Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Paul Jones Passes Away

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It is with real sadness that we learn of the death of one of our childhood heroes, "No. 1" Paul Jones. Paul passed away this week at his home near Atlanta, GA.

Late edit: We're getting lots of calls and questions about what more we know about Paul Jones. Sadly, no details are yet available on cause of death or even exactly when he died. Our friend Peggy Lathan, who was a close friend of Paul's, received word from Paul's son this afternoon (4/18) that he had been notified of his Dad's passing and he was on the way to Atlanta, where Paul lived. That's all we know at this time, but more information should be forthcoming in a day or two.

Edit #2: We have no further word on the circumstances surrounding the death of Paul Jones as of Thursday evening 4/19.  It may be several days before cause of death and funeral arrangements are announced. The Mid-Atlantic Gateway will be on hiatus for the next several days regardless, but we will update early next week, and plan on sharing lots of memories about “No. 1” Paul Jones. Please keep Paul’s son (Paul Jr.) in your thoughts and prayers.

When David Chappell and I first got hooked on wrestling in the mid-1970s, Paul Jones was one of the top stars for Jim Crockett Promotions. My first major memory of Paul was in early 1975 when he was upset by the brash young upstart Ric Flair for the Mid-Atlantic TV title, only to rebound months later to defeat the Anderson Brothers to win the NWA World Tag Team titles with partner Wahoo McDaniel. Later that same year he defeated Terry Funk for the United States Heavyweight championship. It was an amazing year for him. Funk would win the NWA World title a few weeks later and Paul would be one of his top challengers in our area during Funk's entire reign as champion.

Jones was one of the most popular wrestlers in the Mid-Atlantic territory but that would all change a few years later when he would turn on his young protege Ricky Steamboat and the two had one of the most bloody and violent feuds of the 1970s in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. Jones always insisted, though, it was Steamboat that turned on him, continuing to have fun at wrestling conventions with that story. It was his story, and he was sticking to it.

As loved as he had been by fans as a "good guy," he was as equally hated as a "bad guy" and formed one of the more memorable heel tag teams with Baron Von Raschke in 1979. The two held the NWA World Tag team titles and feuded with teams such as Ric Flair/Blackjack Mulligan and Jay Youngblood/Ricky Steamboat.

In the final years of his in-ring wrestling career, he feuded with old Florida rival Jack Brisco over the Mid-Atlantic Championship. He retired from regular in ring competition in 1983 and became a manager for the next seven years. After a brief return to the ring in the early 1990s, he retired from the business for good.

He began his career in the 1960s in Texas and California before becoming a huge star in the 1970s in the Georgia, Florida, and Mid-Atlantic territories. His most memorable period for David and I, though, will always be that 1975-1979 period where everything he was involved in was gold.

With Paul Jones in 2003

David and I were blessed to get to know Paul not long after starting the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, and stayed in touch with him over the years. We last saw him at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in August of 2016 in Charlotte.

We will be posting some of our fond memories about Paul in and out of the ring, as a wrestler and as a friend, in the upcoming weeks.

Rest in peace.

Pro Wrestling Illustrated Scouting Reports on WTBS "Best of Championship Wrestling" (1985-1986)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In September of 1985, six months after Jim Crockett Promotions had taken over the wrestling slots on Superstation WTBS, they began airing taped segments during Sunday's "Best of Championship Wrestling" program called "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Scouting Report." The segments were in conjunction with Weston Publishing's "Pro Wrestling Illustrated" (PWI) magazine and were hosted by Senior Editor of PWI Bill Apter.

Bill Apter and Magnum T.A. on the set of
"Pro Wrestling Illustrated Scouting Report"
Initially the segments were all co-hosted by NWA World Champion Ric Flair. It became a running gag in those early weeks of the show that Flair would tell Apter that he (Ric) was actually the host of the segments and that Apter served as co-host at Flair's pleasure. By late October, other JCP wrestlers began co-hosting the segments (Magnum T.A., Tully Blanchard, Dusty Rhodes, and many others) and even some wrestlers outside of the promotions such as Jerry Lawler and Ted DiBiase. Apter now referred to them as his guests. Flair was would continue to be the guest most featured throughout the segment's entire run.

"Scouting Report" had been a segment on other territory wrestling TV shows at various times in the past, sometimes co-hosted by Craig Peters in addition to Apter, but this was the first time a promotion had hosted a series of segments than ran for this long of a period of time. There were 44 weekly segments in all, stretching though late August of 1986. The show ended in advance of the end of the "Best of" show which became "World Championship Wrestling Sunday Edition" in September of 1986, a live-to-tape show that would no longer feature the pre-taped "Scouting Report" segments.

"Scouting Report" usually lasted two complete show segments, with a WTBS commercial break in the middle. Apter would select 2-3 wrestlers to "scout" and his guest would provide analysis. When Flair was the guest, they usually reviewed his top contenders for the NWA title, not only in Crockett Promotions but in other territories as well. Sometimes tapes were shown of the wrestlers being "scouted", other times just photos or slides that occasionally included stats on the scouted wrestler.

Jim Crockett Promotions created a special set for the show, with "Superstars" and "The Superstation" featured in the background as well as a chroma-key screen for showing video clips. Apter would always be seated on the left, while the co-host would be seated on the right. A coffee-table would be between them, usually with an issue or two of the magazine on display, as well as occasionally the title belt held by the wrestler featured as guest or co-host.

The set was located at the Crockett Promotions main office on Briarbend Drive in Charlotte, NC. They would tape three to four episodes at a time to air over the next several weeks on "Best of Championship Wrestling." The shows were taped on the same day that they taped the local promotional inserts for the syndicated shows (Mid-Atlantic and Wide World Wrestling) at Briarbend Drive.

Listed below are all 44 installments of "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Scouting Report." There was one episode that aired on Saturday's "World Championship Wrestling", and there were a handful of episodes hosted by someone other than Bill Apter. They are notated within the list.
The list is maintained as part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Almanac and is permanently located at this link.

 Complete List of all Pro Wrestling Illustrated Scouting Reports
(Superstation WTBS 1985 - 1986)
as featured on the "Best of World Championship Wrestling"
Hosted by Bill Apter

PWI Scouting Report

Ric Flair
Nikita Koloff, Carlos Colon (UWC),
Magnum T.A.
Ric Flair
Billy Jack Haynes (Florida),
Kerry Von Erich (World Class), Nikita Koloff
Ric Flair
Magnum T.A., Jerry Lawler (Memphis),
Butch Reed (Mid-South)
Ric Flair
Bob Armstrong (Southeast/Continental),
Wahoo McDaniel (Florida),
Road Warrior Animal
Ric Flair
Jim Duggan (Mid-South), Terry Taylor,
Dusty Rhodes
Ric Flair
Dick Murdoch, Ron Garvin, Dusty Rhodes
(featured live hook-up with Rhodes)
Jerry Lawler
Bill Dundee (Memphis), Arn Anderson,
Dusty Rhodes
Ivan & Nikita Koloff
Road Warriors (AWA), Wahoo McDaniel and Billy Jack Haynes (Florida), Rock & Roll Express, Don Kernodle.
Tully Blanchard
Terry Taylor, Ronnie Garvin, Magnum T.A.
Ric Flair
Ole and Arn Anderson
Ric Flair
Arn Anderson, Dusty Rhodes
Bill Apter
(solo from the Omni)
NWA TV Title Tournament,
Bunkhouse Stampede (Fireside),
Starrcade '85 Highlights
Paul Ellering &
The Road Warriors
Ivan & Nikita Koloff
Ric Flair
NWA TV Title Tournament, Starrcade match with Dusty Rhodes, Mike Ditka & The Bears, Ted Turner, Buddy Landel, Magnum T.A.
Dusty Rhodes
NWA TV Title Tournament, Ric Flair,
Starrcade '85
PWI Year End Awards
Jim Cornette, Road Warriors, Ric Flair
(all present to accept awards)
Magnum T.A.
Tully Blanchard, Buddy Landel,
Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair
Magnum T.A.
NWA TV Tournament Highlights,
Arn Anderson, Bobby Jaggers (Pacific Northwest),
Ted DiBiase (Mid-South), Nikita Koloff
Q&A: Ronnie Garvin
Ron Garvin
Ric Flair, Q&A: Ricky & Robert
Ric Flair
Dusty Rhodes, Ole Anderson, Magnum T.A.,
Ron Garvin, Q&A: Magnum T.A.
Ricky & Robert
(Rock & Roll Express)
Midnight Express, Q&A: Ric Flair
Baby Doll
(No Bill Apter)
Dusty Rhodes, Tully Blanchard
Jim Cornette
Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup, Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A (America's Team), Sam Houston & Nelson Royal, Q&A: Dusty Rhodes
Ted DiBiase

(originally pre-empted by Braves Baseball on 2/23/86)
Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup
Dr. Death Steve Williams (Mid-South),
Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood,
The Koloffs, Rock & Roll Express, Q&A: Jim Cornette, Stan Hansen & Bruiser Brody,
Road Warriors, Ric Flair
Dusty Rhodes
Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup
Terry Funk history, Four Horsemen: Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Ric Flair,
Carlos Colon & Invader (UWC),
Q&A: Ted DiBiase (Mid-South), Magnum T.A.
Bill Watts
Crockett Promotions Co-Ventures,
Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup,
Mid-South Wrestling, Q&A: Bill Watts
James J. Dillon
Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup,
Baby Doll, Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson, Ric Flair, Q&A: J.J. Dillon
Paul Boesch
Houston Wrestling History
Johnny Valentine, Wild Bill Curry
Paul Boesch
History of Team Wrestling, Jim Crockett Sr., George "Two Ton" Harris, Q&A: Bill Apter
Bob Taylor
(No Bill Apter)
Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Brackets
Paul Boesch
Houston Wrestling in the 1950s
Paul Boesch
The Graham Brothers, Buddy Rogers,
Killer Kowalski
Paul Boesch
Killer Kowalski
Gloria Allen
(Magnum's Mom)
Wrestling News by Bill Apter: Stan Hansen (AWA), The Fabulous Ones Stan Lane and Steve Keirn (Florida), Garvin vs. Blanchard, Freebirds Sign with the UWF, plus clips of Ron Garvin, Tully Blanchard, Ric Flair, Ricky Morton, Midnight Express, and Baby Doll
Baby Doll
Magnum T.A., Tully Blanchard, Midnight Express, Q&A: Baby Doll
Ricky & Robert
(Rock & Roll Express)
Guest host: Bob Taylor
Ric Flair
Ricky & Robert
(Rock & Roll Express)
Guest host: Bob Taylor
Rock & Roll Express Super Summer Sizzler Tour
The Russians, Ric Flair
Ricky & Robert
(Rock & Roll Express), Ric Flair
Guest host: Bob Taylor
Rock & Roll Express Super Summer Sizzler Tour
Great American Bash Tour
Magnum T.A.
Nikita Koloff,  Phone Call with Bob Geigel
Ricky & Robert
(Rock & Roll Express)
Rock & Roll Express Super Summer Sizzler Tour
Q&A: Ricky & Robert
"Best of Championship Wrestling" on Sundays preempted the entire month of July for the Goodwill Games and Braves Baseball
Paul Jones
(Joined in Progress)
Jimmy Valiant
Ron Garvin
Tully Blanchard
Ric Flair
Dusty Rhodes, Four Horsemen,
Kansas City & St. Louis,
4th NWA World Title Victory
Dick Murdoch
Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Visit with Bob Caudle

Had a wonderful visit with Bob Caudle and his wife Jackie this past weekend at their home in Raleigh. Bob is doing well and sends best wishes to everyone. We enjoyed looking at some old Mid-Atlantic Wrestling memorabilia and even watched some of his old shows that are on the WWE Network. A true gentleman and a class act in every sense of the word.
-Dick Bourne on Mid-Atlantic Gateway Facebook 4/16/18             

* * * * * *

The above post was on our social media pages Monday 4/16/18 and it got a big response. Bob Caudle is beloved by wrestling fans young and old.

There were many very nice things said about Bob on Facebook. Some of his friends in the business had nice things to say, too.

"Great to see Bob looking so good." - Gerald Brisco on Facebook
"Much love & respect for my dear friend & former broadcast partner, plus I love that magazine cover I've seen somewhere before!" - Les Thatcher on Facebook

We love Bob Caudle. Nice to see so many others out there tell him that, too.

* * * * * *

See also: An Afternoon with Bob Caudle (Jan. 2017)

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Draws Huge Shares in Austin, Texas (1978)


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Back in November, I wrote a series of posts about the various connections Mid-Atlantic Wrestling had to the Lone Star State of Texas, through its wrestlers making appearances there, storylines, and television coverage.

Mid-Atlantic Gateway contributor Mark Eastridge recently came across a 1978 article in the Austin, TX newspaper talking about the big ratings wrestling was getting on television in the Austin area.

Promoter Joe Blanchard's "All Star Wrestling" show aired at 12:30 PM Saturday afternoon on KVUE-24 and drew a 44% share of the TV audience (as of the time of this article, July 14, 1978.)

One of the other programs airing there at that time was "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling", which we covered in PART THREE of our Texas Connections feature about Crockett television in Texas in 1977-1978.

The article also mentions Mid-Atlantic Wrestling:

"Channel 36, KTVV, airs Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, originating in Raleigh, NC, late Sunday night - 12:30 AM. At 12:30 it has  33 percent of all viewers. By 1:15 AM, 99 percent of those looking at local television are watching wrestling."

A 99% share?? Granted, there apparently wasn't a whole lot else on at that time, but that's unheard of!  Back in those days, most local stations didn't broadcast 24-hours, and usually would sign off around midnight or so. But still, a 99% share is crazy, and shows the amazing popularity of professional wrestling in the territory days on local broadcast television, before the business became almost exclusively tied to cable.

In the audio clip below, Bob Caudle and David Crockett welcomed Austin, Texas television station KTVV to the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling network. (KTVV-36 is now KXAN in Austin.)

Listen to this short audio clip of Bob Caudle and David Crockett:

This announcement took place on the 5-13-78 broadcast of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling", and that very next Wednesday night, Ricky Steamboat traveled to San Antonio from the Mid-Atlantic area to challenge Tully Blanchard for his Southwest Heavyweight Championship belt. (It was a loaded card. See the details in PART TWO of this series.)

With both of Jim Crockett Promotion's television programs airing in the south Texas territory, Joe Blanchard booked many of Crockett's top stars to appear on some of big cards. His home base of San Antonio fell in between Corpus Christi and Austin and so much of the main territory fell with in broadcast range of these two shows.

* * * * * * * *

Check out the earlier installments of the "Texas Connections" series published last fall on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

PART ONE: Mid-Atlantic Wrestlers Hailing from the Great State of Texas
PART TWO: Crockett's Connections with Joe Blanchard's Southwest Wrestling
PART THREE: Crockett TV in Texas
PART FOUR: Terry Funk Takes the U.S. Title Back to Texas
PART FIVE: Sound Clips!
PART SIX: (This Post) Bonus: Big Ratings in Austin, TX

Saturday, April 14, 2018

From Resignation to Indignation: Wahoo's 1977 Title Loss to Greg Valentine

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

On June 11, 1977 in the Greensboro Coliseum, the unceremonious ending of Wahoo McDaniel’s most dominating championship run in the Mid-Atlantic area was also the springboard that catapulted Greg Valentine as a bonafide singles star in Jim Crockett Promotions. But Valentine’s ascension to the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship could not have happened without an assist from McDaniel’s arch-rival, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. While at one moment Wahoo rationalized the loss as one that had to inevitably happen, but as the bitterness set in the great Indian Chief spewed some astounding venom towards Greg Valentine, and shockingly JOHNNY Valentine, while explaining the devastating defeat to the fans.

On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program that was taped on June 15, 1977 announcer Bob Caudle broke the news to the fans about Wahoo’s title loss in Greensboro at the top of the show. Wahoo emerged onto the set and Caudle said, “Right now I think we ought to get to this former champion we were talking about just a few moments ago…Wahoo McDaniel. And Wahoo, you lost that match and you lost that title to of course Greg Valentine.”

McDaniel calmly reflected, “That’s right, you know, if you’re a champion and you wrestle long enough, it happens. But the way it happened, I’m just thinking one man didn’t beat me. But I’m not crying over spilled milk, because I know the man will have to get back in the ring, Valentine, and wrestle me. When he does I’m gonna take the title back. And I’d like for the people to see what happened.”

Caudle inquired, “And you’ve got some film of that match?” The Chief confirmed, “We’ve got some film of it.” Caudle then said to color commentator David Crockett, “David, I’d like to see that and I think all the fans would like to.” Crockett agreed, “I definitely would; I think all the fans want to see this film.” As the film became visible for the TV audience Caudle declared, “All right Wahoo, let’s look at it.”

Bill Janosik Photo
The grainy filmed showed Wahoo coming to the ring as Ric Flair was exiting ringside having finished the bout immediately before. Wahoo explained, “As you can see right here, Flair was involved in a match before me and jumped me before the bell…as you can see right here he picks the belt up and hits me right over the head with it and knocked my eye open.” An incredulous Caudle asked Wahoo, “This was before your match then with Valentine?” McDaniel answered, “[Ric Flair] was in a match before with Bobo Brazil and got knocked out of the ring and as you can see he jumped on me before the match even started. See…Valentine hasn’t even gotten to the ring yet.”

Bob Caudle then opined, “Well, what you’re saying is that you were in bad shape even before you started that match against Valentine.” Wahoo admitted, “Well, [Flair] stung me and hurt me…as you can see I’m still a little mad here. I’ve been stung before; I’ve been hurt before. But the man got some good licks on me…he hit me with the belt.” Caudle added, “Caught you off guard, too.” Wahoo continued to narrate, “As you can see here, [referee] Tommy Young is trying to raise my hand and give me a disqualification and give me the belt, but like I said when I get up in the morning I have to look in the mirror and I want to see a man in the mirror…I didn’t want to win it on a disqualification.”

The film then shows Valentine walking down the aisle, seemingly oblivious to the brutal attack Wahoo just suffered. The Chief noted, “There’s Valentine just arriving at the ring.” Caudle analyses, “He looks like he doesn’t even know what was going on…I wonder if that’s really the case?” McDaniel followed up, “I don’t know if that’s the case or not. I went ahead and fought the man…the match didn’t last that long, maybe ten or twelve minutes, and he beat me for the belt.” Caudle commented in response to Crockett, “David, I’d say that’s a heck of a way to lose a belt.” Crockett added, “So really, instead of wrestling one man he had to wrestle two.”

Wahoo declined to accept David’s opening to explain the loss, “Like I said, I’m not cryin’ over spilled milk…the man has to wrestle me individually for that title. Every night, they’re at least 50 guys out there layin’ awake conniving and trying to figure out some way they can take that belt away from you. Believe me, he’s gonna have to wrestle me…he’s gonna get it.”

The focus of the film clip then shifted to the short bout between an injured and bloody Wahoo and a fresh as a daisy Valentine. Caudle said, “Now, this is some of the action in that match?” Wahoo noted, “This is action during the match; this tape is abbreviated. You can see right there I’m bleeding pretty good; my eye was knocked almost shut.” Crockett exclaimed, “Valentine’s laying in those sledgehammer rights!” Caudle observed, “He’s hittin’ you right in that eye again, too.”

Wahoo agreed, “That’s right, he’s taking advantage because the man saw my head’s bleeding…I wouldn’t blame him. I fought hard.” Crockett then excitedly uttered, “It looks like you’re getting’ ready to take Valentine’s head off!” Unfortunately for the fans, that was Wahoo’s only semblance of an offense during the entire match. Wahoo then harkened back to the events that put him in such an awful position saying, “I don’t know if [Flair] had anything to do with it or not, but I’m just sayin’ Flair had no business there. It’s the second time, [Valentine] saved Flair one time on TV a week or two ago, and now Flair saved him here and he won the title. But like I said, I’m not crying, he’s got to wrestle me.”

As the bout neared its conclusion, McDaniel explained, “You see right there he suplexed me…but I did manage to kick out.” Bob Caudle then brought up a historical reference, remembering, “This Ric Flair, he’s gotten you a couple of times. I remember a table leg here a while back Wahoo…and now a belt across the eye.” That recollection from Bob dramatically altered Wahoo’s take on the situation, as his mood changed from resignation to anger and defiance. McDaniel shot back, “That’s right, and like I told the fans on TV, I’m through being on the short end of the stick. I’m going to wrestle like I used to wrestle, and I’m not gonna be the one that’s hurt all the time and doin’ all the suffering…I’m tired of it!”

Increasingly perturbed, Wahoo continued, “Right here, the man beat me. A big elbow, just to make sure I’m down…the man beat me for the title. No doubt about that…one, two, three.” Caudle unknowingly stoked the Chief’s growing anger when he told Crockett, “Well David as I said before, I think it was really a tough way to go Wahoo…I really don’t think you should have had to fought that match.” Trying to maintain his composure, Wahoo replied, “Well, the one thing about it, you’ve gotta be the champion to get beat for the belt…I was proud to be the champion for as long as I was. I feel like I let the people down a little bit, I know I can get the belt back…I beat the man before.”

After Crockett commented, “Everything he’s said so far he’s backed up so he’ll probably be champion again,” Wahoo blew a gasket! “Well, the man goes around tellin’ he’s Johnny Valentine’s brother,” McDaniel fumed about Greg. Wahoo, now totally incensed at the whole situation snarled “Well, he’s Johnny Valentine’s son, I know this, and I know [Johnny]Valentine hated my guts all these years and I know he sent [Greg Valentine] after me and that’s one thing [Johnny]Valentine told him to beat me and get me out of wrestling and that’s what he’s tryin’ to do and he’s gonna have a hard time doin’ it!”

Wahoo gruffly retorted, “Thank you,” and marched of the set. Crockett then stated the obvious, “Well, we’re gonna hear a lot from this man,” to which Caudle answered, “No doubt about that and there’s gonna be a lot more about that incident, I’m sure about that.” Crockett concluded the riveting TV segment, “Oh yes, there definitely will.”

This incident set up the rest of 1977 as an enduring saga of Wahoo versus Greg Valentine, one of the greatest feuds in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling history. Wahoo, true to his word would regain the Mid-Atlantic Title in August, but then would lose it and 2,000 silver dollars to Greg on TV in September when Valentine broke Wahoo’s leg. After the Chief recovered in November, the inevitable chase to get revenge on Valentine and regain the Mid-Atlantic belt carried over into early April of 1978 and was successful for McDaniel, then both men went their separate wrestling ways.

While the monumental singles program between Wahoo McDaniel and Greg Valentine may have been born in the Greensboro Coliseum on that Saturday night in June, it really took hold on TV at the WRAL TV studios the following Wednesday night. In the space of a few minutes in a television interview, Wahoo’s mindset on Ric Flair and the Valentines’ went from contrived reticence to real anger and shockingly brutal honesty. And that change in tone was the catalyst for perhaps the greatest Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling feud ever!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Action Figures Friday: Ten Pounds of Gold

The NWA Champions that wore the original "Ten Pounds of Gold" (1973-1986)
L-R: Terry Funk, Giant Baba, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Ric Flair,
Kerry Von Erich, Jack Brisco, and Tommy Rich

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Graham & Keirn Win the Bayfront Spectacular

The 1982 NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

If you missed earlier posts in this series, check them out in the links below, especially the INTRODUCTION, which puts the whole tournament in a perspective that serves as a launching point for the following discussions. 

PART ONE: Introduction
PART TWO: Greensboro
PART THREE: Charlotte
PART FOUR: Richmond
PART FIVE: Atlanta
PART SIX: Fayetteville

Date: March 27, 1982
Venue: The Bayfront Center

St. Petersburg, FL, would prove to be the sixth and final event in the series of tournaments for the vacant NWA World Tag Team championship conducted during the late winter and spring of 1982. Whether or not that was the original plan we may never know. (We will speculate on that in Part Eight of this series coming soon.)

The Florida territory played a role in the tournament from the very beginning. Eddie Graham, the former president of the National Wrestling Alliance and promoter in the state of Florida, was serving as Tournament Committee Chairman and had been seen on a special tape sent from Florida to the Mid-Atlantic area back in late January when the tournament was first announced.

This wound up being Florida's only tournament, although it is thought that when the idea of the tournament was conceived that there would at least be one other tournament held in Florida. But it never happened.

This tournament was unique in that it was just one part of a much larger special show in St. Petersburg called "The Bayfront Spectacular" that also featured an NWA World title defense by Ric Flair. There was a large display board shown on Florida television (seen in the graphic above) which included the main event matches and bracketing for the tournament. Ole Anderson and Stan Hansen, winners of two previous tournaments in Greensboro and Atlanta, sent in a tape from Georgia promoting their appearance in St. Petersburg. I particularly like Stan's reaction when Ole quizzed him about their possible tournament opponents:

Ole: "Can the Briscos beat you?"        Stan: "No!" 
Ole: "Can the Funks beat you?"        Stan: "Who?"
Ole: "How about the Von Erich brothers from Texas?"    Stan:  "Never heard of 'em!"

Special tournament update segments were hosted by Barbara Clary in the weeks leading up to the event. One of those is seen in the video above. The tournament only featured five teams, with one team getting an early bye. But the limited line-up was still one of the most colorful of all the tournaments and featured three different brother combinations.

The five teams in St. Petersburg were:
  • Jack and Jerry Brisco
  • Steve Keirn and Mike Graham
  • David and Kerry Von Erich
  • Dory and Terry Funk
  • Ole Anderson and Stan
A closer look at each team:

The Briscos had been regulars in Florida for many years, and had been an active team up until early March of that year (1982) when Jack entered the Mid-Atlantic territory on a full time basis as a singles competitor. The Brisco brothers had most recently been North American Tag Team champions in Florida, losing the titles three weeks before this tournament to Dory Funk, Jr. and David Von Erich. The team came into St. Pete with a tournament win already under their belt, having won in Charlotte back on February 14. They had competed in Richmond, Atlanta, and Fayetteville as well.

Considered the "hometown team" in this tournament, Steve Keirn and Mike Graham had a storied championship history as a tag team in Florida. They held various tag team championships from 1977-1981 including the Florida, United States, and North American Tag Team titles. Keirn was a regular in the Memphis territory at this time, and would soon be forming one of the most famous and successful tag teams of the 1980s, the Fabulous Ones (with Stan Lane.) So it was a bit of a homecoming for him to return and team with Mike Graham in Florida, the territory where Keirn had had so much success in the 1970s both as a singles and tag team competitor.

Behind the scenes, Fritz Von Erich had sent his son David to Florida to gain experience working as a "bad guy" in hopes of helping to prepare him for a possible run as NWA World champion down the road. David was considered a top candidate for that role by the various promoters in the NWA, including the kingmaker Sam Muchnick. He was being mentored by former NWA World champion Dory Funk, Jr., and the two had recently defeated the Briscos for the North American Title. But for this tournament, David brought in his brother Kerry from their home territory of World Class Wrestling in Dallas. It was a rare opportunity for Kerry to work "heel" as well.

The Funk brothers were familiar faces in Florida, both having spent a great deal of time there, and Terry actually having won the NWA World title in Miami Beach from Jack Brisco in 1975. The rivalry between the Funks and the Briscos went way back to the 1960s, and the two brother teams had feuded over the North American titles as recently as two months before this tournament in St. Pete. As mentioned above, Dory was tag champs with David Von Erich at the time of the tournament, but chose his younger brother as his partner for this chance at advancing in the World Tag Team tournament. They had also competed together in the tournament in Atlanta on 2/28.

No team seemingly wanted those World Tag Team title belts more than Anderson and Hansen, having ponied up the $1000 entry fee for all five of the previous tournaments and having walked away with victories in two of them  - - Greensboro and Atlanta. That night in St. Pete they were considered the "outside team," coming in from Georgia Championship Wrestling.


You will notice in the video embedded above that Barbara Clary mentions it is possible that the Funk Brothers could face the Von Erich Brothers in the tournament, which presented a possible interesting plot twist, since Dory Funk and David Von Erich were reigning North American Tag Team champions at the time. But it didn't happen. graham and Keirn eliminated the Von Erichs in the opening round. The Funk brothers received a bye to the second round.

The tournament wound up only having three matches. In the first of two opening round matches, the Briscos and Anderson/Hansen were both eliminated with a double disqualification. The winner of that match was to get a bye to the finals, but with the double DQ, both were eliminated from the tournament.

In the second opening round match, Graham and Keirn defeated David and Kerry Von Erich, avoiding the potential Funk/Von Erich clash.

With the earlier double disqualification of the Briscos and Hansen/Anderson, the match between Graham/Keirn and the Funks became the de facto championship match.

In what may have appeared to be an upset to an outsider looking in, but wasn't a surprise at all to fans in Florida, Steve Keirn and Mike Graham won the tournament with victories over two brother combinations: the Von Erichs and the Funks.

In a little side story told by Eddie Graham in a taped update segment from Florida shown on Mid-Atlantic television the week after the St. Petersburg tournament, Graham thanked promoter Fred Ward (promoter in Columbus, GA) for taking over as active Mat Chairman for the night of the tournament his son Mike was involved in. Graham, who was the Committee Chairman for the tournament at large, said he wanted to avoid any conflict of interest, and was pleased that Mike and Steve Keirn had won in St. Pete and had the highest hopes for their success moving forward.

Tournament Notes and Trivia:
  • There were three brother combinations in the tournament: the Briscos, Funks, and Von Erichs.
  • At the time of this tournament, Dory Funk Jr. and David Von Erich were North American Tag Team champions in Florida, but each teamed with their brother in the tournament.
  • Ole Anderson and Stan Hansen finished out their streak as being the only team to compete in all six city tournaments. 
  • Florida was the fourth state to host a tournament, along with Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina. 
  • This was the final actual tournament ultimately held before the Eastern Division Finals, although there were some fictitious  tournaments that played into the finals which will be discussed later.
Mike Graham and Steve Keirn, winners of the St. Petersburg tournament.
Coming Up in PART EIGHT:
With the city tournaments that actually took place concluded, Ole Anderson helps us take a look at the tournaments that were reportedly planned but did not take place.  Ole was booking both the Georgia and Mid-Atlantic territories during this time, and was the person who initially conceived of the tournament.

After that, stay tuned for details on the Eastern Division finals, Western Division winners, and the final story on how it all fell apart at the end.


Sunday, April 08, 2018

Classic Poster: Wahoo McDaniel vs. Ric Flair in Roanoke

Mid-Atlantic Gateway Collection
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

This beautifully designed classic poster is from 1975 and features one of the definitive main events of the era - - Wahoo McDaniel vs. Ric Flair for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship.

At first glance, you might think this was a poster form 1976 when the Flair/Wahoo feud was one of the main feuds of that year, and lasted nearly the entire year. But it is actually from the summer of 1975, less than three months before the Wilmington, NC, plane crash that threatened to prematurely end Flair's career.

Wahoo was the reigning Mid-Atlantic champion here, having defeated Johnny Valentine for the title three weeks earlier in Asheville, NC. With Valentine having subsequently defeated Harley Race for the U.S. title and no longer a threat to Wahoo, the Chief had moved on to the challenge presented by Valentine's protege, Ric Flair. The feud with Flair was in its very early stages, but it was already clear to anyone paying attention that this was a money program.

Flair would win the Mid-Atlantic championship from Wahoo in Hampton, VA, almost exactly two months after this Roanoke stadium show. Two weeks later, the private charter plane Flair was on went down short of the Wilmington runway and put Flair out of action for nearly four months. The 30-day rule was apparently waived through special dispensation and he was allowed to keep the Mid-Atlantic title until he returned to action in early 1976 and immediately began the long program with Wahoo. The two traded the Mid-Atlantic title back and forth for all of 1976, and they remained rivals for most of the rest of Wahoo's career, as Wahoo would become a top challenger for Flair's NWA world title at various times in the 1980s.

  • Roanoke posters always had the cool designation at the top: "Roanoke Sports Club Presents." The Roanoke Sports Club was the name of the promotional company run by local Roanoke promoter Pete Apostolou. 
  • This is my favorite of all the typical designs for wrestling posters in that era: portrait (vertical) orientation with the main event in big block letters so that it jumps off the poster. Notice also in this case that Flair's name stacked on Wahoo's made the perfect pyramid. Just a great looking poster.
  • Advance tickets for wrestling in Roanoke were always on sale at The Sportsman, a bowling and entertainment facility owned by Pete Apostolou in downtown Roanoke.
  • Interesting to see Jerry Blackwell early in his career billed here as "Man Mountain Blackwell."
  • Victory Stadium was one of three regular venues for wrestling in Roanoke, the other two being Starland Arena and the Roanoke Civic Center.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Action Figures Friday: America's Team & The LOD

The Road Warriors with Gordon Solie on Georgia's
"World Championship Wrestling"
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Photographs by Donald Joyner

More than the actual figures themselves submitted by some of our collector friends, I've been most impressed with the backdrops used folks have created to present their figures. From the Crockett-era replica belts used by Jeff Jewett to the replica locations of "Make Believe Gardens" from Barry Hatchet and the incredible scale reproduction of the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling set and WTBS mid-80s set by Mike Simmerman that got this whole series started, it's what's seen in the background that makes these photos really work for me. (I love the custom little belts, too!)

So I was particularly impressed with Donald Joyner's recent submission of two photos that feature the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling set from 1983-1986 and the World Championship Wrestling (Georgia Wrestling on WTBS) set from 1982-1984.

Donald told us Mike Simmerman's work recently featured on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway inspired him to create his own backdrops for his figures.

Featured above right are the infamous Road Warriors, wearing their National Tag Team championship belts, on the set of "World Championship Wrestling" with Gordon Solie.

Below, we see "America's Team" of Magnum T.A. Dusty Rhodes with Bob Caudle on the set of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling."

Magnum T.A., Bob Caudle, and Dusty Rhodes on the set of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling"

Thanks to Mike Simmerman, Jeff Jewett, Barry Hatchet (by way of Andrew Calvert), and Donald Joyner for all of the great photos that have been part of Action Figures Friday over the past ten months.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The Marines Take Fayetteville

The 1982 NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

If you missed earlier posts in this series, check them out in the links below, especially the INTRODUCTION, which puts the whole tournament in a perspective that serves as a launching point for the following discussions. 

PART ONE: Introduction
PART TWO: Greensboro
PART THREE:  Charlotte
PART FOUR: Richmond
PART FIVE: Atlanta

Date: March 1, 1982
Venue: Cumberland County Memorial Arena 

Bob Caudle interviews Pvt. Kernodle and Pvt. Nelson, Sgt. Slaughter's young Marine recruits.

On the 3/6/82 episode of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" during a match between Pvt. Nelson and Pvt. Kernodle vs. Ron Ritchie and Tony Anthony, host Bob Caudle informed viewers that Nelson and Kernodle had won the recent tournament in Fayetteville, NC. Caudle's co-host for that week, Roddy Piper, sung the praises of the young Marine recruits:
Roddy Piper: "Look at these young gentlemen here. Right there in Fayetteville, look at 'em! There are your champions. Aren't they good!?"

Bob Caudle: "I tell you, that may have surprised a lot of people, but not us. Because having been taught and having been trained by Sgt. Slaughter - - Roddy Piper, you've been saying all along, watch out for these guys."

Sadly, little is known about the tournament in Fayetteville, other it was won by the Marine Privates. We know four of the other teams that participated from the newspaper ad that appeared in the local paper for the show, but no results have been published anywhere to our knowledge.

The four teams billed in the newspaper ad as being in the Fayetteville tournament were:
  • Ole Anderson and Stan Hansen
  • Jack and Jerry Brisco
  • Porkchop Cash and Jay Youngblood (reigning Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champions)
  • Pvt. Nelson and Pvt. Kernodle

Remaining teams were likely comprised of mostly undercard wrestlers. That same night there was a big card in Greenville, SC and that card featured many of the wrestlers that had been in previous tournaments such as Sgt. Slaughter, Roddy Piper, Bob Armstrong, Ray Stevens, Kelly Kiniski, plus Ricky Steamboat, Carl Fergi, and many others.

In preparation for this article, I spoke with Jim Nelson (aka Boris Zhukov) and asked him what he remembered about that night in Fayetteville. Sadly, like a lot of wrestlers, he doesn't remember much. He was wrestling seven days a week then, and this was 36 years ago after all, so that's to be expected. (Exactly what happened on 3/1/82 on your job 36 years ago? See how it works?) He did seem to think they beat Youngblood and Cash in the finals, and that makes sense given the two teams would feud over the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team titles in the next month.  He also specifically remembers he and Don wrestling the Briscos along this same time, and while he wasn't sure if it was in that tournament, it is reasonable to think it likely would have been since the two teams would not have normally met otherwise being on different positions on the cards. If this is the case, they likely defeated the Briscos in the semi-finals in Fayetteville. 

If you have any information about that tournament, specifically results and bracketing, please CONTACT US so we can include it here.

On that 3/6/82 TV show, Piper went on to call Nelson and Kernodle the "Fayetteville Connection," and then updated the viewing audience on all the tournament winners so far. Oddly enough, Piper did not mention Richmond, VA in his update, and it may have been that since Sgt. Slaughter and Pvt. Nelson had won Richmond, they didn't want to confuse fans with talking about having Nelson the winner of two different tournaments with two different partners.  Nelson and Kernodle were going to be pushed as a top team for the next few months, and would go on to win the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team championships in May.

Tournament Notes and Trivia:
  • Pvt. Jim Nelson is the only man in the entire run of tournaments to win more than one tournament with two different partners. (Richmond with Sgt. Slaughter, Fayetteville with Don Kernodle.)
  • Ole Anderson and Stan Hansen continued their streak as being the only team to compete in all of the city tournaments, five total so far. 
  • Fayetteville is home to the U.S. Army's Fort Bragg, the largest U.S. military installation in the world. It would be fun to know if Pvt. Kernodle and Pvt. Nelson were treated warmly by the military friendly crowd, or if the Army crowd cheered anyone and everyone against the young Marines. Regardless, it's no coincidence that behind the scenes, booker Ole Anderson picked Fayetteville for its military connection to have Nelson and Kernodle get their big win.
  • Nelson and Kernodle accomplished this big win on their own. Their mentor Sgt. Slaughter was in Greenville, SC, on this night defending the United States Heavyweight championship against Ricky Steamboat.  
  • The Fayetteville tournament ended a string of three city tournaments in four days across three different states (Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina.) 

Coming Up in PART SEVEN:
On to the Sunshine State! The tournament heads for Florida in what wound up being the final legitimate tournament in the series, although there would be at least two fictional tournaments that would come into play later. St. Petersburg would host the "Bayfront Spectacular" that would include their tournament which was an odd one: it featured only five teams competing, but had one of the most colorful line-ups including a team from the first family of Texas wrestling, the Von Erichs! Stay tuned for more on this interesting 1982 tournament for the NWA World Tag Team Championships.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Becker and Weaver vs. The Andersons (Norfolk 1967)

Here is some rare vintage audio: a 45 sec. clip from Norfolk, VA, promoting an upcoming card on October 26, 1967 at the Norfolk City Arena (as seen in the newspaper ad above.).

The promo aired during "All Star Wrestling" on WAVY-TV channel 10 in Norfolk. We don't know who the narrator is, perhaps an employee of the station. He's likely local, though, as he clearly has that eastern Virginia accent...."Nawfolk." Love it.

What a great looking newspaper ad, too, we love this design. Take a look at those 1967 ringside prices.

George Becker and Johnny Weaver vs. Lars and Gene Anderson in a two-of-three falls main event. The dynamic team of Les Thatcher and Rudy Kay in support. Didn't get much better than that in 1967.