Monday, February 28, 2022

Blackjack Mulligan Attacks Rufus R. Jones!

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One of the hottest feuds in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in 1976 was between Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones and the then reigning United States champion Blackjack Mulligan. It didn't last long, but it was white-hot while it did.

There were several issues leading to the brutal battles between the two:

First there was the fact that Blackjack had put Rufus's cousin Burrhead Jones in the hospital by leaping off the top turnbuckle onto the neck of the prone wrestler several times.

Secondly, Blackjack had performed a similar maneuver onto the crown that was one of Rufus's most prized possessions. It was, after all, given to him by his fans on TV; they had proclaimed him "the King of Wrestling!"


Left: "The King of Wrestling" Rufus R. Jones
Right: Rufus's crown after Blackjack trashed it in the ring.

Blackjack even attacked Rufus after a match on television when the Freight Train's back was turned. Mulligan jumped him from behind, but Rufus got the upper-hand in this confrontation when he not only whipped up on the big Texan, but stripped off his shirt as well. Color commentator Tom Miller got so excited he exclaimed "Have mercy, Mama!" as Rufus was having his way with Blackjack. It is to this day one of my favorite TV moments in my years watching Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. And it is preserved forever thanks to David Chappell's audio tape.

Check out this audio clip featuring the call of the Mulligan/Jones brawl by Bob Caudle and Tom Miller (with a transcript below):




Transcript of audio:


Bob Caudle: Here's Blackjack Mulligan! Blackjack Mulligan diving into the ring, trying to get Rufus R. Jones from behind. And Rufus is going to now lift him high into the air! Blackjack's got his street clothes on, his t-shirt and his pants. Rufus is going to tear that t-shirt off of him...

Tom Miller: I don't believe it!

Bob Caudle: ....his cowboy boots on .....

Tom Miller: I don't believe it, he's ripping his clothes to shreds! HAVE MERCY, MAMA!

Bob Caudle: Mulligan with his cowboy boots.....


Tom Miller: Boy! Look at that!.....

 Bob Caudle: .... and his street clothes....he's going to get out of the ring, he's trying to get out.....

Tom Miller: Rufus is getting his revenge now!


Bob Caudle: ...and Rufus R. Jones is just going to whip him to death! Mulligan out of the ring, down on the floor.....Well, Blackjack Mulligan was going to try and hurt Rufus Jones, and it's Blackjack that really winds up in trouble as he not only got a few licks from Rufus, but he lost his shirt in the deal.

End Transcript



All of the events described above happened over the course of 1976 and led to several main event matches between Blackjack and Rufus for Mulligan's U.S. title. One of the epic battles between the two took place in Wilson, NC at venerable Fleming Stadium. Wilson Times sports editor Paul Durham wrote nostalgically about that match in an article published Friday 7/24/15 in advance of the premier of the documentary film "Mid-Atlantic Memories" at the Mid-Atlantic Legends Fanfest in Charlotte. (Be sure to check out Paul's great article here: Those Mid-Atlantic Memories Still Vivid.)

It was Durham's article that got me to thinking about this feud for Main Event Memories.


Rufus Jones battles Blackjack Mulligan


I don't have the newspaper clipping for that match in Wilson, so I thought I'd include one from around the same time in nearby Raleigh, NC at Dorton Arena.





Blackjack told the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in an interview several years ago that he suggested to booker George Scott and promoter Jim Crockett that they put the title on Rufus for a short period of time because of how hot the feud had become. Scott, regrettably, declined the suggestion. But can you imagine the celebration in the arena where that might have taken place?


* * * * *



PS - A couple of notes about the undercard in Raleigh:

Sgt. Jacques Goulet and Mike "The Judge" Dubois were one of my favorite tag teams that year. Not only were they an excellent combination, I loved the way Joe Murnick would introduce them on television. I'll have to find one of those introductions for a future installment of "Sound Bytes."

Also of note on this card was Burrhead Jones, the aforementioned cousin of Rufus Jones. And the opener featured a young kid from Japan named Dr. Fujiani. His real name was Tatsumi Fujinami, the future Japanese legend who would go on to have multiple reigns as IWGP champion in Japan, and even a short run as NWA world champion, defeating Ric Flair in the Tokyo Dome in 1991. Fujinami was recently inducted in to the WWE Hall of Fame.


Originally published in August of 2015 on the mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Poster: Andre the Giant in big Six Man Tag in Salem VA


by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor
 

This poster takes us back to the Commonwealth of Virginia and promotes a card held on Saturday, November 29th, 1975 at the Salem Civic Center (referred to as the Salem Coliseum here). 

It boasts an attractive horizontal layout with all black print over a two tone orange and bright yellow background. 

Whenever Andre the Giant was scheduled to appear on a card that usually meant a packed arena. I'm confident that was the case in Salem this particular night with a main event six man tag featuring Andre, Tim Woods, and Rufus R. Jones versus the Anderson Brothers, Gene and Ole, and newcomer to the area Steve Strong. 

Other exciting matches included Swede Hanson versus Angelo Mosca (misspelled Moska here), strongman Ken Patera versus Jerry Blackwell, and Mike "The Judge" DuBois and partner Bill White took the challenge of Johnny Weaver and rookie Tony Atlas. Tony Rocca wrestled Don Serrano in the opening bout. 

NO. 28 IN A SERIES

 ***

Mid-Atlantic Gateway Notes
by Dick Bourne

Andre the Giant was in for the big Thanksgiving week for Jim Crockett Promotions, including this six-man tag in Salem VA as seen in the poster above. Here is how Andre's big week shaped up in the Mid-Atlantic area:

  • Monday 11/24/75 - Greenville SC - Andre & Tiger Conway, Jr. vs. Gene and Ole Anderson for the NWA World Tag Team championships.
  • Tuesday 11/25/75 - Columbia SC - Andre & Rufus R. Jones vs. Gene and Ole Anderson for the NWA World Tag Team championships
  • Wednesday 11/26/75 - Raleigh NC - TV Tapings at WRAL-5 Studio
  • Thursday 11/27/75 (Thanksgiving) - Norfolk VA - Andre, Rufus R. Jones and Ken Patera vs. Steve Strong and the Anderson Brothers, plus Andre vs. Superstar Billy Graham in an arm wrestling contest.
  • Friday 11/28/75 - Richmond, VA - Andre & Paul Jones vs. Blackjack Mulligan and Steve Strong
  • Saturday 11/29/75 - Salem VA - Andre, Rufus R. Jones, and Tim Woods vs. Gene and Ole Anderson and Steve Strong (poster seen above)
  • Sunday 11/30/75 - Asheville NC - Andre, Tim Woods, and Paul Jones vs. Gene and Ole Anderson and Blackjack Mulligan
  • Monday 12/1/75 - Charlotte NC - Andre & Ken Patera vs. Blackjack Mulligan & Steve Strong

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Johnny Weaver debuts as co-host of World Wide Wrestling (1979)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's most beloved color commentators in the 1980s was the "Dean of Professional Wrestling" Johnny Weaver.

Johnny Weaver and Rich Landrum
World Wide Wreslting at WRAL
(Photo courtesy of Wendi Weaver)

Weaver first became the co-host of World Wide Wrestling in late 1979 alongside show host Rich Landrum. The two formed a very popular duo for the next few years. Landrum left the show in 1982 and Weaver continued co-hosting World Wide with new host David Crockett until 1984 when Tony Schiavone stepped in as co-host with Crockett. Weaver then moved over to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with longtime host Bob Caudle, and the two continued as a team on into the late 1980s, as the show transitioned to the new name of NWA Pro Wrestling

Weaver's first show as Landrum's sidekick was on the November 25, 1979 episode of World Wide Wrestling, the first weekend after Thanksgiving. The audio of his introduction can be heard below. Weaver was still active as a wrestler at that point, and would tell Landrum on air that he might not be there every week, but would try to be there most weeks. As it worked out, he was indeed there most weeks and gelled right away with Landrum. 

Weaver even developed his own shtick, paying homage to "Dandy" Don Meridith's bit of singing "Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over"on Monday Night Football during that era. Usually once a week, Weaver would sing the opening lines of the song just as a popular babyface wrestler was getting the pinfall on World Wide.

"Turn out the lights, the party's over. They say that all good things must end."

Indeed all good things did come to an end, and when the Crockett family sold the company to Ted Turner in late 1988, Weaver was not retained, and one of wrestling's most popular color commentators was heard no more. Wrestling was never as much fun after that.

* * * * *

Listen to this vintage audio recording of Rich Landrum introducing Johnny Weaver as his co-host on Wide World Wrestling, airing first on November 25, 1979. (Audio from the collection of Gary Wray.)

 
 

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Best of: Ric Flair's Crystal Ball Was Clear in 1975

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

On June 18, 1975 Ric Flair was about a year into his tenure with Jim Crockett Promotions. While Flair was the Mid-Atlantic Television Champion at that time, the young “Nature Boy” was still clearly a work in progress. The Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that was taped that night featured a bout between reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco and the 1974 NWA Rookie of the Year, Steve Keirn. The rare appearance of the NWA World Champion on Mid-Atlantic TV was not lost on the supremely confident Flair.

In a brief interview segment on that show with announcer Bob Caudle, Ric exclaimed,

“I just want to take one minute here to tell everybody that I had a dream! You know, I have a lot of girlfriends around the country and one of ‘em happens to be a fortune-teller. And one day she looked at one line of my palm and she said, ‘You’re the best lookin’ man in the world!’ And the next day she looked at another line in my hand and she said, ‘You got the greatest body in the world!’ And the next day she looked at a line in my hand and said, ‘You’re gonna beat Paul Jones, you’re gonna beat Wahoo McDaniel, you’re gonna beat Jack Brisco, WOOOO, and you’re gonna be the World’s Champion! Because there’s only one Nature Boy, and you are the greatest wrestler in the world today Nature Boy, know it for a fact!’”


Flair concluded by saying, “I am the best, I am the good, I am the bad…I am everything daddy, and don’t you forget it!” Caudle deadpanned in response, “Well, there’s no doubt what Ric Flair thinks of himself.”

Self confidence has never been an issue for Ric Flair, even back in 1975. But when I watched this interview segment nearly 42 years ago, I didn’t see the young brash Nature Boy as a World Champion. Back then, that prospect seemed almost laughable to me. Was Flair entertaining back then? Yes, without a doubt. But, Ric Flair as a World Champion? Not even a remote possibility in my humble opinion!

As the years progressed, my opinion of Ric Flair and his World Title possibilities certainly changed. But while myself and others had to come around to the idea of Flair as a World Heavyweight Champion, the Nature Boy’s crystal ball on this subject was clear all the way back to June of 1975. And when Ric ascended to the NWA mountaintop for the first time on September 17, 1981, I vividly remember hearkening back to this interview, and realizing that he had one heck of a fortune-telling girlfriend in his past!


Originally published January 2017 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

http://midatlanticwrestling.net/yearbooks.htm

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Poster: Mr. Wrestling defends the U.S. Title against Ric Flair

by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

For personal reasons this is one of my all time favorite posters. It promotes a card held at the old Winston Salem Memorial Coliseum on Friday, March 31st, 1978. 

First and foremost, I was fortunate enough to be in attendance that night and acquired this poster from the box office where it was taped to the outside of the window. You can see where the tape was removed along both sides. 

Just like most young boys growing up, I had heroes and idols that I aspired to be or be like. First there was Superman, then Batman, but once I saw Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods under the hood of course) on TV for the first time, he was my new superhero. 

This hero was even better because I could see him in person on occasion, reach out and touch him, and get his autograph. He was indeed real unlike the others before. I wish my memory was better but I do recall going home with my best friend from school that day in Mt. Airy, NC and my father picked us up when he got off work. Then down Highway 52 to Winston-Salem we went. Dad even splurged on the ringside seats, probably all of 4 or 5 dollars each at the time, and a current copy of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine was mandatory for a dollar.

The main event of the evening was a match I had dreamed of seeing as Mr. Wrestling defended his newly won United States Heavyweight Title belt against the Nature Boy Ric Flair. Although the poster doesn't mention it being a title match, Mr. Wrestling won the prized championship from Blackjack Mulligan almost two weeks earlier in Greensboro, NC. 

Ricky Steamboat collided with the always tough Cyclone Negro in the semi while the lone tag team event of the evening had Bobo Brazil and Swede Hanson against Crusher Blackwell and Jan Nelson. The undercard consisted of Byron St. John versus Frank Monte and Mr. Sato versus Steve Musulin.

Much to my delight, and to the delight of the many fans in the Coliseum that night, Mr. Wrestling successfully retained his title. Although I don't remember many details of this match, the sight of Mr. Wrestling pinning Flair in the middle of the ring with his trademark standing head cradle as the crowd erupted has never left my mind. What a celebration it was seeing him get his hand raised in victory and being handed back his U.S. belt. Unfortunately, his U.S. title run was brief as Flair eventually won the belt in Charlotte only nine days later.

The horizontal poster layout features full body images of Mr. Wrestling and Brazil on the left and images of Flair, Steamboat, and Hanson on the right with the "Wrestling" splash in the upper left corner. The two tone bright yellow over pink background is eye-catching as well with the main-eventers, date, and locale in high impact red print.

This wasn't the first time I saw Mr. Wrestling in person, nor was it the last, but it was definitely the most memorable and satisfying. I am thankful to have this poster as it is a memento and reminder of such a great night many years ago. 

NO. 27 IN A SERIES

* * * * * * * 

See also: The Gateway Museum: Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Dr. Tom Prichard: The Night Brisco Became NWA Champion

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Back in 2012, while surfing the internet, I came across a great article by pro-wrestling superstar Tom Prichard on his "Doctor's Note" blog. I originally wrote about it on the Domed Globe website, and I am now posting it on the Gateway as well.

Tom Prichard's ticket stub for wrestling at the
Sam Houston Coliseum, July 20, 1973


In his article "Harley Race vs. Jack Brisco: The Night Brisco Became NWA World Champion", Prichard looks back at the significance the date July 20, 1973 had for him in several ways, not the least of which was the historic title change between Race and Brisco, but also the night the belt known as "the ten pounds of gold" was first presented to the champion.

Prichard, who grew up in El Passo, TX, watching wrestling out of the Amarillo territory, was there in Houston that night and the pomp and circumstance surrounding the big night left a lasting impression on him. I greatly enjoyed his first hand account.

Included in the article are images of the actual newspaper reports that week (not reproductions) as well as programs, magazines, and his row 12, seat 8 ticket stub. This stuff is very cool to me.

Many of the clippings seen in Prichard's post are also featured in the "Ten Pounds of Gold" book, copies of which were provided by Harley Race.

Click the link the below to go to Tom Prichard's blog and relive the night history was made in Houston.




Dr. Tom's blog is "The Doctor's Note" and is located here:
 
 Originally published on the Domed Globe website in October of 2012
 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Happy Valentine's Day

We hope everyone has a Happy Valentine's Day weekend. Buy your sweetie a dozen roses, some chocolate candy . . . and then make them watch some old Mid-Atlantic Wrestling!  Of course, beware of a big hammer out of nowhere and a "flying elbow smash" (as the great Bob Caudle used to call it.) If you're lucky, you'll finish up with some sort of romantic figure-four leg-lock!

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Tim Woods takes credit for costing Buddy Rogers the WWWF Championship

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

"I'm proud to say that I was the man who caused you to get beat
in less than a minute."  - Tim Woods

In the fall of 1979, Tim Woods and Buddy Rogers were involved in a torrid feud. Rogers and his number one charge, U.S. Champion Jimmy Snuka, had badly injured Woods (in storyline) in one of the most dramatic and violent angles ever seen on Mid-Atlantic TV, and throughout the fall, Woods was intent on revenge. He even printed up his own wanted posters to hand out to fans at arenas to generate support in his quest to get even with Snuka and Rogers.


Rogers was now a manager, and occasionally still wrestled, but was most famous for his legacy in wrestling. His world title wins aside, it was his iconic nickname "Nature Boy" from the 1950s that had been bequeathed to Ric Flair back in 1975 by JCP booker George Scott that modern fans may have been more familiar with. Scott was a longtime friend and admirer of Rogers, and the rookie Flair reminded him of the original Nature Boy. It wound up being a wonderful gift that helped shape Flair's career for decades. 

But more significantly, Rogers was at that time the only man to have ever held both the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) world championships. He was also famous for the way he lost that WWWF title to Bruno Sammartino in 1963, submitting to Bruno's over-the-shoulder bearhug in just 43 seconds in Madison Square Garden. As it happens, a young Tim Woods was working the under-card of that very same show.

Behind the scenes, Woods and Rogers developed a lasting friendship during Woods' nine-month stint in the WWF in 1963. During their feud in the Mid-Atlantic area sixteen years later in 1979, the two men occasionally played off the fact that Woods was there when Rogers lost the title to Sammartino.

In an interview with Bob Caudle on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in late October 1979, Rogers would accuse Woods of betraying a secret that would dearly cost him. Rogers called Woods a "rat" for "squealing" his secret. The result, he claimed, cost him over two million dollars in purses that he would have won otherwise.

 
Rogers didn't go into more specifics at that time, but the details could be pieced together in various local promos that Rogers and Woods made in advance of their matches against each other in local areans throughout the territory. The best example might be in promos for their battle in Raleigh's Dorton Arena on November 20, 1979. Woods actually told Rogers how proud he was that he was the reason Rogers lost the WWWF title. "I'm proud to say that I was the man who caused you to get beat in less than a minute," Woods declared. While Bruno Sammartino's name was not specifically mentioned, the implication was clear. And by the sound of it, one could surmise that Woods must have told Sammartino that Rogers was coming into the Madison Square Garden match with a badly injured back, something Bruno would quickly exploit only seconds into their famous bout.


Buddy Rogers and Tim Woods Promos - 11/20/79 Raleigh NC

There of course was no such storyline in 1963, at least not involving Woods, who was working low on the WWWF cards at that time very early in his career. But how cool is it that Woods and Rogers would play off that historic match 16 years later, in a totally different territory, knowing they were both in the same building the night it took place? I'm guessing all of that was lost on most of the people who heard these promos in 1979, but it's a small little detail - - a sub-plot if you will - - that makes the memory of the famous Woods/Rogers feud something a little more special to reflect on now more than 40 years later.

* * * * * 

Special thanks to David Chappell and his 12-part Gateway series on the Woods-Rogers feud, to Mark Eastridge for the newspaper clipping, and to Gary Wray for the audio recording of the Woods-Rogers promos for Raleigh.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Mid-Atlantic TV Report: December 10, 1983

 
 

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
TV Summaries & Reviews
by David Taub
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

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

For links to all available summaries as well as links to the Mid-Atlantic Championship Podcast, visit our TV Summary Index.

Please note
: The WWE Network ceased operation in the United States on April 4, 2021 and programming transitioned to NBC's Peacock streaming service. The Mid-Atlantic shows returned in July of 2021. Links are provided where available.


Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
Original broadcast: 12/10/83
Taped* in Shelby, NC - Recreation Center
Review is from WWE Network/NBC Peacock feed.
*Note: As I mentioned the past few weeks, result dates in history are a little muddled. But, this location is the Shelby Recreation Center. I just can’t confirm a date. Anyone can help? 1davidtaub@gmail.com.

Match 1
Non Title: Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood [World Tag ch.] d. Gary Royal & Golden Boy Grey

Stu Schwartz is the referee for the hour. Short squash. Steamboat pins Royal with the flying bodypress.

[Break]

Match 2
The Great Kabuki (w/Gary Hart) d. John Bonello

Kabuki attacks right away after spitting the green mist in the air. The show’s director is still having issues. We go to a picture-in-picture, with the inset supposed to be showing Gary Hart at ringside. Instead, we have identical pictures. A savate kick to the throat wins it for Kabuki. Replay doesn’t work either.

-Int. w/Bob Caudle: Dick Slater & Bob Orton
Slater is now Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight champion. He has some racially-tinged remarks for Rufus R. Jones. Slater says he and Orton will challenge for the tag championship. Slater throws a challenge to Greg Valentine and Ric Flair as well. We to go a clip from an unnamed arena, of Orton holding Wahoo’s arm on the ring apron, and Slater jumping off the top rope twice. Slater & Orton gloat after injuring Wahoo.

[Break]

Match 3
Tommy Rich d. Magic Dragon

Roddy Piper joins Bob Caudle. The inset, working this time, shows Piper. He talks about Gary Hart. Meanwhile, Rich wins with the Thesz Press.

[VTR] Roddy Piper cuts a Starrcade ’83 merchandise promo
Tony Schiavone holds the mic in front of the blue NWA set, and with Piper moving all over the place, he has his work cut out for him. Piper plugs the program ($5) and the shirt ($10). The address is blurred on the Network version.

[Break]

Match 4
Roddy Piper d. Bill Howard

Angelo Mosca joins Caudle. He talks about the growth of Piper. Howard goes for Piper’s ear, which just fires Piper up. He wins with the spinning neck breaker.

[Break]

-Int. w/Bob Caudle: Jimmy Valiant; Angelo Mosca; Rufus R. Jones
Valiant says he’s back. He trash talks Paul Jones. Mosca says he and his son are getting better and vows revenge on Lewin. Rufus R. Jones vows revenge on Slater for stealing his title.

[Break]

Match 5
Jimmy Valiant & Mark Youngblood & Rufus R. Jones
d. Don Herbert & Kelly Kiniski & Terry Gibbs

Paul Jones joins Caudle. He has mean words for Jimmy Valiant. Lots of trash talk as the match runs long.  Rufus pins Herbert after the “Freight Train” shoulderblock and headbutt. 

LOCAL PROMO SLOT
-Int. w/Bob Caudle: Kelly Kiniski
This is in lieu of local promos. Kiniski puts over Starrcade ’83. He does his best to make a heel promo

[Break]

Match 6
The Assassins: 1 & 2 (w/Paul Jones) d. Rick McCord & Brett Hart
Caudle solicits comments from Starrcade ’83 and asks fans to send correspondence to a blurred out and edited out address.  Assassin #1 pins Hart after a top-rope knee drop to the throat. 

-Int. w/Bob Caudle: Gary Hart, Kevin Sullivan and Mark Lewin
Hart doesn’t appreciate Piper’s comments during his TV commentary and tells him to mind his own business. He also warns Angelo Mosca. Lots of ranting over unfairness from Jim Crockett.

“So long for now!”

* * * * * * * *

Results for the week, 12/05/83-12/11/83 
(source: Clawmaster’s Archive via Sports and Wrestling blog posted by David Baker; “Wrestling” newsletter by Joe Shedlock)

Mon., 12/05/83 Greenville, SC; Memorial Auditorium
Terry Gibbs beat Gary Royal
Kelly Kiniski beat John Bonello
Bob Orton, Jr. beat Johnny Weaver
The Assassins beat Jimmy Valiant & Wahoo McDaniel
Angelo Mosca beat Don Kernodle by DQ

Mon., 12/05/83 Fayetteville, NC; Cumberland County Civic Center
Brickhouse Brown beat Jerry Grey
Vinnie Valentino beat Bill Howard
Mark Youngblood beat Gene Anderson
Rufus R. Jones beat Dick Slater by DQ
Roddy Piper beat Greg Valentine
Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood beat Jack Brisco & Jerry Brisco 

Tue., 12/06/83 Raleigh, NC; Dorton Arena
John Bonello beat Jerry Grey
Keith Larson beat Brett Hart
Terry Gibbs beat Rick McCord
Greg Valentine & Bob Orton, Jr. beat Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood
The Assassins beat Jimmy Valiant & Mark Youngblood

Tue., 12/06/83 Columbia, SC; Township Auditorium
Vinnie Valentino beat Bill Howard
Brickhouse Brown beat Kelly Kiniski
Johnny Weaver beat Gene Anderson
Roddy Piper beat Dick Slater
Angelo Mosca & Rufus R. Jones beat Gary Hart & Don Kernodle

Wed., 12/07/83 Spartanburg, SC; Memorial Auditorium (TV)
Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood beat Greg Valentine & Bob Orton, Jr.
Roddy Piper beat Dick Slater
Jimmy Valiant & Rufus R. Jones beat Ben Alexander & Kelly Kiniski
Great Kabuki beat Rick McCord
Tommy Rich & Mark Youngblood beat Jerry Grey & Bill Howard via pinfall
The Assassins beat Vinnie Valentino & Keith Larson
The Road Warriors vs. Rick McCord & Steve Muslim
Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood beat Terry Gibbs & Magic Dragon

Thu., 12/08/83 Norfolk, VA; Scope Coliseum
Mark Fleming beat Kelly Kiniski
Brett Hart beat Jerry Grey
Johnny Weaver beat Gene Anderson
Angelo Mosca beat Don Kernodle
The Assassins beat Jimmy Valiant & Rufus R. Jones
Dick Slater & Bob Orton, Jr. beat Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood
Roddy Piper beat Greg Valentine

Fri., 12/09/83 Charleston, SC; County Hall
Roddy Piper beat Greg Valentine in a dog collar match
Mark Youngblood & Abe Jacobs beat Terry Gibbs & Bill Howard
Keith Larson beat Vinnie Valentino
Brickhouse Brown beat Gary Royal
John Bonello beat Ben Alexander

Fri., 12/09/83 Richmond, VA; Richmond Coliseum
Jerry Grey beat Mark Fleming
Kelly Kiniski beat Brett Hart
Gene Anderson beat Rick McCord
Dick Slater beat Johnny Weaver
The Assassins beat Jimmy Valiant & Jay Youngblood
Ricky Steamboat & Angelo Mosca beat Don Kernodle & Gary Hart by DQ

Sun., 12/11/83 Savannah, GA; Civic Center
Vinnie Valentino beat Tony Russo
Terry Gibbs beat John Savage
Keith Larson beat Gary Royal
Brett Hart & Brickhouse Brown beat Kelly Kiniski & Bill Howard
Bob Orton, Jr. beat Johnny Weaver
Dick Slater beat Rufus R. Jones
Roddy Piper beat Greg Valentine in a dog collar match
Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood beat Jack Brisco & Jerry Brisco in a cage match

Sun., 12/11/83 Asheville, NC; Civic Center
Rick McCord beat Jerry Grey
Gene Anderson beat John Bonello
Bob Orton, Jr. beat Johnny Weaver
Dick Slater beat Rufus R. Jones
Jimmy Valiant & Mark Youngblood beat The Assassins
Angelo Mosca beat Don Kernodle by DQ
Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood beat Jack Brisco & Jerry Brisco

Monday, February 07, 2022

Jackie Crockett Steps in Front of the Camera


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Fans who attended TV tapings in the arenas for Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW in the 1980s and 1990s became familiar with Jackie Crockett as one of the important men behind the camera.

Not many people realize that for a short period of time in 1985, Jackie stepped in front of the camera, too, hosting selected local promos that were inserted into the syndicated programs such as "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "World Wide Wrestling." These segments were taped at the makeshift studio in a garage in the rear of the Crockett offices on Briarbend Drive. 

The above image is from a local promotional segment for the Columbus GA TV market. Jim Crockett's affiliate for the "World Wide Wrestling" show at that time was WRBL-3 in Columbus, with Fred Ward acting as the local promoter on the ground, just as he had been for decades for the Georgia Championship Wrestling office in Atlanta.

As we build our roster of on-air talent for Jim Crockett Promotions from the 1950s-1980s, we are happy to finally locate this image and add Jackie Crockett to that list. The complete list of on-air talent for all of the various shows and studio locations during the Crockett years can be found on the right-hand side of this website. Click on any name to bring up posts related to that person.

This post was originally published on our sister website Studio Wrestling in November of 2016.

* * * * *

Jackie played many important roles in the family business, which also included photographer. He took photos at shows primarily in Charlotte over many years, from the mid-1970s through around 1983. Some of those wonderful photos are found in a new book of his photos sold by the Crockett Foundation, the family's charitable organization run by Frances Crockett's daughter Debbie Ringley Mrozinski. (Click the graphic link below for more information.)

https://crockettfoundation.com/store/?model_number=1554959

Sunday, February 06, 2022

Florida's Role in the Race/Funk NWA Title Change in Toronto

Today (February 6) marks the anniversary of Harley Race's historic NWA title win over Terry Funk in Toronto, Canada, that took place on February 6, 1977. It was Race's second NWA title win, with six more to come over the next seven years.

Forgotten by many is the key role Championship Wrestling from Florida played in the key events that led up to title change in Toronto.

The following is an article about all of that magic originally published on The Domed Globe website and republished on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in May of 2021.

 

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

We're always appreciative of newspapers that do a good job of presenting wrestling in a journalistic fashion. This is a particularly good article in the Tampa Tribune promoting an upcoming card for Championship Wrestling from Florida on February 8, 1977, just two nights after Harley Race defeated Terry Funk with an Indian deathlock to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. 

Who knows who wrote the piece. It doesn't really sound like it came from the office, but it sounds way too informed to be written by the a staff sports writer either.

The article captures all the complete twists and turns in the wonderful story leading up to this night at the fabled Fort Homer Hesterly Armory. There were actually two separate stories being told.

The first story cemented former champion Jack Brisco as Florida's top contender for the NWA title. Many of the fans coming to the Hesterly Armory that Tuesday night had witnessed Brisco cleanly beat Harley Race, also a former champion, that past Saturday in St. Petersburg. Surely Brisco could beat Race again, this time with his newly won NWA World championship at stake in Tampa.

The second story told answered a question many might have had following the finish to the title change match in Toronto. As a teenage fan watching wrestling in 1977, when the film of the match from Toronto was shown on Mid-Atlantic television, it seemed strange to me that Race had won by submission with an Indian deathlock. I had only ever seen our local hero Paul Jones win with that hold. In the wrestling magazines, it seemed the reports usually suggested Race typically won with various suplexes or his infamous flying headbutt from the top turnbuckle, resulting in wins by three-count pinfall. Why had Race instead gone for the submission for the win against Funk in Toronto? 

The answer, it turned out, played out the night before in Florida.

The main event of the card in St. Petersburg on Saturday night was Terry Funk defending the NWA title against Dusty Rhodes. As the article above reports, Funk injured his knee in the match against Rhodes, and "against his better judgement" went ahead with the scheduled title defense against Race the next night in Toronto.

The rest, as they say, is history. Race knew what most fans didn't about the night before in the St, Petertsburg Bayfront Arena. Funk was hurt, and Race took advantage. He defeated Funk in 14:10 with an Indian death-lock to capture the gold belt. (I can still hear ring announcer Norm Kimber make the famous call.) It was a hold Race used infrequently (if ever?) and seemed almost out of place as it happened that night in Maple Leaf Gardens.

As the author of the article pointed out. Brisco's victory over Race in St. Petersburg came three days too early. Race got the better of him in Tampa this night to retain.  

  • SAT FEB 5, 1977 - St. Petersburg, FL - NWA Champ Terry Funk injures his knee in a successful world title defense against Dusty Rhodes. On the same card, Jack Brisco defeats Harley Race.
  • SUN FEB 6, 1977 - Toronto, ON - Harley Race defeats Terry Funk to win the NWA World Title. Race deploys a rarely-used Indian deathlock to win the match, exploiting Funk's hurt knee from the night before in St. Petersburg.
  • TUE FEB 8, 1977 - Tampa, FL - New NWA Champion Harley Race defeats Jack Brisco to defend title, the result of the match written about in the article seen above.

The injury to Funk's knee in St. Petersburg gave Funk an excuse he could bandy about after his loss to Race in Toronto the next night.

The article also colors between the lines nicely, accurately reporting key dates in the NWA title history of Brisco and the Funk Brothers, and even including a reference to an NWA title change in the same building eight years earlier to the week.

It's just an all around amazing piece to be found in a newspaper, and one of my favorite clippings from the history of the NWA title changes during the domed-globe era. And for those curious, it explains one of the mysteries about the historic Toronto finish some fans may have had at the time. 

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Video of Harley Race's win over Funk in Toronto can be found on the Domed-Globe website here.

See three pages from the Florida program "The Grapevine" for the Feb. 5 show in St. Petersburg that set the stage for Toronto. (Thanks@bobbynorton9115 on Twitter.)  

This article was originally posted on The Domed Globe in May 2021 and the Mid-Atlantic Gateway that same month.

Friday, February 04, 2022

Poster: Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson Battle Each Other in Norfolk

by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This poster promotes a card held at the Norfolk Arena in Norfolk, VA on Thursday, November 7th, 1974.

The main event, promising to be a violent affair, was a Fence Match between former allies Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson with a special stipulation making the pile driver legal. At the time, the pile driver was an illegal maneuver in the National Wrestling Alliance.

The semi main event featured promising newcomers Tiger Conway Jr. and Chuck O'Connor (who later would become Big John Studd). 

While this poster gives few details on the other bouts on this card, we know from the newspaper ad for this show that Klondike Bill teamed with Tio Tio vs. Two Ton Harris and Frank Morrell, Danny Miller took on rookie Ric Flair, and Billy Ash met Ken Dillinger in the opener. 

The poster is the smaller variety measuring only 14 by 22 inches and has a vertical layout with all black print over the two tone pink and yellow background. I would assume this card took place at the old arena built during World War II as opposed to the larger Scope Exhibition Hall which opened in 1971 but I could be mistaken. Nevertheless, Crockett held cards at the Scope starting in 1972 and for many years forward.

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Mid-Atlantic Gateway Notes
by Dick Bourne

  • Promotional posters from Richmond, Hampton, and Norfolk are hard to come across. Nice to see this one from Brack's amazing collection, especially from the less familiar venue of the Norfolk Arena.
  • For fans from that era, seeing long-time tag team partners Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson fighting each other had to be surreal. Swede had turned "good guy" following a split between himself and then-partner the Super Destroyer (aka The Spoiler, Don Jardine) in February of 1974. When Rip Hawk returned to the Mid-Atlantic area in the spring of 1974 from his NWA suspension for using the piledriver (actually had been away working in Florida), he would occasionally cross paths with Swede in tag matches, but the singles feud between the two former partners broke wide open in August and continued throughout the fall of 1974.
  • Rookie Ric Flair defeated veteran and longtime area star Danny Miller on this card, an indication that Flair's star was continuing to rise as a singles competitor within Crockett Promotions. Flair and Rip Hawk were the reigning Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champions at the time of this card in Norfolk.

 NO. 26 IN A SERIES

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Wrestling Art: NWA Tag Champs Jimmy Snuka and Paul Orndorff


The next art from Robby Bannister's series of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine art covers features the NWA World Tag Team Champions from late 1978 and 1979 Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka. The duo won the titles from Greg Valentine and Baron Von Raschke in December 1978.

Robby is creating a series of these faux magazine covers in homage to the original series of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine covers from the 1970s and 1980s. The magazines were sold as event programs at the local arenas and also could be purchased by mail directly from the Crockett offices in Charlotte. 

Robby's first cover in this series featured Blackjack Mulligan as United States champion from 1976 and his second cover featured "The Enforcer" Arn Anderson. His introductory cover was of Don Kernodle.

Here is more info on the championship tag team of Orndorff and Snuka from David Chappell's December 1978 entry in the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Almanac:

NWA World Tag Team Champions Greg Valentine and Baron von Raschke had more than their hands full in the month of December with the challenge of Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka. The athleticism of Orndorff and Snuka seemed to keep the Champions guessing and off balance. During the month, Valentine and Raschke were able to hold onto the Championship by the skin of their teeth, often purposely getting themselves disqualified to save their Titles. But on December 26, 1978 at the Richmond Coliseum, Orndorff and Snuka got the Title Match they wanted---one with No Disqualifications!

The Richmond match was a lengthy encounter, with both teams pulling out all the stops. The see-saw battle saw both teams have their opportunities to come out on top, but ultimately the challengers were able to capture a quick pinfall to the delight of the huge Coliseum crowd. The hated Champions had been dethroned by the upstart challengers! An enraged Baron von Raschke could not accept that he was no longer one half of the World Champions, and he proceeded to assault the referee, and then dropped him on his head with a piledriver! The NWA acted quickly on the Baron’s reprehensive conduct, suspending him almost immediately for his actions in Richmond. 

We're looking forward to more great art covers from Robby in the future!

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Check out more of Robby Bannister's art on his Facebook page featuring wrestlers from various territories over different eras. 

NO. 3 IN A SERIES

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Bob Caudle: The Voice of Weather at WRAL TV in Raleigh

Bob Caudle reviews information on the AP (Associated Press) wire station
at WRAL TV Studios in Raleigh.
Photo from the CBC History website. (LINK)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Bob Caudle's "day job" (before stepping into a phone booth and changing into our favorite Mid-Atlantic wrestling announcer superhero) was as a newscaster and weatherman for WRAL-TV 5 in Raleigh NC. Bob is seen in this archival CBC photo reviewing information from the AP wire.

Bob hosted wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions for the better part of three decades, first at WRAL TV-5 studio-A beginning in the early 1960s. His show was called All-Star Wrestling and was syndicated to several TV markets all across the "Charlotte territory" which included cities in the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Ironically, Bob wasn't actually seen in the Raleigh market hosting wrestling until around 1973. Prior to that, the Raleigh-onlyshow version of the show, which was a shared-simulcast with the syndicated show, was hosted by Nick Pond and then briefly by Elliot Murnick, a son of Raleigh area promoter Joe Murnick. When the Charlotte (WBTV) and High Point (WGHP) TV tapings were consolidated into the Raleigh taping in 1973, WRAL began taping two separate hours of wrestling, both titled Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling at that point in time. One was hosted by Les Thatcher, the other by Caudle. It wasn't until then that Bob's wrestling broadcast (the "A" show) was seen as the main show in the Raleigh market. The "B" show hosted by Thatcher then became the secondary show that aired in some of the larger territory TV markets alongside the "A" show. Parenthetically, Thatcher was learning his chops as a TV announcer at this time, and would later become the legendary voice of Southeastern Championship Wrestling for promoter Ron Fuller in Knoxville, TN.

In 1981, Jim Crockett Promotions moved their TV tapings to the studios of WPCQ-36 in Charlotte, and in that same year Bob Caudle left WRAL to work full time in the constituency office of U.S. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. But he continued as Jim Crockett's lead play-by-play announcer for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling until the company was sold to Turner Broadcasting in 1988. He transitioned to Turner Broadcasting and continued to host NWA Pro Wrestling for the company until leaving in 1992. He was co-host of several Turner/WCW pay-per-view events and Clash of Champions specials on WTBS.

For more posts about Bob Caudle at WRAL, click his link in the "Crockett On-Air Talent" section on the upper-right side of this webpage.

And so long for now!

History of the Four Horsemen

 

Four Horsemen in HARDCOVER now available at
Amazon.com



January Gateway in Review

January was a cold month in our neck of the woods. But we had lots of warm moments to remember on the Gateway. Check out all of our posts from the previous month, including the grand reunion of David Crockett, Bob Caudle, and Tony Schiavone.