November of 1975 began with the departure of a stalwart performer that had been a mainstay in Jim Crockett Promotions for many years. Art Nelson wrestled his last match in the Mid-Atlantic area on November 1, 1975, battling long-time foe Sandy Scott in Spartanburg, South Carolina. While being de-emphasized by the promotion for much of 1974 and all of 1975, Nelson left a lasting impact on fans in the Carolinas and Virginia.
The early part of November also produced an unusual evening for Wide World Wrestling announcer Les Thatcher. On November 4, 1975, Thatcher was pressed into service as a referee for a card in Danville, Virginia! Active in the promotion’s office in addition to his announcing duties, Thatcher added the position of “Referee” to his already long list of credentials.
On the subject of “Referees” in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, the month of November 1975 showcased the debut of the greatest of them all…Tommy Young. On November 22, 1975 in Roanoke, Virginia, Tommy Young refereed his first Mid-Atlantic card in what would be a career without parallel for anyone who donned the striped shirt. Tommy’s unique style was an immediate hit with Mid-Atlantic fans.
The early days of November 1975 saw the arena debut of the big man from Eagle Pass, Texas---Blackjack Mulligan. After returning to the area to only television appearances in the month of October, Mulligan reappeared in the area’s arenas in early November. Blackjack’s first arena match back was in the Richmond Coliseum on November 7th, teaming with Steve Strong to defeat Johnny Weaver and Tim Woods. The big Texan was off and running in a big way all through the month of November.
There may have been no more important date or memorable card in Mid-Atlantic history that November 9, 1975. On that Sunday night in Greensboro, North Carolina a record capacity crowd of 15,076, with thousands of others being turned away, saw Texas sensation Terry Funk emerge victorious in a 16 man Tournament for Johnny Valentine’s vacated United States Heavyweight Championship. Funk took the measure of Paul Jones in 18 grueling minutes in the final match of the Tournament, to take the United States Title back to Amarillo, Texas with him.
In addition to top flight Mid-Atlantic stars such as Wahoo McDaniel, Rufus R. Jones and Ken Patera participating in the Tournament, other big name stars such as Harley Race, Red Bastien and Dusty Rhodes from the NWA played significant roles in this mega Tournament.
(See Dick Bourne's special feature on the 30th Anniversary of the Tournament in "The Gateway Remembers".)
For those that were unable to see the U.S. Title Tournament live, or who wanted to relive the magical moments from that night, the November 19th Wide World Wrestling television program showed film highlights of Paul Jones beating Harley Race in the Tournament semi-finals, and Dusty Rhodes defeating Blackjack Mulligan in the second round of the Tournament. The Rhodes victory over Mulligan was accomplished with the help of interference by Tim Woods, who got revenge against Blackjack in a big way for the breaking of his hand on television several weeks earlier. The Woods-Mulligan feud would take off from this point, and last into early 1976.
A major new star entered the territory in November of 1975, and he was none other than “Big Nasty” Angelo Mosca. With a stellar football background at Notre Dame and in the Canadian Football League, Mosca brought both impressive size and athleticism into the squared circle. Angelo’s initial match for Jim Crockett Promotions was a win over Klondike Bill on November 10th at Charlotte’s Park Center.
Mosca quickly earned his Mid-Atlantic stripes in November by battling, and getting the best of , big Swede Hanson. And on the November 26th taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show at the WRAL Studios, Mosca came out along with Steve Strong and interrupted the interviews of good-guys Rufus R. Jones and Johnny Weaver…setting the stage for a tag team battle the next week on television. Mosca also had less than complementary things to say about another former pro football player, Chief Wahoo McDaniel. A collision course between these two ex-footballers seemed inevitable as November neared its end.
Another newcomer to the area, arriving during the month of November, was youngster Larry Zbyszko. While taking his lumps during his early Mid-Atlantic matches, Zbyszko showed real potential, and battled some of the area’s fiercest bad guys tooth and nail.
Gene and Ole Anderson had another very successful month in November, holding onto their NWA World Tag Team Titles with a large number of Title defenses. As was the case in the month of October, the top challengers to the “Minnesota Wrecking Crew” was the young duo of Steve Keirn and Tiger Conway. However, as the month of November progressed, the champs began to take firm control of the game challengers. By the end of November, the Anderson’s had taken Keirn’s and Conway’s best shot…and were looking for new teams to challenge them.
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco visited the area over Thanksgiving week, and had a memorable series of Title defenses again the territory’s top talent. Wahoo McDaniel, Paul Jones and Rufus R. Jones all had shots at the World Title during the last week in November, and all three came up just a bit short. Brisco’s disqualification win over Rufus R. Jones in Charleston, South Carolina on November 28th would be Jack’s last Title defense in the Mid-Atlantic area as NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion.
A highly entertaining feud broke out during November between Professor Boris Malenko and the big Chief Wahoo McDaniel. This would continue into December, including Wahoo’s Indian Strap Match and Boris’ famed Russian Chain Match. The bad blood came about when Wahoo broke Boris’ teeth, though the two had issues back to Wahoo’s football career when Malenko broke McDaniel’s hand and Wahoo had to go to football camp one year with a cast on that hand. During the November 1975 wars, Malenko would often team with the Missouri Mauler against Wahoo and his fine partner, Paul Jones.
The end of the month of November 1975 saw another historic Mid-Atlantic card of epic proportions. And again the event took place in the Greensboro Coliseum. On Thursday night November 27th, Paul Jones got revenge against Terry Funk, winning the U.S. Title and bringing it back to the Mid-Atlantic area! A wild crowd of 12,102 fans saw “Mr. # 1” send Funk back to Texas empty handed, after 22 minutes of incredible brawling. As the month of November ended, Paul held both the U.S. Title and the Mid-Atlantic Television Title. With Ric Flair still not physically able to defend his Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title, Paul Jones was THE singles titleholder in the Mid-Atlantic area!
The month of November 1975 proved without a doubt that the territory was not only going to survive after the Wilmington plane crash…but that Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling was going to thrive. And the best was yet to come!
1. PAUL JONES---Jones made the finals of the November 9th U.S. Title Tournament, beating Harley Race to reach that final match. And then came back on November 27th to take the U.S. belt away from Terry Funk. At this juncture, no one would have bet against Jones becoming NWA World Champion, and in short order!
2. BLACKJACK MULLIGAN---The big Cowboy from Eagle Pass, Texas began hitting his stride in November. Dominating foe after foe, Mulligan would soon turn his attention to Paul Jones. As great as Jones was going, could anybody stop the steamroller known as Blackjack Mulligan?
3. ANGELO MOSCA---A truly impressive newcomer to the area, with a great athletic background and an ornery attitude to match. This “Madman” from Boston had “Superstar” written all over him from the outset.
1. ART NELSON---The great Jim Crockett Promotions veteran wrestled his last match for the territory on November 1st. A tremendous career for this tough guy in the Carolinas and Virginia, which unfortunately stalled out for most of 1975 as the promotion went with younger talent.
2. SWEDE HANSON---Another veteran with Jim Crockett Promotions that started his descent down the cards during the year of 1975. While coming out on the short end against a talent like Angelo Mosca in November was no disgrace, it signaled that Swede’s days in Main Events were over for good.
3. STEVE KEIRN/TIGER CONWAY---This dynamic team gave the Anderson’s all they could handle, but by the end of November 1975 it appeared clear that they weren’t going to take the “Wrecking Crew’s” belts. After this fine run, neither Keirn nor Conway would sniff Main Events in the Mid-Atlantic area again. But they certainly fought the good fight against Gene and Ole.