Charlie Fulton Obituary

Journeyman Charlie Fulton passes
by Greg Oliver, Slam Wrestling

Charlie Fulton, who died yesterday, was a role player in the wrestling business, making his way up and down cards on a full-time basis from 1968 to 1985, and then occasionally donning the tights until 1992. While he was proud of his longevity, there was a “What If?” factor for Fulton too.

“The way I worked, if I had been born about 10 years earlier—I was born in 1949—and if I was born in ’39, this might sound silly to you, but right around 1959, 1960, if I had gotten into the business, I would have been working, and that’s when guys like Buddy Rogers and Buddy Austin and Magnificent Maurice, Johnny Barend, and all these guys were. I’d have loved to have been in that time,” he confessed in 2011…..

Read the entire article on the Slam! Wrestling website by clicking here.

Friday, March 11, 2016

1973 JCP Softball Team

UPDATED 3/12 with identification of those in the photo.

With Major League Baseball's spring training underway and the 2016 baseball season right around the corner, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the 1973 JCP softball team!

This photo is from the July 1973 issue of "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine" and was taken by legendary wrestling photographer Gene Gordon.



This was an amazing gathering of top wrestling talent, not to mention top talent on the diamond!

Front row (L-R): Nelson Royal, Johnny Weaver, Scott Casey, Klondike Bill.

Back Row (L-R): Jack Reid (Coach), David Royal (Coach), Les Thatcher, Big Boy Brown (very back), Angelo Martinelli, Bob Roop, Jerry Brisco, Ronnie Garvin, Sandy Scott.



http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/us-title-book.html

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Mid-Atlantic's Dick Murdoch was "Sensational"

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway


For about eight months in 1978, fans of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling had the good fortune of watching the ring escapades of “Sensational” Dick Murdoch from Waxahachie, Texas. Despite his very brief tenure in the territory, Murdoch made his presence felt, and left a lasting impression on everybody that saw him wrestle while he was in Jim Crockett Promotions.

Murdoch was a fan favorite during his 1978 stint in the Mid-Atlantic area, but interestingly he first appeared in the territory for several appearances around the Thanksgiving holiday in 1977, and wrestled as a “bad guy.” Dick must have gotten the “evilness” out of his system, because when he reappeared in February of 1978, he was a salt of the earth and good ol’ country boy “good guy.” In fact, Murdoch embraced being called a “redneck,” and the fans couldn’t get enough of it!

From his entry into the area in 1978, the promotion christened Murdoch with the “Sensational” moniker, and if you only looked skin deep at Dick, you might have wondered how or why. However, the old adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover definitely applied to Dick Murdoch. Ken Patera once described Murdoch as having “buggy-whipped arms, concave chest, a toothless mouth, spindly legs and a pot belly.” That description belied the fact that Dick was deceivingly strong, tremendously agile for a six foot four inch 285 pound man and could cut a promo with the best of them.

Dick’s coming out party for Jim Crockett Promotions came on a March 15, 1978 television taping, where fellow Texan Wahoo McDaniel had been left without a tag team partner due to the absence of Ken Patera. Wahoo went out of the TV studio and came back with Murdoch, who screamed out, “This ain’t gonna take long!” The opponents, NWA World Tag Team Champion’s Ric Flair and Greg Valentine dismissed Murdoch’s involvement as just a redneck off the street. The champs were in for a big surprise!

Murdoch ran circles around Flair and Valentine for much of the match, and then was able to catch Ric in his patented “brain buster” finishing hold. Dick dropped Flair right on his head, stunning the “Nature Boy” and leading to a quick three count! The Texans were riding high, while the World Tag Team Champions were left in stunned disbelief. Dick Murdoch had made believers of the Mid-Atlantic fans on this night!

As the calendar moved to April of 1978, Murdoch made amends with a former adversary from Texas, big Blackjack Mulligan. Blackjack and Ric Flair had split in the famous “Hat and Robe” angle, and Mulligan became the immediate target of a $10,000.00 bounty put out on him by the “Nature Boy.” In time, Murdoch came to Mulligan’s side, and the two were partners in many a tag team bout where the Bounty was at stake through the spring and early summer of 1978. Mulligan and Murdoch’s bond became so tight,that they in time started to call themselves the “M & M Boys,” after baseball’s Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

During the summer of 1978, Murdoch turned to doing some sporadic TV announcing with George Scott as the permanent new host for the World Wide Wrestling television show had not been finalized. Dick was both informative and entertaining in this short broadcasting stint, but he made it clear to the fans that his forte was wrestling in the ring, not talking about it.

The summer of 1978 also saw Murdoch make a strong bid for Ric Flair’s United States Heavyweight Title. Murdoch and Flair went around to the territory’s big towns, and put on action-packed and highly entertaining championship bouts. Flair held onto his prized title, but often times only by the slimmest of margins.

As great as the Flair-Murdoch U.S. Title bouts were, the verbal lead-up to them was nearly as good. Dick, wearing a “Tri-County Fertilizer” baseball cap, said Flair reminded him of one of those words, and it wasn’t Tri-County! Ric responded that Murdoch was a “dirt farmer,” and further that he was “a redneck personified.” Dick responded the Flair looked “like a bellman at the Waldorf Astoria.” And on and on it went!

After Murdoch’s U.S. Title run petered out, the M & M Boys turned their attention to the new NWA World Tag Team champions, Baron von Raschke and Greg Valentine, and Dick also wrestled tags with other partners. The M & M Boys also turned Virginia Beach, Virginia into their own personal playground in the summer and early fall of 1978, where Murdoch earned the nickname “hammer-head.” When his Virginia Beach escapades got mentioned on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV, Murdoch told announcer Bob Caudle with a gleam in his eye, “Yeah, the M & M Boys kinda found a home up there.”

When October 27, 1978 rolled around, Baron von Raschke and Greg Valentine put up their World Tag Team Titles against the M & M Boys at the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia. Everything suggested pre-match that this could be a monumental night...a title change was in the air! Unfortunately, it was monumental but not for the reasons many thought going in. Instead, it turned out to be Dick Murdoch’s last match in the Mid-Atlantic area. An injury to Murdoch at the hands of Raschke and Valentine forced Mulligan to carry Murdoch back “across the Red River” into Texas to heal up. Dick Murdoch never wrestled in the Mid-Atlantic area again.

The self-proclaimed “King of the Rednecks” whose favorite food was “Lone Star beer” had a much too short run in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. But nobody squeezed more exciting wrestling, entertainment and all around good times into such a tiny window of time. Dick Murdoch may have only registered as a “blip” overall on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling radar screen, but he was a SENSATIONAL “blip” that I will never forget.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

"Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods

One of our favorite websites is Mike Cline's "Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats" which features a collection of photos and articles from old wrestling magazines and programs from the 1960s-1980s, including an occasional essay by Cline himself.

He recently featured some great photos of one of our favorites from the 1970s "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods.

Check those out and all the great blog posts from an old-school fan who works hard to share his memories on his blog.

The Tom Woods post is here: More of Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods
The main website link is here: Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats

Monday, March 07, 2016

Crockett Foundation Tag Team Partners T-Shirt

https://crockettfoundation.com/store/

"Tag in! Help out!" 

Help commemorate the 85th Anniversary of JCP, while also helping a Veteran in need with our new Crockett Foundation Tag Team Partners Shirt.

A portion of each sale goes directly towards helping veterans and retired service dogs.

Support the good work of the Crockett Foundation!

Visit the Crockett Foundation's online store.


Sunday, March 06, 2016

Beautiful Noise: First Recollections of Wrestling

FIRST RECOLLECTIONS
by Wayne Brower
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It was the sounds that drew me. Little did I know that what I was about to witness would hold my interests over the next fifty plus years.

In the late 1950s my grandparents moved to a new home in the rural community of Sophia, North Carolina. Spending a weekend there was fun for a curious kid who got to play in the pasture and be around the farm animals.

Walking into their house on that fateful Saturday afternoon, I heard noises coming from the den. The television was loud, and Grandpa was louder. The sounds of a crowd included boos, cheers, and assorted yelling. Entering the room I could see on the black and white Zenith two guys fighting in a ring, involved in a spectacle of action and drama. The audience on the show liked one of the men, but not the other. I didn’t know who those guys were, but they and grandpa sure put on a show.

It was wrestling. To the best of my memory, it was the first time I ever saw it. At the end of the match, a commercial appeared telling about matches we could attend in person somewhere in the area. I wanted to go there and see it myself.

Angelo Martinelli
from the Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats site.
The next match was somewhat like the first in that it involved another good guy and bad guy against each other, but this time I remembered the name of the young man who won - Angelo Martinelli. Angelo would appear in many matches as a wrestler and a referee well into the 1970s.

Grandma and one of my aunts came in to watch. My aunt told me that she had been to wrestling at a live event, and that she would take me sometime. She never did.

The main event was announced as an “Australian tag team match, two out of three falls” that later got the crowd, both in the studio and the room where we sat, under near riot conditions. The heels causing the commotion were Mike and Doc Gallagher. In my child’s mind I decided these guys were truly evil – and smart. They taunted the crowd before and during the match, all the while performing their dastardly deeds that somehow were never seen by the referee. Their signature maneuver was Mike distracting while Doc grabbed his opponent in a headlock and stabbed the guy in the throat with an outstretched thumb. And they got away with it!

“Them cheatin’ (expletives deleted)!” Grandpa said as he stomped the floor. What an educational weekend. I received an introduction to professional wrestling, along with new words for my vocabulary.

The match was a two straight fall squash against jobbers whose identities escape me. Thankfully, the announcer assures us that justice will prevail next Saturday night in a nearby town when the Gallaghers will have to face the team of George Becker and Billy Two Rivers.

“Becker and that Indian will get ‘em.” My aunt assures me.

Later that evening grandma watched the Lawrence Welk Show on the same channel. But neither Mr. Welk nor his Champagne Music Makers could equal the spectacle I had experienced earlier that afternoon.



Originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway February 2004
Photo from Mid-AtlanticGrapplinGreats.blogspot.com

Friday, March 04, 2016

Flair vs. Wahoo: Hair vs. The Mid-Atlantic Title!

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One of the most intriguing matches of 1975 in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wresting pitted the brash “Nature Boy” Ric Flair against the defending Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight champion, “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel. What made this bout particularly noteworthy going in, was that Flair promised to have his priceless “golden mane” shaved off if he didn’t walk out of the Hampton Roads Coliseum with the Mid-Atlantic belt!

The lead-up to this September 20, 1975 “dream match” was interesting. Wahoo McDaniel claimed the Mid-Atlantic Title on June 29, 1975 in Asheville, North Carolina, with a spectacular victory over Johnny “The Champ” Valentine. Ric Flair had been the proud holder of the Mid-Atlantic Television Title for much of 1975, until he was upended for that belt on August 8, 1975 by “Number One” Paul Jones in Richmond, Virginia. It wasn’t until his loss of the TV Title that Flair turned his attention to Wahoo, and the Mid-Atlantic Title. Until then, Ric and Wahoo had only wrestled against each other in a singles match a handful of times.

The television promos for the match that aired on WAVY-TV Channel 10 in Norfolk, Virginia, gave the fans a real sense of the magnitude of this bout. Wahoo told the interviewer Les Thatcher, “Well you know, I think Ric Flair this time with his big mouth has really overloaded himself. The man wanted a title match, and I decided if he wants a title match, he deserves to put up something equally as important as this belt is to me, and that’s his hair. He brags about his beautiful body and how wonderful he looks. Can you imagine on TV with the man standing here, in front of all you people, with his head shining…with the light shining on it? The bald eagle, that’s what we’d have to call him! Well, let me tell you something Flair. I don’t think, and the people don’t think, I just don’t think you’re man enough to take this belt away from me. I fought hard to get this belt from your friend Valentine, and I tell you one thing, I’m gonna fight hard to keep it. And I know, this would be the talk of the whole world if you couldn’t beat me and they had to shave your head. You realize that everybody in the world would be talking about it, and you’d be the laughingstock of the world?!”

When it was time for Ric Flair to respond with his own promo, announcer Les Thatcher recited the stipulations again for the fans and said , “Ric, you could come home bald-headed.” A defiant Flair loudly responded, “That will never happen! You think for a moment that I would put up a million dollar head of hair…I mean a million dollar head of hair?! Without this hair I would be nothing. You understand what I’m talking about? No sex life, no Raquel Welsh, no Cadillac’s… nothing! So Wahoo McDaniel I want you to know it in your heart, I want you to feel it in your heart. I can beatcha, I know I can beatcha, I’m gonna beatcha…anyway I can. Because I want that belt, and I’m gonna keep my hair. McDaniel, mark my words!”

On that fateful September night in Hampton, as the summer turned to fall, the match between Ric and Wahoo turned into a classic bout that made its way onto the 1975 Year in Review TV show that aired in many Mid-Atlantic markets on December 27, 1975, where announcer Bob Caudle and Wahoo McDaniel discussed it at length. Bob told Wahoo, “At the risk of bringing back a few pains to you, we want see that, and I think the fans want to see that, because it was one of the great matches of the year.” Wahoo countered, “It was a great match. I put my belt up against his hair, and believe me, he fought for his life.”

In the early part of the match highlights where Ric was controlling the action, Wahoo said, “As you can see, a lot of his style he learned from Valentine…big forearms and the knees. The man just improved tremendously over the year…The man, you have to understand one thing, has put his hair up in this match. It’s just a tough battle.”

When Wahoo gained the advantage later in the bout, Bob Caudle commented, “You know, usually when that Indian dance starts Wahoo, it’s all over.”  In response, Wahoo said, “That’s right, but he kept gettin’ up. That seemed to be the problem, all of these…Brisco, him and Valentine, they just kept gettin’ up. I got the suplex on him here, and I thought for sure I had the man right here. You see, he managed to get his foot over on a two count…very close. He’s fightin’ for his life, and I’ve definitely got it going my way here.”

During this portion of the highlight film, Wahoo is pummeling Ric with vicious chops, but is amazed by Flair’s staying power, saying, “Ninety percent of the guys I hit that hard would never get up!” Bob Caudle concurred, “It’s almost unbelievable that he came back and won that match!” Commentator David Crockett then chimed in on Ric’s pedigree, noting that, “You must mention too, like he said, that he was trained by Johnny Valentine; he’s also cousins of the Anderson brothers.” Wahoo continued on Flair, “He’s in great, tremendous shape. He’s 255 pounds.”

When the “Nature Boy” appeared to be a beaten man, his ring awareness got him to the ropes where McDaniel was forced to break. Wahoo exclaimed, “Well, he’s getting smart. I would say four, five, six months ago he wouldn’t have done this. But now the man is championship caliber.” The highlight film continued to show the “Chief” holding the upper hand. A brutal backdrop by Wahoo appeared to have finished Ric off. Wahoo said, “He must have gone up six or seven feet in the air!” Flair was again able to escape by putting his foot on the rope before the three count. “You know where he got puttin’ that foot on the rope from…you’ve seen Valentine wrestle many times were he saved himself,” McDaniel lamented.

Flair’s reprieve seemed short lived, as Wahoo went back immediately wailing away on Ric with violent chops, to the point that Flair seemed to be out on his feet. When things appeared at their darkest for Flair and his long blonde hair, the “Nature Boy” went deep into his bag of tricks. Bob Caudle exclaimed, “Hey, the referee got between you! Hey, what did he do there, Wahoo?!” McDaniel answered, “He came out…and he knocked me cold. Now, this is the first time in my life that I had ever been knocked out like that with one punch. I didn’t know until later until I saw the film what had happened.” An incredulous Bob Caudle queried Wahoo, “Did he put any knucks on; looks like he put something on his hand?” An increasingly agitated McDaniel replied, “According to the film he had something on his hand, and the man knocked me out and took the belt… and this is a blemish in 1976 that I’m going to erase from my record. My first quest is to get my belt back and beat Ric Flair.”

As the highlight film turned to post-match activity, Caudle commented, “There he is…he’s a happy youngster after having beaten you Wahoo.” McDaniel admitted, “He’s a happy youngster. He has a reason to be, he’s got the belt and he fought hard. But right at the end there, if the man hadn’t hit me with something I don’t think the man would have taken the belt from me.” Wahoo then pointedly ended this film review by telling Flair, “He better be ready when he comes back, and he better have something to say, and he better be ready to fight. Because I’m gonna get my belt back!”

After Flair’s controversial triumph, fans across the area were excited about the rematches sure to come, and the prospect of their favorite Wahoo McDaniel regaining his Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship belt. As fate would have it, those rematches between Ric and Wahoo, regrettably, would not happen for a very long time. Ric was severely injured in the famous plane crash in Wilmington, North Carolina on October 4, 1975 that put him out of action for about four months. Flair and Wahoo didn’t wrestle in a singles match again until January 31, 1976, when Ric captured a count out win over the “Chief” in the Greensboro Coliseum.

Although delayed, the feud over the Mid-Atlantic Title that was begun in earnest by the “Hair vs. Title” match was well worth the wait, as these two superstars battled over the Mid-Atlantic belt throughout 1976, with multiple title switches. The matches typically broke down into sheer pandemonium, with much blood spilled on both sides. It wasn’t until the end of the year, specifically December 27, 1976 in the Richmond Coliseum, that Wahoo put an end to this epic feud over the Mid-Atlantic Championship by besting Ric in a no time limit, no disqualification bout where McDaniel promised to never wrestle in Richmond again if he didn’t reclaim the Mid-Atlantic belt.

From that point, after a few rematches, Wahoo and Ric went their separate ways as far as the Mid-Atlantic Championship belt was concerned. Flair would never hold the Mid-Atlantic Title again. But this ferocious feud between Ric Flair and Wahoo McDaniel will never be forgotten by fans of Jim Crockett Promotions. And it should always be remembered that the “Hair vs. Title” match in Hampton was the rocket launch that propelled this historic program into the wrestling stratosphere!

* * * * * 

See also:  Main Event Memories - Ric Flair Wins His First Mid-Atlantic Championship
including rare audio of promos for this historic match in Hampton!



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.


Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Meeting Baby Doll

by Peggy Lathan
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

As I'm sure everyone remembers, back in 1985, Baby Doll "The Perfect 10" was introduced to the Mid-Atlantic area.  I remember well the introductory video of her getting out of that Lear Jet. Well, let me tell you how I first met Baby Doll.

One Saturday night, I was going to Charlotte to see Alabama in concert.  One of my wrestling friends was out of town that night and said that I was welcome to stay at his apartment to save us money on a hotel.  Needless to say, I took him up on that offer.

I got to Charlotte mid-afternoon on Saturday and went to the apartment  and was just putting the key in the front door and all of a sudden the door opens and there stands Baby Doll glaring at me saying "What are you doing here?  How did you get this key?"  I was speechless and I'm sure you can imagine the looks on my face.  I started stammering and stuttering, trying to explain that I had permission to stay there after the concert, etc., thinking, "Oh Lord! She's going to beat me up!"

After a few seconds (and what seemed like a few hours from my point of view), Baby Doll started laughing and invited me in.  She and my wrestling friend had pulled one over on me and everyone had a good laugh about it. I have to say, that was a priceless experience.

I went on to the concert and the next day, Nickla (who, by the way,  is a GREAT cook) baked Cornish Hens and also made some kind of Tex/Mex hot & spicy food that could make your eyes water and open up your sinuses!  Gosh - that was good - Yummy!

And to top off a great weekend, it snowed that Saturday night, and you all know that made me happy! 

And thus began a friendship that has lasted over 25 years and I'm very honored and proud to call Nickla my friend.