Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Gateway Interview: Jim Brunzell (Part 2)

Interview by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

PART TWO 
(Read the introduction and catch up on what you missed in Part 1

David and Jim continue their discussion about booker George Scott.


Chappell: The Gateway got very close to Blackjack Mulligan, and while he liked George Scott personally, he called him “the taskmaster” because of the way he pushed the talent.

Brunzell: [Blackjack] was a wonderful guy! I gotta tell you a quick story…

Chappell: Please!

Slam! Wrestling / canoe.ca
Brunzell: One night we were wrestling, I can’t remember the town but we were driving back to Charlotte, and we had three or four days off…

Chappell: (laughs) George Scott must have been out of town!

Brunzell: (laughs) I was gonna get home, and in the morning my wife and I were gonna fly back with our kids to Minneapolis. So, we’re driving down the road and Don Kernodle was in another car and he had three guys and I had three guys. I had Blackjack Mulligan and ‘Quickdraw’ [Rick] McGraw, and we got stopped at a roadblock.

Chappell: Uh oh!

Brunzell: So I pull off to the side of the road and a State Trooper comes up with his gun drawn at me! I pulled down the window and I said, ‘Officer, can I help you?’ He said, ‘Get outta the car!’ (laughs) They handcuffed me! And they said I was going 105 miles an hour down the road, and we think your car looked like the same car that was involved in a robbery…

Chappell: This thing is going south fast, Jim.

Brunzell: I said Jesus Christ, I just got done wrestling and I’m driving back to Charlotte. So the guy, he’s handcuffing me! (laughs) Meanwhile, Jack Mulligan, he gets out of the car and says, ‘Is this really necessary, Officer?’ Then the cop put his hand on the gun!

Chappell: Geez!

Brunzell: He told Jack, ‘Get back in the car!’ He put me in the cop car, and we went to this small town. But they take me in and they book me for speeding. He said I was going over 100 miles an hour, and I posted bond and then I left. It was funny, because we got in the car and I said ‘Holy Jesus!’ We’re in the car and we’re finally driving back to Charlotte and we get back, and we all take off. I wound up calling Jim Crockett, and Jim said, ‘Don’t worry, we have a good lawyer that takes care of our guys if there’s any trouble.’

Chappell: (laughs) I bet that lawyer was busy!

Brunzell: Yeah! So this guy calls me and said he needs 600 bucks, so I give him 600 bucks.

Chappell: (laughs) Typical lawyer, and I’m a lawyer!

Brunzell: So a month later, I have to go to Court in Stanley, North Carolina. I go to Court and there’s nobody there…

Chappell: The lawyer isn’t there?

Brunzell: No, they call my name, boom, and I get up there and the Judge says how do you plead and I said ‘not guilty.’ I said I wasn’t going 100 miles an hour, but I was going 70 I said, but here’s what the Judge said to me. He says, ‘I’m going to suspend your license for 60 days, I’m going to fine you 25 dollars and the court costs are 25 dollars. So, it cost me 50 bucks, and I did this all myself and when I got back I called Jim Crockett and said, ‘Why the hell did I give your lawyer 600 dollars? He didn’t do a damn thing for me!’ (laughs)

Chappell: (laughs) You might have lucked out with the lawyer not showing; you might have ended up in jail if he had riled up the Judge!

Brunzell: (laughs) But getting back to the Mid-Atlantic, God it was beautiful down there and we really enjoyed the people we met, even though we didn’t have much time to socialize.

bleacherreport.com
Chappell: Before we hit Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling full throttle, I wanted to go way back to when you started in the wrestling business. Weren’t you in Verne Gagne’s brutal training camp in 1972 with Ric Flair, Ken Patera and the Iron Sheik, Hossein Khosrow? Three guys that would figure prominently in your Mid-Atlantic run.

Brunzell: Yes I was.

Chappell: I’ve heard all about that Class of 1972, but I’ve never heard your take on it. Was it as tough as others have said it was?

Brunzell: Unbelievable…it was horrible! Six days a week, six hours a day. And Billy Robinson, who has passed away and God rest his soul, he was a little bit of a sadistic guy…

Chappell: That seems to be the consensus on Billy!

Brunzell: He would inflict pain on us! You know, we were giving our body to him. But it was a great training period.

Chappell: I know Ric has said it was so tough that he tried to quit several times because it was so tough, but Verne wouldn’t let him quit!

Brunzell: Oh yeah, but what happened was we’d start off our session with these Hindu squats, which are free squats. And we’d do them in sets of a hundred. But by the time we were done, we’d be doing a thousand free squats a day!

Chappell: Holy cow…

Brunzell: (laughs) My legs got so damn big that I thought, ‘Jesus!’ I did a lot of squats and everything, but I thought, ‘Holy Christ!’ You know, Verne and them put us through a lot, but it really sort of taught us the respect that pro wrestling really needed, especially from the guys that were employed by them…you know, the guys that went out there every night. It was quite a deal and it was hard, but I wouldn’t have known any other way.

Chappell: It had to toughen you all up, the Verne Gagne way!

pwpix.net
Brunzell: I think when I went around and went to Kansas City, and I went to Charlotte and I went to Atlanta then I finally went to New York…I realized that a lot of these promoters that I had dealt with along the way were so jealous of Verne. You know, Verne had a real horrible reputation with other promoters, because they were jealous of him. And also the fact that Verne was such a great amateur wrestler himself…

Chappell: That’s right.

Brunzell: He became a self-made millionaire. He did it all himself, and I think a lot of the guys along the way that were from his era were a little jealous of the fact that he succeeded as well as he did. You know, he was a ruthless guy. He had a good side, and he had a bad side.

Chappell: Stay on the good side, right?

Brunzell: That’s right! I’ll never forget, in 1985, things were really going south and Vince [McMahon] had taken almost all the talent from 26 different territories that were running then. And I went to Verne; I had opened up a gym called Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell’s Gym…

Chappell: Catchy name, Jim!

Jim Brunzell's Book "MatLands"
Brunzell: I did it then to have something to fall back on. Well, what happened was in ’82 I opened the gym and in ’85 it got so bad at the AWA that, holy smokes, I was using a lot of my wrestling earnings to defray the costs of the gym. So, it wasn’t working out and I went to Verne and I said, ‘Verne, you know I realize that things are bad, but Greg and I have had a hell of a run together. We’ve been together since 1975, and I need to have you give me a personal contract that I can insure that I can take care of my family and my gym financially.”

Chappell: Seems reasonable.

Brunzell: But then he says, ‘Well, what do you want?’ And I told him I wanted 95,000 dollars a year. It sounds like a lot, but you know, we were in that same area of making that amount of money before the roof caved in and Hulk Hogan left and everybody else.

Chappell: Sure…

Brunzell: But Verne looked at me and said, ‘You’re not worth it…go to New York.’

Chappell: Wow, that was pretty cold-blooded…

Brunzell: And it just crushed me. I thought, ‘Man!’ Then I told Greg, ‘Your Dad just said I wasn’t worth it.’ And Greg said, ‘He was joking.’

Chappell: Could’ve fooled you, huh?

Brunzell: (laughs) He didn’t fool me much!


TO BE CONTINUED IN PART THREE!


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/big-gold.html


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Magnum T.A. currently on "The Ric Flair Show"

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In case you missed it, go to "The Ric Flair Show" and check out the current podcast with guest Magnum T.A. It is one of my favorite episodes so far, and great to hear some stories from one of my favorite periods of time for Jim Crockett Promotions.

Magnum has a new documentary DVD out called "I Never Quit: The Magnum T.A. Story" produced and edited by documentarian Michael Elliot for Highspots.com. We reviewed that DVD earlier on the Gateway

No word yet on this upcoming week's guest, but the show debuts every Wednesday night MLW Radio Network (mlwradio.com), so stay tuned.
 
Along with his co-host (and friend of the Gateway) Conrad Thompson, "The Ric Flair Show" drops every Wednesday at 9 PM  later on the MLW Radio Network (mlwradio.com), RicFlairShow.com, iTunes and many other podcast platforms.


Look for the Ric Flair show every Wednesday night! Ric will review the big news in pro-wrestling for the week, travel back in time on "This Week in Wrestling History", plus the call of the week, contests, and so much more. Wooooo!


http://www.midatlanticwrestling.net/biggold.htm


In weeks to come, you’ll hear the Nature Boy talk about the “good ole days” with his friends like Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Sting, Bret “the Hitman” Hart, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Terry Funk, Kurt Angle, Eric Bischoff, and every other major name in wrestling from the last 40 years.

Ric has some of his other friends on the show too like NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor and even Grammy Award Winning Darius Rucker.

The fans even get a chance to be involved with the show and ask any question they want using #AskNaitch. Don’t miss a minute by subscribing to the "Ric Flair Show" today on iTunes."


Monday, November 28, 2016

"Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo" Coming to Richmond in 2017

Commonwealth Productions has announced the inaugural "Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo" for May 19-20, 2017 coming to the Greater Richmond Convention Center in downtown Richmond, VA. The two-day fan event will feature appearances by some of the great legends in pro-wrestling.

Already announced is the return of Demolition to Richmond for the first time in over 20 years. Not much else is known at this point about other talent making appearances at the Expo, but it is early and announcements will be forthcoming in the next weeks and months.

Based on information currently on their website, it appears the event will be broken down into three main phases:

(1) a "Dinner with Demolition" on Friday night
(2) the main Expo/convention with autographs, photos, and memorabilia on Saturday
(3) wrestling matches Saturday night

They have a tentative schedule on their website at http://www.wrestleexporva.com, and other information there as well.

We've long  thought that Richmond would make a great place for a wrestling convention. This one takes place a stone's throw away from the historic Richmond Coliseum where many of the great Mid-Atlantic Wrestling / Jim Crockett Promotions took place in the 1970s and 1980s.

We will continue to pass along updates as we go get closer to the event. You can follow the Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo on their website, on their Facebook page, or by following them on Twitter.

http://www.tenpoundsofgold.com

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Gateway Interview: Jim Brunzell (Part 1)

Interview by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell was a major star in professional wrestling during the 1970s and 1980s, with most of his fame and notoriety coming from his “High Flying” tag team with Greg Gagne in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and later with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as part of the “Killer Bees” tag team with partner B. Brian Blair. What is often overlooked in Jim’s career is a successful stint he had with Jim Crockett Promotions in 1979-1980, where in his own words he wanted to see if he could “cut the mustard” as a singles competitor. 

“Gentleman” Jim certainly flourished in the Mid-Atlantic area as a singles wrestler, defeating the seemingly unbeatable Ken Patera for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Tile, and later battled the legendary Ray Stevens for that same belt, ultimately triumphing in his feud with the “Crippler.” Even when Jim eventually dropped the Mid-Atlantic strap to the dastardly Iron Sheik in May of 1980, the two had a spirited program over the title until Jim’s departure from the area in August of 1980. So while other significant parts of Jim’s wrestling career are touched on, this interview was done for the primary purpose of shinning the spotlight on Jumpin’ Jim’s 16 month run in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. 

Jim, a huge fan of the legendary Bruce Springsteen, also has an outstanding book out entitled “MatLands” available through Blurb.com where he shares a series of wonderful wrestling stories, including a number of which feature Mid-Atlantic favorites! (See the Gateway's plug for "Matlands" here.)

So without further ado, let’s turn it over to White Bear Lake, Minnesota’s own…High Flying Jim Brunzell!


 * * * * * *

PART ONE

David Chappell:  Jim, thank you so much for making time for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway today. I’d like this interview to be a little bit different from the ones you’ve done before, in that I’d like it to focus primarily on your run in Jim Crockett Promotions in 1979 and 1980. I don’t think your work in the Mid-Atlantic area has ever gotten the attention it deserves.

Jim Brunzell:  You know, I enjoyed my time down there. The weather was great, and we had some great talent down there…Steamboat, the Nature Boy [Ric Flair] and Jack Mulligan…

Chappell: It was a ‘who’s who’ talent-wise, wasn’t it?

Brunzell: It was; it was great! You know, when I came from the AWA down there, I didn’t know what to expect. And George Scott, who was the booker in the Mid-Atlantic, had worked briefly in the AWA in the early 70s when I was starting, and I knew George and Sandy. They had been a tag team in Canada, and had bounced around a little bit.

Chappell: And when you came to the Mid-Atlantic territory, you were primarily known for your tag team work in the AWA with Greg Gagne.

Brunzell: I was sort of tired of being the ‘High Flyer’ with Greg for four and a half years and I thought geez, am I ever going to get a singles break? I didn’t see that in the future, and it was a good opportunity for me to just go some place new. I wound up getting booked down there, and it was fast and furious. I think I was down there for about 16 months, counting the time that George Scott had fired me, and I had worked six to eight more weeks in Atlanta for Jim Barnett.

Chappell: You were fired by George? Didn’t expect that piece of news!

Brunzell: But you know it was a great time. I bought a house down in Charlotte, and my wife loved it and our kids were like three, two and a half, and almost a year old. You know, it was a great opportunity. The only problem, David, was that George Scott was notorious for no time off.

Chappell: I’ve definitely heard that before!

Booker George Scott with Andre the Giant on the set of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling"

Brunzell: I remember the first time I walked in the office before I started working down there. I just got to Charlotte, and I was staying in a hotel for a little bit before I got my wife and family down there. I went in and talked to George and he said, ‘Jimmy, I wanna tell you right now…there’s no time off. So don’t ask for time off.’

Chappell: (laughs) Wow, what a welcoming to the NWA!

Brunzell: Yeah! He says, ‘But you’ll be home every night, though, by at least 12:30 or 1:00.’ (laughs)

Chappell: (laughs) What a guy!

Brunzell: Yeah! You know, it was a new adventure for me. And also, it was a little different because you know I had been in Kansas City in ’73 when I first started, and I saw a little bit of how the NWA worked. How it was working every night…

Chappell: Kansas City was your first territory, wasn’t it?Brunzell: It was.

Chappell: I was going to ask you about Kansas City for that reason, and also because Ric Flair has often called the Kansas City territory the ‘Siberia’ of wrestling territories. Was it really that bad?

Brunzell: Well, here’s the problem. God rest their souls, but Pat O’Connor and Bob Geigel were part owners, along with Sam Muchnick in St. Louis, and they ran the Kansas City territory. That was Kansas, Missouri and a little bit of Iowa. Gus Karras, who at that time was the oldest promoter, he ran St. Joe, Missouri. The problem was, those guys didn’t want to spend any money.

Chappell: That’s a problem!

Brunzell: Yeah, they operated a lean thing. You know, there was just nothing there. Their TV show was…

Chappell: Bare bones?

Brunzell: Yeah, really bare bones. They’d have three matches, and it would be an hour to an hour and a half! (laughs) You’d make 20 dollars, and you might work 45 minutes or an hour. That was at St. Joe. You know, all the guys would make their money when they went to St. Louis. I remember when I was there it was great for me because I worked twice a night…

Chappell: And I’m sure that was important, just starting out…

Brunzell: Yeah, because the more you worked the more you learned your trade. And plus, it enabled me, David, to see the different talents. Jack Brisco came in, and Dory Funk and Terry Funk and Harley Race, and it was really eye-opening.

Chappell: I’m sure.

Brunzell: Those guys never came up in the AWA. It was Nick Bockwinkel, Verne [Gagne] and different guys. Although the talent level in the AWA was incredible too. But when I went to Kansas City it opened my eyes.

But when I went to Charlotte, in the Mid-Atlantic, it was REALLY eye-opening because Crockett had a great promotion, and he had unbelievable business that they did. All of us made a good living down there, but the only problem was that you didn’t have time to enjoy it! (laughs)

Chappell: Never a moment to catch your breath!

Brunzell: Thanks right!


TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO!

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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

29 Years Ago Today! Starrcade '87

http://midatlanticwrestling.net/resourcecenter/thanksgiving/1987.htm

It would prove to be the last Thanksgiving show under the Jim Crockett Promotions banner and the last Starrcade for the family promotion as well.

Relive the memories of the first Starrcade outside of the traditional Mid-Atlantic territory:

Starrcade '87


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway! We are thankful for all of you, and thankful for the fact you join us to help keep the memories of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions alive.   
 - Dick Bourne and David Chappell

THIRTY-THREE YEARS AGO TONIGHT! - STARRCADE 83!

 It is called "the Granddaddy of The All" and is generally recognized as the first "Super Card" that ushered in the modern era of super cards and pay-per-events.

Before there was Wrestlemania, there was Starrcade.

The first Starrcade was in 1983 and was sub-titled "A Flare for the Gold" and featured the area's favorite son "Nature Boy" Ric Flair regaining the NWA world title from Harley Race. It was Flair's 2nd world championship of what would become 16 world titles over the next two decades.

Take a look back at Starrcade '83 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archive website. There you will find special art graphics, program cover, newspaper and magazine material, ticket stub, results, and much more. 




THIRTY YEARS AGO ON THANKSGIVING NIGHT - STARRCADE '86

 Thirty years ago this week on Thanksgiving day (on that year Thanksgiving was on November 27), Starrcade '86 took place in the dual venues of the Omni in Atlanta and the traditional Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro. This wek is its 30th anniversary. It was the second of two years that JCP split the event between two cities with alternating matches in each locations closed-circuited back to the other. What is often forgotten is that Kansas City, KS was the third city that year to be a part of Starrcade '86, hosting live matches at Memorial Hall and then presenting the entire closed circuit telecast.

Take a look back at Starrcade '86 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archive website. There you will find the program cover, ticket stub, results from Greensboro, Atlanta, and Kansas City, as well as newspaper ads and closed circuit locations.




NWA CHAMPIONS ON THANKSGIVING FOR JCP

What do Swede Hanson, Pat O'Connor, the Missouri Mauler, Johnny Weaver, Jerry Brisco, Dory Funk, Jr., Wahoo McDaniel, Rufus R. Jones, Ricky Steamboat, Paul Jones, Ivan Koloff, Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes, and Nikita Koloff have in common? They all failed in their bid to capture the NWA world heavyweight championship on a Jim Crockett Promotions card on a Thanksgiving night. Only Ric Flair was successful in capturing the "ten pounds of gold" on Thanksgiving, and he did it twice. See the list of all those Thanksgiving title matches on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.




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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Best of the Gateway: Looking Back at the Early Lead-Up To Starrcade '85


THE FORGOTTEN PRELUDE TO STARRCADE '85 
From Last year's 30th Anniversary Celebration of Starrcade '85
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 23, 2015

As the years pass, it's natural for the smaller details to fade from memory on any good story. When folks talk about the build-up to Starrcade '85 all these 30 years later, the story usually begins with Ric Flair and the Andersons turning on Dusty Rhodes in the cage in the Omni on 9/29. That's the angle they think of when they remember all the things that led up to the big world title match at Starrcade.

But the story began much earlier. You see, Dusty Rhodes needed to be the number one babyface and he had to have more than just the number one heel do bad things to him to set up his biggest match of the year. He needed someone the fans were beginning to love as much or more than him to turn on him. He needed more than evil deeds; he needed selfish betrayal.

Ric Flair had somewhat of a dual personality in the spring and summer of 1985 on Atlanta TV.....

>> Click here to continue this article on the original post on the Gateway, including audio and video links.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

32 Years Ago Today: STARRCADE '84

Ad for Columbia SC Township Auditorium, Closed Circuit (CCTV) Location for Starrcade '84



including:
Advance Ticket Sales Brochure
Program Cover
Video Promo
Advance Event Newspaper Ad
Newspaper Ad
Newspaper Result
Promotional Starrcade Cash
Ticket Stubs
T-Shirt Logo
Newspaper Article
More video!

Newspaper clipping courtesy of Mark Eastridge.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

NWA World Champions on Thanksgiving for Jim Crockett Promotions

Compiled by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Beginning in 1963 through 1987, the NWA World Champion came to Jim Crockett Promotions on Thanksgiving night in all but 5 years during that span to be part of what was always one of the biggest pro-wrestling cards of the year.

For 21 Thanksgiving events (including two in 1981), the NWA champ came to one of Crockett's towns, usually to defend the title. On two of those shows, the champ was there (1972 and the evening show in 1981) but was involved in another match that evening where the title wasn't on the line.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kRsWptcsMK8/VXtiSHCg2cI/AAAAAAAACII/P6tXtz9b2To/s1600/TPOG%2BCover.jpg

It's an amazing list of champions and challengers and is presented here during Thanksgiving week as we celebrate the grand tradition of wrestling on Thanksgiving in the Mid-Atlantic territory.


The 1960s

1963: Lou Thesz defeats Swede Hanson (Greensboro)
1965: Lou Thesz defeats Pat O'Connor via count out in 3rd fall (Greensboro)
1966: Gene Kiniski defeats the Missouri Mauler Larry Hamilton (Greensboro)
1967: Gene Kiniski retains vs. Johnny Weaver (1-hr. draw) (Greensboro) 

The 1970s
1970: Dory Funk Jr. retains vs. Jerry Brisco (1-hr. draw) (Greensboro)
1971: Dory Funk Jr. defeats Jerry Brisco, winning the final 2 falls (Norfolk)
1972: Dory Funk, Jr. and Dory Funk, Sr. lost to Jack & Jerry Brisco (Greensboro)*
1973: Jack Brisco defeats Dory Funk Jr. (Greensboro)
1974: Jack Brisco is DQ'd against Wahoo McDaniel; retains the title (Greensboro)
1975: Jack Brisco lost to Wahoo McDaniel by count out; retains title  (Greensboro)
1976: Terry Funk successfully defends the title against Rufus R. Jones (Norfolk)
1977: Harley Race successfully defends the title against Ricky Steamboat (Norfolk)
1978: Harley Race successfully defends the title against Paul Jones (Norfolk) 



The 1980s
1981: Ric Flair successfully defends against Ivan Koloff (Knoxville 3PM)
1981: Ric Flair defeated Ole Anderson non-title cage match (Greensboro 8 PM)*
1982: Ric Flair successfully defends the title against Roddy Piper (Greensboro)
1983: Ric Flair defeats Harley Race to win his 2nd NWA World Title (Greensboro)
1984: Ric Flair defeats Dusty Rhodes by TKO to retain title (Greensboro)
1985: Ric Flair retains title over Dusty Rhodes following NWA ruling on DQ (Atlanta)
1986: Ric Flair retains title over Nikita Koloff by DQ (Atlanta)
1987: Ric Flair defeats Ron Garvin to win the NWA World Title (Chicago)

Also see:  Thanksgiving for Jim Crockett Promotions 1967-1987

 * In 1972 and 1981, the NWA champion was on the Thanksgiving card in Greensboro, but did not defend the championship. Knoxville was affiliated with Jim Crockett promotions in 1981.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Weekend Update

Here is a summary of recent updates on the site. Thanks for your support of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway!

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/2016/11/thanksgiving-night-wrestling.html
Thanksgiving Night for Jim Crockett Promotions 1967-1987
A look back at the annual SuperCards including Starrcade!

Podcast: "Go Get over" WRALSportsFan.com 
with guest David Chappell of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
with your hosts Chris Morris and Joey Powell

Podcast: "Saturday Morning Wrestling" on the PWTorch Livecast
with guest David Chappell of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
with your host Jim Valley

Jimmy Snuka - Nice Guy No More
A look back at the Superfly's heel turn in 1979

Saturday TV: Greg Valentine Coming to Atlanta
One of the Mid-Atlantic's top stars heads to Atlanta to enter the tournament for the vacant Georgia Heavyweight Championship in 1981.


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/big-gold.html

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

David Chappell Appearing on Podcasts This Week

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The Mid-Atlantic Gateway's David Chappell will be appearing on two big podcasts this week.


GO GET OVER
First up is the "Go Get Over" podcast with Chris Morris and Joey Powell at WRALSportsFans.com. They'll discuss the Thanksgiving wrestling tradition in the Mid-Atlantic area and all other things Mid-Atlantic!  Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and follow the boys on Twitter at @gogetover.

Chris and Joey do a great job, and of course we here at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway love the connection with WRAL in Raleigh. WRAL-TV was the home of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling for nearly three decades, hosted by the great Bob Caudle.

And you can't beat a podcast that starts with the old 1970s Mid-Atlantic Wrestling theme music in the opening. 



SATURDAY MORNING WRESTLING
Then on Saturday on the PWTorch LiveCast, Jim Valley and David discuss memories of great wrestling on Thanksgiving Night back in the day, and of course you know what that meant - - - "The Granddaddy of Them All" --- STARRCADE. Check out "Saturday Morning Wrestling" with Jim Valley this (and every) weekend.

You can also check out David's earlier appearance on "Saturday Morning Wrestling" here.



Special thanks to Chris, Joey, and Jim for having the Mid-Atlantic Gateway on their podcasts!


http://www.midatlanticwrestling.net/nwabelt.htm

Monday, November 14, 2016

Jimmy Snuka - Nice Guy No More (1979)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

When “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka entered the Mid-Atlantic territory in November of 1978, he rapidly became one of the most beloved wrestlers in the promotion. Highly athletic and humble, Snuka in short order became one half of the NWA World Tag Team Champions with Paul Orndorff, and despite losing that championship in about four months, Jimmy continued to be the adored high-flying “good guy” in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling into July of 1979. But then, the unthinkable happened.

"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka
When the television card for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling was announced on the July 18, 1979 show, color commentator David Crockett said, “Then we have another tag team match, an unusual tag team match, we have Buddy Rogers and Jimmy Snuka teamed up, and they’re going against Leo Burke and Gary Young.” While it wasn’t highlighted at that moment, the pairing of Snuka and Rogers was more than unusual, it was shocking! The “immortal” Buddy Rogers, former World Heavyweight Champion, had entered the area recently, and while he wrestled infrequently, Rogers was notorious in his still evolving role in the area. Why the fan-favorite Snuka would be teaming with a man like Rogers was a mystery, but it wouldn’t take long for the mystery to be solved.

When the Snuka/Rogers team came into the ring, the first thing that seemed odd was that Snuka was wearing wrestling boots, where before he always grappled barefooted. But that would be the first of many anomalies in this TV bout. From the outset of the match, Rogers was using illegal tactics, and Snuka was in the corner grinning and shaking his head in the affirmative. This led announcer Bob Caudle to comment, “It’s a little baffling to me exactly why [Snuka’s] doing that and what it means.”

Very quickly, things got much more baffling. Rather that employ his graceful aerial moves that the fans were accustomed to seeing, Snuka instead used a ground and pound style that was accentuated by out-and-out rulebreaking. The TV announcers were in a word…stunned. A perplexed Crockett stammered, “I can’t…really…I’m just completely baffled.” Caudle followed, his voice rising, “It amazes you, and disturbs you, as really to what Snuka’s doing.”

After a brief comeback by Burke and Young, Snuka again took control with a vicious knee as Young came off the ropes. Jimmy then went back to a familiar maneuver, the “superfly” leap off the top rope almost all the way across the ring onto a prone Gary Young. But what followed next was head-scratching. Rather than easily pinning Young, Snuka lifted Young’s shoulders off the mat before a three count could be made. Caudle exclaimed, “He lifted him up!” Crockett added, “No, come on now…come on.” Caudle added, “He looked over at Buddy Rogers with a smile on his face and just raised Gary Young.”

Clearly Snuka wanted to punish Young, and then began to manically grind his clinched fist into Young’s temple. Astonished, Caudle said, “That looks like a corkscrew, David, right into the side of the temple. Here’s Rogers in now after Burke, as Burke goes back out. And Snuka after having Gary Young in a pin position there, after that superfly from all the way across the ring…the referee says ring the bell! And he still keeps driving in that corkscrew right in the side of the temple!” And emotional Crockett yelled, “He won’t stop! He won’t stop!” The flabbergasted fans in the studio audience couldn’t believe Snuka’s conduct, but they would soon get a detailed explanation for it.

At the end of the program, Bob Caudle excitedly cornered Buddy Rogers and said, “I gotta ask you, and I gotta ask Jimmy Snuka, what in the world happened to Jimmy Snuka?” Rogers replied, “I’ll tell ya what happened. I’ll do the talking, I’ll do the thinking from here on out, Bobby. And that is, this man is like a diamond that needs cutting. I’m the guy that can do that cutting. Let me tell ya, he’s got one of the greatest bodies in the business; he’s got charisma, and a four letter word called guts…bar none! The one thing he lacks is that ability between good and great, and I’m the guy that’s got that ability.”

Rogers continued, “I don’t have to talk about myself; my records and my past speaks for itself. But let me tell you, in this man you’re going to see without a doubt the next champion. Give me about three or four months at the latest, and you will see…” At this point Caudle interjected, “How disappointed all of his fans are…” Rogers indignantly retorted, “Wait a minute! Tell his fans that there’s one leader in this business, and you’re lookin’ at him. And this man is being led by me. I’m leading him to where nobody else, including himself, could he get to the top like I’m gonna put him there.”

In finishing, Rogers told the fans, “And you know, there’s an old saying that good guys don’t win ball games; I taught him as of the last two weeks, that good guys don’t win wrestling matches. And the moment that anybody listening in thinks for one minute that this guy will ever be a nice guy again, they’re mighty mistaken.”

Rogers turned out to be a man of his word, as Jimmy Snuka became a champion very quickly under Rogers, winning the United States Heavyweight Title on September 1, 1979 and he was never a fan favorite again while wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions. Jimmy rarely uttered a word, as he let his viciousness do his talking. While Rogers left the area and Snuka picked up Gene Anderson as his mouthpiece at the tail end of 1979, the Superfly maintained his hold on the U.S. Belt until the spring of 1980, and even after dropping that title to Ric Flair, Jimmy went on an impressive run as NWA World Tag Team Champions with partner Ray Stevens.

When Snuka finally left the Mid-Atlantic area for good in the early spring of 1981, the Superfly was as nasty and surly as he became on that astonishing TV taping in July of 1979. Buddy Rogers, long since out of the area, would have been proud of the staying power of the monster he created. Truly, Jimmy Snuka was a nice guy no more.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday Wrestling: Florida

This show in advance of the first "Battle of the Belts" broadcast. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Special Thanks to our Veterans

Military.com
A heart-felt thank-you to all our military veterans and active duty service members.

Your dedication and sacrifice for the sake of your family and fellow countrymen is appreciated.

And a note to the rest of us: don't confuse Veteran's Day with Memorial Day. Veterans Day is a time to thank those who are serving or have served and are still with us. Memorial Day is to reflect and remember those who lost their lives in service to their country. Confusing the two or combining the two diminishes the importance of both. (from Military.com.)

8 Ways to Express Appreciation on Veterans Day
Military.com

Loaded Card in Florida in 1975



This is a great looking ad from "Championship Wrestling from Florida" featuring NWA Champion Jack Brisco and "the ten pounds of gold."

What a loaded 10-match card! Not only was Jack defending the title against Terry Funk, but two former world champs were also meeting in the semi-final as Terry's brother Dory Funk, Jr. met Harley Race. Plus Eddie Graham, Jim ("J.J.") Dillon, Johnny Weaver, and others.

The card was held at the beautiful Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg, Florida on April 19, 1975. The Bayfront, for my money, was one of the most beautiful arenas in wrestling, sitting by the water, it is just about as perfect a setting of any venue in Florida.

We love the old newspaper ads and this one features all the components of a perfect promo ad: a cool looking marquee header, the old traditional NWA logo, old-school wrestler-artwork, great photo of the champ and his belt, all in a well designed package. Belltime 8:30!!


This ad was first featured on our sister-website, The Domed Globe.
This article previously posted on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.


http://www.tenpoundsofgold.com

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Photos of Blackjack Mulligan

I've had Blackjack Mulligan on my mind today. No reason, just missing one of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's greatest ever.

Lots of fun Mulligan stuff in Blackjack's Bar-B-Que

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Asheville City Auditorium (Update)


Steven Medford passed along a photo he came across online of the Asheville City Auditorium as it originally looked in the early 1900s. The photo was featured on the "Asheville The Way It Was" Facebook group.

The Asheville City Auditorium was the regular home on Wednesday nights for Jim Crockett Promotions wrestling going back at least to the 1950s. When the new Asheville Civic Center was built next door, wrestling moved to Sunday afternoons.

The old City Auditorium is now known as the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium and is part of the complex now known as the U.S. Cellular Center, which includes the old Civic Center.

For a further look at this old wrestling venue, see the following page on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archive website:
http://midatlanticwrestling.net/resourcecenter/venues/asheville/auditorium.htm

Monday, November 07, 2016

The Great Bolo: Colorful Franchise Player in a Black & White World

It's not often that we publish about wrestlers or events from the 1950s (the main focus of our website is the 1970s and 1980s), but it's fun to occasionally take a look back and learn about some of the key players for Jim Crockett Promotions in earlier years.

Mike Cline recently wrote about some of his memories of The Great Bolo on his "Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats" site and we have republished that article here with his permission.



THE GREAT BOLO  =  FRANCHISE  
by Mike Cline
Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats 

In the late 1950s, JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS was virtually built around one guy, a really 'bad guy'...THE GREAT BOLO.

He wore a yellow gold mask with matching attire. No wrestling fan knew his true identity, and according to a lengthy interview by the man under the hood himself (TOM RENESTO), the other wrestlers didn't, at the time, know either. This idea, he said, was designed by JIM CROCKETT himself. BIG JIM felt that keeping the wrestler's identity a real secret made for a more realistic approach to the storyline.

THE GREAT BOLO had his own private dressing room, and he wore the mask into the building upon arrival and out of the building when he left. (I'm not sure if I really buy into that, but true or not, it makes a great story.)

THE GREAT BOLO was BIG! Fans laid out their money every night in some city hoping to find out who the guy really was. All of the top wrestlers ('babyfaces' and 'heels') in the territory worked the masked man.

I experienced my first LIVE wrestling event fifty-seven years ago at the old semi-pro baseball park one summer night in Statesville, North Carolina. The main event was Indian star BILLY TWO RIVERS VERSUS THE GREAT BOLO. Next to GEORGE BECKER, BILLY was the top 'good guy' in JCP at the time.

Most of us tikes in the neighborhood went. We lived in a black and white world in the late Fifties, and when THE GREAT BOLO stepped out of one of the dugouts and made his way towards the ring, we were stunned by the bright gold colors. Up to that point, we could only guess what colors he wore. On black and white TV, it could have been most any shade.

My group, along with some other local kids, made a dash towards the masked man, whopping it up and trying to taunt him. A threatening move and a loud growl-like sound scattered us all back to our grandstand seats in record-setting speed.

Several years later, with tag team wrestling becoming extremely popular, THE GREAT BOLO brought in a partner BOLO (JODY HAMILTON). From this point on, the duo was billed as THE GREAT BOLO and BOLO, or simply THE BOLOS.

Either way, they were just as hot as RENESTO had been as a single.

* * * * *

This article was originally published on Mike Cline's "Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats" website and is republished here with his permission. © 2016 Mike Cline

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Saturday TV: Greg Valentine Coming to Atlanta

by Dick Bourne 
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

On May 17, 1981 at the Omni in Atlanta, there was a one-night tournament for the vacated Georgia Heavyweight Championship. Ten men were entered in the tournament, including a couple of guys advertised as coming in from outside the territory to compete including Bruiser Brody and Greg Valentine.

Brody no-showed (or perhaps was never really going to appear to begin with, who knows) but Valentine came in from the Mid-Atlantic area and went all the way to the finals, defeating Mr. Wrestling II in the quarter finals and Iron Mike Sharpe in the semi-finals before losing to "Wildfire" Tommy Rich in the finals.

Prior to the tournament, Greg Valentine sent in a taped interview from Raleigh to promote his appearance in the tournament. The interview was conducted by Rich Landrum (host of "World Wide Wrestling") in the studios of WRAL TV.

The video below, which is the final seven minutes of the Georgia TV show leading up to that big Omni card contains the Greg Valentine promo, plus another tape from the Mid-Atlantic area featuring the reigning NWA World Tag Team champions Gene and Ole Anderson.

(No idea why the person who posted this clip labeled it from "WGHP-TV High Point Fox 8..." because the clip has nothing to do with any of that.)



GENERAL NOTES
  • The match with the Anderson brothers from WRAL is from the summer of 1981 and is from "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" with Bob Caudle and Lord Alfred Hayes calling the action.  
  • Tommy Rich was wrestling in that tournament with a $10,000 bounty on his head, allegedly placed there by NWA World Champion Harley Race, who was trying to avoid having to face Rich for the NWA title. Greg Valentine mentions being interested in collecting the bounty in his promo, but was apparently unable to do so as Rich defeated him in the tournament finals to win the Georgia title and then went on to challenge Race for the NWA title at the next show at the Omni on 5/31/81. Race would successfully defend against Rich on 5/31, but then lost the NWA world title to Dusty Rhodes on the following Omni show on 6/21/81. 
  • If you look closely, you will see part of the Georgia championship belt extending off the front of Gordon Solie's podium. 
  • In a Studio Wrestling note, the backdrop you see in the Valentine interview (as seen in the image at top) was the Mid-Atlantic set used from 1975-1977 and is my favorite of all the old sets, mainly because it was first one a really remember and was used during the years I first really loved wrestling. 
  • This Georgia Championship Wrestling show featured two other Mid-Atlantic clips not seen in the video above. The first featured a match between Greg Valentine and Steve Muslin from 1980 on "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling." The second was a promotional interview similar to Greg Valentine's with Rich Landrum interviewing "The Dream." (I hope to present those in a future post.)

GEORGIA TOURNAMENT NOTES
  • Gordon Solie promoted the tournament as a round-robin tournament, although it was not competed in such a fashion. There were 10 men announced as appearing in the tournament: Dusty Rhodes, Iron Mike Sharpe, Mr. Wrestling II, Tommy Rich, Ray Candy, Bruiser Brody, Greg Valentine, Ken Patera, Mike Boyer, and Bill Irwin. Brody and Boyer diod not appear, but Nickolia Volkoff and Jim Duggan replaced them.
  • From the tournament results posted on The History of the WWE website, it appears that 2 of the 10 (Rhodes and Volkoff) received byes, but I've been unable to figure out the elimination brackets from these results. But they are listed as:
Quarter Finals: Tommy Rich defeated Bill Irwin
Quarter Finals: Ken Patera defeated Ray Candy
Quarter Finals: Greg Valentine defeated Mr. Wrestling #2
Quarter Finals: Iron Mike Sharpe defeated Jim Duggan
Semi Finals: Ken Patera fought Dusty Rhodes to a no contest
Semi Finals: Tommy Rich defeated Nikolai Volkoff
Semi Finals: Greg Valentine defeated Iron Mike Sharpe
Finals: Tommy Rich defeated Greg Valentine to win the title

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

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Almanac Roster - May 1980

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Roster - May 1980
Compiled by David Chappell for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
(N) = newcomer to area  (D) = departure from area  (R) = returnee to area


MAIN EVENT
BABYFACES

HEELS

Jim Brunzell
Sweet Ebony Diamond (N)
Ric Flair
Rufus R. Jones
Blackjack Mulligan
Ricky Steamboat
Jay Youngblood


 
Enforcer Luciano (N)
Iron Sheik
Jimmy Snuka
Ray Stevens
Superstar #1
Superstar #2 (D)
Greg Valentine


 
MID-CARD
BABYFACES

HEELS

Matt Borne
Tony Garea
S.D. Jones
Rick McGraw (D)
Pedro Morales (R)
Buzz Sawyer
Johnny Weaver
 
Ox Baker
Brute Bernard
Swede Hanson
Gene Lewis
Dewey Robertson


 
LOWER CARD
BABYFACES

HEELS

Joe Furr
Abe Jacobs
Don Kernodle
Bob Marcus (D)
Coco Samoa
Ronnie Sexton
Ron Ritchie
John Condroy (D)
Len Denton (N)
“Cowboy” Frankie Lane (D)
Tank Patton (N)
Tony Russo
Scorpion
Doug Somers
Billy Starr
 
GUEST SHOTS
MANAGERS
Wahoo McDaniel
Cousin Luke Mulligan
Tommy Rich
 
Gene Anderson
WOMEN
MIDGET WRESTLERS
None

None
 
REFEREES
TV ANNOUNCERS
David Crockett (special)
Sonny Fargo
Stu Schwartz
Tommy Young

 
Bob Caudle
David Crockett
Rich Landrum

 
TV PROMO ANNOUNCERS
TV RING ANNOUNCERS*
David Crockett
Rich Landrum

 

*Starting in February of 1979, wrestler introductions were no longer made from the ring, but instead were made from the announcer’s desk by hosts Bob Caudle and Rich Landrum.

CUMULATIVE RATINGS
SINGLES
TAG TEAMS
1.    Ric Flair (1)
2.    Iron Sheik (6)
3.    Blackjack Mulligan (4)
4.    Superstar #1 (5)
5.    Jimmy Snuka (3)
6.    Greg Valentine (9)
7.    Enforcer Luciano (NR)
8.    Ray Stevens (NR)
9.    Rufus R. Jones (10)
10.    Sweet Ebony Diamond (NR)



 
1.    Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood (2)
2.    Greg Valentine and Ray Stevens (1)
3.    Matt Borne and Buzz Sawyer (5)
4.    Jimmy Snuka and the Iron Sheik (4)
5.    Rufus R. Jones and S. D. Jones (NR)



Copyright © 2016 David Chappell • Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Almanac History - May 1980

David Chappell's
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History
May 1980

The beginning of the month of May 1980 marked the final matches in the Mid-Atlantic area of the Masked Superstar #2. In a continuation of matches from the end of April, Blackjack Mulligan battled Superstar #2 in “anything goes” matches with Superstar #1 locked in a small cage at ringside. At County Hall in Charleston, South Carolina on May 2nd, Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina on May 6th and at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium in Spartanburg, South Carolina on May 10th Mulligan defeated Superstar #2 and unmasked the mass of humanity as his old adversary John Studd. The Masked Superstar #1 watched on in horror as his partner was unmasked. Superstar # 2 would leave the territory, and Blackjack vowed to turn his attention to Superstar #1 after the Spartanburg unmasking. However, the very next night at the Charlotte Coliseum a new thorn would emerge in Mulligan’s side.


ENFORCER LUCIANO

May 11, 1980 in Charlotte, North Carolina Mid-Atlantic fans would get their first glimpse of one of the strangest characters in the rich history of Jim Crockett Promotions, Enforcer Luciano. Billed at 265 pounds from Las Vegas, and sporting a patch over one of his eyes, the Enforcer easily dispatched Coco Samoa in Charlotte. He then made his first television appearance in the area on the May 14th Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling show taping. Announcer Bob Caudle asked the Enforcer, “The Enforcer Luciano, what brings you to the area?” The menacing Luciano replied, “In the first place, that’s Mr. Luciano…the Enforcer. And what brings me into this area is money, more money. I have millions now, and I want to add to my fortune. I hear there’s a bounty on Mulligan’s head. Well, I’m the world’s number one bounty hunter. I am 100 percent successful, every single time! That’s what I’m here for.”

This new development led Mulligan to get on a plane and head to Texas to get some help. This help was in the form of Blackjack’s cousin, “Crazy” Luke Mulligan! Blackjack told Bob Caudle on that same May 14th TV taping, “I’m leaving on a plane very, very shortly. I’m going to the Big Springs hospital, checking out on a pass, maybe a two week pass, my cousin Crazy Luke Mulligan! He ain’t a bad man, he never was a bad man, drank a little bit of whisky, got messed up in a couple of wrong deals, and got violent one night…his old lady went off with a rock and roll band. Found the bus about three days later, everything all messed up, and they haven’t seen the van since. Very violent man when he gets upset! I’m gonna have him here next week on television; never been on television before. It ain’t funny; ain’t nothing to laugh about. Enforcer Luciano, you have NO idea what kind of trouble you’re in. Superstar #1, you have no idea what kind of trouble you’re in!”


COUSIN LUKE MULLIGAN

Blackjack was true to his word! On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on May 21st, the area’s fans got to see Crazy Luke Mulligan up close and personal! Mulligan had his hands plenty full in a match with the sadistic Ox Baker, but Blackjack brought Cousin Luke to ringside to observe. Well, it wasn’t long before Luke got into the action, coming into the ring with a bag of popcorn! Caudle commented, “Uh oh David, getting into the ring…here’s Luke! He goes right into the ring. And he’s in there just clappin’ with Mulligan, as Mulligan’s got Baker down, got him in the headlock. He’s got popcorn all over the ring.”

As Blackjack tried to escort Luke out of the ring, Ox was able to hit Mulligan from behind and threw him out of the ring. Luke got back in the ring and was none too happy with how Baker had treated Blackjack. But Baker got hold of Luke while Mulligan was out on the floor. Caudle exclaimed, “We’ve got popcorn all over the ring. Here’s Baker, here goes Luke, and Baker’s got him! He knocked his chewing tobacco right out of his pocket, David. He took a boot off! You could hear that one everywhere! He took his boot off, and he hit Baker right in the head with it! Baker’s down on his back in the ring! And now [Luke’s] gonna get out with his hat, his popcorn and everything…and Baker’s gonna be counted out!” The fans in the studio audience couldn’t believe their eyes. What a memorable TV debut for Cousin Luke!


IRON SHEIK WINS THE MID-ATLANTIC TITLE

Mid-Atlantic Champion Iron Sheik
The super spectacular card in Charlotte on May 11th was also quite significant because it hosted a match for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title where the Iron Sheik defeated “Jumping” Jim Brunzell for the championship. Brunzell and the Sheik rapidly developed a bitter feud in advance of the Charlotte title-change bout. In Welcome, North Carolina on May 2nd and again in Fayetteville, North Carolina on May 5th, Brunzell and Ric Flair battled the Iron Sheik and Jimmy Snuka in tag team bouts. These tag matches in reality became two singles battles, with Brunzell and the Sheik tearing into each other with the same thing occurring between Flair and Snuka!

Leading up to the Charlotte title-switch on May 11th, the Sheik was gaining momentum in bouts with Brunzell in Asheville, North Carolina on May 4th, at Raleigh’s Dorton Arena on May 6th and in Charleston, South Carolina on May 9th. While “Hussein the Arab” came up short in these early May bouts, he was clearly getting in Brunzell’s head with his Iranian suplexes and seemingly being impervious to pain while in Jim’s best maneuver, the spinning toe hold.

Brunzell addressed his Mid-Atlantic Title defeat by the Sheik to the fans in the territory on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV program that was taped on May 28th. Jim told Bob Caudle, “This is the first opportunity I’ve had to come on TV and tell my side of the story. I don’t want to belabor that, but I’m tired of having Gene Anderson and the Iron Sheik come out here, Bob, and downgrade me when that was on Mother’s Day in Charlotte; I had him beat until he loaded that boot. And believe you me, I’m going to change my style, because I know that’s the only way that I can beat him. He is tough, he’s got a hard body, and he’s got vast knowledge, but believe you me, I’m gonna do it.”


DAVID CROCKETT INVOLVED IN NWA WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE CHANGE

The night before that mega May 11th Charlotte card, at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina, another feud was set to take a major turn. The card on May 10th in Greensboro featured a bout for the NWA World Tag Team Titles pitting champions Greg Valentine and Ray Stevens against former champs Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. The match had the unusual stipulation of being a best two-out-of-three falls contest. But the most unique facet of this bout was that color commentator David Crockett was serving in the position of special referee! Crockett had gone this route after having been assaulted by Valentine in April in a fracas over a video tape of the match where Valentine and Stevens won the titles in controversial fashion from Steamboat and Youngblood.

Controversy reigned in the May 10th match, and not surprisingly, it involved David Crockett! According to Stevens and Valentine, Crockett showed favoritism in the deciding fall, allowing an illegal man in the ring to capture the fall giving back the World Titles to Steamboat and Youngblood.

On the May 14th Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show, Ray Stevens told the fans, “Let’s just clear one thing up here. You’ve got some new World Tag Team Champions, but they didn’t win the thing. They won it because of this man right over here, David Crockett. He knows that the illegal man was in the ring. No way in the world they should have won the thing. But I’ll guarantee you, it won’t take us very long, we’ll have them belts right back.” They were forceful words by Stevens, but this defeat seemed to take a lot of the starch out of the Valentine/Stevens duo, and this formidable team was unable to recapture the World belts despite multiple opportunities during the remainder of the month of May.

Bob Caudle talked to Jay Youngblood on the May 28th Mid-Atlantic TV show taping saying, “The competition is really, really getting tough. When you look at the Superstar, you look at Luciano, you look at Snuka and you look at the Iron Sheik…and you go on and on.” Jay agreed, “Bob I tell you what…not just them. I know there are a lot of kids that are upcoming grapplers right now, that would give their right hand to be in my shoes or Rick Steamboat’s shoes. Rick and I are trying our hardest, and our darnest, and with the support of these people right here, we’re gonna try our hardest to keep these World belts.”

Youngblood continued, “You know, you talk about the competition here. There’s not only competition here, there’s competition like in New York, Los Angeles, Japan. But I tell you the truth, right now the two hardest guys Rick and I, and I’m sure Rick will agree, are Valentine and Stevens. These guys have put up one of the hardest fights we’ve ever come up against.”


SWEET EBONY DIAMOND ARRIVES

Earlier in the month of May, a newcomer with much promise made his first television appearance in the Mid-Atlantic area. Ric Flair had earlier told the fans that he had recently seen Sweet Ebony Diamond in St. Louis, and that the 6 foot 2 inch 250 pounder was on his way to Jim Crockett Promotions. On the May 7th television taping of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, the masked “Diamond” was impressive in his TV debut against the roughhouse Billy Starr. After a series of magnificent dropkicks, Diamond subdued Starr with color commentator David Crockett exclaiming, “He got him! Very impressive win!”

Diamond was equally as impressive in his second outing on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television, on the show that was taped on May 14th. Sweet Ebony told Bob Caudle, “You know, that’s what I like is rough and tough competition. I’ve been all around the world once, and some places twice. And they told me right here, daddy, this is where all the action is, this is where all the happenin’ is, this is where all the gettin’ down is, and that’s what I want brother.” At that point, Diamond’s good friend Ric Flair appeared on the set and said, “We talked about it, we told ‘em about it, the Ebony Diamond, brother! There’s only one like him, anywhere in the world. One of the real studs that can walk the walk, as well as talk the talk!”


RIC FLAIR AND THE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP

The United States Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair had a multitude of ferocious battles in May over his prestigious belt. The most taxing bouts were against former champ Jimmy Snuka, and his nefarious manager Gene Anderson. Snuka and Anderson hijacked one of the Nature Boy’s priceless ring robes, and vowed to hold it hostage until Ric gave the “Superfly” a suitable number of U.S. Title bout rematches.

Also featured on the May 14th Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV taping, Jimmy Snuka along with his manager Gene Anderson were talking over a film clip of where Ric Flair defeated Snuka for the U.S. belt. Anderson was claiming, not overly convincingly, that Flair pulled Snuka’s tights to win the title. Anderson and Snuka also gloated at having possession of one of Ric’s cherished ring robes! Anderson chuckled, “The Superfly is still the uncrowned United States Champion. And you can see Ric Flair’s robe. And Ric Flair, you said you’re not gonna give us any more return matches. This is gonna force you into return matches, and you’re only gonna get it back after we hold that belt.” Flair was furious at that tactic, but had no problem giving Snuka his United States Title rematches.

Raleigh, North Carolina saw three classic confrontations between Flair and Snuka over the U.S. belt during the month of May at Dorton Arena. On May 6th, an enraged “Nature Boy” completely lost his cool and was disqualified for his actions saddling him with a DQ loss. The following Tuesday night Flair and Snuka returned to the Dorton Arena, this time with Ric capturing the win despite the best efforts of Gene Anderson! A “rubber match” of sorts was set in Raleigh between Ric and Jimmy on May 27th, but this time with a “lumberjack” stipulation to hopefully prevent Snuka from running and Gene Anderson from interfering. Flair prevailed, but this hotly contested program carried on for several more weeks.

Flair also had a number of bitter U.S. Title bouts during the month of May against the Iron Sheik. On May 3rd at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium on May 12th, the Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum on May 16th and at County Hall in Charleston, South Carolina on May 23rd, the Nature Boy had his hands full but managed in each instance to hold the U.S. Title out of the Sheik’s reach.

But Ric’s most noteworthy United States Title defense of the month likely occurred against old friend Greg Valentine on May 25th at the Greensboro Coliseum. On the World Wide Wrestling television show that was taped on May 28th, Valentine referenced the Greensboro match when he called Flair out and pleaded for Ric to be his tag team partner again. Greg told Flair that he was the most fantastic wrestler of all time, and that he had changed his ways and wanted to be on the side of good with Ric. The Nature Boy wanted to believe that Valentine was sincere, but told him he would give Greg’s offer “some serious thought.” Thus fans on May 28th were left with a bit of a cliffhanger as to whether Valentine and Flair would reunite their top-flight tag team.


SUPERSTAR, ENFORCER, TORONTO

Since Superstar #2 was unmasked and left the area for all intents and purposes early in the month, Superstar #1 was simply referred to again as the Masked Superstar as the month of May progressed. Superstar continued his hold over the NWA Television Championship during the month of May, but the hold was tenuous at best. After beating Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones handily in Charleston, South Carolina on May 2nd and in Columbia on May 6th, the road got rockier. Back in Charleston on May 9th, Superstar was defeated by Blackjack Mulligan, but retained the title. A week later in the port city in a Lumberjack match, the results were the same. Still later in the month, Mulligan defeated the masked man by disqualification in Greenville on May 19th, and then again in Charlotte on May 24th. However, as there was no pinfall or submission, the Superstar left both towns with his NWA TV Title belt in tow.

The final Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show of the month, taped on May 28th, began with a clip of the antics of Cousin Luke Mulligan from the week before. When Bob Caudle interviewed Enforcer Luciano about the escapades of Luke, the Enforcer noted, “Yeah, I’m aware, I’m very much aware. Did you see what that character did? Cuckoo Luke is what I call him. He’s in the ring, outta the ring. He’s not even supposed to be here to wrestle! Why was he in the ring? Why did he do what he did? I have a lotta questions about this character. This guy has a hole in his marble bag, there’s no doubt about it!”

Caudle told the Enforcer that Luciano and the Superstar were ganging up on Mulligan, and that Blackjack needed help from his family. Luciano didn’t want to hear any of it, saying, “Mr. Mulligan, I respect you. You’re a big man; you’re a tough man. I’m a big man; I’m a tough man. You’re a brawler; I’m a brawler. But this Cuckoo Luke, Cousin Luke, is ridiculous! He doesn’t belong anywhere near a wrestling ring. This man could do any kind of damage he wanted to do, just because he doesn’t know any better. There’s no reason for him to be near a ring!”

Toronto Ontario, Canada saw two noteworthy cards at Maple Leaf Gardens in the month of May involving the stars from Jim Crockett Promotions. On May 4, 1980 the then-World Tag Team Champions Ray Stevens and Greg Valentine lost by disqualification to Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood, but retained their belts. On that same show, Blackjack Mulligan and the Canadian Champion Dewey Robertson defeated Superstars #1 and #2. At the next Maple Leaf Gardens show on May 25th, Blackjack Mulligan unmasked Superstar #2 as being John Studd, several weeks after a number of unmaskings had already taken place in the Mid-Atlantic states. And on that same card, in a title change, the Iron Sheik bested Dewey Robertson for the Canadian Heavyweight Championship.

With Superstar #2 being unmasked and leaving the Mid-Atlantic area during the month of May, it cast a shadow over the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship which was held by the Superstars #1 and #2. The promotion came up with an answer to that quandary, vacating the title belts and setting up a one night tournament to declare new Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions. The Greenville Memorial Auditorium was selected as the tournament venue, and the date of the tournament was set for June 2, 1980. June of 1980 in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling was thus assured to get off to a red-hot start!



CHAMPIONSHIPS MAY 1980

NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT---Harley Race

UNITED STATES---Ric Flair

WORLD TAG TEAM---Ray Stevens and Greg Valentine, Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood (May 10, 1980 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina)

CANADIAN---Dewey Robertson,  Iron Sheik (May 25, 1980 at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto Ontario, Canada)

MID-ATLANTIC---Jim Brunzell, Iron Sheik (May 11, 1980 at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina)

NWA TELEVISION---Superstar #1

MID-ATLANTIC TAG TEAM---Superstar #1 and Superstar #2, VACANT (Title becomes vacant when Superstar #2 leaves area; tournament set for June 2, 1980 to crown new champions)