Friday, September 11, 2015

Mid-Atlantic Stars in Augusta, GA (1977)

by Mark Eastridge & Dick Bourne

Editor's note: If you've visited this website for any length of time, you know the name Mark Eastridge. Mark is one of the greatest researches I've ever known, and provides historical newspaper clippings that you see on so many posts on this website.

Mark recently sent me some interesting clippings from Augusta, GA from 1977.  Augusta was a city in the Georgia territory promoted by Atlanta promoter Paul Jones. However, in the spring of 1977, several Augusta cards featured visiting talent from Jim Crockett Promotions. The Bell Auditorium cards on Monday nights began featuring some of the top stars of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling."

Augusta was about 75 miles from the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling city of Columbia, SC and fans in the Augusta area could get Mid-Atlantic TV out of Columbia if they had an outdoor rooftop antenna. There's also a good chance that cable systems at that time were carrying Columbia market TV. So fans in Augusta were familiar with both promotions. 

Over the next month or so, I am going to be presenting some of those cards here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, including some historical context for each. We're getting started with a Valentine's Night card, and I'm including the edited text of Mark's email to me that accompanied these clippings. 

Bell Auditorium, Augusta GA
February 14, 1977

Here's another Augusta card with Mid-Atlantic wrestlers in for one night.  Paul Jones is in to wrestle Gene Anderson.  He appeared the next night in Columbia, SC.  Paul would become a regular in Georgia in mid-March for several months through the end of July.

The Hollywood Blonds (Jerry Brown and Buddy Roberts) came in to challenge for the Georgia tag team titles.  I especially am interested in this match because the Hollywood Blonds were actually the Mid-Atlantic tag team champions then.  I doubt that this was mentioned prior to the match taking place, but Augusta fans could watch Mid-Atlantic wrestling on TV so I'm sure there were plenty of people in attendance that knew this. I think it would have been neat to have seen two regional tag team champions wrestling in a title vs. title match. 

Gene & Ole were the Georgia tag team champions when they came to Charlotte in May 1977 to wrestle Flair & Valentine for the NWA world tag team title, but I don't think that was mentioned either. (The Andersons defeated Flair and Valentine in a cage for the titles that night in Charlotte, and Paul Jones, by then a Georgia regular, made a surprise run-in.)

Steamboat was on this card, losing to Jack Evans in the opener as he had been on several shows. Who knew that he would be elevated to such great matches with Ric Flair in the Mid-Atlantic territory in just a few short months?

Also, I wonder if this was the first card that had both Ricky Steamboat & Paul Jones scheduled.

Then, there is the main event between Ole & Thunderbolt Patterson.  How many years would the two of them go at it, both in the Mid-Atlantic area and in Georgia?  Thunderbolt (working full-time in Georgia) actually had a few Mid-Atlantic appearances during February. I guess that could be considered part of the talent swap that appeared to be taking place between Mid-Atlantic and Georgia.

- Mark Eastridge

The ad says "Popular Prices Prevail." That was good news to the fans who already were seeing a rare and special card in Augusta. 

We'll be taking a look at other Georgia Championship Wrestling cards from Augusta in the coming weeks that spotlighted Mid-Atlantic Wrestling talent, including one that gave away a huge Mid-Atlantic Wrestling world title change. Look for it soon!

As always, thanks to Mark Eastridge for his contributions to our website.

PS - Charlie Harben was the local promoter on the ground for Atlanta promoter Paul Jones during these years. Not sure if he was the local man at the time of these Augusta cards. If any Georgia wrestling aficionados or historians out there can clarify for us, we'd love to know.

And yes, I realize the "Georgia Championship Wrestling" logo in the Mid-Atlantic/Georgia graphic at the top of this page is from the early 1980s and not 1977. We're simply using it to spotlight articles on cards that featured talent from both promotions in the 1970s and 1980s.     -Dick Bourne