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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Mid-Atlantic TV: January 30, 1982
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

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.


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.


—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.


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.


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.


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 be continued in Part 2!

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.

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

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

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:

* * * * * *

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


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!

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.

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.

Monday, August 12, 2019

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

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.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Mid-Atlantic TV: January 23, 1982
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

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.


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.


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.


—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.


—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


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.


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!”

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

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:

* * * * * *

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:


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

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

Monday, August 05, 2019

The World Champs and the Titles They Held in the Mid-Atlantic Area

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

During the Mid-Atlantic era of 1973-1986 (when the territory went by that name) there were several NWA world champions that held regional titles here either before or after they were world champion.

We take a look at those champions and the titles they held.

Dory Funk, Jr.
Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship (1983, 1984)

Okay, I'm already cheating a little bit here. Technically the "Mid-Atlantic era" began in October 1973 when the Eastern title was renamed the Mid-Atlantic title, and the Atlantic Coast tag team titles were renamed the Mid-Atlantic tag team titles. Jack Brisco was NWA champion by that time. But since we've broadly listed the Mid-Atlantic years as beginning in the year 1973, I thought I'd include the man who was NWA champion at the beginning of that year, Dory Funk, Jr.

Dory won the the Mid-Atlantic Championship in early 1983, nearly 10 years after losing the NWA title to Harley Race in Kansas City. I always loved the fact that the man he defeated was none other than his arch rival in the 1970s Jack Brisco. Funk/Brisco was the defining rivalry of the 1970s, and so it was very cool to see these two legendary figures trade our territory's championship all these years later.

Funk also held the Mid-Atlantic title in 1984 wrestling under a mask and known as the Masked Outlaw.

Harley Race
United States Heavyweight Championship (1975)

When booker George Scott decided to establish a United States championship in the Mid-Atlantic area, the man he chose to launch that title was former NWA champion Harley Race. Race had held the title for three short months in 1973, and that line on his resume helped give the new title credibility right off the bat.

Race was brought in to defend the title against Johnny Valentine, putting Valentine over to establish the championship in the territory. He was announced on area television as U.S. champion weeks before the July 1975 match with Valentine, but in reality he was champion for that one night only - bringing the title to the ring and dropping it to Valentine in what is still remembered to this day as a classic.

Jack Brisco
Eastern Heavyweight Championship (1971, 1972)
Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship (1982)
World Tag Team Championship (with Jerry Brisco in 1983 and 1984)

Jack Brisco held area championships both before and after he was NWA world heavyweight champion. He won the Eastern heavyweight title (the forerunner to the Mid-Atlantic title) from the Missouri Mauler just after Thanksgiving in 1971 at a High Point, NC TV taping, and then traded the title with Rip Hawk in 1972, a little over a year before winning the NWA title from Harley Race.

Brisco was never a regular here in the early 1970s, despite winning our area's championship twice. His home area was always Florida, but he was booked out to lots of territories for exposure as he was being groomed for an NWA title run. He made lots of shots here in 1972 and 1973 leading up to his NWA title victory over Race, usually over a weekend, but sometimes lasting a whole week.

Brisco's first full-time run in the Mid-Atlantic area began in the spring of 1982 and lasted until jumping to the WWF in 1984 after selling his stock in the NWA Georgia promotion to Vince McMahon. In 1982 he had great feuds over the Mid-Atlantic title with Roddy Piper and an old Florida rival from the early 1970s, Paul Jones. He eventually lost the title for good after his 6th title reign (which included the Eastern title reigns) to career arch-rival and former world champion Dory Funk, Jr.

Following his Mid-Atlantic title run, Jack reunited with his brother Jerry to defeat Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood for the NWA world tag team titles in the late spring of 1983 and held those titles multiple times over the next year before losing them in April of 1984 to Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood right before leaving for the WWF.

Giant Baba

Baba obviously never held a title here, but did wrestle here on a few occasions, most notably a 1977 card in Greensboro that shared talent between Jim Crockett Promotions and Baba's All-Japan Wrestling. Baba defeated Baron Von Raschke on that card.

Image from The Domed Globe Website at

Terry Funk
United States Heavyweight Championship (1975)

Funk was given a short run as U.S. champion in November 1975 to set the stage for winning the NWA title in December of that year.

Following champion Johnny Valentine's career-ending airplane accident in October 1975, Funk was tabbed to win the tournament to fill the vacant title. Funk defeated Paul Jones in the finals of the Greensboro tournament, and then returned three weeks later on the big Thanksgiving night show in the same city to drop the title to Jones. Two weeks later, Funk defeated Jack Brisco to win the the NWA world title in Miami Beach, Florida.

Dusty Rhodes
NWA World Tag Team Championship (with Dick Slater in 1977, Manny Fernandez in 1984)
NWA World TV Title (1985, 1986)
National Heavyweight Title (1985)
United States Heavyweight Championship (1987)

I'm cheating a little bit again here by listing the NWA world tag titles in 1977, because even thought Rhodes and partner Dick Slater did indeed hold those belts for four weeks, they never actually defended them in our area. But those NWA world tag team titles were Mid-Atlantic area titles, established here in early 1975. The Andersons took the titles with them to Georgia in late 1976 and basically were there with them for the better part of a year, trading them with Flair and Valentine during that time. It was while they were in Georgia with the belts that they lost the titles to Dusty Rhodes and Dick Slater in September of 1977.

Rhodes and Slater were set to defend the titles in Greensboro on 10/30/77 against former champions Flair and Valentine but lost the titles back to the Andersons a week or so before that scheduled match.

Rhodes, however, did win the world tag titles with Manny Fernandez in 1984. It was at the beginning of his run as booker for Jim Crockett Promotions, and in the next four years would give himself multiple runs as NWA world TV champion in feuds with Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson. He also had a run as National heavyweight champion, awarding himself the title after firing Buddy Landel in December of 1985.

Rhodes won the U.S. championship from Lex Luger at Starrcade '87. He was stripped of the title after accidentally hitting Jim Crockett with a baseball bat in 1988. It was a title Rhodes had chased at various times since the title had been established in 1975. He was Johnny Valentine's first challenger in Greensboro, and challenged Flair for the title in a memorable match in 1979 that involved special referee Buddy Rogers. After that long chase, it was nice to see him finally win it.

Tommy Rich

Tommy Rich never held titles here, but he did wrestle here on occasion, most notably a short run when Ole Anderson was booking both the Mid-Atlantic and Georgia territories simultaneously in 1981. He also wrestled here for about a month in late 1983.

Ric Flair
Mid-Atlantic TV Championship (1975, 1977)
Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles (w/ Rip Hawk 1975, Greg Valentine 1977, John Studd 1978)
Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship (1975, 1976)
United States Heavyweight Championship (1977, 1978, 1979, 1980)
NWA World Tag team Championship (with Greg Valentine in 1976 and 1977; and Blackjack Mulligan in 1979)

Ric Flair first won the NWA world championship in 1981. Prior to that he held every regional and national championship there was in the Mid-Atlantic area. Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling was his home area, and he is the only world champion to come straight out of our territory.

His first championship was the Mid-Atlantic tag title with his "uncle" Rip Hawk in 1974. He followed that up with his first singles title defeating Paul Jones for the TV title in early 1975.

But his break-out run began with winning the Mid-Atlantic title from Wahoo McDaniel in September of 1975, just weeks before being involved in the same plane crash that ended the career of Johnny Valentine. Though he was told he would likely never wrestle again, Flair returned better than ever in early 1976 and held the Mid-Atlantic and United States singles titles as well as the NWA world tag team titles over the next 6 years before finally winning the ultimate prize, the NWA world heavyweight championship.

Kerry Von Erich

To my knowledge, Kerry never wrestled for Jim Crockett Promotions, although I could be wrong. Please let us know if I am! His two older brothers did, though. Kevin and David teamed in a January 1982 tag team tournament  in Charlotte, NC.

 Originally published September 27, 2015 here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

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For more information on these great champions of the National Wrestling Alliance, check out the book "Ten Pounds of Gold."

Friday, August 02, 2019

Rickard's "Greatest U.S. Champion of All Time" Tournament Continues!

We are enjoying following along with author Mike Rickard's fantasy tournament to determine the "Greatest U.S. Champion of All Time." The tournament is being hosted at Canadian Bulldog's World website and features all of the great champions who held Jim Crockett Promotions' U.S. title between 1975 and 1988.

Introduction and List of Competitors

Terry Funk vs. Ricky Steamboat
The Match

If you need to get caught up here are links to the first four matches in the opening round:

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

Harley Race Tribute Video from the NWA

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Harley Race - Rest in Peace

Farewell to the Greatest Wrestler on the Face of God's Green Earth.
Our hearts are broken.

Rest in peace.