Monday, October 22, 2018

Gateway Interview: "Mr. Unpredicatable" Dick Slater (2010) Part One

In 2010, David Chappell had the opportunity to interview the legendary Dick Slater for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. The lengthy interview covered a wide range of topics spanning Slater's entire career.

We thought it would be special to run that interview again on the Gateway in light of Dick's passing last week. It will be presented in three parts.

One of the all-time great characters and performers in the pro wrestling business, he will be sorely missed by friends and fans.


* * * * * * * * * * * *
Some have called him “Mr. Unpredictable.” Others have referred to him as “Mr. Excitement.” Still others just call him “Dirty.”

Dick Slater lives up to all those nicknames, and a whole lot more.

When Dick Slater entered Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in January of 1983, he had already established himself as a major star in the wrestling business. His battles in the ring as part of Jim Crockett Promotions only added to the lofty reputation he brought to Charlotte with him. Whether it was watching him go toe to toe with Greg Valentine, or conspire with Bob Orton, Jr. to injure Ric Flair and pave the way for the mega-card of Starrcade 1983, or seeing him bring out his own NWA World Heavyweight Title belt and declare himself the World Champ in early 1984, Dick Slater always gave the wrestling fans everything they were hoping to see…and usually a surprise or two on top of that!

Dick Slater has lived his life to the fullest, both in and out of the ring. Many of his highs have been very high, and some of his lows have been very low. In this enlightening interview, Dick not only talks about his battles inside the squared circle throughout his illustrious wrestling career, but candidly talks about his recent life’s battles. Slater has many fascinating things to say, and much more will be revealed soon in a book he’s working on, aptly entitled "A Thousand Lives." For now, the Mid-Atlantic Gateway is happy to provide you a small sample of the story Dick Slater has to tell us all.

The Gateway would like to express our thanks to Lisa Lostraglio for her efforts in linking us up with “Mr. Unpredictable” Dick Slater. Without Lisa, this interview would not have happened. The Gateway’s friend, Peggy Lathan, also played a large role in Dick Slater’s visit to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Dick Slater has not spoken out since his recent legal issues. The Gateway is proud that Dick chose the Mid-Atlantic Gateway to again talk about his career in wrestling, and the more recent unfortunate events that his name has been linked to.

Much like his wrestling days in the Mid-Atlantic area, when you read some of the things Dick has to say in this interview, you may like him or you may dislike him. There never was much of a middle ground with Dick Slater. One thing I’m surer of is, after reading this, you’ll likely agree that Dick Slater’s reputation for being a fighter and a tough guy is well deserved. And not only in the ring…but in the game of life. 

- David Chappell
October 2010

* * * * * * * * *

PART ONE

David Chappell: Dick, I’m really delighted to have you talk with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. I appreciate your taking the time to chat a little bit tonight.

Dick Slater: I’ve been looking forward to it, David.

Chappell: Same here! Well, to start, please tell us about your beginnings in wrestling if you would.

Slater: I actually started wrestling, Mike Graham and myself, in 1968. I started with Eddie Graham at Robinson High School.

Chappell: We’re talking about the Tampa, Florida area, right?

Slater: That’s right. There had never been a high school wrestling program in the state of Florida. What happened, is that Eddie Graham, who was a promoter here for Florida Championship Wrestling and Don Curtis, who was the promoter in Jacksonville, bought a wrestling mat for Robinson High School and actually started the high school wrestling program.

Chappell: I know you played football and wrestled for the University of Tampa, so obviously we now know you got into wrestling before your college days!

Slater: This was all before I went to the University of Tampa. What happened, is I was wrestling for what was called AAU---which was a wrestling organization that trained people to go from, say, college to the Olympics…

Chappell: Yes…

Slater: [AAU] was a different league all together, but it was a league that almost anybody could get into…if you were a college or high school athlete.

So, I was wrestling with them, and with Hiro Matsuda, who was the Japanese trainer…

Chappell: Right, I thought Hiro had trained you in the early days…

Slater: Yeah…I wanted to go try to get into the Olympics at that time. Then, I went to the University of Tampa and got on the wrestling team there. Plus, I was on the football team---so it was pretty hectic!

Chappell: I bet!

Slater: (laughs) Practices, twice a day. And sometimes it was two football practices, and then wrestling practice in one day…so that was three in a row!

Chappell: I’m interested…what position did you play in football?

Slater: I was a linebacker…

Chappell: (laughs) Honest…that would have been my guess! In the ring, you look like you had the make up of a linebacker!

Slater: I played middle linebacker in high school, and I also played some running fullback, not running with the ball, but running in front of somebody with the ball! (laughing)

Chappell: (laughs) You’re the one that cleared the way!

Slater: Yeah, the other guys did the running!

Chappell: How long did you stay at the University [of Tampa]?

Slater: Actually, they folded the football program there…

Chappell: Really?

Slater: Yeah, it was an academic school…and they decided to close football there. So, I decided not to play (football) anymore. Later, I had a chance to go down and play for the Miami Dolphins…but I decided I needed to take care of my family instead. I had to earn my way…I needed to go to work!

Chappell: What time frame are we talking about, Dick…when you had a chance to go with the Dolphins?

Slater: 1969 I graduated out of high school, so this would have been around ’71…

Chappell: The Dolphins were getting pretty good then!

Slater: Yeah…

Chappell: So, they were going to let you come in as a free agent…but you decided against it?

Slater: (pauses) The money wasn’t there, then. I wanted to go…could have gone.

Chappell: As you said before, you had to take care of your family.

Slater: That’s right.

Chappell: Now, when you were at the University of Tampa, didn’t you play with John Matuszak?

Slater: I did. John was the smart guy of the football team, you know? I was in most of his classes, and he would take most of my exams for me!

Chappell: (laughing) Come on!  He was a character, wasn’t he? I remember when he played for the Raiders.

Slater: Oh my God, he was pretty much of a character! Ol’ John really was!

Chappell: (laughs) And he had the brains on top of that!

Slater: Yeah! And Paul Orndorff was on the same team, you know?

Chappell: I was going to ask you about Orndorff…

Slater: Oh yeah…he played at Brandon High School, and I played at Robinson High School.

Chappell: They were big rivals in Tampa?

Slater: At one time they were…yeah.

Chappell: I’ve always heard that Orndorff was a tough customer…

Slater: He’s a tough man…and a good friend of mine. He’s having some back problems…like I’ve had. I talk to him frequently…he lives up in Atlanta, Georgia now.

Chappell: So you all still stay in touch…that’s good.

Slater: Yeah…we’re still close.

Chappell: We’ve talked about you participating in high school, college and AAU wrestling. How did you break into the professional wrestling ranks?

Slater: Well, I went to a National AAU meet and Don Curtis was the referee. I made it to the Finals, and wrestled this one guy and I lost, but it was so close.  What I learned collegiately…I was doing really well. You know, if I had a little bit more training and a little bit more experience…I could have won the National AAU’s.

Chappell: You really hadn’t been wrestling much at that point…

Slater: All I had been wrestling then was probably a year and a half of collegiate wrestling and AAU…so I was doing pretty good.

Chappell: Sounds like you were taking off fast…

Slater: I was close, you know, to being able to go to the Olympics at that point. I mean, I at least might have gone on a tryout basis.  But anyway, Mike Graham who was a good friend of mine…he asked me if I wanted to get into the business. I thought about it for a long time…and finally said. ‘Yeah!”

Chappell: Tell us about those early days.

Slater: I went back down to the Sportatorium here in Tampa, and started training to become a professional wrestler.

Chappell: Who was training you at the very beginning?

Slater: Jack Brisco, Bob Roop, Hiro Matsuda, Bill Watts…

Chappell: Wow! What a ‘Who’s Who!’

Slater: A whole bunch of people, who were really good teachers and professional wrestlers at that time.

Chappell: But Mike Graham was the person who really turned you toward professional wrestling?

Slater: Well, I was going to Ft. Lauderdale every Friday night with him, when he was running the town for his Dad…who was the promoter there.

Chappell: Right, Eddie…

Slater: I got to be around all the guys in the wrestling business. I started hangin’ around with Dick Murdock…

Chappell: (laughs) I bet there are some stories there!

Slater: (laughs) Yeah…Murdock was quite a guy! He was one of my best friends. I used to hang around Dick when I was in high school matter of fact.

Chappell: After you broke in, did you stay in Tampa for long?

Slater: Well, I stayed here in the state of Florida for a long time after I first broke into wrestling…in the professional area.  I stayed here for probably, I’d say, two or three years. That’s a long time to be in one place, in the territories, you know?

Chappell: Definitely.

Slater: Those first years in Florida were great years. From there I went out to California, and worked in Roy Shire’s territory…

Chappell: Some great guys out there.

Slater: Oh yeah. The Von Brauners were out there…and Moondog Mayne. Pat Patterson and Ray Stevens were there…

Chappell: Right…

Slater: Those guys were working out there when I went out there. And I stayed out there, I’d say for a good year.  Traveled up and down the mountains up there and over to Las Vegas, and up to Reno, Nevada…

Chappell: (laughs) Not a bad territory at all!

Slater: (laughing) Me and my buddy Moondog Mayne! You ever heard the stories about Moondog Mayne?

Chappell: Oh yes, yes! But share one for our readers!

Slater: I wrote a lot of stories about Moondog in my book that’s coming out.

Chappell: And we will definitely talk about your upcoming book during the interview. In fact, tease the book with a good Moondog story!

Slater: (laughs) Oh God…Moondog! I tell you a funny one David, that really got me…you know, he was a compulsive gambler…

Chappell: Really?

Slater: Yeah…and we’d flown down to Vegas one time, and he stayed in my room with me. One night he goes down and blows about $500, and he comes up and borrows $50 from me. So, he goes back down to the casino and I don’t see him for about three or four hours. Then he comes back to the room, and he’s drunk out of his mind…

Chappell: (laughing)

Slater: But he’s like $42,000 ahead!

Chappell: (laughing hard)

Slater: I told him not to play any more, and he says, ‘I’m goin’ back down!’

Chappell: Stop while you’re ahead!

Slater: Yeah…stop while you’re ahead! But he went back down, and when I saw him in the morning he had $70,000 he’d won, right?!

Chappell: (laughs) Unbelievable…only in Vegas!

Slater: So, he goes to Reno, Nevada the next day…and he buys himself a brand new Cadillac! He loved yellow, so it was a yellow Cadillac. He always wore yellow, you remember that?

Chappell: He sure did!

Slater: And he had yellow hair…and he would go out and play Santa Clause---what a guy!

Chappell: (laughs)

Slater: But anyway, besides the yellow Cadillac, he went out and bought a boat, golf clubs, a yellow Mustang for his wife…

Chappell: Geez!

Slater: And David…he went and lost ALL of it! The rest of the money…he lost it all!

Chappell: Dick, you’re kidding?!

Slater: Nope. And you know one thing…he never gave me the $50 back! (laughs)

Chappell: (laughing) I was just thinking, you know, it was your $50 that ended up making Moondog $70,000! At least for a little while! How long did it take him to lose it all?

Slater: He won it on a Friday, on Friday night in Las Vegas, and he lost it on a Monday night in Reno!

Chappell: (laughing) Oh man!

Slater: (laughing) Easy come, easy go!

Chappell: (laughing) But those three days were great!!

Slater: I’ve got a bunch of [stories] on him!

Chappell: I can only imagine…that was a great one!  It was great hearing about your time on the west coast. I guess the first time I really remember reading about you a lot, well before you came into Jim Crockett Promotions, was when you were in the Georgia territory.

Slater: Georgia…I stayed there like seven or eight years, something like that. Working for Jim Barnett.

Chappell: Anything from that territory jump out at you?

Slater: I mean…I turned into a figure in the wrestling business when I was there.

Chappell: Georgia put you on the wrestling map big time, so to speak?

Slater: Working for Jim Barnett, he was the kind of promoter that anybody that he brought into his place had to draw money. He was the kind of promoter, if you weren’t drawing any money, he would really be on the warpath.

Chappell: I know Georgia was where I started to follow your career…

Slater: I tell you what, I never got a chance to get to North Carolina until much later…

Chappell: You never worked for Crockett until you came into the Mid-Atlantic area in January of 1983, right?

Slater: (pauses) Yeah…you’re right.

Chappell: I mean, I don’t remember you doing any shots for Crockett at all before that…at least in my area of Richmond, Virginia.

Slater: That was getting to the time in the 80s that was interesting between Jim Barnett and Crockett…with the Turner cable hook up thing.  At one point I was in Knoxville, Tennessee booking for Ron Fuller…and Jim Barnett came and asked me if I wanted to come back in and book the Atlanta end of Turner’s television show. And then what happened, was Jimmy Crockett was in the middle of buying out Jim (Barnett), and I didn’t even know about it! So, when Jimmy Crockett bought it from Barnett, I was a booker for Crockett. And Dusty (Rhodes) became a booker for Crockett at some point there…so it was a pretty interesting time!

Chappell: Yeah, of course as fans we didn’t know about all this…but looking back now you can definitely see Dusty’s influence on the Mid-Atlantic area not too long after Starrcade 1983.

Slater: I was on the first Starrcade…that was a GREAT show!

Chappell: Without a doubt! You and Bob Orton, Jr. against Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood. No titles were at stake in that match, but you held a ton of titles over the course of your career.

Slater: It’s a funny thing you mention that…there’s a guy down in Texas that called me recently that has a wrestling newsletter. I don’t know how he did it…but he has information on every single title I ever won, and every single guy that I wrestled and if I won or lost!  (laughs) I couldn’t remember a half or a quarter of the titles that I won!

Chappell: Wow…that must be some list! Is this guy helping you with your book?

Slater: No, but I’m trying to get hold of him and that information!  My book is just a little bit different. I mean, it’s not ALL about wrestling. It’s about a lot of places I’ve been all over the world.

Chappell: I’m sure wrestling opened up all kinds of adventures for you.

Slater: A lot of the book is about wrestling, but a lot of it is about things people just wouldn’t believe, things I’ve seen and things I’ve been involved with…both good and bad.

Chappell: One of the things that has struck me most about interviewing wrestling legends like yourself for the Gateway, is that you all have truly led some AMAZING lives!

Slater: Terry Funk called me the other night…he’s my best friend!

Chappell: For real?

Slater: Yeah…he came and lived with me in Florida for many years. And we still talk all the time. The other night, he was telling me that the wrestling business is a great business, but the only thing wrong with the wrestling business is sometimes the people that run it! He said it’s not the business, but the people that run the business!

Chappell: That’s certainly a complaint that comes up from time to time!  Speaking of Terry, I always thought there were a lot of similarities between you two. You were definitely both wild and crazy!

Slater: We both went over to Japan for years, and I guess we have similar styles. Guys that you can never guess what’s gonna happen next…

Chappell: ‘Mr. Unpredictable,’ Dick Slater! I think that phrase was used by the commentators for every match you ever wrestled on Crockett TV. The only thing ‘predictable,’ was that they called you ‘Mr. Unpredictable!’

Slater: (laughs) Yeah…and they also called me ‘Mr. Excitement’…

Chappell: That’s right, they sure did. And “Dirty” Dick Slater. You didn’t lack for nicknames!

Slater: (laughs)

Chappell: As we’ve been talking so far, you were a huge star before you ever entered the Mid-Atlantic area. You won the Missouri Heavyweight Title in the late 1970s, and that title was often a springboard to the NWA World Heavyweight Title. At that point, were you really in the mix to get the World’s Title?

Slater: (pauses) Ah…yes, I was.

Chappell: Can you tell us about that? You were certainly right up there with anybody at that time.

Slater: Well, David, it’s kinda hard for me to explain the politics of all that…

Chappell: I know, I know…

Slater: I know the reason why I didn’t get the Title, but I’m gonna be a good guy, you know what I mean? I’m gonna be a good guy, and not tell you the truth! (laughs)

Chappell: (laughing) Well, your initial answer of ‘politics’ probably sums it up pretty good!

Slater: I’m not saying anything bad about anybody, because I really enjoy my life David. I don’t have any complaints about, you know, what I could have been and what I am…what I made of myself.

Chappell: What I’m sort of hearing you say Dick, is that you had the right stuff to be NWA World Champion, but that it was something that was in the hands of others…and they opted to go a different direction.

Slater: (laughing) I came and went my own way, you know?

Chappell: But that Missouri Title was often a tip-off that you were headed in the direction of the World’s Title…

Slater: I was headed in that direction. All that was back in the middle of the National Wrestling Alliance, and the Board of Directors…it was politics and you had to go along with that, you know?

Chappell: Yeah…yeah, I understand.

Slater: (laughs) I had a lot of belts…but that one eluded me. But it eluded a lot of other people, too! It would have been nice to get it, but you know, I’m not worried about it. It’s not that I wasn’t good enough to have it…I was good enough for a lot of people. It’s like voting for your Congressman, you know…you may not get the right votes. I didn’t get the right votes!

Chappell: (laughs) And as they say, timing is everything!

Slater: Well, you know, I don’t have any regrets. I mean, I can’t say I have any regrets. I really don’t…I really don’t. I enjoyed myself in the wrestling business, and I wish I could do it again. But being that I had major injuries that keep me from getting back in the ring…it’s not possible.

Chappell: Do you ever in your head, think about the number of matches you wrestled?

Slater: There was a Physical Fitness seminar in Orlando recently, and Cal Ripken was the guest speaker there. And it was funny, because he said he played in 2,000 or so consecutive baseball games without missing a game…right?

Chappell: Yep…the ‘Ironman’ of baseball.

Slater: I’m thinkin’ you know, I wrestled 2,000 matches in a row…in one year!

Chappell: (laughing) Yeah, you have to put some of these milestones in perspective! But seriously, you professional wrestlers were truly ‘Ironmen’ in your own right.

Slater: I mean, you know, that was a phenomenal thing for [Ripken] to do…and I say, good for him. But, that’s in his whole career. (laughs)

Chappell: I know as a fan at the time, I never had any concept of how you all wrestled every day and sometimes double shots…year after year after year. And every town you went to you had to bring your ‘A’ game…every night. It had to be grueling beyond belief.

Slater: And Crockett…it was very hard to work for him. I mean, we had to do a lot of traveling there…in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. We were on the road a lot.

Chappell: With the guys I’ve talked with, it seems that Crockett’s territory was the toughest in that regard…with the possible exception of Watts’ territory.

Slater: I booked for Bill (Watts) there for a while, and…

Chappell: So it was YOU that was running everybody into the ground there! (laughs)

Slater: Naw! I booked Bill Watts’ territory, I booked Joe Blanchard’s territory…and Paul Boesch…I was bookin’ all three of them at one time!

Chappell: Unreal…

Slater: That was a record-breaker right there!

Chappell: Again as fans, all we saw was Dick Slater the wrestler. We had no concept that you were just as busy with your work behind the scenes.

Slater: Right, I was doing all that---and working! We were doing very good business…we set [Watts’ territory] on fire. We had Jake ‘The Snake’ (Roberts) and ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan…

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO


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

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Mooneyham Memorializes Slater, Jonathan

Mike Mooneyham
As always, Mike Mooneyham puts the lives and careers of wrestling legends in such great perspective. His recent column in the Charleston Post and Courier deals with the recent deaths of pro wrestlers Dick Slater and Don Leo Jonathan.

Follow the link below to read Mike's excellent piece on both.

Especially poignant to us at the Gateway is the material on Slater, who was an important part of the championship scene here in the 1980s, and had memorable feuds with Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, and others.


Pro wrestling says goodbye to Dick Slater, Don Leo Jonathan
By Mike Mooneyham 
Special to The Post and Courier, Oct 20, 2018

Two wrestlers from two different generations. Top stars with different styles who both made their mark on the profession.

The wrestling community said goodbye last week to Dick Slater and Don Leo Jonathan.

From the 1950s through the ’70s, Jonathan was a box-office attraction across the globe, earning a well-deserved reputation as being one of the greatest big men to ever grace a wrestling ring.

Aptly given the nickname “Mr. Unpredictable” by longtime promoter Jim Barnett, Slater boasted a different type of reputation, that of a gun-slinging, tough-as-nails competitor whose slew of titles in a variety of territories validated his standing in the business.

The passing of both represent another page turned in the final chapter of pro wrestling’s revered and fondly remembered territorial system, a time when wrestlers lived out of a suitcase and spent more than 300 days a year on the road.

It was a profession that was much different than it is today.........

--> Read the full article on the Charleston Post & Courier website.


******************

Don't miss David Chappell's 3-part interview Dick Slater from 2010 that will run throughout this coming week on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway:
"I was close to both Briscos for years. Terry Funk is a great friend. Greg Valentine is another. All the guys that are in my era and that worked with me, that you know, that when I got in the ring with these people it was something to see. All them guys are all part of my life. And all them guys helped me through the years…for many years. And I can’t really single out just one or two people easily, because there are so many people that I owe a lot to. Really…I owe everything to everybody."
- Dick Slater
Interview with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, 2010

http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Anderson Family Unites to Battle Wahoo, Rufus, and Bravo

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
From the "Main Event Memories" Series

Tonight's "Main Event Memory" on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway is from the early fall of 1976 and reflects back on a trio of individuals running roughshod through the Mid-Atlantic area that entire year - The Anderson Brothers and their young cousin Ric Flair.

The Anderson family prepared to battle Wahoo McDaniel, Dino Bravo, and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones. The big six-man battle was the main event on a card at the Scope Coliseum in Norfolk, VA, and would be fought under "Lights Out" rules: the match was not sanctioned by the National Wrestling Alliance -- anything goes!

One side of this main event was carrying all the championship gold:

  • "The Minnesota Wrecking Crew" Gene and Ole Anderson were the reigning NWA World Tag Team champions. 
  • The Nature Boy" Ric Flair was in the middle of his year long feud with Chief Wahoo McDaniel over the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship. He had regained the title from Wahoo after hitting him in the head with the broken table-leg in the infamous match in Charlotte that resulted in Wahoo going to the hospital legit and getting 53 stitches over his eye. 

The Andersons and Flair had issues with Wahoo, Rufus, and Bravo individually and were hoping to settle all of the issues in this one night where there were no rules. Lights out!

As Ole says, how can these three hope to compete with the "Anderson family" under those circumstances?



Listen as Les Thatcher interviews the Andersons and Ric Flair about their big upcoming bout on September 9, 1976!

* * * * *
Originally published June 28, 2015.

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

Friday, October 19, 2018

Limited Time: 25% off "Ten Pounds of Gold" (Color Edition)

Celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the NWA with the book that gives all the details on the original domed-globe NWA World Championship belt.

This was the belt established in 1973 and worn by 8 different great champions for the next 13 years. Learn all the details about the belt itself, and the 8 men who held it.

The full retail price of the book is normally $29.95, but for a limited time, we've marked the book down for a limited time to $22.49. This is the FULL COLOR version of the book and is only presently available on Amazon.com.

For more details visit our BOOKSTORE or go directly to the purchase page on Amazon.com.

Thanks for your support of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway!


Note: The price on the Amazon.com page of $22.49 is the already discounted price. That page does not reflect the normal retail price of $29.95. Questions? Contact us.


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

NWA 70th Anniversary: Aldis-Cody II


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/ten-pounds-of-gold.html

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Jim Crockett's Grand Slam Champions - Part Three: Greg Valentine

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In PART THREE of our "Grand Slam" feature, we take a look at "The Hammer" Greg Valentine.

Valentine was the third wrestler to hold all five of Jim Crockett Promotions' titles during the Mid-Atlantic years, something we here at the Gateway call Crockett's Grand Slam Championship.

The five Crockett titles were:
  • NWA World Tag Team Championship
  • United States Heavyweight Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic/NWA/World Television Championship

There were only four men that held all five titles though their complete tenure in our area. Those men are:
  1. Paul Jones
  2. Ric Flair
  3. Greg Valentine
  4. Ricky Steamboat

Here is a summary of Greg Valentine's amazing championship pedigree in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling:


PART THREE: GREG VALENTINE

MID-ATLANTIC TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP
Greg entered the Mid-Atlantic area in the fall of 1976, first presented as the brother of Johnny Valentine, but later would accurately be known as his son. It didn't take long for "The Hammer" to win gold in the territory, defeating "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods for the Television Championship on November 6, 1976 in Spartanburg, SC. He would trade the title with Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones soon after for a second reign as TV champion, and with Sweet Ebony Diamond a couple of times in 1981, eventually losing to Ron Bass.


NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Upon entering the Mid-Atlantic area, Greg had immediately struck up a friendship with Ric Flair and the two formed a tag team that immediately seemed destined for championship gold. Flair had a falling out with his cousins, Gene and Ole Anderson, who were the NWA World Tag Team champions at the time. Flair took Greg as his partner to challenge his family and the two defeated the Andersons too take the titles on December 26, 1976 in Greensboro, NC.

Valentine and Flair would continue to feud with the Andersons over the tag titles for the next year and half, trading them once more in a series of memorable matches and angles. Valentine would later hold the titles with partners Baron Von Raschke and Ray Stevens.


MID-ATLANTIC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Valentine had many bitter singles feuds in the Mid-Atlantic area during his various tenures in the Mid-Atlantic area, but the most famous feud was with "Chief" Wahoo McDaniel over the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship in 1977 and 1978. Greg first won the title from McDaniel on June 11, 1977 in Greensboro, but it was his second victory over Wahoo for the title that is stuff of legend. On September 7, 1977 at a TV taping in Raleigh, NC, Valentine not only defeated Wahoo for the title but broke his leg in the process. The angle was so memorable that it was brought up many times over the years, and was even part of a the build-up to their battles over the U.S. title five years later.


MID-ATLANTIC TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP 
After the Anderson Brothers had regained the World Tag Team titles from Valentine and Flair, those titles were mostly defended in the Georgia area, and so the "Blond Bombers" set their sites on the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team titles until such time as they could gain another shot at the Andersons. On June 30, 1977 they defeated Dino Bravo and Tiger Conway, Jr. to win those belts, but lost them a less than two months later to Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat.

So in less than one year's time, Valentine had won four of the five titles in Jim Crockett Promotions, with the United States title being the only championship to elude him early on. It would take another three years, but Valentine would finally take the "fifth jewel" in the Grand Slam crown.


UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
After four years dominating the championship scene in the Mid-Atlantic area, Valentine finally gained the one title that had eluded him. Returning from a successful stint in the WWWF in 1979 where he had headlined Madison Square Garden against WWWF kingpin Bob Backlund, Valentine was shocked to learn that his former partner-in-crime Ric Flair had become a fan favorite. Flair was involved in a bitter feud with "Anderson's Army" in the summer of 1980 and solicited his old friend and partner Valentine to aid him in a tag team match with Jimmy Snuka and the Iron Sheik. Valentine turned on his old friend, breaking Flair's nose with the cane of manager Gene Anderson. On July 26, 1980, Valentine defeated  Flair for the United States Championship in Charlotte, NC. The two former best friends had a bitter, bloody feud over that title for the rest of 1980.

Valentine would go onto hold the U.S. title on two other occasions over the next three years, renewing hostilities with Wahoo McDaniel and in a memorable feud with "Rowdy"Roddy Piper.

* * *

COMING UP IN PART FOUR: 
We shift our focus to "The Hawaiian Punch" Ricky Steamboat, the fourth and final wrestler to have held all five of Jim Crockett promotions' championships. We'll detail how he did it next time.

Did you miss our stories on the first two Grand Slam Champions? Visit the links:
"No. 1" Paul Jones
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair

Updated 10/18/18 with an additional detail on Greg Valentine TV title history. Thanks to Kenneth Childers.

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

Saturday, October 13, 2018

NWA Title Match: Cody Rhodes vs. The Mack!




It's been fun following along with the direction of the "reborn" NWA and its champion Cody Rhodes. Cody recently defended the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Willie Mack, who is one of our favorites on Lucha Underground.


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/ten-pounds-of-gold.html

Friday, October 12, 2018

Johnny Weaver Battles Bruno Sammartino

Click Image for a Larger Look at the Clipping

What an interesting match-up featuring Johnny Weaver against Bruno Sammartino. It's a testament to how far back the Bobo Brazil/Sheik rivalry extends to see legends like Bruno and Weaver opening a three-match card.

From Terre Haute, Indiana in 1961. Clipping courtesy of the research of Carroll Hall.

This originally appeared on our Johnny Weaver Blog in November of 2014. 

http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

David Chappell appears on Wrestler Weekly




Wrestler Weekly Presents S3:E13 Guest David Chappell of the Mid Atlantic Gateway

Scottie Richardson Founder and CEO of Wrestler Weekly and David Chappell of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway discuss 4 of the greatest MASKED Wrestlers of all time: MR. WRESTLING I/TIM WOODS, MASKED SUPERSTAR, MIL MASCARAS, and MR. WRESTLING II!

Scottie's New Book "FAMILY, BACON, RASSLIN" is now on Amazon! Pick up a copy by searching for Family Bacon Rasslin Book on Amazon!

Read our post on Family Bacon Rasslin':
"Family Bacon Rasslin" Rekindles some of our own Childhood Memories


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Jim Crockett's Grand Slam Champions - Part Two: Ric Flair

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In PART TWO of our "Grand Slam" feature, we take a look at "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.

Flair was the second wrestler to hold all five of Jim Crockett Promotions' titles during the Mid-Atlantic years, something we here at the Gateway call Crockett's Grand Slam Championship. (For a more complete explanation of the Grand Slam, see PART ONE on Paul Jones.)


The five Crockett titles were:
  • NWA World Tag Team Championship
  • United States Heavyweight Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic/NWA/World Television Championship

There were only four men that held all five titles though their complete tenure in our area. Those men are:
  1. Paul Jones
  2. Ric Flair
  3. Greg Valentine
  4. Ricky Steamboat

Here is a summary of Ric Flair's amazing championship pedigree in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling:


PART TWO: RIC FLAIR
 
MID-ATLANTIC TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP

Ric Flair's first title in Jim Crockett Promotions (his first championship of his pro wrestling career) came only a few months after he had entered the territory. Flair was initially billed as the nephew of area veteran Rip Hawk. He and "Uncle Rip" teamed up to defeat Paul Jones and Bob Bruggers on July 4, 1974 in Greensboro, NC.  Towards the end of the year, Hawk left the territory and Brute Bernard replaced him teaming with Flair in a title defense against Paul Jones and Tiger Conway Jr. on December 6, 1974 in Charleston's County Hall. Jones pinned Flair in that match and new champions were crowned. But Flair's star was on the rise, and he set his sights on his first singles title.


MID-ATLANTIC TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP

Flair began a feud with Paul Jones, who had defeated Ivan Koloff for the Television title in 1974. Koloff was to receive a rematch on February 8, 1975 in Winston-Salem, NC but due to travel circumstances, failed to appear for the match. Promoters gave Flair the title shot and the young blond bomber upset Jones for the title that night, under rather questionable circumstances it must be pointed out. Nevertheless, Flair was now on a main event track and was holding his second title, the second "jewel" in the Grand Slam championship crown. Flair lost that title back to Jones that summer, but would regain it two years later in a title reign that begat the famous Flair/Steamboat rivalry.


MID-ATLANTIC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
 
The loss of the TV title back to Jones didn't slow down Flair one bit. He immediately set his sites on the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight title which was now held by Wahoo McDaniel, who had ended Johnny Valentine's 18 month reign as champion in July of 1975. Flair upset McDaniel on September 20, 1975 at the Coliseum in Hampton, VA. After the match, all the heels on that show emptied the locker room and celebrated with Flair in the ring. Flair was now a solid member of the main event class in Crockett Promotions and his feud with Wahoo McDaniel took center stage.

But before Flair had much time to celebrate his title win, his career was almost ended when the plane he was traveling on to a card in Wilmington, NC crashed short of the runway. This is the plane crash that did end the career of Johnny Valentine, and was thought to possibly end the career of Flair. But Flair made an amazing return to the ring three and a half months later. The NWA had allowed him to keep his title in the interim, and his feud with Wahoo McDaniel took off again as soon as Flair was back. The two traded the title back and forth for the entire year of 1976, before Wahoo got it back for good in December of 1976. Flair wouldn't hold that title again, but at this point he turned his attention elsewhere, forming a memorable "dream team" with new comer Greg Valentine.


NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
 

Flair and Valentine traded the titles back and forth with the Andersons in 1977 and 1978 before ultimately stripped of the titles by the NWA in April 1978 because they refused to defend them against new #1 contenders Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat.

Flair would hold the World Tag Team titles on one other occasion, in 1979 with Blackjack Mulligan. But it was this 1976 win over the Andersons that cemented his fourth jewel in his Grand Slam championship run. All that was left now was to win the United States title.


UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
 Flair had held the area's two regional singles championships, but he was hungry to win a national singles championship. On July 29, 1977 in Richmond, VA he defeated wrestling legend Bobo Brazil to win his first of six United States championships. With that victory over Brazil, he became only the second wrestler to hold all five of the Crockett championships, and he had done so by only his fourth year in the wrestling business.

* * *


COMING UP IN PART THREE: 
We shift our focus to Ric Flair's biggest  rival "The Hawaiian Punch" Ricky Steamboat, who would become only the third wrestler to hold Crockett's Grand Slam. We'll detail how he did it next time.

Did you miss our story on the first Grand Slam Champion "No. 1" Paul Jones?
Paul not only was the first wrestler to hold all of Crockett's Mid-Atlantic territory titles, he did it all in one year! Check out PART ONE here.



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

Saturday, October 06, 2018

"Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods' Last Stand (Part 4)

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

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

Catch up on this story in PART ONE  | PART TWO  |  PART THREE

* * *

PART FOUR

After the second violent attack against "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods by Jimmy Snuka and Buddy Rogers on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling television programming on September 19, 1979, Woods vowed another improbable comeback against the odds. The following week on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV, Blackjack Mulligan told announcer Bob Caudle, "Jimmy Snuka, I want to make a comment about you and your manager, your owner or whatever kind of relationship you have with Buddy Rogers, I don't know, but this sport of wrestling has no place for people that will try to injure people like you did Tim Woods, and you're gonna have to reckon with Mr. Wrestling before it's all over."

When the first week in October of 1979 rolled around, there was still no "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods in the WRAL TV studios. But Woods was still the talk of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program that was taped on October 3, 1979. On that show Bob Caudle addressed Buddy Rogers, "You guys have been fined the biggest fine in the history of wrestling for what you did to Mr. Wrestling."

Rogers cackled in response, "It was well worth the fine; whatever fine we got I paid it. I don't care how big the fine was, or will be or anything else...we got the job done on 'Mr. Wrestling' Tim Woods. That's just a sample of what my clan is gonna do!" Caudle then exclaimed, "I gotta tell you, Tim Woods is gonna be back! Mr. Wrestling is gonna be back!" Rogers dismissively answered, "I heard he's coming back. Let me tell ya, he said he was comin' back just a week ago...he's still isn't back, right? He'll be out a long time!" Caudle shot back, "He's improving..." But before Bob could finish his thought Rogers interrupted, "He don't have the word 'guts' to come back. What do you think fellas?" John Studd, who was standing next to Buddy, yelled, "I KNOW he doesn't have the guts!"

As the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV program that was taped on October 17, 1979 began, Bob Caudle opened it by welcoming Mr. Wrestling onto the set. The masked man came onto the interview area with both hands full...one hand holding a baseball bat with "Snuka" written on it and holding a "Wanted--Out Of Wrestling" poster with photos of Jimmy Snuka and Buddy Rogers on it in the other hand!



A smiling Caudle quipped, "Tim, come on in. I don't think it's baseball season here Tim!" A fired up Mr. Wrestling responded, "Yeah, it's baseball season." Bob clarified, "Is it open season or something?" Mr. Wrestling agreed, "It is OPEN season, but we'll talk about that in a minute. I hope the people can come in on this picture just a little bit...two of my favorite people, Buddy Rogers and Jimmy Snuka." At this juncture the fans were able to see a camera close-up of the "Wanted" posters that Mr. Wrestling had produced to distribute at the area's arenas.


Mr. Wrestling continued, "Now, we all get injuries in wrestling, and I'm not crying about anything...I've been wearing a neck brace for weeks now. Hopefully, the Doctor will let me take it off towards the end of this week. I'm wearing it only part of the time now; my neck is feeling much better and I'm coming along just very, very good. But, we all get injuries as I say. But it's the way you get them that makes you mad." Caudle added, "Deliberate injury too, I think, Mr. Wrestling."

Mr. Wrestling then made a very important symbolic gesture to the television audience saying while pointing to his mask, "I wanna say one thing...this mask has meant everything to me. I've defended it, I've worn it, I've been the World's Tag Team Champion with it; I've held a lot of titles wearing this mask and nobody has ever taken it off me." At this instant, Mr. Wrestling shockingly removed his mask exposing his face for all to see!

A startled Bob Caudle exclaimed, "Tim Woods! There he is, 'Mr. Wrestling' Tim Woods, David." In a very solemn tone Woods explained, "I'm gonna take this mask off and I'm gonna leave it off until I settle the score with Jimmy Snuka and Buddy Rogers. They hurt me once, they hurt me twice...but they're not gonna hurt me again. And if either one of them would like to come out right now I'll be more than happy to accommodate 'em."

Woods sternly finished, "I'm a believer in one thing and they can rely on it and I want 'em to go to bed tonight thinkin' about it...I've always been a believer in doing unto others as they do unto you. Think about that Snuka and Rogers, because I've never meant anything more in my life. When I make promises I keep 'em and I WILL get even with both of ya."

Caudle wrapped up the segment noting, "Alright, David, that's the story now from Tim Woods and it's great to see him out and great to see him up and as he says it won't be much longer and he'll be out of that brace and watch out Snuka and watch out Buddy Rogers." Crockett agreed, "That's right, it's unfortunate for Mr. Snuka and Mr. Rogers." Caudle concurred, "That's right, he's got more than blood in his eyes, David, if you know what I mean. If I were those two I'd be like he says, I'd be worried about that tonight when I go to bed."

Jimmy Snuka and Buddy Rogers respond to the newly unmasked Tim Woods and a confrontation ensues!

To be continued in Part 5!


Special thanks to Brack Beasley for the photographs of vintage Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods memorabilia. The baseball bat with Snuka's name on it and the "Wanted" poster are genuine vintage items from Tim Wood's personal collection.


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Jim Crockett's Grand Slam Champions - Part One: Paul Jones

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In 1975, Jim Crockett Promotions introduced the United States Championship making a total of five total territory championships recognized by the promotion (not including, of course, the NWA World Heavyweight championship.)

The five Crockett titles were:

  • NWA World Tag Team Championships
  • United States Heavyweight Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic/NWA/World Television Championship

These five championships continued to be recognized throughout most of the the remainder of the company's existence. The Mid-Atlantic Tag Team titles disappeared in 1985 and the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight singles title was retired in December of 1986. The NWA World Tag Team titles, the U.S. title, and TV title continued to be recognized in Ted Turner's WCW. And it's worth noting that Crockett's U.S. title is the forerunner of the modern day U.S. title in the WWE, which recognizes its title lineage.

There were only four men by our calculations (if we missed somebody, we trust you'll let us know) that held all five titles though their complete tenure in our area. Those men are:

  1. Paul Jones
  2. Ric Flair
  3. Greg Valentine
  4. Ricky Steamboat

At the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, we like to call these guys Crockett's "Grand Slam Champions."

In this 4-part series, we'll look at each of these great champions and their own story behind holding all five titles.

First up at number one is (appropriately enough) No. 1 Paul Jones.

Not only did Paul Jones hold all five of the Crockett championships, he is the only man in history to have done so all in the same calendar year. For Paul, that amazing year was 1975, and as the year began, he held not one, but two of the five titles simultaneously.

Here is a summary of Paul Jones's amazing Grand Slam year of 1975:


PART ONE: PAUL JONES
 
MID-ATLANTIC TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP
Paul began 1975 as the Mid-Atlantic TV champion. It was his second reign as TV champion having defeated Ivan Koloff to regain the title a second time on October 30, 1974 at the WRAL TV studios in Raleigh, NC. He would lose the title on February 8, 1975 to a young rising star named Ric Flair, who was a substitute for former champion Ivan Koloff in that match and shocked the wrestling world with his upset victory over Jones. It was Flair's first singles championship, and the second jewel in his own Grand Slam, which we will discuss later.

Jones would regain the TV title later in 1975 from Flair before relinquishing the title after a big win of another championship in November. He would hold it a couple more times in 1976 and two years later in 1978.


MID-ATLANTIC TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Paul also began the year of 1975 as co-holder of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team title with partner Tiger Conway, Jr. The two had defeated Rip Hawk and Ric Flair for the honors on December 6, 1974 at County Hall in Charleston, SC. They would go on to lose the titles to Gene and Ole Anderson on February 20, 1975 in Greensboro, NC. Jones would hold these titles again a few years later with partner and protege Ricky Steamboat.


MID-ATLANTIC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

Paul briefly held the Mid-Atlantic title in March of 1975 when he upset Johnny Valentine in a fence match in Charlotte on 3/9/75 at the Charlotte Park Center. That title reign is contested by many in history because NWA President Sam Muchnick wound up returning the title to Valentine 10 days later as a result of a controversial finish. However, it was described at the time as Jones being stripped of the title, and not a declaration of his win being null and void. During his 10-day reign he successfully defended the title on a number of occasions.

Jones would regain the Mid-Atlantic title seven years later, defeating rival Jack Brisco twice in 1982 for the honors, so even if you were to discount the win over Johnny Valentine (and we don't), he would still be a Grand Slam champion, just the last of the four instead of the first!


NWA WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES
Paul teamed up with Wahoo McDaniel and defeated the Anderson Brothers on May 15, 1975 in the Greensboro Coliseum. They lost the titles back to the Andersons on June 11, 1975 in the famous "supreme sacrifice" angle we've written about on this site many times over the years. Jones would hold the World Tag Team titles later in the 1970s with partner Ricky Steamboat, and in a memorable heel tag team combination with Baron Von Raschke. He had a final run in the early 80s with his partner the Masked Superstar.


UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP 
 
The fifth and final jewel in Jones's Grand Slam crown came on Thanksgiving night in 1975, when he defeated Terry Funk for the United States Heavyweight championship in front of a capacity crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum. Funk had just recently that title in a tournament to fill the vacant championship after the plane crash that ended the career of then reigning champion Johnny Valentine. Two weeks after Jones beat Funk for the U.S. title, Funk upset Jack Brisco to win the NWA World title, which set up Jones as his number one challenger in the Mid-Atlantic area.


CONCLUSION

While many younger fans only remember the Paul Jones of the 1980s at the end of his ring career and as a manager throughout most of that decade, we should never forget what a major player he was in our area as one of the world's top wrestlers in the late 1960s and 1970s. He deserves special recognition as the only man to hold Crockett's Grand Slam in the same calendar year. And he was the first man to do it at all.


NEXT TIME IN PART TWO: "NATURE BOY" RIC FLAIR
Flair began his run of championships in JCP in 1974 and by 1977 had held them all, becoming the second Grand Slam Champion! Details coming in Part Two.

Updated 10/7/18 with an additional detail on Paul Jones tag team title history. Thanks Kyle Rosser.


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/yearbooks.html
Yearbooks for both 1975 and 1976 now available!

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

"Family Bacon Rasslin" Rekindles some of our own Childhood Memories

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I just finished reading Scottie Richardson's book of memories growing up a wrestling fan, and thoroughly enjoyed it!

The book is titled "Family Bacon Rasslin" and is on sale at Amazon.com.

Scottie is the man behind the popular "Wrestler Weekly" Twitter page and podcast, sharing memories of all things related to the territory days of pro-wrestling. Our own David Chappell has been a guest on Scottie's weekly YouTube show on a couple of occasions and we quickly found out that he was "one of us." We have thoroughly enjoyed talking everything old-school Mid-Atlantic Wrestling with him.

No matter how you grew up as a wrestling fan, especially if it was during the 1970s or 1980s, there is something in Scottie's stories that will connect with you and have you saying "Yeah, that happened to me, too!" His anecdotes are immediately relatable to anyone who grew up eagerly anticipating the moment that hour of local pro wrestling would air on Saturday afternoon or you got to go to the matches live.

I laughed reading about his vivid memories of the Saturday morning ritual of frying bacon and having a Pepsi before Bob Caudle welcomed him and his family to another hour of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. Rituals such as those were such a part of my wrestling memories, too. For me, though, it was an ice-cold Coca-Cola straight from the bottle and a buttery, toasty, grilled cheese sandwich. My chores had to be completed first, but then it was that Coke, a handful of Lay's potato chips, and that grilled cheese. Every Saturday. 1 o'clock PM. WFBC channel 4. I'm sure many of you have similar memories.

Scottie shares his memories of what it was like when his family moved away to Florida and he was forced to discover new wrestling shows from Florida and Georgia. Again, if you ever moved away from your own territory, you can identify with the wrestling-culture shock. For me, it was moving away to live and work in Alabama in the early 80s and missing Bob Caudle every Saturday.

My point is - - most of Scottie's little memories will kindle similar memories of your own, and there are lots of them shared here, not only of back-in-the-day, but of what it's like to meet those heroes of yesteryear today.

"Family Bacon Rasslin" is available on Amazon.com. The "Wrestler Weekly" video podcast drops every Wednesday night at 9 PM on the Wrestler Weekly YouTube channel. You can follow all the daily posts full of wrestling memorabilia on the Wrestler Weekly Twitter feed @wrestlerweekly.

* * * * * *

As of this writing, the current Wrestler Weekly podcast features the legendary Les Thatcher (Season 3, Episode 11). Be on the lookout for the Gateway's David Chappell as Scottie's guest soon. We'll be linking to it right here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

* * * * * *

http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com
Just released! The NEW Mid-Atlantic Wrestling 1976 Yearbook!