Saturday, September 22, 2018

New Mid-Atlantic Wrestling 1976 Yearbook is Now Available

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/yearbooks.html 

The Mid-Atlantic Gateway is happy to announce the second volume in their Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Yearbook series is now available for purchase on Amazon.com.


The large 8x10" 240 page collection of memorabilia and historical information includes newspaper clippings from cities across the territory throughout the year, event posters, talent rosters, match results, vintage photographs, and much more.

The book also includes reprints of four (4) issues of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine, the program sold in the arenas, copies of which are highly sought after by collectors today.

Plus, there is a 40-page section of comprehensive results and match listings for wrestling events across the territory during the year, compiled by Mark James at MemphisWrestlingHistory.com. (Mark features two huge collection of JCP wrestling results from the 1970s and 1980s on his website.)

Both the 1975 and 1976 Yearbooks are available on Amazon.com. You can find links to all of our books and more information in the Gateway Book Store.

The product page for the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Yearbooks can be found here.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Spider Grip & Uncle Reba Joe: The Eagle Pass Biographies Revisited

One of the best memories I have of our friendship with Blackjack Mulligan in the last years before his passing was his emails about the characters he used to mention in his promos for the local matches. From the first time we were fortunate enough to get to know him, we told him how much we loved hearing those references in his local promos for matches we grew up attending - - David in Richmond, VA, or the few shows I got to see in those years in Asheville, NC, and Spartanburg, SC.

When working with him on his (now defunct) website, Blackjack's BBQ, I asked him to relate some of the background detail on some of these characters, many of whom were based on actual people Blackjack had known in his life. He had a great time doing it, and the result were these short passages that we include here as the "Eagle Pass Biographies."

The "Eagle Pass Biographies" take a humorous look at those legendary West Texas characters from the fertile mind and imagination of Blackjack Mulligan. All of these names appeared in his TV promos back in the 1970s and 1980s, some more than others.

Part fact, part fiction. True lies and alibis.  
 - D. Bourne
  
 


by Blackjack Mulligan
As told to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway


UNCLE REBA JOE
Uncle Reba Joe could best be described as wild as the west Texas wind! If one has ever seen the movie "Hud" with Paul Newman, then you know my Uncle Reba Joe.

He was raised on a ranch in Cross Plains, Texas in Callahan County Bright red hair, wore a flowery western shirt with the sleeves half rolled up, and a pair of the fanciest western boots you ever seen called Apache Flower. Had his pants tucked in the boots and a large silver buckle he won at the Concho County rodeo for bull ridin'. He was always driving an old Cadillac convertible with the top down come rain or shine. Always had 2 or 3 senoritas with him. He loved Jack Daniels, women, and fightin' - not sure in which order, didn't seem to matter!

Well Uncle Reba Joe was the coolest thing I had ever seen and he was (unfortunately) my hero. He took me to Mexico with him one weekend and there in Rosie's Cantina I fell in love with a 50 year old senorita and wanted to marry her. I was 13. Uncle Reba Joe had to drag me outta there. He assured me there would be others. Not that I knew what to do!

We had a large family and every year Uncle Reba Joe and Uncle Red would get in a fight at our family reunion. Uncle Reba Joe would promise every year no drinkin' or womanizing, and Uncle Red, Christian man he was, burly 6'5'' medal of honor winner in World War II,  didn't stand for no B.S.! Well every year Uncle Reba Joe would get to drinkin' and messin' round with all the women folk and call out Uncle Red. And every year Uncle Red would K.O. Uncle Reba Joe and we would have to carry him to his Cadillac! My Hero!!


SARA JO PUCKETT
Sara Jo Puckett was voted the Concho County Rodeo Queen and from that moment on, fame and fortune would lead the path to wealth and eventually back to running her own saloon in Eagle Pass, Texas. I actually found her there while working on a ranch in Concho County during summer break. She accompanied me back to Odessa and went to work at the Ace O' Clubs.  I had to return to school, but our lives crossed paths many times throughout the years.


She was a Dolly Parton look-alike, an unbelievable beauty.  Down through the years she would call me, and to the rescue Blackjack would come, rescuing her from gamblers, bums, sheriffs, and rift raft! As the years passed, her beauty started to fade and Blackjack decided to immortalize her in promos and interviews.  She took on a few pounds over the years, but the beauty was still there. I actually took her to Madison Square Garden and few other places so she could go home and have braggin' rights!

Never a prettier woman; she could ride a bull, chew tobacco, drink whiskey, back you up in a fight, and all the things a good woman does! WOW, what a woman!


SPIDER GRIP 
Spider was raised somewhere in Concho County, Texas (county seat is Paint Rock, population 231, about 200 miles southwest of Dallas). He just showed up one day. He stood about 6'1" weighed about 135 lbs. and was the rangiest looking critter that I ever did see. Looked like it had been a while since Spider had had a bath.

Spider was working as a ranch hand and moon-lighted as a rodeo clown for the RCA (Rodeo Cowboys Association), keeping the bulls away from the thrown riders.

I had met Spider while working on a ranch as a youngster. He was the toughest man I ever saw. A water moccasin bit him one day at the crik. Spider just grabbed him and bit his head off, sucked the venom out of the bite, and kept on working...and then he told me to get back to work!

Spider got gored by a bull named Chilli Dog and died shortly afterwards.


See the complete set of the "Eagle Pass Biogrphies" by clicking here. 


More great memories of the legendary Blackjack Mulligan on the pages of 

now hosted on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.


The Eagle Pass Biographies were passed along from Robert Windham to Dick Bourne in emails and phone conversations in October and November of 2006. 
Originally posted on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in 2006.
 
Copyright © Robert Windham and The Mid-Atlantic Gateway


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/yearbooks.html

Sunday, September 16, 2018

"Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods' Last Stand (Part 3)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

Catch up on this story in PART ONE and PART TWO

* * *

PART THREE

Two weeks after being injured by Jimmy Snuka on Wide World Wrestling, "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods  returned to television sporting a neck brace and thankful to not have been permanently injured. On the September 19, 1979 taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling program, announcers Bob Caudle and David Crockett welcomed back the talented masked grappler.

Tim Woods
Bob Caudle opened, "David, it's mighty good to see this fellow here with us, Mr. Wrestling." Crockett replied, "It really is; I'm glad we see him but I'm sorry he's in that condition." Mr. Wrestling followed, "Well, I'm just happy to be standing here and for you people who don't know what happened we have a film that I'd like to show at this time, if that's possible."

Caudle answered, "That's right, we do Mr. Wrestling; it's a film of the match with Jimmy Snuka, and David this is courtesy of World Wide Wrestling." Crockett concurred, "That is correct, and right now here it is." Caudle then continued, "And Mr. Wrestling while this tape is going and while the action is in the ring you can tell us in some of your own words what's happening in there and what's going through your mind right now during this match."

Mr. Wrestling commented in response, "Well, this was a match that came out of a tag team match where I issued a challenge to either Buddy Rogers or Jimmy Snuka, and Snuka stepped in and said he would be happy to welcome me into the ring anytime. So I took him up, it was right here on television. You can see I came after the man; I was ready for the man. He at the time had JUST won the United States Championship. He was the new U.S. Heavyweight Champion right here. This was probably the first time he'd been in the ring since winning that title."

After the early part of the taped match played for the fans, Caudle opined to Woods, "It looks to me like, especially at this part of the match that you were really giving him more than he could handle." Mr. Wrestling agreed, "Well I came after him, that's for sure." As the bout wore on and the chicanery of Snuka and Rogers carried the day, the masked man was none too happy at what he witnessed again.

Caudle then queried Woods, "After seeing that, how are you feeling now?" Mr. Wrestling responded bluntly, "Well, I feel much better...I'm happy to be standing here. This happened several weeks ago as you know, but it makes me sick to my stomach every time I see it. Wrestling is a great sport..."

Before Woods could finish his thought, he was rudely interrupted by Buddy Rogers who flew onto the set yelling, "What's the idea?!?" Caudle shouted out, "Here is Buddy Rogers! And here is Jimmy Snuka as they both now attack Mr. Wrestling again! He's down on the floor...Rogers came out to hit him; Snuka came out to hit him from behind."

As the studio audience howled their disapproval of the events that were transpiring before them Caudle continued, "Rogers reaches down and takes that collar now off of the throat of Mr. Wrestling and here is Snuka way up onto the ring and onto the ropes WAY off and down onto the floor! And that's about eight or nine feet up in the air, as Snuka came down with that shoe hard again now across the throat of Mr. Wrestling as they continue to maul him!"

As the TV program went off the air it appeared without any doubt that Buddy Rogers and Jimmy Snuka this time had completed the act of putting Mr. Wrestling out of commission as they thought they had two weeks earlier. But once again Rogers and Snuka had underestimated the toughness of this talented grappler from Michigan. The graceful mat technician would soon throw all his amateur moves, along with his mask, out the window. Tim Woods, and a new "friend" of his, were about ready for a merciless fight!

Wanted Out Of Wrestling---Buddy Rogers & Jimmy Snuka!  
To be continued in Part 4!


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

Friday, September 14, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: All Star "Dream Teams" Match


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's hard to imagine a tag team match-up that would be more exciting, unpredictable, and out of control than the tag match headlining this June 20, 1976 card in Greensboro, NC.

Not only did this match feature three of the top stars in the territory in Blackjack Mulligan, Ric Flair, and Wahoo McDaniel, but it added a special appearance by an outside star in Dusty Rhodes.

The icing on the cake was that the match was a non-sanctioned "Lights Out" match and was fought with Texas Tornado rules - - all four men in the ring at the same time!

Flair and Mulligan were a regular tandem at this point, months before Greg Valentine would enter the area and become Ric's main partner. Both men held the area's top two singles titles: Mulligan was the United States champion and Flair held the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight title.

Wahoo McDaniel was in the middle of a year long feud with Flair over the Mid-Atlantic title, and Mulligan had been interfering in their matches to aid Flair in keeping his title. Wahoo enlisted the aid of the "American Dream" to give Mully and Flair a good thrashing.

And so they did. It was a wild affair by all accounts, with Wahoo and Rhodes coming out on top.

In the semi-main, Paul Jones defeated TV champion Angelo Mosca, but the title wasn't on the line. The victory earned Jones future title shots.

The undercard featured familiar names such as Danny Miller, Tony Atlas, Larry Zbyszko, Two Ton Harris, Klondike Bill, Burrhead Jones, and many others, including one of our favorite mid-card teams at that time: Mike "The Judge" Dubois and Sgt. Jacques Goulet.


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Saturday, September 08, 2018

"Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods' Last Stand (Part Two)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Catch up with everything you missed in PART ONE.
U.S Champion Jimmy Snuka


PART TWO

When Mr. Wrestling battled "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka on the World Wide Wrestling television show on September 5, 1979 it was the classic case of two against one. With Snuka's manager Buddy Rogers interjecting himself in the proceedings early and often, the masked man succumbed to Snuka, but unfortunately Mr. Wrestling lost more than a match...he lost his health in a scary series of events both during and after the bout.

Announcer Rich Landrum immediately after the match following a commercial break exclaimed, "Mr. Wrestling for all intents and purposes is not moving too well. Jimmy Snuka and Buddy Rogers while we were away for the commercial message really, literally attacked Mr. Wrestling again. So far as I have been able to determine he has not moved too well in the brief time that we were away."

At this juncture a number of other wrestlers came to the ring to check on the fallen masked man. Landrum observed, "Now perhaps some help is coming in to get Mr. Wrestling out. Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, Jim Brunzell, Blackjack Mulligan...and as you can see Snuka and Rogers didn't want to get down off the ring too much, not with these guys around. It looks like Mr. Wrestling's neck may be injured."

Things then began to break down between Rogers and Snuka and Mr. Wrestling's friends. Landrum blurted out, "Snuka's back in again and takes a stomp! Now it's Flair who's got Snuka, rams him into the turnbuckle." Rich continued, "Steamboat has Rogers backed into the corner...and it's a real donnybrook in the middle of the ring! We've got about six or seven wrestlers here; Rogers manages to get out and now Flair throws Snuka out of the ring!" The mayhem continued as Snuka then fell into the set knocking it partially over before grabbing his U.S. Championship belt and running backstage.

Mr. Wrestling
The focus then shifted to the injured Mr. Wrestling and the attempts to remove the masked man from the ring. Landrum noted, "Of course the important thing now if he does have a neck injury is not to move him around too much and let's keep him on an even plane...not move his neck and trunk around too much here." As the camera angle moved Rich observed, "There's Abe Jacobs, who is already in the ring, he's supposed to go up against the AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel and we have a delay in that match because obviously we don't want to have any further injury to Mr. Wrestling."

Landrum then opined on the recent episode, "Mr. Wrestling's a fine competitor; he was frankly taken advantage of. I don't like to say that but that is the case. He was out long before Snuka went after him with that guillotine hold that Rogers has taught him to use, and really he could have been pinned much sooner. This is really quite a serious thing to happen in professional wrestling, not just because of Mr. Wrestling because he is a fine competitor but I don't like to see any professional athlete injured. Whether you like them or not, it's still the way they participate and the way they make their living."

The concern over the condition of the fallen masked man was palpable in the ring, except from one quarter. Landrum explained, "Now they're still trying to move Mr. Wrestling out, very gently, very carefully...trying to get him over toward the ropes. Got to be very careful now men, don't want to create any more injury than what may have already been sustained. There's Nick Bockwinkel the AWA Champion looking on; I don't know if he's concerned or if that's just some type of look. No, apparently he's not too concerned about it. I think he just wants them to hurry up and get out of the ring so he can get his match started."

"World Wide Wrestling" announcer Rich Landrum


You could hear a pin drop as the hushed studio crowd saw a stretcher brought toward the ring. "They're still now attending to Mr. Wrestling; there you see Jim Brunzell, Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Blackjack Mulligan," the announcer stated. "They have called for a stretcher to carry Mr. Wrestling from the ring and that's a very wise move. They do have him now on the flat surface of the ring. He's outside of the ropes so no further injury could hopefully be incurred in moving him. And they're doing it very quickly, trying to move him out of the ring," Landrum added.

An exceedingly rare on-camera appearance by the President of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Jim Crockett put in context how serious this injury situation was. Landrum noticed, "Coming now to ringside is NWA representative Jim Crockett, and they're trying to get the stretcher out now, get everything locked in place, got to open it up and get it locked in which is what they're doing." Rich continued his observations, "They will now then try to gently slide Mr. Wrestling over onto that stretcher and move him out. And of course as I say, the important thing is now not to move his neck or his back too much to keep him on an even plane so that he will not incur any more injury and this is what they're doing."

Landrum concluded this chilling segment by saying, "Now they have him on the stretcher and they are removing him from the ring and from the studio. And it does look like he has incurred some type of neck or back injury. I'm sure he'll be taken now to the hospital to be checked and if we do have any information on him from the hospital before the program's over we will pass it along."

Later, as the TV show neared its conclusion, Landrum confronted Rogers and Snuka about their dastardly acts. Rich told the fans, "Now joining me are Buddy Rogers, the U.S. Heavyweight Champion and his man Jimmy Snuka and Buddy I must say, that wasn't too respectable what you did to Mr. Wrestling." Rogers pointed at the Superfly and joked, "What I did to him? Here's the man that did it to him!" Landrum countered, "You say he only does what you say."

Buddy gleefully answered, "That's right, I told him what to do and he went out and did it...he did a better job than I thought he could do! When this man does a job, he does it to perfection. I told you that this man would be a champion; here he is, he has the title, he has everything I told him he would get. He listens to me; anybody that listens to me gets great results! You know, the proof is in the pudding. When you're around someone's that got ability, naturally it rubs off and this man's gonna be the next...not only is he the champion but a champion a long, long time!"

So when the September 5, 1979 edition of World Wide Wrestling went off the air it seemed the new U.S. Champion Jimmy Snuka and his manager Buddy Rogers had dispatched the challenge of Mr. Wrestling with ease, putting the masked man out of wrestling indefinitely, if not forever, in the process. But as the late summer of 1979 turned into fall, if Rogers and Snuka truly believed they had sent Mr. Wrestling to the dust-bin of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling history, they were in for a rude awakening in short order!

Mr. Wrestling returns without his mask and vows revenge on Buddy Rogers and Jimmy Snuka...to be continued in Part 3!


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

"Thunder and Lightning": Aldis vs. Rhodes for the Ten Pounds of Gold



Watching the moments before Aldis and Rhodes locked up, I had chills running up and down my back.

Beautifully produced video by Dave Lagana.

Congratulations to everyone involved for making this one of the true magic moments in the modern era, and a game changer for "independent" wrestling.


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/ten-pounds-of-gold.html
The book about the original 1973-1986 Belt

Saturday, September 01, 2018

TV Guide Memories: Wrestling in North Carolina in October 1975


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

We like to occasionally take a snapshot-look at a Saturday back in the day and see what wrestling was like on TV at the time.

Younger fans may not realize that before all of wrestling moved to cable TV channels, your local channel was where you found your weekly pro wrestling show, and usually always on a Saturday afternoon or evening.

In October of 1975 in the state of North Carolina, all the TV markets in the state aired the local promotion run by Jim Crockett Promotions out of Charlotte. But during this time the Florida show was syndicated broadly in the state as well. This was not an adversarial thing. It was actually another outlet for Jim Crockett Promotions to run spots for shows in that market. JCP ads would run where Florida ads would be seen in the Florida markets.  Stars from Florida would occasionally be booked into Charlotte and more often Greensboro. These included Dusty Rhodes, the Brisco brothers, the Funk brothers, Bill Watts, and others.

Here is a brief run down of all the wrestling on this particular Saturday in October of 1975:



3:00 PM

36 WRET Charlotte - Super Pro Wrestling with Charlie Babb
This independent didn't last long, only about 6 weeks according to our resident wrestling-on-TV expert Carroll Hall. They were using some of the local guys that had worked for Eddie Einhorn's IWA which had all but closed up shop at this point, and was transitioning to a more local group run by Johnny Powers. They taped TV Saturday mornings in the studio of WRET-36, which later became WPCQ and would host the TV taping for Jim Crockett Promotions for a couple of years in the early 1980s.


3:30 PM

11 WTVD Durham - IWA Wrestling
As mentioned above, the Eddie Einhorn's IWA was closing down and transitioning to a group by the same name run by Johnny Powers. The Einhorn show was still on here in Durham, and Carroll Hall remembers that many weeks they would show re-runs because they had no new TV programs taped.

13 WBTW - Florence (SC) - Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with Bob Caudle
This South Carolina station was listed in the North Carolina Edition of TV Guide because a good portion of the southern part of North Carolina could receive its signal. This was the Mid-Atlantic "A" show taped at WRAL in Raleigh every Wednesday night.


4:00 PM

3 WBTV Charlotte - Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with Bob Caudle
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling had replaced the long running "Championship Wrestling" show taped at WBTV and hosted by Big Bill Ward in 1974 when all the Crockett TV tapings were consolidated to WRAL in Raleigh.

8 WGHP High Point/Greensboro - Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with Les Thatcher
The Mid-Atlantic Wrestling "B" show replaced the long running "Championship Wrestling" show taped at WGHP hosted by Charlie Harville in 1974. This alternate/additional version of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling was taped each Wednesday night at WRAL in Raleigh. All the Crockett TV tapings were consolidated to WRAL in Raleigh at that time.


7:00 PM

12 WCTI New Bern- Championship Wrestling from Florida with Gordon Solie
Bob Bailey reports to Carroll Hall that the Florida show aired on this station during this time period.

28 WRDU Durham - Championship Wrestling from Florida with Gordon Solie
This was outlet for Florida wrestling in Raleigh, Durham, and the Greensboro market as well as the WRDU signal was very strong and penetrated all through the Piedmont area of North Carolina. A few years later, WRDU would replace Florida wrestling with the syndicated version of Georgia Championship Wrestling out of WTCG (later WTBS) channel 17 in Atlanta.

36 WRET Charlotte - Championship Wrestling from Florida with Gordon Solie
As you can see, Florida Wrestling blanketed the Central and Eastern parts of the state of North Carolina during these years.


11:30 PM

13 WLOS Asheville - Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with Les Thatcher
WLOS-13 was not included in the North Carolina Edition. It was in the Carolina/East Tennessee Edition of TV Guide and included East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and the upstate region of South Carolina. I've included it here to further accurately reflect TV wrestling in the state of North Carolina.

The B show on WLOS with Les Thatcher dominated the rating as night in the Asheville/Greenville/Spartanburg market, sometime getting 60 and 70% shares. Just weeks later, the new Jim Crockett show "Wide World Wrestling" hosted by former Atlanta broadcaster Ed Capral would replace the Mid-Atlantic B show in all of the markets where it aired (including WGHP-8 listed above.) Should point out that the Asheville market got the Mid-Atlantic "A" show with Bob Caudle on WFBC-4 (now WYFF) out of Greenville, SC.


12:00 AM MIDNIGHT

5 WRAL Raleigh - Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with Bob Caudle
The battleship show on the flagship station. But once WRAL quit taping a local show for Raleigh only in 1973, wrestling got kicked to late at night.



12:45 AM

3 WWAY Wilmington - Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with Bob Caudle



1:30 AM

10 WIS Columbia (SC) - Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with Bob Caudle
Like the Florence station listed above, this South Carolina station was listed in the North Carolina Edition of TV Guide because a good portion of the southern central part of North Carolina could receive its signal. This was the Mid-Atlantic "A" show taped at WRAL in Raleigh every Wednesday night. Likely had been bumped this late this week because of a sports preemption earlier in the day.

* * *

Thanks to Carroll Hall at the All Star Championship Wrestling website for his assistance with this article.


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/yearbooks.html

Friday, August 31, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: All Star Tag Team Match


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's hard to imagine a tag team match-up that would be more exciting, unpredictable, and out of control than the tag match headlining this June 20, 1976 card in Greensboro, NC.

Not only did this match feature three of the top stars in the territory in Blackjack Mulligan, Ric Flair, and Wahoo McDaniel, but it added a special appearance by an outside star in Dusty Rhodes.

The icing on the cake was that the match was a non-sanctioned "Lights Out" match and was fought with Texas Tornado rules - - all four men in the ring at the same time!

Flair and Mulligan were a regular tandem at this point, months before Greg Valentine would enter the area and become Ric's main partner. Both men held the area's top two singles titles: Mulligan was the United States champion and Flair held the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight title.

Wahoo McDaniel was in the middle of a year long feud with Flair over the Mid-Atlantic title, and Mulligan had been interfering in their matches to aid Flair in keeping his title. Wahoo enlisted the aid of the "American Dream" to give Mully and Flair a good thrashing.

And so they did. It was a wild affair by all accounts, with Wahoo and Rhodes coming out on top.

In the semi-main, Paul Jones defeated TV champion Angelo Mosca, but the title wasn't on the line. The victory earned Jones future title shots.

The undercard featured familiar names such as Danny Miller, Tony Atlas, Larry Zbyszko, Two Ton Harris, Klondike Bill, Burrhead Jones, and many others, including one of our favorite mid-card teams at that time: Mike "The Judge" Dubois and Sgt. Jacques Goulet.


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

WRAL Wednesday: Another Look at Valentine and Flair (and the U.S. title belt)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Photographs from the Bleachers at WRAL by Ric Carter

It's Wednesday, and for nearly two and a half decades, that meant Jim Crockett Promotions was taping television wrestling at the studios of WRAL channel 5 in Raleigh.

We've been featuring a series of rare photographs taken by photographer Ric Carter from the bleachers of the studio during an hour of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" in July of 1975.





This week we take a second look at the team of Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair in a great photograph in the moments after their victory over Kevin Sullivan and Bob Bruggers. (See more photos from that match here.)

At left, Sullivan kneels over his partner who had just taken a vicious suplex and elbow drop from "The Champ" Johnny Valentine.  Referee Johnny Heidmann checks up on the losing team as well.

Johnny Valentine had taken Flair under his wing somewhat during this time and the two teamed frequently on TV. Valentine was the reigning United States Heavyweight champion and Ric Flair held the Mid-Atlantic Television title.

In another great photo from the bleachers, Ric Cater grabbed a shot of the new United States Heavyweight title belt as it lay on the ring apron before the match, just moments before ring attendant scooped it up. You can see the ring attendant in the background, just placing Flair's TV belt over his left arm. This was the first time the new U.S. title belt, with its sparkling gold plated cast plates and shiny red crocodile leather, had been seen on T.V.

 
http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/us-title-book.html
The story on every title change and every belt from the Crockett Promotions years.


As mentioned in our earlier post on this match, it was Johnny Valentine's first TV appearance as United States Heavyweight champion. He had just defeated Harley Race six days earlier for that title in Greensboro. During Valentine's TV match, Les Thatcher told fans that they would be reviewing tape of the title change from Greensboro on next week's show.

Champions At This Time:
NWA World Champion: Jack Brisco
World Tag Team Champions: Gene and Ole Anderson
United States Champion: Johnny Valentine
Mid-Atlantic Champion: Wahoo McDaniel
TV Champion: Ric Flair

This show was taped Wednesday, 7/9/75 and aired on Saturday, 7/12/75. Other matches on this show included Chief Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion, "No. 1" Paul Jones and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones vs. "Crusher" Jerry Blackwell and George "Two Ton" Harris, plus Ole Anderson vs. Bob Burns.

This is the fifth and final installment in our series of photos from WRAL studio in 1975.  Next up in a few months will be a series of photos from the same bleachers in 1981 - - good stuff from photographer Ric Carter!

1975 Photo Feature Summary
1. Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion (Part 1)
2. Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion (Part 2) 
3. Johnny Valentine & Ric Flair vs. Sullivan & Bruggers (Part 1)
4. Paul Jones & Rufus R. Jones vs. Blackwell and Harris 
5. Johnny Valentine & Ric Flair vs. Sullivan & Bruggers (Part 2) (This post)

All photographs in this series by Ric Carter, © CartersRXd.net. Used with permission.
Vintage audio provided by Gary Wray.


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/yearbooks.html

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Look Back at Tony Schiavone calling Baseball in Charlotte

With the minor league baseball season close to winding down, we thought we'd take a look back at an article we posted in 2015 about Tony Schiavone and a feature on him published in a Charlotte O's baseball program.



Before Tony Schiavone joined ringside partners Bob Caudle, David Crockett, and Johnny Weaver as one of the voices of Mid-Atlantic and World Wide Wrestling in the early 1980s, he was the radio voice of the Charlotte O's baseball franchise, the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles in Charlotte, NC.

Both the wrestling organization and the baseball club were part of Jim Crockett Promotions, Inc.

Ric Flair recently told listeners on episode #26 of his podcast "WOOOOO! Nation" that after meeting Tony and hearing him call O's baseball, he suggested to the Crockett family that Schiavone get a chance to join the wrestling part of the company.

Not long after Flair's suggestion, Schiavone had the opportunity to follow the legendary Charlotte wrestling announcer "Big" Bill Ward as host of the localized promo segments that were inserted into the wrestling shows. He later was the backstage interviewer for "Starrcade '83" and then got his shot co-hosting "World Wide Wrestling" alongside David Crockett in 1984. The rest, as they say, was history.

But before all that took place, the following short profile on Tony appeared in a 1982 Charlotte O's baseball program....


VOICE OF THE CHARLOTTE O's TONY SCHIAVONE (1982)
One of Greensboro's top radio personalities comes to Charlotte this year as the voice of the O's. He is Tony Schiavone, a 24 year old native of Virginia. Last year Tony was the voice of the Class A Greensboro Hornets and was named 1981 South Atlantic League Broadcaster of the Year.

Bob Taylor of WBTV will join Tony this year as color man. This will be Bob's second year on O's Radio, and the former professional player once again brings his knowledge of the game to the booth.

Schiavone is a graduate of James Madison University and has been in radio for five years. His past duties have involved football, basketball, and baseball play-by-play, and host of a call-in talk show.

His duties with the O's will also include coordinating media information and keeping official statistics.
Schiavone is married to the former Lois Berger of Greensboro and they are expecting their first child in July.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

John Slyler wins the 2018 Johnny Weaver Cup

2018 Weaver Cup Winner John Skyler
Photo courtesy Randy Hedrick / IndyInsiders.com

Congratulations to John Skyler who won the 2018 (and 15th Annual) Johnny Weaver Cup tournament for CWF Wrestling on August 25 in Gibsonville, NC. Skyler defeated Cam Carter in the finals of a tournament that lasted the entire summer and completed its 15th historic year.

Here are the Final Four results, courtesy of PWPonderings.com:

  • Semi-Final #1: “Southern Savior” John Skyler defeated CWF Rising Generation League Champion “Cowboy” Kool Jay by pinfall to advance to the Weaver Cup Final. (6:24)
  • Semi-Final #2: PWI International Ultra-J Crown Champion “Skywalker” Cam Carter defeated CWF Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champion Corruption’s Cain Justice by pinfall to advance to the Weaver Cup Final. (12:46) 
  • Weaver Cup Finals:  “Southern Savior” John Skyler defeated “Skywalker” Cam Carter by pinfall to win the 2018 JOHNNY WEAVER MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT (16:57)
 
Congratulations to all the folks at CWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling for the success of their annual tournament. You have our great respect for helping keep the memory of the great Johnny Weaver alive for new generations of wrestling fans.


For more information visit the following
web resources:


Check out our pages dedicated to the memory
of Johnny Weaver on the Gateway:
Johnny Weaver Net
Weaver Cup History


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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ricky Steamboat Defends Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's United States Title in Florida

Flair and Steamboat Travel to Florida for an Extra Payday During Crockett's Christmas Break
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Special Thanks to Mark Eastridge

Mark Eastridge Collection
As I've written about before here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, I always loved when wrestlers with Crockett-area titles defended those belts in other territories. Specifically, the United States heavyweight championship and the NWA world tag team championships were occasionally defended outside the Mid-Atlantic territory in other areas such as Georgia, Florida, and Texas to name a few.

In December of 1977, just a few days before Christmas, Ricky Steamboat took the U.S. title to Championship Wrestling from Florida and successfully defended it in Miami Beach.

He didn't go alone. His top rival for the championship, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, was also booked for Eddie Graham's promotion the same night, but not as the challenger for Steamboat.

It was a bonus payday for both Flair and Steamboat, who were in the middle of what was Jim Crockett Promotions' annual Christmas break. Each year in those days, the Crockett promotion would shut down for two full weeks right before Christmas, returning to action for big shows on Christmas night.

Barry Rose Collection
In 1977, the last Crockett shows before the Christmas break were on Tuesday, December 13 at their regular Tuesday stops in Columbia, SC and Raleigh, NC. The next night, they taped multiple episodes of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "Wide World Wrestling" at WRAL in Raleigh, including the annual year-end highlights shows, to get them through the next several weeks of TV while the company was down.

During the Crockett break, Steamboat and Flair took the opportunity to get themselves booked in Florida exactly one week later, on 12/21/77 at the Miami Beach Convention Hall.

Steamboat was the reigning U.S. champion at this time, having defeated Flair for the prestigious belt  in Greensboro, NC in October. He defended the title that night in Miami against another Mid-Atlantic regular Bill White. It was an interesting match-up and was likely White's only shot ever at the U.S. championship. Steamboat was successful in that title defense.

Flair wrestled Rocky Johnson in the semi-main event of this card, which was headlined by a WWWF title match between reigning champion "Superstar" Billy Graham and "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.

Also on the big card were Jack and Jerry Brisco, Bob Roop, Bob Orton, Jr., Buddy Roberts, Dutch Mantell and many others.

U.S. Champion Ricky Steamboat
in Miami Beach before his U.S. title defense
(plmathfoto@hotmail.com)
It was a homecoming of sorts for Steamboat. When he arrived in Florida in the spring of 1976 with only a few months experience under his belt, promoter Eddie Graham thought Richard Blood (his real name) looked so much like perennial Florida favorite Sam Steamboat, he gave him the name Ricky Steamboat. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Before returning to Miami as United States Champion, Steamboat's last match there had been a win over Jim Lancaster in the preliminaries on a card in July of 1976. 

With Superstar Graham on the card in Miami to defend the WWWF title against Rhodes, and two of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's top stars supporting that card, it was one of the more unique cards to take place in Florida in those years.

Photographer and photo-collector Pete Lederberg owns the rights to photographs taken this very night in Miami Beach.  The photos were originally shot by area photographer Brian Berkowitz. The title defense and those photographs are a cool little bit of history for Jim Crockett Promotions' U.S. championship.

Berkowitz's photo above of Steamboat with the U.S. title belt was featured full page in color in the book "Jim Crockett Promotions' United States Championship", along with a few other photos licensed from Lederberg. See many other photos from this night (including match photos of Steamboat vs. White and Flair vs. Johnson) in Pete Lederberg's Facebook photo album: Miami 12/21/77.

Thanks to Mark Eastridge, Pete Lederberg, Carroll Hall, and Barry Rose for their contributions to this article.

Originally published September 26, 2016

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: Buddy Rogers Arrives


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Our classic poster this week comes from a memorable show in Greensboro in the summer of 1979.

The June 17 show at the fabled Greensboro Coliseum featured two huge main events. The top match was Ricky Steamboat challenging Harley Race once again for the NWA World Heavyweight championship, this time in a 2-out-of-3-falls match. Steamboat had become one of the top contenders for the NWA title in the country. His matches with Race were scientific classics, their work was almost like ballet in the ring. It was beautiful to watch. Their battles were regularly featured within the pages (and often on the covers) of the popular newsstand wrestling magazines.

Preceding that, though, was a match more notable for the story told and the referee involved than the match itself.

Buddy Rogers straps the U.S. title around the waist
of the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, 6/17/79
________________________________________
First of all, it's important for the sake of perspective to remember that Dusty Rhodes was not a regular performer in the Mid-Atlantic area during this time. He was a Florida mainstay who had become a top touring attraction (similar to Andre the Giant) and was headlining cards in territories across the country including Mid-South, Georgia, Mid-Atlantic, the WWWF, and of course his home territory in the Sunshine State.

When he visited the Mid-Atlantic area, it usually meant an appearance in Greensboro. And over the last four years, several of those Greensboro matches had been against Ric Flair. In this case Rhodes had come to the Mid-Atlantic in hopes of taking Flair's U.S. championship which would earn him a shot at Race for the World title.

Ric Flair, for his part, was right in the middle of a long, drawn-out babyface turn that began after a dispute with No. 1 Paul Jones. At the previous Greensboro show, Flair had actually chosen Dusty Rhodes as his partner to try and take the NWA World Tag Team championships from Jones and Baron Von Raschke. When the unlikely pair failed to take those tag titles, each blamed the other, and what followed was Rhodes then challenging Flair for his U.S. championship, with the NWA assigning a special referee for the contest - - former NWA and WWWF World champion, the legendary "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers.

This match would lead to Rogers actually coming into the area as a wrestler and manager. Rogers was basically impartial until the end when Flair got physical with him and Rogers responded by punching Flair and counting a quick three count and awarding the U.S. title to Rhodes. Rhodes actually left the building that night thinking he was U.S. champion; Rogers had raised Rhodes' hand and had strapped the U.S. title around his waist.

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/us-title-book.html
A complete history of Jim Crockett Promotion' United States Heavyweight Championship
On the following week's television show, David Crockett announced that the NWA had reviewed the film of the match and, because of the blatant involvement by referee Rogers in the finish, they were returning the U.S. title to Flair.

All of that then set up Buddy Rogers coming out of retirement to challenge Flair for the U.S. title on the next card in Greensboro.

Rogers was the fan favorite in this Greensboro story, but would soon turn heel as, simultaneously, Flair solidified himself as a babyface when the two had an altercation on television weeks later and Rogers applied the figure-four leglock on Flair and tried to injure him.

Not much else notable happened on that show. Dino Bravo was never a serious threat to Ken Patera's Mid-Atlantic Championship. But a fellow on an earlier match soon would be. Jim Brunzell had entered the territory from the AWA, and would upset Patera twice on television in non-title affairs and would eventually beat the Olympian strongman for the Mid-Atlantic championship in September.

Another classic poster next week!


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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

WRAL Wednesday: Paul Jones and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Photographs from the Bleachers at WRAL by Ric Carter

It's Wednesday, and for nearly two and a half decades, that meant Jim Crockett Promotions was taping television wrestling at the studios of WRAL channel 5 in Raleigh.

We've been featuring a series of rare photographs taken by photographer Ric Carter from the bleachers of the studio during an hour of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" in July of 1975.

Ring announcer David Crockett introduces a "big" tag team event on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling:
Paul Jones and Rufus R. Jones vs. Jerry Blackwell and George "Two Ton" Harris

This week we take a look at the team we affectionately call the Jones Boys - "No. 1" Paul Jones and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones as they take on Jim Crockett Promotions' largest tag team combination "Crusher" Jerry Blackwell and George "Two Ton" Harris.


RING INTRODUCTIONS

There is no doubt that the Jones boys had their hands full with Blackwell and Harris. In fact, if you take a look at this second photo below, you will see what at a glance looks like a difficult backdrop at best! You would think there is no way Rufus is going to get big Jerry Blackwell over in this backdrop attempt, who was billed at 400 pounds during this time. But he did, which got a huge reaction from the studio crowd, as well as from host Les Thatcher and guest color commentator Gene Anderson.

Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones attempts to backdrop big "Crusher" Jerry Blackwell.
Paul Jones and George "Two Ton" Harris watch from their respective corners.

Speaking of that, what a rare thing it was to have Gene Anderson of all people on commentary. During those years, Gene rarely spoke at all, letting his loudmouth younger "brother" Ole Anderson do all the talking for the team. If you look closely you will see Gene and Les Thatcher at the commentary desk, Gene on the left, Les on the right.


Paul Jones was a top contender for both the TV title and the World Tag Team titles (with partner Wahoo McDaniel) at this time. Rufus was always a contender for various titles as well. In fact, he and Wahoo would win the tag titles for exactly one week in early 1976, while Paul and Wahoo would never regain the titles. The Anderson brothers dominated the World tag team division for years.

Champions At This Time:
NWA World Champion: Jack Brisco
World Tag Team Champions: Gene and Ole Anderson
United States Champion: Johnny Valentine
Mid-Atlantic Champion: Wahoo McDaniel
TV Champion: Ric Flair

What a roll call of champions!

At this time, there were two separate hours of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" taped each Wednesday evening at WRAL. The first hour (the "A" show) was hosted by Bob Caudle and was seen in every TV market that Crockett had at the time. The second hour (the "B" show) was hosted by Les Thatcher and was a second hour in markets where clearances for a second show could be obtained. The shows had the same theme music, but slightly different sets and graphics.

This particular show was taped Wednesday, 7/9/75 and aired on Saturday, 7/12/75. Other matches on this show included Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair vs. Bob Bruggers and Kevin SullivanChief Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion, plus Ole Anderson vs. Bob Burns.

This is the fourth in an ongoing series of photos from WRAL studio that we are featuring each Wednesday. More good stuff from the bleachers of the WRAL Studios next week.

All photographs in this series by Ric Carter, © CartersRXd.net. Used with permission.
Vintage audio provided by Gary Wray.


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