Tuesday, May 22, 2018

All In on the NWA Championship

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's been amazing to watch: the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, the single most prestigious title in all of pro-wrestling in the years I grew up as a wrestling fan, becoming a serious touring world championship once again.

There is a real sense of renewal through its connections with its past. From the renewed emphasis on the term "ten pounds of gold", to an old-school heel champion, to the title being defended in places where it never had been before, most recently in China. Mix in nods to the organizaton's heritage, the champions that came before like Race, Brisco, and Flair, and it all just works.

I've only recently become aware of this rebirth of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. It is nice to see the title being treated with respect again. I don't know much about NWA owner Billy Corrigan but I've developed a great deal of respect for him based on how he has been working to bring the NWA title back to world wide prominence.

It is, of course, likely going to be a long journey. Keep in mind, he is doing this without television. There are local TV shows that promote it hard, "Championship Wrestling from Hollywood" being the best example. The folks there, most visibly David Marquez, have been involved with the NWA for many years.

The way they are getting this done right now is almost exclusively through social media. Producer Dave Lagana has done a great job in producing short-form videos that appear on multiple social media platforms. These range from promotional interviews, to behind the scenes features, to highlights of angles and title matches. I love these shorter features, almost like vignettes. They've become habit forming, and I eagerly look forward to the next video to pop up.

It's fun to follow champion Nick Aldis travel to different independent promotions all over the country and all around the world, some large, some small, defending the title against that indy's top guy. It's reminiscent of the old territory days in a way. The traveling world champion defending the ten pounds of gold. 

I had a friend recently ask me rhetorically, "Why do they even bother? No one is going to ever challenge the WWE." My response is, "Why does that have to be the goal?" The most enjoyable wrestling to me by far is that niche product that is trying to do their own thing, and not resemble the WWE. Check out fan enthusiasm for small groups like MLW, Wrestle Circus, or Lucha Underground. How about a 30-minute sellout of over 10,000 seats for the upcoming "All In" show? (More on that in a minute.) Watching the NWA make its champion and its title actually mean something, focusing only on champion and the belt via the great short-form videos, is what is making the NWA story work right now.

Which brings us to "All In 2018", the huge independent wrestling show in Chicago later this summer. NWA World Champion Nick Aldis will defend the NWA title against challenger Cody Rhodes, son of former 3-time NWA World champion "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. It is very likely to be the main event. Regardless of the outcome, that exposure will do wonders for the renewed credibility of the title. There is a great opportunity for a great story to be written there.

Aldis is a great heel. And with a Rhodes challenging for the NWA title in front of over 10,000 fans in Chicago - - breathing new life into this storied championship - - well, I'm definitely ALL IN on that.

* * * *
NWA YouTube Channel: https://youtube.com/NWA
NWA Twitter (@NWA): https://twitter.com/nwa
All In 2018 Twitter: https://twitter.com/all_in_2018


Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Anderson Brothers' Greatest Year


by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Gene and Ole Anderson had many fabulous years while wrestling under the Jim Crockett Promotions banner, but for my money 1975 was their greatest of all. Upon returning to the Mid-Atlantic area on New Year's Day 1975, the Andersons became the NWA World Tag Team Champions in a month's time and dominated the territory's tag team division for the entire calendar year.

This domination was so noteworthy that when the promotion did their 1975 Year-In-Review show, Gene and Ole were featured in that program's initial segment. Showing three separate film clips from the year that Ole and announcers Bob Caudle and David Crockett discussed, 1975 was succinctly dissected and put in perspective as it pertained to the Anderson Brothers.

The initial clip depicted perfectly the brutally effective ring style that truly became Gene and Ole's calling card in 1975. Bob Caudle opened with, "Let's call in a pair right now, as we say it was a great year for Gene and Ole Anderson, the Anderson Brothers...and Ole, you and Gene competed in the big tournament in California and you won the World's Tag Team Championship belts in the year 1975."

Ole responded, "Well, 1975 was without a doubt our greatest year. It was a year that our greatness was finally realized when we won that tournament and became the World's Tag Team Champions." Bob went to break saying, "We're gonna be seeing some of the great matches the Anderson Brothers were in during the year, and we'll be back with that action right after this message."

Caudle then continued, "Fans as we mentioned earlier it was a great year for Gene and Ole Anderson, 1975, and a year I think the Andersons tried to strike a little fear in the hearts of some of the opponents, Ole. We have a match here where you were against Tony Atlas and Rick Kelly, and it was a match where you hurt Rick Kelly's arm." Ole answered, "Well, there were a lot of matches like that and like you say, we were trying to show everybody what it means to be a professional wrestler and especially what it means to be in the ring against the Anderson Brothers."

As the tape began to play of a televised match from the fall, Caudle said, "All right Ole, let's look at that match and as we look at it we're going to be telling the fans just what was happening and what you and Gene were doing." Ole retorted, "Well, as usual what we're doing is winning. But in order to win, you've got to be able to wear your opponent down...you've got to be able to control him. And that's something we do better than anybody else. We take one man, in this case whatever his name is..." Caudle immediately responded that the opponent was named, "Rick Kelly."

Unimpressed, Ole then barked out the Andersons' basic wrestling philosophy to the fans at home, "What difference... it doesn't make any difference who the guy is, we do it every match. We grab one man, and we continually work on him."  Bob then picked up on another part of the tape that highlighted another of the Andersons' ring maneuvers that helped define their dominant run in 1975 noting, "All right, right there Gene was slamming him right down to the mat, and he had his arm behind him...pinned behind him."


Ole elaborated, "Well, we've made it even more devastating, a lot of people just slam. In this case we've been working on the arm, so we make sure we jack that arm up around behind his back, and then we slam him on that arm." Bob then commented on another section of the tape where Ole pulverized Rick Kelly's arm and shoulder with a knee from the top rope. "Watch this...you're off the top rope," Caudle exclaimed!

"The idea here is to give him a good shot in that shoulder...a lot of times we set him up; the guy has been weakened from things we've done previously and we get him in a position where we can set him up to hopefully either dislocate that shoulder or even to  break it if we can. We're not too concerned about which one happens, just so long as the man knows he's been in a match with us," Ole elucidated.

Caudle then challenged Ole, "So what you're saying then Ole is that you and Gene really don't mind hurting your opponent or breaking his arm or breaking his leg?" Clearly annoyed, Ole shot back with, "Don't mind?! That's what we're there for! That's what we intend to do every time we get into the ring."

A bit taken aback at Ole's last response, Caudle would shift gears. "All right fans, that's the way the Anderson Brothers were going in 1975 and of course you were the winners in that match as you hurt Rick Kelly," Caudle stated. Still irritated, Ole fired back, "We were the winners in EVERY match as a matter of fact."

But at this point, Bob Caudle had irrefutable evidence to the contrary and was ready to hit Ole with it! Bob quipped, "Well I was gonna say, all of them were not that way Ole..."

To be continued in Part 2:
Gene and Ole's Low Point in 1975


Friday, May 18, 2018

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Tour Itenerary on a Bojangle's Cup

This Bo'Town Roasters coffee cup from Bojangle's looks like a tour itinerary for 1970s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

Greenville, Asheville, Raliegh, Charlotte, Richmond, Rick Hill, Florence, and everywhere in between. Jim Crockett Promotions on the road. All aboard!

 It's Bo' Time!


Action Figures Friday: U.S. Champion Harley Race

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Photograph by Mike Simmerman

Harley Race wasn't recognized as U.S. Champion very long and only wore that classic red-strap U.S. title belt for one night - - July 3, 1975.

Race was chosen by booker George Scott to be the first recognized U.S. champion to establish that title in our area. He would enter the territory recognized as champion and defend it against the top contender Johnny Valentine.

Race had name credibility with fans. He was a former NWA World champion and was well known from the various wrestling magazines, despite having never worked the territory before. Valentine defeated Race that night in Greensboro, and the win over Race gave the new title instant credibility.

It was a brilliant way to introduce the belt to the area. Throughout the month of June 1975, TV hosts Bob Caudle and Les Thatcher starting talking up Race as U.S. champion on their respective programs, letting fans know Race would be in the area soon to defend the title.
But because Race only wore that belt that one night, there are no known photographs of him with it. He came to the ring with the belt under his ring jacket. According to Dave Routh, who was at ringside that night, he removed the belt from under the jacket and handed it to the referee before the introductions. It was a real missed opportunity, and seems crazy to me now that a posed photo of him with the belt wasn't taken before the match, even in the back, if not in the ring.

When writing the book "United States Championship" several years ago, I commissioned artist John Pagan to render an image of what Race might have looked like holding that belt. The pencil sketch is featured in the book. It was the only way I knew to create an image as a throwback to that one night with Race and the famous belt.

That is, until now, with Mike Simmerman's very cool photo of his Harley Race figure holding a tiny replica of the title belt in the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling TV studio. The only thing missing is Harley's bleached blond hair, which he had at that time.

Thanks as always for Mike's great action figure photos for "Action Figures Friday" on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

For more on the origin and history of Jim Crockett's United States championship, as well as a look at the five different belts that represented it from 1975-1988, check out our book with every little detail and over 100 photographs. It's available in the Gateway Bookstore or on Amazon.com.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ric Flair Becomes the "Nature Boy"

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

"Nature Boy" Ric Flair
Mid-Atlantic TV Champion (1975)
One of the big misconceptions out there is that Ric Flair first took on the "Nature Boy" moniker when he returned to action in early 1976 after the October 1975 plane crash in Wilmington, NC.

Not true.

You'd have to forgive anyone for thinking that. It's been written that way for awhile. Until years ago, I thought that as well and even Ric himself has said so on occasion.

The commonly held misconception is that during his four month lay-off in late 1975 and early 1976 recuperating from injuries suffered in the plane crash, George Scott came up with the idea of giving Ric the "Nature Boy" gimmick, an homage to "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, the famous NWA and WWF World Champion in the 1960s.

However, it's been verified that Ric Flair had been calling himself the "Nature Boy" for nearly a year earlier.

By all accounts, it was indeed booker George Scott who came up with the idea, that part is apparently true. But Ric was referring to himself as the Nature Boy in local promos and on TV interviews as early as April of 1975 (perhaps even earlier), a full six months before the infamous plane crash.

May 2, 1975    Richmond, Virginia

That time frame was confirmed when David Chappell came across an audio recording (embedded below) of a local promo Ric did for a May 1975 match in Richmond, VA. Ric actually did the promo in late April for a match to take place on May 2. He was defending his Mid-Atlantic TV title in the Richmond Arena against the man he beat for that belt, "Number One" Paul Jones.

After Jones had called Flair a "drugstore wrestler" (an offhanded reference to an earlier promo where Flair had called Jones a "drugstore cowboy"), Ric responded in a promo of his own, referring to himself as the "Nature Boy" right at the end of his promo:

"Jones, I'm gonna take you like any wild animal would. I'm gonna break one of your arms and then maybe you'll be walkin' around the drugstore looking for someone else to beat up on, because it won't be the Nature Boy. Wooo!"    - Ric Flair, April 1975

All of the signature elements of the "Nature Boy" persona were taking shape before the plane crash. His trademark "Wooo!" was more of a quick high-pitched shout at that point. And his cocky strut was more subdued and less pronounced than in later years. (I actually liked the 70s and early 80s Flair strut much better than the exaggerated Fargoesque style of strut that he later morphed into.) He had a robe or two, but nothing like the number  of extravagantly styled robes he would acquire beginning in 1976. Within a year or so Flair had nearly a dozen of the Olivia Walker creations.

This is the earliest reference we've found. We'll keep digging to see how far back things go. Our main goal was to document that Flair's "Nature Boy" persona existed well before the plane crash and his subsequent recovery and return to the sport. The audio recording from April 1975 should put that to rest.

And now you know -- as the great Paul Harvey was famous for saying - - the rest of the story.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Wahoo McDaniel and Don Muraco Win the West

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 and 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 
PART SEVEN: St. Petersburg
PART EIGHT: The Lost Tournaments


The Eastern Division city tournaments (sometimes referred to as the regionals) had been going on since early February, but up until now there had been no mention of the Western Division. That changed in early April.

Sandy Scott announced on the 4/10/82 episode of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" that we now had Western Division winners:

"I talked to Eddie Graham last this afternoon and he has informed us that there is a winner of the Western Regional. They took place in Hawaii, and the winners are Wahoo McDaniel and Don Muraco."    - NWA Representative Sandy Scott

Bob Caudle smiled big on the announcement and pointed out that Wahoo McDaniel was familiar to all the fans. It would be Wahoo's full-time return to the area after nearly a 5-month absence where he had been wrestling in Florida, Georgia, and a month long tour of Japan.

Don Muraco would be making his first appearance in the Mid-Atlantic area. Fans who had Superstation WTBS on their cable systems and could watch "Georgia Championship Wrestling" each week were somewhat alarmed by the announcement that Wahoo and Muraco had teamed up because they knew Muraco was a "bad guy" in Georgia, feuding with Tommy Rich and forming an alliance with the hated Roddy Piper.

But two weeks later, Bob Caudle introduced in person the Western Division winners on the 4/24/82 episode of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, and the pair looked great together and looked ready for the finals.

"Well you know, Muraco and I used to wrestle together when we were in the AWA, and I was on the way to Japan, he was too, we got together, met, got in the tournament and we won a little money and an opportunity to go on in the tournament. We are the Western Division champions in this tag team tournament and we are looking forward to whoever the Eastern winners are in the tournament. We are ready."  - Wahoo McDaniel

Wahoo had woven some truth into this tale, as he had indeed been on a month long tour with New Japan Pro Wrestling in January and February of that year, teaming with old AWA foe Superstar Billy Graham and wrestling such legends as Antonio Inoki and future legend Riki Choshu.

The Western Division was entirely a fictitious part of this storyline. Booker Ole Anderson created the story that Wahoo and Don Muraco had won the western division finals in Hawaii, which was Muraco's home, and would play into the story as it went along.

Muraco, for his part, gave his first interview in the area, and immediately foreshadowed how this story would eventually play out for this team.

"Let me tell you something, it looks like it's starting to get nuts around here. Looks like everybody is starting to go crazy. And when it starts getting nuts, and it starts getting crazy, when it starts getting mean, the Indian came looking for someone because I'm a man that never turned his back on a friend, number one. And number two, I never backed down from anybody. This man over here is a legend, all over these parts. And he wanted somebody crazy, he wanted somebody who could stand by his side."    - Don Muraco

Muraco's comment that he had "never turned his back on a friend" planted the seed for what was to come in May, as the Eastern Division still had to play itself out in the ring.

It didn't take the two long to show off why they "won the west." Wahoo and Muraco teamed up on TV for the first time, defeating David Patterson and Ken Timbs in a stiff match, both of them wrestling very aggressively, but cleanly. Jack Brisco was on color commentary with Bob Caudle, and mentioned that he was there to scout this team as he and his brother Jerry were hopeful to win the Eastern Division, and if so would be facing this team.

One of Jack's roles in his commentary was to put Muraco over to fans in the Mid-Atlantic area who may have never seen him before. Brisco described Muraco as one of the most brutal wrestlers he had ever seen. Brisco spoke from experience, having feuded with Muraco years ago in the Florida area.

Brisco also pointed out that Muraco was a former World Champion surfer, having won the world surfing championship in the over-200 pound class, and described him as quite an athlete.

At the end of the 4/24 show, both Wahoo and Muraco were amped up and seemed more than ready to head to the tournament finals.

"Everybody's here to tune up. But we're here to play!"  - Don Muraco
"I know you all are going home and trying to revamp, try to get ya a little bigger partner, go to that gym in the morning and try to work out a little harder, but it might be just a little late. We're here! The tournament's on top of you! You can't get in too good a shape in ten or fifteen days.  We've been layin' in the bushes waitin'. Two good tans; we didn't get 'em layin' in the sun, we got 'em runnin' down the beach! We've been workin' out together every day. We're ready."   - Wahoo McDaniel

Wahoo and Muraco would have to wait a short while for their trip to the finals. The Eastern Finals hadn't taken place yet. Sandy Scott would also show a video from Florida with tournament director Eddie Graham giving an update, and Sandy would announce the teams that were still alive as we headed to the Eastern finals. All of that and more next time! So as Bob Caudle would say, so long for now.

PS - We love the t-shirt Muraco was wearing when he was introduced with Wahoo: "Patience my ass. I'm gonna kill somebody."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A Sad Day for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

"We will let the fans know what the disposition of this title will be very soon."   - Jim Crockett, Jr., 12/27/86 
Those words still echo with me all these years later. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what would become of my beloved Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship.

The sequence of images above from "World Championship Wrestling" on 12/27/86 show Ronnie Garvin handing over the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship belt to Jim Crockett, Jr. in the studios of WTBS in Atlanta.

Garvin forfeited the title after he and Barry Windham had won the United States Tag Team championships. He is wearing the US Tag Team title belt. Jim Crockett told Ronnie he couldn't hold both titles, and he had to decide which one to forfeit.

"Well you know, it's a big disappointment to me ... it's a lot of work behind this belt and it represents the Mid-Atlantic area. And I don't mean no disrespect for it, because parting with this means a whole lot to me. But I don't want to disappoint my partner Barry Windham"   - Ronnie Garvin, 12/27/86

While Jim Crockett told Tony Schiavone that he would announce later what would be done with the title (we assumed a tournament), the belt and the championship were never seen or mentioned again.

It was a sad day for long time fans of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling who had witnessed such great wrestlers hold that title including Danny Miller, Ole Anderson, Jerry Brisco, Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel, Ric Flair, Paul Jones, Jack Brisco, Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine, Ricky Steamboat, Ray Stevens, and so many others. 

Earlier that same year, the name of the flagship syndicated program for Jim Crockett Promotions was changed from "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" to "NWA Pro Wrestling." With that name change and the disappearance of the championship, the great era known as "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" had quietly come to an end.

For more on the origin and history of the Mid-Atlantic championship, visit this page:

The Origin and Evolution of the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship


Friday, May 11, 2018

Action Figures Friday: U.S. Champion Paul Jones

Mike Simmerman did an amazing job creating this action figure, given that there has never been an official Paul Jones figure. He based the figure off of a Bruno Sammartino figure. (Ironically, both men recently died on the same day.) But what makes the figure work (and fools the eye into seeing Paul Jones) is the custom ring jacket and U.S. title belt. Great work.

Paul first won the U.S title in 1975 on the big annual Thanksgiving night card held every year in Greensboro. He defeated Terry Funk for the honors. Jones lost the title to Blackjack Mulligan in March of 1976 and the two began a year long feud over the title. Jones would hold the U.S. title on three separate occasions.

Edit: We received word late this morning from Peggy Lathan that Paul's son Paul Jr. loved seeing the photo of the custom action figure of his dad. That's a pretty special thing. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Race snares Flair in the Indian Deathlock at Toronto's "Night of Champions"

NWA Champion Harley Race applies the Indian Deathlock to Ric Flair in Toronto.

Exhibition Stadium - - Toronto, Ontario - - July 10, 1983
Attendance 20,000 (Toronto attendance record at that time)

As you watch the summer of 1983 episodes of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" on the WWE Network, it is easy to forget how hot this brand of wrestling was far north of the traditional Mid-Atlantic territory. Wrestling was on fire (as it often was) in Toronto, Ontario and the Tunney's working relationship with Jim Crockett Promotions led to a huge card at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium in July of 1983. Details of the card are below.

The photo above is interesting to me because it shows Harley Race applying the Indian Deathlock to Ric Flair. Race was currently in his seventh reign as NWA world champion, which was a record at that point in time. But when he began his second title reign six years earlier, he used this very same hold in this very same city to defeat Terry Funk.

As a young fan in the mid-1970s, the only wrestler I had ever seen use that hold was "Number One" Paul Jones. It was his signature finisher. Seeing Race win with it was surprising, but what would be even more surprising to me was that I don't think I ever saw him use it again! And then this photo shows up with Race using the same hold in the same city where Race beat Funk with it in 1977. To quote Yogi Berra, it was like a deja vu all over again.

Maybe it only works for him North of the border.

Race would lose the NWA title back to Ric Flair later that same year at Starrcade '83 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The exciting working relationship between Tunney and Crockett would end around the same time as well, as Jack Tunney made a deal with Vince McMahon Jr. to book only WWF talent into Toronto late that same year.

Results from the Toronto Night of Champions
  • NWA World Championship: Harley Race defeated Ric Flair by DQ to retain title
  • Canadian Championship: Angelo Mosca defeated One Man Gang
  • U.S. Championship: Greg Valentine and Wahoo McDaniel double count-out
  • TV Championship: Great Kabuki defeated Jimmy Valiant
  • World Tag Championship: Steamboat/Youngblood defeated  Funk Jr./Jake Roberts
  • Women's World Championship: Fabulous Moolah defeated Princess Victoria
  • Johnny Weaver/Mike Rotundo defeated Alec Girard/Tim Gerrard
  • Sgt. Jacques Goulet/Kelly Kiniski defeated Bob Marcus/Joe Marcus
  • Nick DeCarlo/Billy Ryan defeated The Executioner/Mike Armstrong 

(Thanks to Andrew Calvert of the Maple Leaf Wrestling website.)


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Remembering Paul Jones and His Picture Contest

by Andy McDaniel
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The recent passing of Paul Jones was indeed sad news. But for long-time Mid-Atlantic wrestling fans, it was another part of our youth, now gone.

Over the years the names have added up, Wahoo McDaniel, Rufus R. Jones, Johnny Valentine, Tim Woods, Burrhead Jones, etc.…. and each one hurts, but there is something deeper when there is some type of personal connection.

Andy McDaniel and Paul Jones
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest (2016)
During my youth, of course, Paul was a staple part of Mid-Atlantic programs. I loved his time with Wahoo, his team with Steamboat, (which sadly ended when Ricky turned on Paul, at least according to Paul) but his time with Masked Superstar, the Baron, working with Sir Oliver Humperdink, Jimmy Valiant, all of these bring great memories as well. In fact, there are so many stories and memories it would be hard to write them all down.

One memory in particular brings me laughs and smiles and will always be special: The Picture contest. The recent addition of Mid-Atlantic programming to the WWE Network has been a treasure trove of wonderful memories and I was so excited to see this great memory be included in the episodes that was added. The interaction between Paul and Rufus R. Jones was classic pro wrestling. It was hilarious and drew you in all at the same time. Paul with his standard “let me tell you something” addresses the young lady who won the gigantic picture of Paul. As he dressed her down for attempting to touch him, things elevated and here comes Rufus. “Paul Jones, we don’t treat a lady like that where I come from” Rufus quickly stated. Paul, with a slap to the face, tells Rufus he can go back to where he came from and the fight ensued from that point ending with Rufus having his clothes torn and being beat up in the ring. I have watched this several times since it was placed on the network and every time brings a smile to my face.

These classic characters simply cannot be duplicated. The guys and gals of today are great at what they do, but for me, I will take the heroes from my past.

Ole Anderson and Paul Jones
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest (2016)
It was a couple of years ago, I was in Charlotte to see my friends from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway be inducted into the Hall of Heroes. It was a great time catching up with old friends like, Jimmy Valiant, George South and others, but while there I got a special treat. I was in one of the back rooms and I found myself sitting with Ole Anderson and Paul Jones. I had spent time with Ole before, but never had had that chance with Paul. Sitting and listening to these two tell stories was an old-time fans dream. It was something else indeed.

It would not be too long after this moment that Ole would be called away for photo obligations and I was left sitting with Paul. We talked about County Hall memories and it was like we knew each other forever. I enjoyed every minute of that time. I was terribly saddened to hear of his passing.

We had remained in contact since our time together in Charlotte. He had asked for a copy of my County Hall memories book and I was more than happy to send him one. We exchanged emails and such from time to time. I am thankful for the years of memories and grateful for the day I got to spend with Number 1 Paul Jones. He will be missed.

* * * * * *

Watch the episode of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" Andy mentions in his post on the WWE Network. Free 30 day trial for new subscribers.
Mid-Atlantic Vault
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling 7/2/83 Episode

Support the old territory material on the WWE Network to let them know you want to see more. They currently have shows from the Mid-Atlantic, World Class, Mid-South, Smokey Mountain, AWA, and many others.


Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Hope For the Future

This young lady has her priorities in order when it comes to pro wrestling. Do you?

What are you waiting for? "Four Horsemen: A Timeline History" is waiting for you at the Gateway Bookstore or on Amazon.com.


Monday, May 07, 2018

Bob Caudle's New Full Time Job in 1978: Bumper Stickers!

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I remember how thrilled I was in early 1978 when it was announced on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television programming that the promotion was giving away Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling bumper stickers! It was something novel at the time, as Jim Crockett Promotions had never done a giveaway of any kind to the fans that I could remember.

The wrestlers were even assisting in getting the word out about the giveaway, as I recall Ric Flair once telling the fans how great the bumper stickers looked, and that he had put several on the wing of his new airplane!

On the March 8, 1978 taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show during a tag team bout pitting Bobo Brazil and Johnny Weaver against Charlie Fulton and the Russian Stomper, the giveaway was teased by announcer Bob Caudle. Bob commented:

"By the way David, right here let's tell everyone to get their pencil and paper ready, and in a minute or so we'll be telling them how they can get a Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling bumper sticker!"

Color commentator David Crockett added, "That's right, so hurry up and get your pencil and paper."

True to their words, Bob and David revisited the bumper sticker giveaway in a couple of minutes time. And a couple of things would soon become crystal clear. One, that the Mid-Atlantic fans had great difficulty in grasping the concept of a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and two that the response to the giveaway was massive in the volume of bumper sticker mail that was flooding the WRAL TV5 studios mail room!

Caudle exclaimed as a graphic of an address hit the TV screen, "All right fans right there, send to me, Bob Caudle, WRAL TV, Post Office Box 12000, Raleigh North Carolina 27605. Send it to me...a self-addressed stamped envelope, inside your envelope, and I'll send you free of charge a Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling bumper sticker."

Bob then took pains to explain the process in detail, "Now don't forget, just send the letter to me...you gotta send a letter, a postcard will not do. And inside your envelope you gotta have a return self -addressed envelope with a stamp on it. So that all I gotta do is just drop that bumper sticker in it, put it in the mail and send it right back to you."

A cackling David Crockett then chimed in, "That sounds fair enough!"

There was a slight pause, and Caudle then chuckled, "David you talk like...when you say that's fair, you're sort of ribbing me a little bit because you've seen the MANY boxes of mail we've had coming in!" David answered excitedly, " Oh, have I!" Bob concurred, "And I tell you, it's a full time job just putting bumper stickers in there!"

I vividly recall how terrific I thought it was for the promotion to be giving away Mid-Atlantic bumper stickers. And I concede I was one of those fans that initially had trouble wrapping my head around the concept of a self-addressed, stamped envelope! But when I mastered that concept and finally received the bumper sticker in the mail, I still remember how excited I was to own a small but special piece of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

And the fact that Bob Caudle, as part of his new full time job, had likely placed that bumper sticker in my envelope made it the most special of all.


Saturday, May 05, 2018

Ric Flair and Greg Valentine Defend Their NWA World Tag Team Titles at the "Parade of Champions" in Texas

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Ric Flair and Greg Valentine head to Texas
with the NWA World Tag Team titles!
In December of 1977, NWA World Tag Team champions Ric Flair and Greg Valentine left their Mid-Atlantic home territory and headed to Corpus Christi, TX to defend their title belts.

Last November, I wrote a series on the Texas Connections with Jim Crockett Promotions, and PART TWO of that series focused on JCP's relationship in 1977 and 1978 with promoter Joe Blanchard in San Antonio. His fledgling "All Star Wrestling" promotion would later be known as "Southwest Championship Wrestling."

Recently, researcher Mark Eastridge came across newspaper material related to the big Corpus Christi "Parade of Champions" show on 12/15/77. It was on this show that several Mid-Atlantic stars made their way down to the Lone Star State to make this almost a combined Blanchard/Crockett show.

The headliner was one of the biggest wrestling stars to ever come out of the state of Texas, Wahoo McDaniel. The Midland, TX high school standout and Oklahoma University all-American and AFL/NFL football legend had been a ring warrior in both the Amarillo and Houston territories in the 1960s and early 1970s. He was making a big return to Texas on this night.

This "Parade of Champions" show had a strong Mid-Atlantic flavor to it:

  • Wahoo McDaniel was one of the top full-time singles stars in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, in the middle of the memorable feud with Greg valentine over the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship that months earlier had cost Wahoo a broken leg.
  • Blackjack Mulligan was another favorite son of Texas, and was in middle of a big headlining feud with Ricky Steamboat in the Mid-Atlantic area. In fact, only a couple of weeks after this "Parade of Champions" show in Corpus Christi, Mulligan regained the United States title from Steamboat in Greensboro, NC. 
  • Ric Flair and Greg Valentine brought their NWA World Tag Team championships to Corpus Christi to face Tully Blanchard and Tiger Conway, both familiar mid-card faces in the Mid-Atlantic area. Blanchard would stay in the San Antonio territory and become a headliner for his father's promotion over the next few years. 

Results from the show:

  • Wahoo McDaniel defeated Ox Baker in what was originally billed as an American Championship title match. However, three days before the big Parade of Champions show, Baker had lost his title to Fritz Von Erich in Fort Worth, Texas, on 12/12.
  • Ric Flair and Greg Valentine defeated Tully Blanchard and Tiger Conway, Jr. in a 2-of-3 falls contest to retain their NWA World Tag Team championships.
  • Alberto Madril defeated Blackjack Mulligan by DQ to retain his Texas Heavyweight championship.
  • Killer Karl Krupp defeated Dennis Albert in the opener.

It's fun to go back and see the Crockett promotions stars making special appearances, and even title defenses, in another area. In this case, it was Crockett and booker George Scott lending a helping hand to promoter Joe Blanchard who was just getting his San Antonio office started. Corpus Christi was one of his towns.

Note: This post corrects an earlier error on the location of this card.

* * * * * * * *

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: Bonus: Big Ratings in Austin, TX


Friday, May 04, 2018

Action Figures Friday: U.S. Champ Ricky Steamboat

This is Mike Simmerman's depiction of Ricky Steamboat as U.S. champion in 1984, wearing the 4th version of the U.S. title belt that was in service from 1983-1986. Early on, the plates were painted, but later all paint was removed and the belt was sometimes known as "the ten pounds of silver."

Steamboat defeated Dick Slater for the title in April of 1984 and lost the title to Wahoo McDaniel in June of 1984. It was Steamboat's third and final reign as U.S. champion.


Thursday, May 03, 2018

Paul Jones and Peggy Lathan

Paul Jones and Peggy Lathan

There is a little known story about the two of them. Peggy once saved Paul's life. That story is true. Paul Jr. will confirm it. And "Number One" would never forgot it. Maybe she'll let us tell that story one day.

That was in the late 2000s. Back in 1976, she also helped save Ole Anderson's life when he was stabbed by a fan as he was leaving the ring in Greenville, SC. That makes two Mid-Atlantic legends who owed a debt of thanks to "Miss Mid-Atlantic Wrestling" Peggy Lathan.

She was Paul's good friend. We're proud to call her our friend, too. Thanks for all you do for the Gateway, Peggy Sue!

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

A Visit With "Number One" Paul Jones & George South (2003)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Originally published May 2003

When George South was ten years old, his brother would drop him off right in front of the Charlotte Park Center every Monday night. He would wait in line, ticket in hand, ready to continue his forays into the exciting world of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. Those Monday nights at that venerable old building that sat in the shadow of Charlotte Memorial Stadium would form the foundation of a lifetime of adventures in the world of professional wrestling.

George South (circa 1984)
Wrestling was what kept George South on the straight and narrow. Born in Boone, NC, his parents died in an automobile accident when George was six years old, and he would move to Charlotte, living at different times with his brothers and his grandmother. Largely unsupervised, every opportunity presented itself for George to find himself in a lot of trouble, but what kept him on course was his love of wrestling. If he got in trouble, he wouldn't be allowed to watch Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling that Saturday on TV on channel 3, and he wouldn't be allowed to go to the Park Center on Monday night. Worse yet, he wouldn't be able to follow the exploits of his childhood hero, "Number One" Paul Jones.

George South loved Paul Jones. He celebrated when Paul won the U.S. belt from Terry Funk; he missed three days of school when Paul lost the U.S. belt to Blackjack Mulligan. "What do you mean, why don't I have my homework?" George would ask his teacher. "Don't you know? Paul Jones lost the belt!" Anyone ought to understand how such a traumatic and disastrous event could disrupt one's life for days at a time. Or so George thought.

It was only a matter of time, though, before Paul Jones won that belt back. And all would be right with the world.

With Paul Jones in Charlotte in 2003

Now here we were 28 years later (in 2003), George South inviting David Chappell and me to Charlotte to meet and have dinner with "Number One" Paul Jones. Paul wears the scars of over 30 years in the ring. He moves pretty slowly, the pain of all those bumps showing in every step he takes. But he still has that twinkle in his eye when you get him to talk about drawing a sold out house in Greensboro to beat Terry Funk for the U.S. Championship. Or shocking a sold out Charlotte Coliseum by turning on Ricky Steamboat (which he insists was really Steamboat turning on him.) Or once working a 90-minute time-limit "broadway" with Wahoo McDaniel against the Anderson Brothers in Richmond. Get him talking about those glory days, and it seems as though "Number One" is ready to get in the ring again at that very moment.

Heck, George wants him to! It's George South's dream to have Paul put the Indian Death Lock on him in the center of the ring. It's not going to happen, but that doesn't stop George from talking about doing what in his mind would be the ultimate tribute doing the ultimate job.

After our dinner, we close out the evening by taking a "Mid-Atlantic" tour of Charlotte, with Paul taking us by the old Crockett offices on Carmel Road and Briarbend Drive, the old Charlotte Coliseum, and of course the old Charlotte Park Center, where 28 years ago George South bought his ticket and took his seat.

George South's van in front of the Charlotte Park Center in 2003

As we came to a slow stop, George has come full circle. As he did all those years ago, he waits in front of the Charlotte park center, but this time his childhood hero isn't getting in the ring, he is sitting beside him in his van parked right in front, right at the spot where he used to patiently wait, ticket in hand. Paul Jones is telling us about all of those Monday nights in that jam packed smoke-filled auditorium. These days it sits empty, bruised and battered. George South has tears in his eyes.

We sit quietly for a moment, and then pull away from the curb. Paul Jones smiles and starts in on one more story. 

(Originally published May 2003. This story is rededicated to the memory of Paul Jones who passed away in April 2018.)