Friday, December 22, 2017

Action Figures Friday: U.S. Champion Jimmy Snuka

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
(Action Figure from the Collection of Mike Simmerman - @mikesimmerman)

One of the big stories in 1979 was the heel-turn of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and his accession to the United States Heavyweight Championship under the managerial tutelage of former NWA World Heavyweight Champion "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers.

Snuka won the U.S. title in a tournament in Charlotte, NC, in 9/1/79 after the title had been vacated by Ric Flair in August when he and Blackjack Mulligan won the NWA World Tag Team titles.

Snuka defeated Tim Woods and Jim Brunzell in early rounds of the tournament before defeating the "Hawaiian Punch" Ricky Steamboat in the finals.

Snuka held the iconic "red strap" version of the Crockett U.S. championship (in service from 1975-1980), a belt with cast plates crafted by belt-maker Nikita Mulkovich. 

In 2010, I had a chance to show Snuka my replica of that U.S. belt which got a very nice reaction from him. He had a huge grin on his face and said "Very nice, bruddah,very nice." I wrote about that on the Gateway and you can read that here: "Jimmy Snuka Remembers the U.S. Championship Belt - An Iconic Image from 1970s sends Jimmy Snuka down Memory Lane"

An earlier installment of "Action Figures Friday" focused on the bloody feud over the U.S. title between Jimmy Snuka and Ric Flair.

The book "Jim Crockett Promotions' United States Championship" chronicles the entire story of the feud between these two hall-of-famers, as well as every story of every title change of all five version of Crockett's U.S. title from 1975 until 1988 when the family business was sold to Ted Turner. Check it out through the link below.

Thanks, as always, to Mike Simmerman for providing the great photos of his action figures collection. Follow Mike on twitter at @mikesimmerman.