Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Champ and The Chief Wrap Up 1974

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Johnny “The Champ” Valentine and “The Chief” Wahoo McDaniel had many memorable battles inside the ring while in Jim Crockett Promotions, but one of their most memorable exchanges for me didn’t involve fisticuffs, but was of the verbal variety. The two squared off during the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling 1974 year-end highlights show hosted by Sam Menacker, and the verbal sparks would fly!

With Wahoo and Valentine together in the empty TV studio in December of 1974, Menacker showed a clip of Valentine brutalizing the preliminary wrestler Tapu on TV several months earlier with Wahoo coming in the ring to aid the fallen Samoan grappler. The Chief caught the Champ with a suplex and left Valentine in an exceedingly rare posture…on his back, looking up at the television studio lights.

Wahoo couldn’t help but gloat a bit at the clip saying, “There’s your champion right there. Now that’s a championship position for Johnny Valentine…prone lookin’ at the lights. Now, does that look like a champion?” When Johnny didn’t immediately respond, the Chief continued to push the point. Wahoo asked, “What do you have to say about that Valentine, you see it? You’re not on the winning end now, what’s the matter…you lost for words?” Menacker joined in, “Yeah, you’re out cold there Valentine!”

A visibly upset Valentine fired back exclaiming, “You had no reason to come in that ring, you had no right in that ring and you attacked me from behind!” Wahoo countered, “I only came in the ring to save the boy and you hit me, and I just retaliated.” The Champ followed, “Well, it will be a different story when you’re face to face with me.”

Menaker, now trying to keep order noted, “Look, I’m not taking sides. Listen, the fact remains John, you saw what happened there. He came in there to try and help.” Johnny would have none of it saying, “Well, it wasn’t his concern. I wasn’t expecting anything and he was able to accomplish something that he wouldn’t have accomplished if I had been watching him, which I wasn’t. I wasn’t expecting to be suplexed by the man with my own suplex.”

The Chief dismissively answered, “You know, they should start calling Johnny Valentine ‘Alibi Jones.’ That’s when you can’t get it done. And all the time when he’s on the top he has wonderful things to say about himself, but when you’re laying down lookin’ up Valentine, it’s hard for you to find anything nice to say about yourself.” Johnny retorted, “Anyone can be hurt and upset when they’re not expecting something. I wasn’t expecting the suplex I will admit, and that suplex hurt because it was my favorite hold so it’s bound to hurt me too.” Wahoo countered, “That’s right, you should know that somebody else is gonna use it and if it does that much for you and somebody else should know the same hold and you should be able to guard against it.”

Wahoo McDaniel and Johnny Valentine had a feud for the ages.

The Champ was getting increasingly exasperated and fired back, “You can make sure that I’ll have guards up whenever I get in the ring with you; you’ll never suplex me again, that’s for sure!” McDaniel shot back, “I’ll tell you one thing, I know about three or four different type suplexes…little different from yours. But they’re all the same…you land right on your head!” A seething Valentine replied, “You just have no idea how deep I run; how deep my bag of tricks are! You don’t know how many tricks I have at the bottom of that bag; I’ll dig way to the bottom and I’ll have tricks you’ve never heard of!”

“I know you, and I’ve probably wrestled you more than anybody. You’ve beaten me and I’ve beaten you; you’ve hurt me and I’ve hurt you,” Wahoo commented. Valentine replied, “Yeah, but I’ve got stronger for it and you’re weaker…look at you! You look terrible!” Wahoo beginning to lose his composure shouted, “I’m in the greatest shape of my career!”

Trying to end the segment without the two grapplers coming to blows, Menacker implored the two legends, “Just try to relax a little bit gentlemen…we are showing some highlights of 1974 and I realize there’s a lot of animosity.” Johnny then gleefully poked at the Indian, “I want you to see some of the scars on his head…I put ‘em there!” Wahoo pounced on that and responded in kind, “Well, ask him about the broken fingers he got and look at them scars he got there…he wouldn’t win any beauty contests in Atlantic City either, I can tell you that!” Valentine edged closer to Wahoo smirking, “Well, you got some more comin’!” The Chief then pressed his nose to Valentine’s snarling, “I can hardly wait!”

As Menacker bid the fans goodbye and the segment went to commercial, I couldn’t help but wonder if the verbal sparring between the Champ and the Chief would lead to immediate blows during the break, or rather if they would save the physicality for inside the squared circle in the New Year of 1975. For two all-time greats that weren’t necessarily blessed with the gift of gab, this entertaining verbal exchange put a nice bow on the year of 1974. And you just knew that each would follow up these heated words with scorching action against the other in 1975!


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