Friday, March 04, 2016

Flair vs. Wahoo: Hair vs. The Mid-Atlantic Title!

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One of the most intriguing matches of 1975 in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wresting pitted the brash “Nature Boy” Ric Flair against the defending Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight champion, “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel. What made this bout particularly noteworthy going in, was that Flair promised to have his priceless “golden mane” shaved off if he didn’t walk out of the Hampton Roads Coliseum with the Mid-Atlantic belt!

The lead-up to this September 20, 1975 “dream match” was interesting. Wahoo McDaniel claimed the Mid-Atlantic Title on June 29, 1975 in Asheville, North Carolina, with a spectacular victory over Johnny “The Champ” Valentine. Ric Flair had been the proud holder of the Mid-Atlantic Television Title for much of 1975, until he was upended for that belt on August 8, 1975 by “Number One” Paul Jones in Richmond, Virginia. It wasn’t until his loss of the TV Title that Flair turned his attention to Wahoo, and the Mid-Atlantic Title. Until then, Ric and Wahoo had only wrestled against each other in a singles match a handful of times.

The television promos for the match that aired on WAVY-TV Channel 10 in Norfolk, Virginia, gave the fans a real sense of the magnitude of this bout. Wahoo told the interviewer Les Thatcher, “Well you know, I think Ric Flair this time with his big mouth has really overloaded himself. The man wanted a title match, and I decided if he wants a title match, he deserves to put up something equally as important as this belt is to me, and that’s his hair. He brags about his beautiful body and how wonderful he looks. Can you imagine on TV with the man standing here, in front of all you people, with his head shining…with the light shining on it? The bald eagle, that’s what we’d have to call him! Well, let me tell you something Flair. I don’t think, and the people don’t think, I just don’t think you’re man enough to take this belt away from me. I fought hard to get this belt from your friend Valentine, and I tell you one thing, I’m gonna fight hard to keep it. And I know, this would be the talk of the whole world if you couldn’t beat me and they had to shave your head. You realize that everybody in the world would be talking about it, and you’d be the laughingstock of the world?!”

When it was time for Ric Flair to respond with his own promo, announcer Les Thatcher recited the stipulations again for the fans and said , “Ric, you could come home bald-headed.” A defiant Flair loudly responded, “That will never happen! You think for a moment that I would put up a million dollar head of hair…I mean a million dollar head of hair?! Without this hair I would be nothing. You understand what I’m talking about? No sex life, no Raquel Welsh, no Cadillac’s… nothing! So Wahoo McDaniel I want you to know it in your heart, I want you to feel it in your heart. I can beatcha, I know I can beatcha, I’m gonna beatcha…anyway I can. Because I want that belt, and I’m gonna keep my hair. McDaniel, mark my words!”

On that fateful September night in Hampton, as the summer turned to fall, the match between Ric and Wahoo turned into a classic bout that made its way onto the 1975 Year in Review TV show that aired in many Mid-Atlantic markets on December 27, 1975, where announcer Bob Caudle and Wahoo McDaniel discussed it at length. Bob told Wahoo, “At the risk of bringing back a few pains to you, we want see that, and I think the fans want to see that, because it was one of the great matches of the year.” Wahoo countered, “It was a great match. I put my belt up against his hair, and believe me, he fought for his life.”

In the early part of the match highlights where Ric was controlling the action, Wahoo said, “As you can see, a lot of his style he learned from Valentine…big forearms and the knees. The man just improved tremendously over the year…The man, you have to understand one thing, has put his hair up in this match. It’s just a tough battle.”

When Wahoo gained the advantage later in the bout, Bob Caudle commented, “You know, usually when that Indian dance starts Wahoo, it’s all over.”  In response, Wahoo said, “That’s right, but he kept gettin’ up. That seemed to be the problem, all of these…Brisco, him and Valentine, they just kept gettin’ up. I got the suplex on him here, and I thought for sure I had the man right here. You see, he managed to get his foot over on a two count…very close. He’s fightin’ for his life, and I’ve definitely got it going my way here.”

During this portion of the highlight film, Wahoo is pummeling Ric with vicious chops, but is amazed by Flair’s staying power, saying, “Ninety percent of the guys I hit that hard would never get up!” Bob Caudle concurred, “It’s almost unbelievable that he came back and won that match!” Commentator David Crockett then chimed in on Ric’s pedigree, noting that, “You must mention too, like he said, that he was trained by Johnny Valentine; he’s also cousins of the Anderson brothers.” Wahoo continued on Flair, “He’s in great, tremendous shape. He’s 255 pounds.”

When the “Nature Boy” appeared to be a beaten man, his ring awareness got him to the ropes where McDaniel was forced to break. Wahoo exclaimed, “Well, he’s getting smart. I would say four, five, six months ago he wouldn’t have done this. But now the man is championship caliber.” The highlight film continued to show the “Chief” holding the upper hand. A brutal backdrop by Wahoo appeared to have finished Ric off. Wahoo said, “He must have gone up six or seven feet in the air!” Flair was again able to escape by putting his foot on the rope before the three count. “You know where he got puttin’ that foot on the rope from…you’ve seen Valentine wrestle many times were he saved himself,” McDaniel lamented.

Flair’s reprieve seemed short lived, as Wahoo went back immediately wailing away on Ric with violent chops, to the point that Flair seemed to be out on his feet. When things appeared at their darkest for Flair and his long blonde hair, the “Nature Boy” went deep into his bag of tricks. Bob Caudle exclaimed, “Hey, the referee got between you! Hey, what did he do there, Wahoo?!” McDaniel answered, “He came out…and he knocked me cold. Now, this is the first time in my life that I had ever been knocked out like that with one punch. I didn’t know until later until I saw the film what had happened.” An incredulous Bob Caudle queried Wahoo, “Did he put any knucks on; looks like he put something on his hand?” An increasingly agitated McDaniel replied, “According to the film he had something on his hand, and the man knocked me out and took the belt… and this is a blemish in 1976 that I’m going to erase from my record. My first quest is to get my belt back and beat Ric Flair.”

As the highlight film turned to post-match activity, Caudle commented, “There he is…he’s a happy youngster after having beaten you Wahoo.” McDaniel admitted, “He’s a happy youngster. He has a reason to be, he’s got the belt and he fought hard. But right at the end there, if the man hadn’t hit me with something I don’t think the man would have taken the belt from me.” Wahoo then pointedly ended this film review by telling Flair, “He better be ready when he comes back, and he better have something to say, and he better be ready to fight. Because I’m gonna get my belt back!”

After Flair’s controversial triumph, fans across the area were excited about the rematches sure to come, and the prospect of their favorite Wahoo McDaniel regaining his Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship belt. As fate would have it, those rematches between Ric and Wahoo, regrettably, would not happen for a very long time. Ric was severely injured in the famous plane crash in Wilmington, North Carolina on October 4, 1975 that put him out of action for about four months. Flair and Wahoo didn’t wrestle in a singles match again until January 31, 1976, when Ric captured a count out win over the “Chief” in the Greensboro Coliseum.

Although delayed, the feud over the Mid-Atlantic Title that was begun in earnest by the “Hair vs. Title” match was well worth the wait, as these two superstars battled over the Mid-Atlantic belt throughout 1976, with multiple title switches. The matches typically broke down into sheer pandemonium, with much blood spilled on both sides. It wasn’t until the end of the year, specifically December 27, 1976 in the Richmond Coliseum, that Wahoo put an end to this epic feud over the Mid-Atlantic Championship by besting Ric in a no time limit, no disqualification bout where McDaniel promised to never wrestle in Richmond again if he didn’t reclaim the Mid-Atlantic belt.

From that point, after a few rematches, Wahoo and Ric went their separate ways as far as the Mid-Atlantic Championship belt was concerned. Flair would never hold the Mid-Atlantic Title again. But this ferocious feud between Ric Flair and Wahoo McDaniel will never be forgotten by fans of Jim Crockett Promotions. And it should always be remembered that the “Hair vs. Title” match in Hampton was the rocket launch that propelled this historic program into the wrestling stratosphere!

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See also:  Main Event Memories - Ric Flair Wins His First Mid-Atlantic Championship
including rare audio of promos for this historic match in Hampton!

No doubt 1975 was the breakout year for Ric Flair who would go on to become one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport, and certainly its greatest champion.

Relive all the events of the landmark year of 1975 in the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling 1975 Yearbook.

The book includes reproductions of all four issues of "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine" that was sold as the arena program that year.

Plus a huge collection of newspaper clippings, posters, and complete results for the entire year. Plus our signature "Almanac" material featuring a complete roster of wrestlers for the year, and summaries of all major feuds and matches for the year.