Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Favorite Episodes: The Final Show at WPCQ (July 2, 1982)

A new series of posts about our favorite episodes available for streaming on the WWE Network
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
First Airdate Saturday July 2, 1983 (Taped Wed. June 29, 1983)

United States Heavyweight Champion Greg Valentine

FINAL SHOW AT WPCQ STUDIO

This show would be the very last taping at WPCQ studios in Charlotte, and the last time Mid-Atlantic and World Wide Wrestling would ever be taped in a studio setting. Jim Crockett Promotions had moved their TV production to these cramped quarters two years earlier, moving from WRAL in Raleigh when that station needed the studio every night for their locally produced insert-segments of the new show "PM Magazine." WPCQ was a real step down in production quality for the programs with noticeable declines in the quality of video and audio during this time. Additionally, and most noticeably, the studio was too small, and the ring had to be turned catty-cornered in order to have room for Bob Caudle's set, as well as the cameras and production crew.

So the move of TV production out into the arenas was a welcome development, although I love the old studio settings by and large, and miss that era. But there wasn't a Saturday that at some point during a show from WPCQ that I didn't think to myself, "boy, do I miss WRAL."

They certainly went out with a bang as this episode was a ton of fun, particularly due to the work of Jerry Brisco on the mic as one of the most annoyingly cocky heels ever. His performance, along with Jack, is just masterful.


The Briscos confront Ricky Steamboat
THE BRISCOS
This episode is a showcase for the Brisco brothers as heels. Jack and Jerry are basking in the glow of their victory over Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood for the NWA World Tag Team titles, and are really rubbing it in. The Briscos are in my top 5 of all-time favorite tag teams, all due to their work in this area as heels in 1983.


During this episode they get in the face of Mike Rotundo at the opening of the show, and later provoke Ricky Steamboat to lose his temper, although Jerry came out on the wrong end of that as Steamboat knocks him out cold!

The Briscos wrestle Keith Larson (aka Wally Kernodle) and Rick McCord on this show in what can only be called a wrestling clinic. As part of their heel personas, the Briscos were always out to prove they were superior technical wrestlers and they just have their way with Larson and McCord who, by the way, were two of the more talent undercard wrestlers to ever work the territory.



Rufus R. Jones defends the honor of the winner of Paul Jones's picture.

PAUL JONES GIVES AWAY HIS PICTURE

For about 6 weeks leading up to this show, manager Paul Jones has been conducting a contest where the winner will receive a huge, oversized poster of Paul in a Tuxedo. The big poster has been on display for weeks and provided some hilarious moments over that time as Paul talked weekly with Bob Caudle about the contest. This week, he finally awards the photo to the contest winner at the end of the show. Paul is very rude to her and Rufus R. Jones comes out to defend the honor of the contest winner. Paul and the two wrestlers he manages, Dory Funk, Jr. and Jake "The Snake" Roberts, beat up Rufus in the ring as the credits roll at the end of the show.



THE LOVE AFFAIR WITH MIKE ROTUNDO

One thing is clear rewatching these late 1982 and early-to-mid 1983 episodes: booker Dory Funk, Jr. was in love with Mike Rotundo. There can be no other way to describe it. No other wrestler during this time period got more exposure in the ring, on interviews, and doing color commentary than the mid-card All-American from Syracuse.

This week, Rotundo is the color commentator with host Bob Caudle. As great a performer as Rotundo would prove to be in the ring, he was just as bad on the mic during this early part of his career. Rotundo definitely got his groove going and developed a personality in 1988 when he was a heel in the Varsity Club and was playing off goofy, lovable babyface Rick Steiner, but in 1983 he was as green, dry, and dull as you could possibly imagine. But Dory was intent on giving Rotundo ample opportunities to improve. And this was one of them, doing color commentary the entire program. I actually love Rotundo's work in the ring. But this was painful. Somehow, it did not detract from me enjoying this awesome episode, though, and I hope it won't for you, either.



THE LOCAL PROMO SPOTS
Most of these episodes on the WWE Netowrk do not include the local promotional spots that were some of the most entertaining parts of the programs back in the day. Those localized interviews were recorded during the day prior to the taping of the shows and then inserted into the tape that went out to the various market stations. Since these archived episodes don't have the local promos, they include a "live" studio interview taped right along as the main program was being taped. For much of late 1982 and 1983, these segments were largely aimed at the Florida territory. The Mid-Atlantic show was seen on a few select stations throughout Florida and so the guys being interviewed would aim many of their comments towards the wrestlers in Florida. Fans in the Mid-Atlantic area would not see these interviews; they were seeing their local promotional spots at that moment.

A good example of these is the interview Dick Slater does in the second promotional spot location. Slater directly addresses Dusty Rhodes (at that time a regular in Florida, and also the booker of the territory) and tells him he might be the American Dream and the Midnight Cowboy (a reference to Dusty working as the Midnight Rider) but he will never be the Errol Flynn of wrestling!


TIDBITS:
  • Interesting to see a very young Joel Deaton on this show. Deaton would later wrestle under a mask as "Thunderfoot" managed by James J. Dillon in 1985. He would work several smaller southern territories in the late 1980s before making a name for himself in the 1990s in Japan. I always liked Deaton's work in the ring.
  • Greg Valentine methodically works over John Bonello in an entertaining opening match.
  • Roddy Piper mentions he has a new partner "Mr. T" - - and then pulls out a tire iron. I did do a double-take when he said that though, thinking where Piper would be less than two years later with the real Mr. T at the first Wrestlemania.
  • During Dick Slater's match, Bob Caudle mentions that the Assassins are coming into the area soon, and that one of them is reportedly the son of the Great Bolo. This would turn out to be the new Assassin #2, which later turned out to be Hercules Hernandez under the mask. They played up the Great Bolo son angle for several months.
  • Harley Race makes it clear he doesn't want to wrestle Flair anymore, and claims Flair was a "fluke" champion since all he really did was slip past a "fat man" to win the title. This was a shot at the wrestler Ric beat for the NWA title, Dusty Rhodes.
  • Flair, Piper, and Race all appeared in pre-taped interviews from the brand new make-shift studio at the main office building of Jim Crockett Promotions on Briarbend Drive. The studio was established as the location for taping the local interviews that would be inserted to the syndicated programs. The interviews had previously been taped at the WPCQ studios prior to the taping of the shows. But with the move out to the arenas to begin next week, JCP needed a spot to record the shows, and so they set up a make-shift studio at the Briarbend offices.
  • Wahoo McDaniel does his famous war dance and tomahawk chop (Bob Caudle affectionately called it the "tommy-hawk" chop ovder the years) before defeating the Magic Dragon. Considered by many to be politically incorrect today, that war dance and chop was one of the things that made Wahoo so exciting and so special to me when I first started watching wrestling.

CHAMPIONS ROLL CALL
NWA World Champion: Harley Race
NWA World Tag Champions: Jack & Jerry Brisco
United States Champion: Greg Valentine
Mid-Atlantic Champion: Dory Funk, Jr.
NWA TV Champion: The Great Kabuki


STUDIO MATCHES ON THIS PROGRAM
[1] Greg Valentine (US Champion) vs. John Bonello
[2] The Briscos (NWA Tag Champs) vs. Keith Larson / Rick McCord
[3] Jimmy Valiant & Bob Orton Jr. vs. Bill Howard & Joel Deaton
[4] Dick Slater vs. Vinnie Valentino
[5] Dory Funk Jr. (Mid-Atlantic Champ) & Jake Roberts vs. Bret Hart & Mike Davis


FILMED MATCHES FROM THE ARENA:
Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Magic Dragon (with Gary Hart)




INTERVIEWS
Jack and Jerry Brisco
Ric Flair and Roddy Piper (pre-taped at the Briarbend Drive studio)
Mike Rotundo
Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood
Harley Race (pre-taped at the Briarbend Drive studio)
Dick Slater
Paul Jones (with Jake Roberts and Dory Funk, Jr.)

http://network.wwe.com/shows/vault/mid-atlantic

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Check out all of the Mid-Atlantic episodes currently available!

MAY 2018 EDIT:
Bruce Mitchell of PWTorch.com joins Matt Koon and Jonny Fairplay on the Botchalong Podcast to discuss this great episode. Check it out on AudioBoom, iTunes, or anywhere you get your podcasts. 


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Monday, January 29, 2018

Four Horsemen Reunion a Hit at Icons of Wrestling

There was a great Four Horsemen reunion this past weekend at the huge Icons of Wrestling event in Philadelphia, PA.

Reuniting for photos and autographs were all members of the 1988 JCP version of the Horsemen: Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Ric Flair, and Barry Windham, with the leader of the Four Horsemen James J. Dillon.



The next scheduled reunion of the Four Horsemen takes place February 17 at the MCW Pro Wrestling event in Joppa, MD. The event celebrates the 30th anniversary of the "Windham version" of the Four Horsemen. For more information, visit their Facebook Event Page.

When James J. Dillon makes an appearance, he has with him the book "Four Horsemen: A Timeline History" by the Mid-Atlantic Gateway's Dick Bourne. Of course, J.J. always has his autobiography for sale as well, "Wrestlers are Like Seagulls" co-written with Scott Teal of Crowbar Press.

Want to buy these books online? Visit the links below.

BUY ONLINE

Four Horsemen: A Timeline History by Dick Bourne
Wrestlers are Like Seagulls by James J. Dillon with Scott Teal


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hot Times at County Hall in Charleston

by Andy McDaniel
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway


Charleston County Hall was famously known for being a hot place. Literally, the building held heat like nowhere else. Wahoo McDaniel once told Mike Mooneyham that even the walls at County Hall could sweat. Regardless of the heat or the raindrops from the leaky ceiling, County Hall was just a fun place to be at on Friday nights.

From time to time, I recall a fun night at County Hall and love to share those memories. I am very grateful for the Gateway and the wonderful job they do for keeping Mid-Atlantic wrestling alive. It is a true joy to have the chance to contribute a story now and then.

Blackjack Mulligan was something else. He is one of those wrestling characters that will forever be remembered. He was a larger than life figure and literally, a giant of a man. Many of his feuds will live on forever in the hearts of Mid-Atlantic fans. I loved his time with Paul Jones, Tim Woods, and of course, the great memories of his matches with and against Ric Flair. However, there was another feud that I truly enjoyed, the one with the Masked Superstar.

Several matches between these two had taken place all over the Mid-Atlantic region. There were even a few at County Hall. As with most feuds, we saw specialty matches, matches with stipulations and on occasion another couple of guys would be tossed in and a tag-team match would take place. Such was the case on this particular Friday night in Charleston.

The main event was Blackjack Mulligan and a screwball member of his family, Cousin Luke, versus their opponents the Masked Superstar and his partner for the night, Enforcer Luciano. I had seen Luciano eating light bulbs and breaking concrete blocks with his fists on TV, but now I was going to see him in person. This was such a magical time in wrestling. The fans were invested and whether it was cheering or booing, the sincerity of each side was awesome.

It was another hot, Friday night at County Hall. The action had been fierce, but now it was time for the main event. Everyone was on their feet as Blackjack and Luke came to the ring. The Superstar and Luciano were waiting for them as they stepped through the ropes. After the ring announcer made the introductions, action started, and it was a brawl. Fists were flying, boots were coming off and being used as weapons; pretty much the only thing technical or actual wrestling wise that might have been seen would have been provided by the Superstar.

It was exactly what Blackjack had promised the previous Saturday during the local promos; it was a fight. The match/brawl went on for a bit, but then the action seemed to settle down. Much to the dismay of most of the crowd, Blackjack found himself being subdued by the Superstar. The cobra clutch had brought down the big man in the center of the ring. Every time it seemed like Blackjack might break free or make the tag to Luke, Luciano would do something to steal the crowd's joy. The referee was really hearing it from the crowd. He seemed to never be able to catch the dastardly deeds being done in his ring and the fans were letting him know their feelings. Referees always seemed good at missing so many important moments. Tommy Young, Stu Schwartz, Sonny Fargo, they are such great parts of the history of Mid-Atlantic wrestling. They were so important to the matches, I always enjoyed their work.

This back and forth match went on for quite a while, the crowd was surely on an emotional roller coaster. I can remember it just like it was last night. The Superstar and his partner had exhausted the crowd. The wooden floor of County Hall bellowed out as the fans began to stomp. The railings of the balcony rang as palms began to pound against them, all in disapproval of the things being done to our heroes.

In what appeared to be an act of betrayal, right at the moment it seemed that Blackjack might break free, Cousin Luke jumped off the corner of the ring and headed toward the dressing room.

You could feel the air almost leave the room, as the crowd gasped, and shock filled the arena. The smoke that hovered just below the ceiling began to swirl at a near tornado type speed. Yes, people smoked inside back then, It was kind of part of the charm of County Hall - - smoke, popcorn, beer, etc. Those were special times indeed.

The disbelief at what was taking place before our very eyes was at an unreal level. How could this be? How could Luke turn on his own cousin? Was he really a traitor? Almost immediately, the boos started and the closer he got to the back, the louder things seemed to get.

As is most often in pro wrestling, things were not as they would seem and almost as quickly as Luke entered the dressing room, he would come back out. But he was not alone. To every one’s delight, he would bring an additional partner back the ring, but this was a partner that did not walk with him. Instead it was in his hand. It was about 4-feet long and firm in nature. Yes, good ol' Cousin Luke quickly had the fans back in his corner as he and his new partner, a 2 x 4, entered the ring to assist in what seemed to be a very unfair fight. As he evened the odds and dispatched Superstar and Luciano; Blackjack was on the road to recovery and rejoined the chaos as it unfolded. Unfortunately, the referee did not approve of all the mayhem and called for the bell and the ring announcer would soon let the rowdy crowd know that all had been disqualified.

It was one of those times that, while the victory was not found in a simple 1-2-3, the fans still went home happy because they saw justice had come to town and the bad guys were sent running.

Friday nights at County Hall: what wonderful memories. For a young kid who went to his first matches in that building starting in 1974, every time was always special. This year, 2018, will be exactly 20 years since the last matches were held in the hallowed Hall. I had the honor and absolute privilege of not only promoting that show, but was also in the main event that night. It will be a memory that I will cherish forever. To have watched all my heroes - - Wahoo, Ric, Rufus, Blackjack, Jimmy Valiant, Paul Jones - - to have seen them do battle in this special old building and to personally be able to go back there all those years later and be the one to close out wrestling forever in County Hall, is something I hold near to my heart.

This night with Blackjack, Superstar, and the rest of the crew was another hot night of pro wrestling at County Hall. It was a simple time of story-telling. It was a time when the crowd’s emotions were directed like a Maestro conducts an orchestra, by the guys in the ring. It was a time that was simply magical. I miss those days, but the memories sure are wonderful.

This story contains corrections from a previous version of the story.


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


http://amzn.com/1502350963

Order your copy of "Reunion at County Hall" on Amazon.com
Black & White Version   |   Color Version

Read the review by Mike Mooneyham of the Charleston Post & Courier
Wrestling Book Takes a Look at County Hall 

http://amzn.com/1502350963

http://midatlanticwrestling.net/yearbooks.htm

Friday, January 26, 2018

Action Figures Friday: Finishing The Hat & Robe

PART TWO: THE ROBE
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Photographs from the collection of Mike Simmerman

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/2018/01/action-figures-hat-and-robe-1.html
CLICK IMAGE TO REVIEW LAST WEEK
Last week, we presented PART ONE: THE HAT of a two-part "Action Figures Friday" series commemorating the famous "Hat and Robe" angle from 1978 featuring Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan.

This week we look at what happened next in PART TWO: THE ROBE, where Blackjack extracts a matter of revenge on Flair for earlier destroying his prized cowboy hat given to him by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

When people write us or post on our social media about their favorite angle form the 1970s in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, the one they bring up most often is the 1978 angle known popularly by fans as "the Hat and the Robe." It's our favorite, too.

As we mentioned last week, we won't run through the whole story here. There is a detailed (and we mean detailed) article on the the entire "Hat and Robe" angle and its aftermath that was originally published in 2004, and then updated and republished in 2015. You can catch up on that whole story by going there first if you'd like.

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/2015/07/legend-of-hat-and-robe.html
CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE STORY OF THE HAT & ROBE

Mike Simmerman again sent us photos from his custom action figure collection that re-enact the famous angle. This week, it's the robe.


PHOTOGRAPHS © MIKE SIMMERMAN

From 8mm silent film footage shot right off of television:

Blackjack enters the WRAL studio wearing Ric Flair's robe

Ric Flair watches helplessly as Mulligan slowly shreds his $10,000 custom Oliva Walker robe.
Ted Oates holds Flair in the ring. Mulligan is seen in the inset image in each frame.

Flair kneels in what remains of his once most prized robe.



Listen to this 2-minute clip of rare audio highlights from the entire angle:





Special thanks as always to Mike Simmerman for providing these very cool (and very creative) photographs from his custom figures collection.

See also:
Part One: The Hat (Action Figures Friday)
The Legend of the Hat and Robe
Check out all of our "Action Figures Friday" posts.


http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mid-Atlantic Gateway visits "Wrestler Weekly Presents"

The Mid-Atlantic Gateway's David Chappell is Scottie Richardson's guest this week on "Wrestler Weekly Presents" on the Wrestler Weekly YouTube channel.

You can watch the episode (Season 2 Episode 3) by clicking here https://t.co/F2BwFllny9 or watching below.

And don't miss a special BONUS episode to follow as well.

David and Scottie discuss many of the old 1970s Mid-Atlantic Wrestling magazines produced by Les Thatcher and sold at the arenas and talk wrestling in general from the Carolinas and Virginia. They focus specifically on Volume 3 Issue 3, the famous 'Valentine Trophy Case" cover and all of its amazing content. A classic, to be sure.



Check out all of the"Wrestler Weekly Presents" podcasts on YouTube!

And catch this BONUS episode with David with more discussion on the magazine:



http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com

30 Years Ago Today: The Bunkhouse Stampede Pay-Per-View


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

Brian Rogers Collection
When I think of the Bunkhouse Stampede I usually think of the initial December events that Dusty Rhodes started in 1985 with Jim Crockett Promotions. Each year, the legendary Nelson Royal would invite us to sit down by the campfire and he would tell us about how disagreements were settled back in the old days of the bunkhouses, and how this translated to the new concept of the Bunkhouse Stampede.

The Bunkhouse Stampede was basically a battle royal with the added stipulations that you could come wearing whatever you wanted and bring all the foreign objects you wanted, too, if I remember correctly.


Even though the Stampede became a bit of a downer to fans as time went on (it only lasted three years) because Dusty Rhodes kept winning them all, they are still remembered fondly for the imagery and the memorabilia associated with them. My particular favorite image is of the buckle and the badge, seen above. That big Bunkhouse Stampede boot/trophy was pretty cool, too.


Here is a memorable promo by the "Bull of the Woods" Dusty Rhodes and a great shot of the Bunkhouse Stampede badge and boot:





The program had a cool cover, a simple shot of a cowboy hat with the new version of the NWA logo on the hatband.

J.W.'s Wrestling Collectables
Josh Watko at J.W.'s Wrestling Memorabilia web blog wrote about getting Dusty's autograph on the cover of that program, and I have to admit that made for one cool piece of memorabilia. Dusty had a great looking autograph anyway, and it worked perfectly on that cover.

Josh wrote the following in 2009:

Usually when I get a program signed, it's the beginning of a "project." A project consists of an item, usually a poster, magazine, program, book, or vhs/dvd cover or box, that you get signed by the stars who are featured on that particular item. When I purchased this program a few years ago, I knew immediately there was only one signature I wanted on it--"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.
You can read his full post here, including a wonderful photo of Josh with "the Dream" doing that famous million dollar smile.

The final Dusty Bunkhouse Stampede was a pay-per-view event when those were still somewhat rare, 30 years ago this month. There were a few oddball Bunkhouse Stampedes the next season, including a managers event, but no finals.

Rhodes won the steel cage match with Barbarian at Nassau Coliseum to take the Bunkhouse Stampede title for the 3rd straight year. 

Thanks to Brian Rogers.


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


Monday, January 22, 2018

Worlds Collide: The Andersons Battle the Mongols in 1976

NWA Tag Champions vs. IWA Tag Champions shook the territory in 1976
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 
Originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in 2007


A memorable match-up of two top heel tag teams took place in the early months of 1976 in the Mid-Atlantic area, as the NWA World Tag Team champions Gene and Ole Anderson, the Anderson Brothers, battled the International Tag Team Champions Bolo and Geeto, the Mongols.  It was a relatively short series of matches lasting only a couple of months, but it was significant for what it represented in a behind-the-scenes promotional war between the NWA and the rival IWA. To understand this significance of the battles between the two teams, we first have to look at some history.

In January of 1975, a new wrestling organization appeared called the IWA (International Wrestling Association.)  It was run and financed by entrepreneur Eddie Einhorn, who also owned the Chicago White Sox at the time.  The IWA ran in opposition to the established NWA in several territories, one of which was Jim Crockett's Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.

THE MONGOLS
International Tag Champions
(photo by Bill Janosik)
The organization's tag team champions from the start were Bolo and Geeto Mongol, managed by George Cannon. The Mongols had arrived in the IWA following the collapse of Ann Gunkle's All-South promotion in late 1974 that also had run in opposition to the NWA, primarily in Georgia. They developed quite a reputation as one of the most feared and respected teams in wrestling.

After only about nine months, suffering large financial losses, Einhorn abandoned his attempt to run the IWA nationally and divested himself of the business. Johnny Powers took over the promotion and attempted to run it on a much smaller scale based out of North Carolina.

The Mongols left the organization at that point still the IWA tag team champions.  They took the tag belts with them to the rival Jim Crockett Promotions in January of 1976 where they were billed as International Tag Team Champions, wearing the IWA belts, and managed by Professor Boris Malenko. (The belts actually say "IWA International Wrestling Tag Team Heavyweight Champions")

The Mongols with Malenko debuted in the territory on January 27, 1976 at Dorton Arena in Raleigh and on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and Wide World Wrestling TV shows taped January 28, also in Raleigh. TV announcers Bob Caudle and Ed Capral immediately started pushing the Mongols as a team that had entered the territory to win the NWA world tag team titles. When Boris Malenko introduced the Mongols on that first show, he stated that the Mongols had been in the minor leagues (a shot at the IWA) but were now in the major leagues of wrestling.

That same night, 1/27, in Columbia SC, the Andersons lost the NWA Tag Team titles to Wahoo McDaniel and Rufus R. Jones, but the Minnesota Wrecking Crew would regain them one week later in Raleigh. I like to imagine it was the news that the Mongols had entered the area that same night that caused the Andersons to momentarily lose focus and allow Wahoo and Rufus to take the upset win. Whatever the case, it didn't take the Anderson's long to reclaim the title and sharpen their focus on the Mongols.

John Hitchcock Collection
Fans and promoters alike immediately saw the potential in this match-up: the top two teams in wrestling representing the top two organizations who had been in fierce competition with each other, would possibly get to settle it in the ring. It was a dream match.

The first meeting of the two teams came quickly, but it was not for the NWA titles. Based on research of available newspaper clippings from that time period, the Anderson Brothers first met the Mongols on February 6, 1976 in Lynchburg VA in a non-title match. While no results were published from that card, one might reasonably assume the Mongols won that match, because they earned their first documented title shot at the Andersons two weeks later on 2/19 in the same building on the return date in Lynchburg. The published results indicate that the Andersons won that match on a reversed decision.

Over the next six weeks the Mongols received at least seven more title shots in Winston-Salem, Raleigh, and Norfolk, as well as another return in Lynchburg.

The feud would end in Charlotte, where the two teams had two matches for the NWA title, on March 29 and April 5.

What was happening behind the scenes, however, was nearly as dramatic as what was happening in the ring. IWA promoter Johnny Powers was battling Crockett Promotions in court and in the local media (it made headlines in newspaper and on local TV news in Winston-Salem NC) over access to arenas and, as some remember, trying to get his IWA tag belts back. Even though the Mongols had the IWA belts and were being billed on Mid-Atlantic television as "International Champions", Crockett Promotions was not billing them as champions in newspaper ads for their challenges for the Anderson's  NWA titles in the various cities where they met. They were no doubt being careful to avoid trouble as well as possible future litigation.

Mark Eastridge Collection
But for wrestling fans, there was no doubt what was happening. The NWA champions were battling the IWA champions.

And at least at one of the arenas where they met over those two months, something happened that resulted in the Andersons taking both sets of belts with them to the locker room, if perhaps only for one night. hotographer Gene Gordon took photos of Ole and Gene Anderson with both sets of belts in the dressing room after one of those matches. Did the Andersons unify the titles with a victory over the Mongols? Or did Ole and Gene simply grabs the Mongols belts and run following one of their brawls with the IWA champs? History makes no record of what happened that resulted in these photographs. When asked in private conversations in 2007, some 31 years after these events, Ole Anderson and Bill Eadie (who was Bolo Mongol) have no recollection. We are left only to speculate.

OLE AND GENE ANDERSON
with both the NWA and IWA tag team title belts.
(© Ditchcat photography / Scooter Lesley)
Nothing more was said about the International titles or the belts after that the final series of matches in Charlotte in late March and early April of 1976.  The Andersons moved on to feud with Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods and Dino Bravo (Bravo himself was another IWA import), exchanging the NWA tag titles with them that summer. The Mongols with manager Boris Malenko fought many different teams over the following months, but they were not in the title picture again following the matches in Charlotte.

History does not record what happened during those handful of matchers between these two teams, matches that were sure to have been classics to those fortunate enough to see them. Without Gene Gordon's historic photograph, published here for the first time since it was taken over 30 years ago, we likely never would have been allowed to speculate that perhaps on some late winter or early spring night in 1976, the Andersons unified the NWA and IWA titles.

And it is just that: speculation. But there is no disputing now that for at least one night somewhere along the Mid-Atlantic wrestling circuit, perhaps at the Lynchburg Armory where it all began or at the Charlotte Park Center where it all concluded, or at some venue in between, lucky fans who bought their tickets and sat down with their hot dog and Coca-Cola in a smoke filled arena saw the Andersons become, at least for that moment in their eyes, the undisputed champions of the world. Those fans could not possibly imagine how really lucky they were.

Originally published as part of the "Smoke Filled Rooms" section
on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in January 2007
Revised May 2007, January 2018


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


POST SCRIPTS

Was The Unification Billed After All? 
The newspaper ad for the final title match between the Andersons and the Mongols on April 5 in Charlotte billed the match as for the "United States Tag Team Championship."

While it is likely this was simply an error at the paper (mistakes in newspaper ads like that were not that uncommon), one might put forth the proposition that Crockett Promotions billed the match that way to represent that it was the Mongol's titles that were on the line that night rather than the Anderson's NWA world titles. Perhaps an ongoing legal fight (or just good judgment) prohibited them from calling the titles "International" at this point. On at least one other occasion, a newspaper ad (for one of these matches in Lynchburg VA) referred to the Mongols as "United States Tag team Champions". It's possible that this was a safer way to represent those titles legally.

I would tend to believe that it was a newspaper error after all. But who knows?


Who Were The Good Guys? 
Ever wonder who were the fan favorites in the battles between the Anderson Brothers and the Mongols? It was definitely the Andersons. And even though it's safe to say that the Andersons weren't actually the "good guys", they had one more battle in Charlotte with the Mongols on 4/12, except this time in a six-man tag team encounter. The Mongols took their manager Boris Malenko as their partner, while the Andersons took as their partner, to both the surprise and delight of Charlotte fans, long time Mid-Atlantic veteran and perennial fan favorite Johnny Weaver!

The Mongols and Malenko won the match, thereby getting a little of their heat back. While it isn't documented, I'm betting the Andersons turned on Weaver at the end, getting their heat back, too


The Andersons and the Mongols Meet One Final Time
In September of 1976, two of the top tag teams in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling were preparing to leave the territory.

First, behind the scenes, the wrestler known as Geeto Mongol was ready to head back home to Pennsylvania, and Mid-Atlantic booker George Scott had ideas about putting Bill Eadie, who was Bolo Mongol in the ring, under a mask. These developments were bringing an end to the team of the Mongols.

Second, Gene and Ole Anderson were getting ready to leave the territory for Georgia Championship Wrestling, taking their NWA tag team titles with them.

There were several storyline elements devised to help explain the two teams leaving. On September 11 in Roanoke VA, the Andersons agreed to put up the NWA titles for a final time with the stipulation that if the Mongols lost, they could never wrestle as a tag team again. The Andersons won this match, and Geeto left the territory.


The Death of the Mongol and the Birth of a Superstar
Bolo Mongol then entered a series of loser-leaves-town matches with Wahoo McDaniel in Norfolk VA, Paul Jones in Richmond VA, and Tim Woods in Spartanburg SC, losing all three.

Then on September 25 in Greensboro NC, Wahoo McDaniel fought Bolo Mongol in a hair vs. hair match. For several months prior to this match Wahoo had been engaged in a running feud with the Mongols and their manager Boris Malenko. Wahoo had even knocked Malenko's false teeth out on a couple of occasions. Wahoo defeated Bolo, scalped him of his Mongolian top-knot, and Bolo Mongol was never heard from again. (See also: The Death of the Mongol and the Birth of a Superstar.)

Fans thought that Bolo left the territory. But in one of the smoothest character transitions in wrestling history, Bill Eadie showed up on TV the following week as the Masked Superstar with his manager (who else?) Professor Boris Malenko. Wrestling fans had no idea that Bolo Mongol and the Masked Superstar were one and the same. (See also: The Death of the Mongol and the Birth of a Superstar.)


Georgia on Their Mind: The Andersons Leave with the NWA Tag Team Titles

Ole Anderson then lost a series of loser-leaves-town matches against Rufus R. Jones, and he and Gene left the territory for Georgia, still holding the NWA world tag team titles.

Within weeks, two of the top "bad guy" tag teams in the territory were gone. The Andersons would be back and forth between the Georgia and Mid-Atlantic territories for years. But the team known as the Mongols were gone forever.


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

Anderson Brothers vs. Mongols For the NWA Tag Team Title

02/19/76  Lynchburg VA (Andersons win)
02/21/76  Winston-Salem NC (No result available)
03/02/76  Raleigh NC (All Four Men Counted Out)
03/05/76  Lynchburg VA (Andersons retain title)
03/09/76  Raleigh NC (Andersons win)
03/18/76  Norfolk VA (No result available)
03/19/76  Winston-Salem NC (No result available)
03/25/76  Norfolk VA (No result available)
03/29/76  Charlotte NC ("No Decision")
04/05/76  Charlotte NC (Andersons win)
09/11/76  Roanoke VA (Fence match - Andersons win) 

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

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  • Charlotte Newspaper Clippings from the collection of Mark Eastridge.
  • Anderson Brothers photos with NWA and IWA belts taken by Gene Gordon and courtesy of Scooter Lesley/ © Ditch-Cat Photography.
  • Photo of the Mongols with the IWA belts was taken by Bill Janosik and is © Bill Janosik.
  • Special thanks to Ole Anderson and Bill Eadie for their input. Thanks to Carroll Hall and Mark Eastridge for their assistance in researching this article.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
NOTES ON THE MAY 2007 REVISION TO THIS STORY

After follow-up conversations with Ole Anderson and Bill Eadie regarding these events, and learning of a processing-date stamped on of the photo slides taken by Gene Gordon that put the Charlotte unification in dispute, I revised the article above to simply reflect that clearly an angle unfolded somewhere that resulted in the Gordon photos of the Andersons with both the NWA and IWA belts. It is made clear that a unification is purely speculation, as history does not record that a unification actually took place. The general thrust of the story, that of telling the tale of these two teams meeting under unusual circumstances, remains the same.

Minor revisions, mostly to sub-headings in advance of it being re-published, were made to this article in January of 2018.

Worlds Collide: The Andersons Battle the Mongols in 1976
© 2007, 2018 Dick Bourne, Mid-Atlantic Gateway

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

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Georgia Championship Wreslting on HBO (1976)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Back in mid-1970s, the fledgling HBO cable network occasionally featured pro-wrestling cards, usually from the WWWF in Madison Square Garden. However, in 1976 they aired a card from Georgia Championship Wrestling in the Omni in Atlanta.

While video of his event has never surfaced, a brief clip of Vince McMahon opening the broadcast with Georgia host Gordon Solie was included on an HBO interview with Vince McMahon conducted by Bob Costas.




The date of this wrestling event was December 10, 1976 and featured an NWA World Heavywight title match between champion Terry Funk and challenger Mr. Wrestling II.

Here is the full card:

  • NWA World Championship: Terry Funk vs. Mr. Wrestling II
  • NWA World Tag Team Championship: Gene and Ole Anderson vs. Ricky Steamboat and Dusty Rhodes
  • Georgia Championship: Dick Slater vs. Mr. Wrestling I
  • Mongolian Stomper vs. Bill Dromo
  • Mike Graham vs. Bob Orton Jr
  • Black Atlas (Tony Atlas) vs. Scott Irwin
  • Raymond Rougeau vs. Bill Howard 

What a rare and unusual pairing of Ricky Steamboat and Dusty Rhodes challenging the Anderson Brothers for the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

Very cool finding out that the NWA World title was defended on HBO. A little less than two months after this card, Funk would lose the NWA title to Harley Race.


SOME MID-ATLANTIC CONTEXT TO THIS GEORGIA CARD:

  • The Andersons had taken the Crockett version of NWA World Tag Team titles with them to Georgia Championship Wrestling when they left the Mid-Atlantic area in the fall of 1976. They lost the titles to Ric Flair and Greg Valentine a couple of weeks after this Atlanta card. Flair and Valentine brought the titles back to the Mid-Atlantic area at that time, although their feud with the Andersons continued throughout 1977. 
  • Ricky Steamboat was still for all practical purposes a rookie, and was in the middle of a long stint in Georgia. He would come to the Mid-Atlantic area in the spring of 1977 and break into the main events when he upset Mid-Atlantic TV champion Ric Flair on television for that title. It began one of the classic feuds in all of pro wrestling history.
  • Tony Atlas, wrestling on this show as Black Atlas, got his start in the Mid-Atlantic area, but was about to break big in the Georgia territory. I don't know the storyline here, but I believe he was wrestling on this show under a mask.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Action Figures Friday: The Hat and Robe!

PART ONE: THE HAT
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Photographs from the collection of Mike Simmerman

By far and away when people write us or post on our social media about their favorite angle form the 1970s in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, the one they bring up most often is the 1978 angle known popularly by fans as "the Hat the Robe." It's our favorite, too.

Click here for our story "The Legend of the Hat and the Robe"

We won't run through the whole story here. There is a detailed (and we mean detailed) article on the the whole angle and its aftermath that was originally published in 2004, and then updated and republished in 2015. You can catch up on that whole story by going there first if you'd like.

Mike Simmerman sent us photos from his custom action figure collection that re-enact the famous angle. PART ONE this week will feature Ric Flair tearing up Blackjack's hat. Next week, we'll see photos of Blackjack returning the favor (and upping the stakes) tearing up Ric Flair's peacock robe.


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/2015/07/legend-of-hat-and-robe.html
Images from TV captured by an 8mm home movie camera show Ric Flair wearing Blackjack
Mulligan's hat coming to ringside to talk with Bob Caudle while Blackjack Mulligan wrestles
in the ring. Moments later, the hat would be destroyed.
Afterward, Blackjack holds the remains of his prized hat
originally given to him by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
Blackjack would soon get his revenge!



Next week! On "Action Figures Friday!"
Blackjack ups the ante as Mike Simmerman's action figures will paint the picture in Part Two: The Robe."

See all of our Action Figure Friday" posts.

http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Lost Art of Classic Ring Announcing

Legendary Joe McHugh introduces "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I have a fondness for many of the old-school ring announcers. They all had a a certain flare for the dramatic, and made the introduction of any match seem special. 

Good ring announcing is something of a lost art today, if you ask me. Every WWE ring announcer today sort of sounds like every other WWE ring announcer. Maybe that's their objective. For example, they all have that annoying habit of pronouncing the word championship "champion-she-ip."

WWWF Ring Announcer Joe McHugh
I guess the art of classic ring announcing went the way of the old smoke filled rooms that were the classic old venues in pro-wrestling.

One of my favorites might surprise you; the great Joe McHugh of the old W.W.W.F.

McHugh was a wrestling and boxing announcer going back to the 1950s, most famously with wrestling fans at the W.W.W.F. television tapings at Allentown, Pennsylvania's Agricultural Hall. When I first saw WWF "Championship Wrestling" on WOR-9 out of Secaucus, NJ in around 1981, I thought to myself, "Now THAT is a ring announcer."

I found a recent match on YouTube from the Philadelphia Spectrum that included a wonderful ring introduction of "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers by McHugh, and decided to include the audio here. I loved the way McHugh included the historical mention of Rogers being the only man (at that time) to have held both the NWA and WWF world titles.Those details mattered and meant something to fans.

The audio of that introduction is included here:



I always thought Joe McHugh and Raleigh's Joe Murnick (my favorite ring announcer of them all) were kindred spirits, at least in their ring announcing style, and both with accents of speech that clearly demonstrated from where they hailed. They are both at the very top of my list.


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

Monday, January 15, 2018

Strange Goings-On in Greensboro (Part 2)

The Baron appeals to NWA President Bob Geigel
by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

Miss PART ONE? Catch up by clicking here.

PART TWO

When the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show taped on September 6, 1978 came on the air, color commentator David Crockett surprisingly turned the mic over to Baron von Raschke just as the opening theme music had ended. “You know, we lose the World Tag Team Title belts to Paul Jones and Rick Steamboat,” the Baron explained. “But immediately after the match we filed a protest with NWA President Bob Geigel. We sent him film from the match, he was review the film, he was send it back and we now have it in the control room,” Raschke elaborated.

At this point, the fans watching at home, but even to a larger extent the faithful that had been at the Greensboro Coliseum a mere four days earlier must have been getting very anxious. The German then continued to a puzzled TV audience, “We asked before the show to start, Ricky Steamboat and Paul Jones to come out with the World Championship belts that they are supposed to have won from us!” Jones and Steamboat appeared on the set, and they seemed just as dumbfounded at the turn of events as everyone else.

“Let me tell you something, you asked for us to come out and we wondered what you wanted,” Paul Jones exclaimed. “We thought you wanted a rematch or something,” a highly agitated Jones continued. At this juncture, Raschke became equally confrontational. “We want you to watch the film that Bob Geigel, President of the NWA, sent back…roll the film and you will see,” the Baron barked back.

“All right, here it is right here,” announcer Bob Caudle said as the film began for the TV audience. The Baron spewed, “Look at this! You know we are in control of the match the whole way. This is what is injustice…” As Ricky Steamboat attempted to respond, Greg Valentine interrupted him and pronounced, “Hey, let me tell you something Jones and Steamboat, I just want you to watch right here. I want you to watch coming right up here, just how you beat us. You say you all can always beat us fair and square, that you can always beat us fair and square, but right here this film right here we got will show you.”

An increasingly animated Jones then reacted to a portion of the film where he appeared to have the “Hammer” pinned, but Raschke came in for the save to stop the count at two. Paul yelled to Greg, “I had you beat right there!” Valentine retorted, “That was a legal save…that’s a legal save right there!” The Baron added, “We are obeying all the rules. We are making fair tags; legal tags. We are in control of the match, from beginning to end.”

Caudle questioned the Baron on that last statement, which led to Valentine taking over the commentary on behalf of the bad guys, “Raschke is the legal man in the ring and so is Paul Jones and Raschke’s got the claw…now watch this carefully, watch this carefully. Jones is back there working on Raschke’s leg and there’s a legal tag and now I’m in the ring. A big bionic elbow on that mush head of yours, Jones!”

From this segment of the film it was clear that the Baron uncharacteristically let go of his claw hold to properly tag Valentine into the ring. Valentine then vociferously hollered, “Raschke let go, now I’m the legal man in the ring and Jones is the legal man in the ring. NOW REMEMBER THAT!”

At this point in time it was apparent that Valentine was going to follow up with an explanation of a forthcoming in-ring sequence that he hoped would cast doubt on the legality of the Jones and Steamboat title win in Greensboro. Would this sequence and upcoming explanation be persuasive to the fans, but even more importantly, to NWA President Bob Geigel?

This was about to get VERY interesting…

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 3


http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com

Friday, January 12, 2018

Homecoming: Mid-Atlantic Wrestling October 3, 1981

THE MISSING EPISODE 
featuring 30-seconds of highlights from 10/3/81.
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The WWE Network has just recently uploaded nearly 100 episodes of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling to its on-demand streaming service, a development we've long looked forward to here at the Gateway. The shows span the time frame of September 1981 through October of 1983.

However, some key episodes are missing, one of which perhaps for me is the one I wanted to see the most from this stretch of shows. It is an episode very sentimental to me, and a show that is historically significant as well. It is the show from Saturday, October 3, 1981.




I was a junior in college in October 1981 and unable to regularly watch wrestling for much of that time, not having a television of my own. But on the weekend of October 10, I went home for high school homecoming, to go to the football game, visit friends, and of course binge on wrestling, too.  Little did I know that I would be able to enjoy Jim Crockett Promotions and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling having a little homecoming of their own: the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair making his first appearance on Mid-Atlantic TV with the "ten pounds of gold." Just 13 days earlier, Ric had defeated "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes to win the NWA title.

I was lucky to see this particular show at all. And it really hurt when I took a look at the listing of shows that were now on the WWE Network - - and the October 3 show was missing.

I lived in east Tennessee, outside of the main Mid-Atlantic territory, but our cable system also carried other TV stations from surrounding areas which included WFBC-TV channel 4 out of Greenville, SC and WLOS-TV channel 13 out of Asheville, NC. These stations were both in the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market and these were the stations I grew up watching Mid-Atlantic and World Wide Wrestling on from 1974 until I left home for good in 1982.

WFBC was one week removed on JCP's syndicated "bicycle", meaning the show they aired each Saturday was one week removed from the original air dates in the larger markets. In this case, the Charlotte market bumped up next to the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market, and WBTV-3 in Charlotte got the first run show, and the next week WFBC-4 in Greenville got that same show.

This was actually a good situation for folks who lived between the two as they could get both stations either over the air or on their cable system. They got to see a "replay" airing the following week, and it meant two different Mid-Atlantic shows airing on any given weekend.

So when I came home that weekend of October 10, the Mid-Atlantic show I got on WFBC out of Greenville was actually the show that aired in Charlotte, Richmond, Greensboro, and other major markets a week earlier on October 3rd. 

Wednesday nights were the regular night for Crockett TV tapings, taking place in those days in the cramped confines of WPCQ-36 studios in Charlotte. The October 3 show was taped three days earlier on Wednesday, September 30. Ric defeated Rhodes on Thursday, September 17 at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, MO.  But when the next Crockett TV taping took place on Wednesday, September 23, Flair wasn't able to be in Charlotte to celebrate his victory with his home-area fans. He was defending the title that night against a former champion in Columbus, GA - - Tommy "Wildfire" Rich.

David Crockett and Bob Caudle welcome new NWA
World Champion Ric Flair.
That homecoming celebration would have to wait one more week, and on Wednesday, September 30, Bob Caudle and David Crockett welcomed the new NWA World Champion back home.

"It's the greatest honor that I've ever achieved in any aspect of my life," Flair told them, cradling the NWA belt in his left arm. "This is the ultimate trophy, it is the most prestigious award in all of professional wrestling."

Flair took a moment to thank those who had supported him in his long journey for the title.

"On behalf of the people out there, on behalf of the people that stood behind me, Crockett Promotions, I will do my best to be a great world champion. I will do my best to show everyone out there that I deserve the recognition of being called the National Wrestling Alliance World heavyweight wrestling champion."

And with that, Ric thanked them again, and walked off the set to the cheers of the crowd in the television studio.

Although Ric was originally from Minnesota, he now made his home in Charlotte. He had arrived in early 1974. He had been hated and he had been adored during his time wroking for Jim Crockett Promotions, but for the last couple of years he had been like their favorite son. Mid-Atlantic fans had waited nearly ten years to see their hometown hero claim the ultimate prize in the sport. There had never been an NWA champion that had come from their territory before. Flair was the first.

The man Ric beat for the championship was also making a rare appearance on Mid-Atlantic television that same week. Dusty Rhodes came out for an interview carrying his Sony Walkman cassette player and wearing his headphones and apparently enjoying his music. "Let me put down my Victrola right here," he told Bob Caudle. And then the dream got down to business.

"Everybody be askin' me about Ric Flair, and that's great," Rhodes said. "I'm glad for Ric Flair, I'm glad for his family. But let me tell you something, somewhere down the line you gotta meet the Dream again, daddy."

I was fortunate to be able to see that show. Had we not received the show one week delayed on the syndication bicycle, I would have missed it. My high school homecoming allowed me to see a most special Mid-Atlantic Wrestling homecoming. Ric promised to do his best to live up to the expectations of the championship; I think we can look back and comfortably say he most certainly did.

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

For the record here are some other details about this show:

  • Wahoo McDaniel and Jay Youngblood brutalized thoroughly thrashed young Jim Nelson and veteran Charlie Fulton. 
  • The Grappler and the Super Destroyer defeated Frank Monte and Vinnie Valentino when Super D took Monte out with his devastating "superplex." The suplex from the second turnbuckle was cutting edge for its time.
  • Dusty Rhodes defeated Rick Harris (the future Black Bart)
  • Roddy Piper and Mid-Atlantic champion Ivan Koloff defeated Steve Muslin and Ron Ritchie. After wards they kept beating on Ritchie until Wahoo McDaniel hit the ring and cleared house of Piper, Koloff, and even Ole Anderson who was trying to get involved. Ricky Steamboat came out to help Wahoo even the odds.

Interviews included Wahoo McDaniel, TV champ Ron Bass, Bad Bad Leroy Brown, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Local promos for Greenville and Spartanburg included Johnny Weaver, Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat and Ivan Koloff.

Roddy Piper tormented Wahoo McDaniel through much of the show, using a plastic trashcan for war drums to open the show and later playing a funeral dirge on the bagpipes for him. Wahoo had finally had enough and charged the ring after Piper's tag match and gave Piper and partner Ivan Koloff a big beating.

Great show. I hope it shows up on the WWE Network before it's all over. It is a sentimental favorite of mine, and I'd love to see it all again.