Sunday, March 24, 2019

Almanac History - July 1980 (Week 2)

David Chappell's
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History


JULY 1980             WEEK 2
The second week of July of 1980 kicked off in earnest with the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television taping in the WRAL TV 5 studios in Raleigh, North Carolina on July 9th. The TV card featured a good mix of Mid-Atlantic stars, but the final bout of the card really stole the show!

The first television bout featured a mid-card matchup where Johnny Weaver and Special Delivery Jones bested the duo of Swede Hanson and Billy Starr. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine defeated Ron Ritchie, and the program also showcased wins by "Bad Boy" Bobby Duncum in his second TV appearance and the former World Tag Team Champions Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. But the last bout on the program would see a return to action of the former World Tag Team a quite unexpected way.

Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens
with manager Gene Anderson
Inserted in the middle of the July 9th TV taping was a film of the match where Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens defeated Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood for the NWA World Tag Team Championship. Announcer Rich Landrum narrated the video snippets, along with Steamboat and Youngblood. The end of the match saw Stevens piledriving Steamboat on the concrete floor, soon after Ricky had been hit with the cane of manager Gene Anderson.

The film clip went on to show that almost simultaneous to Steamboat being laid out on the arena's concrete floor, Snuka hit Youngblood with a flying head-butt with the "Superfly" capturing the three count on Jay for the pinfall victory.

Steamboat was particularly bitter about the loss of the titles in this way, and vented to Landrum while watching the film, "I'm motionless, I'm laying there [and] I'm knocked out cold. I don't know nothing, I don't feel nothing, but there's gonna be a time and day when Stevens and Snuka [are] gonna feel that cement floor on their heads!"

Ricky and Jay's anger came out in full force and effect when the last match on the July 9th TV program was about to begin. Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens were prepared to wrestle Tony Garea and Nick DeCarlo, and both teams were in the ring waiting for the opening bell to ring. At that very instant, Steamboat and Youngblood raced into the ring and immediately tore into Snuka and Stevens! Garea and DeCarlo seem startled by the turn of events, but left the ring, and the final bout of the show became a "main event" caliber match between the World Tag Team Champions and the former champs!

Color commentator David Crockett exclaimed, "This is the rematch...I wish the championship was on the line!" An equally excited announcer Bob Caudle followed, "What a match! It's all impromptu, at least as far as Snuka and Stevens are concerned and Gene Anderson...because it definitely wasn't on their minds they were gonna wrestle this match. Certainly not today!"

Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood appear to defeat Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens in the unscheduled TV match---but referee Tommy Young is forced to make a controversial ruling!

To be continued...                                                        ALMANAC DIRECTORY

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Pvt. Jim Nelson

Pvt. Jim Nelson is under orders to hold and protect Sgt. Slaughter's United States Championship belt.

Many fans may know him better as Boris Zhukov, who challenged Sgt. Slaughter in the AWA for his Americas title, or teamed with Nikolai Volkoff at WrestleMania III in the WWF.

But to us he will always be Sgt. Slaughter's young recruit Pvt. Nelson.

Nelson was one half of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champions with Pvt. Don Kernodle. He was also later a behind-the-scenes spy for Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood in their quest to regain the NWA World Tag Team titles from Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle, which they finally did at the famous cage match in Greensboro in March of 1983.

Don't drop that belt, maggot! Now drop and give me 20!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Action Figures Friday: Paul Jones and the Masked Superstar


Another great presentation of classic custom action figures from Reggie Richardson featuring the unlikely team of Paul Jones and the Masked Superstar.

The two men had been mortal enemies going back to their feud in 1977, but in 1980 they teamed up and took the NWA World Tag Team titles from Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka on Thanksgiving night in Greensboro.

Those little custom belts make these things work, too. Paul is wearing the NWA World Tag Team title belt, while Superstar is wearing the NWA TV title belt with his tag belt over his shoulder.

The backdrop is a classic issue of Mid-Atlantic Magazine that included two fold out posters, one of Paul and one of the Superstar. Great issue. Great set up!

The photograph was featured on Scottie (Reggie's brother) Richardson's Wrestler Weekly twitter feed. (Check out @wrestlerweekly)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

New Book by Mike Mooneyham Now Available

We are excited about a new collection of essays from one of the best wrestling writers we are fortune to have today. The book is available now from Evening Post Books, and while we haven't had a chance to see it just yet, we look forward to reviewing it shortly.

As a collection of essays previously published, we're sure we've read some of these before, but can't wait to explore them again, and read material that might have slipped past us. And it's nice to have this material in one volume.

From the Evening Post Books site:

Best-selling author Mike Mooneyham is back with a collection of his previous columns that remember some of pro-wrestling’s finest movers and shakers. From their rise to fame to the end of their days, Final Bell: Legends of the Mat Remembered pays tribute to fallen wrestlers such as Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper and the Fabulous Moolah. 

The book also includes quotes from the industry’s favorite wrestling professionals like J. J. Dillon, Jerry Brisco and Jim Cornette. 

Showcasing two forewords by industry pros Les Thatcher and Jim Ross, this book is a must-have for all dedicated wrestling fans!

The book is available now. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Crockett Lieutenants - Notes from a Conversation with John Ringley

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I was looking through some notes that I had made during a casual conversation I had with John Ringley back in 2016. There were some tidbits about some of the Crockett lieutenants and local promoters that I had not included in earlier posts resulting from those conversations. I thought I would tie up those loose ends now.

We talked about some of the key people working for Crockett when Ringley was with the company. These notes are taken from Ringley's reflections back on those days:

Leo Voss 
A referee and a good lieutenant for Crockett. He would go on the road and handle a lot of local spot towns (gate receipts, etc.) From Oklahoma, a big fisherman.

George Harbin
An ex-wrestler, who ran Lexington and did ring announcing there and Charlotte TV. Did lots of small things for JCP. An important lieutenant.

Wally Dusek
Ex wrestler, perhaps the most important lieutenant of all. Crockett trusted him completely. Like Voss, would handle gate receipts, and also receipts from outlet ticket sales (for example The Hat Shop in Charlotte.) Built rings, delivered them to arenas, with his crew set them up, tore them down. Was also an agent.

There were two other guys Ringley relied heavily on - -  Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson, whom Ringley said were also his close personal friends.

Then there was a discussion we had of the local promoters Crockett partnered with. These weren't technically Crockett's lieutenants, and they were also independent. I would give them a higher rank like captain or major. But they were the guys on the ground that made things work outside of Charlotte.

The local promoters were:
Joe Murnick - Raleigh, Richmond, Norfolk (and surrounding towns)
Pete Apostolou - Roanoke, Salem, Lynchburg (and surrounding towns)
Henry Marcus - Charleston, Columbia (and surrounding towns)
Paul Winkhaus - Greenville, Asheville (and surrounding towns)
Mr. Ringley told me these local guys were all independent operators, considered business partners to Jim Crockett Promotions, who originally booked talent from Jim Crockett for their towns but then later were basically just sent talent from the office. As these guys retired or died, they were replaced by “agents” (for example Sandy Scott, Danny Miller, and Wally Dusek.) Of all the local promoters, Ringley said Paul Winkhaus was his favorite.

Another little tidbit we discussed was related to my work on studio wrestling history for JCP, specifically the early TV tapings that took place at WFBC in Greenville, SC. in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Ringley remembered announcer Bob Poole, but oddly did not remember Bill Krieger. But the main voice he remembered was that of Billy Powell, who not only did local wrestling promos and ring announcing for Greenville for decades, but also did all the voice overs for radio and TV spots for the concert and other entertainment events Ringley and Jim Crockett promoted. He called Billy Powell "the voice of Ringely and Crockett Promotions." This was the name of the separate company incorporated in 1970 that promoted all non-wrestling events for the Crockett promotional empire, which include concerts, Globe Trotters basketball, etc. Jim Crockett Promotions, Inc. was still the company that handled everything wrestling.

Ringley also made these comments regarding his ex-wife Frances Crockett, unsolicited:
"I thought a lot of Frances, I still do. She had the best business mind by far of any of the children. She proved it with baseball. She loved baseball. When I met her, she had baseball posters in her bedroom."
Again, my many thanks to Mr. John Ringley for taking the time to talk with me back in 2016. I'm happy to tie up these "loose ends" from those conversations.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Bobby Becker's Silver Dollars

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One of the cool things that occasionally happens here at the Gateway is we hear from someone who has an interesting connection to wrestling's past.

Such is the case with a nice fellow named Gary J. Grieco who wrote to tell us about his connection to one of the famous brother combinations in wrestling's long-ago past - - George and Bobby Becker.

George and Bobby Becker
The famous brother team were big drawing
cards for Jim Crockett in the early 1950s

Gary found our website searching online for info on Bobby Becker and stumbled across our post from May of 2016 about a cool promotional postcard featuring the Becker Brothers used back in the 1950s by Richmond area promoter Bill Lewis. (See that post here.)

Gary grew up around wrestlers. His father, Mike Grieco, was an amateur wrestler prior to World War II at the Cooper Athletic Club in Ridgewood, Queens NY and then wrestled professionally from 1949-1955 under the ring name Mighty Mickey Cartolano. One of his father's best friends was also a wrestler, a fellow by the name of Johhny Emerling, whose ring name was Bobby Becker. In fact Emerling was Gary's godfather.
The Becker name is nearly synonymous with Crockett wrestling in the 1950s and 1960s. George Becker was a fixture in the Carolinas and Virginias during those two decades, also booking the territory during some of that time. Bobby Becker was sure to be a star here, too, but he died at a relatively young age after a short and sudden battle with leukemia.

The Becker Brothers were a very successful team here from 1951-1955, up until the time of Bobby Becker's death. The two were only brothers in wrestling lore; they were not related in real life. Richmond promoter Bill Lewis, who became a business partner with Jim Crockett, is credited with bringing the Beckers to our area.

A 12 year old Gary Grieco with Edouard Carpentier,
Skull Murphy, Magnificent Maurice, "Handsome"
Johnny Barend, and Jolly Cholly, the Wrestling Hobo.
Sunnyside Garden, Queens, NY circa 1963
Being a wrestler's kid occasionally has its advantages. Gary got to hang around locker rooms with his Dad, and he met lots of wrestlers such as Magnificent Maurice, Handsome Johnny Barend, Edouard Carpentier, Skull Murphy and others. Another wrestler, Al Smith (real name Al Alexander), was such a close friend of his father's that Gary called him "Uncle Al."

Gary has a large collection of memorabilia that his father kept from that era including early photos of the Becker brothers and other wrestlers, newspaper clippings featuring his father Mighty Mickey Cartolano on the bill (one seen below), as well program bills, etc.

But of all the memories and memorabilia Gary was nice enough to share with us via email, the one that struck me most was a poignant memory he shared related to Bobby Becker. Gary was born in 1951 and Bobby Becker (John Emerling) died in 1955, so Gary never really got to know his father's close friend. But there is one particular memory of Becker he still fondly recounts today.

Johnny Emerling, aka Bobby Becker
circa 1940s
"My memories of Bobby Becker are from when I was a three year old kid," Gary wrote. "He always gave me a silver dollar when he visited the house, and a three year old kid never forgets that kind of stuff!"

There is something very special and warm about that, those silver dollars a tangible token of a close friendship. Those simple acts speak to character and affection for folks you consider almost family. And what a cool thing to give to young kid. I just love that story.

While Gary didn't have much of a chance to get to know Bobby Becker because of Bobby's death in 1955, he was fortunate enough to meet and get to know Bobby's older wrestling-sibling, George.

A 1949 newspaper ad for a show that
included Gary's father (3rd match down.)
"I got to meet George Becker on several occasions as a teenager," Gary wrote, "and he was cut from the same bolt of cloth -- Bobby and George could have been brothers in real life."

That was particularly nice to hear. 

Gary's dad was also a sandlot baseball player and he had another neighborhood friend -- a diminutive shortstop named Phil Rizzuto. "I have a boatload of information and signed photos of Phil also," Gary wrote. "But that's a whole other story."

Sounds like Mike Grieco, aka Mighty Mickey Cartolano, led a fascinating and full life. A special thanks to his son Gary for sharing some of the memories of that fascinating life that have a connection to the area we cover here at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

(All photos courtesy of Gary J. Grieco)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Ric Flair vs. Gene Anderson: The Figure Four/Hair Challenge (1980)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
(Includes Rare Vintage Audio Recording)

"You might have pushed me around when I was five years old. You were a lot bigger then, brother. But times have changed. You wanna push me around now? Get a contract, and just like Buddy Rogers learned, brother, I'll go through you to get to Snuka."    -Ric Flair, World Wide Wrestling, January 12, 1980 

In late 1979, Gene Anderson retired from full-time competition to begin his managerial career, taking over the contracts previously held by Buddy Rogers. One of those wrestlers was "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, the reigning United States Heavyweight champion.

Ric Flair, at this point a beloved fan-favorite in the Mid-Atlantic area, was chasing the U.S. title once again, a title he never lost in the ring to begin with. He had given up the championship in August of that year when he and Blackjack Mulligan won the NWA World Tag Team titles. Snuka subsequently won the vacant U.S. championship in a tournament. Now Flair wanted the U.S. title back.

But in January of 1980, Gene Anderson suggested on television to "World Wide Wrestling" host Rich Landrum that he didn't think Flair deserved a shot at Snuka when he couldn't even beat him (Gene), calling himself "the teacher." In wrestling lore, it was Flair's cousins Gene and Ole Anderson that broke him into the business and taught him the ropes.

Flair obviously took issue with that and challenged Anderson to a match and told his cousin to name the town and that if he couldn't beat him in under 30 minutes with the figure four leglock he would never wrestle in that town again. And if he won, he would get the U.S. title shot at Snuka.

Anderson agreed, but said there would be something else Flair would have to put up. The following week, Anderson announced the stipulation and presented Flair with a contract: if Flair didn't beat him in under 30 minutes with the figure-four, he would have to shave his head!

We are happy to present here a vintage audio recording of the confrontation described here between Ric Flair and Gene Anderson, on World Wide Wrestling hosted by Rich Landrum and Johnny Weaver:


In a recent story here on the Gateway, I outlined a series of title matches over the years where Flair was chasing a championship with his "golden mane" on the line and how that stipulation proved enough motivation to Flair to never lose one of those matches. That same motivation served him well in the matches with Anderson that took place at the end of January and first of February as Flair defeated Anderson in each one.

There were at least four of those matches, taking place in Columbia and Charleston, SC, Greensboro, NC, and Hampton, VA (newspaper ad seen above.)

As a result of these matches, Gene Anderson had to begin using a cane because Flair had injured his knee with the figure-four. The cane became a controversial item in future matches as Gene often used it to interfere in matches where he managed Snuka, the Sheik, Stevens and others. Snuka also attacked Flair after one of the matches and repeatedly rammed his head into the steel ring post, resulting in Flair needing 36 stitches to close the wound.

Flair went on to eventually take the U.S. title from Snuka in April of 1980, but not before enduring one of the most brutal feuds in Flair's long career. He and Snuka, with manager Gene Anderson always causing trouble at ringside, had one of the most bloody feuds in Mid-Atlantic  Wrestling history.

* * * * * *

Thanks to Mark Eastridge for the newspaper clipping,
Gary Wray for the audio recording, 
and Carl Richardson for additional research.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Almanac History - July 1980 (Week 1)

David Chappell's
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History

JULY 1980       (WEEK 1)
July 1980 - Week One
The Fourth of July holiday week of 1980 brought in the biggest star in professional wrestling, literally, in the person of Andre the Giant, to the Mid-Atlantic area. The first week of July also brought with it a series of action-packed battles where Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood attempted to regain the World Tag Team Tiles from the newly formed duo of Ray "The Crippler" Stevens and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.

A rare card in the Raleigh Civic Center on July 1st started out the first week of July, and the second half of the year of 1980, for the stars of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. The highlight of the event in Raleigh was a World Tag Team Title match where anger got the best of Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood, in their championship bout with Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens. Steamboat and Youngblood's venom directed against the bad guy's manager Gene Anderson turned a sure win into a disqualification loss.

Despite spirited attempts, Steamboat and Youngblood also came up short in their quest to unseat "Anderson's Army" for the World Tag Team Titles in the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 5th, in Asheville, North Carolina on July 6th, in Fayetteville, North Carolina on July 7th and at the Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina on July 8th.

The Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on Wednesday July 2nd featured the first appearance of the double-tough Texan "Bad Boy" Bobby Duncum, who dispatched Nick DeCarlo with little trouble. Duncum told announcer Bob Caudle at the end of the program, "I'm gonna tell you something, there's gonna be a lot people payin' some dues around here, you understand? You got Mulligan runnin' around here, big bad Mully made a legend of himself...he's gonna be beggin' and screamin' for mercy before I get through with him. You got Flair runnin' around with a nice robe, we're gonna take him down to his knees. He's holdin' the belt partner; I'm gonna leave 'em all layin', you understand?"

Andre the Giant returned to the area on July 3rd at the Scope Coliseum in Norfolk, Virginia. Andre was his dominating self in Norfolk, capturing a 13 man Battle Royal at the Scope. On the July 4th holiday, the Giant controlled another Battle Royal in Shelby, North Carolina before heading over to Winston-Salem , North Carolina later in the day to battle the Masked Superstar in a NWA Television Title contest. The Giant then appeared in Hampton, Virginia on July 5th and formed a dynamic trio with Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan to handily dispatch the combination of the Superstar, Greg Valentine and Enforcer Luciano.

Ray Stevens, Jimmy Snuka, and the Iron Sheik
Andre closed out the holiday weekend in Roanoke, Virginia on July 6th by teaming with "Jumping" Jim Brunzell and Ric Flair to dominate the trio of the Iron Sheik, Greg Valentine and Enforcer Luciano, before heading down the road to Greensboro, North Carolina later that same day to capture yet another Battle Royal, this time besting Jimmy Snuka at the end.

Former close friends and partners Ric Flair and Greg Valentine battled over Ric's United States Heavyweight Title in the Richmond Coliseum on the 4th of July, and followed that with title bouts in Greensboro on July 6th and Greenville, South Carolina on July 7th. While Flair won all these encounters, the matches were hyper competitive and could have gone either way.

July's inaugural week also saw Jim Brunzell capture two disqualification victories in title bouts with Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion the Iron Sheik in Richmond on July 4th and the next night in the Charlotte Coliseum, leaving the Sheik battered but still holding his belt. And finally, the first week in July saw the continuation of the bizarre program between Blackjack Mulligan and Enforcer Luciano with Mully scoring wins in Greensboro and Greenville, and also saw Blackjack's cousin Luke subbing for Mulligan in Richmond on the 4th and scoring a win over the Enforcer in Luciano's specialty match, the Detroit Street Brawl.

Next time: Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood review tape of their NWA World Tag Team title loss to Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka!

* * * * * * * * * *
More Mid-Atlantic History from July 1980 coming soon! 

Friday, March 08, 2019

Action Figures Friday - No. 1 Paul Jones

What a great custom action figure of one of the real legends of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, No. 1 Paul Jones.

The figure, and the awesome presentation here with the custom U.S. belt and a 1976 issue of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine, are part of a series of posts by our friends at Wrestler Weekly. You can follow all of their great posts of classic wrestling memorabilia on Twitter at @wrestlerweekly. Reggie Richardson (brother of Scottie who publishes Wrestler Weekly) had the figure custom made and arranged this very cool presentation.

Some random info about the magazine cover you see here. It was Vol. 2 Issue 4 of a series of in-house magazines that served as the program at arena events for Jim Crockett Promotions in the mid-1970s through mid-1980s. The early issues of the magazine, including this one, were written and produced by Les Thatcher when he worked as a jack-of-all-trades for the JCP office.

In the artists rendering on the cover, you'll see two wrestling holds being applied just above Paul's head. Both were drawn from photographs taken during the legendary one-night tournament on November 9, 1975 in Greensboro to crown a new U.S. Champion following the Wilmington plane crash in October of that year that ended the career of then-champion Johnny Valentine. At left Paul grabs a headlock on "Handsome" Harley Race, who he defeated in the semi-finals of the tournament. On the right you see Paul working over the leg of Terry Funk, who defeated Paul in the finals. Paul went on to defeat Funk three weeks later on Thanksgiving night to claim his first U.S. championship, commemorated on the cover of this magazine.

Another great addition to our line-up of classic Mid-Atlantic Wrestling custom action figures.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

When Ric Flair put up his "Golden Mane" it meant Championship Gold

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Greensboro NC October 16, 1976
Legendary athletes find their source of inspiration and motivation in many different forms. For the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, it was his trademark blond hair - - his "golden mane" as he liked to call it.

Flair's hair was the stipulation in many matches over the years, but it seemed to especially work well for him in title matches where he was the challenger. All three of the Nature Boy's Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship victories over Wahoo McDaniel, for example, came with his hair on the line as a contracted stipulation in the title match.

Back in the 1970s in the early part of Ric's storied career, he was the hated villain and fans always relished the chance to see him have that golden mane shaved right in the ring in front of them. What a wild scene it would have been.

Here is a brief summary of five title matches between 1975-1978 where Flair's hair at risk was enough to push him to victory:

It was Flair's first major singles title (he had briefly held the TV title) and his win over Wahoo McDaniel put him on the map and set him on his path to stardom. That journey was almost derailed when two weeks later Flair was injured in an airplane accident in Wilmington, NC. But the NWA allowed him to keep his title during his rehabilitation and he returned in late February of 1976 and began his year long feud with Wahoo over the championship belt - - with his hair on the line along the way.

Wahoo got his title back from Flair in early may, but later that month, Ric reclaimed the honors. Once again, it was Ric's hair on the line vs. Wahoo's Mid-Atlantic title belt. This was the famous match where Ric hit Wahoo with a "gimmicked" table leg, broken from the ringside timekeeper's table. However, the table leg had a nail sticking out of it and even with the "worked" blow, that nail cut Wahoo across the eye resulting in nearly 50 stitches to close the wound. The number of actual stitches may have been far less; over the years the number fluctuated from 35 to 40 to 55 and back. Regardless, it was a mess!

After Wahoo had regained the title in September, Flair fought back to regain the title on this historic show in Greensboro. It was the night the three top championships for Jim Crockett Promotions all changed hands on one night. In this case, Flair put his hair up yet again in his successful bid to win the title for a third time in less than a year in the main event of that huge show. (See the poster above.)

In 1976, Gene and Ole Anderson had taken the NWA World Tag Team Championships out of the Mid-Atlantic area with them to Georgia. They traded the titles a time or two with their cousin Ric Flair and his partner Greg Valentine in 1977. In October of that year, the Andersons returned to Greensboro to put the titles on the line again against the "blond bombers." Part of what had enticed them to return for that shot was Ric agreeing to put his hair on the line. If the Andersons won, they would shave Ric Flair bald right there in the ring. Ole Anderson even sent in a video promo from Georgia to be shown on Mid-Atlantic TV:

Ole should have studied up on Ric's recent history with putting his hair up. Flair and Valentine regained the titles, kept them in the Mid-Atlantic area, and sent the Anderson Brothers back to Georgia empty handed.

Flair's second U.S. title win, a victory in Charlotte over Tim Woods, also came with his hair on the line. Flair had now won three different championships with the stipulation that if he lost those matches, he would lose his hair.

I'm sure there are other examples. If you remember some others that I haven't mentioned here, drop us a line.

(Poster from the collection of Brack Beasley.)

Friday, March 01, 2019

The Anderson Brothers defend the NWA World Tag Team Titles against Thunderbolt Patterson and Bill Watts

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It was the hot summer of 1977, and Gene and Ole Anderson dominated the tag team scene in the state of Georgia. At one point they held both the Georgia Tag Team titles and the NWA World Tag Team titles.

This screen capture from raw 16mm film footage seen in the Vault section of the WWE Network shows the Andersons wearing the World Tag Team title belts preparing for a defense against "Cowboy" Bill Watts and Thunderbolt Patterson at the Omni on June 24, 1977.

WWE Network

The Anderson Brothers were a month and a half removed from their big victory over Ric Flair and Greg Valentine in Charlotte, NC, on May 8, 1977 where they regained those World tag team titles in a famous cage match where Wahoo McDaniel was the special referee.

Later that fall in 1977, the Andersons would lose those titles to Dusty Rhodes and Dick Slater, but for only a month. The Andersons held those titles off and on in Georgia and the Mid-Atlantic area from 1975-1981.

The film footage, which dropped on the WWE Network on 2/28/19, is heavily edited raw footage of about 7 minutes in duration, and without sound. This clip comes out of the blue as it is believed that WWE doesn't own much Georgia footage, and the source of this material isn't known. It might have been added as part of their recognition of Black History Month, spotlighting Thunderbolt Patterson.

Not much wrestling in this match, as it was an all out, fists-a-flying, "pier six" brawl. Too bad there was no sound, as the crowd was surely into this match-up. Thunderbolt had been feuding with the Andersons for months with various partners over both the Georgia and World tag team titles. The finish to this match is hilarious, which eventually resulted in the Andersons keeping their titles. Check it out in the 1977 sub-section of the Vault on the WWE Network.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Taking Some Time Off

The Mid-Atlantic Gateway is on a temporary hiatus. We’ll be back soon with more great Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling memories, including a brand new interview!

Until then, so long for now.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Best of the Gateway: The Briscos' Million Dollar Smiles

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Originally published February 2016 

I just came across a great interview with Jerry Brisco conducted by Marshall Ward for the Canoe Slam! Wrestling website. While the interview is not dated, I believe it took place not long after the Cauliflower Alley banquet in 2015 where Jerry was presented with the 2015 Lou Thesz Lifetime Achievement Award.

There is lots of great Mid-Atlantic Wrestling content in the interview, particularly Jerry talking about his heel run in the Mid-Atlantic area being his favorite of his career.

He also mentions someone sending him a link to a video promo on YouTube:

There's a promo on YouTube now that somebody sent me the other day that I'd forgotten all about. And you know how Edge and Christian used to do that five-second photo op? Well, Jack and I were doing a promo with Bill Ward, the commentator in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and so I come out and I said a couple words, something like: "I know you people are tired of what I've got to say, you're tired of listening to me, so I'm going to give everybody out there what you want the most. Jack and I standing here for five seconds smiling pretty for you."

So we just stood there and didn't say a word for five seconds, just smiling real arrogantly and then walked off the set. So I said to Edge, "You stole that!" and he said he never saw it. So I joked, that was the original five-second pose (laughs).

That 'somebody' that sent him the promo was the Gateway. I came across it on one of David Chappell's old VHS video tapes. I thought you might like to see the actual promo that Jerry mentions. It is just wonderful and embodies the total arrogance of the Brisco Brothers during their memorable heel run with Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood ("Youngboat") over the NWA world tag team titles in 1983.

Jerry and Jack Brisco's Million Dollar Smile!

It didn't get any better than that! "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes wasn't the only one with a "million dollar smile."

The Brisco Brothers remain one of my favorite tag teams of all time.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Fake News: Greensboro's Incredibly Bad Newspaper Results (1976)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

We enjoy wrestling clippings, and we include many of them in our posts here on the Gateway. But this one had us laughing a little bit. 

Greensboro NC 10/16/76
The actual winners of the three main events are correct. But it's like someone on the late shift at the sports desk decided that alone wasn't  sufficient; they felt the need to make up how they won. Fake news!

This clipping is notable for two reasons. First, it is from a historic show at the Greensboro Coliseum (October 16, 1976) where the three top championships in the territory changed hands on one night. This was very rare in those days, and I guess very rare for any era.

But it is also memorable for how the reported finishes were clearly made-up from whole cloth by whomever wrote this little blurb for the sports section.

At least the actual winners were correct.

Risking his hair against Wahoo McDaniel's Mid-Atlantic championship belt, Ric Flair took the belt with a double wristlock and head scissors in 21 minutes.

He had the stipulations right, he had the right title on the line. He had the winner right. He may have even had the time right. So why make up the finish?

Paul Jones dethroned Blackjack Mulligan for the U.S. Heavyweight championship with a double bar toehold in 39 minutes.

Sorry, dude. Blackjack Mulligan ain't tapping out to no "double bar toehold." (I doubt they went 39 minutes, either.)

Tim Woods took the Mid-Atlantic TV championship from Angelo Mosca, winning on a half-nelson, leg hold and cradle in 10:35.


It should be noted that these made up finishes stand in stark contrast to the nice reporting in the first paragraph of how wrestling outdrew other recent sporting events at the coliseum. Plus, he did get the actual results right. I guess someone called those in, because this guy clearly wasn't at the show. And goofy stuff like this wasn't that uncommon for the Greensboro paper during this time.

Newspaper clippings for old wrestling shows are always interesting to us, just sometimes for odd reasons!

(Newspaper clipping from the collection of Mark Eastridge.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

1983: Arn Anderson and Matt Borne

It was Marty Lunde's first big break on the national scene when he became Ole Anderson's "nephew" in Georgia in 1983 and teamed with Matt Borne managed by Paul Ellering.

This was an excellent tag team and, even though only in the business less than 18 months, Arn already displayed the skills that would propel him to the top of the industry only a couple years later as one of the top tag team wrestlers in the world.

This video is relatively poor quality, but a rare glimpse of the Anderson/Borne tag team.

A little Minnesota Wrecking Crew nugget is included here:

At the 2:40 mark in the video, Pat Rose breaks out of a Borne front-facelock with a fireman's carry. As Rose moves to tag his partner, Borne tags Anderson and quickly goes to block Rose from making the tag as Arn regains the advantage on Rose. It was perfectly executed. This was a trademark move of Gene and Ole Anderson during their years together where they would constantly prevent opponents from tagging with what was known as the "tag and block."

Paul Ellering made note of this (in his usual sarcastic demeanor):

"Did you notice that block? Now what other team can be that precision timed to do something like that? I know of no other team except maybe ... deja vu ... the Andersons. But, we are the team of now."

Ellering was guiding young Anderson's career at this point, much to the frustration of Uncle Ole in the storyline. Ellering constantly trolled Ole with the fact that Ole and Gene were the Andersons of the past, but Arn, with partner Matt Borne, were the tag team of now and in the future.

It should be pointed out that while Arn was being billed here as Ole's nephew, he would later be billed as both his brother and his cousin as no one seemed to be able to keep that story straight.
Paul Ellering, heard here doing commentary with Gordon Solie, would soon form a stable of wrestlers called "The Legion of Doom" which would include Anderson (briefly), King Kong Bundy, Jake Roberts, the Spoiler (Don Jardine) and of course the Road Warriors.

Arn is most remembered of course for his tag teams with Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and Bobby Eaton, amoung others. But his two early partnerships with Matt Borne (Georgia 1983) and Jerry Stubbs (Southeastern Wrestling 1983-1984) made for two fo the best young tag teams in the business at that time, and should not be forgotten.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Best of the Gateway: Andersons Don't Wear Fedoras

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Arn Anderson (1985)
(Photo by Eddie Cheslock)
When Arn Anderson arrived in Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1983 and began teaming with Matt Borne, the two began wearing fedoras to the ring. It was a trademark Arn kept through his time in Georgia and Southeastern Wrestling in Alabama, and on through his early days for Jim Crockett Promotions in the Carolinas.

During a visit to the Conradisson in August of 2015, I asked Arn about the origin of the fedora.

"That was all Matt Borne," he said. "He wore it when he was part of the "Rat Pack" in Mid-South Wrestling teaming with Ted DiBiase. I liked it and so we started wearing them as a team [in Georgia]." Their manager, Paul Ellering, would occasionally wear one, too.

Right away, Georgia booker Ole Anderson didn't like it.

Ole: "What the hell are you wearing?"
Arn:  "It's a fedora,"
Ole: "Well I hate it."

"Ole just shook his head and walked away," Arn told me. "I'm not sure I completely fit the Anderson mold yet."

When Matt Borne was fired from the Georgia promotion a few months later, Arn lost his spot with the company. Bob Armstrong was leaving Georgia, headed to work for the Pensacola, FL booking office known as Southeastern Championship Wrestling. Bob got Arn booked there and the fedora went with him.

Arn soon formed a very successful tag team with Jerry Stubbs in Southeastern Championship Wrestling. Stubbs wore a mask working as "Mr. Olympia" and Arn came in also under a mask as "Super Olympia." Eventually they both worked without their masks and held the Southeastern Tag Team championships many times. Just as Matt Borne had passed on the fedora tradition to Arn, Arn now passed it on to Stubbs, and the two wore the trademark hats during their championship run there.

Southeastern Tag Team Champions Jerry Stubbs and Arn Anderson in 1984

When Arn went to work for Jim Crockett Promotions in the spring of 1985, he occasionally wore the fedora there, too. This time, when paired with Ole Anderson as the new Minnesota Wrecking Crew, Ole put his foot down.

"Ole told me,  Andersons don't wear fedoras.  And that was that."

Ole made Arn ditch the fedora (although it popped up a time or two after that) and order the trademark maroon and gold striped boots that had been worn by Andersons going back to 1966 when Gene and Lars first wore them in Georgia. Those boots became the Anderson trademark, and had been worn by Gene and Ole ever since. While Arn didn't wear them all the time, he did often wear them teaming with Ole in 1985 and 1986.

Personally, I always loved Arn in the fedora. It just suited him well and was a common thread through his early career in his first three territories.

So at least one Anderson did wear a fedora. And in the great tradition of the Anderson family, that Anderson had one of the great tag-team careers in the history of pro wrestling.

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This story was edited from a larger post about Arn Anderson originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in August 2015.  

Check out the complete timeline history of the Andersons in the book "Minnesota Wrecking Crew" available on or directly from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway (look for the PayPal link.).

For more information visit the Minnesota Wrecking Crew page on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Action Figures Friday: Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Figures from the collection of Matthew Montcalm

We're back this week with "Action Figures Friday" and returning to the collection of our buddy Matthew "Matty" Montcalm, better know on Twitter as Wrestlingwclassics (@wrestlingwclass)

Matty has done some amazing customizations of wrestlers from the territory days that don't have commercial action figures. A couple of weeks ago, we took a look at how he built a custom Jay Youngblood figure, and then modified a commercial Ricky Steamboat figure so that it would reflect how Ricky looked in the 1970s/1980s in Jim Crockett Promotions. Good stuff!

This week we take a look at a team that was arguably Steamboat and Youngblood's top rival over their time as a team together, Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle.

Custom figures designed by Matthew Montcalm (@wrestlingwclass)

"Sgt. Slaughter was an easy one for me," Matty wrote me. "Simple arm, boot and calf swap. Mattel has already produced a couple Slaughter figures so the head was already there for me, the rest was and easy part swap."

He went on to explain further how the process works. "I take a hair dryer to the joints of a figure, that way parts are easier to pop off and put on others."

"Kernodle, on the other hand, has the old school trunk/singlet gear and I needed a head," he explained. "So I had to pop open the torso and trunks, to get the legs on him, and glue them. Then I took a Curtis Axel head and sculpted hair using Apoxy Sculpt, let it air dry and painted it."

The results were great. "I’m pretty happy with the way they came out," Matty wrote. "First time seeing them, so that is always a plus."

Sarge and "Noodle" first won the NWA World Tag Team titles in a fictional situation after the titles had been abandoned by Ole Anderson and Stan Hansen. Hansen and Anderson came out on top of the famous 5-month tournament series in the late winter and spring of 1982, but during their reign behind the scenes, JCP booker Ole Anderson left the company and returned to full-time status ion Georgia, while he and Stan still had the belts. Eventually, Jim Crockett wanted his belts back and so after the belts were returned, JCP concocted a story where a tournament was held in Japan for the vacant titles and Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle defeated the team of Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki to win the belts. There was obviously no Internet in those years and the vast majority of wrestling fans had no knowledge of Japanese wrestling. So that preposterous story (Baba and Inoki were actually rival promoters at the time) was conceived just as a way to get the belts on Sarge and Kernodle and simply move forward.

The Slaughter/Kernodle vs. Steamboat/Youngblood rivalry was  a classic, and resulted in one of JCP's most successful shows ever March of 1983 where "Youngboat" finally regained the titles in a famous cage match at the Greensboro Coliseum. The turn-away crowd led Crockett to believe there was the possibility of utilizing closed circuit for a future big shows, and from that the Starrcade event was eventually born as a closed-circuit event a year and half before the first Wrestlemania closed-circuit event in the WWF.

More to come on selected Friday's as we take a look at action figures that take us back to the Mid-Atlantic days.

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Visit Matty's various social media pages for his ongoing presentations of wrestling memorabilia and nostalgia: Twitter (Wrestlingwclassics @wrestlingwclass) Instagram (@wrestlingwclassics) and Facebook (@wrestlingwclassics).

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Mr. Wrestling Tim Wood's Last Stand - The Finale (Part 12!)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

This is the finale! Catch up on this entire story in:

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With the arrival of 1980, Tim Woods got multiple chances to exact the ultimate revenge against Jimmy Snuka in the month of January. That is, defeat the "Wildman" for his United States Heavyweight  Championship belt. The first of the January U.S. Title bouts occurred in the port city of Charleston, South Carolina on January 4th, as Snuka slipped through to a pinfall victory at County Hall in a contest that was evenly fought throughout.

Woods and Snuka met again on January 7th, this time in the Cumberland County Memorial Auditorium in Fayetteville, North Carolina in perhaps the most violent bout to date between the arch-rivals. Jimmy, despite losing copious amounts of blood, still left Fayetteville with his prestigious belt in tow.

The next night at the Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina, the match for the U.S. Title had a decidedly different flavor. Tim controlled the majority of the encounter, prompting Snuka and Gene Anderson to leave the ring before a decision was reached, leading to a countout win for Woods.  However, the win was a hollow one for Woods as Jimmy still retained the belt. But it gave promoter Henry Marcus a good reason to bring the combatants back to Columbia the following week in a match where the "Superfly" couldn't run!

On January 15, 1980, Tim had his best shot to date at whipping Snuka for the United States Title, as the return match in Columbia was a Lumberjack match and the Superfly couldn't leave the ring when things got heated. A host of other wrestlers surrounded the ring and were poised to throw Jimmy right back into the squared circle if he tried to take off. Tim's loss in this specialty match, one that seemed to highly favor him, appeared to signal that "Mr. Wrestling" was unlikely to ultimately dethrone the Superfly.

In the remaining two U.S. Title bouts in January, Snuka showed more of a dominating presence and did not require Gene Anderson's chicanery to emerge victorious. On January 18th in the Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum, Jimmy wore down Tim with his strength and power to score a decisive victory. More of the same occurred in the Charlotte Coliseum on the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday, January 20th. In what would be Tim Woods' last crack at Jimmy Snuka and the United States Heavyweight Title, the Superfly dispatched Tim in twenty-four minutes for a convincing win before a disappointed crowd in Charlotte.

For the next couple of weeks, Tim Woods wrestled mid-card bouts against the likes of Dewey Robertson and the results were a mixed bag. Tim's last significant match ever in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling was an opening round tournament match that was taped on February 6, 1980 against the Masked Superstar #1 in the TV tournament for the vacant NWA Television Title. Woods dropped that bout, and Superstar #1 would go on to ultimately win the tournament.

When Tim Woods stopped appearing in Jim Crockett Promotions events later in February of 1980, there was no reason to believe that we wouldn't see "Mr. Wrestling" again soon. After all, he had many short absences from the Crockett territory during the 1970s, only to reappear and be engaged in a new and different program. But this go-round there would be no returns for Tim "Mr. Wrestling" Woods.

We as fans had to be content to remember all the great skills and thrills this exceptional grappler provided us over many years in the Carolinas and Virginia...including a very memorable "last stand."

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This is the finale! If you missed any earlier chapter, catch up on the entire story in:

Monday, February 04, 2019

Blooper: Jay WHO??

Time for another wrestling blooper, this time on a poster instead of our usual newspaper clippings.

When I saw this one I literally laughed out loud. Something caught me off guard about Jay "YOUNGBLOOB."

The "B" and the "D" keys are not really close to each other on the keyboard, so not sure how this one happened!

Interesting poster in 1982 from a small community right outside Richmond VA. Funny to see Jimmy Valiant and Paul Jones teaming together given that soon would begin a feud that would last off and on for 5 years.

and Posters, too!
Also, an interesting main event of Angelo Mosca challenging Ric Flair for the NWA World title. Mosca was in during this time primarily as a participant in the ongoing NWA World Tag Team championship tournament with partner Killer Khan. So I don't normally think of him as a top singles competitor during that time period. However, that said, he was the reigning Canadian Heavyweight champion for the Toronto office, which had strong booking ties with Jim Crockett Promotions. Perhaps ol' Angelo had to come all the way to Midlothian, VA in the USA to get his well earned shot at the champ!

Jay "Youngbloob." That's one for the ages.