Monday, October 05, 2015

Georgia Learns of New World Tag Champs ... Before The Titles Changes Hands

by Dick Bourne and Mark Eastridge
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It is certainly one of the most fascinating cases of a kayfabe violation in the territory wrestling days that you can imagine.

Our ongoing series about the 1977 Mid-Atlantic Wrestling/Georgia Wrestling talent exchange continues with this look at a big card of wrestling at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta, GA on May 9, 1977.

As we've described earlier in this series, Augusta was ground zero for some of the most interesting "mixed cards" of Mid-Atlantic and Georgia Championship Wrestling. The week before on the May 2nd card, all of the challengers for all three Georgia championships were from the Mid-Atlantic territory. So a week later, Augusta gets another treat: Mid-Atlantic area championships go on the line against Georgia challengers in Augusta.


Blackjack Mulligan brought his United States Heavyweight championship to Georgia for this one night to defend against Mr. Wrestling II, one of the most popular stars ever in the Georgia territory. As we discussed earlier in Part Two of this series, Mulligan was a big part of the talent exchange in defending the U.S. title on several occasions against Georgia's Thunderbolt Patterson when T-bolt made several visits to the Mid-Atlantic area over the spring of 1977.


The other main event that night saw the new NWA world tag team champions Gene and Ole Anderson, bringing those tag team titles back to Georgia from the Mid-Atlantic area, and defending their newly won belts against the mixed Mid-Atlantic/Georgia combination of visiting Dino Bravo and "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods.

There was only one problem: when the Augusta Chronicle newspaper ad announcing the new champions ran in the Sunday morning newspaper, the Anderson Brothers hadn't won the titles yet!

The Andersons would defeat Ric Flair and Greg Valentine for the NWA world tag titles that Sunday night, May, 8, 1977 in Charlotte, NC in a cage match with special referee Wahoo McDaniel. But the Augusta newspaper ad announcing the Andersons as new champs ran that Sunday morning.

If you believe in historical conspiracies, this ranks right up there with newspapers in the far east reporting Lyndon Johnson sworn in as president after John Kennedy's assassination before it happened. And they say wrestling is fixed. But I digress.

This was a relatively rare occurrence in wrestling, but sometimes the office inadvertently gave away results. But usually the mistake was made within the same territory. Rarely did one territory give away another territory's major title change.

It didn't really matter as no one in Augusta would have known that the Andersons were scheduled to face Flair and Valentine that Sunday night in Charlotte, unless they had just spent the weekend in the Charlotte area and might have seen local Charlotte TV wrestling. Who knows. It's an interesting little twist, though.

Bravo and Woods reunited their former championship combination that Monday night in Augusta. The two defeated the Andersons on television in 1976 for the world titles. It was on that night that Tim Woods put the white mask back on to become "Mr. Wrestling" once again. Bravo was in Georgia for only this one night to team with Woods, and was back in the Mid-Atlantic the next night in Columbia, SC challenging Blackjack Mulligan for the U.S. Title. However, Bravo, would move to Georgia full-time in another month or so.

Other tidbits:

● The Richard Blood in the opening match of the Augusta card was not Ricky Steamboat. It was Merced Solis, the wrestler later to be known to fans as Tito Santana. Solis wrestled under the ring name Richard Blood in both the Mid-Altlantic and Georgia areas in 1977 and 1978. Steamboat was in the middle of making history by upsetting Ric Flair during this general timeframe for the Mid-Atlantic TV title.

● The NWA world tag team titles themselves were in a way a part of a broader long-term exchange between the two territories. The title was created in early 1975 and the first champions were the Anderson Brothers. They left with the titles to work Georgia full-time in the fall of 1976, and during the balance of 1976, all of 1977, and early 1978 were engaged with Ric Flair and Greg Valentine back in the Mid-Atlantic area, and the two teams traded the titles back and forth. The Andersons put a little Georgia history on those belts, however, when Dusty Rhodes and Dick Slater won the belts for roughly a month in 1977.

● Quick recovery: In the Mid-Atlantic storyline, Ole Anderson is badly injured after the 5/8/77 Charlotte cage match when he is "stuff pile-drived" by Greg Valentine and Ric Flair. Ole sells the injury big time, having to be stretchered out of the ring, and the injury is used to explain why the Andersons aren't seen in the area for awhile. But of course, the next night, Ole is fully recovered in Augusta for the title defense against Mr. Wrestling and Dino Bravo. Ahh, you have to love the territory wrestling days.

In Part Five of this series, we'll take a look at #1 Paul Jones and his role in the Mid-Atlantic/Georgia talent exchange, which was taking place right at the same time of these Augusta shows. See you next time, and until then, so long for now.