Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Main Event Memories: Dusty's Big Championship Challenge Weekend (1976)

by Dick Bourne
Part of our ongoing tribute to the memory of the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes
Features vintage audio and newspaper ads below the jump.

This episode of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway's "Main Event Memories" takes us back to September of 1976 when Dusty Rhodes made one of his brief visits to the Mid-Atlantic area. If you read David Chappell's recent article here about the first time he saw the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes in Richmond, you'll recall he references a video promo Dusty sent in from Florida in advance of his Mid-Atlantic title match with Ric Flair in September of 1976.

Dusty had made sporadic guest appearances in the Mid-Atlantic area over 1975-1976. A quick check of his career results on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway archive reveals his visits were usually over weekends or in Charlotte on Monday night, going back to early 1975. Many of those early appearances were against a young Ric Flair who was just getting his feet under him as a star in the promotion.

But the September 4 card was Dusty's first appearance in Richmond, which was one of the three biggest cities in the territory. One of the reasons Dusty had never made Richmond was likely due to the fact that Richmond ran on Friday nights. Dusty's full-time territory was Florida, and during this time Friday night meant Miami in the Sunshine State, obviously an important city for the Florida promotion. Additionally, Dusty was being booked regularly during this time in Atlanta which also ran on Friday nights. This made scheduling Dusty for Richmond a near impossibility.

So we're not sure if Dusty was the sole reason for the Crockett scheduling change, but this particular Richmond card took place on a rare Saturday night and that allowed the American Dream to make his debut at the Richmond Coliseum.

Exclusive audio and newspaper clippings after the jump! ....


As David described in his earlier article, Dusty's promo was off-the-charts. He recorded it at the Sportatorium in Tampa Florida where the weekly "Championship Wrestling from Florida" television show was taped. This tape was mailed to Jim Crockett Promotions and inserted into the "halftime" interview slot of the Mid-Atlantic wrestling show that was sent to WTVR-6 in Richmond.

Dusty makes reference to his chase for the NWA world's heavyweight tile, and to get his shot he says he needs to win all the titles in area: the Mid-Atlantic title, the United States title, and even the world tag team titles.

Take a listen to Dusty as he talks about his first visit to Richmond and hints at the other big matches he has that weekend. Here is thee complete promo that aired in Richmond on the weekend of 8/28/76, one week before the clash between Rhodes and Flair:


And now for a closer look at all three shows where Dusty was booked on his championship chase:

Saturday Night, September 4 - Richmond VA
Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship

Sunday Afternoon, September 5 - Asheville NC
Dusty Rhodes vs. Blackjack Mulligan for the United States Heavyweight Championship

Sunday Night, September 5 - Greensboro NC
Dusty Rhodes and Rufus R. Jones vs. Gene and Ole Anderson for the NWA World Tag Team Championships

Sadly for the Dream, when he left the Mid-Atlantic area to return to Florida on Monday, he was empty handed. The champions in the Mid-Atlantic area had successfully withstood the challenges of the "world's greatest sports attraction, the last surviving hero, 287 pounds of sweet soul, Jack!" If you we-ull.

Audio from the collection of David Chappell
Newspaper clippings from the collection of Mark Eastridge