Saturday, December 03, 2022

Harley Race vs. Paul Jones: Reflections on the Norfolk Scope

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The Scope arena in Norfolk, Virginia got its distinctive moniker shortened from the word “kaleidoscope,” because the builders saw so many varied usages for the edifice that was constructed from 1968 to its opening in 1971. And to be sure, I have seen quite a number of different events at the Scope over the years. But none held a candle to the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling events that graced its presence.



Attending a recent WWE Monday Night RAW show at the fabled Norfolk Scope, as usual, brought back to me floods of memories of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Getting a souvenir cup at that RAW show that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Scope, replete with 70’s looking photos on it, just intensified those fond recollections.

Thursday night events at the Norfolk Scope housed a multitude of noteworthy battles in the grand history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. When I am at current shows at the now 51-year-old Scope, I often find myself looking up at the rafters and the uniquely designed roof of that historic arena, and then with a rich imagination try to beam two Mid-Atlantic legends down to the Scope’s squared circle for them to repeat their magic of yesteryear one more time.

During the most recent RAW show I attended in Norfolk, I had a flashback to a Norfolk Scope card on November 2, 1978, featuring an NWA World Title bout between Champion Harley Race and top challenger Paul Jones. 

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling announcer Rich Landrum did a special interview with Race that aired on WAVY TV Channel 10 in Norfolk to promote the bout. Landrum led off, “Norfolk Scope Coliseum, a World’s Heavyweight Championship match with the challenger Paul Jones [going] up against this man, the World’s Heavyweight Champion Harley Race.”

Race began, “Let me say this Jones, you’ve done a lot of campaigning; you must have done it quite well to come up with a Title shot at the Scope. Well let me tell you something Jones, when you come for this [belt], you come for all the marbles, you come for everything in wrestling.”

Harley continued, “You got [Ric] Flair out here bragging and going on about what he owns and controls, but this is the honcho in wrestling. And you are coming for the absolute honcho in wrestling, Harley Race. I am the cock of the walk; I am the man of the hour. I’m the man that’s got a quarter of a million-dollar bounty on him. You come for me Jones, and you come to take one awful beating and a beating is exactly what I’m going to give you son.”

The World Title match between Race and Jones was a classic one hour draw in one of Paul’s last splendid babyface efforts before he would turn into a “bad guy” in about a month when he attacked Ricky Steamboat as part of a two-ring battle royal in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

The bout at the Scope on November 2, 1978, saw Paul Jones at the zenith of his prowess as a “battle to the end babyface,” much like he was two years earlier in his classic program with the ruthless Blackjack Mulligan. The Scope saw many of those titanic struggles as well. In fact, it saw titanic struggles every Thursday night during the Mid-Atlantic years. 

The Scope. What a building. When I peer into that kaleidoscope, to this day, no matter what event I may go there to see, I still see Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling memories burning brighter than ever.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Ricky Steamboat Returns to Dorton Arena

Shared by Chuck Coates
 

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Sunday, November 24, 2022. Three days after Thanksgiving. Ricky Steamboat prepares to step inside the squared circle one more time at the age of 69. 

That night he'd team with FTR (Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler) to battle "Black Machismo" Jay Lethal,  former NWA champion of the modern era Nick Aldis, and Brock Anderson, son of the legendary Arn Anderson. Arn Anderson was a rival of Steamboat's during the Dangerous Alliance era of the early 1990s. 

The match takes place at one of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling's most fabled and historic venues, Dorton Arena. The building has hosted wrestling since it was built in the early 1950s on the site of the annual North Carolina State Fair.  It is famous for its distinctive design, in the shape of a big saddle, with huge windows wrapping the entire circumference of the venue. 

But hours before stepping back between the ropes, Steamboat spent time in the upper deck that afternoon, soaking in the memories of his many battles at the old building. He fought all the major stars of the era there including Harley Race, Roddy Piper, Ernie Ladd, Greg Valentine, Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle, Ivan Koloff, Jimmy Snuka and of course his greatest rival Ric Flair. 

What a wonderful photo of the legendary Steamboat, shared unattributed by Chuck Coates on Facebook. Of all the photos from that night, this was our favorite. 

The "Big Time Wrestling" promotion billed it as Night of the Dragon. Steamboat was indeed dressed in his WWF/WCW dragon ring attire. But we prefer to remember Ricky as the Hawaiian Punch, the nickname he had here in the 1970s and early 1980s.  At 69, he appeared to be as smooth as ever, even deliverying his trademark floating arm-drag, defying gravity all these years later. 


The Hawaiian Punch woke up the echoes again at Dorton Arena.


Monday, November 28, 2022

The Infernos and The Loaded Boot (1967)

JULY 1, 1967 - "THE LOADED BOOT"
By Carroll Hall, All-Star Championship Wrestling

My two brothers and I were really wanting to go to the wrestling matches on that Saturday night in Winston-Salem. It didn't look too promising early in the week leading up to the card because Dad wouldn't be getting off work until 10:00 p.m. that night and I was not
quite old enough to drive yet.

By mid week we got lucky and worked out a deal with Jimmy, a close friend of the family. My brothers and I would help Jimmy chop the weeds out of his tobacco field in exchange for him driving us down to the Coliseum. He loved wrestling too.

My mom had never learned to drive at this point but she had made up her mind to do so. She had just bought a 1957 Dodge with the big fins on the back for $200. She let Jimmy drive that old Dodge to wrestling because the only thing that would run on his farm that day was his tractor. Well, Jimmy must never have driven anything so powerful as that old Dodge. He flew past every vehicle we came upon that night between Mt. Airy and Winston-Salem. Just imagine if you will three kids and one nut(just kidding Jimmy) flying down U.S. 52 in a "Batmobile" going to wrestling!

The old Coliseum was hot that night as it was nearly a full house and I don't believe that grand old building ever had air conditioning.

George Becker had made a promise on "Championship Wrestling" the previous week.....

Read the entire story on the All-Star Championship Wrestling website. >>

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Timeline History of the Four Horsemen

 

Four Horsemen in HARDCOVER now available at
Amazon.com

Every member! Every version! Every associate! The women! The managers!
It's all laid out month by month, year by year, with photos and charts included.



Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Thanksgiving Memories

Happy Thanksgiving! 

We are particularly thankful for all of you who have supported the Mid-Atlantic Gateway these past twenty-two years. Join us as we reflect back on some of the Thanksgiving wrestling and Starrcade related posts from years gone by here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Thanksgiving Wrestling Through The Years for Jim Crockett Promotions
Links to pages featuring info on annual Thanksgiving cards for Jim Crockett Promotions from 1966-1987.

The Forgotten Prelude to Starrcade '85 (Posted Nov. 23, 2018)
Thanksgiving: 1966 in Greensboro, Norfolk, and Charleston
A Thanksgiving Surprise: Starrcade Magic Returns to Greensboro
Thanksgiving Retro: Greensboro & Norfolk 1975
Dr. Joseph Estwanik: A Doctor Remembers
Remembering the Jim Crockett Sr. Scholarship Fund (1973)

Anniversary Flashbacks we posted in 2018:
Thanksgiving Flashback: Starrcade '83 (Posted Nov. 24, 2018)
Thanksgiving Flashback: Starrcade '84 (Posted Nov. 22, 2018)
Thanksgiving Flashback: Starrcade '85 (Posted Nov. 28, 2018)
Thanksgiving Flashback: Starrcade '86 (Posted Nov. 27, 2018)
Thanksgiving Flashback: Starrcade '87 (Posted Nov. 26, 2018)

 

Crown Jewel  |  The Mid-Atlantic Gateway Book Store

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Dream Team: Flair and Steamboat Go For the Gold

July 21, 1979,Charlotte Coliseum
Charlotte, North Carolina




Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's dream team of Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat battled reigning NWA world tag team champs Paul Jones and Baron Von Raschke in a Lumberjack match at the Coliseum in Charlotte, NC.

Flair had just tuned "good guy" for the first time ever a few months earlier and was mounting a full court press to defeat Paul Jones (his current arch enemy) and the Baron for the world tag team belts. He enlisted the aid of both Ricky Steamboat and Blackjack Mulligan in that quest.

An interesting tag team combination was featured in the semi-main. The legendary "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers took one half of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew Gene Anderson as his partner to battle the team of Jim Brunzell and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones. Rogers would become the manager of both Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and John Studd, and following an injury to his ear in late 1979, sold the contracts of his charges to Gene Anderson who became the manager of Snuka and several others to form "Anderson's Army."


 
Originally published July 2015 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Poster: Flair and Valentine Battle the Andersons in Greensboro

by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This poster promotes another fantastic night of professional wrestling at the historic Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday, October 30th, 1977 with a loaded card top to bottom. 

 
The main event was a "Hair vs. Belts" match as Ric Flair and Greg Valentine put up their long blond manes against Gene and Ole Anderson's NWA World Tag Team belts. Fortunately for Flair and Valentine they left Greensboro with both the belts and their hair to begin their second and last reign as world tag champs. They would hold onto the belts until being stripped by Jim Crockett Jr. and the NWA in April of 1978. 

In the semi, Paul Jones was seeking revenge against the Masked Superstar  who had knocked him silly and cut his hair only three weeks earlier in Greensboro. On this night Jones would leave the ring victorious via disqualification. 

To the fans' delight, the popular duo of Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods and Ricky Steamboat topped Blackjack Mulligan and Baron Von Raschke in the upper mid card tag match, while three more exciting matches got the crowd warmed up. 

Six great wrestler images on the sides, the familiar "Wrestling" splash in the upper left corner, and black and red print over a two tone yellow and pink background make for a very eye- catching poster. I seem to recall Flair putting his hair on the line in several important matches throughout his career and I can assume it's safe to say he never lost one, at least not in that era.

NO 42 IN THE BEASLEY POSTER SERIES

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Don't Miss Wrestling at 5 PM on Channel 3!

 

Summer of 1976. There wasn't much better ever than that hot summer. 
Thanks to Wendi Weaver for this clipping.
Originally published on our Johnny Weaver Blog.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Poster: Valiant/Koloff War Continues in Tag Team Battle (1982)

by Jody Shifflett
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This card was from 1982 and I was actually at this event. It was a great night of wrestling. I was 10 years old and can remember it like it was yesterday. 

Jimmy Valiant back then could really work a crowd and especially the ones at the spot shows. We would get about 3 to 4 events a year and there was nothing like standing out back waiting for the wrestlers to pull up in their cars and sign autographs for us; they were all great!

The main event was a classic from back then with the Ivan Koloff - Jimmy Valiant feud going strong. Throw in Jake Roberts and the Ninja and it was pandemonium. 

The match that really sticks out to me was the Kelly Kiniski and Ali Bey match because a local man jumped in the ring to attack Ali Bey but Kiniski actually punched the man in the mouth and my stepdad, who was a deputy sheriff at the time, stormed the ring with a couple of his other police buddies and took the guy down. It was great! 

Great colors and the classic 8:15 PM bell time!

NO. 9 IN THE SHIFFLETT POSTER SERIES

Friday, November 11, 2022

Figure Friday: Canadian Champ Dino Bravo

https://twitter.com/wrestlerweekly


From our friends over at Wrestler Weekly, "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 above 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 on the right, featuring a cover photograph 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, Jr. and George Scott at Jim Crockett Promotions.

2022 Edits: Andrew Calvert at MapleLeafWrestling.com published an outstanding book on the history of the Canadian Heavyweight championship that existed during that era. The book looks at all the Canadian champions including Dino Bravo, Greg Valentine, Dewey Robertson, Angelo Mosca, the Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter and many others. It includes some pretty rare photographs and a great collection of memorabilia.   You can find out all about that book on the Maple Leaf Wrestling website or in our Mid-Atlantic Gateway Book Store.

Andrew also has a new book out on the Toronto wrestling territory called "Quick Bits: The best (and rest) of Toronto Wrestling."


Edited from an August 2019 post on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.


http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Photos: The Pride of West Texas

I've had Blackjack Mulligan on my mind today. No reason, just missing one of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's greatest ever.

Lots of fun Mulligan stuff in Blackjack's Bar-B-Que

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

The Swedish Killers!

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

What a great old newspaper ad this is from Asheville, NC, in 1967, written by promoter Paul Winkhaus. Winkhaus was the local promoter for Jim Crockett Promotions in the Greenville and Asheville area, and he put a lot of thought (and drama) into his newspaper advertisements at the time.


 
The main event was the team of George and Sandy, the popular "Flying Scott Brothers" versus the "Swedish Mat Killers" Lars and Gene Anderson.

THE SCOTTS FACE KILLER SWEDES IN THIS HOT TAG MATCH! PRESTIGE AND MAT RATINGS AT STAKE!

Killer Swedes! Can Flying Scotts compete with Killer Swedes? The card also featured Chippewas, Shawnees, Bulldogs, Mummies, and Panchos!

What a great main event featuring brother team vs. brother team. We're big fans of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew (and the Scott brothers for that matter), so we loved seeing this ad.

A great period in the 1960s and a hot card at the old Asheville City Auditorium.

See T.V. Wrestling each Saturday 5 PM on channel 4!

Thanks to Andy McDaniel for forwarding this newspaper ad to us. 


Originally Published in November of 2018 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com

Monday, November 07, 2022

"Jim Crockett's All-American Legacy" Looks at U.S. Title Book

Originally Published November 2015

Josh Watko over at JW's Wrestling Memorabilia web site wrote the nicest review for our book "United States Championship."

In the review, titled "Jim Crockett's All-American Legacy" he also said some very nice things about the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website, which is always appreciated, and we're glad he enjoys spending time here.

Josh's website is actually a blog where he regularly spotlights items from his incredible collection of wrestling memorabilia. One of the things I particularly like about his site is that he will post memorabilia related to current events. An example is a recent post about the passing of wrestling legend Nick Bockwinkle that features magazine covers and an action figure from several decades ago, as well as Watko's thoughts and memories of one of wrestling all-time great champions. He also often links his posts to anniversaries of big events from yesteryear such as Starrcade, Wrestlemania, or the Great American Bash.

He also posts about recent books on wrestling, and I am pleased he wrote about "United States Championship."

His review begins:
November 27, 1975. Greensboro, North Carolina. A night of wrestling presented by Jim Crockett Promotions. Terry Funk. Paul Jones. All the ingredients needed for what we would now look upon as a classic night of professional wrestling. Traditional wrestling. Wrestling the way that many still remember as the greatest era in the history of the sport. The one element that I failed to mention? The Funker and Number One were battling over the United States Championship. Funk had just won a tournament for the vacant title while Jones, an icon of Carolina wrestling, was the other wrestler who had made it to the finals. Who won the epic Thanksgiving night rematch? You could go look it up and simply see the result, but I have a better idea. How about learning each nuance of the match. Why it happened, what happened during, and what the ramifications were. This is where a brand new book comes into the picture.

The complete article "Jim Crockett's All-American Legacy" takes a look at the special aspects of the book and serves as a sneak-peak inside the book as well.

Watko wrote this about the Gateway:

The Gateway is a site that I'm sometimes too scared to surf over to. The reason is that I know I'm about to lose an hour or two getting absorbed into the great content covering anything and everything that you ever would want to know about Jim Crockett Promotions and the rich Carolina wrestling history. ... The writing and photography pulls you in and actually almost transports you back to the era that's being described.

I love that. It's what David Chappell and I envisioned when we started the website back in 2000. We hope you just get lost in here.


TO ORDER YOUR COPY OF THIS NEW BOOK:

The book on the U.S. title is available on Amazon.com as well as through the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Click here for more details.


Thursday, November 03, 2022

Poster: Flair Defends U.S. Title Against Snuka in Roanoke

by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This poster promotes a card held at the Roanoke Civic Center on Sunday, May 4th, 1980. With a vertical layout, it has all black print over a beautiful rainbow colored background. 

In the main event Ric Flair defended his United States title against Jimmy Snuka (managed by Gene Anderson)while Jim Brunzell put his Mid-Atlantic championship belt on the line in the semi against The Iron Sheik. 

The undercard included names like Rufus R. Jones, Swede Hanson, Don Kernodle, S.D. Jones, Tony Garea, and a young Buzz Sawyer which made for quite an exciting night of professional wrestling in Roanoke.

NO. 41 IN THE BEASLEY POSTER SERIES

* * * * * * * *

Mid-Atlantic Gateway Notes
by Dick Bourne

Ric Flair had regained the United States title from Jimmy Snuka only a few weeks earlier in Greensboro, following a bitter feud with Jimmy Snuka that stretched back to the early fall of 1979. He would continue to defend against Snuka in the summer of 1980 while also forming a tag team with Blackjack Mulligan to chase (and eventually win) the NWA World Tag Team titles. Flair lost the U.S. title to Greg valentine in late July that summer.

The Iron Sheik came up short against Brunzell this night in Roanoke, but was able to capture the Mid-Atlantic title one week later in Charlotte.   

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Roddy Piper Arrives in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling (1980)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, who would become one of the biggest names in the history of professional wrestling, entered Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in the early autumn of 1980 as a virtual unknown to the fans of Jim Crockett Promotions. Without any advance publicity, Piper debuted in the territory on October 7, 1980 at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, defeating Special Delivery Jones. But it was at the next night’s TV tapings at the WRAL television studios in Raleigh that Piper was truly introduced to the fans of the Mid-Atlantic area.

Roddy Piper with his bagpipes
At the beginning of that October 8, 1980 television taping, color commentator David Crockett announced as part of the match rundown, “And we have a newcomer…Rodney Piper.” Announcer Bob Caudle responded, “David, he’s from Glasgow, Scotland, and I understand he’s a rough, tough Scot.” Crockett answered, “That’s right; he really is. He’s a young, good looking guy, though. He’s very good.”

After Piper won his first TV match with ease, Caudle attempted to introduce Roddy to the area’s fans saying, “At ringside right now, and you just saw him in the ring and I gotta say…” Piper couldn’t wait for the introduction, blurting out, “Let me just tell you something Mister. I tell you something; I come to the area here and I walk in the arena and this lady says, ‘Who are you?’ She says, ‘WHO ARE YOU,’ to me! Who am I, who am I? Do I look like the tidy bowl man?! I come to the arena; I’m in my wrestling gear. Since I’ve been 16 years old, I’ve been professional wrestling.”

A boisterous Piper continued, “I was the youngest professional wrestler in the world when I started wrestling! By the time I was 19 years old, I won the Light Heavyweight Championship of the World, brother. Who am I?? When I was 21 I took Muhammad Ali, the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, hip tossed him right down on his buttocks, and made him look like a fool. Who am I, you say?? You take a look at me, man; I’m the whipped cream on your strawberry shortcake! Who am I?? I am Rowdy Roddy Piper, 26 years old…”

Bob Caudle with Roddy Piper
At this juncture, a chant breaks out in the studio audience of ‘Rod-dy, Rod-dy, Rod-dy,’ which Piper feeds off of and pushes forward exclaiming, “…in the prime of my life, with ten years of experience! TEN YEARS of experience! And I come in here with a body that none can disclaim. Now don’t get me wrong, barbell plates and stuff like that is not my thing, brother. I am a wrestler! I am finely honed, I’m young and I’m ready. You listen to me, I see people comin’ around here, I see people comin’ around here, the ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair. What’s a Nature Boy, what does that mean? He runs through the woods nude?? The guy thinks he’s Euell Gibbons, comes up here and supposed to have all these pretty chicks chasing him all around?”

Without taking a breath Piper rants more on Flair and concludes, “Saw him the other day with some chicks, looked liked a Sasquatch exhibition, brother. Well, you listen to me. I’m what’s happening. You say, ‘Who am I?’ I told ya; I gotta question for you. You do you think you are, man?”

Almost at a loss for words, Caudle comments, “I tell ya fans, there’s no doubt what Roddy Piper thinks of Roddy Piper, and he can back it up as he said. He was the youngest wrestler in the world at 16, and held many championships. And that’s the story from Roddy Piper.”

It was a Mid-Atlantic story that had its first chapter in Raleigh in early October of 1980, and within less than a month saw Piper win the NWA Television Title in Richmond, Virginia in a spectacular one-night tournament. The United States Title came soon thereafter, and then many memorable feuds that culminated in 1983 with the vicious battles with former “Dream Team” friend Greg Valentine and the epic “Dog Collar Match” at Starrcade 1983.

The lady asking Roddy Piper who he was at his first WRAL appearance asked a fair question. But in his debut interview for Jim Crockett Promotions, Piper made it crystal clear who he was, and likely never had to answer that question again while wrestling in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Fans in the Carolinas and Virginia quickly recognized Rowdy Roddy Piper as a wrestling star that just doesn’t come around every day, and saw that star shining brightly even during Piper’s earliest Mid-Atlantic appearance.


Originally posted October 2016 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Republished May 2017.


http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/book-store.html

Saturday, October 29, 2022

WrestleArt: Wahoo McDaniel Joins the NY Jets (1964)

 


Wahoo McDaniel came to the N.Y. Jets in the old AFL in 1964. After he started playing as a linebacker for the Jets, McDaniel started wearing a custom jersey which had the name "Wahoo" sewn on the back above jersey. Whenever he made a tackle as a Jet, the public address announcer would ask the crowd "Tackle by WHO?", and the crowd would shout, "Wahoo!"

Bill Gallo's art for the NY Post, part of his "Finders Keepers" series, illustrated that Jets fans were happy they had found Wahoo McDaniel and weren't about to let him go. 

Illustration submitted to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway by contributor Andy McDaniel. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Bob Caudle's Most Dangerous Place

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway


On the Wednesday night April 23, 1975 television taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show, announcer Bob Caudle told the fans that he wasn’t in a comfortable place. The early bouts on the show were dominated by the “bad guys.” Talented Doug Gilbert decisively defeated youngster Kevin Sullivan in the opener, gaining the advantage by feigning to help Sullivan up when Kevin was tangled up in the ropes, but instead Gilbert sucker punched him into oblivion.

The second match on the show featured the newly formed duo of the veteran Art Nelson and Mid-Atlantic newcomer Mr. Fuji easily handling the duo of Don Kernodle and Tio Tio. Fuji put Tio Tio to sleep with his devastating submission hold, the Japanese Cobra. Those three rulebreakers would join Bob for the show’s first interview segment.

Caudle began, “Fans at ringside right now, and I can’t think of any more dangerous place for a person to be than I am right now between three really notorious wrestlers, like Art Nelson here on my left, Doug Gilbert, and then Mr. Fuji.” Nelson gruffly responded, “Well let me say this, not notorious, well-conditioned athletes.”

Art continued, “Let me say this, when you get in that ring then you’d have to be worried. As long as we’re on the floor here, we don’t bother anybody. If you get in that ring, if you’re not in condition, you can’t take it, then you’d have to be worried about it. This is a man’s business, we’re men, and we go in that ring and we don’t fool with babies.”

Nelson added, “Fuji and I were here a few weeks ago and we were talking about wrestling top teams. Where are they? Where’s the Indian [Wahoo McDaniel]? Where’s little boy blue [Paul Jones], the guy with the belts, where’s he at? Where’s the strongman [Ken Patera]? I don’t see them around, I hear them, but I sure can’t see them. But as long as they’re scared to get in the ring with us, nothing we can do about it because we said we would meet all comers, we would wrestle anybody, right Fuji?

The man from Japan answered, “Right! Very, very true Mr. Nelson. You see fans, you see how very devastating, Japanese cobra hold is! Samoan boy [Tio Tio] he paralyzed already; he’s no good, like wrestling an old lady! Right Mr. Gilbert?”

Caudle interjected, “I gotta say Doug Gilbert, you know I thought you were gonna help Kevin Sullivan out, it looked like you were gonna commit an act of sportsmanship in your match and then all of a sudden you hit him. That’s very unsportsmanlike!” Gilbert deadpanned, “I won the match didn’t I?” Bob agreed, “You won the match, right.” Doug continued, “Well, you’re gonna have to realize that when you get in a profession like professional wrestling, sportsmanship doesn’t count very much. What counts is ability. What counts is winning the match, and that’s what happened. I won the match, these gentlemen won their match. That’s what counts…winning!”

Caudle then commented, “Doug Gilbert shows a lot of wrestling ability up there. You got a lot of moves and you use them up there. Why do you have to resort to some of the other type tactics?” Gilbert candidly responded, “It’s a lot easier.” Bob had to do a double take saying, “A lot easier to win that way then, Doug?” Gilbert nodded in the affirmative.

Nelson concluded the segment telling the fans that boiling it all down…making money, and lots of it, was the overriding aspiration in professional wrestling. Art exclaimed, “Green power is what’s important! Green power…that’s the dollar bill, ten dollars, a hundred dollars!” But with that final comment the three “notorious” wrestlers departed the set, making Bob Caudle’s interview area a much less dangerous place!

Monday, October 24, 2022

The NWA's Crown Jewel

 The Mid-Atlantic Gateway remains on a fall-break publishing hiatus. We look forward to returning with more Mid-Atlantic Wrestling memories soon.



Sunday, October 16, 2022

Poster: Night of Champions in Norfolk


by Jody Shifflett
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This poster is from 1984 and showcases the best matchup that professional wrestling has or ever will see with Ric Flair versus Ricky Steamboat. It is also the largest Mid-Atlantic wrestling poster that I know to exist being 42 x 29 inches. 

This match ended in a draw and I’m assuming it had a 60-minute time limit. It featured a great undercard with the Road Warriors, Freebirds,  Wahoo McDaniel, etc. The other famous Night of Champions event was at the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey a couple of weeks earlier and this was shortly after Steamboat came out of his brief retirement. 

Places like Norfolk, Hampton, Richmond, Roanoke, Charlottesville and Lynchburg were truly a hotbed for Mid-Atlantic wrestling back in the day. Virginia was historic for Mid-Atlantic wrestling back in the day just as much as the other states in the territory. 

It’s not a flashy poster at all but boasts the famous 8:15 start time!

NO. 8 IN THE SHIFFLET POSTER SERIES

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MID-ATLANTIC GATEWAY NOTES
by Dick Bourne, Mid-Atlantic Gateway

What a unique line-up for this Night of Champions show in Norfolk, VA. As Jody mentioned above, this followed the historic Night of Champions card at the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey, smack dab in the middle of WWF territory, and was JCP's first major response to the WWF's encroachment on their territory as McMahon began to expand nationally. 

In addition to Norfolk, JCP promoted a string of Night of Champions events in the weeks that followed including in Richmond VA and Raleigh NC (featuring Flair vs. Harley Race) and Greenville, SC (featuring Flair vs. future Horsemen partner Tully Blanchard). 

But none of those other cards featured a line-up quite as diverse as this one in Norfolk.  Early June saw JCP book several stars in from other territories such as King Kong Bundy, the Fabulous Freebirds, the Road Warriors, Stan Hansen, Kamala, Junkyard Dog, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, and others. Several of these would jump quickly to the WWF soon after, appearing for only a week or two on Mid-Atlantic TV. Race would give up in Kansas City and St. Louis a year or so later and also go north. Rhodes would soon come to JCP as booker and pop the territory in a big way. The Road Warriors opted to stay with JCP and were top stars for them throughout the last four years of the company. Stan Hansen would continue to work regularly in Japan, with a short run as AWA World champion to boot.

Other historical context: This was during the time when, behind the scenes, the WWF was close to taking control of Georgia Championship Wrestling - -Black Saturday was just 5 weeks away. 

Also, as Jody mentioned, Ricky Steamboat was just out of his "retirement" at this point (having gotten his gym business up and going in there meantime), and Ric Flair had just won the NWA World Heavyweight title back weeks earlier in Japan, regaining it from Kerry Von Erich.

June was a wild and unusual month in Jim Crockett Promotions! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

A Close Encounter with the Ten Pounds of Gold

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I suddenly realized the referee in the ring was walking towards my position. I thought, well this is it, someone is finally going to ask me to leave. But as I looked up, he reached out with the NWA world title belt - - the beautiful "ten pounds of gold" 

- - and waited for me to take it.

The year was 1982. I was 21 years old. I had just moved from Tennessee to begin work for Russell Corporation in Alexander City, Alabama. For the first time ever, I was isolated from Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, unable to watch the weekly adventures of my favorite group of wrestlers in my favorite wrestling territory.

I had settled in to my shabby little apartment on Highway 280 and hooked up local cable. I could get "Georgia Championship Wrestling" on the Superstation out of Atlanta, and saw some of my guys there -  Roddy Piper, Ole Anderson, Ray Stevens, and Ric Flair. I was getting familiar with the NWA promotion based out of Pensacola, Florida that ran the panhandle of Florida and the lower two-thirds of the state of Alabama. This would be my new home territory. Their TV show aired twice every Saturday - once in the afternoon out of Montgomery, and again late Saturday night out of Birmingham. People in the business called this territory the Pensacola territory. But most fans called it the Southeastern territory, taken from the name of their television show for so many years, "Southeastern Championship Wrestling."

I liked their TV show well enough. Charlie Platt and Ric Stewart were excellent studio hosts. I was familiar with a lot of their wrestlers who used to be regulars in the Southeastern promotion based out of Knoxville, TN, in the 1970s - - guys like Ron and Robert Fuller, Bob Armstrong, and Jimmy Golden. But nothing was ever going to quite replace Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions for me. That was the wrestling I had grown up on. And I missed it terribly.

However, that fall, Southeastern Championship Wrestling was running a tour called "October Fest" and the NWA World champion Ric Flair was coming to the territory to put his title up against a different challenger in a different town in the territory each night of that week. Ric Flair was a "Mid-Atlantic guy," having cut his teeth in the Carolinas beginning in 1974 and eventually becoming the NWA World champion in 1981.  he was the first ever wrestler in the 46 year history of Jim Crockett Promotions to have ever developed through the territroy and been selected by the NWA to be their champion. As fans, we were proud of that! And even though he was now the world champion and just passing through to defend the title, having him come through my new home state of Alabama made me feel a little less homesick.

My first decision was where to go see him. The closest towns where Flair would be were Montgomery and Birmingham, AL. We received most of the TV stations on our local cable from both markets. Flair was scheduled to defend against "The Tennessee Stud" Ron Fuller on Monday 10/25 in Birmingham, and "the Universal Heart Throb" Austin Idol two nights later on Wednesday 10/27 in Montgomery.

Montgomery was a little bit closer, a little over an hour's drive away, and the Montgomery Civic Center was a little easier to get to than Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham. So I chose to go to Montgomery for that stop on the "Southeastern Wrestling October Fest" tour.


The Montgomery Civic Center in Montgomery, AL. Circa 1960s. "Wrestling Tonite" on the marquee!


Another factor in that decision was the opponent for Ric Flair. I had always been a big Austin Idol fan, and had always wanted to see what would happen if these two guys ever met each other in the ring. It was a dream-match of sorts - - a battle of Austin Idol's "Las Vegas leglock" against Ric Flair's "figure-four."

I hadn't made any wrestling friends in my new hometown yet, so I decided to go to the matches alone. I got off work early that Wednesday and drove down to the Montgomery Civic Center box office as soon as it opened to get the best tickets possible. I was able to secure seats in the ringside area, although I was about four rows back. I took my camera and hoped to get a few good photos up near the ring.

There was surprisingly little security at this show. When Flair and Idol had entered the ring, I was able to sort of stoop low, scoot up and kneel down next to the ring with my camera. Surprisingly, no one said a word to me. I couldn't believe how lucky I was.

The ring announcer introduced Idol first and then introduced Flair. Ric opened his robe, took the NWA belt from around his waist and handed it to the referee. He then handed his big heavy robe over the top rope down to the ring attendant on the floor who was already holding Idol's full-length heavy robe in his arms as well. He left the ringside area to take the robes back to the dressing rooms. I watched all this and again, nobody said a word to me as I knelt at ringside.

I suddenly realized the referee in the ring was walking towards my position. I thought, well this is it, someone is finally going to ask me to leave. But as I looked up, he reached out with the NWA world title belt - - the beautiful "ten pounds of gold" - - and waited for me to take it.

I couldn't figure out what was happening. Like in a movie, everything sort of started to go in slow motion and I couldn't hear a thing.

I've always thought that the referee had turned to give the title belt to the ring attendant, but the ring attendant had failed to wait for the belt, having two large heavy robes to carry to the back. Looking back on it, I have no idea why he wouldn't have just handed the belt to the ring announcer who I think had already exited on the other side of the ring at this point after his introductions. But he didn't. Instead, incredibly - - perhaps thinking I must be at ringside for a reason - - he was trying to hand the belt to me.

So I took it.

And I want to tell you that for one brief moment - - one fleeting, crazy, impulsive, irresponsible, disrespectful, do-I-dare, moment - - I thought about walking right back down the aisle with that belt, right out the back door, never to be seen or heard from again!

I wouldn't really have done that. Even at age 21, I had so much respect for the belt, for the championship, for Ric Flair and all the others that had held it. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit I thought about it! For one brief second....

Ring attendant with the NWA title in Dothan, AL.
This wasn't me, this wasn't Montgomery, it just
reminds me of that moment in my life.

Instead, I just looked at it. I couldn't believe what I had in my hands. This was the famous domed-globe belt; the Lombardi trophy and the Stanley Cup and every championship trophy in every major sport all wrapped up into one. Ric Flair's world title. The same world title that had been held by Brisco, Funk, Race, and Rhodes. And now I was kneeling at ringside in Montgomery, Alabama with that belt in my hands.

If I had really wanted to run away with the belt (which I did not), my window of opportunity quickly closed as the ring attendant had returned and I suddenly realized he was right behind me. He snatched the belt from my hands.

"You need to get back to your seat, bud," he said with a cold stare. And so without a word, I complied.

Can you imagine how badly this might have ended otherwise? I'm guessing the boys in the back would have had a field day with the young punk who tried to steal the champ's belt. More likely, I would have been arrested and spent the night in the Montgomery county jail.

My pulse was still racing as I thought about what had just happened. It was my one brief moment to touch history, to touch this belt I would have never thought I would have a chance to get anywhere near.

Many years later, however , on October 28, 2008, Dave Millican and I had the opportunity to photograph this very same belt. These photographs would later wind up in our book "Ten Pounds of Gold."

I would have never dreamed I could have gotten that close to it again.

 


Edited from a story originally published in October of 2015 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

http://www.tenpoundsofgold.com

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Gateway Museum: Blackjack Mulligan's Lone Star Hat


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway


One of the most prized exhibits in the Mid-Atlantic Gateway museum is the Blackjack Mulligan tribute, which includes Mulligan's own Resistol cowboy hat with the famous Lone Star Beer / shotgun-shells hat band. It sits next to a cast replica of the U.S. title belt in the style that Mulligan wore in when holding the title on multiple occasions from 1976-1978. 

The hat was a special gift from Blackjack Mulligan himself, received on a visit to the "Headlock Ranch" (Florida annex!) back in the mid-2000s. It is a treasured possession, as you might imagine. According to Blackjack, there were only two of those hats with that particular hat band. The other was given to George South by Mulligan on that same visit to Mulligan's home.

The U.S. belt replica was crafted especially for the Gateway museum by Dave Millican. The plates were cast directly from the 1980-1982 version of the belt in cooperation with Sgt. Slaughter, who maintains possession of that 1980 belt to this day. (The original 1976 belt is apparently lost to time.) That 1980 belt was on black leather, but I asked Dave to create a red croc leather to make it resemble the 1976 version the Mulligan held. Dave absolutely nailed that leather, and the look of the belt. Both the original 1976 and 1980 belts were made by famous belt maker and wrestler Alex Mulko, better know by his working name Nikita Mulkovich.

Mulligan's hat sits on a Resistol display pedestal given to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway by Nelson Royal's widow Karen, who cleaned and re-shaped the hat for us at Nelson Royal's Western Store in Mooresville, NC. That was a special gift all on its own.

For more information on the United States Heavyweight Championship in Jim Crockett Promotions and the five belts that represented it from 1975-1988, check out the book in the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Book Store.

Saturday, October 08, 2022

Poster: Flair & Superstar battle Bobo and Igor in in Winston-Salem

by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

Promoting a card held at the Winston-Salem, NC Memorial Coliseum on Saturday June 25th, 1977, this poster features two very interesting tag team matchups.


In the main event, fan favorites Bobo Brazil and the Mighty Igor faced off with Ric Flair and the Masked Superstar while in the semi, Johnny Weaver and Ricky Steamboat took on Kim Duk and Great Malenko. With familiar names on the undercard such as Danny Miller, Big Bill Dromo, Two Ton Harris, and Klondike Bill, it made for quite an exciting night of Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

The poster has a horizontal layout with both black and high impact red print over a light pink background and five nice wrestler images.

No. 40 in the Beasley Poster Collection Series

* * * * * * * * * * *

Mid-Atlantic Gateway Note
Interesting to see Malenko on this poster billed as 'Great Melanko.' He was known that way in most southern territories during this era, but in our territory, he was almost always known as Professor Boris Malenko.

Friday, October 07, 2022

Figure Friday: U.S. Champ Roddy Piper

@wrestlerweekly


Another nice staging for Action Figures Friday by our friends Scottie and Reggie at @wrestlerweekly featuring United States Heavyweight Champion Roddy Piper in 1981. All that's missing are the bagpipes and a kilt!

Piper was a two-time U.S. champion, first winning the strap on 1/27/81 from Ric Flair at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, NC. He lost the title on 8/8/81 to Wahoo McDaniel in Greensboro.

His second title reign came two years later when he defeated Greg Valentine on 4/16/83 in Greensboro, NC, only to lose the title back to "the Hammer" two weeks later on 5/1/83 in the same city.

Originally published in May 2019 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

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