Saturday, August 31, 2019

Elvis, Hawaii Five-O, and the Brushy Mountain Penitentiary Revisited


A departure from Mid-Atlantic Wrestling for a moment, as we go back to 1977 in the Southeastern Wrestling territory out of Knoxville, TN.

This article was in one of the Southeastern Championship Wrestling programs sold in the arenas. I'm printing it here because it reminded me so much of the articles written by legendary heel manager J.C. Dykes in the Mid-Atlantic area in the early 1970s. I loved how heel managers would make excuses or explain things with a straight face that were so obviously not true.

I grew up in a town that was able to get both Southeastern Wrestling and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on our fledgling cable system. I remember seeing this incident with Mongolian Stomper and his manager Gorgeous George, Jr. in their feud with Ron Fuller. I also remember the normally-low-key Les Thatcher's angry reaction to it all.

So just for fun, we present one of Gorgeous George, Jr.'s Southeastern Wrestling manifestos. 

THIS PAGE PAID FOR BY GORGEOUS GEORGE JR.

Arizona Wrestling History
I must take this time to tell you how hurt I was to hear about what happened to Ron Fuller last Friday night. I received a phone call from someone telling me of how a fan jumped in the ring and threw something into Ron Fuller's eyes. Oh how awful! How simply awful! I sent him some flowers even though I really don't care for any of the Fullers. I mean, wrestling is wrestling, but to hear something like that happening to a human being is simple awful.

I want to explain how shocked I am that Les Thatcher accused me of being the culprit that did that horrible, evil deed. I swear to you, and to everyone that I was home last Friday night watching television (in fact, I was watching Hawaii Five-0 as I always do). To think that a paid announcer like Mr. Thatcher, who is like a blood brother to the Fuller Clan, could stir up such hatred between me and the Fullers. The reason I said what I did about Robert Fuller is that Thatcher went too far in his accusations. So, if Robert wants to blame me for something I didn't do, then he will have to answer to the Stomper, whom I have instructed to repeat to him what happened to Ron.

I'm so proud that my Stomper has won the Southeastern trophy and the TV Title, that I could just jump with joy. Oh, by the way, I saw that film of that man that jumped Into the ring -- I bet it was one of those convicts that escaped from Brushy Mountain along with Mr. Ray.

I have written a letter to the NWA to inform the Southeastern Promotions to triple the ringside seat tickets for June 24, when Harley Race loses his world's heavyweight championship to The Mongolian Stomper in Knoxville. Now tell me, wouldn't it be worth $15.00 to see a world's title change hands? This title change would top the Elvis show!

- Gorgeous George, Jr.
Southeastern Championship Wrestling

Originally published August 29, 2017 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com

Friday, August 30, 2019

Action Figures Friday: Canadian Champion Dino Bravo

https://twitter.com/wrestlerweekly

From our friends over at Wrestler Weekly, this weeks "Action Figures Friday" features a look at mid-to-late 1970s Dino Bravo, who held the Canadian Heavyweight Championship in Toronto, but just prior to that was one half of the NWA World Tag Team and Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champions with Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods.

on the magazine cover far left you see an art depiction of Bravo wearing the NWA World Tag Team title belt. in the center and far right, you see photos of Bravo wearing the Canadian title.

The magazine at right, featuring a cover photo shot by Jackie Crockett, was a special photo-album issue of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine. Bravo appeared in the Mid-Atlantic area throughout his reign as Canadian champion as a result of a working/business/booking relationship Toronto promoter Frank Tunney had with Jim Crockett Promotions.

Andrew Calvert at MapleLeafWrestling.com recently announced a new book forthcoming on the history of the Canadian Heavyweight championship that existed during that era. Details to be announced in the coming months.

http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Best Of: Jim Crockett's First Mid-Atlantic Champion


Jerry Brisco: First Ever Mid-Atlantic Champion 
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 


Today we spotlight the very first Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion, Oklahoma State's Jerry Brisco.

Jerry was the first wrestler to hold the title known by name as the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship, although that title evolved from (and shares a direct lineage with) the Eastern States Heavyweight title. Jerry was the reigning 4-time Eastern States champion when the title's name was changed in October of 1973, and as such is recognized as the first Mid-Atlantic champion.

Jerry Brisco's Four Mid-Atlantic/Eastern States Title Victories
Defeated Rip Hawk on 6/13/72 in Columbia, SC
Defeated Rip Hawk on 9/4/72 in Greenville, SC
Defeated Rip Hawk on 3/3/73 in Winston-Salem, NC
Defeated Ole Anderson on 7/3/73 in Columbia, SC

In his WWE Hall of Fame induction speech in 2008, Jerry took time to thank promoter Jim Crockett, Sr. for giving him a chance to shine as a singles competitor on a main event level. It was a special moment for fans of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and the old Mid-Atlantic territory to hear Brisco invoke the name of the man who promoted wrestling in our area for over 40 years:
"I’d like to thank Jim Crockett, Sr., the great promoter in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. They gave me my first opportunity to bust out on my own. I won the Eastern United States Championship there, I won the Mid-Atlantic Championship there…”
 - Jerry Brisco, WWE Hall of Fame speech, Class of 2008
At the Mid-Atlantic Legends Fanfest in 2010, I asked Jerry to take a photo with a replica of the first Mid-Atlantic championship title belt. The photo is seen in the collage above. The replica belt was made by Dave Millican from the original artwork created by Reggie Parks, who made the original belt in 1973. It was a special opportunity to recapture great championship imagery from the territory's past.

Jerry Brisco talks with "Championship Wrestling" host Big Bill Ward in Charlotte in 1972.
Jerry was in the middle of chasing Eastern States champion Rip Hawk in effort to regain that title.


In another bit of trivia, Jerry and his brother, Jack Brisco, were the only two wrestlers to hold both the Eastern States and Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight titles. "Sounds like one of us must have been booking," Jack joked to me during an autograph signing at Fanfest.

Jerry left the area in early 1974, but returned in the early 1980s to team with Jack in a memorable feud with Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood over the NWA world tag team championships, a title they held on several occasions.

Regardless of what period you look at in Mid-Atlantic history, whether it be his run in the 1970s or the 1980s, Jerry Brisco is one of the most distinguished champions to ever hold gold in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Originally published July 28, 2016 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

* * * *

Read all about Jerry Brisco's four Eastern and Mid-Atlantic title reigns and all the storylines associated with his landmark singles run for Jim Crockett Promotions in our book 'The Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship", available in the Gateway Book Store and on Amazon.com.

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/origins-of-mid-atlantic-title.html

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Mid-Atlantic TV: February 6, 1982

http://network.wwe.com/video/v1870847183
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling
on the WWE Network
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
TV Summaries & Reviews
by David Taub
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This is a review of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling as it appeared on the WWE Network. Results are included for the week (Monday-Sunday of the given week) as available. Please email with any corrections, typos, results, other details at 1davidtaub@gmail.com

For links to all available summaries, visit our TV Summary Index.


Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
Original broadcast: 2/06/82
(taped 2/03/82 at WPCQ-TV studios in Charlotte)
WWE Network feed.  [How to watch this show on the WWE Network.]

Bob Caudle & David Crockett welcome us to the show. Caudle has the Augusta green jacket special on again.

Jimmy Valiant joins in, as the overdub plays on. Valiant rambles, mostly about Ivan Koloff.
NWA representative Sandy Scott comes in, says the World tag team tournament is growing. Crockett namedrops the wrestlers on the show today.

Match 1
Ivan Koloff & Austin Idol d. Vinnie Valentino & Don Gilbert
David Hebner is the referee for the hour. Idol is in red this week. Third week in a row with a different color scheme. Caudle & Crockett continue to talk about possible combinations entering the tournaments. Idol pins Valentino after a backbreaker over his knee.

[Break]

—Int. w/Caudle: Rick Steamboat
Steamboat throws to a Flair vs. Youngblood match that took place on that week’s World Wide Wrestling. Stevens and Piper on commentary arguing. Rick Landrum is also on the mic. Main event all over the country. Well, at least in the Mid-Atlantic territory.  Quality match, and we get most of it, as the bell rings to signal a draw. Flair, who has been wreslting as the heel, wants to keep going. Steamboat immediately separates them. Jake Roberts, Terry Taylor and Vinnie Valentino also jump in the ring.

Back to Caudle and Steamboat. He says Tommy Rich is also a top contender. Steamboat looks like he is wearing a Chevy hat.

[Break]

—Int. w/Caudle: Ric Flair


Amazing, that this is Flair’s first appearance on the Network. I hope he dropped by Mid-Atlantic during those weeks not included on the Network. Flair says this belt means a million dollars. He talks about his match versus Youngblood, saying he never heard the bell to end the match. Slightly heel interview. Caudle throws to a match with Tommy Rich, the same clip taped in November from Charlotte Park Center against Tony Russo.

After a couple minutes of silence, Flair starts narrating. Says he has acquaintances, not friends. Back to Caudle and Flair, and concludes with “diamonds are forever.”

—local promos w/Big Bill Ward.
This is not on the Network, but the WWE Classics on Demand version is still floating around. Bill Ward says wrestling is coming soon to Ann Arbor. Ole Anderson & Stan Hansen join Ward. They say they are the greatest. Hey, Hansen confuses the Silverdome and Superdome too. It seems that Hogan copied him decades later.

[Break]

Match 2
Pvt. Jim Nelson d. Blackjack Mulligan Jr. by DQ
Slaughter comes to ringside to watch the match. Crockett says at one point “Junior needs a new name. He’s his own man.” Nelson is in control for much of the match. He applies the Cobra, but Mulligan is able to get out of it with an arm drag. Mulligan slings Nelson towards the ropes, and he goes over, triggering an automatic DQ. Caudle thinks it was unintentional. Mulligan challenges Slaughter to get in the ring. Slaughter feigns he will, but backs off.

—Int. w/Caudle: Blackjack Mulligan Jr.
Despite Caudle believing Mulligan is out of breath, he gets his words in without huffing and puffing. He challenges Slaughter to get in the ring.

[Break]

—Int. w/Caudle: Roddy Piper; Sgt. Slaughter; Koloff & Idol
Piper, holding his Mid-Atlantic championship belt and in his tights, talks about the $25,000 tag tournament prize. Slaughter, holding his U.S. championship belt, rambles about Mulligan. Idol & Koloff (holding his NWA TV championship belt) talk about the tag tournament.
Caudle introduces the next match via blue screen.

[Break]

Match 3
Jake Roberts d. Buck Brannigan
Ray Stevens joins Caudle. He talks about the Roberts & Jay Youngblood team. Stevens talks about teaming with Pat Patterson. Roberts wins with the knee lift. Where did the DDT go?

—local promos w/Big Bill Ward.
This is not on the Network, but the WWE Classics on Demand version is still floating around. Ward says wrestling is coming soon to Ann Arbor. Porkchop Cash is on, holding his Mid-Atlantic tag team championship belt. He lets us know that Youngblood is his partner. Porkchop recites a familiar rhyme (“man with the power … too sweet to be sour.”). Blackjack Mulligan Jr. is next. He’s lived in Minnesota, so he knows what Michigan weather is like, but he’s never wrestled in Michigan.

[Break]

—Int. w/Caudle: Vinnie Valentino & Don Gilbert
Gilbert gets one line in about the tag team title.

Match 4
Handicap match: Roddy Piper d. Keith Larson & Tony Anthony
Piper has a partner (who is briefly seen, but not named, but it appears to be Rick Benfield), but Piper says he’s going to do it by himself, and it’s a handicap match. Anthony gets some shots in, but Piper uses wrestling and brawling to get the win. Piper pins Larson after a back suplex.

—Int. w/Bob Caudle: Roddy Piper
Piper, in his yellow/green trunks, says he doesn’t need a partner. He is a genius. He still won’t reveal his partner in the tournament. He’s obsessed about the $25,000 prize. When RP talks, people listen.

“So long for now!”


House show results for the week after the jump.

Monday, August 26, 2019

2019 Weaver Cup Results: Royal Takes Home the Trophy Once Again

Congratulations to Arik Royal who won the 2019 (and 16th annual) Johnny Weaver Cup tournament for CWF Wrestling on August 24 in Gibsonville, NC. Royal, now a three-time winner of the tournament, defeated Roy Wilkins in the finals of a tournament that lasted the entire summer and completed its 16th historic year.

On top of winning the beautiful Weaver Cup trophy, Royal also captured the CWF Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship, vacated earlier this year when Trevor Lee left CWF to join the WWE (and became Cameron Grimes in NXT.) Lee was also a former Weaver Cup winner in 2013.

Royal becomes both a two-time CWF Mid-Atlantic Champion and three-time Weaver Cup champion, having won the tournament back-to-back in 2011 and 2012.

Here are the semi-final and final results of the 2019 Weaver Cup tournament courtesy of pwponderings.com:


Semi-Final #1: PWI International Heavyweight & CWF Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champion All Star Roy Wilkins w/Coach Gemini & Jarry Carey defeated Corruption’s Ethan Alexander Sharpe by pinfall to advance to the 2019 Johnny Weaver Memorial Tournament Final main event (13:54)
Semi-Final #2: CWF Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champion All Star “Ace” Arik Royal w/Coach Gemini & Jarry Carey defeated Cain Justice by pinfall to advance to the 2019 Johnny Weaver Memorial Tournament Final main event (26:50)
Tournament Final: CWF Tag Team Champion All Star “Ace” Arik Royal w/Jarry Carey defeated PWI International Heavyweight Champion & CWF Tag Team Champion All Star Roy Wilkins w/Coach Gemini by pinfall to win the 2019 Johnny Weaver Memorial Tournament AND the CWF Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title (21:35)

Congratulations to all the folks at CWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling for the success of their annual tournament. You have our great respect for helping keep the memory of the great Johnny Weaver alive for new and future generations of wrestling fans.


For more information visit the following web resources:

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


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Sunday, August 25, 2019

A Sign of the Times

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Back in the early 2000s, the Mid-Atlantic Gateway briefly hosted a second website (now defunct) called "The Glory Days." It focused primarily on NWA wrestling on Superstation WTBS in 1985-1986. There were show summaries and lots of video clips that we embedded from our linked YouTube site called GloryDays TV. (Most, although not all, of those videos are still up and can be found here.)

Without commentary here one way or the other, it's interesting to note the letter I received from YouTube regarding one of these video clips from a 1985 episode of "World Wide Wrestling" featuring David Crockett, Magnum T.A., Baby Doll, and Tully Blanchard.

Nicknamed "She likes it!!", here is the infamous clip:






Here is an excerpt from the YouTube letter I received:

As you may know, our Community Guidelines describe which content we allow – and don’t allow – on YouTube. Your video GloryDaysTV - Magnum & Babydoll Kiss was flagged to us for review. Upon review, we’ve determined that it may not be suitable for all viewers and it has been placed behind an age restriction.
This clip is indeed one of the more controversial clips from those old wrestling shows. Even in 1985 it was controversial for David Crockett's reaction (not to mention the reaction of the crowd.) So in 2019, I'm surprised YouTube hasn't pulled it down completely. They've left it up, just with the new age restriction.

One wrestling note: I've always thought Tully Blanchard came across as the real babyface in this angle, vociferously coming to the defense of his "Perfect 10." 

For what it's worth, our old website address for The Glory Days website was theglorydays.net which now apparently forwards to a Japanese gambling website. Go figure. (And no connection to us whatsoever!)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Action Figures Friday: Harley Race and Ric Flair from 1983

Photographs by Mike Simmerman

We haven't done "Action Figures Friday" in awhile, and I thought I'd bring it back this week after receiving an email from collector/custom creator Mike Simmerman:

"In light of Harley’s recent passing, I wanted to pass [these] along. I tried to recreate how I always remember Harley posing during his introductions: robe untied, hands raised, proudly displaying the ten pounds of gold."  - Mike Simmerman

I can visualize exactly what Mike is talking about. I asked Mike if he had a photo of him with Harley he'd like to share, and he sent me this:



Harley Race and Ric Flair at Starrcade '83




http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/origins-of-mid-atlantic-title.html

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Mid-Atlantic TV: January 30, 1982

http://network.wwe.com/video/v1870847183
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling
on the WWE Network
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
TV Summaries & Reviews
by David Taub
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This is a review of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling as it appeared on the WWE Network. Results are included for the week (Monday-Sunday of the given week) as available. Please email with any corrections, typos, results, other details at 1davidtaub@gmail.com

For links to all available summaries, visit our TV Summary Index.


Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
Original broadcast: 1/30/82
(taped 1/27/82 at WPCQ-TV studios in Charlotte)
WWE Network feed.  [How to watch this show on the WWE Network.]


Bob Caudle & David Crockett are joined by Sandy Scott, with the World tag team title belts on the desk. The title started in 1975 with the Andersons winning in San Francisco. We go to a clip of the Andersons back in the Raleigh studio days taking on Gary Young & Hubert Gallant.
Caudle & Crockett preview the hour. Lots of tag teams.
Caudle introduces the next match via blue screen.

[Break]

Match 1
Blackjack Mulligan, Sr. & Blackjack Mulligan, Jr. d. Mike Miller & Jeff Sword
A maroon-clad Sonny Fargo is the referee for the hour. Piper joins Caudle on commentary. He talks about the Armstrongs, as the strength of father-son teams. Piper refers to Junior as Barry and wants to interview him. An impressive flying head scissors from Senior. Piper still won’t reveal his tag team partner. Junior pins Sword after a flying forearm.

—Int. w/Caudle: Sandy Scott
They go to a clip from Florida of Eddie Graham, the chairman of the tournament, chatting with Gordon Solie. Graham puts over the tournament, and its worldwide scope. Graham says Ole took a new partner to defend the title, but was a day late. Huh? Graham says he is excited. Solie brings up the finals could take place anywhere.
Back to Caudle and Scott who wrap up the segment.

[Break]



—Int. w/Caudle: Ray Stevens
We now go back to Florida and Gordon Solie, for comments from the Brisco Brothers. Jerry talks about the worldwide scope. Lots of mention about the tournament will be east and west. Jerry namedrops wrestlers who may be in the tournament. Jack talks about going after the title with is brother.
Stevens puts over the Briscos, full-blooded Indians from Oklahoma. We go back to Championship Wrestling from Florida, for a full match.

Match 2:
Jack Brisco & Jerry Brisco d. John Davidson & Rick Davidson
Buddy Colt is the referee, Bruce Tharpe is the ring announcer, and of course Gordon Solie is behind the mic. Tharpe joins Solie at the desk and notes this is two brother tag teams against each other. They mention a Feb. 24 charity card in Key West. While Jack has the figure-four on one Davidson, the other tries to come in. Jack hooks on the inside cradle on him and gets the pin.
A final comment from Stevens on the Briscos.

—Int. w/Caudle: Doug Vines & Jeff Sword
This is probably the generic interview in place of local promos. Sword say they are entering the tournament. They’ve shared apartments, and nearly says they’ve shared women. A very understated interview.

[Break]

Match 3:
Ivan Koloff & Austin Idol d. Don Gilbert & Keith Larson
Who needs Ric Flair when you have Austin Idol? Caudle ask if the Briscos shake up Piper? Piper ignores the question. Crockett is still on headset. He congratulates Piper for getting the votes in who contributed the most in 1981. But, Steamboat is in the lead. Don’t worry, you can still send your cards and letters. Koloff pins Gilbert after driving his knee into the back of his head into the mat.

[Break] (no dub on the music, old-school style!)

—Int. w/Caudle: Blackjack Mulligan, Sr. & Blackjack Mulligan, Jr.; Jay Youngblood & Ricky Steamboat
The Mulligans talk about the tag team tournament. Steamboat & Youngblood are out next. Steamboat, clean shaven (he had been sporting a mustache as of late), says he has a World title shot against Ric Flair coming up, thanks to being voted #1 by the fans. Youngblood looks forward to future tournaments.
Caudle with the magic blue screen intro.

[Break]

Match 4:
Johnny Weaver & Don Kernodle d. Steve Sybert & Jim Nelson
Interesting that Nelson isn’t introduced as “Pvt. Nelson.” Ray Stevens is the commentator for this one. No Piper. Caudle announces Ric Flair will be in studio next week. Slaughter comes to ringside mid-match. Kernodle gets the pin with a power slam on Sybert.
Caudle throws to a clip from AWA TV, of Adrian Adonis & Jesse Ventura. Rodger Kent is on the mic. Caudle promises we’ll see this entire match next week.

—Int. w/Caudle: Don Gilbert & Keith Larson
This is in lieu of the local promos. Larson then Gilbert talk about the tag team tournament.

[Break]

Match 5:
Jay Youngblood & Ricky Steamboat d. Doug Vines & Bill White
Stevens remains on the mic. Caudle reminds us Youngblood & Steamboat are former champs. Flair will be here next week. Steamboat bodypresses Youngblood onto Vines for the pin.

—Int. w/Caudle: Sgt. Slaughter & Jim Nelson; Roddy Piper; Ivan Koloff; Austin Idol
Slaughter, with Nelson in the background holding the U.S. title belt, complains about Weaver. He says he will enter the tag team tournament. Piper says he will reveal his tag team partner when he wants to. He will make Abdullah the Butcher look like Shirley Temple. He is 6’ 7”. Ivan Koloff jumps in, saying “who are you calling stupid?” Piper says not him. Koloff says he will put his TV title aside, as he looks for a partner. Idol closes the show with his rapport, saying he won’t reveal his partner either.

“So long for now!”

Results for the week after the jump......

Monday, August 19, 2019

Dino Bravo's Mid-Atlantic Debut Was Memorable

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Dino Bravo made his debut on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on April 28, 1976. While there wasn't much advance billing of Dino's entry into Jim Crockett Promotions, there really didn't have to be. Bravo had been wrestling in the IWA for the previous year, where much of the focus of that promotion had been in the Carolinas.

Announcer Bob Caudle told the viewing audience that Dino would be wrestling Steve Strong, to which color commentator David Crockett replied, "Now that's going to be a very interesting match. Dino Bravo...young, upcoming fantastic wrestler, and I'm anxious to see this boy because he's got a body that the girls will love! Then you've got big Steve Strong; that's gonna be a real big test, Dino's first time on TV."

Dino spoke to the area's Mid-Atlantic fans for the first time, prior to stepping into the squared circle with Steve Strong. Bravo's initial interview followed one of the rarest events on TV wrestling that had just occurred in studio...Wahoo McDaniel defeating the NWA World's Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk by pinfall! But Dino didn't seem to be flustered by the World's Champion being upset just before he was handed the mic.

Caudle began, "What a night it's been on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, and right now we want to bring in and introduce to all the Mid-Atlantic fans a new youngster to the Mid-Atlantic area and we understand that some great things are expected of Dino Bravo...and welcome."

Bravo responded, "Thank you very much, and that's something we just saw with Wahoo McDaniel pinning the World Champion. If he ever has a championship match, I know the people will be behind him and he'll win it."

Bob continued, "Dino, we've heard some great, great things about you and as we said, we want to welcome you to the area where we've got what we think are the greatest wrestlers in the world right here and you're moving into what they say is high cotton." Bravo reflected, "I've waited a long time to come here, I think I'm ready to face all the competition here, and the reason I came here was to become a winner and this is the place to be in professional wrestling now. All the best wrestlers in the country are here, and accordingly all the money is here and that's why we're in professional wrestling."

Caudle then said, "I know that you know that guys are here like Blackjack Mulligan, the Anderson Brothers are here." Dino answered, "The whole card there are super wrestlers, the best wrestlers in the country are here, and I sure hope that I do well here." Bob followed up, "Does it sort of make you think, well I don't know, here I am coming into the area and I'm gonna be new and look what I gotta face. But I'm sure you gotta have a lot of confidence in your ability Dino, that you can move right in." Bravo replied, "There's no such thing as an easy match, from the bottom to the top I'm ready for any competition here."

Bob then broached a new topic with Dino and inquired, "What about tag teams, do you like tag team wrestling, or would you rather just wrestle by yourself?" Dino explained, "Well, all the time I've been wrestling it's mostly been tag teams so I enjoy it very much and I think that if I get myself a good partner we can go all the way up and get championships." Caudle agreed and noted, " I think that would be great, and by the way for the benefit of all the fans we understand that you have a great amateur wrestling background, and we hope to see some of that type wrestling from you too Dino."

Bravo then summed up his wrestling philosophy explaining, "Well, you'll see anything you want. If they want to wrestle I'll wrestle, if they want to fist-fight I'll fist-fight. Like I said, I waited to come here and I'm ready." Caudle added, "So it's going to be fire with fire, and whatever happens you're here, this is the opportunity, and you're going to make the best of it." Dino concurred, "I'm not gonna blow it, believe me." Bob finished saying, "Good luck to you." Bravo replied, "Thank you very much." Caudle concluded, "We look forward to seeing you in action in the ring, he's gonna go up against a real tough competitor Steve Strong."

Dino prevailed in his debut against the bruising Steve Strong, and that alone would have made Bravo's television debut in Jim Crockett Promotions memorable. But Dino made his presence felt in an even bigger way later in the show, confronting the World Tag Team Champions...and the fireworks were about to begin!

Dino Bravo boldly challenges Gene and Ole Anderson during his inaugural Mid-Atlantic TV appearance...to be continued in Part 2!

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

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Mike Mooneyham Reviews "The Mid-Atlantic Championship"

Mike Mooneyham has written a nice review of our new book on the history of the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship, posted at on the Charleston Post & Courier website. Mike and I recently had a chance to talk about the book, too, part of that interview included in Mike's article.

We appreciate Mike's many years of support for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

New Mid-Atlantic wrestling book good as gold
By Mike Mooneyham, Special to The Post and Courier

Dick Bourne has come up with another winner with his latest book, “The Mid-Atlantic Championship,” an offering that chronicles the history of one of pro wrestling’s most revered regional titles.

Originally introduced in 1970 by Jim Crockett Sr. and called the Eastern heavyweight title, the name was changed to the Mid-Atlantic heavyweight title in late 1973.
The new name reflected a transition from a territory that had been dominated by tag teams for more than a decade to one that put the emphasis on a singles championship. It would become a prestigious belt that would be worn by some of the top wrestlers in the business.
http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/origins-of-mid-atlantic-title.html

That illustrious list of titleholders would include the likes of Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel, Roddy Piper, Ole Anderson, Dory Funk Jr., Jack Brisco, Jerry Brisco, Greg Valentine, Ivan Koloff, Paul Jones, Rip Hawk, Ray Stevens, Ronnie Garvin, and others.
Bourne chronicles the history of the title through its eventual retirement in 1986. He details more than 60 title changes across a 16-year period and includes photographs along with posters and newspaper clippings.
Naturally Bourne holds the Mid-Atlantic title in high regard......

Read the complete review and interview here:
New Mid-Atlantic wrestling book good as gold

By Mike Mooneyham Special to The Post and Courier 

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/origins-of-mid-atlantic-title.html

It's Luger vs. Slater as "The Greatest U.S. Champion of All Time Tournament " Continues


http://www.canadianbulldogsworld.com/rickard-the-greatest-us-champion-tour 

Mike Rickard's latest entry in his "Greatest U.S. Champion of All Time" tournament features "The Total Package" Lex Luger vs. "Mr. Unpredictable" Dick Slater as the first round of the tournament continues. 

Who you got? Find out the way Mike Rickard sees things going here:
ROUND ONE (PART SIX): LEX LUGER vs. DICK SLATER

* * * * * *

Go back and review how this all got started here: Introduction and List of Competitors

EARLIER FIRST ROUND MATCH-UPS

Friday, August 16, 2019

40 Years Ago This Month: Mulligan and Flair win the NWA World Tag Team Titles


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Forty years ago this month, on August 12, 1979, Blackjack Mulligan and Ric Flair won the NWA World Tag Team Championships from Paul Jones and Baron Von Raschke.

It was a big deal at the time. Although currently the U.S. champion, this was Ric's first championship win since first turning babyface earlier that summer after an angle with Paul Jones (as well as a separate angle with Buddy Rogers.) Flair had enlisted the aid of several wrestlers as his tag team partners (including Ricky Steamboat) in his quest to topple Jones and Von Raschke for the straps, but it was Mulligan who proved to be the right choice.

The match is remembered as much for the celebration afterward as for the match itself. A very bloody Ric Flair actually leapt into the arms of Mulligan as they held their titles over their heads in victory. It was an emotional scene in the Greensboro Coliseum seeing Flair and Mulligan with such camaraderie, especially given their long, violent, bloody feud just a year earlier.


Who would have thought at the time of the famous "Hat & Robe" angle that these two would hold the world tag team titles just over one year later.

40 years ago this month! Good memories!

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/origins-of-mid-atlantic-title.html

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

NWA Title Art: The Final Version of a Classic (Part 5)

The fourth and final version of the original 1973-1986 NWA World Championship belt, the "Ten Pounds of Gold."
The final version featured new leather with a slightly different cut around the center plate
and a fourth and final different flag configuration.

PART 5
by Dick Bourne, Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Art by David Williams

We pick up where we left off in Part 4:

Not long after Harley Race defeated Terry Funk for the title in Toronto in February of 1977, the refurbished and repainted plates were attached to a brand new cut of leather. This new leather strap had a different style of lacing and was cut slightly different, the main change being that the cut of the leather did not follow the shape of the main plate as closely as the old leather did, which tightly hugged the upper edge of the main plate (as seen in the image at the top of Part 3.)

Pretty soon, however, the plates began to show the same wear and tear as the earlier version of the belt did. The globe was badly dented again, and paint began flaking off the plates in different areas. Most noticeably, some of the segments of ornamental "beads" around the edge of the main plate began to break off as well.

The look of the belt in its last years: dented globe (again), missing beads, missing paint, missing eyelets.

Let's face it, after several years of observation, it was clear that this type of construction for a ring used title belt just didn't make much sense. Those bead-sections were each attached individually with 4-6 beads to a section. And many of them were getting broken off the belt.

In addition, some of the faux eyelets and snaps broke away from the belt, too. By the time Jim Crockett had the new "Big Gold" belt made in 1986, the old Ten Pounds of Gold was in pretty rough shape.

An illustration of the shape the belt was in at the end, with the busted lacing and missing paint.

Artist David Williams has done an incredible job of recreating every version of the belt, with sub-versions illustrating the damage to the belt in later years.

The following chart shows the progression of the belt from its original configuration in 1973 to it's final look in 1986.

The final progression chart.

The book "Ten Pounds of Gold" that I authored with Dave Millican lays out in great detail all four versions of the NWA "domed-globe" belt. (There is a detailed flow chart summarizing those versions in pp. 70-71 of the book.)

My thanks to computer artist extraordinaire David Williams for the amazing work he did on all the different versions of the famous domed-globe belt.


http://tenpoundsofgold.com

Monday, August 12, 2019

Masked Superstar Sends a Message from the Land of the Rising Sun

A CHILLING MESSAGE FROM JAPAN  
by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 


The early spring of 1978 was one of the most volatile and exciting times in the history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Major titles were changing at breakneck speed, big names were entering and exiting the area at a rapid pace and mega stars Blackjack Mulligan and Ken Patera would shockingly change their wrestling personas at this juncture.

Prof. Boris Malenko
and the Masked Superstar
The first sign that big changes were on the territory’s horizon occurred on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on March 22, 1978. In a short video insert that followed a local in your area promo, the Masked Superstar and his manager Boris Malenko appeared before a backdrop that featured a number of international flags. Malenko, who had been recently suspended by Jim Crockett Promotions, was strangely silent while the Superstar was clearly agitated as he began speaking.

“Boris and I are over here in Japan,” the Superstar started. “A lot of people said 'where’d the Superstar go, where’s he gone? Has he run away from the United States?' Well, the purpose of this video tape…this is a message to you people particularly in the Mid-Atlantic area. I’m talking about Wahoo McDaniel, Paul Jones, the Mighty Igor and a host of the others. I haven’t run away. I’ve come to Japan because there’s a World tour here, and they recognize my ability, they recognize my wrestling prowess. Now, I don’t have to prove anything to you and I don’t have to prove anything to anyone in the United States,” the masked man emphasized.

Superstar continued, “The reason I came to Japan and entered this World tournament is that I have to prove to myself that I’m the best wrestler around. You know, they have individuals here from Russia, China, Japan, Africa, England, Canada…all across the World and I’m representing the United States and I’ve got the $5,000.00 stipulation up and I’ve got the mask at stake. And when I return to the United States and when I return to the Mid-Atlantic area I’m going to bring back the World tournament championship, be assured of that.”

Then a subject was broached that had everybody in the Mid-Atlantic area talking. “You know, I had to travel 12,000 miles with Boris Malenko to find out that one of my close friends, one of the individuals that I confided in periodically and that I talked to, one of my close friends, is responsible for your suspension Boris,” the Superstar boldly announced.  “I’m not going to mention any names because I don’t want the people to get too excited but I want to promise you one thing friend, ex-friend of mine. When I get back to the Mid-Atlantic area you’re gonna pay for the suspension. I’ve had a long, long time to think about you. You know, they say that a fool is gonna be betrayed by his friends and that’s what you did. But when I get back to the Mid-Atlantic area, I’m gonna pay you back friend, so you think about the Superstar because I’ll be back,” Superstar pronounced to a shocked fan base.

This short segment would be the last time the Mid-Atlantic faithful would ever see Boris Malenko on a Jim Crockett Promotions TV show. And as things evolved over the next few weeks, it became clear that Blackjack Mulligan was the friend that Superstar believed had betrayed him. Mulligan and Superstar would then engage in an epic six month program against each other over a $10,000.00 bounty put on Mulligan’s head by former friend Ric Flair that would eventually cost Superstar his prized mask.

When I think back on all the monumental changes that occurred in the Mid-Atlantic area during the spring of 1978 from the Hat and Robe angle to Ric Flair and Greg Valentine being stripped of their NWA World Tag Team Titles to Wahoo McDaniel leaving and Tony Atlas and Dick Murdock arriving and so much more, to me, all these profound changes were foreshadowed and began in earnest with a chilling message from Japan.

 Originally published in July of 2017 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Mid-Atlantic TV: January 23, 1982

http://network.wwe.com/video/v1870847183
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling
on the WWE Network
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
TV Summaries & Reviews
by David Taub
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This is a review of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling as it appeared on the WWE Network. Results are included for the week (Monday-Sunday of the given week) as available. Please email with any corrections, typos, results, other details at 1davidtaub@gmail.com

For links to all available summaries, visit our TV Summary Index.


Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
Original broadcast: 1/23/82
(taped 1/20/82 at WPCQ-TV studios in Charlotte)
WWE Network feed.  [How to watch this show on the WWE Network.]


Bob Caudle and David Crockett open the show. Immediately, Sandy Scott joins them as both World tag team championship belts are on the desk. Scott announces the NWA executive committee stripped the Andersons of the title. The reason: because Ole has been causing a lot of problems and not living up to commitments. So much for the 30 days they head to defend that Scott announced last week. Logic gap #1. A worldwide tournament would be held, with local and regional winners.

Match 1
Austin Idol d. Vinnie Valentino
Tommy Young is your referee for the hour. Scott stays at the announcers' desk. Anyone can enter a tournament, as many tournaments as they want. Entry fee $1,000. Each tournament winner earns $25,000. Logic gap #2 of this tournament. Even if that it is $1,000 per man, at least 13 teams would have to enter for the tournament host to break even. I doubt any such tournament is that large. Crockett says we’ll have an announcement later from the president of the Unit….err NWA, Jim Crockett. Caudle and Crockett speculate who would Idol choose as his partner in the tournament. Idol is your winner with the Las Vegas Leglock. He still has a very pained look on his face.

Back to Caudle, Crockett and Sandy Scott who throw to a taped interview from the World Wide Wrestling set

—Int. w/Ken Conrad: Jim Crockett, Jr.
A young-looking Jim Crockett rehashes what Scott said. Ole & Gene are stripped, and a complicated (his words, not mine) tournament will take place. A lot of big names, like Stevens & Patterson, Stan Hansen will be a part.

Back to the announce desk. More names to enter — The Funk Brothers, the Brisco Brothers, WWF tag champs Adrian Adonis & Jesse Ventura. Yes, they did say WWF. They probably should have said AWA to be accurate.

[Break]

Match 2
Jay Youngblood & Jake Roberts d. Chris Markoff & Ben Alexander
Piper joins Caudle on commentary. Youngblood & Roberts will be entrants in the World tag team tournament. Youngblood finishes off Alexander with a double sledge off the top rope.
David Crockett reads the Top 10 tag team list from Inside Wrestling magazine. Fuji & Saito, Gagne & Brunzell, Briscos, the Armstrongs, Duncum & Patera, JYD & Mike Graham (probably meant Mike George), and Gino Hernandez & Tully Branchard will be entering the tournament. (Yes, he flubbed Blanchard’s name). Piper grabs the magazine with a disgusted look on his face.

[Break]

Match 3
Porkchop Cash d. Tony Russo
Cash will team with Leroy Brown in the tournament. Piper claims title to 1981 Wrestler of the Year. Caudle corrects him that it’s the most impactful wrestler of 1981, and Piper hasn’t been named the winner. Terry Taylor has gotten votes too. Cash wins with the flying headbutt.

—local promos w/ Big Bill Ward
Ward lets us know that wrestling will be returning to Ann Arbor in the future. Return? When were they there in the first place? Austin Idol comes in namedropping all the Mid-Atlantic stars. Idol says he’s the highest paid wrestler, more than Andre and others. Big John Studd is next, saying he hates rednecks.

[Break]

—Int. w/Caudle: Ray Stevens & Johnny Weaver
Caudle gives Stevens credit for causing the World tag team title tournament. Stevens, then Weaver talk about the importance of the tournament. Both men are wearing suit and tie. We now go to a clip of Killer Khan (w/Freddie Blassie) beating on Victor Mercado from 8/22/81 WWF All-Star Wrestling. Brief reaction from Weaver and Stevens, and now to a clip of Stan Hansen defeating Luke Williams (not the same as the Bushwhacker) from the November Charlotte Parc Center taping.

[Break]

—Int. w/Caudle: Ivan Koloff; Sgt. Slaughter & Pvt. Nelson; Ole Anderson & Gene Anderson
Rapid fire interview time. Ivan says it’s all about the American dollar. He has a black cowboy hat. Slaughter and Nelson and next. He would like to add the tag title. Ole & Gene are out. Ole is bitter, but vows to regain the title. He argues with Caudle, before Piper sort-of intervenes.
Magic blue intro for the next match

[Break]

Match 4
Terry Taylor d. Steve Sybert
Ray Stevens commentates with Caudle for this match. Stevens putting over the tag tournament. Says he and Pat Patterson will enter the Greensboro tournament. Caudle still encourages fans to send in their nominee for 1981’s most impactful wrestler and provides the Charlotte address. Taylor gets the win with the abdominal stretch into a pin combination.

[Break]

Match 5
Sgt. Slaughter & Pvt. Jim Nelson d. Mike Davis & Don Gilbert
Stevens remains on commentary, and more talk about the tournament. Nelson finishes off Gilbert with the Cobra Clutch. After the match, Slaughter applies the Cobra Clutch to Gilbert. Mulligan, Jr. stares them down and Slaughter & Nelson leave.

—Int. w/Caudle: Blackjack Mulligan & Blackjack Mulligan, Jr. & Ricky Steamboat
Steamboat talks about the tournament. The elder Mulligan says the prize money could buy plenty of cattle. Mulligan, Jr. looks forward to teaming with his dad.

“So long for now!”

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/origins-of-mid-atlantic-title.html


House show results for the week after the jump...

Friday, August 09, 2019

Rickard's "Greatest U.S. Champion of All Time" Tournament Round One Rolls On

http://www.canadianbulldogsworld.com/rickard-the-greatest-us-champion-of-a-cf13


Michael Rickard continues his fantasy tournament to crown "The Greatest U.S. Champion of All Time" with another exciting (and unusual) first round match-up contrasting different styles of different stars from different eras.

This week it's the legendary Bobo Brazil who was an international star in the 1960s and 1970s and a U.S. champion in more than one territory, vs. Nikita Koloff a star from the 1980s who caught fire as the "Russian Nightmare" during the cold war period of the 1980s, first as a heel and later as a babyface.

Who you got? Find out the way Mike Rickard sees things going here:
ROUND ONE (PART FIVE): NIKITA KOLOFF vs. BOBO BRAZIL

* * * * * *

Go back and review how this all got started here: Introduction and List of Competitors

If you need to get caught up on earlier first round matches, here are the links:

EARLIER FIRST ROUND MATCH-UPS


Harley Race vs. Tully Blanchard 
Gateway Preview | The Match


Paul Jones vs. Barry Windham
Gateway Preview | The Match

Jimmy Snuka vs. Magnum T.A.
The Match

Terry Funk vs. Ricky Steamboat
The Match



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

Action Figures Friday: Magnum T.A.

From our friends at Wrestler Weekly!

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Remembering A Moment with Harley Race

One of my favorite encounters with one of my favorite wrestlers (that led to one of my most popular articles on the Gateway) took place nearly 30 years ago at a Bennigan's restaurant in Greensboro, NC, following a WCW house show at the Greensboro Coliseum. That wrestler was Harley Race.

Last week, the "Greatest Wrestler on the Face of God's Green Earth" passed away after battling numerous health issues. It was a sad day for me, a sad day for wrestling fans everywhere, especially those of us old enough to remember when that moniker was true. Harley Race was indeed the best.

He stayed active until his last days, continuing to make appearances at conventions and fanfests. But back in the day, this particular appearance was of the non-scheduled variety - - he was trying to enjoy a cold beer after a night's work, and likely didn't want to be bothered by fans like me. But he was gracious despite that, and soon warmed up to me when he recognized the plan I had in mind. I wrote about that a few years back and am publishing that story again below. 

Many years later I had another interaction with Harley Race, as he and his wife BJ provided many of the photos found in my book "Ten Pounds of Gold." We kept in touch occasionally after that. But my encounter with him in 1990 will be the one I remember the most fondly.


 
I Still Owe Harley Race a Beer
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

There has always been an ongoing debate over how many times Harley Race officially held the NWA world heavyweight title: seven or eight. Regardless of which number you decide in the end is correct, one can’t argue how impressive either of those numbers are, especially when considering the era in which he held those titles. Unlike today, where the “world title” changes hands seemingly every other Monday night, when Race captured his first title a champion might hold the title for years at a time. Granted, by the late 70s and early 80s, there were several cup-of-coffee title interruptions which inflated the total. That was a harbinger of days to come, I suppose.

I had always been on the side of seven times; that was the traditional way history was written and how things played out to fans at the time. Everybody agrees on the first seven reigns, the seventh of which in 1983 broke Lou Thesz’s record to that point. The modern-day  debate centers around the title change that would be counted number eight: a short three day title switch that took place in 1984 between Race and Ric Flair on the other side of the world, a switch none of us as fans knew about at the time and a switch the wrestling press (except in Japan), by and large, did not report.

However, after reflecting back on a chance encounter I had with Mr. Race many years ago, I began to rethink my position on this debate. It also made me aware of a debt still owed him, a small debt that goes back almost 20 years.

It was the summer of 1990 and World Championship Wrestling was making its monthly stop at the Greensboro Coliseum. My buddies David and Danny and I were all jacked up about going to see Harley Race. Race was making one final run in the ring, touring with WCW. I knew it might wind up being the last time I’d get to see Race wrestle, and as it happened, it was. Less than a year later, he hung up the boots and moved on to a successful managerial career, guiding both Lex Luger and Big Van Vader to the WCW world title.

I don’t remember much else about that card in Greensboro, but I do clearly remember being pretty excited because I relished any chance to see one of the great NWA champions in action. Race, Brisco, Funk, Flair – these were the great NWA champions of my youth and men who I would argue should be on anyone’s list of the top wrestlers of all time. They all had held the “ten pounds of gold”, that most iconic of wrestling belts.

And as it turned out, I was going to see two former world champions on that card: Race’s opponent that night in Greensboro was a man that once briefly defeated him for the NWA world title - Tommy “Wildfire” Rich.

For just under five days in 1981, Tommy Rich carried the NWA world belt, defeating Race on a Monday night in Augusta GA and losing it back to him on a Friday night in Gainesville. Promoter Jim Barnett and Race may have gone into business for themselves, as it is generally accepted that the NWA board did not approve this 5-day switch in advance. The NWA President at the time, Jim Crockett, was in Japan when it happened and had to hurry back to the United States, only to find the whole thing was over by the time he returned. Fans still argue today about that short title run, questioning whether Rich is worthy of being remembered as champion. It is, of course, a moot point. As Harley Race himself has clearly stated, Rich beat him in the middle of the ring and deserved to be called World Heavyweight Champion.

Given their legitimate world title history together, it just seemed kind of cool to me that these two would wrestle again all these years later, almost a rematch of their infamous 1981 title bouts. Although winning the title back from Rich in 1981 had evened the score, this night in Greensboro would allow Harley to regain the upper hand with Rich in our eyes. As it happened, Race did win the match that night, and we all thought it had been a pretty good evening. But, as the old expression goes, business was about to pick up.

After the matches, we decided to grab some dinner at the local Bennigan’s restaurant which was not far down High Point Road from the Greensboro Coliseum. Despite the fact it was right after the wrestling show, the place wasn’t very crowded, and we were quickly seated at a corner table and began looking over the menu. Then, someone across the room caught our eye. There, sitting at the bar alone, was the former heavyweight champion of the world Harley Race.

There weren’t any other wrestlers in the place. Harley was quietly nursing a tall cold one, and we decided the appropriate thing to do was buy the champ his next one. So we told our server that there was a legend in the house, and his next round was on us. We watched eagerly as a few minutes later, the bar tender leaned over and said something to Harley as he handed him his next beer, and then pointed to us over in the corner. Harley looked over, and without any change of expression lifted his glass to us, winked, and mouthed the word “thanks.”

http://www.midatlanticgateway.comMy friends started egging me on to go over and talk to him. Anyone who knows me knows how reluctant I am to do something like that, but after hearing me talk non-stop about going to see Harley Race for the past two weeks, they were pretty insistent. After all, they argued, when was I going to get this close to Harley Race again?

 I decided they were right, gathered up my nerve, and went over to the bar and sat down next to him.

“Mr. Race,” I said, “I saw you wrestle tonight at the Coliseum. I just want you to know what an honor it is to see you in the ring and to see you here tonight.”

It probably sounded as silly to Harley Race then as it sounds writing it now. But that’s all I could get out. He was very nice, thanked me, but it was clear he probably would just rather be left alone to enjoy his refreshments. But heck, I was sitting at the bar with “Handsome” Harley Race. I couldn’t leave now.

My strategy was that he wouldn’t mind me pestering him as long as I was buying the beer. I then made the tactical decision to buy him seven of them; one beer for each world heavyweight championship he had held. Harley, needless to say, thought that was an excellent idea.

I ordered a beer, too, and we continued to talk for awhile. Actually, I was doing most of the talking and I know how I must have sounded, telling him about the first time I ever saw him wrestle live, defending the NWA title against Ric Flair in 1980 at the Charlotte Coliseum. I’m sure at some point he had begun to tune me out.

After a short while, and well before beer number seven, I decided not to bother him any longer. I slid a $20 dollar bill to the bartender, which back then easily covered the seven beers with a good bit left over for a tip. Harley thanked me again, turned back to his beer, and I went back and rejoined my friends.

Looking back on that night, I started thinking about Harley’s brief 1981 title switch with Tommy Rich in Georgia, and how similar it was to the 1984 switch between Race and Flair mentioned earlier. However, it was Race that time on the short end of a brief reign that started when he beat Ric Flair in New Zealand and ended days later when he lost it back to Flair in Singapore. Like the situation with Tommy Rich, Race won the title and dropped it back to Flair in the ring, and as with Rich, likely did so without pre-approval from the NWA board. So why shouldn’t that 1984 title reign be recognized like the 1981 Georgia title changes with Tommy Rich?

There have always been two ways to look at wrestling title history like this. You can either go by what was recognized by the NWA at the time or you can look at what actually happened in the ring. On one side of the argument, the 1984 New Zealand/Singapore title changes, which were arranged by the local promoter Steve Rickard and kept hush-hush from the wrestling media, were not officially recognized by the NWA at the time they took place. In the years that followed, Race was always referred to (and indeed referred to himself) as a 7-time world champion. And back in the day, if neither Bob Caudle nor Gordon Solie told me about it on my Saturday afternoon wrestling shows and I didn’t read about it in one of my monthly wrestling magazines, it didn’t happen.

But on the other side of the argument, as time passed, those title changes were finally recognized by the modern-day NWA. And remembering back to that night in Greensboro, I began thinking about what really ought to matter, and the type of recognition Race deserved for that eighth world title reign, surely just as much as Tommy Rich deserved recognition for his one and only. It seems clear to me now that Harley Race had indeed accomplished something no one officially gave him credit for until many years later. Race wasn’t the former seven-time heavyweight champion of the world; he had held that belt eight times around. And at that point in time on that hot August night in Greensboro, as Race would famously say, that was more times than anyone else on God’s green earth.

What fun it was to share a few moments with one of the greatest of all time. My best intentions then were to buy him one beer for each world championship he had held. I bought him seven that night in 1990. Looks like I still owe Harley Race a beer.


Originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in March 2009
Republished in June of 2015 and August 2019 

http://www.tenpoundsofgold.com