Friday, August 17, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: Andersons vs. Wahoo and Paul

This was the feud that got me hooked as a wrestling fan as young teenager. The Anderson Brothers vs. Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones.

Roanoke ran the smaller Starland Arena before every other month or so running the larger Civic Center for a big match or larger card. This tag team feud was very hot at the time and was drawing well everywhere. It headlined for months in some areas, leading to 90-minute and even 2-hour time limit matches.

Second on the card was the up and coming Ric Flair who was one month away from defeating Wahoo McDaniel and winning the Mid-Atlantic title (and moving permanently to the main events), but only two months away from the plane crash that almost ended his career and could have taken his life. Flair faced Swede Hanson here, who was by this time working mid and lower card and no longer one of the top stars for Jim Crockett Promotions. Swede would have a few more good runs elsewhere, though, including challenging Bob Backlund for the WWWF Heavyweight title in the early 1980s.

In addition to Hanson, there were lots of veteran stars on the undercard that had headlined for Jim Crockett promotions in years past, such as Art Nelson, Missouri Mauler, Sandy Scott, and Reggie Parks who was wrestling here as the masked Avenger.

Notice Tony Atlas is billed as Tony Atlas White. During Tony's early days in wrestling, he was always billed with his real last name in Roanoke because of being from that area.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

WRAL Wednesday: Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair

Ric Flair, Les Thatcher, and Johnny Valentine on the set of
"Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling"

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

We're back in the old TV studio of WRAL channel 5 in Raleigh in 1975, where this week we take a look at photographs of the team of Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair. The photos were taken from the studio bleachers by Ric Carter.

In the photo above, Flair and Valentine stand with host Les Thatcher on the set of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling." Flair is wearing the Mid-Atlantic TV championship belt. Valentine is wearing the famous red-leather United States championship belt, but view of the belt is blocked by either a floor director or camera operator. You can just make out the top of the leather strap around Valentine's waist over the left shoulder of the fellow at ringside. It's better seen in the photo below.

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

In the photo above left, Ric is seen in the ring wearing the Mid-Atlantic TV title belt. In the photo above right, U.S. Champion Johnny Valentine (wearing the U.S. title belt) talks with Les Thatcher. Below that on the left, Flair works over his opponent on the mat.

Flair and Valentine's opponents in this tag-team match on this evening were Bob Bruggers and Kevin Sullivan.

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

This particular show was taped Wednesday, 7/9/75 and aired on Saturday, 7/12/75. Other matches on this show included Chief Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion, Paul Jones and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones vs. Jerry "Crusher" Blackwell and George "Two Ton Harris (which we will feature next week), plus Ole Anderson vs. Bob Burns. 

This is the third in an ongoing series of photos from WRAL studio that we are featuring each Wednesday.

Brand New 1976 Yearbook coming in September!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Bob Caudle and Nick Pond in WRAL News Team Ad from 1975

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

This is a very cool ad from an October 1975 issue of TV Guide magazine featuring the "TV5 Action News Team" from WRAL-5 television in Raleigh, NC.

The TV5 news team at that time consisted of Bob Caudle, Jon Mangum, Charlie Gaddy, and Nick Pond. 

"The TV5 Action News Team: 
Depend on it Morning, Noon, and Night."

It's a nice to see both Caudle and Pond, longtime wrestling hosts, in the same photo.  Both Caudle and Pond were wrestling announcers for wrestling tapings held at the WRAL studios. Pond was the Raleigh-area host of "Championship Wrestling" from approximately 1962-1972. Caudle hosted the syndicated show "All Star Wrestling" during most of that same time, and then transitioned to the host of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" which was seen in Raleigh on WRAL and syndicated to TV stations throughout the Carolinas and Virginia well into the 1980s

Tapings for Jim Crockett Promotions wrestling began at WRAL in 1959. In 1981, they moved to a studio in Charlotte. NC. Caudle continued to host the show there, and then later out in the arenas for both Jim Crockett Promotions and Turner Broadcasting until the early 1990s.

Thanks to Carroll Hall at the All Star Championship Wrestling website for providing us this great piece of memorabilia.

Originally published on our sister website, Studio Wrestling, on 8/5/18.  

Don't miss the next installment of "WRAL Wednesdays" which will spotlight the team of Johnny "The Champ" Valentine and "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

"Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods' Last Stand

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway


"Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods is ever present in my memories of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling during the 1970s. In fact, the masked man in all-white with his partner Sam Steamboat even resonated with me to the point that at the ripe old age of ten I remember them clearly way back to 1969 when those two had a strong run in the Carolinas.

Tim Woods
Skip ahead to late 1974 when Tim Woods (Mr. Wrestling sans the mask) appeared in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and had his leg broken by Johnny Valentine and then returned to the Carolinas seeking revenge in the summer of 1975. Woods remained in the Mid-Atlantic area through 1976, acing one-half of the NWA World Tag Team Titles, the Mid-Atlantic Television Title and one-half of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles during the bicentennial year...again fluctuating with wearing his hood and going mask-less. In the summer of 1977 the masked Mr. Wrestling returned to Jim Crockett Promotions and had a memorable "United States vs. Germany" program with Baron von Raschke but Mr. Wrestling's biggest coop in this run was upsetting Blackjack Mulligan in March of 1978 for the United States Heavyweight Championship. After a brief title reign, Mr. Wrestling's run petered out by the fall of that year.

When the white-masked Mr. Wrestling returned to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling once again in the summer of 1979, the decade of the 1970's was about to run out of days. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the same thing could have been said about Mr. Wrestling's Jim Crockett Promotions tenure...his days were almost up.

Mr. Wrestling began doing Mid-Atlantic arena shows during the last week of August 1979, and made his first TV appearance on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in nearly a year on August 29, 1979. Welcomed back to the territory by announcer Bob Caudle, Mr. Wrestling commented, "A lot of things have changed, you know. Ric Flair has seemed to mellow a little bit; Paul Jones, who was a friend of mine, has seemed to turn the other direction. I watch the matches here, and I don't know what to expect!"

Mr. Wrestling
(Tim Woods)
The masked man continued, "People have changed their style evidently because they felt they'd be more effective because the competition is the toughest here I've ever seen anywhere. I've been traveling all over, and of course you see Mid-Atlantic Wrestling all over the place, and not just in this area. I've seen it in California, I've seen it in Florida, I've seen it in the you never know where the matches are going to be seen."

Mr. Wrestling then finished his re-introductory comments, "Reputations are made here and reputations are lost here, and it's a pleasure to be back. I'm just throwing my hat in the ring with a number of other people because this is where, if you want to wrestle the best, this is where you come... right now, there are a couple of Buddy Rogers' men I'd like to wrestle."

On the World Wide Wrestling TV show taping in the WRAL studios later that same evening, Mr. Wrestling lived up to those earlier words and he and the "immortal" Buddy Rogers, who had recently entered the Mid-Atlantic area as a manager and turned the beloved Fijian Jimmy Snuka into a monstrous rulebreaker, agreed that the white masked man would meet Snuka in a TV match the following week.

Before that scheduled television bout, Mr. Wrestling and Jimmy Snuka ironically would meet in the first round of the United States Heavyweight Championship tournament held in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 1, 1979. Mr. Wrestling lost to Snuka in the first round of that tournament, a tournament that Snuka would ultimately win. This loss would certainly add fuel to the fire of the upcoming program between Mr. Wrestling and Snuka.

The televised World Wide Wrestling match on September 5th brought Mr. Wrestling  squarely into the crosshairs of the violent Snuka, and the nefarious manager Buddy Rogers. Just prior to the commencement of the bout, announcer Rich Landrum addressed Mr. Wrestling, "You've got a match coming up very shortly, so let's talk briefly, you've got one coming up with Jimmy Snuka...he's the new U.S. Heavyweight Champion."

Mr. Wrestling eagerly responded, "Yes he is, and this was a challenge match before he had the title. But I welcome to step in the ring with a champion. Because it's always better to beat a champion than somebody that's just trying to get there because it just makes you that much farther up."

Landrum followed up, "Very true, and also you gotta remember you've got to deal with his manager Buddy Rogers and that's got to have a psychological effect on you." Mr. Wrestling concurred, "Well, Rogers has been one of the greatest wrestlers in the world, there's no doubt about it. He has tremendous ring savvy, a lot of  knowledge. The man is vicious, he doesn't care what he does, he says all that matters is whether you win, not how you won. And I know Jimmy Snuka is under his tutelage right now, and I can expect the same from him. And I know they're gonna be a tremendous combination; they're gonna be difficult to beat. But I'm here, I issued the challenge, and I'm going to step in the ring right now."

When Mr. Wrestling stepped in the ring with "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka on World Wide Wrestling it would lead to an explosive result that night which ignited Mr. Wrestling's last Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling stand...

Mr. Wrestling and Jimmy Snuka battle on World Wide be continued in Part 2!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: Blood is Thicker Than Water

It is one of the great chapters in Anderson family history and a high point in the up-and-down relationship between Ric Flair and his cousins the Anderson Brothers.

July 16, 1978. Ric Flair defends the United States Heavyweight championship against Ricky Steamboat. The special referee appointed by the NWA is Gene Anderson. 

It was on this night that Gene Anderson reunited the family after an 18-month bloody war with cousin Ric Flair and Flair's partner Greg Valentine over the NWA World Tag Team titles.

The family split up in late 1976 when Flair fell out with Gene and Ole over wanting a shot at the Anderson's NWA World Tag Team titles. The Andersons had taken the titles to Georgia in the fall of 1976 and Flair and Valentine intended on bringing them back to the Mid-Atlantic area. Add to add to that, Ric Flair badly wanted to step out of the shadow of his cousins. Over the next year and a half, they traded the titles back and forth. Both Andersons wound up in the hospital at various points in the feud, resulting in major bad blood between the two teams. With Gene out of action in late 1977, Ole Anderson even enlisted the aid of rival Wahoo McDaniel to battle Flair and Valentine in the late months of 1977.

In 1978 things began to cool down with Gene out of action and Ole focusing on the Georgia tag team titles with the other Anderson brother, Lars Anderson. When Gene finally returned to action in the Mid-Atlantic in the April of 1978, he worked a restricted schedule, teaming with Sgt. Jacques Goulet.

Meanwhile, Ric Flair was fending off the challenge of Ricky Steamboat in the middle of a white-hot feud over the United States championship. NWA referees Tommy Young, Sonny Fargo, and Stu Schwartz were unable to control the action in the ring between the two as most of their matches were ending in double disqualifications. Flair was champion, so he continued to maintain the title as the championship couldn't change hands on a DQ. The NWA needed a special referee who could physically handle the two in the ring, and give Steamboat a fair shot at the title. But they also needed someone who would remain impartial. They chose Gene Anderson.

On the surface, Gene Anderson seemed like the perfect choice. Currently working out of the "bad guy" locker room, he had no love for Ricky Steamboat, and given the bloody history with his cousin Ric Flair, he would welcome the opportunity to keep Flair in line in his title defense against Steamboat.

The match was set for the Greensboro Coliseum on July 16, 1978. Believing Gene Anderson's antipathy towards his young cousin was stronger than that for Steamboat, many fans were hopeful to see the U.S. title change hands that night.

But as the old proverb goes, blood proved thicker than water, and in the closing moments of the match, Gene Anderson interfered to aid Flair in retaining the title. The shocking turn of events went down like this:

The battle had been back and forth and Anderson had basically called the match right down the middle. On several occasions Flair tried to physically intimidate Anderson to no avail. Had it been one of the regular referees, another disqualification might have occurred. But as the match approached the twenty minute mark, it appeared that the NWA had made an excellent choice in their special referee.

But as the match wore on, there were subtle signs that Gene Anderson had his own designs on a final outcome. Flair now found himself in trouble, as Steamboat gained momentum. Steamboat had Flair pinned on several occasions, but Anderson's count seemed slow. With Flair reeling from a flurry of offense from Steamboat, the "Hawaiian Punch"climbed to the top of the turnbuckle and prepared to deliver his familiar flying body press which would likely give him the championship.

Special referee Gene Anderson shoves Ric Flair out of the way as
Ricky Steamboat dives from the top rope.

But just as Steamboat leapt from the ropes, Gene Anderson shoved Flair out of the way and Steamboat came crashing to the mat. Flair quickly covered him and Gene Anderson made a very fast three count.

Flair rose to his feet, momentarily trying to process what had just happened. He looked incredulously at his cousin who stood expressionless facing him. As Anderson raised Flair's hand it suddenly became clear to Flair what had just happened.

He leapt into Gene's arms and the two embraced in a long hug as the furious Greensboro crowd began to riot. Angry fans were swarming at ringside, pressing against the ring and the ropes. Flair kicked at the ropes to try to get fans to back off, which only seemed to exacerbate the situation. Soft drink cups and popcorn boxes began flying into the ring. Anderson handed Flair the U.S. title and Flair defiantly raised it high above his head as things continued to deteriorate at ringside. Timekeeper Wally Dusek was nearly knocked over by the mob as police moved in to try and calm things down, mostly to no avail.

U.S. Champion Ric Flair and cousin Gene Anderson embrace after Anderson aided
Flair in retaining the title as a special referee in the title match.

Flair and Anderson soon made their way down the ring steps and began walking the aisle toward the dressing rooms.  This was back in the day before there were barriers of any kind separating the crowd from the wrestlers going to and from the ring. Angry fans began taking swings at the two and Flair and Anderson had to literally fight their way to the back.

For the last year and a half, fans had seen the feud between Flair and the Andersons become so heated and so bloody, that I don't think it ever crossed their minds that the two could reconcile on this night. Gene Anderson's actions certainly seemed to surprise Flair, and it appeared that this was not a conspiracy between the two. For Gene Anderson, it was a matter of family, and family trumped on this night. Ric Flair was firmly back in the Anderson fold.

Things remained tight in the family for the next year or so as all three were going their separate ways. Ole was working full time in Georgia, Flair had turned "good guy" in the late spring of 1979, and Gene Anderson transitioned into his managerial career, buying the contracts of wrestlers under the guidance of Buddy Rogers, one of which was U.S. Champion Jimmy Snuka, who, as fate would have it, was in the middle of a feud with Ric Flair. Anderson's management of Snuka resulted in another split within "the family." The situation worsened when Ole returned to the area in 1981, and the bloody family feud escalated to new heights of violence. The family wouldn't fully reunite again until the formation of the Four Horsemen some four years later.

  • Blackjack Mulligan was also chasing Ric Flair's United States championship during this time, although with Blackjack it wasn't so much about the belt as it was a personal thing because of the way Flair had turned on him months earlier in what has become known as the famous "Hat and Robe" angle. Flair didn't want any part of Mulligan and placed a $10,000 bounty on his head, and on this night in Greensboro, the Masked Superstar was trying to collect that bounty in a match fought in Texas Death Match rules. Mulligan survived, but the beatings he was taking in these bounty matches were taking their toll.
  • Paul Jones battled Ken Patera in a match where both men's single titles were on the line (the NWA TV title and the Mid-Atlantic title respectively.) Both retained as the match ended in a double count out.
  • Fans loved the pairing of popular stars Johnny Weaver and Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods) as they defeated the tough veteran tandem of Cyclone Negro and Sgt. Jacques Goulet.
  • A young Jerry Stubbs was on this card. He would later become the masked Mr. Olympia and headline in the Mid-South and Southeastern areas. Another "young lion" named Richard Blood (which oddly was the real name of Ricky Steamboat) worked early in this card, too. He would later become Tito Santana in the WWF.  

But this card will always be remembered for one defining moment in the long story of the Andersons and Ric Flair: Gene Anderson's shove that kept the United States title in "the family."

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Visit to the Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo

by Andy McDaniel
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

Mac Davis and Billy Strange wrote these words in 1968:

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened through the ages just like wine

I have been a wrestling fan for well over 40 years. The many wonderful memories I have are surely pressed between the pages of my mind. Over the last many years the loss of so many legends and friends has caused the memories to become sweeter.

A recent visit to the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Waterloo, Iowa, was a true walk down memory lane. I would highly suggest to any serious wrestling fan that they make the trip to Waterloo if at all possible.

Upper left: Photo of Gordon Solie and Jack Brisco. Center left: Andy McDaniel (who wrote this article)
Lower left: Painting of Gerry Brisco
Right: Bill Murdock and Gerry Brisco with Jack Brisco exhibit.

Walking in the door was a treat as I was greeted by none other than Gerry Brisco and one of the key members of the museum, Bill Murdock. Bill and I have been friends for the last 20 years. It was great sharing a few stories with Gerry after I presented him with a copy of my County Hall reunion book. He had some funny Henry Marcus stories, including some memories of Miss South Carolina. Might have to share that later.

Walking around the museum for the first time I must say there is so much to take in you are almost overwhelmed. The pictures, the memorabilia, the art work; it is all amazing. However, there were several items that stood out to me.

The case holding Jack Brisco’s boots is right up front, and it truly stands out.

As I said, this was just the beginning. I realize that some might wonder if Mid-Atlantic wrestling has a strong presence at the museum. Let me assure you, there are some wonderful pieces here. When you turn the corner in the first art gallery, there sits Baron Von Raschke. (And that is “all the people need to know!”)

Left: Jack Brisco's boots and replica of the "Ten Pounds of Gold"
Right: Paintings of Baron Von Raschke and Jack Brisco

Another few turns and there is Jack and Gerry Brisco and then there is the incredible painting of Ric Flair and Harley Race in action.

The walk around the hall of fame portion is an absolute who’s who of pro wrestling and indeed, Mid-Atlantic wrestling is well represented. Abe Jacobs, Ric Flair, The Funks, Tim Woods, The Briscos, Ricky Steamboat, Ivan and Nikita, Dusty, Harley Race, Jimmy Valiant, just to name a few.

Upper left: Abe Jacobs' Japan tour jacket.   Upper right: Harley Race's bronzed boot.
Bottom: Painting of Harley Race vs. Ric Flair

One of the special items on display is a bronzed boot from Harley Race, along with a ring jacket and mask from Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods. Even a jumpsuit from Abe Jacobs when he was touring Japan.

The Lou Thesz displays are amazing. His NWA belt is there, his boots and robe, along with many pictures, wrestling cards from the shows he was defending the title on, and many items from Japan and countless other things.

Top: Lou Thesz display including his NWA World title belt.
Bottom left: Tim Woods' ring jacket.    Bottom right: Baron Von Raschke's amateur gear.

My review of the Hall of fame and museum here in Iowa are very high. It was great time seeing friends and seeing some items I had never seen before. If you are ever over this way, indeed take the time to visit, you will be glad you did. They have done a wonderful job preserving the history of wresting and the historical characters that were involved. If you are a fan of NWA and Mid-Atlantic wrestling you will not be disappointed, they are well represented. I will surely be going back, and hopefully next time have my friends from the Gateway with me.

* * * * *

Andy McDaniel is the author of Reunion at County Hall: The Night the Legends Returned to Charleston, available on

Monday, August 06, 2018

The Carolina Connection: Cedric Alexander, Tessa Blanchard and their teacher George South

An excellent local feature from WSOC-9 in Charlotte on the Highspots Wrestling School, focusing on Cedric Alexander, Tessa Blanchard, and their original trainer George South.

Features footage from Impact, WWE, the Cruiserweight Classic, the Mae Young Classic, and footage from inside the Highspots training school.

Congrats to Austin Edwards for a well researched and well presented piece.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Recent Domed Globe / Studio Wrestling Site Updates
Legendary Champions Reunite
A great photo of former NWA World champions Harley Race and Terry Funk together at Fanfest in 2005. Race defeated Funk for the NWA title in February of 1977 in Toronto.
Bob Caudle and Nick Pond in WRAL News Team ad from 1975
A cool TV Guide ad from October of 1975 featuring the Action 5 news team at WRAL in Raleigh, NC. Included are the two main faces and voices of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling during the 1960s and 1970s, Nick Pond and Bob Caudle.

HIATUS (July 29, 2018) 
We're taking a short break from publishing on the Gateway, but will be back soon. In the meantime, catch up on some of the recent posts and series that you may have missed.

See you again soon!

Part One: The Roddy Piper Conspiracy
Part Two: The Sgt. Slaughter Conspiracy
Part Three: The Final Betrayal

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Ric Flair: The All Around Cowboy (Classic Audio!)
Classic Wrestling Posters
Magazine Memories: Official Ratings from 1977
Magazine Memories: The Superstar Grapevine

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
PART NINE: Wahoo & Muraco Win the West
PART TEN: Anderson & Hansen Win the East
PART ELEVEN: Wahoo & Muraco Split as a Team
PART TWELVE: The Sad Final Chapter
BONUS: What if Toronto?

There is so much to enjoy here. Thousands of pages of memories, photographs, posters, newspaper clippings, vintage audio, results, stories, historical narratives, and so much more. We hope you will enjoy!

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Happy Birthday, Bob Caudle!

Left: Ric Flair and Bob Caudle share a "Woooooo!" at the Mid-Atlantic Legends Fanfest in 2008
Right: Ric signed Bob's copy of his book: "To Bob, You are and always will be the man."

Happy Birthday, Bob!