Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Crockett's Texas Connections with Joe Blanchard's Southwest Wrestling (1978)

TEXAS CONNECTIONS IN THE MID-ATLANTIC AREA
PART TWO 

Did you miss PART ONE? Go back and check out some of the many wrestlers that appeared in the Mid-Atlantic area that hailed from the great state of Texas.

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by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In PART TWO of our feature on the Texas Connections with Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, we take a look at a brief working relationship in 1978 between Jim Crockett Promotions and the new Southwest Championship Wrestling promotion headed up by Joe Blanchard in San Antonio.

Joe's son Tully had been competing in the Mid-Atlantic territory as a rookie getting experience in the opening matches of the cards in the Carolinas and Virginia. He arrived in the area in May of 1977 and spent the rest of that year there.

Tully left Jim Crockett Promotions in December of 1977 around the same time his father took over promoting the San Antonio territory which had just been renamed "Southwest Championship Wrestling."

The Lone Star State was divided into several small territories in the 1970s. The Amarillo territory, run by the Funks, covered Amarillo, Lubbock, the panhandle and points west. Dallas was promoted by Fritz Von Erich and covered Dallas, Ft. Worth, and the entire metroplex. The city of Houston, was promoted by Paul Boesch. South Texas (except for Houston) was now run by Joe Blanchard, and the territory included everything from Waco south, including Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and other towns in the Rio Grande valley.

Along with his core group of wrestlers, Joe Blanchard would occasionally book talent from other territories which included some of the top stars from Jim Crockett Promotions. The relationship was apparently developed though Blanchard's history with Crockett booker George Scott.

In early 1978, Crockett landed a time-slot for its program "Wide World Wrestling" on a Corpus Christi station, and in May of that year placed their flagship "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" show on a station in Austin. Blanchard's home base of San Antonio lay right in the middle, and the exposure of the Crockett stars each week in much of Blanchard's territory allowed him to occasionally book some of Jim Crockett Promotions' top stars for key events. This included Crockett's U.S. and World Tag Team titles being defended there, too.

The following is a short summary of some of the appearances Crockett stars made in Southwest Championship Wrestling over roughly an 8-month period. We know there are many others, but we just haven't unearthed them yet. We're working on it!


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December 15, 1977 - Corpus Christi, Texas
NWA World Tag Team Title Match: 
Ric Flair & Greg Valentine vs. Tully Blanchard & Tiger Conway, Jr. 
Wahoo McDaniel vs. Ox Baker
Only days after one of his final regular shots in the Mid-Atlantic area, Tully Blanchard returned home and teamed with Texas favorite (and a current regular mid-carder in the Mid-Atlantic area) Tiger Conway, Jr. to challenge NWA World Tag Team Champions Ric Flair and Greg Valentine for their world title belts. It is thought to be the first time the Crockett version of the NWA world tag team title was defended in Texas. On the same card, Wahoo McDaniel came in and defeated tough Ox Baker. Flair and Valentine retained the NWA tag titles, and headed back home with Wahoo and Tiger for the Mid-Atlantic area's traditional two-week break before Christmas.


May 17, 1978 - San Antonio, Texas
Southwest Championship match: Tully Blanchard vs. Ricky Steamboat
Ricky Steamboat had become one of the top stars in the country off of his feud with "Nature Boy" Ric Flair in the Mid-Atlantic area, and so it elevated both Tully Blanchard and his Southwest title to successfully defend it against Steamboat in San Antonio.

 

The title match was part of a huge San Antonio card that was headlined by NWA World Champion Harley Race defending the "ten pounds of gold" against the man he dethroned for that very title, Amarillo's own Terry Funk. A third title match on that big card featured Dale Valentine (Buddy Roberts) defending the Texas Heavyweight Championship against Killer Karl Krupp.


June 21, 1978 - San Antonio, Texas
NWA World Title Match: Harley Race vs. Ricky Steamboat
Steamboat must have proven to be a good draw for them, because Joe Blanchard brought him back a month later to headline San Antonio against the NWA World Champion Harley Race. Also on that card, Tully Blanchard was attempting to regain the Southwest title he had recently lost to Alberto Madril.


August 3, 1978 - Corpus Christi, Texas
United States Championship match:
Ric Flair vs. Blackjack Mulligan
In August, Joe Blanchard booked Jim Crockett's hottest main event to headline his own big show in Corpus Christi, a U.S. title defense by Ric Flair against his former partner and now top challenger, the big man from Eagle Pass, Texas, Blackjack Mulligan. Blanchard had also booked two top young stars catching fire in Dallas, Kevin and David Von Erich. Dale Valentine (Buddy Roberts) defeated Kevin, and David topped Don Kodiak. Tully Blanchard and Rocky Johnson wrestled to a draw. (There is reason to believe this may have been a TV taping.)



There were likely other occasions during 1978 where Crockett's top stars made appearances, and we continue to try to uncover them.

In PART THREE of our "Texas Connections" series, we'll take a closer look at Crockett TV airing in Texas in the territory days, as well as Flair defending his U.S. title in the Amarillo territory. And looking ahead, we'll be listening to some vintage audio clips from Mid-Atlantic Wrestling with a decidedly TEXAS theme to them. Stay tuned!

Did you miss PART ONE? Go back and check out some of the many wrestlers that appeared in the Mid-Atlantic area that hailed from the great state of Texas.

[Special thanks to Mark Eastridge for the newspaper clippings and for inspiring this Texas series.]


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