Friday, August 31, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: All Star Tag Team Match


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's hard to imagine a tag team match-up that would be more exciting, unpredictable, and out of control than the tag match headlining this June 20, 1976 card in Greensboro, NC.

Not only did this match feature three of the top stars in the territory in Blackjack Mulligan, Ric Flair, and Wahoo McDaniel, but it added a special appearance by an outside star in Dusty Rhodes.

The icing on the cake was that the match was a non-sanctioned "Lights Out" match and was fought with Texas Tornado rules - - all four men in the ring at the same time!

Flair and Mulligan were a regular tandem at this point, months before Greg Valentine would enter the area and become Ric's main partner. Both men held the area's top two singles titles: Mulligan was the United States champion and Flair held the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight title.

Wahoo McDaniel was in the middle of a year long feud with Flair over the Mid-Atlantic title, and Mulligan had been interfering in their matches to aid Flair in keeping his title. Wahoo enlisted the aid of the "American Dream" to give Mully and Flair a good thrashing.

And so they did. It was a wild affair by all accounts, with Wahoo and Rhodes coming out on top.

In the semi-main, Paul Jones defeated TV champion Angelo Mosca, but the title wasn't on the line. The victory earned Jones future title shots.

The undercard featured familiar names such as Danny Miller, Tony Atlas, Larry Zbyszko, Two Ton Harris, Klondike Bill, Burrhead Jones, and many others, including one of our favorite mid-card teams at that time: Mike "The Judge" Dubois and Sgt. Jacques Goulet.


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

WRAL Wednesday: Another Look at Valentine and Flair (and the U.S. title belt)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Photographs from the Bleachers at WRAL by Ric Carter

It's Wednesday, and for nearly two and a half decades, that meant Jim Crockett Promotions was taping television wrestling at the studios of WRAL channel 5 in Raleigh.

We've been featuring a series of rare photographs taken by photographer Ric Carter from the bleachers of the studio during an hour of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" in July of 1975.





This week we take a second look at the team of Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair in a great photograph in the moments after their victory over Kevin Sullivan and Bob Bruggers. (See more photos from that match here.)

At left, Sullivan kneels over his partner who had just taken a vicious suplex and elbow drop from "The Champ" Johnny Valentine.  Referee Johnny Heidmann checks up on the losing team as well.

Johnny Valentine had taken Flair under his wing somewhat during this time and the two teamed frequently on TV. Valentine was the reigning United States Heavyweight champion and Ric Flair held the Mid-Atlantic Television title.

In another great photo from the bleachers, Ric Cater grabbed a shot of the new United States Heavyweight title belt as it lay on the ring apron before the match, just moments before ring attendant scooped it up. You can see the ring attendant in the background, just placing Flair's TV belt over his left arm. This was the first time the new U.S. title belt, with its sparkling gold plated cast plates and shiny red crocodile leather, had been seen on T.V.

 
http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/us-title-book.html
The story on every title change and every belt from the Crockett Promotions years.


As mentioned in our earlier post on this match, 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.

Champions At This Time:
NWA World Champion: Jack Brisco
World Tag Team Champions: Gene and Ole Anderson
United States Champion: Johnny Valentine
Mid-Atlantic Champion: Wahoo McDaniel
TV Champion: Ric Flair

This 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, "No. 1" Paul Jones and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones vs. "Crusher" Jerry Blackwell and George "Two Ton" Harris, plus Ole Anderson vs. Bob Burns.

This is the fifth and final installment in our series of photos from WRAL studio in 1975.  Next up in a few months will be a series of photos from the same bleachers in 1981 - - good stuff from photographer Ric Carter!

1975 Photo Feature Summary
1. Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion (Part 1)
2. Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion (Part 2) 
3. Johnny Valentine & Ric Flair vs. Sullivan & Bruggers (Part 1)
4. Paul Jones & Rufus R. Jones vs. Blackwell and Harris 
5. Johnny Valentine & Ric Flair vs. Sullivan & Bruggers (Part 2) (This post)

All photographs in this series by Ric Carter, © CartersRXd.net. Used with permission.
Vintage audio provided by Gary Wray.


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

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Look Back at Tony Schiavone calling Baseball in Charlotte

With the minor league baseball season close to winding down, we thought we'd take a look back at an article we posted in 2015 about Tony Schiavone and a feature on him published in a Charlotte O's baseball program.



Before Tony Schiavone joined ringside partners Bob Caudle, David Crockett, and Johnny Weaver as one of the voices of Mid-Atlantic and World Wide Wrestling in the early 1980s, he was the radio voice of the Charlotte O's baseball franchise, the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles in Charlotte, NC.

Both the wrestling organization and the baseball club were part of Jim Crockett Promotions, Inc.

Ric Flair recently told listeners on episode #26 of his podcast "WOOOOO! Nation" that after meeting Tony and hearing him call O's baseball, he suggested to the Crockett family that Schiavone get a chance to join the wrestling part of the company.

Not long after Flair's suggestion, Schiavone had the opportunity to follow the legendary Charlotte wrestling announcer "Big" Bill Ward as host of the localized promo segments that were inserted into the wrestling shows. He later was the backstage interviewer for "Starrcade '83" and then got his shot co-hosting "World Wide Wrestling" alongside David Crockett in 1984. The rest, as they say, was history.

But before all that took place, the following short profile on Tony appeared in a 1982 Charlotte O's baseball program....


VOICE OF THE CHARLOTTE O's TONY SCHIAVONE (1982)
One of Greensboro's top radio personalities comes to Charlotte this year as the voice of the O's. He is Tony Schiavone, a 24 year old native of Virginia. Last year Tony was the voice of the Class A Greensboro Hornets and was named 1981 South Atlantic League Broadcaster of the Year.

Bob Taylor of WBTV will join Tony this year as color man. This will be Bob's second year on O's Radio, and the former professional player once again brings his knowledge of the game to the booth.

Schiavone is a graduate of James Madison University and has been in radio for five years. His past duties have involved football, basketball, and baseball play-by-play, and host of a call-in talk show.

His duties with the O's will also include coordinating media information and keeping official statistics.
Schiavone is married to the former Lois Berger of Greensboro and they are expecting their first child in July.

http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Monday, August 27, 2018

John Slyler wins the 2018 Johnny Weaver Cup

Congratulations to John Skyler who won the 2018 (and 15th Annual) Johnny Weaver Cup tournament for CWF Wrestling on August 25 in Gibsonville, NC. Skyler defeated Cam Carter in the finals of a tournament that lasted the entire summer and completed its 15th historic year.



Here are the Final Four results, courtesy of PWPonderings.com:

  • Semi-Final #1: “Southern Savior” John Skyler defeated CWF Rising Generation League Champion “Cowboy” Kool Jay by pinfall to advance to the Weaver Cup Final. (6:24)
  • Semi-Final #2: PWI International Ultra-J Crown Champion “Skywalker” Cam Carter defeated CWF Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champion Corruption’s Cain Justice by pinfall to advance to the Weaver Cup Final. (12:46) 
  • Weaver Cup Finals:  “Southern Savior” John Skyler defeated “Skywalker” Cam Carter by pinfall to win the 2018 JOHNNY WEAVER MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT (16:57)
 
Congratulations to all the folks at CWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling for the success of their annual tournament. You have our great respect for helping keep the memory of the great Johnny Weaver alive for new generations of wrestling fans.


For more information visit the following
web resources:


Check out our pages dedicated to the memory
of Johnny Weaver on the Gateway:
Johnny Weaver Net
Weaver Cup History


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ricky Steamboat Defends Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's United States Title in Florida

Flair and Steamboat Travel to Florida for an Extra Payday During Crockett's Christmas Break
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Special Thanks to Mark Eastridge

Mark Eastridge Collection
As I've written about before here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, I always loved when wrestlers with Crockett-area titles defended those belts in other territories. Specifically, the United States heavyweight championship and the NWA world tag team championships were occasionally defended outside the Mid-Atlantic territory in other areas such as Georgia, Florida, and Texas to name a few.

In December of 1977, just a few days before Christmas, Ricky Steamboat took the U.S. title to Championship Wrestling from Florida and successfully defended it in Miami Beach.

He didn't go alone. His top rival for the championship, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, was also booked for Eddie Graham's promotion the same night, but not as the challenger for Steamboat.

It was a bonus payday for both Flair and Steamboat, who were in the middle of what was Jim Crockett Promotions' annual Christmas break. Each year in those days, the Crockett promotion would shut down for two full weeks right before Christmas, returning to action for big shows on Christmas night.

Barry Rose Collection
In 1977, the last Crockett shows before the Christmas break were on Tuesday, December 13 at their regular Tuesday stops in Columbia, SC and Raleigh, NC. The next night, they taped multiple episodes of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "Wide World Wrestling" at WRAL in Raleigh, including the annual year-end highlights shows, to get them through the next several weeks of TV while the company was down.

During the Crockett break, Steamboat and Flair took the opportunity to get themselves booked in Florida exactly one week later, on 12/21/77 at the Miami Beach Convention Hall.

Steamboat was the reigning U.S. champion at this time, having defeated Flair for the prestigious belt  in Greensboro, NC in October. He defended the title that night in Miami against another Mid-Atlantic regular Bill White. It was an interesting match-up and was likely White's only shot ever at the U.S. championship. Steamboat was successful in that title defense.

Flair wrestled Rocky Johnson in the semi-main event of this card, which was headlined by a WWWF title match between reigning champion "Superstar" Billy Graham and "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.

Also on the big card were Jack and Jerry Brisco, Bob Roop, Bob Orton, Jr., Buddy Roberts, Dutch Mantell and many others.

U.S. Champion Ricky Steamboat
in Miami Beach before his U.S. title defense
(plmathfoto@hotmail.com)
It was a homecoming of sorts for Steamboat. When he arrived in Florida in the spring of 1976 with only a few months experience under his belt, promoter Eddie Graham thought Richard Blood (his real name) looked so much like perennial Florida favorite Sam Steamboat, he gave him the name Ricky Steamboat. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Before returning to Miami as United States Champion, Steamboat's last match there had been a win over Jim Lancaster in the preliminaries on a card in July of 1976. 

With Superstar Graham on the card in Miami to defend the WWWF title against Rhodes, and two of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's top stars supporting that card, it was one of the more unique cards to take place in Florida in those years.

Photographer and photo-collector Pete Lederberg owns the rights to photographs taken this very night in Miami Beach.  The photos were originally shot by area photographer Brian Berkowitz. The title defense and those photographs are a cool little bit of history for Jim Crockett Promotions' U.S. championship.

Berkowitz's photo above of Steamboat with the U.S. title belt was featured full page in color in the book "Jim Crockett Promotions' United States Championship", along with a few other photos licensed from Lederberg. See many other photos from this night (including match photos of Steamboat vs. White and Flair vs. Johnson) in Pete Lederberg's Facebook photo album: Miami 12/21/77.

Thanks to Mark Eastridge, Pete Lederberg, Carroll Hall, and Barry Rose for their contributions to this article.

Originally published September 26, 2016

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/us-title-book.html

Friday, August 24, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: Buddy Rogers Arrives


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Our classic poster this week comes from a memorable show in Greensboro in the summer of 1979.

The June 17 show at the fabled Greensboro Coliseum featured two huge main events. The top match was Ricky Steamboat challenging Harley Race once again for the NWA World Heavyweight championship, this time in a 2-out-of-3-falls match. Steamboat had become one of the top contenders for the NWA title in the country. His matches with Race were scientific classics, their work was almost like ballet in the ring. It was beautiful to watch. Their battles were regularly featured within the pages (and often on the covers) of the popular newsstand wrestling magazines.

Preceding that, though, was a match more notable for the story told and the referee involved than the match itself.

Buddy Rogers straps the U.S. title around the waist
of the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, 6/17/79
________________________________________
First of all, it's important for the sake of perspective to remember that Dusty Rhodes was not a regular performer in the Mid-Atlantic area during this time. He was a Florida mainstay who had become a top touring attraction (similar to Andre the Giant) and was headlining cards in territories across the country including Mid-South, Georgia, Mid-Atlantic, the WWWF, and of course his home territory in the Sunshine State.

When he visited the Mid-Atlantic area, it usually meant an appearance in Greensboro. And over the last four years, several of those Greensboro matches had been against Ric Flair. In this case Rhodes had come to the Mid-Atlantic in hopes of taking Flair's U.S. championship which would earn him a shot at Race for the World title.

Ric Flair, for his part, was right in the middle of a long, drawn-out babyface turn that began after a dispute with No. 1 Paul Jones. At the previous Greensboro show, Flair had actually chosen Dusty Rhodes as his partner to try and take the NWA World Tag Team championships from Jones and Baron Von Raschke. When the unlikely pair failed to take those tag titles, each blamed the other, and what followed was Rhodes then challenging Flair for his U.S. championship, with the NWA assigning a special referee for the contest - - former NWA and WWWF World champion, the legendary "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers.

This match would lead to Rogers actually coming into the area as a wrestler and manager. Rogers was basically impartial until the end when Flair got physical with him and Rogers responded by punching Flair and counting a quick three count and awarding the U.S. title to Rhodes. Rhodes actually left the building that night thinking he was U.S. champion; Rogers had raised Rhodes' hand and had strapped the U.S. title around his waist.

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/us-title-book.html
A complete history of Jim Crockett Promotion' United States Heavyweight Championship
On the following week's television show, David Crockett announced that the NWA had reviewed the film of the match and, because of the blatant involvement by referee Rogers in the finish, they were returning the U.S. title to Flair.

All of that then set up Buddy Rogers coming out of retirement to challenge Flair for the U.S. title on the next card in Greensboro.

Rogers was the fan favorite in this Greensboro story, but would soon turn heel as, simultaneously, Flair solidified himself as a babyface when the two had an altercation on television weeks later and Rogers applied the figure-four leglock on Flair and tried to injure him.

Not much else notable happened on that show. Dino Bravo was never a serious threat to Ken Patera's Mid-Atlantic Championship. But a fellow on an earlier match soon would be. Jim Brunzell had entered the territory from the AWA, and would upset Patera twice on television in non-title affairs and would eventually beat the Olympian strongman for the Mid-Atlantic championship in September.

Another classic poster next week!


http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

WRAL Wednesday: Paul Jones and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Photographs from the Bleachers at WRAL by Ric Carter

It's Wednesday, and for nearly two and a half decades, that meant Jim Crockett Promotions was taping television wrestling at the studios of WRAL channel 5 in Raleigh.

We've been featuring a series of rare photographs taken by photographer Ric Carter from the bleachers of the studio during an hour of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" in July of 1975.

Ring announcer David Crockett introduces a "big" tag team event on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling:
Paul Jones and Rufus R. Jones vs. Jerry Blackwell and George "Two Ton" Harris

This week we take a look at the team we affectionately call the Jones Boys - "No. 1" Paul Jones and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones as they take on Jim Crockett Promotions' largest tag team combination "Crusher" Jerry Blackwell and George "Two Ton" Harris.


RING INTRODUCTIONS

There is no doubt that the Jones boys had their hands full with Blackwell and Harris. In fact, if you take a look at this second photo below, you will see what at a glance looks like a difficult backdrop at best! You would think there is no way Rufus is going to get big Jerry Blackwell over in this backdrop attempt, who was billed at 400 pounds during this time. But he did, which got a huge reaction from the studio crowd, as well as from host Les Thatcher and guest color commentator Gene Anderson.

Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones attempts to backdrop big "Crusher" Jerry Blackwell.
Paul Jones and George "Two Ton" Harris watch from their respective corners.

Speaking of that, what a rare thing it was to have Gene Anderson of all people on commentary. During those years, Gene rarely spoke at all, letting his loudmouth younger "brother" Ole Anderson do all the talking for the team. If you look closely you will see Gene and Les Thatcher at the commentary desk, Gene on the left, Les on the right.


Paul Jones was a top contender for both the TV title and the World Tag Team titles (with partner Wahoo McDaniel) at this time. Rufus was always a contender for various titles as well. In fact, he and Wahoo would win the tag titles for exactly one week in early 1976, while Paul and Wahoo would never regain the titles. The Anderson brothers dominated the World tag team division for years.

Champions At This Time:
NWA World Champion: Jack Brisco
World Tag Team Champions: Gene and Ole Anderson
United States Champion: Johnny Valentine
Mid-Atlantic Champion: Wahoo McDaniel
TV Champion: Ric Flair

What a roll call of champions!

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 Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair vs. Bob Bruggers and Kevin SullivanChief Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion, plus Ole Anderson vs. Bob Burns.

This is the fourth in an ongoing series of photos from WRAL studio that we are featuring each Wednesday. More good stuff from the bleachers of the WRAL Studios next week.

All photographs in this series by Ric Carter, © CartersRXd.net. Used with permission.
Vintage audio provided by Gary Wray.


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

Monday, August 20, 2018

Steve Musulin Passes Away

Steve Musulin
(Richmond.com Photo)
Steve Musulin, a familiar face on the Mid-Atlantic roster in the late 1970s and early 1980s, passed away on August 10 at his home in Henrico, VA.

Steve wrestled under his real name in his home territory, being a native of Virginia and a football star in the area. But he was better known outside of the Mid-Atlantic as Steve Travis. His greatest success came in the WWWF where he wrestled in semi-main events in the 1970s. Dave Meltzer reported that he was to have originally been the 3rd Valiant brother (along with Jimmy and Johnny Valiant), Stevie Valiant, but at the last minute was replaced by a more experienced wrestler who became Jerry Valiant.

He also received national exposure as Steve Travis on Superstation channel 17 out of Atlanta.

Steve never broke into the main events in the Mid-Atlantic area, but always seemed to be close to doing so. His matches on television, in the role of enhancement talent, were always competitive. Fellow Virginian Rich Landrum, in his role as play-by-play announcer on "World Wide Wrestling" put Steve over on TV more than anyone, and as a fan, you always thought maybe he would eventually make it to the main events. 

His obituary appeared in Sunday's Richmond Time-Dispatch and on Richmond.com:

Steve Musulin
https://www.richmond.com/obituaries/musulin-steve/article_99557ae9-1efa-533f-9aa8-81eab54abdd9.html


Steve is fondly remembered here at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway as the quintessential "young lion" always giving the main event guys a run for their money.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Best of the Gateway: James J. Dillon & The Limousine

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's been a long time since I've written about my departed friend Rob Riddick here. I don't want him to be forgotten in the wrestling world. Rob was a wrestling photographer in the 1980s and many of his photographs were published in the magazines edited by George Napolitano.  

I have many photos Rob sent me in the years we knew each other. Some have been published here, many more I need to include.

The following is one of the first articles I wrote about Rob on the Gateway back in 2015. 


Honoring photographer and friend Robert Riddick, Jr.


One of Rob Riddick's favorite photographs that he shot was of James J. Dillon outside of his hotel in Baltimore the weekend of the second Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup tag team tournament. It was April of 1987, and J.J. was waiting for Ric Flair and the rest of the Four Horsemen to join him as they prepared to depart in their limousine.  Rob was shooting for George Napolitano and his series of pro-wrestling news stand magazines at this time.

Rob once told me the context of the photo, but I don't recall when during the weekend this was or where he said the Horsemen were headed. He told me he had taken this photo for himself. 

Twenty six years later, in the summer of 2013, my friend Conrad Thompson was looking for a unique photo he could have enlarged and signed by J.J. at a private gathering in Huntsville, AL. I suggested Rob's limousine photo and Conrad thought it was perfect. He had the photo of J.J. and the limousine blown up into a nice 16 x 20" foam-board poster. Since Rob allowed us to use his photograph, I asked J.J. to sign one for him, too, and explained to him that it was Rob who had taken the photo all those years ago and that it was one of his favorites.

J.J. took great care in signing the print to Rob. The inscription read:


"To Robert: 
Thanks for the great photo. 
J.J. Dillon
The Leader of the Four Horsemen forever!"


I was so excited to be able to get this for Rob.  J.J. was one of his favorite wrestlers and managers. The photo of J.J. and the limousine had been used on the cover of one of J.J.'s recent shoot-interview DVDs, which Rob was very proud of all these years later. I called him and told him I had it for him and that I would mail it to him, but needed to get the right packaging for it because it was on foam-board and could not be rolled up. He told me not to worry with it, as we were planning on trying to see each other soon, and I could give it to him then. I sent him a photo via e-mail of the signed print so he could see what J.J. had written. But even with that, I had every good intention to go ahead and mail it to him.

But it was not to be.

I believe it was Thomas Edison who once said something like "Good intentions, with poor execution, often lead to poor results.” Rob passed away a short time later, before our planned get-together. I had not yet mailed the signed photograph to him. I still feel bad about that to this day.

* * * * *

This article was originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway June 26, 2015.


http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com

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.

The Roanoke Sports Club presents Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling at the Roanoke Civic Center, Saturday August 2, 1975.

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.
 

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

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.

All photographs in this series by Ric Carter, © CartersRXd.net. Used with permission.
Vintage audio provided by Gary Wray.


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

PART ONE

"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 Midwest...so 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...


COMING UP NEXT IN PART TWO:
Mr. Wrestling and Jimmy Snuka battle on World Wide Wrestling...to be continued in Part 2!


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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.


THE REST OF THE CARD
  • 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."


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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 Amazon.com.



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