Thursday, December 31, 2015

David Manning is back on WOOOOO! Nation!

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson on WOOOOO! Nation
David Manning, back by popular demand, is Ric's guest this week on the 35th episode of WOOOO! Nation! Happy New Year!

From the WOOOO! Nation website:
Ric and Conrad welcome back, by popular demand, David Manning of World Class Championship Wrestling.  Ric and David share very entertaining and very funny stories.  David is, without a doubt, one of the best guests and one of the best storytellers there is.  Download this episode, be entertained, and share it!  Happy New Year from WOOOOO! Nation!
Add a little Flair to your life by joining the Nature Boy every week as he talks pro wrestling, sports, tells stories like only he can, and interviews his celebrity friends. No topic is off limits for Flair during his weekly CBS podcast. Come join WOOOOO! Nation!

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson are on "WOOOOO! Nation" right now! Check it out via iTunes or directly download from the  WOOOOO! Nation page at the PLAY.IT website.

Behind the Scenes at WOOOOO! Nation (Part 1)
Behind the Scenes at WOOOOO! Nation: Unfiltered, Uncencored, Raw (Part 2)
An interview with co-host Conrad Thompson and a look at how the WOOOO! Nation podcast first came together.

The Unexpected Gift

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Originally Published December 28, 2006

Sometimes the unexpected generosity of people around you completely catches you off guard. And it’s not always big moments. It is often the simple acts of kindness that mean the most. Such was the case when I recently met up with Brad Anderson.

Brad dropped by on a late November evening at a show George South was running in Mooresville, NC. He was visiting friends and also brought his Dad’s maroon-and-gold wrestling boots and maroon ring jacket for me to photograph for the Minnesota Wrecking Crew website.

Brad is constantly uncovering buried treasure when sifting through his Dad’s belongings. This time he had found an old metal key ring made by the Zippo Manufacturing Company, the maker of classic lighters going back to the 1930s. The key ring was embossed with the full color Mid-Atlantic Wrestling logo. Equally cool was the felt-lined Zippo box that contained the key ring, a throw back to an earlier time, with the Zippo logo from over 30 years ago.

Zippo began making lighters in Pennsylvania in the early 1930s and branched out to other products in the mid-1950s, mainly in support of their promotional products division. These included pocket knives, golf greenskeepers, pen-and-pencil sets, and pocket flashlights.

And key rings.

Brad said he didn’t know the story on this item other than that it had belonged to his father. We laughed as we speculated that there were probably at one time stacks of these things sitting around Jim Crockett’s office. Perhaps it was a gift that Big Jim gave the folks that worked in the office. Maybe all of the wrestlers got one, too. Or maybe there were only a handful made for trusted members of the inner circle. Who knows? Whatever the case, this was one cool artifact, and a vestige of a simpler time and better days.

I marked out over it, of course. Anything with the Mid-Atlantic logo gets my attention to begin with, much less a genuine item over thirty years old that belonged to Gene Anderson. It was something he had bothered to hang on to and now it was his son’s. I held it and looked at it for awhile, imagining that Gene Anderson might have briefly thought about using it, but then maybe he decided it was a little too nice to get all scuffed up and left it in the box, tucked away for years in some drawer in an old chest at the house.

"Bet you Ole didn't keep his!" we laughed.

Santa's Boots
Later that evening Brad was getting ready to leave, saying his goodbyes to a few folks. As we shook hands, he held out the Zippo box. “This is for you,” he said. “I could tell how much you liked it.”

I was speechless.

Since that night, I have reflected back a time or two on that moment and can’t decide what about Brad’s gift meant more to me; that it was something that once belonged to his Dad, the great Gene Anderson, or that the great Gene Anderson’s son had been nice enough to give it to me. Either way, it was more precious than any present I would find under the Christmas tree later that December.

Santa Claus had snuck by a few weeks early, wearing his maroon and gold boots, and brought me the most special gift of all.

Key ring image by Dick Bourne, from an original photograph by Blake Arledge taken November 20, 2006, Mooresville, NC. Copyright © Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Classic Photo: Wahoo vs. Johnny Valentine (1975)

There were no two tougher individuals than Wahoo McDaniel and Johnny Valentine. This classic photograph by Bill Janosik shows the two locked in combat in an Indian Strap Match. Referee Angelo Martinelli tries to control the action. Taken in Richmond, Virginia in 1975. 

Tony Schiavone's Best Starrcade Memory

Tony Schiavone was asked on Twitter what his greatest Starrcade memory was. Glad to read his answer:

Check out this early profile of Tony when he first went to work for the Crockett family:
Tony Schiavone Profile - Charlotte O's (1982)

Memories of "the Claw" at the Dobyns-Bennett Dome

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

For many of us, our fondest memories growing up are from our high school years. When I was in high school, I had a few close friends that were wrestling fans like me, but not very many. Ricky and Mark were two of those good friends, and we watched a lot of wrestling together, and went to some shows. Ricky and I even acted out matches on mats in the gym, complete with pile-drivers, sleeper holds, busted lips, and even one concussion.

Ricky Steamboat holds Ric Flair high in the air
during their U.S. championship title match at
the Dobyns-Bennett Dome

(Photograph by Roger Carico)
Rick and I sabotaged Mark with our wrestling non-sense when we all first became friends in junior high school. Mark surely thought we were half nuts for our fascination with Ric Flair, Wahoo McDaniel, and the Anderson Brothers.

Jim Crockett Promotions started bringing Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling back to my high-school in the late winter of 1979, and the main event on that first show was Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat for the United States Heavyweight championship. The Dobyns-Bennett High School gym, or the "DB Dome" as it was known at that time, was sold out for that first big show, some 5500+ in attendance for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in our little hometown of Kingsport, TN.

Wrestling suddenly became just a little bit cooler to some of our other friends. We had an ever-growing group of kids going with us to the matches at the DB Dome every month or so.

During the fall of our senior year in 1978, one of the popular wrestling holds we saw on TV was the dreaded "claw hold." It was a big part of the shows then because both Texan good-guy Blackjack Mulligan and German bad-guy Baron Von Raschke used the hold as their finisher. They even battled each other to see who's claw hold was superior in a series of "claw-vs.-claw" matches where the only way to win was putting your opponent out with the dreaded claw.

Blackjack Mulligan and Baron Von Raschke were both famous for using the
feared claw hold, and they had many battles in the fall of 1978.

Now, during those years at home basketball games in the DB Dome, a cheer had developed where when the opposing team committed a personal foul, our whole student section would start chanting "You! You! You!" while pointing across the floor at the opposing bench and student body. Then we'd rare back with one big "Yeah, YOU! And you're Mama, too!"

There is no explaining that, really. You just had to be there. I guess we were a bunch of smart-aleks. Actually, that cheer had been around since I was a much younger kid going back to games at the DB Dome when All-American Wake Forest point guard Skip Brown was a big high-school star in Kingsport. It had just become this ritual over the years, a cheer that the student section always did after every opposing foul.

But in the fall of 1978, that ritual was about to be hijacked. The dreaded claw was getting ready to take the DB Dome by storm.

Somehow or another, it made sense to us to begin throwing up the claw at the very end of the "You, you, you!" chant. It started with just a few of us, but then it caught on. I mean, like wildfire roaring through a dry brush canyon, it caught on.

Pretty soon, after every opposing team's foul, at the very end of the chant, hundreds of kids were throwing up the sign of the claw, all in perfect unison. It was quite the scene to see all these hands fly out in one spectacular, synchronized moment. The wrist of the claw-hand would slap into the opposing hand with a loud snap. All those hands, like a loud thundercrack!

Every home game, more and more students joined in. It had become a phenomenon - - the claw! I was so proud! A little piece of my closeted wrestling fanaticism had found its way into the mainstream of the student body.

The funny thing was, I'm pretty sure the majority of the student body participating in this had no idea where the claw came from or that it was related to pro-wrestling. It had just become this organic ritual, and it had grown to where the entire student section at the games was doing it.

What we didn't count on was that parents (as well as opposing teams and their fans) didn't understand what was happening and thought that it might be some sort of obscene gesture. Someone finally complained to the administration and we were asked to cut it out. The claw ritual became just another fond high-school memory.

However, a monument to the claw snuck its way into our high school yearbook. In the index in the very back of the 1978-1979 annual, page 246 to be exact, is a full-page photo in a soft grayscale as a backdrop to the names of the students in the yearbook index. There, hand extended high above his head, center stage amongst the student throng on the DB Dome bleachers, was my friend Mark holding up the sign of the claw. The familiar roof of the DB Dome is in soft focus in the background, a signature to where the photo was taken.

My high-school sweetheart Sarah was one of the editors of the yearbook, and while she just barely tolerated my love of wrestling, I've always suspected she arranged that photo in the yearbook just for me. Sarah was the best.

The student-body "claw cheer" is one of my fondest memories of going to basketball games during the fall and winter of my senior year in high school. That photo of Mark in the yearbook will forever stand as a small reminder of a great time in my life, as it is also a reminder of a great time in the storied history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mick Mixon has to be a Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Fan

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Driving home after a big family gathering in western North Carolina the Sunday before Christmas, I was listening to the Carolina Panthers vs. New York Giants NFL football game on the radio. The Panthers' excellent play-by-play broadcaster is a fellow by the name of Mick Mixon.

Mick Mixon

I have enjoyed Mick Mixon as a broadcaster going back to his days calling ACC basketball tournament games on the radio for the Tar Heel Sports Network. During the regular season, Mixon was the color commentator along side legendary play-by-play broadcaster Woody Durham, but during the ACC tournament he would alternate play-by-play duties with Durham to help share the burden of calling as many as 11 games over the four day period. To my ear, Mixon was even better than Durham (yes, I know, sacrilege to UNC fans.)

In 2005, Mick left the Tar Heels to become the radio play-by-play voice for the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

I've always loved listening to sports on the radio going back to my childhood, and appreciate the great calls and voices on the radio. Mick Mixon is one of those great voices. I'd almost rather listen to Mick and sidekick Eugene Robinson call the game on radio than watch it on TV, such a great picture they paint with their words and enthusiasm. But my appreciation of Mick Mixon reached new heights when I heard him make a special call of the game-long brawl that broke out between Giants' receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and Panthers' cornerback Josh Norman during that December 20th Giants/Panthers game.

During one of the crazy body-slamming first-quarter skirmishes between the two players, Mixon said uttered these words:
"My goodness, it's like Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling out there!"
I nearly drove off I-40 into a ditch!

You can listen to the audio clip from the radio broadcast here (2 min):

The phrase "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" hasn't been used or heard much since it disappeared from the general public airwaves in 1986, except for places like this website, of course. There are a lot of mainstream broadcasters who use wrestling metaphors, or reference pro-wrestling by name, but they usually invoke the name of the WWF.

The fact that Mixon actually said "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" meant that he personally remembered back to the glory days of Jim Crockett Promotions in the Carolinas and Virginia.

That was confirmed when Mixon followed up his Mid-Atlantic wrestling reference moments later by saying that if it kept up, they would just move Beckham and Norman's battle to the Cumberland County Memorial Arena and sell tickets!

That last reference clinched it for me: Mick Mixon just has to be an old Mid-Atlantic Wrestling fan. The famed Cumberland County Memorial Arena in Fayetteville, NC was a regular Monday night venue for Jim Crockett Promotions during the glory days of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. The fact Mixon mentioned it directly in association with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling told me that he remembered those familiar weekly promos inserted into the "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "World Wide Wrestling" TV shows that promoted the upcoming matches -

"Let's take time for the this commercial message about the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events coming up in your area."

Mick having gone to college in Chapel Hill in the late 1970s, I'm guessing he watched "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" at 11:30 PM on WRAL-5 TV out of Raleigh on many a Saturday night.

So as the New Year rolls around, we raise a glass to toast broadcaster Mick Mixon for doing his part in keeping the memories of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling alive.

Salute, Mick!

Listen to Mick Mixon and Eugene Robinson call the the NFL Carolina Panthers broadcasts along with extensive game day programming, Panthers Updates, Panther Talk and much more on the Carolina Panthers Radio Network.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Recent Wrestling Posts from the Crockett Foundation
 Support the Good Work of the Crockett Foundation

The Crockett Foundation continues to post some terrific memories of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in the form of some nostalgic blog posts from Debbie Ringly Mrozinski (Big Jim's grandaughter) and some rare photographs from the 1970s and 1980s provided by Jackie Crockett.

Most recently, blog posts have included:

He Gambles on Public and Wins

A transcript of a 1967 newspaper article written about Jim Crockett, Sr. in the Charlotte Observer. I just loved this little memory from grand-daughter Debbie Ringly Mrozinski in a brief preamble she included before the transcript:
"Belligerent. Impatient. Gruff….only if you tried to change the channel to Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom while napped in his chair with 60 Minutes on the television. “I was watching that” was about as gruff as it got as he closed his eyes again with smile on his face."
The article in a nice profile of "Big Jim" and a remionder of a time long past in the wrestling business.

Christmas, Crockett Style
Memories of Christmas mornings, paying it forward, and the wrestling shows that took place on Christmas day.

Headdress to Impress
Wahoo McDaniel was one of the toughest wrestlers in history, but no tougher than Elizabeth Crockett when it got right down to it. A wonderful memory of both Wahoo and Mrs. Crockett.

The photos are posted on the Crockett Foundation Facebook page and Twitter feed. These include recent rare images of Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and many others.

The Crockett Foundation sells some terrific looking t-shirts, including a throwback shirt to the Four Horsemen of wrestling, part of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions lore. All of their shirts, hats, and other fund-raising items can be found in their webstore on their site.

Frances Crockett Profile (Charlotte O's - 1982)

The following is a profile of Frances Crockett, then the general manager of the successful Charlotte O's baseball club. The O's were the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

Both the Charlotte O's baseball club and the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling organization were part of Jim Crockett Promotions, Inc.

Frances is the oldest child of Jim and Elizabeth Crockett. She was the first woman General Manager of a professional baseball team and as reported on the Crockett Foundation website she has been profiled in Sports Illustrated, Sporting News and the Wall Street Journal. She serves as a special adviser to the board of the Crockett Foundation

This appeared in a 1982 Charlotte O's program sold at ballgames held at Crockett Park.

General Manager Frances Crockett

She sits back watching and listening never missing what is happening. Formulating and piecing together where she wants to go and what she wants for herself and the Charlotte O's. Basically shy and uncomfortable in the lime light, she nos taken the city of Charlotte by storm.

Since she took charge of the O's in 1977, Frances Crockett has developed a rare combination of energy and imagination to the job with spectacular results. In 1981 an all time Charlotte sports attendance record was set of 211,761. Crockett Park has become the place to be every spring and summer with promotions and give-aways every night of the season.
Frances' philosophy is that "The fans are what it is all about." This philosophy often throws her into conflict but she never falters. An old-fashioned girl who runs the team like any other business with old fashioned principles.
Her father, "Big" Jim Crockett, taught Frances everything she knows. Few knew more about managing and promotion than her father. She began in 1977 with no previous background in business or baseball. Many people thought of her as only a publicity stunt, but her natural charms with the team coupled with her shrewd business head has led her to the top of her profession.
"There are a lot of people who are responsible for the O's success. Our staff, both full-time and part-time, have to get a lot of credit. And I can't say enough about our loyal fans and advertisers. All these people, they are the ones that make this thing go."

For more information on the mission of the Crockett Foundation and the good work they do, please visit their website.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mooneyham: 2015 Gone But Not Forgotten

Gone but not forgotten: 
Professional wrestling lost memorable names in 2015
by Mike Mooneyham
Charleston Post & Courier

"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes
It’s an appropriate time to reflect upon some of the pro wrestling personalities who passed away in 2015.

Many represented an era that will forever be etched in the memories of longtime fans.

They touched our lives in many ways. For those of us lucky enough to see them perform, we will never forget them.

They were athletes and performers who lived by the credo that “the show must go on.”

Some lived out of a suitcase, spending more than 300 days a year on the road, working the territorial circuits during a time when the profession was much different than it is today.

Continue reading at the Charleston Post & Courier website >>>

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Very Crockett Christmas

Debbie Ringley Mrozinski wrote a nice piece on the Crockett Foundation website about what Christmas Day was like for the Crockett family back in the day. It's a wonderful story, check it out here: Christmas, Crockett Style

And don't miss a look back at Christmas Past in our feature on Christmas wrestling in the Mid-Atlantic area from 1968-1979.

Tony Schiavone Profile (Charlotte O's - 1982)

Before Tony Schiavone joined ringside partners Bob Caudle, David Crockett, and Johnny Weaver as one of the voices of Mid-Atlantic and World Wide Wrestling in the early 1980s, he was the radio voice of the Charlotte O's baseball franchise, the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

Both the wrestling organization and the baseball club were part of Jim Crockett Promotions, Inc.

Ric Flair recently told listeners on episode #26 of his podcast "WOOOOO! Nation" that after meeting Tony and hearing him call O's baseball, he suggested to the Crockett family that Schiavone get a chance to join the wrestling part of the company.

Not long after Flair's suggestion, Schiavone was asked to interview Ric Flair at his home in Charlotte for a feature that aired prior to Flair's NWA World Tutle match against Harley Race at Starrcade '83. That went well, and he was tabbed with the opportunity to follow the legendary Charlotte wrestling announcer "Big" Bill Ward as host of the localized promo segments that were inserted into the wrestling shows. He eventually wound up getting his big shot co-hosting "World Wide Wrestling" alongside David Crockett in 1984. The rest, as they say, is history.

But before all that took place, the following short profile on Tony appeared in a 1982 Charlotte O's baseball program....

One of Greensboro's top radio personalities comes to Charlotte this year as the voice of the O's. He is Tony Schiavone, a 24 year old native of Virginia. Last year Tony was the voice of the Class A Greensboro Hornets and was named 1981 South Atlantic League Broadcaster of the Year.

Bob Taylor of WBTV will join Tony this year as color man. This will be Bob's second year on O's Radio, and the former professional player once again brings his knowledge of the game to the booth.

Schiavone is a graduate of James Madison University and has been in radio for five years. His past duties have involved football, basketball, and baseball play-by-play, and host of a call-in talk show.

His duties with the O's will also include coordinating media information and keeping official statistics.
Schiavone is married to the former Lois Berger of Greensboro and they are expecting their first child in July.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Masked Superstar Merry Christmas

The original Masked Superstar Bill Eadie at WRAL Studios, in Raleigh, NC, the TV home of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling from 1959-1983.

Wishing all of you Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, and a very Merry Christmas. 

Hope to see you in 2016!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Relive Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Christmas Day Shows on the Gateway!

We've linked to an old feature that is still found on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway archive that features the newspaper ads for Jim Crockett Promotions Christmas Day shows in the years 1968-1979. We will eventually get around to adding 1980-1988, but until then enjoy these great memories from days gone by!

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on Christmas Day

Plus, don't miss Debbie Ringley Mrozinski's post "Christmas, Crockett Style" on the Crockett Foundation website about Jim Crockett, Sr.'s Christmas day schedule.

Also, don't miss our articles from this past weekend:

Ric Flair Tells George South: "Today You're Ricky Steamboat"
A look back at an interesting WTBS match from 1988, with video highlights and an audio except from Ric Flair's podcast "WOOOOO! Nation"

Ken Patera: A Tale of Two Very Different Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Runs 
[ Part One ]   [Part Two ]
Ken Patera made his presence known with two impactful runs for Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1970s.

Ric Flair Newspaper Profile from 1989
from the Nashville Tennessean, a look at the champ coming to town to take on Terry Funk.

Ken Patera: A Tale of Two Very Different Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Runs (Part Two)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

PART TWO       (Catch up on Part One here.)

In February of 1978, exciting news broke on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television that Ken Patera was returning to the Mid-Atlantic area! Patera’s first television matches had him positioned as a “good guy,” but a subtle change in Ken’s personality and ring demeanor was evident from the wrestler Mid-Atlantic fans remembered in 1975. And that long blonde hair was hard to get used to! For instance, when Ken was paired with Johnny Weaver in a tag team match on TV, Ken gave credit to Johnny for securing the win, but in the same breath said the World’s Strongest Wrestler could have beaten both opponents by himself!

On the March 15, 1978 TV tapings at the WRAL studios in Raleigh, a few more eyebrows were raised regarding the returning Ken Patera. A main event tag team match was promoted at the start of the broadcast, the scheduled participants being Patera and Wahoo McDaniel against the tandem of Ric Flair and Greg Valentine. However, when it was time for the bout to begin, Patera was nowhere to be seen. The explanation given to the fans was that Patera had encountered travel problems. But the end result was that Wahoo was left without a partner against two diabolical opponents. Luckily for McDaniel, “Sensational” Dick Murdock substituted in as Wahoo’s partner, and in fact, the “good guy” team scored an upset win over Flair and Valentine!

Fast forward two weeks to the taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show on March 29, 1978, and this time Patera was paired with fan favorites Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat against the ferocious team of Ric Flair, Greg Valentine and Cyclone Negro. The bout started off normally, but things started to change quickly. The first sign of trouble was when Jones went to make a tag to Patera, and rather than tag with Paul, Ken suggested Jones stay in the ring longer. That prompted an incredulous color commentator David Crockett to note, “Jones knows when he’s tired.”

As the match continued, Patera had Greg Valentine in a compromising position in his own corner, but rather than laying into Greg, Ken kept yelling, “GET UP VALENTINE,” all the while allowing Valentine to back pedal and make a tag to his partner Ric Flair! This conduct really had everybody scratching their heads. David Crockett even mentioned Ken’s “bad guy” stint in the WWWF saying, “his style was very different up there.” A perplexed Bob Caudle in his play-by-play role countered, “Maybe he’s bringing some of that style in here with him.”

It didn’t take long for the match to break down completely, with all six wrestlers in the ring at the same time. Rather than fight the “bad guys,” Patera started dropping elbows on his partner, Paul Jones! In response, Bob Caudle exclaimed, “PATERA…HE TURNED AGAINST HIS OWN TEAM, DAVID…I DON’T BELIEVE IT!!” David Crockett countered, “I DON’T BELIEVE IT!!” Luckily for Jones and Steamboat, Dick Murdock intervened and kept the carnage in the ring from being any worse.

When interviewed after the match with his new friends Ric Flair, Greg Valentine, Cyclone Negro and the Missouri Mauler, Patera was clearly relishing his new role as a Mid-Atlantic rulebreaker. Flair and Valentine were singing Ken’s praises, telling him he made the right career move by turning on his former friends. Ken called Jones and Steamboat “losers,” and said further that, “It’s always refreshing to be on the right side!” Patera concluded his first “bad guy” interview by saying, “When I left here I left as a winner, and I’m coming back ten times stronger!”

To cement Patera’s “heel turn,” Ken was matched up with Joe Furr, a perennially lower card “good guy” grappler, on the next edition of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on April 5, 1978. To hear the fans in the WRAL TV studios boo Patera then was a surreal moment. The World’s Strongest Wrestler went out of his way to punish the overmatched Furr, before finally putting him out of his misery with the vicious swinging neck breaker submission hold.

After the lopsided bout with Furr, Bob Caudle denounced Patera’s change of attitude and called him a “turncoat,” to which Patera responded that he had just become “very aggressive” in the ring, and he was just evening the score against wrestlers like Paul Jones and Mr. Wrestling, who had let him down three years ago when they were in the Mid-Atlantic area together.

It didn’t take Patera long to prove that his transition to the “dark side” had some career benefits associated with it. On April 9, 1978 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ken defeated the immensely popular Indian Wahoo McDaniel for the prestigious Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title. It was the first championship that Patera had ever held for Jim Crockett Promotions. Ken laughed that Wahoo was out of shape and over-the-hill, and turned back rather easily several challenges from the “Chief” in rematches during the spring of 1978.

Patera then embarked on a remarkable run with the Mid-Atlantic Title, holding it nearly continuously until being dethroned by Jim Brunzell in Richmond, Virginia on September 14, 1979. This upset occurred after “Jumpin’ Jim” had pinned Ken twice in non-title bouts during one TV show a few weeks earlier, which seemed to foreshadow the end of Patera’s extraordinary title reign.

But it’s hard not to marvel at how dominant Patera was during his Mid-Atlantic Title reign for most of 1978 and 1979. The only blemish was a four week spell during the fall of 1978 when Tony Atlas took the belt from Ken, only to have Patera come back at beat Tony for the Title in Atlas’ hometown of Roanoke, Virginia. The feud between the two weightlifters, Atlas and Patera, was an entertaining one. It even brought out Patera doing new feats of strength, including bending a spike, a steel bar and blowing up a hot water bottle until it burst on Mid-Atlantic TV! Atlas was able to match those feats, and the “good versus evil” battle between Atlas and Patera to see who should be called the “World’s Strongest Wrestler” captivated the Mid-Atlantic fans!

For a portion of the time Patera was the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion, he also held the unusual distinction of holding one-half of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles with his partner “Big” John Studd. Ken’s reign as a tag team champion ran from December of 1978 through the spring of 1979, and while this reign wasn’t terribly historically significant, it was quite unusual for the promotion to allow any competitor to hold more than one title at any given time.

Until Ken ran into the buzz saw named Jim Brunzell, Patera’s biggest threat to his Mid-Atlantic belt in 1979 came from the Italian sensation, Dino Bravo. Ken insulted Bravo calling him a “spaghetti bender” and a muscle-head who could lift a “ton,” but couldn’t spell it! Patera even put up a purse early in the year, adding fifty dollars for each TV opponent who couldn’t pin him or make him submit, and while Bravo made a strong play for the cash, Ken’s chicanery along with help from his partner John Studd, kept the money and title belt just barely outside the reach of Dino.

After Ken’s stunning defeat at the hands of Jim Brunzell, it was unclear what program Patera would embark upon next. In a bit of a surprise, in October of 1979 the articulate Patera took on the services of the great icon “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers as his manager. At the time, Rogers was managing the wild tandem of John Studd and Jimmy Snuka. This alliance had Ken team up with Studd, Snuka AND Rogers in some wild 8-man tag team matches. But just as Ken was getting settled in with Rogers as his manager, he abruptly left the Mid-Atlantic area in early November.

Unlike many wrestlers who would frequent the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling area multiple times over the years, Ken Patera never came back to Jim Crockett Promotions after his second stint. That leaves Ken with two very noteworthy, but very different, runs in the Mid-Atlantic area about two years apart. In many respects, the Ken Patera the fans saw in 1975 and then again in 1978 was like the difference between night and day. Which version was better? That’s certainly open to legitimate debate. But one thing is not open to debate…Ken Patera was a phenomenal performer whenever he wrestled in the Crockett territory, whether as a hero or as a villain, and that he left a legacy of excellence for all Mid-Atlantic fans to remember.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ric Flair Newspaper Profile from 1989

Flair-up in the Fast Lane
Story By: Linda Quigley
The Tennessean (Nashville) - September 3, 1989

Women try to tear his designer clothes off. Men try to kick him in his gleaming, white teeth.

And he has to sit patiently for a couple of hours every 10 days while a stylist touches up the roots of his bleached blond hair.

So if life in the fast lane’s not all limos and roses, professional wrestler Ric Flair still finds it rewarding enough.

“The purpose for making a living in this country is making money and to be able to enjoy life,” he said. “I do just that. I make money. I spend money. I enjoy wearing the finest clothes, entertaining the most beautiful women in the world.”

Arrogant?  You bet.  “I make money with my personality. And I don’t hug grandmothers and kiss kids. I haven’t exactly been a role model for children.”

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  I’m custom made from head to toe. I’m a limousine-riding, jet-flying son-of-a-gun.”

“If anybody in wrestling is making more money than me, it’s Hulk Hogan, but I’ll bet I make more from wrestling alone,” said Flair six-time world heavyweight champion of the National Wrestling Alliance. Hogan, who holds the world heavyweight title in the World Wrestling Federation, has boosted his income with a role in the movie No Holds Barred and a licensing agreement for Hulk Hogan action figures and other children’s playthings.

Ric Flair battles Terry Funk (
How did wrestling become spectacle and entertainment and big business? “I think people identify with success,” he said in a telephone interview from his home in Charlotte, NC.  “You’ve got 22 year old kids making $160,000 a year. It’s an unbelievable financial opportunity for talented wrestlers.”

Flair, now in his late 30s and a professional wrestler since 1973, hints at an income in excess of a million dollars a year.

His ostentation is acceptable, even encouraged, in his profession – especially since the NWA was bought by multi-billionaire media magnate Ted Turner, whose own lifestyle is quite glamorous.

“It’s very hard to compare myself to him, since he has a personal net worth of $2 billion, but I see a lot of characteristics that are similar,” Flair said. “He’s a very aggressive guy. He doesn’t seem to take a back seat to anybody. We are both successful and we both make the most of each day.”

“And he’s very flamboyant, which I am too. But the tendency to be flamboyant is something you’re born with. I don’t think you can stand in front of the mirror and be flamboyant.”

You can, however, stand in front of the mirror and see flamboyance if you’re Flair, or you can see it on TV if you’re a fan.

There are four hours of NWA wrestling on WTBS each week, and the rival WWF, CWA and AWA wrestlers fill a few more hours each week in independent stations (locally on WZTV-Ch.17 and WCAP – Ch. 30), and on ESPN. Ringside or on television, the fans are loyal and wrestling is a growing business for the stations.

“I got where I am in this profession by being a very good wrestler. I got where I am because a lot  of people follow the excitement. And I got where I am because I know that you can’t be in the public eye and not be real.”

That means his professional image and his personal image have to merge. He wears flashy, custom-designed robes to his matches – black velvet with shiny silver butterflies, or gold lamé that sparkles in the glare of the television lights. (They’re custom-made by an Atlanta woman, Olivia Walker, at a price of $8,000-$10,000 each. He says he currently owns 14.) With that kind of ringside image, in private life, “people don’t expect Ric Flair to arrive in a pick-up truck.”

“I spend a fortune on image enhancement,” he said. “When I go to a Charlotte Hornets basketball game and I’m wearing a $25,000 mink coat, people notice. I shop at the best men’s stores in the country.”

“A lot of guys in our business have tremendous physiques and they dress differently. I’m not knocking that. But I’m 6-foot-1 and weigh 240 pounds. My persona is not that of a muscleman. I sell myself as a wrestler and a businessman.”

That sales job may also contribute to some exaggeration about his lifestyle, not that he has any qualms about a bit of hype now and then himself.

Contrary to recent reports in the media, he does not have a house in Florida with 10 bedrooms, each with a waterbed. “It’s in (Myrtle Beach) South Carolina and it has six bedrooms and three waterbeds,” he said, setting the record straight. (There are two other homes, one in Charlotte, NC and one in Mexico Beach, FL.)

 The space is not really excessive since Flair, despite his public image as a playboy surrounded by glamorous women, is married and the father of four. Kids, pets, toys and bikes take up a lot of room. And, of course, there are Flair’s own toys – a few cars, boats and his enormous wardrobe.

It’s not a lifestyle totally unfamiliar to Flair, for his is not a rags-to-riches story. He grew up in an affluent home, the son of a physician, in Minnesota. He was an all-state football player and wrestler in high school and was a collegiate wrestler for three years at the University of Minnesota.

He’s had the good fortune to be successful in his career from the outset, so he’s a stranger to the unemployment line. But he doesn’t take success for granted, he said.

“The money’s great and it’s good for the ego, and I feel great. But when I lose a step, I’ll know it. I’ll lose the title and I won’t win it back.”

When that happens, or when age or injuries slow him down, he’s looking at a future in restaurants and real estate. “I’m very close to opening a bar and restaurant and I’m involved in what I would call a major real estate deal.”

“I’m taking steps to get involved in promotions at WTBS. I’ve learned a lot being around Ted Turner and the people at Turner Broadcasting. He’s the kind of guy you look up to because he’s so positive about everything, and it’s hard to walk away from him with anything less than a positive attitude.”

Flair said he is taking a positive attitude with him into the ring for tomorrow night’s match in Nashville with Terry Funk. Flair is defending his world heavyweight title in the NWA. Several bouts are on the schedule, starting at 8 pm at the Municipal Auditorium. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster and CentraTik outlets, or at the door. Prices are $12 for reserved seats and $10 for general admission, with special prices for children accompanied by parents.

* * * * * * * * * *

Thanks to Peggy Lathan for transcribing this 1989 newspaper article for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ric Flair tells George South: "Today You're Ricky Steamboat"

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I've written before about all the stories that George South has told me over the many years we've been good friends, and usually I find myself not believing half of them. I mean, come on - - wrestlers tend to tell tall tales, am I right? And George loves to tell a good story. But then someone comes along that was involved in one of those stories and says something that confirms his story and I wind up calling him and confessing  - - "You were right!"

Such was the case on a recent episode of the "WOOOO! Nation" podcast, when Ric Flair and co-host Conrad Thompson were taking questions sent in by fans. One question dealt with wrestler Mike Jackson and why he never quite got a break to move up the cards back in the day. Jackson was thought of at the time (and still to this day) as one of the best underneath workers in the business and all the main event guys liked working with him.

But Flair moved on quickly from Jackson and said this, which confirmed part of a story George had told me long ago:

"You know who was actually the best worker back then, was George South .... I got in the ring with him one time and I said, 'Buddy, today you're Ricky Steamboat'. And we tore it down."  - Ric Flair, WOOOO! Nation, December 9, 2015

About ten years ago, George told me the story about his November 12, 1988 match with Ric Flair on Superstation WTBS, a match that went nearly 15 minutes, much longer than the usual WTBS TV match at the time. We were making a 22-hour round trip in a rented truck to visit the great Blackjack Mulligan at his home in Florida. That's right, I had 22 hours of listening to George South tell stories with the same Journey CD playing in the background the whole time. (And that part about Journey is a shoot!)

World Championship Wrestling on Superstation WTBS, November 12, 1988

George told me on that trip that before they walked through the curtain that morning in the WTBS studio, Ric had uttered those same words to him: Today you're Ricky Steamboat. Now, I never knew if I really believed that or not. I mean, I knew George loved Ricky Steamboat, and at times thought he was Ricky Steamboat, so it seemed plausible that in the context of the story this was George's wishful thinking. That is until last week when I heard Ric Flair say those very same words.

So having once again called George to acknowledge he had indeed told me the truth, I asked him to tell me whole story again. He quickly reminded me that it was a match Ric didn't want to have to begin with.

"When you got to TV, you found out who would actually work," George told me. "Ric was scheduled to work for the first time in awhile, but he really didn't want to. He had just gotten in from Pittsburgh after being up all night and he had to catch an early plane to Ohio after the taping. That studio was so cold and he didn't want to work and then have to shower and have that wet hair and rush to the airport."

Indeed, a quick review of notes from those Saturday night shows in the fall of 1988 showed that Ric didn't wrestle on any WTBS studio taping that late summer or fall until that Nov. 12th show. He did lots of those classic interviews, but didn't work in the ring. 

"He and Dusty sort of got into it right there in front of everyone, and Dusty told him he was going to have to wrestle," George told me. "So Ric threw his bag on a chair and said, 'Well then I want South.'"

I asked George if he remembered who he was originally scheduled to work, or if he remembered who Flair was scheduled to work, but he could not recall. "All I know is Ric changed it and I was now working with him."

George had wrestled Flair on several occasions on different Crockett TV shows going back to 1985, but this time the circumstances were different. Flair was in a horrible mood and George figured he might be in for a tough, stiff, short match.

"Ric got dressed," George told me, "and as we were at the curtain about to go out, he looked at me and said, 'Buddy, today you're Ricky Steamboat."

George's heart skipped a beat. "I about peed in my pants!"

He entered the ring alone during the long break set aside for the "College Football Scoreboard" segment that aired on WTBS during fall Saturday afternoons in those years. Ric didn't follow right away and it seemed like an eternity waiting for him, even though it was only a few minutes. George had time to ponder what was to come.

When they came out of the break and back on air, Ric came through the curtain and entered the ring wearing one of his beautiful white robes. He removed the "Big Gold" NWA world heavyweight title belt and handed it to his manager James J. Dillon at ringside. George told me he thought to himself, "OK, buddy, here we go," and then they locked up.

But George wasn't prepared for what happened next.

"Ric started calling all these spots," George told me, "and I was going a hundred miles an hour. I was having the time of my life, but I was rushing."

Indeed, Ric was giving a great deal to George early on. George was reversing holds, working a lot of drop-downs, trading chops, and even throwing drop-kicks.

Suddenly, he was aware that he wasn't pacing himself. And there was no finish in sight.

"I got so blowed up in there," George said. "I was really hurting."

I asked George if he and Ric had discussed the match before hand. "No, not at all," he told me. "Back in those days, he called it in the ring. I didn't know anything. And I didn't know if we were going 2 minutes or 20 minutes. I was just going so fast. Ric did this every night, but I didn't!"

Given that Ric didn't want to work to begin with, it was surprising the match was going the way it was. "Honestly, I think he was doing it just to tick Dusty off," George told me. He laughed as he thought back on it. "He was so annoyed with Dusty, I think he would have let me win the NWA belt just to get back at him."

"Dusty was hollering at me 'What are you doing?' and I said, you know, I'm not gong to beat a guy like George South in one minute. Sorry." 
- Ric Flair, WOOOO! Nation, December 9, 2015

George thought he might have a chance to rest when they went to a commercial break during the match, but no such luck. "Ric just kept going," he said.

By the time they were back from commercial, they were over eight minutes into the match, with still no end in sight.

"If there ever was a clinic in pro-wrestling, we're watching it. The world champion Nature Boy Ric Flair against George South, showing us a variety of moves during the break."   - Tony Schiavone, World Championship Wrestling, November 12, 1988

Back in those days, unlike today, commercial breaks during matches were relatively rare except in longer main event matches. The fact Ric went two segments with George made the match seem all the more special. Ric was calling all the signature spots that he would normally do with main event guys like Harley Race, Sting, Lex Luger, and yes, certainly with Ricky Steamboat.

"He had me shoot him out of the corner and he did his flip into the turnbuckles," George said." I couldn't believe what was happening. Then he went to the top turnbuckle and told me to throw him off. Brother, I was about to die in there! I think he just flipped off the turnbuckle himself!"

When George finally threw Ric from the top, Ric's feet hit the lights, and debris fell into the ring. It was a surreal moment for George, and Ric kept giving him a comeback.

Finally, Ric called for the finish. He lifted George high in the air and held him for a few moments before delivering the vertical suplex.

"Now, we go to school!" Flair shouted, as he applied the figure four leglock. It didn't take long for George to submit.

George lay prone on the mat, exhausted. As TV aired the instant replay of the figure four, Ric hopped out of the ring to do a ringside post-match interview with David Crockett.

Referee Teddy Long knelt down on one knee beside George. They were right behind Flair, who would soon be joined in the interview segment by Barry Windham and J.J. Dillon.

"I thought Teddy was checking on me, making sure I was OK. So I whispered, 'I'm OK, Teddy.' He said right back to me, 'Brother, you've got to get out of this ring! I've got to get you out of the shot.' I could barely move, so he just rolled me like a big log out of the ring."

David Crockett prepares to interview Ric Flair after the match.
Teddy Long tries to usher George South out of the ring behind them.

If you carefully watch this back on tape, you can see this happening. "Oh, it's funny now," George said, "but it wasn't funny then. I had never been so blowed up in all my life."

To make matters worse, George observed that Ric was barely breathing hard. "He was just so in shape, it was amazing. You couldn't blow him up. He was what he said he was - - a 60-minute man."

Still exhausted, George made his way back to the dressing room and then collapsed on his hands and knees and crawled to his chair.

"Kevin Sullivan was sitting in a chair right inside the door watching the monitor," George said. "He just looked down at me crawling on the floor and laughed. Not so much laughing to be mean, just laughing as if to say 'brother, we have all been there.' I don't think there was a wrestler in that locker room who hadn't been blown up at one time or another by Ric Flair."

George looks back on that match with fondness. It is without a doubt the longest and most competitive match he ever had on TV, and it is a memory he will hang on to forever. Nice to know Ric remembers it, too, some 28 years later.

Listen as Ric Flair talks about George South on WOOOOO! Nation
December 9, 2015

You can probably find the whole match if you do a little searching on YouTube. Otherwise, enjoy this one-minute music video of a few highlights from the match.

Visit George's website at

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ken Patera: A Tale of Two Very Different Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Runs

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway


An exciting newcomer by the name of Ken Patera came onto the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling landscape in February of 1975. Ken came to the territory with great credentials, primarily from the world of amateur weightlifting. Ken won a gold medal at the Pan American games in 1971, and participated in the 1972 Olympic Games in the sport of weightlifting. Patera, rightly so, was introduced as “Wrestling’s Strongest Man” during his first Mid-Atlantic stint, which lasted for about a year.

The Ken Patera of 1975 and early 1976 was a friendly, soft spoken and educated man, often referring to the fact that he had attended Brigham Young University in his interviews. Despite all of his credentials, Ken was exceedingly modest, a trait that seemed to endear him to the Mid-Atlantic fans. Patera showcased his strength in a number of incredible feats of strength shown on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show in the spring and summer of 1975. The most memorable of these feats was Ken holding back a pickup truck, his back against a wall with his feet against the bumper, with announcer Les Thatcher having the vehicle in reverse, flooring the accelerator with smoke bellowing from the screeching tires!

Patera’s in-ring feats were also noteworthy during his first stint with Jim Crockett Promotions. Ken was an excellent tag team wrestler, and came close numerous times to dethroning World Tag Team Champions Gene and Ole Anderson with a series of partners from the “good guy” side of the fence. On the singles side of things, Patera had interesting feuds with none other than Johnny “The Champ” Valentine during the spring and summer of 1975, and with Blackjack Mulligan and Steve Strong during the fall of 1975.

Patera tricked Valentine on a TV segment where Johnny was putting lower card wrestlers’ names in a fish bowl, saying he would randomly draw a name out and give the lucky man a shot at his 2000 silver dollars. Valentine’s 2000 silver dollar TV challenge was legendary around the area at this time. During a commercial break, Ken exchanged all the names in the fish bowl with his own name, and Valentine about had a coronary when he drew the name “KEN PATERA” out of the fish bowl! This led to a silver dollar match on TV where Ken had Johnny flat out in the ring at the 10 minute mark, but the referee decided that Valentine didn’t submit so the “Champ” kept his money.

The two battled evenly in the areas’ arenas over the next few months, with Patera getting a number of shots at Johnny’s prestigious United States Title. These bouts had tremendous intensity, and often revolved around Patera cinching Valentine in a headlock or bear hug with his powerful arms sapping the strength out of the “Champ.” Valentine would often somehow manage to pull out a victory, but Ken typically walked out of the ring immediately while Johnny lay motionless on the canvas for a number of minutes!

Ken’s last major angle during his first run in Jim Crockett Promotions played off of his weightlifting background. In October of 1975, Superstar Billy Graham challenged Patera to a bench press weightlifting contest on TV. Graham put forth his friend, the muscular Mid-Atlantic newcomer Steve Strong, to actually participate in the competition. By the time the contest actually took place, a couple of weeks later, Blackjack Mulligan had joined Patera and Strong in the contest to see who could bench press the most weight. After the weight had risen to over 400 pounds, Mulligan and Strong attacked Patera as he was attempting to lift, with the result being that the weight crashed down on Ken’s neck and chest. Patera was out of action for about a week, but it was amazing that he wasn’t hurt more seriously. This incident led to a brief feud in November and December where Patera attempted to exact revenge on Mulligan and Strong.

The “World’s Strongest Wrestler” was then deemphasized and left the Mid-Atlantic area in February of 1976. Other than making a couple of “guest” appearances in the territory later in the year, Mid-Atlantic fans didn’t see Patera again in the territory until the early months of 1978. During the interim, fans saw Ken participate in the CBS “World’s Strongest Man” contest and for the fans that read the national wrestling magazines, they saw that Patera was wrestling in the WWWF territory in the northeast.

The Ken Patera that was wrestling in New York was a far different grappler than the one Mid-Atlantic fans grew to love in 1975, in appearance, personality and wrestling style. The hair had become long and blonde, the modesty had been replaced by arrogance and the scientific wrestling had been replaced by ruthless rulebreaking. The question then became, if Ken Patera came back to the Mid-Atlantic area, which version of the Olympic strongman would we get? It wouldn’t take long to find out!

... To be continued in Part Two Next Week!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Amazing Greensboro Coliseum Photograph

This is what the Greensboro Coliseum looked like before the major renovations. Amazing photo on the Crockett Foundation Facebook page, embedded below. 

Visit their page and click "like", spread the word, and support their good works. 

A jam-packed house at the Orginal Greensboro Coliseum.Who else remembers events from here?
Posted by Crockett Foundation on Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dick Slater wins U.S. Title from Greg Valentine

It was only weeks after Starrcade '83 and a matter of months before Greg Valentine would eventually leave Jim Crockett Promotions for good for the WWF - -

32 years ago today -- December 14, 1983 -- Dick Slater defeated Greg Valentine for the United States heavyweight championship at a television taping in Shelby, NC. The title change wouldn't air right away. The taping took place in advance of the annual Jim Crockett Promotions Christmas break and the company would not run shows again after that weekend until Christmas night.

Details of the angle between Slater and Valentine that played out over that entire December 1983 TV taping that eventually resulted in the babyface turn of Greg Valentine can be found in the detailed account of the history of the United States title found in the full-color book "Jim Crockett Promotions' United States Championship", on sale now on

Valentine and Slater are both featured in the collage of championship photos at the bottom of this post. All of those photos are included in the book (along with dozens of others), full color, and many full page.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cowboy Bob Ellis, Rip Hawk and the Birthday Cake

The Birthday Cake
by Wayne Brower
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Another weekend visit around 1960 to the grandparents afforded me the opportunity to watch wrestling and be a part of a birthday celebration – at the same time.

“Welcome to this week’s Championship Wrestling.” The announcer declared with authority.  He gave the run down of matches on the show and also told of a special event that we wouldn’t want to miss.

Cowboy Bob Ellis
from "Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats"
It was the typical wrestling show of the era with two singles matches followed by a tag team battle to close the program.  However, an added treat occurred after the second match.  Coming back from commercial messages promoting live events in the viewing area, the announcer appeared with a rather large cake that sat atop his broadcast desk.  “Folks, we have a very special presentation today for a man who is loved by all, especially the children.  Cowboy Bob Ellis, will you please come out now and join us?  Let’s get him out here ladies and gentlemen.”

Taking their cue, the studio audience began to applaud and became louder when the popular Texan walked in.  Cowboy Bob was dressed to impress, with wardrobe accented in fancy western boots, vest and white Stetson.

“This is a very special day, Cowboy Bob Ellis, and we want to share it with everyone.  As you know Bob, the youngsters really look up to you.  When the kids at our local Crippled Children’s Home found out about today being your birthday, they saved their pennies to buy this cake for you.”  Cowboy Bob was noticeably moved.  A tear came to his eye and his voice quivered as he poured out his heart:  “…I’ve always tried to stand for what is right…and set a good example in everything I do…for those crippled children to remember me…”


The crowd erupted with a volume that I had never heard and continued as a young, stocky man wearing a crew-cut and a scowl appeared on camera.  It was Rip Hawk.

"The Profile" Rip Hawk
The studio audience was still voicing their displeasure of Rip’s appearance at such a touching moment.  The announcer forcefully stated “We don’t want any trouble here; this is from the crippled children to Cowboy Bob.”  Hawk yells “I have birthdays too…and those stinking kids never did anything for me!”

Instantly upon finishing his insult he sucker punched Ellis and smashes him head first into the cake.  Icing, candles and other decorations explode over the desk, announcer and the combatants.  A brawl breaks out between Rip and Cowboy Bob.  The announcer is shouting into his microphone “I’ve never seen anything like this!  We must restore order here!  We’ll be back following the station break!”

Grandma was visibly shaken by Rip’s evil actions.  “The crippled children saved their pennies…” her voice trailed off.  My aunt came into the room wanting to know what was going on.  After getting a vivid description of the incident, she proclaimed “He must be the devil.”  For the sake of the television set, I’m glad grandpa wasn’t there.

The program returns to the studio where our host, desk and floor are covered with cake.  The announcer apologizes for what he describes as the single worst thing that had ever happened in wrestling.  He also tells us Cowboy Bob Ellis is so upset he cannot appear on camera for fear of what he may say, but Bob wants to assure the kids at the Crippled Children’s Home that he would avenge the loss of their life savings.

Rip Hawk’s horrific actions completely overshadow the main event.  As the Kentuckians were dominating a couple of heel jobbers, our TV host broke in with an important bulletin: “The promoter, Mr. Jim Crockett, has ordered Rip Hawk to meet Cowboy Bob Ellis on the next card at the Lexington YMCA!  Tickets will be on sale at the box office, and at the usual locations!”

I had no idea how much Rip Hawk and the Lexington YMCA would factor into my wrestling entertainment in the future years.

Originally written and published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in March 2004

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Terry Funk Wins the NWA World Championship - 40th Anniversary

What an amazing piece of historical memorabilia. This is an actual telegram from then NWA president Jack Adkisson (aka Fritz Von Erich) to former longtime NWA president Sam Muchnick informing him that a new NWA world heavyweight champion had been crowned in Miami, FL.

Forty years ago today, on December 10, 1975, Terry Funk defeated Jack Brisco for the world's most prestigious wrestling championship.

"Terry Funk defeated Jack Brisco with a cradle hold in 28 minutes tonight December 10th in Miami, Florida and is now recognized as the new world's heavyweight champion by the National Wrestling Alliance."

In 2010, Slam Wrestling's Marshall Ward conducted a Q&A with former NWA champ Terry Funk, and the Ten Pounds of Gold book was mentioned in one of the questions by Alan O'Melia.

It's a good short Q&A and Terry's off-beat sense of humor shines through.

Q: I have recently read the book Ten Pounds of Gold: A Close Look at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, and in it -- if I remember correctly -- the night you won the title, it's mentioned that it was your brother Dory that was supposed to have the shot that night. I was just wondering how that came about? (Alan O'Melia, Halifax, NS)
A: That is correct and it was a ploy to get the better part of Jack Brisco. It worked very fine and it worked well with the fans down there in Miami too. One thing I'd like to say about the ten pounds of gold -- it's gone. Where'd it go -- all the gold? All of a sudden they got the belt back, the belt that had ten pounds of gold in it, and the gold is not in it anymore. That's a mystery. Ask somebody out there where'd the gold go? Ten pounds of gold. Where is it? Where'd it go? I want to know.

Terry Funk talks with Gordon Solie after winning the NWA World Championship

Crockett Foundation T-Shirt Commemorates the Original Four Horsemen

***WHO'S ON YOUR WRESTLING RUSHMORE?***We've commemorated the original 4 Horsemen with this limited edition 2016...
Posted by Crockett Foundation on Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Sting Joins Ric Flair on WOOOOO! Nation

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson on WOOOOO! Nation
Sting is Ric's guest this week on the 32nd episode of WOOOO! Nation!

From the WOOOO! Nation website:
WOOOOO! Nation delivers again with A Man Called STING!  Ric and Sting carried the NWA/WCW on their backs for many years, entertaining wrestling fans all over the world!  Ric and Conrad have an excellent conversation with the wrestling icon.  The best guests in the world of professional wrestling are all on WOOOOO! Nation!  
Add a little Flair to your life by joining the Nature Boy every week as he talks pro wrestling, sports, tells stories like only he can, and interviews his celebrity friends. No topic is off limits for Flair during his weekly CBS podcast. Come join WOOOOO! Nation!

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson are on "WOOOOO! Nation" right now! Check it out via iTunes or directly download from the  WOOOOO! Nation page at the PLAY.IT website.

Also Don't Miss:
Behind the Scenes at WOOOOO! Nation (Part 1)
Behind the Scenes at WOOOOO! Nation: Unfiltered, Uncencored, Raw (Part 2)
An interview with co-host Conrad Thompson and a look at how the WOOOO! Nation podcast first came together.

Don't miss these recent updates on the Gateway:

Turn Out The Lights, The Party's Over
Tully Blanchard learns a lesson about Johnny Weaver's sleeper hold.

Johnny "The Champ" Valentine's Last Feud Was a Memorable One
A look back at the brutal ring war between Johnny Valentine and "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods

Ricky Steamboat Looks Back at 1978 NWA Title Match with Harley Race
Ricky Steamboat recently reminisced about championship battles in Greensboro.