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.)

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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. 


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