Friday, June 24, 2022

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in Niagara Falls, ONT (1980)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Poster image submitted by Andrew Calvert and Barry Hatchet
MapleLeafWrestling.com

This is a very rare and somewhat unusual poster from June of 1980 for a show in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It features a United States title defense by Ric Flair against Great Hossein Arab, better known to fans in the traditional Mid-Atlantic territory as the Iron Sheik. The card took place at Niagara Falls Memorial Arena, which was just across the Canadian - U.S. border in Ontario.

The show was promoted by Tony Parisi as an extension of Frank Tunney's Toronto booking office. This was during the roughly 5-year period that Tunney was booking the majority of his talent for Toronto from Jim Crockett Promotions in partnership with Crockett and booker George Scott. One of the unusual things that makes this poster so rare is that it says "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" instead of Maple Leaf Wrestling. Andrew Calvert from Toronto told us that posters were generally pretty scarce to begin with up his way, but the ones they did have were almost always billed as Maple Leaf Wrestling. 

The Iron Sheik was generally billed in Toronto as Hossein the Arab or Great Hossein Arab. (His name was badly misspelled on the poster.) When he first arrived in the Mid-Atlantic area in early 1980, he was referred to on television by Bob Caudle and Rich Landrum as  "Hossein the Arab, the Iron Sheik." Later, it was simply shortened to the Iron Sheik. But in Toronto, it was usually Hossein the Arab.

At the time of this card, the Sheik was Canadian Heavyweight Champion, having defeated Dewey Robertson for the gold belt back in May in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Oddly he is not billed as such on this poster, although newspaper articles in advance of this show mention he is champion. It appears Flair's United States title was the only championship on the line that night at the Falls arena. The Canadian title was mainly defended in Toronto, but it would seem a missed opportunity to not have a title-vs-title match, especially given that the finish of the match was reportedly a double count-out. 

Sheik was also the reigning Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight champion at this time. He is billed with neither title on this poster.

Others featured on the poster were local favorites (and former Canadian champions) Angelo "King Kong" Mosca and Dewey Robertson, teaming up to face the top heel team for Jim Crockett Promotions, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and Ray "The Crippler" Stevens. Snuka and Stevens won the NWA World Tag Team titles just three weeks earlier from Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood in Greensboro, NC, although they are not billed as champions on the poster. Neither is their manager Gene Anderson, and it isn't clear if Anderson appeared with them on this show in Niagara Falls. Again, it seems like a missed opportunity for promoter Parisi to not bill Snuka and Stevens as tag champs and make the match a title match.

Parisi's office was spelling-challenged on this particular poster, too: they even botched local football and wrestling legend Angelo Mosca's name!

One other thing that seemed odd (and this was mentioned in the local paper, too) was the low placement on the card of Pedro Morales. To be sure, Morales was wrestling low-to-mid card for Jim Crockett Promotions during this era, even doing jobs on TV, but he had not so long ago been WWWF Heavyweight Champion, and was still occasionally a headliner in the WWWF during this era. With the WWWF television being seen in this area, and the history of the WWWF title being defended in Toronto, you would think that even being booked out of JCP, Morales would have had a more featured spot on the card here.

As seen in this image, the poster is in really rough shape, worn and torn, and with a lot of apparent water damage. It was recently sold on eBay, which is where Barry Hatchet noticed it and the image wound up making its way to us, via our mutual friend Andrew at MapleLeafWrestling.com.

 
 Book Store:

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Brisco Reign Begins: Hand Raised in Houston (1973)


Ring announcer Boyd Pierce raises the hand of a triumphant Jack Brisco moments after Brisco defeated Harley Race for the NWA World Heavyweight championship on July 20, 1973 in Houston, Texas. A dejected Race is seen in the corner behind them.

NWA President Sam Muchnick is at left. He had attended the card that night in Houston and brought the new NWA World title belt with him. It was presented to Race before the match, but he didn't have a chance to enjoy the new belt, as Brisco took the 2-out-of-3 fall match and the championship laurels that night.

Although hidden behind Brisco in this photograph so you can't see him here, it is Tiger Conway, Jr. who is strapping the belt around the new champion's waist.

A wonderful photograph, perhaps taken by promoter Paul Boesch who took many photos that night, featured in an issue of Gong Magazine in Japan.

 

Originally published in January 2019 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway's Domed-Globe website. 
 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

NWA World Champ Kerry Von Erich Tours Florida (1984)


When Kerry Von Erich won the NWA world title in 1984, he fulfilled the appearance contracts of the previous champion Ric Flair, which included dates in the state of Florida for Championship Wrestling from Florida. 


NWA Champ Kerry with Coach John Heath on the set
of Championship Wrestling from Florida

The magazine from Japan seen below features a photo on the cover taken during that Florida tour of Kerry sporting the Ten Pounds of Gold with Florida heavyweight champion Billy Jack Haynes.  



Thanks to Brian Rogers for providing the cover image.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Poster: Wahoo and Andre battle Flair and Valentine


by Jody Shifflett
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

Here is another great card from UVA's University Hall, aka "The Clam Shell." It took place Friday, July 8, 1977.

In my opinion this was a dream team against a dream team. You take the largest athlete in the world at the time, Andre The Giant, and the real baddest man on the planet, Wahoo McDaniel, and put them against Ric Flair and Greg Valentine and you have have what could only be absolute pandemonium.  

I checked the results and it did not say who won but I can only imagine Wahoo and Andre were probably the victors. 

A great under-card featuring Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods, Danny Miller, and a young Tully Blanchard. 

Great yellow to light pink colors and an 8:00 PM start time, and not the famous 8:15 PM of that era.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Cowboy Bob Ellis, Rip Hawk and the Birthday Cake

The Birthday Cake
by Wayne Brower
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Another weekend visit around 1960 to the grandparents afforded me the opportunity to watch wrestling and be a part of a birthday celebration – at the same time.

“Welcome to this week’s Championship Wrestling.” The announcer declared with authority.  He gave the run down of matches on the show and also told of a special event that we wouldn’t want to miss.

Cowboy Bob Ellis
from "Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats"
It was the typical wrestling show of the era with two singles matches followed by a tag team battle to close the program.  However, an added treat occurred after the second match.  Coming back from commercial messages promoting live events in the viewing area, the announcer appeared with a rather large cake that sat atop his broadcast desk.  “Folks, we have a very special presentation today for a man who is loved by all, especially the children.  Cowboy Bob Ellis, will you please come out now and join us?  Let’s get him out here ladies and gentlemen.”

Taking their cue, the studio audience began to applaud and became louder when the popular Texan walked in.  Cowboy Bob was dressed to impress, with wardrobe accented in fancy western boots, vest and white Stetson.

“This is a very special day, Cowboy Bob Ellis, and we want to share it with everyone.  As you know Bob, the youngsters really look up to you.  When the kids at our local Crippled Children’s Home found out about today being your birthday, they saved their pennies to buy this cake for you.”  Cowboy Bob was noticeably moved.  A tear came to his eye and his voice quivered as he poured out his heart:  “…I’ve always tried to stand for what is right…and set a good example in everything I do…for those crippled children to remember me…”

BOOOOOO!

The crowd erupted with a volume that I had never heard and continued as a young, stocky man wearing a crew-cut and a scowl appeared on camera.  It was Rip Hawk.

"The Profile" Rip Hawk

The studio audience was still voicing their displeasure of Rip’s appearance at such a touching moment.  The announcer forcefully stated “We don’t want any trouble here; this is from the crippled children to Cowboy Bob.”  Hawk yells “I have birthdays too…and those stinking kids never did anything for me!”

Instantly upon finishing his insult he sucker punched Ellis and smashes him head first into the cake.  Icing, candles and other decorations explode over the desk, announcer and the combatants.  A brawl breaks out between Rip and Cowboy Bob.  The announcer is shouting into his microphone “I’ve never seen anything like this!  We must restore order here!  We’ll be back following the station break!”

Grandma was visibly shaken by Rip’s evil actions.  “The crippled children saved their pennies…” her voice trailed off.  My aunt came into the room wanting to know what was going on.  After getting a vivid description of the incident, she proclaimed “He must be the devil.”  For the sake of the television set, I’m glad grandpa wasn’t there.

The program returns to the studio where our host, desk and floor are covered with cake.  The announcer apologizes for what he describes as the single worst thing that had ever happened in wrestling.  He also tells us Cowboy Bob Ellis is so upset he cannot appear on camera for fear of what he may say, but Bob wants to assure the kids at the Crippled Children’s Home that he would avenge the loss of their life savings.

Rip Hawk’s horrific actions completely overshadow the main event.  As the Kentuckians were dominating a couple of heel jobbers, our TV host broke in with an important bulletin: “The promoter, Mr. Jim Crockett, has ordered Rip Hawk to meet Cowboy Bob Ellis on the next card at the Lexington YMCA!  Tickets will be on sale at the box office, and at the usual locations!”

I had no idea how much Rip Hawk and the Lexington YMCA would factor into my wrestling entertainment in the future years.

Originally written and published on the old Mid-Atlantic Gateway in March 2004
Republished here December 2015
Thanks to Wayne Brower


Monday, June 13, 2022

The Anderson/Flair Feud Puts Gene Anderson in the Hospital


During the year of 1977, the Anderson brothers had a torrid feud with their young cousin Ric Flair and his partner Greg Valentine. The two teams battled over the NWA World Tag Team titles.

What was unusual about the feud was that the two teams wrestled out of different territories. Flair and Valentine were the top heel team in the Mid-Atlantic area, while the Anderson Brothers were the top heel team for Georgia Championship Wrestling.

The Andersons left Jim Crockett Promotions in the fall of 1976 after Ole Anderson lost a series of "Loser Leaves Town" matches to Wahoo McDaniel. Behind the scenes, Ole had taken the job as booker for Georgia Championship Wrestling and he and Gene had moved to Atlanta. 

The Andersons were NWA World Tag Team champions at the time, and took those titles with them to Georgia. Flair had a falling out with his cousins in October of 1976 and formed a new tag team with partner Greg Valentine. The Andersons returned to the area for a title defense against Flair and Valentine in Greensboro the night after Christmas of 1976. The "blond bombers" upset the Minnesota Wrecking Crew to take the tag titles.

Mid-Atlantic booker George Scott maintained a working relationship with Georgia booker Ole Anderson and there were several talent exchanges throughout the year of 1977. This allowed for the Andersons to continue their feud in the Mid-Atlantic area with Flair and Valentine throughout the year of 1977, with the  Andersons making sporadic appearances in the territory, usually over weekends, to continue the feud. 

In the Mid-Atlantic area, the Andersons had become 'fan favorites', but were still hated heels in Georgia.

The Andersons regained the titles from Flair and Valentine in Charlotte on May 7, 1977 in a famous cage match where Wahoo McDaniel was the special referee. However, on October 30 in Greensboro, Flair and Valentine got the titles back and badly injured Gene Anderson in the process.

Behind the scenes, Gene Anderson was in need for neck surgery, and the injury angle was shot to explain his long absence during his recovery. 

The interview with Gene and Ole Anderson seen in the YouTube video embedded above was shot in Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta as Gene was recovering from that surgery. It was shot by the Georgia office, hosted by Freddie Miller, and the tape sent to Jim Crockett Promotions and aired on their syndicated television shows.

In the months that followed, Ole Anderson took different paths in the two different territories. in Georgia, he took Sgt. Jacques Goulet as his new tag team partner and the hated team went on to win the Georgia Tag Team titles. In the Mid-Atlantic area, though, Ole became even more of a fan favorite when he asked Wahoo McDaniel to become his tag team partner to challenge Flair and Valentine for the NWA World tag titles. 

It was all part of a long feud between the Andersons against Flair and Valentine that lasted off and on for the better part of nine years, until finally "the family" was reunited in 1985 when the Four Horsemen were formed. Gene retired and the younger 'cousin' of Ole Anderson and Ric Flair emerged on the scene to make the Anderson family stronger than ever.  

For complete details on every twist and turn in the Anderson/Flair family feud over the years, check out our timeline history book on the Minnesota Wrecking Crew, available at Amazon.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Poster: Flair vs. Anderson at Cincinnati Gardens


by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This poster promotes a card held at the Cincinnati Gardens, a venue rich in professional wrestling history. Held on Friday, October 16th, 1981, both the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and the United States title were on the line. 

Ric Flair, still riding high only one month into his first reign with the Ten Pounds of Gold, took the challenge of cousin Ole Anderson, while Sgt. Slaughter would defend his belt against Johnny Weaver. 

The big names didn't stop at the main events as the rest of the lineup included Wahoo McDaniel, Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine, Ivan Koloff, Jay Youngblood, and Bad Leroy Brown. No doubt an exciting night of wrestling for the fans in Cincinnati.

With a horizontal layout, the poster has red and black print over an ultra bright yellow background and great images of Flair, Wahoo, Koloff, and the Andersons. It's especially nice to see the full body image of Flair in my personal favorite Olivia Walker robe.

 NO. 35 IN THE BEASLEY POSTER SERIES

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Mid-Atlantic Gateway Notes
by Dick Bourne

Cincinnati was an interesting town for JCP, as it fell outside their usual territorial footprint at the time. It was really more a Georgia Championship Wrestling town when Georgia had started running Ohio, Michigan, and West Virginia after it had been basically abandoned by the Sheik's Detroit promotion. Their cards were promoted off of Superstation WTBS. But Crockett had a TV outlet there that did pretty well, and booker Ole Anderson, who was booking both Mid-Atlantic and Georgia territories at the time, stacked the Cincinnati cards with more Mid-Atlantic talent than he did Georgia talent for awhile. 

Anderson booked himself as Ric Flair's first regular title challenger in the Mid-Atlantic territory. The Andersons had been in a bitter feud with Flair the entire summer of 1981 before Ric won the NWA title in September, and so Ole made a natural choice as Flair's challenger plus it was a continuation of the on-again / off-again family feud between Flair and his cousins that had been going on since 1976. Flair and Ole headlined cards all over the reach of JCP including Cincinnati, Buffalo, NY, Savannah, GA, and all across the traditional Mid-Atlantic territory.

Wahoo McDaniel and Roddy Piper was the most heated feud in the territory at that point, coming off Piper's hiring of Abdullah the Butcher a month and a half earlier to attack Wahoo on TV which resulted in Wahoo being injured and being stripped of the U.S. title for failing to defend against Piper, even though it was Piper who had hired the Butcher. The U.S. title had been placed in a tournament.

And speaking of that U.S. title tournament, Sgt. Slaughter, a newcomer to Jim Crockett Promotions, was just coming off his big surprise tournament win of the United States Championship less than two weeks earlier. Johnny Weaver was his early opponent in lots of towns across the Mid-Atlantic territory helping to establish Slaughter as a top heel, including this card in Cincinnati.

A great card in the Queen City!

Monday, June 06, 2022

A Magical Phone Call From Tony Schiavone

by Kyra Quinn
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The following story from Kyra Quinn was originally posted in 2017 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.


1985 Calling: Tony Schiavone, George South, and One Magical Phone Call 

About a year ago I got a phone call. But it was more than that. It was a link to a cherished part of my past, a connection to my youth and to one of the men who helped make wrestling real to me.

It was Sunday morning, August 7, 2016. I was getting ready for church and almost didn’t answer my ringing phone. But then I looked and saw that the caller was my friend, Mr. No. 1 George South. It was the Sunday of Fanfest weekend in Charlotte, and George knew I was sorely disappointed that I was unable to attend. I knew George was there, and I also knew that one never quite knows what Mr. No. 1 has up his sleeve. So I answered.

I was hailed with an excited, “Hey baby! How are you?” which is a pretty typical greeting from George. I could tell he was pumped to be there, spending the weekend amongst his friends and heroes – guys he has wrestled with and against for several decades. Quickly, George let me know he had someone who wanted to say hello to me. He told me to hold on.

The next voice I heard took my breath away: “Hi Kyra, this is Tony Schiavone.”

Of course, he needn’t have introduced himself. I would recognize that voice anywhere. It was one of the primary voices of my youth, the voice that conveyed magical moments with the perfect blend of exuberance, enthusiasm and realism. My heart pounding, my mind racing, I babbled some sort of ‘hello.’ As usually happens when I meet my wrestling heroes, I was awestruck. Initially, all I could think of was that he had said my name. Tony Schiavone said my name! Immediately I attempted to capture that moment in my mind forever so that I would always be able to recall it.

The conversation lasted a few minutes, and my excitement was such that I honestly don’t recall half of what I said. But I do remember the most important thing: I thanked Tony for helping to make it all so real to me. I discovered Crockett wrestling on Pittsburgh’s WPGH-53 one late summer morning in 1985 at the age of 8, with my introduction being the exhilarating title win of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express over the Russians. I was hooked from then on, mesmerized by the athleticism, excitement, and the struggle between the good guys and the bad guys. From that first Saturday morning, Tony’s voice was an integral part of the spectacle, and of the realism that was the hallmark of Jim Crockett Promotions.  Tony’s love for wrestling came though, but so did his professionalism, in the way he called matches and handled interviews. He was, for me, a huge part of Jim Crockett Promotions, and when he left, some of the magic left with him.


My friends at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway had Tony sign this for me that August in Charlotte.
It was a Fanfest I hated to miss.


Of course, Tony’s departure in early 1989 was only one of a slew of big changes around that time. My favorites, Ricky and Robert, were long gone; the Horsemen had disbanded; the whole talent roster had experienced upheaval; and the look and feel of the shows had changed. But Tony’s leaving was especially upsetting to me. He had been a constant – he had provided the soundtrack – and now he was gone. I was delighted when Tony eventually returned to what had become WCW, and I was always happy when past favorite wrestlers of mine found their way back to the promotion. But too much had changed. Wrestling was never quite the same for me.

When I thanked Tony for being such a big part of helping to make it real, he seemed genuinely grateful. Maybe it’s not a comment he hears very often, but he should. He was so good at what he did, and yet is so underrated. For those too young to remember, those who have simply forgotten, and those who can be critical, I’d suggest a visit to YouTube and a trip back to Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985 or 1986. Those shows have retained their magic. Watch the amazing talent in the ring, listen to the pops of the red-hot crowds, and pay special attention to the professional yet boyishly enthusiastic voice delivering the play-by-play. It doesn’t get much better.



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

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Also by Kyra Quinn on the Gateway:

My Secret Charlotte
Whispers of Magic from the City's Wrestling Relics

Dr. Joseph Estwanik: A Doctor Remembers
Noted Charlotte orthopedist recalls his experiences treating
the wrestlers of Jim Crockett Promotions

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Also don't miss our huge feature with Tony looking back on his days as a fan of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. It was a multi-part series called "Sunday's With Schiavone" and can be found in its entirety by clicking here.


https://www.amazon.com/dp/1545468540/

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Poster: Super Destroyer and Paul Jones Battle in Lynchburg (1975)


by Jody Shifflett
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This poster is from July 25, 1975 and took place at the Lynchburg Armory, a venue that saw a lot of great Mid-Atlantic wrestling action. Just look at the rundown on this poster, from the Super Destroyer to Paul Jones to Ric Flair to Swede Hanson. Also featured are Kevin Sullivan and Bob Bruggers. This is when men were men.

This event took place roughly two months before the October plane crash, of which Ric Flair and Bob Bruggers were a part. I was only three years old at the time of this event but how great it would be to travel back in time and see these guys perform when wrestling truly was wrestling.

Features great light pink to blue coloring, and as always the historic 8:15 start time!

NO. 3 IN THE SHIFFLETT POSTER SERIES