Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A Belt for a Champion

If there was ever a true champion for wrestling fans, especially in the Carolinas and Virginia, it was Bob Caudle.  And a champion needs a belt.

Bob Caudle with his own title belt, a gift from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, at his home in Raleigh, NC.

One of the things that I've always felt made Bob Caudle so special to wrestling fans from several generations is the fact that he was the steady constant on our televisions every week for near 34 years. The wrestlers came and went, but Bob was the constant. Almost every single week from when he took over for Ray Reeve at WRAL in Raleigh on All Star Wrestling in 1961 to the last days of Smokey Mountain Wrestling in the 1990s, Bob was the constant. 

He is best remembered as the voice of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling throughout the 1970s and 1980s. His friendly smile and welcoming voice was a warm embrace every Saturday afternoon, and the relationship he established with fans transcended that time to where even well into the 2010s, Bob was attending fan conventions and received warmly by fans. 

If there was ever a true champion for wrestling fans, especially in the Carolinas and Virginia, it was Bob Caudle. And a champion needs a belt.

The belt on display at my home before making the trip to Raleigh. Also in this photograph are Bob's Hall of Heroes plaque which he gave to me on my 50th birthday (and I treasure), as well as the photograph used for the main plate of the belt.

The Mid-Atlantic Gateway presented Bob with a special, one of a kind, commemorative belt paying tribute to the Voice of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. It was presented to him and his wife Jackie on June 17, 2024 at his home in Raleigh. 


I wasn't sure how Bob would receive it. While he loves reminiscing about the "old days," he generally is not at all interested in holding on to wrestling memorabilia. Soon to be 94 years old, and in a no-holds-bar match against the ravages of father-time, Bob said it will be a tough task for anyone to take this title away from him. "They will bury me with this!" he said with a big smile. 

It was a nice moment with a truly wonderful man.

- D. Bourne                        

Sunday, May 19, 2024

A Visit with Bob Caudle (May 2024)

Dick Bourne, Bob Caudle, and David Chappell (May 2024)

David, Diana, Rhodonna, and I had a wonderful visit with Bob and Jackie Caudle at their home on Saturday, May 18. Bob looked great (at 93 years old!) and was in fine spirits. We enjoyed talking over the old Mid-Atlantic Wrestling days. And Jackie Caudle is always the life of the party.

Bob said he doesn't watch much wrestling, but is always glad to hear Tony Schiavone's voice when he comes across AEW Wrestling on Wednesday nights. Tony and Bob worked together for Jim Crockett Promotions back in the 1980s. Bob was host of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling (later NWA Pro Wrestling) and Tony was host of World Wide Wrestling. 

Always great to visit with the voice of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling!

Friday, May 03, 2024

Walking With Ghosts

Origins of the National Wrestling Alliance
The building, the match, the belt.

 The Hotel President, Waterloo, IA (2022)

PART ONE: Walking with Ghosts: A Visit to the Birthplace of the NWA
The Hotel President in Waterloo, Iowa, hosted a group of regional wrestling promoters as they got together to form the National Wrestling Alliance in 1948. That building still stands and bears that name. Take a look inside and see where this famous meeting took place and who was there.

PART TWO: Waterloo: The First Ever NWA World Heavyweight Title Defense
Orville Brown defeats Joe Dusek in a match held hours after the National Wrestling Alliance is chartered in Waterloo, IA. Brown had been selected by the NWA's founding fathers in 1948 as the the organization's first champion, making the match the unofficial first defense of the NWA Championship. The NWA dignitaries were in attendance. See all the details.

PART THREE: Orville Brown and the First NWA Title Belt (1948)
On the night of the first unofficial NWA title defense, Midwest Wrestling Association champion Orville Brown successfully defended the title wearing the MWA belt to the ring. That very belt would later be modified to represent the new NWA organization's championship. See photos of the belt before and after, plus the rest of the story.

Monday, March 18, 2024

First Reference to "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling" by JCP

NOTE: The Mid-Atlantic Gateway has ceased regular publication, but from time to time something new will pop up here that's of historical interest or just of interest to us personally. 

First Reference to "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling" by Jim Crockett Promotions
by Dick Bourne

Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Over the years, we've tried to track down the earliest references we could find to "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling" as a brand name used by Jim Crockett Promotions.

Prior to 1972, the company simply used "Championship Wrestling" or "All Star Wrestling" to brand and promote its live events through newspaper ads and event posters, as well as their TV programs.

But in 1971, John Ringley (Jim Crockett's son-in-law who helped run the company) came up with the name "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling" and over the next two years, the name would slowly phase in to become the single brand of the company. Ringley remembers the day he suggested it to Jim Crockett, Sr.

 "I was in the car with him on Morehead Street when I suggested the Mid-Atlantic name," Ringley told me. "He seemed interested in it right away." 

Trademark data shows the earliest use of the brand was 12/31/1971 and that was also the date it was first used in commerce.

Source: WYSK.com

The earliest the term shows up in company advertising that we have been able to uncover is a weekly Raleigh, NC show on March 28, 1972 at Dorton Arena. It is believed, although not yet absolutely confirmed, that this was around the same time as the TV shows taped in Raleigh changed names from "Championship Wrestling" (for the Raleigh market) and "All Star Wrestling" (for syndication) to "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling."

First known use of the brand "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" in advertising
(although we're always looking for earlier cases.)

The Mid-Atlantic name started slowly making it's way into newspaper ads around the territory, although it took the better part of two years for that to completely evolve.

Other early uses of the name included a monthly event program titled "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine" that published its first issue in July of 1973. This was an eight-page black and white publication produced by Les Thatcher, who worked for the company in many capacities during this time, and sold at arenas. It would be replaced by 24-page quarterly publication of the same name in early 1975.


The territory's championships would all be changed to Mid-Atlantic titles in name over the course of about five months. 

On September 6, 1973, Jim Crockett Promotions changed the name of their top singles title from "Eastern Heavyweight Championship" to "Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship." Reigning champion Jerry Brisco was given the new belt in a brief presentation in the ring in Greensboro, NC.

On October 9, 1973, the Atlantic Coast Tag Team titles were renamed "Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championships" and were first defended in Raleigh NC on that night.

On February 27, 1974, the first Mid-Atlantic TV champion was crowned when Danny Miller won a tournament that aired on 3/2/74, taped for television 2/27/74 in Raleigh. He defeated Ole Anderson in the tournament finals.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Ric Flair on Ole Anderson

Translation: I am forever thankful to Ole and Gene for bringing me in to Crockett Promotions as a cousin. It launched my career. I will be grateful forever for you giving me the opportunity to become who I am today. We didn’t always agree with each other, but the honest to God truth is you & Gene started me. Rest in Peace my friend!

Monday, February 26, 2024

Ole Anderson Passes Away

It is with great sadness that we learned that Ole Anderson has passed away. He was an important part of the core group of main eventers in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling when we became wrestling fans. The Minnesota Wrecking Crew were real to us.

Rest in Peace.


Photo: Ole at home on Lake Hartwell, GA, in 2007, with the Gateway replicas of the NWA World Tag Team title belts he and Gene Anderson wore in the 1970s.  

Photo by Dick Bourne.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Now Available on Kindle: Four Horsemen and Crown Jewel


Happy to announce that "Four Horsemen: A Timeline History" and "Crown Jewel: The NWA World Championship 1959-1973" are now available in Kindle format on Amazon. 

The Horsemen book is in full color on Kindle, previously only available in the hardcover edition.

Both are available for only $7.99.

Look for our other titles coming to Kindle soon, including "Big Gold: A Close Look at Pro Wrestling's Most Celebrated Championship Belt."

Sunday, October 01, 2023

The Gateway Ceases Regular Publication

As announced in May, after 23 years, the Mid-Atlantic Gateway has ceased regular publication. We've had a blast along the way, and hope you have, too.

Our previous posts will be available for the foreseeable future on this archive. Please follow us on Twitter (@magateway) as we will be posting links to lots of classic and perhaps forgotten content buried within these pages. (Nearly 2,000 posts on this archive!)

Thanks to all of our contributors (see our acknowledgements here) and all of our regular readers who have so faithfully and loyally followed us for the past near-quarter century. We appreciate all of you. See you down the road!

Please note: this website was originally designed for optimal display on desktop. Some pages may not display correctly on mobile devices. 


Search posts on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Enter search query in the field below or filter using the tag list at the bottom right hand column of the desktop site.


Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Review: The Last Real World Champion: The Legacy of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair

One of the great frustrations for wrestling fans interested in wrestling history, especially fans a little older like me, is the lack of focus and context on the early aspects of Ric Flair's wrestling career, especially during the era when the territories were still going strong in the 1970s. 

A less familiar observer who spent time reading or watching popular culture presentations on the life and career of the "Nature Boy" might think things took off for him professionally about the time he defeated Harley Race for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at the landmark Starrcade event in 1983.

Not so in "The Last Real World Champion" by respected wrestling historian and author Tim Hornbaker. He is nearly 130 pages into his biography before he ever gets to Starrcade.

Spanning over 400 pages, "The Last Real World Champion: The Legacy of Nature Boy Ric Flair" covers every aspect of Flair's remarkable in-ring career that spans nearly half a century. But in a pleasant development, to my experience, there has never been a more thorough review of the ten years before that famous win over Race in Greensboro. So much of Flair's career before his historic run as world champion often gets glossed over by others, hitting only a few high spots. Hornbaker goes deep into Flair's early career, especially concerning his development as a major star and box-office draw in the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling territory promoted by the Crockett family. He covers Flair's arrival in the Carolinas in great detail, his development under booker George Scott, life on the road, and his early tutoring by Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel, and others. Long-time Mid-Atlantic fans will revel in the details of the significant angles and achievements early on, while fans less familiar with that era will find lots to learn, love, and celebrate.

The rest of Flair's unique story is told throughout this amazing book, including the NWA title era, WCW and Nitro periods, and the latter years in WWE and Impact Wrestling. 

When it comes to the more challenging aspects of Flair's personal life and entanglements outside of wrestling, Hornbaker doesn't flinch there, either. But with regards to the personal drama, he reports on all of it succinctly and cleanly, unlike some other accounts, which look more like wide-eyed gawkers slowing up to pass an accident on the side of the highway. If you want that dirt, help yourself; it's been done to death in many documentaries and articles over the past years and even by Flair himself. Hornbaker doesn't gloss over any of it, to be sure, but he doesn't dwell on it either. There are no judgments here. The title, after all, purports to examine the legacy of the "last real world champion," and the more interesting aspects of the book focus on Flair's remarkable and unparalleled legacy in the ring, not out of it. 

"The Last Real World Champion" is the perfect title for the book. Not only does it call back to a fun moment in time when Flair took the Big Gold Belt to the WWF, but it is also factually accurate. Flair was the last in a long line of touring world champions before guys with belts were nothing more than company champions. It's also a positive reflection on Flair's in-ring career as a whole.

With great affection for the subject matter, Tim Hornbaker brings Flair's amazing career into focus unlike any other. It is a tour de force with respect to thorough research and is impeccably documented with nearly 55 pages of end notes. This type of exhausting research is a hallmark of Hornbaker's work generally. 

A walk along this rich historical journey is great fun. Available for pre-order now, it is highly recommended reading for fans of Ric Flair and of pro-wrestling history and sports entertainment in general. 

- Dick Bourne, Mid-Atlantic Gateway    


Available September 12, 2023

ISBN-13:                9781770416260
Publisher:               ECW Press
Publication date:    09/12/2023
Pages:                    420
Size:                       6 x 9”

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Lifetime Membership

Please support the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (@tnthof) by becoming a lifetime member. Visit bit.ly/3Dh7TsC for more information. They just concluded their big annual Hall of Fame Induction weekend  (July 20-22, 2023) in Waterloo, Iowa.

Last Year 2022 Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame