Reasons I'm Most Looking Forward to Fanfest
by Dick Bourne,
Gallery - NWA Champions in the Mid-Atlantic Years
Studio Wrestling: WRAL
Origin & Evolution of the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title
Thread: The Briscos
Pounds of Gold
BROTHERS and HARLEY RACE
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 at Fanfest, 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
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
Any event is made more special
and more meaningful when the names of Race, Funk, or Brisco
are attached to it.
THE VOICES OF
BOB CAUDLE &
It's great to have Les Thatcher
returning to Fanfest this year. And what would Fanfest 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.
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 at Fanfest this year.
THE HALL OF
annual Hall of Heroes Dinner Banquet and Awards Ceremony has
become the highlight of the entire Fanfest 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
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.
Having Gerald (Jerry) Brisco at
Fanfest this year is especially poignant, as we all still
mourn the loss of his brother Jack earlier this year.
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
Jerry told the audience at a
Fanfest 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.
seems that every year there are one or two guests at Fanfest
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