Monday, July 25, 2022

The 2022 Tragos-Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame

Photo by Joyce Paustian / Slam Wrestling

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

"Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa."
           - from the film Field of Dreams

What a wonderful night at the 2022 George Tragos - Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Induction Banquet at the Waterloo Convention Center in Waterloo, Iowa. I was very honored to receive the James C. Melby Award for Journalism and to have the honor to stand on stage with three of the great legends in pro wrestling history: Trish Stratus (Tricia Stratigeas), Jim Ross, and Mike Rotunda.

The James C. Melby Award is named for Jim Melby, a professional wrestling historian, writer, magazine editor, and publisher in the 1960s-1990s. The award recognizes excellence in professional wrestling journalism and historical preservation.

Stratus was the recipient of the prestigious Lou Thesz Award, given to someone within the pro wrestling industry....... [CONT.]

This story has been relocated here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Relocated to August 2022 Updates. 


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Headed to Waterloo

 The Mid-Atlantic Gateway is on a mid-summer publishing hiatus. We look forward to being back with you soon with more great Mid-Atlantic Wrestling memories. 

Click For Schedule and Ticket Information

I am extremely honored to be receiving the 2022 James C. Melby Award from the Tragos-Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and look forward to being in Waterloo, Iowa, in July for the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.
It is humbling to be recognized with an award previously given to others for whom I have such enormous respect.  - Dick Bourne

Tragos/Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame Announces 2022 Melby Award Winner
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Dick Bourne announced as 2022 Melby Award winner
Slam Wrestling | Posted by Greg Oliver | Dec 30, 2021

Visit to the Tragos-Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame
by Andy McDaniel, with lots of photos

National Wrestling Hall of Fame   |   Dan Gable Museum
Tragos-Thesz Pro Wrestling HOF Weekend

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Tuesday, July 19, 2022


Wrestlers wore some interesting t-shirts back in the day.

Top left: Rocky Johnson (Sweet Ebony Diamond), "Steve Rickard's Gymnasium and Health Clinic, Wellington, New Zealand." Steve Rickard was the NWA promoter in New Zealand and brought many of the top U.S. stars to his promotion down under.

Top right: Dewey Robertson, "Moosehead Beer." Dewey was Canadian and Moosehead was Canada's "proudly independent" brewery. Headquartered in Saint John, New Brunswick and still independently owned to this day.

Bottom left: Roddy Piper, "Master." Piper had all sorts of t-shirts, most of  them looked like he had them printed up at a local mall. He had some classics. This wasn't necessarily one of them, but I liked the photo with the pipes and U.S. belt.

Bottom right: Wahoo McDaniel, "The King's Gym - Body Building." No idea where this gym was, but would like to know, so if you have info, smarten us up. Wahoo never spent much time in the gym, but that was only because he was too busy fishing and golfing. One of pro-wrestling's greatest atheltes and according to ost everyone that stood across the ring from him one of the toughest men to ever walk the planet.


http://www.midatlanticwrestling.net/image_host/images/davies_tshirts.jpg

Monday, July 18, 2022

Road Jackets for Jim Crockett Promotions (1985)


It would be pretty cool to have a complete collection of these satin jackets today. They were sold by Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985 and 1986, primarily through mail order out of their in-house magazine.


The jackets feature some of the earliest designs for JCP as they worked to get merchandising off the ground in those years.

The wrestlers featured included a team jacket for "America's Team" Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A., as well as individual logos for each of them. Also featured were Ric Flair, Manny Fernandez, and the Rock and Roll Express.

The jackets sold for a whopping $50, which was a lot of money back in the mid-1980s. I'm guessing not a whole lot of them were sold. However, those same logos appeared on caps and t-shirts as well, which likely sold better, especially at the arenas.

My personal favorite, strictly from a design standpoint, was the logo for Dusty Rhodes, which had a great western look and evoked an image that just said "TEXAS" with the star in the center of the letter "O" in Rhodes. The Ric Flair design is great looking, too, and a variation was used in the famous "I Do It With Flair" t-shirt of the same era.


http://midatlanticwrestling.net/yearbooks.htm

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Theme Music: Wide World Wrestling (1975-1978)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Includes rare, exclusive audio tracks embedded below.
 

When I first got "hooked" on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, one of the things (other than the great wrestling) that I liked most about both Crockett shows was the great theme music.

I'm not talking about wrestler's theme music. This was in 1975 and almost a decade before every wrestler had their own theme music.

I'm talking about the opening theme music that started off each show. It was a signature element of each of the two programs that Jim Crockett Promotion produced, and is today as much of the sentimental or nostalgic aspect of those shows. That's something long ago lost as it regards pro-wrestling on TV today.

Ed Capral with NWA champion Harley Race
on the set of "Wide World Wrestling" in 1977

Over the many years, I've enjoyed collecting theme music from the various wrestling shows I watched in the 1970s and 1980s. Some used edited versions of popular commercial music, some used "production" music written especially for that use.

My favorite wrestling TV-show theme of them all was the music for "Wide World Wrestling" in 1975-1978. "Wide World Wrestling" was Jim Crockett's "B" show. If a TV market only featured one of Crockett's TV shows, it would always be the "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" show, which was the "A" show. If a traditional Crockett TV market featured both Crockett shows, then "Wide World" would be added as the second show in that market, or the "B" show.

The show began in October of 1975 and was hosted by longtime Atlanta wrestling broadcaster Ed Capral. When Capral left in 1977, he was succeeded by hosts Russ Dubuc and then Tom Miller. In 1978, Crockett changed the name of the program to "World Wide Wrestling" as host Rich Landrum took over the show, and by the early 1980s, this was the show that started going into Crockett's expansion markets, as well as remaining the "B" show in Crockett's home markets.

"Truckin'" Tom Miller, host of "Wide World Wrestling"
for roughly 6 months in 1978

The opening theme music for this show was awesome! The opening video package that ran under the music was a quick montage of various wrestlers doing various wrestling maneuvers that flew by at quick pace that matched the upbeat tempo of the music. The music and video open had sort of a "Wide World of Sports" feel to it. ABC's "Wide World of Sports" was one of the most popular sports programs of the era and as much a part of Saturday afternoons as wrestling was in that era.

Recently our friend Craig at Wrestling Media (wrestlingmedia.ws) was kind enough to send us the original recording of the music used for "Wide World Wrestling." I got his very nice email on Thanksgiving Day - - what a wonderful gift on Thanksgiving! I was thankful indeed for his generosity and for remembering at all that this was something I had been looking for for years. He was able to identify it solely by the low-resolution recording I had of it on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archive site.

The music, titled "Diamond Head" was written and recorded by Walter Murphy, who had a #1 pop hit back in 1976 called "A Fifth of Beethoven." Murphy has an extensive resume of production music and there are several vinyl recordings of his still floating around. The album that has "Diamond Head" was titled "Major Production Music", Vinyl 6088 on Major Records (now known as Valentino.) It is track 3 on side B of the record and was recorded and released in 1975 (the same year "Wide World Wrestling" debuted.

The "Wide World Wrestling" theme was created by taking various segments of the original 1:30 recording and piecing them together to make the final 25 sec. version you heard each week to open the show. The tempo of the wrestling version was also a little faster than the original, although at the same pitch.

I took Murphy's original recording and edited a version together that is nearly identical (in arrangement and speed) to the classic 1975 wrestling theme, and happily present it here.

There are no known video recordings of the 1975-1978 "Wide World Wrestling" show, which is a very sad thing. The theme hasn't been heard in this arrangement since 1978, so only fans who are roughly in their mid-40s or later would even remember it. But for those that watched "Wide World Wrestling" every single weekend without fail as I did each week, this will be a wonderful trip down memory lane and a nostalgic reminder of a great era in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. And for those hearing it for the first time, this is what a real wrestling theme sounds like.




Wide World Wrestling - Opening Theme (1975-1978)


Wide World Wrestling - Closing Theme (1975-1978)


More on this album of production music on the Discogs website:
https://www.discogs.com/Walter-Murphy-Production-Music/release/3544026

Thanks to Craig at Wrestling Media (wrestlingmedia.ws) for his forwarding this information and for providing me the original track that resulted in my favorite wrestling theme music of them all.



Originally published December 2016 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Bob Caudle Wrestling Profile in Wrestling Revue (1965)

The following short article is from a "Man Behind the Mike" feature in Wrestling Revue magazine in August of 1965. It spotlights the career of Bob Caudle who was for the better part of three decades the voice of All-Star Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, and NWA Pro Wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions.

There are many posts on this blog about Bob, who was without question the voice most associated with Jim Crockett Promotions of all the on-air talent that worked for the company.

Although this article was originally published in 1965, it is one of the better features ever written about him in a wrestling publication.


[ WRESTLING REVUE ARTICLE ]


Bob Caudle interviews Sandy and George Scott on the set of
"All Star Wrestling" at WRAL in 1965

Over the crowd's frenzied roar booms the confident voice of Bob Caudle who narrates the wild wrestling activity which is taped every Wednesday night at WRAL-TV, Raleigh, North Carolina. Wrestling is very big in Caudle's domain, which includes Richmond and Norfolk in Virginia, and Greenville, Charleston and Columbia in South Carolina.

Bob's show is called "All-Star Wrestling" and it is one of the most unique shows in the world since there is no charge for admission and it is not held in an arena. The scene of these year-round weekly battles is a studio at WRAL-TV. Seating is limited to 300 persons and tickets are issued free, just as they are for many other TV studio shows.

Wrestlers come from all over the world to take part in these shows despite the fact that there are no gate receipts and only a handful of spectators. Of course the TV audience is far greater than the combined fans of many arenas, and so far no one has heard the wrestlers complain about the pay.

Two video tapes are made at the same time. One is MC'd by Nick Pond for Raleigh viewers. The other is MC'd by Bob Caudle and shipped out to the cities already mentioned above.

Bob Caudle has been announcing "All-Star Wrestling" for two and a half years. Contributing greatly to he success of this show is Bob's personal interviews with the wrestlers. Through these, the TV audience gets to know the wrestlers more intimately which makes for more intense likes and dislikes. Especially popular (or unpopular) are the tag-teams that appear regularly on his show. Invariably the most hated villains draw the most viewers.

Sometimes Michael Caudle, 13, and Bobby Caudle, 9, accompany Dad to the show. So far they have shown no desire to get into the ring, but the addition of a couple of hundred pounds apiece may change that. Who knows, one day father Caudle may be announcing a new tag team the Killer Caudle Brothers.

Bob Caudle started in Radio in 1948 and added TV to his announcing talents in 1956. His radio play-by-play experience includes most sports and especially wrestling, baseball, football and basketball. He had his first live TV wrestling show from 1958 to 1959 in Savannah, Georgia.

In addition to handling sports, Bob is also an active member of the Channel Five news staff. He does the Atlantic Weather Show which is a regular part of the 6:00 to 7:00 P.M. news block called "Dateline." He also reports news of North Carolina and Raleigh, with "doings of the legislature" on "Late Dateline", which is aired every weekday evening from 11:00 to 11:30 P.M.

However, Bob Caudle's first love is "All-Star Wrestling" for this show is packed full of violent, unpredictable action and keeps him on his toes from start to finish.


[ END OF ARTICLE ]

Thanks to Pete Jarvis, via Carroll Hall,  for providing the scanned image of the article. The article was from "Wrestling Revue" from August 1965.

 


Edited from a post originally published June 2015 on the Studio Wrestling Blog, part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Jaws: The Mystery of Charlotte's Land-Shark

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

JAWS
Photograph by Jackie Crockett
© Crockett Foundation.
Used with permission.

Back in January of 2017, we posted on the Gateway about an unusual wrestler in the Mid-Atlantic area in 1977 by the name of JAWS. He was (for a very short period of time) under the managerial direction of "Professor" Boris Malenko, who, as head of 'The Family', managed the Masked Superstar and the "Korean Assassin" Kim Duk.

In the spring of 1977 Malenko's "family" was in the middle of a big feud with the Mighty Igor, and Malenko brought in a paid assassin in an attempt to eliminate Igor from the wrestling scene. He was a masked wrestler named Jaws.

You can read all about Jaws in our original post, including info on the movie on which this whacky character was based. There are rare photographs of him in the Crockett Foundation's book "When Wrestling Was Wrestling."  

Recently, we even thought we had figured out who he was under that mask. But that mystery remains. 

A fellow on Facebook by the name of Barry Hatchet posted a photo of Jaws wrestling in Japan on our Facebook page and informed us it was the legendary Danny Miller under the hood. A quick text to Danny's daughter Corinna from mutual friend Peggy Lathan confirmed it was indeed Corinna's father in the photo from Japan.

Danny Miller as Jaws in Japan
(Photo courtesy of Corinna Miller)

"Yes," she replied to Peggy in a text message, "it was Dad. He was Jaws."

So we momentarily thought we had solved the mystery of who was under the mask in the photo taken by Jackie Crockett in Charlotte in 1977 (seen above.)

But Corinna poured cold water on us when she also told Peggy that the man in the photo from Charlotte wearing the Jaws mask was not her father. She and her mother Karin said the Charlotte Jaws had a different physique than Danny. "He always had his gear with him, though" she told Peggy, "and might have loaned that to someone else."

She forwarded on another photograph of her father (seen at right), a shot that she found in his personal scrapbook wearing the Jaws gear while in Japan.

Despite the fact that the identity of Jaws in the Charlotte photo remained a mystery, this was some exciting news for us. We never knew that Danny Miller wrestled in Japan as a land-shark!

Danny Miller
The legendary Danny Miller wrestled here in the 1960s and 1970s and was one of our childhood favorites. He held championships here, including the Eastern Heavyweight Championship that was the forerunner to the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight title. He was a frequent tag partner of Les Thatcher and Jerry Brisco, and later worked for Jim Crockett Promotions as one if its local promoters on the ground in Greenville, SC.

Thanks to Barry for the tip and Corinna for the information regarding her Dad and his secret alter-ego in Japan. We will, however, continue to seek out the identity of the man who wrestled under that hood in Charlotte - - one of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's most obscure and long forgotten characters - - JAWS!




Originally published in February 2017 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway


Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Ricky Steamboat's Health Club

Image provided by Mike Cline
 

Years after his gym business in Charlotte, Ricky Steamboat opened a full-blown health club in Mooresville, NC, near Lake Norman. 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Remembering Hot Times at County Hall in Charleston

by Andy McDaniel
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Charleston County Hall was famously known for being a hot place. Literally, the building held heat like nowhere else. Wahoo McDaniel once told Mike Mooneyham that even the walls at County Hall could sweat. Regardless of the heat or the raindrops from the leaky ceiling, County Hall was just a fun place to be at on Friday nights.

From time to time, I recall a fun night at County Hall and love to share those memories. I am very grateful for the Gateway and the wonderful job they do for keeping Mid-Atlantic wrestling alive. It is a true joy to have the chance to contribute a story now and then.

Blackjack Mulligan was something else. He is one of those wrestling characters that will forever be remembered. He was a larger than life figure and literally, a giant of a man. Many of his feuds will live on forever in the hearts of Mid-Atlantic fans. I loved his time with Paul Jones, Tim Woods, and of course, the great memories of his matches with and against Ric Flair. However, there was another feud that I truly enjoyed, the one with the Masked Superstar.

Several matches between these two had taken place all over the Mid-Atlantic region. There were even a few at County Hall. As with most feuds, we saw specialty matches, matches with stipulations and on occasion another couple of guys would be tossed in and a tag-team match would take place. Such was the case on this particular Friday night in Charleston.

The main event was Blackjack Mulligan and a screwball member of his family, Cousin Luke, versus their opponents the Masked Superstar and his partner for the night, Enforcer Luciano. I had seen Luciano eating light bulbs and breaking concrete blocks with his fists on TV, but now I was going to see him in person. This was such a magical time in wrestling. The fans were invested and whether it was cheering or booing, the sincerity of each side was awesome.

It was another hot, Friday night at County Hall. The action had been fierce, but now it was time for the main event. Everyone was on their feet as Blackjack and Luke came to the ring. The Superstar and Luciano were waiting for them as they stepped through the ropes. After the ring announcer made the introductions, action started, and it was a brawl. Fists were flying, boots were coming off and being used as weapons; pretty much the only thing technical or actual wrestling wise that might have been seen would have been provided by the Superstar.

It was exactly what Blackjack had promised the previous Saturday during the local promos; it was a fight. The match/brawl went on for a bit, but then the action seemed to settle down. Much to the dismay of most of the crowd, Blackjack found himself being subdued by the Superstar. The cobra clutch had brought down the big man in the center of the ring. Every time it seemed like Blackjack might break free or make the tag to Luke, Luciano would do something to steal the crowd's joy. The referee was really hearing it from the crowd. He seemed to never be able to catch the dastardly deeds being done in his ring and the fans were letting him know their feelings. Referees always seemed good at missing so many important moments. Tommy Young, Stu Schwartz, Sonny Fargo, they are such great parts of the history of Mid-Atlantic wrestling. They were so important to the matches, I always enjoyed their work.

This back and forth match went on for quite a while, the crowd was surely on an emotional roller coaster. I can remember it just like it was last night. The Superstar and his partner had exhausted the crowd. The wooden floor of County Hall bellowed out as the fans began to stomp. The railings of the balcony rang as palms began to pound against them, all in disapproval of the things being done to our heroes.

In what appeared to be an act of betrayal, right at the moment it seemed that Blackjack might break free, Cousin Luke jumped off the corner of the ring and headed toward the dressing room.

You could feel the air almost leave the room, as the crowd gasped, and shock filled the arena. The smoke that hovered just below the ceiling began to swirl at a near tornado type speed. Yes, people smoked inside back then, It was kind of part of the charm of County Hall - - smoke, popcorn, beer, etc. Those were special times indeed.

The disbelief at what was taking place before our very eyes was at an unreal level. How could this be? How could Luke turn on his own cousin? Was he really a traitor? Almost immediately, the boos started and the closer he got to the back, the louder things seemed to get.

As is most often in pro wrestling, things were not as they would seem and almost as quickly as Luke entered the dressing room, he would come back out. But he was not alone. To every one’s delight, he would bring an additional partner back the ring, but this was a partner that did not walk with him. Instead it was in his hand. It was about 4-feet long and firm in nature. Yes, good ol' Cousin Luke quickly had the fans back in his corner as he and his new partner, a 2 x 4, entered the ring to assist in what seemed to be a very unfair fight. As he evened the odds and dispatched Superstar and Luciano; Blackjack was on the road to recovery and rejoined the chaos as it unfolded. Unfortunately, the referee did not approve of all the mayhem and called for the bell and the ring announcer would soon let the rowdy crowd know that all had been disqualified.

It was one of those times that, while the victory was not found in a simple 1-2-3, the fans still went home happy because they saw justice had come to town and the bad guys were sent running.

Friday nights at County Hall: what wonderful memories. For a young kid who went to his first matches in that building starting in 1974, every time was always special. This year, 2018, will be exactly 20 years since the last matches were held in the hallowed Hall. I had the honor and absolute privilege of not only promoting that show, but was also in the main event that night. It will be a memory that I will cherish forever. To have watched all my heroes - - Wahoo, Ric, Rufus, Blackjack, Jimmy Valiant, Paul Jones - - to have seen them do battle in this special old building and to personally be able to go back there all those years later and be the one to close out wrestling forever in County Hall, is something I hold near to my heart.

This night with Blackjack, Superstar, and the rest of the crew was another hot night of pro wrestling at County Hall. It was a simple time of story-telling. It was a time when the crowd’s emotions were directed like a Maestro conducts an orchestra, by the guys in the ring. It was a time that was simply magical. I miss those days, but the memories sure are wonderful.

This story contains corrections from a previous version of the story.



Originally published January 28, 2018


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http://amzn.com/1502350963

Order your copy of "Reunion at County Hall" on Amazon.com
Black & White Version   |   Color Version

Read the review by Mike Mooneyham of the Charleston Post & Courier
Wrestling Book Takes a Look at County Hall 

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http://midatlanticwrestling.net/yearbooks.htm

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Poster: Woods and Raschke Battle in Charlotte (1977)

by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This poster takes us to the famous Park Center in Charlotte, NC and promotes a card held on Monday night (as was the norm for the Park Center), November 7th, 1977. 

It boasts an attractive vertical layout with all black print over a tri-colored background and the bowtie "Wrestling" banner along the top. 

In the main event, Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods continued his quest for Baron Von Raschke's NWA Television title while the Mighty Igor challenged Blackjack Mulligan in the semi. 

The undercard included Hartford Love, Rick McGraw, Ted Oates, Bill White, and Charlie Fulton. 

The image of Mr. Wrestling is one not often found on these posters. It is accompanied by a great pic of wrestling star in the making, Rick McGraw.

NO. 36 IN THE BEASLEY POSTER SERIES

 

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MID-ATLANTIC GATEWAY NOTES
by Dick Bourne

The main event on this Charlotte card featured two of the greatest amateur wrestlers to have made successful careers out of professional wrestling.

Tim Woods (George Burrell Woodin) wrestled collegiality for Michigan State University, winning two Big Ten titles in 1958 and 1959. He also finished second in the NCAA tournament in 1958 and 1959, and was a two-time NCAA All American.

Baron Von Raschke (James Donald Raschke) wrestled collegiate for the University of Nebraska from 1960-1962, where he also played football for the Corn Huskers. He won the Big Eight Conference championship as a heavyweight in 1962. He was a bronze medalist in the 1963 World Games and qualified for the 1964 Olympic Games.

Hard to beat such astounding amateur credentials by two different wrestlers in one professional ring.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

July 4th Flashback: Andre and the Andersons Headline Richmond (1975)


A GIANT 4th of July Card in Richmond
The Andersons Battle Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones in Richmond
by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Like most cities, Richmond, Virginia back in 1975 had its share of spectacular fireworks displays to commemorate the Independence Day holiday. But none of those displays held a candle to the “fireworks” that were unleashed on fans inside the Richmond Coliseum, watching a super spectacular card of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling on the evening of July 4, 1975!

To those that have followed the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, you may recall that this card ranked #21 on my listing of Richmond’s greatest Mid-Atlantic cards. The most intriguing match to me going in was a rare Richmond appearance of Andre the Giant, going against the seemingly indestructible Super Destroyer, who was saying at the time that he had held onto his mask for thirteen years. But the match that really stole the show was a NWA World Tag Team Title bout between champions Gene and Ole Anderson against Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel.

About three weeks prior to this Richmond show, the Anderson Brothers had regained the World Tag Team Title belts on television in the dramatic “Supreme Sacrifice” match, where Ole ran Wahoo’s head into Gene’s head, knocking Gene out in the process. This return bout in Richmond had the big match feel of a title change, and the apparent sellout crown at the Coliseum was at a fever pitch anticipating a win for the challengers. But…it wasn’t meant to be on this night. An even bout turned the challengers way towards the end, but it was too little too late. The Andersons stalled out the final minutes, and escaped with a 60 minute draw. This match set up four return bouts between these four during the summer and fall of 1975, with the challengers coming tantalizingly close to winning back the belts.

In the semi-final, many in attendance thought Andre the Giant would finally be the man to unmask the Super Destroyer. After all, if a GIANT couldn’t do the deed nobody else had in 13 years, who possibly could? Andre physically manhandled the masked man to a degree that nobody could believe, but that didn’t stop the Destroyer’s active mind from escaping one precarious predicament after another. A disqualification win for Andre got the Giant’s hand raised and validated a dominating performance, but at the same time frustrated many fans who were expecting a hood to come off. However, the Super Destroyer haters were about to get the last laugh. As fate would have it, the masked man would wrestle only one more time in Richmond and within a month or so was out of the area under a cloud, never to return, with his unmasked face plastered all over the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television shows.

The supporting card, honestly, was not as strong as many Richmond saw, but it did have its moments. The “best of the rest” was a unique pairing of the Mid-Atlantic TV Champion Ric Flair and the underrated Doug Gilbert, against the “good guy” duo of big Swede Hanson and Sonny King. Flair was rising fast at this juncture, so I expected the “bad guys” would take this one. The big Swede was dropping down the cards, and Sonny King was being de-emphasized and would be leaving the area in about two weeks as time would tell. However, Flair and Gilbert couldn’t control their anger issues, giving Hanson and King a disqualification victory to the delight of the Richmond fans.

The other tag team match of the night saw Bob Bruggers and Sandy Scott dispatch the team of Charlie Fulton and the Blue Scorpion. The Bruggers/Scott combination was a smooth one, and they ran circles around their confounded opponents this night. Unfortunately for his many fans, Sandy Scott wrestled very little after this Richmond match, though he did continue to stay active with the promotion, primarily behind the scenes. And after a promising start as a main event performer a year and a half before, Bruggers continued to drop down the cards until the airplane crash in Wilmington, North Carolina in early October of 1975 brought his wrestling career to an end.

Three single matches rounded out this holiday spectacular, and the curtain raiser was by far the best of the bunch! The good guys notched a couple of wins as Greg Peterson outlasted Larry Sharpe, and the highly popular Klondike Bill took the measure of Joe Soto. But the first bout of the night stood out, and was really outstanding. 1974 NWA rookie of the year Steve Keirn and veteran Art Nelson wrestled to a 20 minute draw, which was a battle of contrasting styles and youth versus experience. Nelson, the aging veteran, was still in exceptional condition, but had trouble dealing the speed of Keirn. Conversely, the strength of Nelson gave the youngster Keirn fits. Each man had their chances at victory, but ultimately had to settle for a draw. As clearly Keirn was going up the “Mid-Atlantic ladder” as Nelson was going down that same ladder, it was befitting that they would meet in the middle of that proverbial ladder in this early July 1975 confrontation. But to show how this trend continued over the next few months for both, by October of 1975 Keirn was in a main event program with Tiger Conway, while Nelson was set to depart the Mid-Atlantic area, and would never return.


Originally published July 4, 2015, and republished in July of 2018, and 2021
on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Friday, July 01, 2022

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's Most Obscure Championship (1974)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

PART ONE

Fans in most Jim Crockett Promotions television markets that tuned into the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling show that aired on December 7, 1974 were treated to a most improbable milestone. The most obscure championship in the history of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling was about to be decided right before their eyes!

Announcers Bob Caudle and Big Bill Ward could hardly contain their excitement about the upcoming championship event, as they hardly paid any attention at all to the ongoing bout between Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Johnny Valentine and Klondike Bill. Ward exuded, “We will have a Champion crowned on this program,” to which Caudle replied, “I’m really interested in this arm-wrestling!” Then the predictions began as Ward queried Caudle, ‘Who’s it gonna be, what’s your guess? I’m saying Paul Jones!’ Caudle concurred with that prediction, replying, ‘I’m going to have to go along with that.’ Ward responded, ‘He’s about the best I’ve seen yet!’

To add to the importance of this new championship, none other than the President of Jim Crockett Promotions, Mr. Jim Crockett, Jr., came out to the ring to set the stage for this TV event. Crockett began, “This is the Finals of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Arm-Wrestling Championship. There are three Finalists—Paul Jones, the Avenger and the Super Destroyer.”

While looking directly at Ivan Koloff and Wahoo McDaniel who were standing menacingly in the ring, Crockett sternly announced, “There will be NO seconds in the ring during the Finals.” Mr. Crockett then turned and faced referee Sony Fargo and firmly stated, “Referee, please ask Mr. Koloff and Mr. McDaniel to leave the ring. There will be NO seconds.”

Referee Fargo relayed Mr. Crockett’s message, but neither the “Russian Bear” nor the “Indian Chief” seemed very receptive. At that time, Koloff and Jones were locked in a struggle over the Mid-Atlantic Television Title, while Wahoo was friends with both Paul and the Avenger, and the Chief had absolutely no love for the Super Destroyer. Koloff, on the other hand, was great friends with the masked Super D.

Jim Crockett then explained the championship format to the fans in attendance at the WRAL TV studio and to the many thousands upon thousands watching at home. “By draw, Paul Jones will meet the Super Destroyer first,” Crockett announced. Immediately, Jones interrupted saying, “Let me tell you something—my shoulder is killing me but I know one thing, this is the Finals tonight. And if I don’t arm wrestle tonight I’ll never get another chance! So, I don’t know how strong [the Super Destroyer] is, but we’ll find out in a few minutes.”

A clearly agitated Jim Crockett, Jr. then tersely told Koloff and McDaniel to leave the ring again, and then said to the pacing masked Avenger, “Mr. Avenger, will you just please wait and you will take on the winner.”

Referee Sonny Fargo, sensing Mr. Crockett’s frustration that none of the wrestlers had exited the ring, told everybody except Jones and the Super Destroyer, “I hate to ask you all to leave, but I have to or you’re gonna forfeit the match. I hate to do it.”

Wahoo was incensed and shouted back at Fargo, “Where’d you get all that authority?!?” Sonny then turned towards Jim Crockett, and Mr. Crockett retorted, “Koloff and McDaniel, out of the ring! You cannot be in the ring.”

When the boss spoke, everybody listened and finally left the ring except the combatants Paul Jones and the Super Destroyer, along with referee Fargo. Jones and the Super Destroyer approached the arm-wrestling table and the noise from the studio audience built up to a deafening crescendo. Paul seemed particularly annoyed as he approached the Super Destroyer who appeared to be smiling through his mask…

To be continued in Part II!