Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Becker Brothers - Promotional Postcard

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Back in the 1950s the local NWA wrestling office out of Richmond, promoted by promoter Bill Lewis (who was affiliated with Jim Crockett in Charlotte) sent postcards out to regular fans reminding them of the upcoming shows at the arena at Strawberry Hill, the venue on the State Fairgrounds of Virginia just outside Richmond. Lewis ran weekly shows there.

Seen here is one of those vintage postcards, featuring a photograph of the Bobby and George Becker, one of the great tag teams in the early 1950s.

The postcard is very cool in its own way. I love the reference to the locations for tickets - Adam Hat Store at 8th and Broad Streets in Richmond. Interesting how a hat shop was place for wrestling tickets; the same was true in Charlotte for over four decades where tickets to Charlotte events could be purchased at the National Hat Shop. 

George Becker was a fixture in the Carolinas and Virginias in the 1950s and 1960s, also booking the territory for Jim Crockett Sr. for nearly a decade. Bobby Becker died at a relatively young age after a short and sudden battle with leukemia.

Carroll Hall, who publishes the All Star Championship Wrestling blog, once wrote of the Becker Brothers:

The late Bill Lewis, promoter from Richmond,VA is credited with bringing George and Bobby Becker to Virginia and the Carolina's in 1951. They were extremely popular, so much so that sometime during their time as a team here (1951-1954),the Mayor of Charlotte, Victor Shaw, presented them with the keys to the Queen City.

They feuded with Al and John Smith, Ernie and Emil Dusek, Hans Schnabel and Mr. Moto, Freddie Blassie and Billy McDaniels and many others.

The story about Bobby Becker dying in the ring is a myth. He wrestled his last match in Nov. 1954 in
Greenville SC. No one in the wrestling business knew that he had been sick except George. Bobby Becker passed away on Thanksgiving day 1954 in a New York hospital. This was two weeks after his last match. 

Steve Johnson, co-author of the book "Pro-Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams", added:

Did a chapter on the Beckers in our book on tag teams. I spent nine months trying to find a surviving relative of Bobby (John Emmerling, also wrestled as Ray Schwartz) without luck.

As Carroll noted, he died of leukemia and it came on very quickly. Lewis tried to get to NY to see Bobby before he died but did not make it in time. Box office gold in the early days of tag teams, not just here but also in California.

This wonderful postcard is a relic of an era long gone in professional wrestling.

Postcard part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Collection.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Blooper! J.J. Dillon managing ....Dusty Rhodes??

Wow. November 7, 1987 - - the world was off its axis!

Or maybe it was just a severe case of confusion by the person at the newspaper who put this ad together for Jim Crockett Promotions.

Check out all of the managers in this ad - - and we mean ALL the managers -- and pay attention to how they are paired up:

Dusty Rhodes with .... James J. Dillon?
The Rock & Roll Express with .... Jim Cornette?
Freebird Michael Hayes with .... Paul Jones?
Jimmy Valiant and Bugsy McGraw with .... Skandor Akbar?
The Mighty Wilbur with .... Precious?

Whew! Can you imagine the confusion for some young kid seeing that in the paper before going to the big show at James Rhodes Arena?

Thanks to Mark Eastridge for sending us this funny ad.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Masked Superstar vs. The Mighty Igor (Final) (Part 5)

OPPOSITES ATTRACT - Part 5 (Conclusion)
by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

(Catch up on what you missed in PART 1PART 2, PART 3, and PART 4!)

By the end of July 1977 with the result of their feud hanging in the balance, Igor and Superstar entered a new and dangerous phase of their bitter rivalry that went on into the month of August through and until the last week of September.  At the urging of the “Mad Russian” Boris Malenko, vicious Russian Chain matches were scheduled between Igor and Superstar, the first of which occurred on July 26th in Columbia, South Carolina. In addition to the Russian Chain matches, Lumberjack matches between the two adversaries were also set, the first of which occurred on August 9, 1977 in Raleigh.

To show the intensity for the build-up to the brutal chain matches, the combatants talked about it prior to an August 12, 1977 Russian Chain match in Richmond, Virginia. The Superstar began his promo by saying, “As you well know, and the people well know, a Russian Chain match is probably the most dangerous type match. And Igor, FINALLY, you’re gonna get your just due. It’s finally come to this…one of us is definitely gonna be hurt, and I think it’s gonna be you. As a matter of fact, I want Boris Malenko, the Father of the chain match, to show you and the people a little demonstration of what this steel chain can do.”

Malenko moved into camera range carrying a thick chain and said, “Let me just say this…this is the most dangerous match there is in professional wrestling today, or any other day. Both men will be tied over here by the cuffs of this chain. In order to win this match, you must drag your opponent around the ring two complete times. The only way this is humanly possible is if the man that you’re dragging is completely unconscious. This chain can maim you, it can put out your eye, it can end your wrestling career…and that’s what we have in mind.”

The Professor then brought a steel chair onto the set with announcer Ed Capral, and smashed steel again steel for affect. Malenko explained, “Just let me give you a little demonstration. This [chain] is steel…this chair is steel also. Look at the indentations. This chair right over here…it’s steel against steel. See what it did? Can you imagine what it could do to the human body? Well I know what it can do, and I taught my Superstar to do it! And he will do it right here in Richmond…you can count on that!”

When Igor got his turn to talk about the chain match, he didn’t appear to be intimidated by Superstar and Malenko at all and said, “He thinks because Malenko taught him this Russian match here with the chain. What do you think, he can’t get away from me either. I don’t want him to get away. I’m gonna give you punishment ten times over because you hurt my mother and you hurt all the people that I know.”

Igor then addressed the Richmond fans directly by saying, “You people of Richmond, Igor is gonna be in there. Malenko, you’re gonna be very dissatisfied when I get done with that Super-chicken because the day has come that he cannot run away no more. No more runnin’ away, no more. My eye is not right yet. But you will get it because, it’s in the eyes of the people what you did to me, and you are gonna get paid. I still feel hurt inside but you didn’t change me…I’m still gonna be good and you’re gonna be destroyed sooner or later or you’re gonna be crippled. Because one of us is gonna leave that ring, and I plan for me to leave it!”

Despite the natural advantage Superstar seemed to have with Malenko in his corner for the Russian Chain matches, Igor prevailed in the vast majority of these bruising battles with the steel chain in August and much of September. Because there was no pinfall or submission possible in this type of bout, the Superstar maintained his mask and $5,000.00 despite losing most of these contests. However, in the Lumberjack matches that were held during that very same time frame, the Superstar came out the victor in a high percentage of them. Thus, when the 1977 calendar hit the last week in September the winner of this epic feud was very much still in doubt.

The colossal program between the Superstar and Igor that began in the frigid cold of February 1977 would reach its end in the crisp fall air of late September. During the last week of September, the Superstar defeated Igor in brutal fence matches (starting to be called cage matches) in Roanoke, Virginia on September 25th, and in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on September 28th. Also during that last week of September, the masked man punished Igor in Charlotte, North Carolina and Fishersville, Virginia in two bloodbaths of matches. That led to a fence match in Richmond, Virginia on Friday night, September 30th. This would be the last match ever between these two arch-enemies.

The in-your-area promos leading up to the fence match in Richmond had the feel of an upcoming battle that would decide this program once and for all. An agitated Superstar told announcer Ed Capral, “I’ll tell ya, for the first time, I’m a little befuddled…I’m almost at a loss for words. Because Igor has evidently gone to the promoter and he’s pressured the promoter once again to put in another stipulation. I really don’t know what to say because I don’t particularly like this kind of match. I’ve seen cage matches before…they’re very devastating. There’s no way out. There’s no way out for me, and there’s no way out for Igor. And I don’t mind telling you that I don’t like the situation I’m put in. I DON’T LIKE IT IGOR! You’ve got me in a corner. You think you’ve got an advantage; well, this cage may be your downfall. I don’t particularly like Richmond, and I hate you Igor. And it’s come to either you or me, AND IT’S GONNA BE YOU!!”

Igor appeared to be brimming with confidence as he addressed the Richmond fans before this monumental steel cage contest. Laughing, the powerful Polish grappler announced, “I wait a long time for this! He said he don’t particularly like this cage match, but I like it; I love it! This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Hey mom, look, I finally got the Super-chicken in a cage…he can’t go nowhere! His feathers can’t fly him away or nothing! He’s all mine! Oh momma, you should be happy for your son…I’m happy for myself!”

Igor then approached announcer Ed Capral and offered, “Oh boy, good kielbasa, you like some?” Capral politely declined! Igor concluded, “Oh, you’re gonna get it Super-chicken, I’ve been waiting a long time! Malenko, you stay out of this cause Igor’s gonna win!!”

The climactic match in Richmond between Superstar and Igor certainly lived up to the hype. Eight months of animosity between these two seemed to all come out within the confines of the unforgiving cage. The steel was used as a weapon by both combatants, and the blood was flowing freely on both sides. Ultimately, the Superstar reached down deeper than he ever had before, and vanquished a battered Igor. As the Polish strongman lay prone on the mat in the Richmond ring, it signaled the end of the bitterest of feuds. Igor was laughing no more, and the fans were stunned.

Graphic courtesy Mike Cline / Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats

On the next Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show, that was taped on October 5, 1977, Superstar addressed the situation with Igor with Bob Caudle. Superstar gloated, “I want to make note…you hear all these people chanting ‘Igor, Igor, Igor?’ Well, I have the pleasure to announce that Igor isn’t gonna be around any longer. He and I were involved in a very, very brutal cage match. And I got some scars and I got some bruises, but I got rid of that fat thorn that was in my side. Igor’s not gonna be around here any longer! You don’t see him here today?”

A shaken Caudle commented, “No, but it’s hard for me to believe that he’s not gonna be around anymore.” Superstar countered, “You just take my word for it, because I don’t tell any lies. If you don’t ask me, ask [Malenko], I’ve never lied to him.” Malenko predictably exclaimed, “Never!” Superstar concluded, “I’ve moved on to bigger and better things. I’m looking forward to some championship belts myself, and I’m looking forward to some matches with some so-called heroes around this area…Paul Jones, Wahoo McDaniel. I’m gonna come after these people now!”

Superstar was accurate for the most part. The Mighty Igor, after a short hiatus after the Richmond defeat, returned to the Mid-Atlantic area, but was never a major factor with the promotion again. The Polish strongman had a short and unsuccessful program with Blackjack Mulligan at the tail end of 1977, and then dropped into the middle of the cards before leaving Jim Crockett Promotions for good in March of 1978.

After finally dispatching Igor, the Superstar moved on to a heated feud with Paul Jones that lasted into early 1978, though the masked man’s attempt to collect a $10,000.00 bounty on Blackjack Mulligan’s head was probably the more memorable program, that lasted from April until September of 1978. Mulligan unmasked the Superstar in several cage matches that September, doing what Igor could not do a year earlier, and the masked man retreated from Jim Crockett Promotion’s to the Georgia territory.

The feud between the Masked Superstar and the Mighty Igor had it all, and was an amazing contrast in styles and personalities. It featured the athletic and cerebral Superstar against the gentle giant, the child-like, Mighty Igor. For me, this feud ran parallel with a memorable time in my life…my last semester in high school, to high school graduation, and into my first semester in college. And the program ended in my wrestling hometown of Richmond, Virginia. So, the feud was quite memorable for me, but nothing like it must have been for the two warriors involved, the Masked Superstar and the Mighty Igor. They had the scars to prove it. And they proved something else…opposites really do attract, but in this case, in the most violent way possible.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Yellow Rose of Texas

Memories of Texas Stadium 1984:
Ring jacket, replica belt, Texas flag, and yellow roses.

The month of May in 2016 marks the 32 anniversary of the brief NWA world title exchange between Kerry Von Erich and Ric Flair. Kerry won the title on May 6, 1984 at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. He dropped the title back to Flair in Yokosuka, Japan on May 24, 1984.

Kerry's victory was at the "Parade of Champions" show that honored Kerry's brother David, who had passed away earlier that same year.

The photograph above contains several iconic elements, not the least of which is the original ring jacket Kerry wore in the ring the day he won the title. The belt is a Dave Millican replica of the National Wrestling Alliance world championship belt, affectionately known as the "domed globe" or "the ten pounds of gold." The belt and jacket are adorned with the Texas flag and yellow roses, all of which call back to that memorable and emotional day in Texas Stadium.

The book "Ten Pounds of Gold" features dozens of photos of the original NWA belt shot especially for the book, one with the original Kerry Von Erich ring jacket paying tribute to his late brother David, the belt and the jacket reunited at the time of the photo in 2008 for the first time in 24 years. I've always loved this photo above, though, taken the following year that featured the flag and the yellow roses with Dave's replica. I've always regretted not thinking to do that when I shot the original belt and robe together for the book.  -Dick Bourne

Republished in edited form in May 2022 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Masked Superstar vs. The Mighty Igor (Part 4)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

(Catch up on what you missed in PART 1PART 2 and PART 3!)

After the Superstar reluctantly signed to face Igor on the June 8, 1977 Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show, the tag team bouts involving Igor and Superstar morphed into mainly singles confrontations between the two. One reason for this was that Kim Duk, Superstar’s primary partner, shifted down to mid-card status. The last match involving Duk and Superstar teaming against Igor was on June 24, 1977 in Charleston, South Carolina, where Igor and Bobo Brazil defeated Duk and Superstar.

A wild singles match between Igor and Superstar in June occurred on June 18, 1977 in Hampton, Virginia, where Igor tore Superstar’s mask off! Much like the match on TV where Superstar lost his hood, Superstar was able to obscure his face before anybody could identify him. Greenville, South Carolina and Raleigh, North Carolina also saw ferocious bouts between these two during the end of the month of June. In each of these bloody encounters, Igor had his hand raised in disqualification victories.

As the calendar flipped to July, noteworthy tag team matches pitting Igor and Superstar on opposing sides occurred, with none other than the “Eighth Wonder of the World” Andre the Giant teaming with Igor! On July 3, 1977 in Greensboro, North Carolina, Andre and Igor teamed up to defeat the burly duo of the Superstar and Blackjack Mulligan. On July 7th (7/7/77!), Igor and Andre again joined forces to subdue the tandem of the Superstar and the Missouri Mauler in Colonial Heights, Virginia.

After the Giant left the area, Superstar and Igor had an even-steven month of July, with the bouts between these two bitter adversaries being highly competitive. On July 5th, the Superstar gained a hard fought count out victory over Igor in Lynchburg, Virginia. However, almost immediately the Polish strongman turned the tables, defeating the Superstar by count out in Hampton, in a wild melee where Wahoo McDaniel tried to keep order as special referee.

The last noteworthy tag team bouts that featured Igor and Superstar occurred in mid July in two Texas Tornado matches, where all four men were in the ring at the same time. Somewhat predictably, these two high-energy contests saw a split decision in the results. On July 13th in Roxboro, North Carolina, Igor and Ricky Steamboat combined to vanquish Superstar and Ric Flair. But on July 16th in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the Superstar got back in the win column, teaming with the Missouri Mauler to defeat Igor and Dino Bravo.

By the end of July with the result of their feud hanging in the balance, Igor and Superstar entered a new and dangerous phase of their bitter rivalry - - Professor Malenko was pushing for a chain match!

Will the Professor have his demands met for a chain match? How will this brutal match affect the heated rivalry between Superstar and Igor?

The final chapter, PART 5!


Friday, May 20, 2016

Crockett Foundation Tag Team Partners


What a great line-up the Crockett Foundation has as its "tag team partners!"

Tommy Young, Baby Doll, Ricky Steamboat, the Rock & Roll Express, James J. Dillon, and the legendary voice of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Bob Caudle!

Join them by tagging in and helping out at the the Crockett Foundation's website. http://crockettfoundation.com

Some very cool wrestling gear is on sale there, proceeds from which support the good work of the Crockett Foundation.

"Tag in, help out!"

John Ringley: Jim Crockett's Early Relationship With Television

by Dick Bourne 
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

As mentioned earlier, I recently had the pleasure of a casual conversation with John Ringley, at one time the most trusted confidant of promoter Jim Crockett, Sr. He had graciously agreed to talk with me for a feature I am constantly updating related to the old TV studio taping locations of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. The following is another little "tidbit' about the wrestling and TV business in the early days gleaned from those conversations, plus a broader perspective on wrestling and TV's relationship in general. 

When Mr. Ringley and I began talking about the changes in presenting wrestling on television over the decades, one thing became clear: in the early days of TV, unlike today, professional wrestling was in an equal partnership with their television counterparts.

The 1940s and 1950s

Wrestling from New York and Chicago and the west coast had been a staple of national television in the 1950s. By the late 1950s, a growing percentage of  programming on local stations began originating from the studios of those stations, and wrestling was one of earliest programs on local television. 

In 1958, Charlotte, NC television station WBTV partnered with local wrestling promoter Jim Crockett, Sr. to produce live televised wrestling bouts in Charlotte. The arrangement was advantageous for both parties. WBTV needed original local programming, and Jim Crockett benefited from an effective and far reaching way to promote his weekly wrestling cards at the Charlotte Park Center.

Studio 2 at WBTV-3 in Charlotte
The 1960s
At first, the wrestling matches were broadcast live. Later, as technology improved, the station began to record the matches on huge reels of videotape and air them later. Eventually, Crockett soon began similar arrangements with other TV stations including WGHP TV in High Point, NC and WRAL TV in Raleigh.

Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, it was a barter arrangement with hardly any additional expenses for Jim Crockett Promotions. John Ringley explained how it worked at WBTV.

"Things were so different back in the day as it related to expenses," Ringley said. "It was a partnership with television. For example, at WBTV in Charlotte - - the only expense [Jim Crockett Promotions] had was buying dinner for the television studio floor crew at channel 3. That was it!"

And Big Jim made sure those boys always ate well.

The relationship was one of near perfection. Crockett didn’t have to pay for studio time. WBTV didn't have to pay for the wrestlers or the matches.  It was a simple arrangement, equally advantageous to both parties. Crockett promoted his upcoming live events in the area. WBTV got to sell advertising for the highly-rated program.

The only other expense was of course to get the ring set up and torn down in the channel 3 studio, a task that fell to longtime veteran wrestler and trusted Crockett lieutenant Wally Dusek and his crew.

The Crockett/WBTV relationship was put together by people at the top of each organization. "Charlie Crutchfield was the fellow we dealt with at channel 3," Ringley told me. Crutchfield was once president of  Jefferson-Pilot Broadcasting Company which owned WBTV. He had been with the Charlotte based broadcasting company since 1933, where he was a host on 1110 WBT-AM radio. "He was a powerful man, with ties to the highest levels of government and of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)," said Reno Bailey of Crutchfield on his BT Memories website. It is only fitting that James Crockett and Charles Crutchfield, two pillars of the Charlotte community for decades, worked together to make "Championship Wrestling" one of the early success stories of local television in the southeast.
WBTV stopped taping wrestling in 1973 when all of Crockett's local TV tapings were consolidated to WRAL studios in Raleigh.

"It was a great bunch of folks to work with for all those many years we did TV there (at WBTV), " Ringley told me.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Masked Superstar vs. The Mighty Igor (Part 3)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

(Catch up on what you missed in PART 1 and PART 2.)

David Crockett and JCP lawyers were demanding the Masked Superstar present a doctor's note as to why he couldn't wrestle the Mighty Igor.

Later on the same TV show, announcer Bob Caudle spoke to Igor about the earlier segment involving the Superstar.  Igor said, “Mr. Crockett was kind enough to get lawyers to make him show certificate… blueprint.  He don’t wanna show it because there’s nothing wrong with his leg, you see. He’s afraid of Igor and I’ve been chasing him all this time. But I must thank Crockett, Mr. Crockett, thank you very much! Because this way he’s got to show his face to wrestle Igor! No more runnin’ away from Igor…the kielbasa is good! And I feel good ‘cause Mr. Crockett really helped me!!” Igor then started lavishing kisses on Bob Caudle before the announcer could escape the affection of the Polish strongman!

On the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling TV program the next week, taped on June 8, 1977, the issues between the Masked Superstar and the Mighty Igor had become so serious, that the President of Jim Crockett Promotions, Jim Crockett, Jr., became involved in a television segment with the two adversaries. Jim Crockett started off the show by telling the fans, “I have an important signing right now. The Superstar has taken his cast off, for whatever reason. He knows, to wrestle again, he must sign a contract to meet the Mighty Igor, who is also here.”

The President then directed Igor, saying, “Mighty Igor, sign your name.”  An ecstatic Igor joyfully responded giggling, “I will…I love you!” The Superstar, not happy in the least barked out, “What happens if he can’t write…can’t sign his name? And get your stinkin’ kielbasa out of here!” An indignant Igor explained to the masked man, “My mother taught me how to write…what’s the matter with you? I’ve waited a long time for this moment, you’re gonna get it now because Mr. Crockett fixed it up for me…you gotta wrestle me first! And don’t knock my kielbasa…my momma make that!” Superstar retorted, “Get your kielbasa outta my face.” Igor pushed back saying, “I’ll put this [fist] in your face instead of the kielbasa. This is a moment I’ve been waiting for, for such a long time!”

With all of Igor’s yapping, the Superstar was worried the Polish powerhouse couldn’t even execute the contract, as he told Mr. Crockett, “Make sure he signs that properly!” Professor Malenko had similar concerns stating, “I’d like to take a look at that, I’d like to take a look at that...one moment here I want look at this. This doesn’t state where this is going to be held at.” An agitated Jim Crockett curtly replied, “I will decide when and where the Superstar will meet the Mighty Igor, not you.” Malenko answered by saying, “You’re trying to railroad us…that’s exactly what you’re doing.”

The masked man echoed Malenko’s position saying, “I don’t like this situation at all. I’m being pushed back into a corner, this has happened time and time again…” Fed up, Jim Crockett interrupted with an ultimatum, “Just sign it or don’t wrestle…it’s that simple.” Malenko complained, “You’ve got our backs up against the wall! We can’t make a living unless we do…we’ve tried every promoter there is in the country.” The Superstar backed up his manager stating, “We’ve called all over this country, and you’ve gotten ahead of us at every phone call…you know I’m not allowed to wrestle anywhere on account of this man and on account of YOU!! I don’t like it one bit!”

The Mighty Igor had heard enough belly-aching insisting, “I don’t care what you like…you sign your name you creep. Chicken…Super-chicken.” Jim Crockett further infuriated the Superstar by chastising him for attempting to sign his name on the wrong line of the contract, instructing the Superstar, “Don’t mess up the contract…sign right here.” At this point, the Superstar was livid and shot back at Mr. Crockett, “I’m getting quite tired of your insolence…and I’ll sign it, but that doesn’t mean I like it.” Bob Caudle, amazed that the contract signing actually happened said to the fans and David Crockett, “Alright fans, there it is, Superstar is putting his signature on it, and that’s it. He has done it…it’s all signed, sealed and delivered, David!” David Crockett enthusiastically replied, “Fantastic…so the Superstar has to meet the Mighty Igor.” Caudle excitedly added, “It’s gonna happen!”

What happens now that the Superstar has been forced to sign the contract?
Stay tuned as the Masked Superstar / Might Igor saga continues in Part 4!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Saturday Wrestling - December 1973
(Studio Wrestling)
Take a look at the great line-up of 1-hour wrestling programs (remember them?) airing on local stations across the Mid-Atlantic area in December of 1973.

All-Star Wrestling with Ric Stewart (Kansas City)
(Studio Wrestling) 
A look at Harley Race and Bruiser Brody on the set of "All-Star Wrestling" with host Ric Stewart in the mid-1980s.

Man Behind the Mike: Jim Carlisle (Georgia)
(Studio Wrestling) 
The great series from Wrestling Revue magazine continues with a look at the host of wrestling on TV in Macon and Columbus GA in the 1960s and 1970s.

Great Champions
(Domed Globe)
Great shots of great champions with the "ten pounds of gold"  including Dusty Rhodes as well as a Japanese poster collage featuring Harley Race, Jack Brisco, Giant Baba, and Ric Flair.

Opposites Attract: Masked Superstar vs. Mighty Igor
(Mid-Atlantic Gateway)
Part 1  |  Part 2
Stay Tuned for Part 3 of the re-telling of the Masked Superstar/Might Igor saga which will be up on Wednesday May 18!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

1980s Dusty Booking Era Babyface Reunion

George South, Robert Gibson, Sting, Lex Luger, Ricky Morton, Magnum T.A.
Lincolnton, NC Saturday 5/14/16


Danny Hodge Honored with Statue

Perry to celebrate favorite son Danny Hodge
by Tulsa World Sr. Sports Columnist John Klein
Friday May 13, 2016 Article Link

Cleveland has a Billy Vessels statue, a hometown monument to Oklahoma’s first Heisman Trophy winner.

When you get off the turnpike in Miami you drive onto Steve Owens Boulevard, a tribute to its hometown Heisman winner and NFL star.

Danny Hodge, considered by many to be the greatest collegiate wrestler in history, will be honored with a statue in his hometown of Perry this week.

A statue of Hodge will be unveiled at 10 a.m. Saturday, the day after his 84th birthday, in a new park dedicated to Perry wrestling.

“I’ve wrestled in Tulsa and all over the world,” Hodge said. “I was always happy to come back home.”

The celebration will be attended by many Oklahoma wrestling stars, including Oklahoma State coach John Smith, Oklahoma coach Mark Cody and dozens of former wrestling champions from around the state.

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Masked Superstar vs. The Mighty Igor (Part 2)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

(Catch up on everything that happened in PART 1 by clicking here. )

After the Masked Superstar's suspension was lifted, Igor tore into the Superstar on television and ripped his mask off, though with some quick thinking the masked man was able to preserve the secret of his identity.

Igor bearhugs Masked Superstar
Upon his return from suspension, Superstar told Bob Caudle, “I’m a little leaner, but I’m a little meaner. I’ve had five weeks, over five weeks, to think of Igor…and that’s all I’ve been thinking about! Igor…you’ve cost me a lot of money, you’ve cost me a lot of headache, you’ve caused me a lot of heartache. All I’ve been able to think about is Polish people! And I’m tellin’ you Igor…don’t get in the ring with me. Because what I did to you was unintentional, but it’s premeditated now. I’ve been thinkin’ and I’ve been plannin’ and I’ve been waitin’ for five and a half weeks to get Igor. Igor, when I catch you, wherever you’re at, you’ll wish you never saw this mask, you never saw the Superstar.”  Professor Malenko echoed these sentiments, admonishing Igor, “Stay away from my Superstar!!”

During the month of April, Igor and the Superstar met in the ring, but normally as part of action packed tag team and six-man tag team bouts that included Malenko and Kim Duk on the Superstar’s side. In many of these matches, Superstar would avoid getting into the ring with Igor at all costs.

To show how much the “Malenko family” wanted to get rid of Igor, on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that was taped on April 20th, Malenko brought in a masked wrestler named “Jaws” to put Igor out of wrestling. Malenko told the viewing audience, “I have imported this fellow Jaws in here, and he’s gonna take care of Igor for once and for all! We’re gonna get rid of him; I don’t want any more menace to the Malenko family. When Malenko brings somebody in to do the job, he’s gonna get it done! He’s gonna destroy Igor for once and for all. He’s been a pain in the side of the Malenko family!”

The Mighty Igor dispatched Jaws with relative ease, and after the match told the fans, “Malenko brought in that…Jaws. And at the last moment I showed him what I’m gonna do to Superstar, but only worse. I don’t know this Jaws, but you see what I do. I’ve been training, and workin’ out real hard. Not eating so much sausage, but lots of effort towards Superstar.”

During the month of May 1977, Igor and Superstar continued to battle in specialty tag team bouts, such as elimination matches and Texas Tornado matches. The Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Wahoo McDaniel was Igor’s most consistent tag team partner at this time. There were also a few singles matches between these two in May, including ferocious battles in Roanoke, Virginia on May 6th, Savannah, Georgia on May 8th and in Charlottesville, Virginia at the University Hall on May 20th.

On the May 24, 1977 taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show, in another move to avoid facing Igor, the Superstar came on the set sporting crutches, and a cast on his leg. Announcer David Crockett was skeptical that Superstar’s supposed injury was legitimate. Superstar responded, “I don’t care if you believe me or not. If you don’t believe an honest man, you ask Mr. Malenko. Now Igor broke this, and everybody that’s been watching this program from week to week…it’s all premeditated. I was suspended for something I did not do purposely…it was an accident. Now, Igor’s got in here and boasted and he’s told everybody across this country that he was going to get even. And he purposely broke my leg. Now we’ve contacted the President Eddie Graham, president of the National Wrestling Alliance, and Mr. Malenko has a little notice to give to Igor.”

Professor Malenko then commented, “My lawyers are now working on the situation, and they’re going to get with Eddie Graham, and I’m going to tell you something. [Igor’s] not only going to be completely suspended indefinitely, but he will be suspended entirely for all time and forever.” David Crockett remained unconvinced, saying to Bob Caudle, “We’ll see about that. I just wonder whether his leg really is broken.” Caudle jumped in, “Well, the rumor is that it’s not, that he’s got that cast on really just to duck another match with Igor.” Crockett concurred, “That’s right; that’s what I think. But you know, we can’t decide.”

The following week on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television, the saga of Superstar’s supposed broken leg continued. Announcer David Crockett said, “The Superstar is here, you’re not on your crutches now, but you still haven’t brought the excuse from the doctor.” A visibly upset Masked Superstar replied, “Every time I’m on this program, I get accused and you make all kinds of allegations that this leg is not broken. I’m gonna tell you one time and you better listen. I don’t have to bring you a certificate. I said it’s broken, Mr. Malenko said it’s broken, and our doctor said my leg is broken. Now, that’s all I’m gonna say about it. I’m not gonna bring in a certificate, because I don’t have to.” Crockett commented, “Well, I guess you’re not wrestling, then.” A highly agitated Superstar retorted, “As you can see I’m not wrestling…I’ve been suspended for the simple fact that I didn’t bring you a note, like a little school boy, saying I was allowed to come back. Now, as far as my wrestling, you’re going to force me to wrestle Igor, but only when I’m ready, and not before. When I’M ready…not when you say, not when you say, or not when the promoters say.” Professor Malenko vociferously added, “WHEN HE IS READY, and that’s all! There is no more subject matter to be discussed here!”

Can the Crockett's lawyers force the Masked Superstar to wrestle?
Stay tuned for the answer and much more to come in PART THREE!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Greatest Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Tag Team Feud Ever

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Any "greatest ever" debate is always influenced by personal preferences of what kind of wrestling you like, where you grew up, when you grew up, what wrestling you first saw, etc. Everyone has their own opinion and can make an argument as to why they feel a certain feud (or match or wrestler) was "the greatest."

So if my opinion is just as valid as anyone else's, then I submit to you that the greatest tag team feud in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history was Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones vs. the Anderson Brothers. The angle that ignited the feud is one of the most famous in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history - - the "Supreme Sacrifice" - - where Ole Anderson sacrificed his brother in the match where they regained the World tag team titles on TV. I've written many times before that this was the angle that got me hooked on wrestling and I never missed a Mid-Atlantic or World Wide TV show if I could help it for over a decade afterwards.

NWA World Tag Team Champions Gene and Ole Anderson with host Bob Caudle

You might disagree that it was the greatest feud in Mid-Atlantic history. My good friend Carroll Hall would likely argue with me day and night that Johnny Weaver and George Becker vs. Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson should get that honor. I certainly can see how he would feel that way. That was the definitive tag feud of the 1960s. Others might argue for the Andersons vs. Flair and Valentine in the 1970s.

The early 1980s featured two amazing feuds between Steamboat and Youngblood vs. the teams of Slaughter and Kernodle as well as the Brisco Brothers. And a few years later the Rock and Roll Express vs. the Midnight Express defined tag team wrestling for a generation.

I love each and every one of those choices. But for me it just could not get any better than Wahoo and Paul vs. the Andersons. It may have not had the longevity of the Weaver/Becker feuds, and it was before the national TV and PPV exposure of the 1980's feuds. But no feud featured tougher, longer, more realistic matches that were any harder fought, or that focused on the who was the best and who would carry those tag team belts. It was personal. And I loved every bit of it.

But as the saying goes, that's just my two cents. Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Opposites Attract: Masked Superstar vs. Mighty Igor


by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Mighty Igor cover
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine
One of the more entertaining feuds during the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling era occurred during eight months in 1977, and it featured the Masked Superstar battling the Mighty Igor. These two grapplers couldn’t have been more polar opposites, but their stark differences made for compelling theater from February through September of 1977.

The Superstar entered the Mid-Atlantic area in September of 1976, and was a force to be reckoned with from the get-go. Extremely articulate, the Superstar came to the area boasting of having two doctorate degrees, and a gold medal from the Olympics! With his vicious “clothesline” move, and “cobra” finishing maneuver, the Superstar got off to a great start in the territory during the remainder of 1976. Along with his wily manager, “Professor” Boris Malenko, this dastardly duo put up $5,000.00 and the Superstar’s mask if any wrestler could defeat him by pinfall or submission in a single match. By the end of 1976, no consistent challenger had emerged for the Superstar.  But that was about to change.

At the tail end of 1976, a colorful newcomer entered the Mid-Atlantic area named the Mighty Igor. Wearing unusual ring attire, this bundle of muscle from Krakow, Poland was a particular favorite of younger fans. Coming to the ring dancing the Polish polka, carrying his garlic laden kielbasa, professing his love for his “momma” and kissing unsuspecting television announcers, the smiling and child-like Igor was certainly a unique addition to the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling scene. Initially, Igor was accompanied by a manager, Ivan Kalmikoff, who assisted Igor in performing some impressive feats of strength. Kalmikoff would exit the area after about a month, leaving Igor to fend for himself.

The Mighty Igor and the Superstar squared off for the first time in Asheville, North Carolina as part of an afternoon card that was held on February 6, 1977. The first bout between the two was not particularly eventful, but the next meeting would define the feud in stark terms. The two combatants met each other in Charlotte, North Carolina on February 21, 1977 at the Park Center. The match was a tag team elimination match, where Igor and Wahoo McDaniel battled the Superstar and his partner, the “Korean Assassin,” Kim Duk, accompanied by their manager Boris Malenko.

On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on February 23, 1977, NWA “troubleshooter” George Scott came on the set with announcers Bob Caudle and David Crockett, along with the “Malenko family,” the Masked Superstar, Kim Duk and Boris Malenko.  Scott was there to show the fans a film from the match in Charlotte two days earlier, where the Superstar badly injured the Mighty Igor by sticking Malenko’s lit cigar in Igor’s eye, causing serious eye damage. The “troubleshooter” began, “There’s been a lot of conferences going on about this the last couple of days. I believe we have some film that we want to show, and I think these gentleman better watch it because there’s gonna be some decision coming up that you’re gonna know about.”

The Masked Superstar and Kim Duk
with manager Boris Malenko
George Scott started commentating over the arena footage saying, “As you can see, Igor is in the ring here with Superstar, and he’s got the bear hug on him, and I think Superstar was beat. And if you’ll watch here; here comes Kim Duk in. This was a match that occurred in Charlotte, North Carolina, that took place last Monday. As we go along here, he took that cigar right out of Malenko’s mouth, deliberately stuck it in Igor’s eye. And which caused, we don’t know the damage yet, the extents of the damage, but it could have blinded this man.”

Scott clearly believed the egregious actions called for discipline against Superstar explaining, “And to me, this is uncalled for in professional wrestling. Which we’ve been doing, as the time goes on, we take a lot of these films and they go down in front of Eddie Graham of the National Wrestling Alliance, and they come back, and through Jim Crockett Promotions, and myself; you can see here Igor is in definite, definite pain…definite pain. And I feel if these men gotta resort to tactics like this, I feel we do not need them in the National Wrestling Alliance, or in the Mid-Atlantic area. As you can see, Igor was finished for the night, now he’s wearing a patch on his eye, and the pain this man has gone through is unbelievable.”

Bob Caudle chimed in, “And the film doesn’t lie, George. It shows exactly what happened, and how it came about, and just who did it…and how it happened to him.” Scott continued, “Ah, yes, and as you can see, this was the end of the night for Igor.” Caudle agreed, noting, “The pain here has to be unreal; this guy is so big and so strong, he can stand a lot of pain anyway, George. But here, this must have been tremendous pain for him.”

George Scott then turned his attention to the wrongdoers. “Now, Boris Malenko, I’ve talked to Eddie Graham, I’ve talked to the National Wrestling Alliance, Superstar has been suspended indefinitely…” A flabbergasted Superstar interrupted, stammering, “Wait, wait, wait a minute!!”  Undeterred, Scott continued, “Wait a minute, you just be quiet, or a $10,000.00 fine.” Superstar shot back, “What do I have to pay a $10,000.00 fine for, it was an accident, I didn’t do anything on purpose!” Scott was not convinced by Superstar’s explanation, and matter of factly said, “Yes, it was done on purpose.”

The Superstar continued to try to state his case. “If I pay a fine, I’d be admitting I’m guilty, and I’m not guilty of anything!” Scott remained unmoved, contending, “The film shows it.” A combative Superstar then boldly exclaimed, “We won’t pay a fine!” Scott had an answer for that saying, “Well, then you’re definitely suspended. All we ask is that you finish…”   Superstar again interrupted, and noted, “I’ve already got some matches; I’ve already signed a contract for two matches.” A now exasperated George Scott responded, “Well, you finish them then you can get out of here…you’re finished.” The masked man then hollered, “Wait a minute…wait a minute!”

Professor Malenko joined the fray, asserting, “This is a miscarriage of justice, and my lawyers…” But Superstar was so angry that he interrupted his own manager, pleading, “I’m not gonna pay a $10,000.00 fine for something I didn’t do purposely! It was an accident; I did not do it on purpose. If I paid $10,000.00, I’d admit to something I didn’t do.” Trying to reassure Superstar, the Professor stated, “My lawyers will take care of the National Wrestling Alliance and George Scott too; this was an accident, it was not done intentionally!” Superstar concluded by alleging, “They’ve tampered with this film, they’ve tampered with this film. They’ve been trying to get me out of this area for some time now, and they come up with some fabrication. I’m not gonna pay a fine, they can’t suspend me indefinitely, what am I supposed to do?” Malenko, trying to calm down the situation, ended by saying, “My lawyers will take care of that.”

At the end of the same show, Igor appeared on the set with a patch over his injured eye, and he told Bob Caudle that he did not want Superstar suspended, that he wanted to wrestle him. Igor continued, “My mother taught me to wrestle fair, and I never dream or think a man would put cigar in a man’s eye. With that Malenko too…he help him. But Star I will get you somewhere, the people will support me so you will give me a match. Because that’s the only way I’m gonna get it. Look at my eye…look at my eye!! Doctors say maybe I cannot see again. I maybe lose part of vision.  This is something that my mother’s crying all the time, and I just don’t know what to say…I want match with this Star!”

Igor’s match with Superstar would have to wait, as the suspension of the masked man lasted for five and a half weeks into early April of 1977, before Malenko’s lawyers were able to get Superstar reinstated.

What happens when the Superstar returns? Find out in "Opposites Attract: Part Two."


Sunday, May 08, 2016

White Hot Heat

Forty years ago today - - May 7, 1976.

There was no hotter feud in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling at this time than Ric Flair vs. Rufus R. Jones. The "Nature Boy" vs. "The Freight Train."

Ric jokes a lot today on his podcast about wrestling Rufus when Ric was NWA world champion, and the crowds being less than excited for those one hour draws in Kansas City. That was in the mid-1980s and Bob Geigel would bring Ric to town and there was no angle other than the fact Rufus was named #1 contender for the world title. And let's face it - - Rufus didn't have much credibility in those days as a number one contender for the world title. There was very little heat on those matches in the mid-1980s. 

But in 1976, Ric Flair and his cousins jumped Rufus on television and put a chauffeur's cap on his head in a racially charged angle that couldn't happen today. But it was a different era then and promoters and wrestlers often used race to draw houses. Flair and Rufus feuded over the Mid-Atlantic TV title, and Rufus R. Jones was over like rover and one of the top babyfaces in the territory. Rufus, the Andersons, and Flair all took this angle to the bank.

And it was white hot heat.

(Get a little taste of this feud from a famous 6-man tag match in Richmond that resulted in David Chappell missing his prom! The card above was the followup to the show discussed in Chappell's article.)

Never Give The Devil A Ride

Dr. Andy McDaniel
Sr. Pastor, Bounty Land Baptist Church

As a Pastor for over 15 years now I can say that I have had many inspirations for Messages over the years. Certainly headlines from the world over can create a thought. Personal conflicts in my own life or the lives of those around me can place a spiritual mindset that allows a direction toward a certain Passage of Scripture which in turn develops a new sermon or even sermon series.

However, I can also say that my involvement in and around the professional wrestling business has had much to offer me in ways of presentation, illustrations, and even wording at times. I cannot honestly say, in the over 500 sermons that I have written, how many times I have used the phrase "if you will" thanks Dusty Rhodes. Over the years there have been a few “that’s the bottom line" and yes, even a "Woooo!" So as you can see, being a longtime fan of pro wrestling, as well as having been blessed to be involved and even greater, make friends in the business, it has impacted my ministry in a very personal way. One might not normally connect wrestling and preaching, but for me it has become a very typical process. I mean Tully Blanchard, Nikita Koloff, Ted DiBiase, and George South, just to name a few, have all spoken in my churches over the years.

It was not so long ago that the Mid-Atlantic Gateway unknowingly provided a new inspiration for a Message. The link they posted for the song “I Broke Wahoo’s Leg” by Sweet GA Brown, caused the creative juices to start flowing, if you will. (Just couldn’t help that one.)

As I listened to these words I got the Message. It was clear: when dealing with the devil we find that indeed he has no conscience and will go to any length to create havoc in our lives. Whether turning Hank on to heroin or helping John Denver fly a plane, selling shotgun shells to Kurt Cobain or yes, even breaking Wahoo’s leg, (all the works of the devil outlined in this song) we can see that this enemy we face does not care about who he hurts or what he has to do in order to bring pain to our lives.

I have never forgotten that Saturday morning when I witnessed the dastardly Greg “the Hammer” Valentine break the leg of my childhood hero, Wahoo McDaniel. Growing up in the era of, what I like to still believe was the greatest pro wrestling ever, those memories are still a very vivid picture in my mind.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Highs and Lows: Silver Starr '85 and the Crockett Ballpark Fire

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I was looking through some 1985 wrestling results for Jim Crockett Promotions, and it dawned on me that one of the company's biggest events that March followed only one day after one of the company's biggest calamities, the fire at the Crockett ballpark.

First, let's look at the wrestling event: 

On Saturday March 16, the Greensboro Coliseum hosted a huge event that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Greensboro Coliseum dubbed "Silver Star '85." It was also part of a slate of events that would celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jim Crockett Promotions that year.

"Silver Starr" was a name born from the creative mind of booker Dusty Rhodes, who had also come up with the name of the company's very successful annual Thanksgiving event called "Starrcade," which had just concluded its second big year.

I've always thought, too, that Dusty just liked the imagery of a silver star, perhaps like an old western Sheriff's badge, pinned over his heart. Dusty was, after all, the modern day John Wayne.

In the ad at right, "Star" is spelled with only one "R", but in some television advertising, it was spelled with two of them - - SilverStarr - - to mirror the branding of the "Starrcade" name, I suppose. I really loved that stuff.

The show was loaded top to bottom, headlined by an NWA world title defense as Ric Flair defended the "ten pounds of gold" against U.S. champion Chief Wahoo McDaniel in an "Indian strap match," which was Wahoo's specialty. The traditional roles were reversed for these two during this time: Flair was a huge babyface in our area (but nowhere else) and Wahoo was now a hated heel. Those roles would reverse again later in this year in 1985.

Another big event, and one of the big draws of this show, was Dusty Rhodes challenging Tully Blanchard for the TV title, with Tully's "Perfect 10" Baby Doll locked inside a steel cage that would be hung high over the ring. The added stipulation was that if Dusty lost, he would "leave town" and never wrestle in Greensboro again.

The third main event played off the patriotism of the era where Magnum T.A. and Don Kernodle were scheduled to be joined by the returning Sgt. Slaughter to face the Russian team of Ivan and Nikita Koloff and Krusher Khrushchev in a flag vs. flag match. Slaughter had been one of the top stars in the company as a heel in 1981-1983, and had turned good-guy in the WWF in 1984 in a high profile angle with the Iron Sheik. But Sarge and the WWF had parted ways by the fall of 1984 over issues related to Sarge's outside deal with the G.I. Joe toy franchise. He was now headlining for the AWA and for "Pro Wrestling USA", a promotion that was trying to run shows with combined talent from the AWA and several NWA promotions in hopes of competing with the WWF in the Northeast states. In the Mid-Atlantic area story, Sarge was recruited by his former tag team partner Don Kernodle to aid him in his battle with the Russians.

So as you can see, it was a huge event, one of the biggest of the year, and the company was enjoying a surge of interest generally as Dusty Rhodes' booking and Crockett's talent acquisitions were just beginning to take off.

But the enthusiasm of this event was blunted by the tragedy of the Crockett baseball park fire that happened just the night before.

Jim Crockett Promotions not only was one of the most successful wrestling promotions in the country, but their AA Baseball franchise, the Charlotte O's, was one of the more successful baseball clubs in the AA minor league system. The team was run by Frances Crockett, who had been named Southern League Executive of the Year in 1980. They were coming off a league championship the year before.

Jim Crockett Memorial Park

Their home was Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Park, a classic old wooden structure that had been home to minor league baseball in Charlotte for over 40 years. And in recent years, a it had hosted a fair number of wrestling cards, too.

The Greensboro newspaper reports on both the Crockett Ballpark fire and the results of Silver Star '85

Investigations later indicated that the fire was a result of arson following a high school baseball game played there earlier (Wikipedia). The Crocketts quickly built a makeshift stadium where the team played for the next several years, but business was dramatically impacted by the fire and eventually the team was sold in 1987.

So a weekend that should have been full of celebration for the Crockett family was certainly marred by the fire that completely destroyed their home ballpark. Not only that, but according to France's daughter, the storage area at the park housed a lot of Crockett family memorabilia that was also destroyed in the fire.

It was definitely a weekend of highs and lows for the Crockett family in March of 1985, as represented in the newspaper clippings above. The company's baseball business would fade after the sad events of the ballpark fire, but the wrestling business was just getting ready to catch fire once again, at least in a metaphorical sense, in a very big way.

* * * * *

Comment from Michael Hicks (via Facebook):
I always thought this show was somewhat underrated considering the lineup. It deserves more recognition for being a major part of the changing of the times in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. A busy month in JCP as the Koloffs would win the NWA tag straps two nights later on Monday, March 18 in Fayetteville and the following Saturday -- March 23 -- in Charlotte, Magnum TA would win the US title from Wahoo. 

* * * * *

Late Note:  Despite some reports of Sgt. Slaughter not being at this show, we have since confirmed that he was. I was able to confirm that with Don Kernodle recently, and also received a nice email from Joshua Jenkins who attended the show that night in Greensboro.


Wednesday, May 04, 2016

NWA Champ Terry Funk Defends His Title in Greensboro

A flashback to this month 40 years ago, a big card at the Greensboro Coliseum, headlined by Terry Funk defending the NWA world title against the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. 

May 30, 1976

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Power of the Claw

This is hilarious. You can't beat the Baron! He's still got it!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

The Masked Avenger Saved His best For Last

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The Masked Avenger (Bill Janosik Photo)
In July of 1974, a masked newcomer calling himself the Avenger arrived in the Mid-Atlantic area. A bit undersized but in fabulous condition, the fans took an immediate liking to the new guy in town. At that time, the masked Super Destroyer was running roughshod in the territory. In his early interviews, the Avenger told the fans that the Destroyer had injured him in another area, and that he had come to Jim Crockett Promotions to get his revenge by taking the mask off of the Destroyer.

From Thanksgiving of 1974 until the end of March 1975, the Avenger and the Destroyer engaged in a very entertaining program. The Super Destroyer’s vaunted claw hold had limited effectiveness against his masked opponent, as the Super D. had great trouble gripping the Avenger’s head because of the slick mask covering the Avenger’s face. The feud between the masked grapplers had its climax in mask vs. mask bouts in the territory’s larger cities in March of 1975, where the Destroyer prevailed after a series of brutal battles.

After coming out on the short end against the Super Destroyer, and after many fans saw him unmasked, the Avenger slipped into mid-card matches. Promos and interviews were never a real strong suit for the Avenger, and when he was no longer wrestling in main event matches, the necessity for him to be on the mic was no longer present. Though he continued to wrestle in the Mid-Atlantic area into November of 1975, the Avenger’s last TV interview was on May 21, 1975. To me, the Avenger’s very best interview was his last one!

At the end of the May 21, 1975 TV taping, announcer Bob Caudle said, “Fans at ringside, and of course the Avenger, and it’s always a pleasure to talk to him. And all of the fans love to see you, and it was a great match you had in there.” The Avenger responded, “Thank you very much Bob. I was back there watching the two Anderson brothers. And believe me, I’ve been in wrestling for a good time now, and these two are the lousiest tag team I’ve ever seen…”

Before the Avenger could finish, he was rudely interrupted by none other than Ole Anderson. Only five days earlier the Anderson’s were defeated by Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel for the coveted NWA World Tag Team Titles. So, Ole was not in the best of moods! He cut the Avenger off, saying, “What are you doing here, Avenger?” When the masked man said it was his interview time, Ole yelled back at him, “This is OUR time, and you take your little boat and sail it somewhere else. Get out of my sight! The problem around here is that there’s no competition. Every time we get in the ring it’s an easy win for us, because there’s nobody here that will stand up to us and fight us. These guys are no exception…”

This time, a suddenly fired up Avenger interrupted the big bully, Ole Anderson! The Avenger exclaimed, “Now wait a minute!” Ole dismissively countered, “You still here? Get out of here!!” The Avenger, now fully engaged, fired back, “You talkin’ about competition; you talkin’ about competition?” Ole smirking, said, “Yeah!” To which the Avenger replied, “Why don’t you wrestle me sometime? You’ve never wrestled me! Why don’t you wrestle me sometime?"

Ole continued to belittle the Avenger, sarcastically asking him, “What, are you gonna wrestle Gene and I both? Are you going to wrestle both of us?” When the Avenger didn’t answer quickly enough to Ole’s satisfaction, Anderson derisively said, “You know any words??” The Avenger then came back and said, “No, no, I’m not going to wrestler you by myself…I’m going to get myself a partner!”

Now, Ole was intrigued. He questioned the Avenger, “Who you gonna get?! Who you gonna get?!” Then the Avenger gave the repeated responses that made this interview so memorable for me, saying, “Never mind…never mind.” Ole, getting frustrated, hollered, “Who you gonna get?” Again, the Avenger answered, “Never mind.” Now, Ole was in a full boil, screaming, “What do you mean never mind; who you gonna get?” AGAIN, the Avenger’s response was, “Never mind.”

Ole Anderson, doing his best to compose himself , continued, “Well, I tell you what, you go get your partner whoever it is, and you come back and I’ll wrestle you next week right here on television, how’s that? Does that suit you? Now tell me who’s it gonna be.” The Avenger’s answer was, “Never mind…I got a partner, and you’ll find out who it’s gonna be.” Ole lost his composure again, “Get him out of here! He can’t even talk…he doesn’t know what’s going on! I’ll wrestle you and anybody you bring into the ring. Some people think that we’re avoiding all this top talent. Whoever it happens to be, I don’t care. You bring in whoever you want Mr. Avenger, and we’ll wrestle him. But the guy should have a little courtesy…”

At this time, the Avenger, who had stepped away from the camera, stepped back into the picture. Ole chided him, “You back again?” The Avenger then said, “I’m back again.” Ole then lectured the masked man, “You should have a little courtesy and at least let me know who your man’s gonna be?” The Avenger, getting riled up himself exclaimed, “You wanna know who it’s gonna be?” Ole, egging him on, responded, “Who’s it gonna be…Kernodle…Furr?” The Avenger was now shouting nearly as loudly as Ole, and bellowed, “You wanna know who it’s gonna be?” Ole yelled in response, “Who ya got…who ya got?” The Avenger answered, “My partner next week…” but was then interrupted by Ole who said nastily, “I couldn’t care less!” The Avenger then assertively cut Ole off before he could utter another word, shouting, “FAT BOY, FAT BOY…my partner next week is gonna be PAUL JONES!!!” 

Ole was livid! Foaming at the mouth, Ole wailed, “WHAT??? PAUL JONES??? You bring this Jones out here…you can’t have Jones!! For what, to wrestle us… next week? You’re out of your mind!!” Even the normally silent partner Gene Anderson could be heard yelling in the background about the choice of Paul Jones! Gene and Ole were rightly upset about having to wrestle Paul Jones, as he was partly responsible for taking away their World Tag Team Titles a few days earlier. The Avenger used what would turn out to be his final Mid-Atlantic interview to put the “Minnesota Wrecking Crew” in their place.

The match itself the following week was anti-climactic, as the Avenger was not able to use the bout against the Anderson’s as a springboard to get himself back into main event matches. Instead, the masked man continued slipping down the cards into preliminary matches before his exit from Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in November of 1975.

I can remember to this day how the “never mind” responses from the Avenger were the talk of my circle of 10th grade wrestling friends at the time, to the point that any question to any of them had the distinct possibility of being answered with a “never mind,” followed by a big smile, all the way to the end of that school year! Never one for a doing a great promo, the masked Avenger managed to participate in a memorable one in his last interview, when he stood up to the bellicose Ole Anderson! Yes, I think the Avenger saved his best for last. And if you don’t think so, well, as the masked Avenger would say…never mind!

Photos of the Avenger on this post were provided by photographer Bill Janosik.