Monday, February 26, 2024

Ole Anderson Passes Away

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

Rest in Peace.

 - Dick Bourne

________________
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. 

 

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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

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Charting the Territories


Saturday, April 08, 2023

The 2023 Tragos/Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Award Winners Announced

WATERLOO, IOWA 

The 24th annual George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (TNTHOF) Induction weekend will take place July 20-22 in Waterloo, IA.   In addition to the award winners announced below, the following wrestling legends have already committed to attending:

TNTHOF Board President Gerry Brisco, John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL), James Beard, Wes Brisco, Colt Cabana, Tommy “Wildfire” Rich, "The Boogie Woogie Man" Jimmy Valiant, Baron Von Raschke, JJ Dillon, B. Brian Blair, Bob Roop, Nord the Barbarian/Berserker, Thunderbolt Patterson, Jonard Solie, Ric McCord, Joe Malenko, and many more to announce in the coming weeks.

All Access Passes are $140 and can be purchased here.  The Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization that 100 percent of the All-Access Pass goes to preserving and growing the weekend.  The All Access Pass includes all events, a meal Thursday night at the Dan Gable Museum, events and autograph sessions throughout Friday and Saturday, an Impact Pro Wrestling show Friday night, a dinner and Hall of Fame induction banquet Saturday evening.  In addition, there will be a silent auction, a roundtable legends Q & A and a team trivia contest.   The complete schedule will be released in May. 

More: The 2023 Award Winners Announced ...

Friday, April 07, 2023

Four Horsemen Book in Full Color Harcover

 

Four Horsemen in FULL COLOR HARDCOVER
now available at
Amazon.com

Every member! Every version! Every associate! The women! The managers!

It's all laid out month by month, year by year, with photos and charts included.




Thursday, April 06, 2023

Prom Night with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling

By David Chappell
from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives

I remember the day well, April 30, 1976, the night of my High School Prom. At that time I was a junior at Patrick Henry High School, about ready to finish up the 11th grade. Back in those days, the Prom was held on campus at our gymnasium. I remember helping with the decorations and the preparations for the gala event. Yep, I was VERY excited about that Friday night spectacular! However, a funny thing happened to me on the way to the Prom, and it was called Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling!

Jim Crockett Promotions obviously did not know that my Prom was on April 30, 1976 as Mid-Atlantic Wrestling visited the Richmond Coliseum on that same Friday night. What was a young guy to do? Then I heard Les Thatcher announce the main event for that Richmond card would be Rufus R. Jones, Wahoo McDaniel and "The Eighth Wonder Of The World" Andre The Giant against Ric Flair, and his cousin’s Gene and Ole Anderson. With that announcement, my decision was made—I was going to the Coliseum!




You see, that six man tag team match had one of the greatest buildups in Mid-Atlantic history. Throughout the month of April in 1976, a feud was built between Rufus R. Jones and Ric Flair and the Andersons. I will never forget the sight of Rufus having a chauffeur’s cap put on him by Flair and then Ric and the Andersons slapping Rufus while they pushed him down on his knees.

The two weeks leading up to that Coliseum match had some of the best promos that Jim Crockett Promotions ever put out. Rufus was swearing out revenge for what was done to him, and he went out and got Wahoo and Andre as his partners. Andre did not appear in the area often, and it was a real event when he came to your town. The Andre the Giant of April 1976 was Andre in his physical prime. Andre was huge of course, but he also had amazing agility and dexterity for a man his size.

Ric Flair and the Andersons did a great job of hyping this six man tag as well. Ole in particular did some of his best interviews ever. Listening to Ric and Ole, you almost wanted to believe they had a chance against Andre’s team. But despite the best efforts of the "bad guys," I believe the huge crowd that showed up at the Coliseum that night was there for one reason and one reason only. To see Andre The Giant destroy the team from Minnesota!

I remember talking to some other Coliseum regulars that night that the undercard looked kind of weak. There were only five matches, and usually Coliseum cards had seven matches. Sure enough, the first two matches were below average. The third match saw the first Richmond appearance of Italian star, Dino Bravo. Bravo beat one of my favorite all-time underneath guys, Bill White. Dino was impressive, but of course it was difficult to gauge just how good he was against an opponent like White. Watching that match, I was thinking that it ought to have been a TV match rather than one I paid to see. Sure enough, when I turned on Channel 6 the next afternoon, one of the TV matches was……..Dino Bravo versus Bill White!

The semi-final event was a tag team match between The Mongols and Roberto and Manuel Soto. The Mongols had Professor Boris Malenko in their corner. Interestingly enough, this same match was also on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV the next day! The Coliseum match was a solid one between these two mid card tag teams. The Soto’s got the victory when Malenko interfered on behalf of his Mongols.

The Main Event more than made up for an average undercard! I still remember how huge Andre looked when he entered the ring, and how he dwarfed the other five wrestlers. This was not your classic back and forth match. Flair and the Andersons had virtually no offense the entire match. It was clear early on that this was going to be a major butt-kicking by Rufus, Wahoo and Andre. And after all, that was what everybody came to see!

The crowd was one of the loudest I ever experienced at the Coliseum, a building with a reputation of being wild. The loudest single pop I have ever heard at a wrestling match was during this match, when Rufus, Wahoo and Andre put a chauffeur’s cap on Ric Flair and slapped him upside the face! I thought for sure the roof was coming off the building! Needless to say, the "good guys" emerged victorious, and I remember leaving the Coliseum that night feeling justice had been done.

I’ll always remember heading back to school the Monday morning after the Prom of 1976. There was no conversation about the Prom. Rather, all the questions were directed to me about the matches at the Coliseum! What did Andre look like, did Rufus get his revenge, etc., etc. Boy, did I ever have some stories to tell. Somehow, I’ve never regretted missing my Junior Prom. But to this day, I know a bunch of people who regretted not going to the Richmond Coliseum on April 30, 1976!



Originally published in 2001 on the original Mid-Atlantic Gateway website. Republished in April of 2015 and now again in 2023 as part of the "Best of the Gateway" series.
 
 

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Major Leaguer: Terry Funk Insists "It's My Moment!"




"I am a major leaguer. 
I am just like Nolan Ryan; 42 and tryin' 
to teach you people what a true hero is today. "


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

We usually don't stray much past 1988 on this website, but this is one of my favorite Terry Funk interviews ever during his 1989 run in the early days of Ted Turner's WCW.

During the spring of 1989, Funk had some very memorable interviews and TV matches setting him up as the wild and unpredictable challenger to NWA World champion Ric Flair. WCW had initiated the "Top 10" concept and Terry hadn't made into the top 10 yet and was very frustrated by that fact. This was in the weeks following his "pearl harbor" attack on Ric Flair in Nashville.

Frustrating Funk further was the fact that Lance Russell interrupted him to go to the ring for the "Rookie Challenge" where two young competitors would have a shot at "their moment" on national television.

But a protesting Funk insisted it was HIS moment, and he made sure he stole that moment from rookies Lee Scott and Dwayne Bruce. Mayhem ensues.

My favorite visual is near the end of this video when Funk piledrives Lee Scott and you see Funk between Scott's extended legs with a big grin on his face screaming "It's my moment!"

Sidebar: Funk evoked the name of Nolan Ryan in this interview, a reference to the Major League Baseball Hall of Famer who in this same year of 1989 for the Texas Rangers would lead the American League in strikeouts with an incredible .615 winning percentage and would be voted to the All-Star game that year - - amazingly all at the age of 42. The same age as Funk.

The clip is from an episode of "NWA Pro Wrestling" taped at the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta (also regular home to "World Championship Wrestling" on WTBS.) Commentary is by my favorite 1989 broadcast team of Lance Russell and Bob Caudle.

 


Originally posted April 2018 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

http://horsemen.midatlanticgateway.com