5 Reasons I'm Most Looking Forward to Charlotte 2010

by Dick Bourne, Mid-Atlantic Gateway


 


Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Hall of Heroes


 

Related Links

 

Photo Gallery - NWA Champions in the Mid-Atlantic Years

 

Studio Wrestling: WRAL

 

Origin & Evolution of the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title

 

Common Thread: The Briscos

 

The Ten Pounds of Gold

 


 

 

 

WRESTLING ROYALTY:

THE FUNK BROTHERS and HARLEY RACE

Growing up an NWA wrestling fan in the Mid-Atlantic era of the 1970s, there were three names that I knew were wrestling royalty: Funk, Race, and Brisco. These were the names that held the NWA world championship, during a time when the title belt and the championship it represented actually meant something, and it was clear to wrestling fans in our area in the 1970s that they were the greatest in the sport.

It is always special to have any of them in Charlotte, but very special this year to have the Funks and Race together again. Of course the one exception will be the absence of perhaps the best of the bunch, the gaping hole that can never be filled that was left by the untimely passing of the great Jack Brisco, who died earlier this year.

Besides their NWA world championships, there were other reasons why these guys meant so much to the Mid-Atlantic area:

  • Both Harley and Terry held our version of the United States championship. Both were in brief transitional roles, but their title reigns gave the title an added level of prestige and credibility.

  • Jack, along with brother Jerry Brisco, were the only two men to hold both our Eastern and Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight titles, the former which transitioned to the latter. Jack is tied with Wahoo McDaniel with the most Mid-Atlantic title reigns at six.

  • Dory also held the Mid-Atlantic title, and even defeated Jack Brisco to win it, recapturing some that magic that made their feud over the NWA title so memorable in the 1970s.

  • The Brisco Brothers also held our version of the World Tag team titles, working a classic series of matches with Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood.

Any event is made more special and more meaningful when the names of Race, Funk, or Brisco are attached to it.

THE VOICES OF MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING:

BOB CAUDLE & LES THATCHER

It's great to have Les Thatcher returning this year. And what would the event be without Bob Caudle as a part of it?

Some older fans may have forgotten, and some younger fans may have never known, that back in the early 1970s, there were actually two different hours of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" taped at WRAL studios in Raleigh. The main show that aired in all the Crockett TV markets was hosted by Bob Caudle, who was the longtime voice of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling going back to the early 1960s. The 2nd show, which aired in markets where the Crocketts could get a 2nd TV clearance, was hosted by Les Thatcher. These two voices, more than any others, were the voices of my youth.

Bob Caudle continued as host of "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling" and later "NWA Pro Wrestling" until Ted Turner bought Crockett Promotions, and then continued as host or co-host of several of Turner's NWA programs on WTBS, including "World Championship Wrestling", as well as many pay-per-views until leaving the company in the early 1990s and working as TV host for "Smoky Mountain Wrestling."

Thatcher has just about done it all in pro-wrestling. In fact, there isn't anything I can think of that he didn't do. He was an accomplished pro-wrestler including many main events for Crockett Promotions in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was a broadcaster, ring announcer, promo segment coordinator, television producer, photographer, magazine/program writer and publisher, and later a trainer, matchmaker and promoter. You would be hard pressed to point to anyone in any hall of fame that has made as many different and significant contributions to pro-wrestling as has Les Thatcher.

But despite all of those other contributions, it was that baritone voice that I loved. And with the one and only Bob Caudle, they together are the ultimate tag team in wrestling for me. It will be great to have them both together again this year in Charlotte.

THE HALL OF HEROES

The annual Hall of Heroes Dinner Banquet and Awards Ceremony has become the highlight of the entire weekend for me. If you know anything about me or this website, you know it's all about recognizing these great legends of wrestling in any possible way we can. Any opportunity to do this should not be missed. I love this event and look forward to it every year.

Not only is the list of inductees for the Class of 2010 impressive as always, the men inducting our honorees take a back seat to no one in the business as well, which include Dory and Terry Funk, Jerry Brisco, The Assassin (Joe Hamilton) and Jim Ross. We are in for a special treat Friday night at the Hall of Heroes.

GERALD BRISCO

Having Gerald (Jerry) Brisco in Charlotte this year is especially poignant, as we all still mourn the loss of his brother Jack earlier this year.

Jerry holds a special place in Mid-Atlantic lore, and as he has indicated before himself, the Charlotte and the Mid-Atlantic area hold a special place in his heart as well.

Jerry Brisco was the first man to be recognized as Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight champion. This took place in 1973 when the Eastern Heavyweight championship was transitioned into the Mid-Atlantic title. He headlined the territory in the early 1970s as one of the top good guys, feuding with Rip Hawk, Ole Anderson, and Johnny Valentine over the Eastern/Mid-Atlantic title and forming memorable tag teams with Sandy Scott and Thunderbolt Patterson.

Jerry told the audience at a Q&A several years ago that this run in the Mid-Atlantic territory was very special for him because it was the first chance he had to really establish himself as a singles star, to headline shows as a singles competitor. He even went out of his way to thank Jim Crockett Sr. during his induction speech to the WWE Hall of Fame a couple of years ago for giving him that opportunity.

I recently had Dave Millican make a replica of the original Mid-Atlantic title belt for me, the one that was first presented to Jerry Brisco when the title was established. I don't know that he will remember it or not, but I plan to ask him to hold it during his photo op with me.

Jerry Brisco will induct Johnny and Greg Valentine into the Hall of Heroes. He worked with both men during their careers, including a feud with Johnny Valentine over the Mid-Atlantic title in late 1973.

GOOD OL' J.R.

It seems that every year there are one or two guests that are very rare because of the very limited number of appearances they make at other conventions or events. The one that jumps out to me like that this year is "Good ol' J.R" Jim Ross.

I heard from about a half dozen different folks that attended the Cauliflower Alley event earlier this year that Jim Ross stole the show during their awards banquet. I'm betting we are in for a special treat as well at the Hall of Heroes when Ross inducts one of his childhood heroes, the great Danny Hodge.

 

 


Copyright 2010 Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Originally published 6/30/10