Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Gateway Interview - Magnum T.A.
When professional wrestling in Jim Crockett Promotions caught fire in the mid 1980’s, a man that was right in the middle of that explosion was a gifted performer hailing from Chesapeake, Virginia named Terry Allen, better known as Magnum T.A. In December of 1984, Magnum took the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling area by storm, with his ruggedly handsome features and his lightening fast wins with the use of his patented belly-to-belly suplex. Memorable United States Heavyweight Championship programs with Wahoo McDaniel and Tully Blanchard in 1985, and with Nikita Koloff in 1986, keep Magnum’s many fans talking about his accomplishments with pride right up to this day.

Magnum’s best friend during those amazing Crockett years, the incomparable “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, will be inducted posthumously into the Hall of Heroes “Class of 2016” during Fanfest weekend in Charlotte on August 4-7, 2016. The Mid-Atlantic Gateway was fortunate to catch up with “The Boss” recently, and we discussed Magnum being the presenter for Dusty’s Hall of Heroes honor and his close relationship with the “Dream,” his relatively short in-ring career that was tall on superlatives and assorted other tidbits that make Magnum T.A. an inspiration to anyone he crosses paths with.

David Chappell: Magnum, it’s so good to finally have you here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. You mean so much to so many wrestling fans all over the world, but probably no place more than the Carolinas. You now call Charlotte home, and you’re going to be “home” for the Fanfest event in about a week, and you will be presenting your mentor, the late Dusty Rhodes, for induction into the Hall of Heroes, Class of 2016. First off, please tell us about Dusty.

Magnum T.A.: Sure, well, I mean, Dusty was more than a mentor, he was my best friend. He was a comrade in the business, we were partners, I was involved with so many elements, and so many things because of his and my relationship. And his involvement, of course, in all the creative things that took place in our relationship…it started back in like, 1982.

Chappell: Wow, it goes back that far, huh?

Magnum: Yeah, goes back that far. I met him when I came to work for Eddie Graham, for Championship Wrestling from Florida. When I came in Eddie was the booker, and he was a booker for the first six months that I was there, and then Dusty came in to cover the book. We met, and Barry Windham had come in about a couple of months before Dusty did, and so Barry and I had formed this real strong friendship. Dusty, Barry, Blackjack and I soon became very close.

Chappell: How did Dusty size you up in the beginning?

Magnum: When I first came in I was kind of a fish out of water, because he didn't know me, I was new. I had been in the business about a year, and it was Barry that actually kind of broke the ice, got he and I together, and we traveled on a trip together and just had so many things in common. So many of the same desires, and dreams, and goals, and things that were just mind-boggling even though he was, you know, over ten years older than me. He became more like a big brother, and you know, was the best friend in my career.

Chappell: That’s very insightful. I didn’t realize your friendship with Dusty started that early.

Magnum: Well, it's really way more in depth than I'll ever be able to go into during his induction, but when I got the call to come to Mid-South, and when the Magnum T.A. character launched, Dusty gave me his blessing to go do it, because he had been really grooming me there in Florida to help me learn as much as I possibly could. He had me booked in tag matches with Brad Armstrong, and Scott McGee, and we were going out there for forty-five minute broadways every night with the Royal Kangaroos, and it was education I was getting, and of course I was around Eddie Graham.

Chappell: I’m sure just hanging around Eddie Graham was an education unto itself.

Magnum: Eddie was Dusty's mentor, so it was just this big old educational thing going on, and these strong, strong bonds being formed. I had only been in Mid-South for about six months, and back then Ernie Ladd was kind of booking things, and Ernie wasn't the most insightful guy as far as new creative things…he recognized talent, but didn't know what he was going to do with them. He was kind of like in a lull, not knowing exactly what to do with me, and I wasn't really happy with the direction things were going, so I was getting ready to come back to Florida with Dusty, with the Magnum character, in a whole different genre, and Bill [Watts] saw me and said, "You're not going anywhere! I've got plans for you."
Chappell: Yeah, Bill Watts had an eagle-eye for talent, and for sure had ideas for you.

Magnum: Bill hadn't been really involved to that point, either. Bill came in and the rest is history. But when Dusty then made his move to the Carolina's, and worked for the Crockett's, he always had these big dreams of this superstar. He was dreaming about what became WrestleMania way before that ever happened, and that of course being the Starrcades were the beginning of all that. But when I was getting ready to come into Mid-Atlantic, they didn't have any injection of new blood. Barry Windham had come in with him as his top baby face, and it was…

Chappell: Barry left about as soon as he came, didn’t he?

Magnum: Well, he did because he was getting three, four hundred dollar paychecks, and he couldn't live on it.

Chappell: Whew, the territory was down that much then?

Magnum: He couldn't afford to eat, and so I was at a place that was on fire, and I was making over two grand a week in Mid-South, in 1984, that was big money. Dusty and Jimmy Crockett called me in the middle of the night, and Jimmy gets on the phone with me and said, "Look, I can't match what you're making there, but I promise if you come you won't make less than x amount of dollars that was respectable, and I would give you the biggest push anybody could ever get."

"American Dreams..." Article gets a Huge Hit From Ric Flair

American Dreams Come True

The "American Dreams" photograph was taken by Clint Beckley.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Gateway Interview - "Precious" Paul Ellering

"Precious" Paul Ellering
One of the most dynamic tag teams in the history of professional wrestling was the Legion of Doom, the Road Warriors. Animal and Hawk, along with their cerebral manager “Precious” Paul Ellering, wreaked havoc in a number of wrestling promotions and territories from the early 1980’s until Hawk’s untimely death in 2003. But one of the greatest runs for the Road Warriors was in Jim Crockett Promotions and the National Wrestling Alliance during stretches from 1984 until 1990. It is principally for their excellence during that latter time frame that the Road Warriors and Paul Ellering are being inducted into the Hall of Heroes “Class of 2016” as part of the Fanfest in Charlotte, North Carolina on August 4-7, 2016. The Mid-Atlantic Gateway caught up with Paul Ellering recently, and “oh what a rush” it was to chat with this wrestling legend!

David Chappell: Paul, thank you for taking the time to speak with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway today. My website partner, Dick Bourne, told me that he hoped you weren’t reading your Wall Street Journal when I called, and that I wouldn’t be interrupting your reading time with what used to be your favorite newspaper! With smart phones and other electronic substitutes, I don’t even know if there’s a Wall Street Journal paper out there anymore.

Paul Ellering: Believe it or not, I still get the Wall Street Journal! Basically, it's so obsolete because of, like you say, the cell phone. Recently I've been back at NXT, and they said, "Yeah, nothing out of the '80s or '90s. No Wall Street Journals, no sunglasses, no nothing."

Chappell: I don’t doubt it at all; the world has really changed. Skipping ahead a little bit, since you brought up NXT!  I follow the current product at WWE, and actually I went up to the Battleground event in Washington recently. But for whatever reason, I haven't gotten into NXT much, just because I guess there are only so many hours in the day. I'd heard great things about NXT, but I actually watched, probably for the first time, one of their entire special events, NXT TakeOver: The End of the Beginning, and I had no idea you were going to be there. When you came out with the Authors of Pain, I became an instant NXT fan!

Ellering: Well, they've got a great product. They have a great facility, with the performance center, and my gosh, they've got an abundance of talent.

Chappell: Absolutely, for sure.

Ellering: NXT itself has gotten to a point where they're self funding their whole deal. They don't do a lot of shows, but the ones they do, they do really good. There is one coming up in Brooklyn next month, and that was sold out in 4 hours!

Chappell: NXT has a kind of old school feel to it for me!

Ellering: Well, going back to the '70s and '80s, we always did TV in basically small venues. Now, with Raw and Smackdown, they do them in big arenas and stuff, but with NXT, it's like old school TV. It's not huge, and it fills up, and the crowd's really into it. In that respect, it's a throwback.

Chappell: I agree. Paul, you have been previously inducted into several prestigious Halls of Fame, but the 2016 Hall of Heroes in Charlotte is principally recognizing you and the Road Warriors for your accomplishments during your Crockett/NWA run in the mid and late 1980’s. I'm curious how the stint with the NWA compares to all the other successes you and the Warriors had in other parts of the country and world.

The Legion of Doom, The Road Warriors Hawk and Animal with "Precious" Paul Ellering
Ellering: Well, one has to look at the history of things, and that was a tremendously exciting period for wrestling because of the wrestling wars and the companies that wanted to sign talent up, and it was really good for the boys, and people in wrestling. Everybody was competing. It was the WWF at that time against Crockett and Turner, so it was really exciting in that respect, because everybody'd go check the ratings and see who was doing good and who wasn't, and of course, we were part of it.

Chappell: A huge part of it!

Ellering: We came along in the first revolution of wrestling, which was the beginning of the '80s, when cable TV started to spread across the country. Then people, there were so many, many territories across the United States, could finally compare their local products to a national product. Then along came the Road Warriors, and wrestling changed from the old school wrestling to the new era at that time.

Chappell: That's right, you all were really front and center during that switch over period.

Ellering: Oh yeah, we were just huge, and it was non stop action, and very visual. The guys were super strong, and then along came the paint and the haircuts and the entrance music, and it was really exciting in that respect.

Chappell: At that time, nobody had seen anything like the Road Warriors. I remember when you all came briefly into the Mid-Atlantic area in the summer of 1984. Of course everybody had heard about the Warriors and had seen you all in the Apter magazines, but when you all appeared on our local TV program it was quite an awakening. You all really were at the forefront of that change. Change is good a lot of times, and I think in this case, it really was.

Ellering: Yeah, and then at that time, I think we worked up until '84 or '85 for TBS there, Turner. Well, actually, Ole was the booker at that time.

Chappell: Yes…

Ellering: Then we basically went independent, because we had our deal with Japan. Japan always came first, and then we did a deal with Verne, up in the AWA, so we could move back home, and then we also kept working for Crockett. Basically, we worked for everybody, but we called our own shots. I saw it, at the time, because I saw how they promoted Andre as just an attraction, where you bring him in and he's in for a month, and then he's gone.

Chappell: Interesting…

Ellering: The guys were over, so strong, I thought to myself, "Boy, we can do the same thing.” We can just be an attraction, not even stay in a territory, and just hot shot the whole country, the whole world, for that matter, and just hot shot it. Go in, go out, and they see us, and then the fans are always left with, "We want to see more." You always had another place to come in, and it worked really good because we didn't get over exposed, and so it was very exciting that we had that many territories that we could work with.

Chappell: What a great set-up for you all! You were of course managing the Road Warriors on TV, but you actually did a lot behind the scenes to set them up to be these touring free agents, so to speak.

Ellering: I am, to this day, the last shooting manager, because I was a manager. I set up the travel. I set up how we were going to get paid, and we'd just sit down with the calendar, a month ahead, and I'd just say, "Okay, what days don't we want to work, because if you leave it open, I'm going to fill it up."

Chappell: It wasn't just the TV role for you as a manager, you did it all!

Ellering: Oh, yeah! It was fun, though. It was fun. We got to be really close, and were a special family unto ourselves.

Chappell: It’s interesting that the Road Warriors were close behind the scenes, in addition to their obvious on-screen camaraderie. With that being said, you must be excited to be reunited with Animal at Fanfest in Charlotte.

Ellering: Well, it's always great to see him. I saw him a couple months ago. We did a show, well, it was in Dallas I believe. It's always good to see him, see how his family's doing, because all their kids and my kids, we all grew up together and they're family. There's always a special place in my heart for Animal, and him for me, too, I'm sure.

Chappell: Is it a bit bittersweet that when you and Animal get together now, Hawk’s not here to complete the team? I’m sure fond memories of that big man must come flooding back to you.

Ellering: Well, always, because any time you sit around, some memory of Hawk just comes up. Somebody will come up and say, "Remember this? Remember that?" We just go into the memory banks and enjoy those moments.

Chappell: Hawk was a memorable guy, there's no doubt about it. In a lot of respects!

Ellering: Yeah, they only made one Hawk!

Chappell: That's right. They broke the mold, without a question.

Ellering: Yep!

www.nwalegends.comChappell: You and the Warriors are being inducted into the 2016 class of the Hall of Heroes with several people that were important in making that mid 1980s Crockett/NWA time frame so special. One is the late great Dusty Rhodes, of course, who is being inducted by his close friend Magnum TA. What are your thoughts on those two legends?

Ellering: Well, I really miss Dusty. He was just, he was just one of a kind, and it'll be really good to see Magnum. I haven't seen him since the '80s.

Chappell: Wow, really?

Ellering: Yeah. I think it's really a tremendous satisfaction as far as me and the fans, that Magnum gets to talk about Dusty, because they were very close.

Chappell: Very much so.

Ellering: Well, they all were at that time. Yeah, so I think it's tremendous.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Looking Back: Legends Gather at Fanfest

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Jerry Brisco: First Ever Mid-Atlantic Champion

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Today we spotlight the very first Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion, Oklahoma State's Jerry Brisco.

Jerry was the first wrestler to hold the title known by name as the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship, although that title evolved from (and shares a direct lineage with) the Eastern States Heavyweight title. Jerry was the reigning 4-time Eastern States champion when the title's name was changed in October of 1973, and as such is recognized as the first Mid-Atlantic champion.

Jerry Brisco's Four Mid-Atlantic/Eastern States Title Victories
Defeated Rip Hawk on 6/13/72 in Columbia, SC
Defeated Rip Hawk on 9/4/72 in Greenville, SC
Defeated Rip Hawk on 3/3/73 in Winston-Salem, NC
Defeated Ole Anderson on 7/3/73 in Columbia, SC

In his WWE Hall of Fame induction speech in 2008, Jerry took time to thank promoter Jim Crockett, Sr. for giving him a chance to shine as a singles competitor on a main event level. It was a special moment for fans of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and the old Mid-Atlantic territory to hear Brisco invoke the name of the man who promoted wrestling in our area for over 40 years:
"I’d like to thank Jim Crockett, Sr., the great promoter in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. They gave me my first opportunity to bust out on my own. I won the Eastern United States Championship there, I won the Mid-Atlantic Championship there…”
 - Jerry Brisco, WWE Hall of Fame speech, Class of 2008
At the Mid-Atlantic Legends Fanfest in 2010, I asked Jerry to take a photo with a replica of the first Mid-Atlantic championship title belt. The photo is seen in the collage above. The replica belt was made by Dave Millican from the original artwork created by Reggie Parks, who made the original belt in 1973. It was a special opportunity to recapture great championship imagery from the territory's past.

Jerry Brisco talks with "Championship Wrestling" host Big Bill Ward in Charlotte in 1972.
Jerry was in the middle of chasing Eastern States champion Rip Hawk in effort to regain that title.
The Eastern States Championship would later become the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship in 1973.

In another bit of trivia, Jerry and his brother, Jack Brisco, were the only two wrestlers to hold both the Eastern States and Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight titles. "Sounds like one of us must have been booking," Jack joked to me during an autograph signing at Fanfest.

Jerry left the area in early 1974, but returned in the early 1980s to team with Jack in a memorable feud with Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood over the NWA world tag team championships, a title they held on several occasions.

Regardless of what period you look at in Mid-Atlantic history, whether it be his run in the 1970s or the 1980s, Jerry Brisco is one of the most distinguished champions to ever hold gold in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

30th Anniversary of Dusty's Final World Title Win

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The list of men who have held the NWA World Championship during the territory era is relatively short. Few of wrestling's legends can claim the honor. Even fewer can claim to have held it more than once. Dusty Rhodes did it three times.

NWA World Champion Dusty Rhodes
It's hard to imagine that it has been 30 years, but this indeed is the 30th anniversary of Dusty Rhodes defeating Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at the Great American Bash event in Greensboro, NC.

It was a hot Saturday night, July 26, 1986. The Greensboro Coliseum was packed and Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes met inside a steel cage with the NWA world title on the line. It was near the end of a string of Great American Bash shows that had stretched the month of July, and it was near the end of a series of NWA title defenses all during that famous Bash series.

Flair had successfully defended against Road Warrior Hawk, Ricky Morton, Wahoo McDaniel, Nikita Koloff, Ron Garvin and others. The Bash had played in places like Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, RFK Stadium in Washington, the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, and Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati.

Flair had even successfully defended against Rhodes twice already during the Bash - - in Washington, DC and in Jacksonville, FL.

But the third time proved to be the charm for the "American Dream", winning the prestigious championship for a third and final time, taking the Big Gold belt in "Crockett country" at the historic Greensboro Coliseum.

It was a jubilant scene as Rhodes stood on the second turnbuckle, hugging the Big Gold belt as tears streamed down his face. Wrestlers flooded the ring, along with Baby Doll and country singer David Allen Coe, as Tom Miller made the dramatic announcement...

"...the winner and new world heavyweight champion, the American Dream Dusty Rhodes!"

(See also: American Dreams Come True: for the first time since Dusty Rhodes won the Big Gold in 1986, the nameplate finally goes on the original belt.)


Dusty Rhodes with his daughter Teil around the same period as
when Dusty won the "Big Gold" belt in Greensboro. Teil
will be in Charlotte on July 5th to help honor her Dad
at the Hall of Heroes. (Eddie Cheslock Photo)
One of the men celebrating with Rhodes that night was his protege, Magnum T.A. Magnum was embroiled in a bitter series of matches of his own, a best-of-seven series for the vacant U.S. championship with Nikita Koloff. That same night, Magnum captured his first victory in that series, preventing Koloff from sweeping him. Magnum now trailed 1-3, and would go on to get wins #2 and #3 in Atlanta and Asheville before losing match #7 in Charlotte in mid-August.

Magnum's big victory that night in Greensboro, along with Dusty's historic 3rd NWA title win, made Greensboro the best night in that amazing string of shows that was the Great American Bash thirty years ago this month.

And now all these years later, Magnum T.A. will pay tribute to his mentor and friend Dusty Rhodes at the annual Hall of Heroes dinner banquet Friday, August 5, during the Fanfest weekend in Charlotte. Dusty's wife Michelle and his daughter Teil will be there to see Dusty honored and inducted into the Hall of Heroes Class of 2016.

It is bound to be an emotional evening, and one you will want to be a part of. Complete details on Fanfest and the Hall of Heroes dinner banquet can be found at

Monday, July 25, 2016

American Dreams Come True

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

On the eve of the 30th Anniversary of Dusty Rhodes' historic third NWA world heavyweight championship win over Ric Flair at the Great American Bash in Greensboro on July 26, 1986, Dusty's son Cody Rhodes posted these thoughts in a 4-part tweet (the original tweets are embedded at the bottom of this post):
"If you've read "Big Gold" by Dick Bourne you know the nameplate for my Father was never on the actual Title after my Father defeated Ric at The GAB. It was rumored to not even exist, but it was ordered and it does exist. I found it in a cigar-box. And on the eve of the 30th ANNIVERSARY and with @HeyHeyItsConrad 's help, it officially goes on the original "Big Gold". The "hard times" for you Pop are over. Just good times ahead sir." - Cody Rhodes
Needless to say, I'm honored that Cody has my book, and thrilled that the discussion within its pages regarding the "Dusty Rhodes" nameplate led to his sentimental post on Twitter celebrating one of his father's greatest victories.

American Dreams do come true: for the first time since Dusty Rhodes won
the Big Gold in 1986, the nameplate finally goes on the belt.

Fans of this legendary belt owe Cody a debt of thanks for sharing the nameplate with all of us. Stars truly aligned for this to have ever happened to begin with.

The back story, if you don't own the book (but you really ought to own the book), is that a nameplate was ordered to go on the belt after Dusty's big win at the Great American Bash in Greensboro. Nelson Royal, on behalf of Jim Crockett Promotions, placed the order with Crumrine Jewelers in Nevada (the company that made the Big Gold Belt) on July 29, three days after Dusty's victory. the same day that order was placed, Jim Crockett, Jr. appeared with Dusty on a television taping of "World Wide Wrestling" and told fans that a new nameplate had been ordered and would go on the belt, replacing the Ric Flair plate.

But before the nameplate was delivered, Dusty lost the NWA championship back to Flair after a Horseman ambush in Kansas City led to an injured Rhodes dropping the title back to Flair in St. Louis only a few weeks later.

Crumrine provided scans of the original paperwork for the book showing the special order form and the artwork for the Rhodes nameplate. (Cody's first tweet shows the book opened to that page.) But because we never got to see the nameplate appear on the Big Gold belt, we never knew if the order for that nameplate had ever really been filled and delivered.

Until now.

A few months back, Cody Rhodes read about the nameplate in "Big Gold" and with the help of Conrad Thompson, Ric Flair, and the collector who owns the belt today, arranged for a dream to come true - - an American Dream, if you will. What for the last 30 years would have seemed unthinkable has now been made possible - - the original 1986 Dusty Rhodes nameplate was placed on the original 1986 NWA world heavyweight championship belt for the very first time.

Sparks actually flew when the two pieces of gold first touched. Stardust. (That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.)

 Here are the original tweets from the official Twitter account of Cody Rhodes (@CodyRhodes):

Republished on June 28, 2021 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Mike Mooneyham Writes About the Mid-Atlantic Gateway and the Hall of Heroes

Many thanks to Mike Mooneyham of the Charleston Post & Courier for the very nice article he published today (7/24) about the Mid-Atlantic Gateway and our inclusion in the Hall of Heroes Class of 2016.

'Gateway Boys' help keep Mid-Atlantic wrestling memories alive
by Mike Mooneyham, Charleston Post & Courier

Mike has always been a supporter of our website and book projects (like the review he wrote for "Big Gold" in 2014) and we were honored by his mention of us in his Hall of Heroes induction speech when he was recognized in the Class of 2015 last year in Charlotte. He is one of the true "good guys" in the wrestling media, an accomplished writer and journalist, as well as a New York Times best selling author.

Dick Bourne and David Chappell - The Gateway Boys
The Hall of Heroes Dinner Banquet and Awards Ceremony is part of a huge weekend in early August in Charlotte called "NWA Wrestling Legends Fanfest." It is one of largest and longest running wrestling fan conventions in the country, and takes place this year on August 4-7 at the University Place Hilton in Charlotte.

The Hall of Heroes is in its tenth year and recognizes wrestlers, managers, announcers, promoters, and referees that were an integral part of the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling territory of the 1960s through 1980s, and a few outside of the territory as well. Recently, it has begun recognizing the efforts of those that have helped preserve that history, beginning last year with the induction of Mooneyham. We are honored to be a part of this recognition in 2016.

The list of those recognized in prior years are some of the most familiar names to fans of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling over the last decades: Johnny Weaver, George and Sandy Scott, Gene and Ole Anderson, Danny Miller, Bob Caudle, Blackjack Mulligan, Joe and Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, James J. Dillon, Les Thatcher, Jack and Jerry Brisco, Ricky Steamboat, Jay Youngblood, Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express, and a host of others, far too many to name them all here.

This year's class includes the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes (inducted by Magnum T.A.), The Road Warriors with Paul Ellering (inducted by Jim Cornette), the "Boogie Man" Jimmy Valiant, "Perfect 10" Baby Doll Nickla Roberts, and your ever so humble undercard, the "Gateway Boys" as we've become to be known.

For more ticket and hotel information on this year's Fanfest, including the scheduled autograph signings, photo opportunities, exclusive Q&As (including a rare one with broadcaster Tony Schiavone), "Ringside with Jim Ross", live wrestling matches, and the Hall of Heroes, visit or follow on Twitter at @NWALegends or on Facebook at

Dream Team: Ric Flair & Greg Valentine (Part 4)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

(Before you jump into Part 4, get caught up in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

On October 30, 1977 in the Greensboro Coliseum, the Andersons arrived back in the Mid-Atlantic area, and put their World Tag Team belts up against Flair and Valentine, where Ric and Greg put their hair on the line! Ole did a classic promo for the fans in Greensboro, holding up a photo of Ric Flair, resplendent in a beautiful white robe, but Ole had doctored the photo to make it look like Flair had no hair on his head!

Ole enthusiastically told the Greensboro fans in the promo for this mega-match, “All you people in Greensboro you take a look. Ric, you and Greg Valentine, you take an especially close look, ‘cause this is what you’re gonna look like Ric! And Greg, you’re gonna look the same way when we get through with you tomorrow. Because tomorrow, if you remember, you got it marked on your calendar, Sunday October 30th at 7:30, Gene and I are coming to that Greensboro Coliseum and we’re comin’ to do one thing; I should say, two things. We’re gonna beat you, and when we get done we’re gonna have you sittin’ in that ring. And I’m gonna personally cut your hair off!”

Getting even more fired up, Ole continued, “That’s right Ric…I know you gotta be nervous! I know you gotta be scared, I know you’re crawlin’ around like a monkey in a cage…like an animal. Well tomorrow, Ric, it’s all gonna come to a stop! I’m gonna make sure that everybody in that Greensboro Coliseum gets a treat…and you get a treatment! THIS TIME WE’RE GONNA BE DOING EVERYTHING, WE’RE GONNA BE CUTTIN’ THE HAIR, AND IT’S GONNA BE YOUR HAIR RIC! Imagine how you’re gonna look, or better yet, take a look and see how you’re gonna look! Tomorrow, at about 10:00 or so, you’re gonna be walkin’ around BALD! You’re gonna be looking like Kojak, your head down! Get ready!!”

Despite Ole Anderson’s pronouncements, the NWA World Tag Team Titles came back to Flair and Valentine in the mega Greensboro “Hair vs. Title” bout! The hair stipulation clearly fueled the Flair/Valentine team, and the two young blondes were especially vicious in this battle, to the point that Gene Anderson sustained a serious neck injury in the match. Flair and Valentine were quite proud that they hurt Gene in process of winning back the World Title belts.

On November 9, 1977 announcers Bob Caudle and David Crockett discussed Gene’s injury at the hands of Flair and Valentine with Wahoo McDaniel on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV broadcast taped that night. Crockett commented, “Alright, Wahoo, you were talking about, [Flair and Valentine] are the World’s Champions, they defeated the Andersons recently, they hurt Gene Anderson, he’s just in the hospital, he’s had an operation on his neck, and we all hope he is doing well.” Wahoo queried, “Well, I heard that Gene Anderson was operated on yesterday morning, or this morning?” Crockett replied, “This morning.” Wahoo continued, “This morning he was operated on, and believe me, I heard ‘em on TV bragging about it!” Crockett added, “It was all a result of the match in which Valentine and Flair defeated the Andersons for the World Tag Team Titles.” A quizzical Caudle then said, “David, I wasn’t aware that [Gene Anderson] had an operation like that, but again it shows you the sort of sadistic, really, the way that Valentine and Flair go about it.”

The October 30, 1977 title-change match in Greensboro effectively ended the epic program between Flair and Valentine and the Andersons, though Gene was able to return on March 19, 1978 in Greenville, South Carolina to team with Ole and Wahoo McDaniel to defeat Ric, Greg and Cyclone Negro in a six man tag match, when on that same date Ole and Wahoo lost to Valentine and Flair in a wild Lumberjack match in Greensboro. Additionally, Ole Anderson teamed with Wahoo McDaniel to battle Valentine and Flair TWICE on December 11th in Asheville, North Carolina and Greensboro, plus on February 12, 1978 in Charlotte, March 7, 1978 in Columbia South Carolina, and then finally on March 30, 1978 in Roanoke, Virginia.

In their second run as NWA World Tag Team Champions, Greg Valentine and Ric Flair were quite busy defending their belts against a variety of formidable opponents. The first big challenge to Ric and Greg came from former World Tag Team Champions Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel. These matches in Greenville, Richmond and Raleigh around the week of Thanksgiving 1977 were particularly entertaining because Wahoo was just returning from a broken leg at the hands of Greg Valentine from September 7, 1977 when Greg injured Wahoo and also won the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title. The three bouts, all of which Valentine and Flair won, focused on Wahoo trying to single out Valentine and injure his leg.

In promoting the Richmond World Title match on November 25, 1977 against Wahoo and Jones, Ric Flair made it clear he didn’t think Wahoo was sufficiently healed to battle the World Champs. Flair told the Richmond fans, “No more Wahoo, that’s the shirt that Valentine’s been wearin’! All our fans have been wearin’ those shirts, Wahoo! NO MORE WAHOO! And now the legend’s back, the man that said he’d done it all. He’s got pretty little Paul Jones with him, and he wants to tangle with the World Champions…a man that nine weeks ago had a broken bone in his ankle. McDaniel, you gotta lot of guts, we think you’re a double tough dude, but we don’t think you’re ready, you understand? Valentine and I are the World Champions! I might turn the animal loose again! One way or the other, you’re gonna get hurt babydoll! WOOOO!!”

Over the next several months, Flair and Valentine successfully defended their titles against combinations of the other top “good guys” in the Mid-Atlantic area, including the likes of Ricky Steamboat, Mr. Wrestling, Dick Murdock, Mighty Igor and Bobo Brazil. And on February 26, 1978 in the Greensboro Coliseum, Ric and Greg pulled off a win against the dynamic brother combination of Jack and Jerry Brisco, who flew into the Mid-Atlantic area for a shot to become the World Tag Team Champs for the first time in their illustrious careers.

But it turned out that the biggest threat to Greg and Ric’s World belts in their second reign was from the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions, Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat, the duo that had given them so many problems a few months back. The new program between these four heated up in February of 1978, and went strong for about two more months. Several of the bigger cities in the Mid-Atlantic area saw multiple bouts between these four, some with very intriguing stipulations.

The Memorial Auditorium in Greenville, South Carolina saw three outstanding bouts between the Flair/Valentine and Jones/Steamboat teams. On February 13, 1978, Ricky and Paul won a hard fought victory via a disqualification finish. The teams returned to Greenville two weeks later in a match where the World Tag Titles could change hands on a disqualification, and both tandems battled to a 60 minute draw. Then two weeks later on March 13th, the Greenville fans witnessed Flair and Valentine prevail in a “rubber match” of sorts.

Raleigh, North Carolina and Columbia, South Carolina also had similar multi-bout results in the same time frame. In both towns, Valentine and Flair and Paul Jones and Steamboat went to a draw in a World Tag Team Title match where the belts could change hands on a disqualification. In the rematches in each respective town, Flair and Valentine prevailed to the chagrin of the fans looking for a “good guys” World Title victory.

But fans in Richmond, Virginia may have gotten the best matches of all between these four. On March 10, 1978, the four combatants squared off where BOTH sets of titles were on the line! Greg Valentine told the Richmond faithful in a pre-match promo, “Just remember Jones and Steamboat, when you walk in that Coliseum in Richmond, you’re walkin’ in the ring with the World Champions! And not only our titles are at stake, but also those Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship tag team titles. We used to be the Mid-Atlantic champions, and we wouldn’t mind embarrassing you, leavin’ you both layin’ flat on that mat, and walkin’ out of that Richmond Coliseum with all four belts wrapped around us…just think about that Jones and Steamboat!”

Ricky Steamboat & Paul Jones
The thoroughly entertaining “Title vs. Title” bout went the 60 minute time limit, and ended up in a draw. Promoter Joe Murnick was able to get the four combatants to come back to Richmond two weeks later for a World Tag Team Title bout, but this time with a 90 minute time limit! In a pre-match promo, Jones told the Richmond fans that he didn’t think Valentine and Flair could last 90 minutes! Paul explained, “90 minutes, that’s the time limit the next time we meet you in Richmond. One way or the other, we have 90 minutes to get those belts. We can do it. I don’t think either one of you can wrestle for 90 minutes. You get on TV and you talk about the bright lights, the big cities, the women, the good times…well, anybody doin’ all that, can’t last 90 minutes.”

Ric and Greg begged to differ with Jones when they cut their promo for the Richmond 90 minute time limit World Tag Team Title bout. Valentine said to announcer Rich Landrum, “I can’t honestly believe that Paul Jones stood out here and said that he doesn’t think that the way that Flair and Valentine party all the time that they can go 90 minutes. What is this guy talkin’ about?! You know, they wanted this contract from the NWA to get a 90 minute time limit match because they think that they can beat us.” Flair agreed with his partner, saying, “We can wrestle for a half hour, we can wrestle for an hour, we can wrestle for two hours or we can wrestle for two days. You can ask the girls in that town, we don’t even get goin’ in 90 minutes, do you understand what I’m tellin’ you?!”

Flair and Valentine were triumphant in the Richmond rematch, and it appeared to be no stopping them at this point. At least no other team stopped them, but there would soon be a bombshell announcement that the “Dream Team” had stopped themselves.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Wrestling Was Meant to be Watched on Saturday

"You're looking at the two finest tuned wrestling machines in the world today. The proof is not in what I say. The proof is in these two belts around our waists."   - Ric Flair

With our current series on the 1970s "Dream Team" of Ric Flair and Greg Valentine in progress here on the Gateway (currently up to Part 3), we thought we'd throw a little "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" from YouTube up for a Saturday afternoon. Because after all, anyone who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s knows that professional wrestling was meant to be watched on Saturday!

These interview segments are from a show taped in December 1982 when Ric and Greg had briefly reunited their classic 1970s tag team as almost a holiday gift for all the fans that year. Ric was reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion and Greg was reigning United States Heavyweight Champion.

Interesting note on their first interview here. It only was seen in markets that did not have local promos inserted for shows in their local area. You will notice Ric addresses West Virginia and specifically Florida where the Mid-Atlantic show was being seen in more markets. Not sure if the Mid-Atlantic guys made any appearances in Florida at that time (Ric certainly did as NWA champion), but he made sure to put over many of the main event guys working Florida at that time including Dusty Rhodes, Barry Windham, Angelo Mosca, James J. Dillon and others.

Also featured in this YouTube video are NWA World Tag Champions Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle, Ricky Steamboat, Jay Youngblood, Roddy Piper, and #1 Paul Jones.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Shawn Michaels on "The Ric Flair Show"

Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson
The Nature Boy is back, stylin' and profilin' as never before.

It's time once again to walk that aisle.
Along with his co-host (and friend of the Gateway) Conrad Thompson, "The Ric Flair Show" drops every Wednesday at 9 PM  later on the MLW Radio Network (,, iTunes and many other podcast platforms.

Ric's guest this week is "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels!

Look for the new show every Wednesday night! Ric will review the big news in pro-wrestling for the week, "This Week in Wrestling History" looking back at the Nature Boy's career, the call of the week, Ric on the Road, contests, and so much more. Wooooo!

In weeks to come, you’ll hear the Nature Boy talk about the “good ole days” with his friends like Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Sting, Bret “the Hitman” Hart, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Terry Funk, Kurt Angle, Eric Bischoff, and every other major name in wrestling from the last 40 years.

Ric has some of his other friends on the show too like NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor and even Grammy Award Winning Darius Rucker.

The fans even get a chance to be involved with the show and ask any question they want using #AskNaitch. Don’t miss a minute by subscribing to the "Ric Flair Show" today on iTunes."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dream Team: Flair and Valentine (Part 3)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

(Before you jump in, get caught up in Part 1 and Part 2

A mere two days after the bout in Richmond, Flair, Valentine, and the Anderson brothers went at it again in Charlotte, NC for the World Tag Team Title with Wahoo as the special referee, but this time in a dreaded Fence match! In a fabulous match with a multitude of momentum swings, and lots of blood and guts, Ole and Gene won the World belts back, but the decision wasn’t without significant controversy. And, yes, special referee Wahoo McDaniel was at the center of the controversy!

Part Three
On the first Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that aired after their Title loss, Flair and Valentine were in surly moods as they came out to be interviewed by announcers Bob Caudle and David Crockett. Watching the announcers’ facial expressions as they announced Gene and Ole as the new World champs, Flair said, “What are you two guys smiling about? You know, we’re gonna play a film in a short while here that’s gonna show everybody, and I’m standin’ here not cryin’, not a tear comin’ from my eye because I know, and everybody out there knows, and you know as well as I do, Wahoo McDaniel…and Ole and Gene Anderson, both, all three of ‘em, will pay the price for gettin’ in the way of greatness. A combined greatness that’s so great, we were steppin’ on your toes, and your toes and everybody’s toes, so they ganged up on us, put us in a cage match, with Wahoo McDaniel as the referee.”

Flair continued, “You know, I know, Valentine knows, and you and your brother know…the odds were against us. We lost; we’re admitting it. But not from our own mistake! Wahoo McDaniel tripped me, Ole Anderson landed on top of me, and Wahoo McDaniel counted us out…one, two, three. So I’m tellin’ you, and everybody out there, that’s right, all you suckers that think McDaniel and Ole Anderson are big men…that they will pay the price for gettin’ in the way of greatness!”

Valentine was then finally able to speak his piece, saying, “Let me say something right here, now. All the fans can see, if you watch real closely, that we had full control, full control, all through this match, maybe 85% of the match. The Anderson brothers were tough, but they were bleeding, bleeding a lot worse than us. We had full control, and as you will see the tide turn when that big fat Indian gets in the way. The man shouldn’t have been the referee; we should have had a regular NWA referee. He was prejudiced all the way…”

Despite Ric and Greg’s displeasure with Wahoo’s role as special referee, the Charlotte decision stood. The Andersons again took the World Tag Team Titles back to the Georgia territory, and primarily defended them in the “peach state.” At the same time over the next month and a half, Flair and Valentine continued to team, but also did a great deal of singles wrestling. Particularly noteworthy, on June 11, 1977 Valentine beat Wahoo for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title, while on June 15, 1977, Flair dropped his Mid-Atlantic Television Title to Ricky Steamboat.

Valentine and Flair unquestionably had a tag team “hangover” after dropping the World belts on May 8, 1977. They only wrestled twice as a team the rest of the month of May.  In those bouts, Ric and Greg lost two disqualification decisions, in Spartanburg, South Carolina on May 14th and in Raleigh on May 17th, to the reigning Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions, Dino Bravo and Tiger Conway.

In the month of June 1977, the Flair/Valentine team picked up considerable steam as the month wore on. On the first two days of the month, Greg and Ric battled the Mighty Igor and Bobo Brazil to two wild double disqualification finishes, in Roxboro, North Carolina and Anderson, South Carolina respectively. The “Dream Team” disappointingly lost to Igor and Tiger Conway on June 7th in Raleigh and to Wahoo and Igor on June 13th in the Greenville Memorial Auditorium, but in that same early June time frame impressively beat Wahoo and Bobo Brazil on June 3rd in Charleston, South Carolina and defeated the stellar team of McDaniel and Steamboat on June 14th in Columbia, South Carolina.

As June wore on, Valentine and Flair really hit their stride. After a perplexing loss to Wahoo and Tiger Conway on June 21st in Lynchburg, Virginia, the “blonde bombers” went on a major roll. On June 23rd at the Scope Coliseum in Norfolk, Virginia, Flair and Valentine whipped Wahoo McDaniel and Ricky Steamboat and the following day demolished the duo of Wahoo and Johnny Weaver, then crushed the tandem of McDaniel and Igor on June 28th at Raleigh’s Dorton Arena. Sandwiched in between was a terrific bout at the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, South Carolina on June 26th where Greg and Ric dominated the World Tag Team Champions, Gene and Ole Anderson, but settled for a double disqualification result which meant they didn’t capture those coveted belts.

On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that was taped on June 29, 1977 Valentine standing next to Flair told announcer Bob Caudle, “You know, we may not be the World Champions anymore, but our friendship means more than those belts did. And another thing, we may not have the gold around our waist, but everybody out there knows that we are still the true champions!” However, as things would work out, it wouldn’t take but one more day for Ric and Greg to capture championship gold! The Anderson Recreation Center in Anderson, South Carolina hosted a Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship match to close out the month of June, on June 30, 1977. The Champions, Dino Bravo and Tiger Conway acquitted themselves well, but the “buzz saw” that was Valentine and Flair continued on their tear, and they aced the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team belts that very night!

The Title change was announced on the next Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that was taped on July 6th. Bob Caudle commented to Flair, “Ric, you and your partner have some championship belts back by the way, I hear.” A giddy Nature Boy replied, “That’s right, did you think anything else? Did you suspect anything else? I told you, that anytime we have to start making examples of people, we go right at ‘em. We don’t just talk about it. Someone said, ‘Nature Boy, you and Greg Valentine are on your way out.’ Valentine knocked off McDaniel, and we both knocked off Bravo and Conway. Now we’ve got the championship belts of the Mid-Atlantic area. But that’s just the start!”

Despite Ric’s confidence, the new Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champs had a tough month of July 1977. Perhaps some of that was due to Valentine and Flair’s commitments to singles wrestling. Valentine was having brutal battles with Wahoo McDaniel to hold onto his Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship. And Flair would start chasing the United States Heavyweight Championship in July, and won the U.S. belt from Bobo Brazil on July 29th in the Richmond Coliseum.

Ric and Greg did have a successful defense of their Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles in July, knocking off the former champs Bravo and Conway in a rematch on July 14th in Anderson. Other than that match, Ric and Greg struggled mightily during the month of July. Early in the month, the team of Andre the Giant and Wahoo gave Ric and Greg fits during bouts in Asheville, North Carolina on July 3rd and at University Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia on July 8th. Things didn’t go much better towards the end of the month for Valentine and Flair, when Wahoo switched to Ricky Steamboat as his partner. The Chief and Steamboat controlled matches in Roanoke, Virginia on July 16th and in Charlotte on July 25th, though Ric and Greg still maintained the Mid-Atlantic tag belts at month’s end.

Flair and Valentine’s rather unimpressive reign as Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions ended on August 22, 1977 at Charlotte’s Park Center, when Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat upset the “Dream Team.” The prior week at the Park Center, Ric and Greg had scored a solid victory against Paul and Ricky. The fact that the Nature Boy dropped another title to the upstart Ricky Steamboat within the span of about two months, was a particularly bitter pill for Flair to swallow. Also, before the loss of the Mid-Atlantic Tag belts, Valentine dropped the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title to arch-rival Wahoo McDaniel on August 9th at Raleigh’s Dorton Arena.

Over the next two months after their August 22nd upset loss, the Flair and Valentine team wrestled the team of Mid-Atlantic Tag champs Jones and Steamboat almost exclusively. The results of these bouts were not good for Ric and Greg. Though for much of the same time frame, Ric and Greg were also busy defending important singles belts in the Mid-Atlantic area. On September 7th on Mid-Atlantic TV, Valentine defeated Wahoo for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title, breaking Wahoo’s leg in the process. Flair held the United States Title until he was defeated by Ricky Steamboat on October 21st at County Hall in Charleston, South Carolina.

Ricky Steamboat & Paul Jones
Though they ended in defeats for the “Dream Team,” there were two memorable battles against Jones and Steamboat in Virginia that took place in September of 1977! Not at all accustomed to being in a “cage,” the young Ricky Steamboat acted like a man possessed in the Fence match with Ric and Greg on September 9th in Richmond. Steamboat’s out of character antics clearly threw Valentine and Flair off their respective games, and certainly contributed to the loss. More of the same occurred at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia on September 24th. Steamboat continued to show an aggressive side of himself that Ric and Greg still had trouble effectively contending with, which resulted in another bruising loss for the “bad guys.”

For much of October of 1977, there was more disappointment for the Valentine/ Flair team as they continued to have great difficulty with the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions, Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat. Dispiriting losses to Jones and Steamboat on October 2nd in the border city of Savannah, Georgia and on October 10th in Greenville, South Carolina seemed to place the “Dream Team” in a deep abyss. Ric and Greg began digging out of that hole with a better performance against Paul and Ricky in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on October 12th. Then following that up on October 20th, Flair and Valentine showed tremendous fortitude in a blistering hot Texas Tornado match against the Mid-Atlantic champs at the Scope in Norfolk. Ric and Greg’s revival of sorts couldn’t have been more timely, as their despised rivals, Gene and Ole Anderson, were about to come back to town!

Stay tuned as the Minnesota Wrecking Crew returns in PART 4. Coming soon.
Until then, "so long for now!"

Monday, July 18, 2016

All Star Wrestling in 1968

While the Mid-Atlantic Gateway's main focus is on the 1970s and 1980s in the old Mid-Atlantic territory, we occasional drift back into the 1960s, too. We call it the All Star Wrestling era. (You can click the 1960s tag at the bottom of this post and scroll through everything we've posted on that great decade.)

Check out the newspaper ad on the right. It's from the May 11, 1968 edition of the Grenville News in Greenville, SC, and spotlights "All-Star Wrestling" airing at its traditional time slot of 1:00 PM Saturday afternoon on WFBC-4.

"All Star Wrestling" was the name of the wrestling show taped Wednesday nights at WRAL in Raleigh and was hosted by Bob Caudle. Several years later, at some point in 1972, it would be renamed "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling."

Check out the two matches that took place on that one hour program featuring two of the top tag teams in the area. The Infernos, managed by J.C. Dykes, were one of the most hated teams at that time. The other match featured the top babyface team of the era in George Becker and Johnny Weaver.

Both matches were likely 2-of-3 falls, as most of them were at the time, which made it possible to fill up the one hour show. It was certainly a different time then. Something tells me that before that hour was over, the Infernos and the Becker/Weaver team got into a little altercation to help sell tickets to an upcoming card on Monday night at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium.

And a relatively new twist to "All Star Wrestling" in those years - - the matches were in color!

Special thanks to the Mark Eastridge and his research which makes the vast majority of the newspaper clippings on this website possible.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Jim Ross Memories Will Abound in Charlotte at Fanfest

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

"Good Ol' J.R." Jim Ross
It was with great delight that I learned recently that announcer extraordinaire Jim Ross will be returning to this year’s Fanfest Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina running from August 4-7. “Good Ol’ J.R.” is scheduled to host “Ringside with Jim Ross” on opening night, and will be presiding over the first-ever “Breakfast of Champions Roast” of the indelible Ole Anderson on Fanfest’s closing day. In between, Jim will be participating in autograph and photo opportunity sessions, including can’t miss photo ops with fellow legendary announcers Bob Caudle and Tony Schiavone.

It is hard to imagine any professional wrestling fan that has not been touched at some point by the voice of Jim Ross. Jim has worn many a hat in the wrestling business, but let’s just talk about Jim Ross the broadcaster now. From Mid-South/UWF and Jim Crockett Promotions/NWA in the 1980’s to WCW, Smoky Mountain and the WWF in the 1990’s segueing to his legendary WWE announcing in the 2000’s that spanned all the way to 2013 and now currently has him calling the action for New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ross’ voice has been synonymous with professional wrestling.

No doubt we all have Jim Ross moments and memories that we are particularly drawn to. After all, he’s called some of the greatest wrestling matches of all-time. I’m no different, and my most enduring Jim Ross memory is of a match that goes all the back to November of 1985. It was a NWA World Title bout, and if it was not the very first, it was one of the first World Heavyweight Title matches J.R. called.

Growing up in Richmond, Virginia in the era of wrestling territories, I was a Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling guy. But in August of 1984, about the same time the wrestling territorial system was starting to break up, I headed halfway across the country to the University Of Arkansas School Of Law in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Out in northwest Arkansas, the wrestling territory that covered my new three-year home was Mid-South Wrestling. I immediately became a fan of this promotion, with its hard-hitting realistic style of storylines and in-ring action. I also became a big fan of a young, but very knowledgeable and exuberant Mid-South TV personality named Jim Ross.

Fast forward to the Thanksgiving holiday season in 1985, and I was forced to make a quick trip home from law school for a family emergency. My airplane trip back to Fayetteville and my looming law school exams was about to set me up for an unforgettable November Saturday night! And my most enduring memory of Jim Ross, the announcer!

Jim Ross on Mid-South's "Power Professional Wrestling"
My flight back to Arkansas added to the drama of this wild Saturday night. The first leg of my flight, from Richmond to Memphis, Tennessee, was uneventful. But then, as J.R. would often say, business was about to pick up! It was a balmy 70-something degrees when I boarded the tiny commuter plane in Memphis that would take me to the then tiny airport in northwest Arkansas. After a short time in the air, the pilot advised that because of severe turbulence, we would have to turn back to Memphis. We were even advised of hotels in Memphis where we would stay over. While that news was going to make things inconvenient, everything otherwise seemed to be all right.

But very soon after the pilot’s announcement, things went haywire. The plane was tossed around like a rag doll, and I thought my head was going to hit the top of the plane. The thrashing of the plane was so violent, that I had burn marks on my shoulders from the harness and was sore for weeks. I was 100% sure we were going down. I was so scared that when we finally landed, I figured we were in Memphis. It turns out we were in Fayetteville, and there were three inches of snow on the ground. The little plane had some how gotten through the clashes of those air masses near Little Rock, Arkansas, where multiple tornadoes touched down.

When I got to my law school dorm room about 10:30 p.m., I was still shaking like a leaf. But I had the presence of mind to turn on Channel 8 KTUL in Tulsa, Oklahoma for Mid-South Wrestling. The lateness of the hour, along with the sometimes snowy picture our cable feed gave us for KTUL along with my harrowing plane ride, was the perfect backdrop of what Jim Ross would amazingly announce that night on Mid-South!

This edition of Mid-South Wrestling was special, because NWA World Champion Ric Flair was scheduled to defend his belt against Ted DiBiase. But as ring announcer Boyd Pierce was introducing the competitors, Dick Murdock rudely came in the ring and told DiBiase he wanted the title shot. Ted didn’t react well to that, and told Dick he was yesterday’s news. Murdock attached DiBiase, and Flair assisted by kneeing Ted in the back, knocking DiBiase to the floor at the Irish McNeil’s Boys Club. Murdock followed up, and rammed Ted head-first into the steel ring post, followed by a "brain-buster" to the floor and DiBiase was cut with torrents of blood gushing out. I’ll never forget Ross exclaiming, “He is split wide open,” as pools of blood were visible around DiBiase on the ringside floor. As the show went to commercial, it appeared there would be no World Title match due to Ted’s condition.

Dick Murdoch delivers a "brain-buster" to Ted DiBiase on the concrete floor.
NWA champion Ric Flair watches from the ring.
After the commercial break, a somber Cowboy Bill Watts, the President of Mid-South Wrestling, told the viewers from the dressing room that Ted DiBiase was BADLY lacerated in the forehead and had arterial damage and that a pressure bandage had been applied to allow him to compete against Flair for the World Title. Watts advised parental discretion for further viewing, because if the bandage came off the match could become very gory. As it turned out, it did…and it did.

Ted DiBiase
A wobbly DiBiase entered the ring, with a huge white bandage covering his head, already starting to turn red because of the tremendous blood out-flow. Flair immediately tore into the damaged DiBiase, but Ted actually showed some offense that was highlighted by announcer Joel Watts. However, Ross kept it real for the viewers, noting, “But DiBiase is SOOOO weak; and he is bleeding profusely from that tremendous laceration to the head…a classic battle here on Mid-South Wrestling.”

After a high vertical suplex from Flair, the pressure bandage popped off and Ric went for the pin. J.R. ecstatically shouted, “He kicked out…DiBiase kicked out!” The studio audience was raucous for this bout which Jim hastened to add as Ted threw Flair in the corner and Flair did his patented flip. “There’s not an empty seat in the house and they’re all standing …and Flair, up and over,” Ross exclaimed.

As the match neared its conclusion, J.R. made it clear that the crowd in attendance was seeing a whale of an athletic contest between two warriors. Ross continued, “They sense something here! They’re seeing something, a tremendous athletic contest between two supreme athletes!” Were they ever! It soon appeared that referee Alfred Neely was going to stop the bout because of Ted’s blood-loss, but DiBiase persevered. “Ted DiBiase, a tremendous athlete, and Flair is having to reach down into the recesses with everything he’s got,” Jim expertly concluded.

Dick Murdoch
Somehow, the dazed DiBiase was able to put Flair’s finisher, the figure four, on the Nature Boy! Ross analyzed, “It might be the one maneuver that DiBiase can actually capitalize on. But Flair’s in the ropes, and the referee has to break it. If Flair would’ve been in the center of the ring I GUARANTEE you we would’ve had a new World’s Champion!” When Ted tried to reapply the figure four, Flair was able to push DiBiase over the top rope into the steel barricade that surrounded the ring. Ross, almost trying to will Ted back into the ring pleaded, “Can he get up? Can DiBiase get up? The biggest match of his life! He’s lost SO much blood…that’s it…the 10 count. Ted DiBiase…what a tremendous effort by Ted DiBiase!”

Just when I thought I could finally catch my breath, lo and behold Dick Murdock came back to ringside and attacked the fallen DiBiase. Jim exclaimed, “NO Murdock, NO! Come on, Murdock! My God, he’s brain busted him on the concrete!!” When Ross finally sent the TV viewers to commercial, I was completely spent! As Jim would do throughout his announcing career, he was able to build up the talent in the ring, and its accompanying storyline. In this case, a valiant Ted DiBiase turning into a fan favorite by his “never give up” performance. Due to Jim’s efforts, it was almost an afterthought that Ted technically “lost” the World Title match.

Between my plane ride and Jim Ross’ description of one of the wildest TV wrestling matches ever, I don’t think I slept a wink that night in late 1985! And as thoughts of my harrowing airplane flight subsided, I was left with the memory of Jim’s call of the World Title bloodbath on KTUL as my most lasting recollection of that wild Saturday night. Surely in Charlotte at Fanfest, there will be a lot more Jim Ross memories talked about from the past…and the creation of many new ones with his legions of fans.

For more on the Fanfest in Charlotte, click here.
Follow Jim Ross on Twitter @JRsBBQ and on his website at

Friday, July 15, 2016

July Thunderstorms Make me Think of Landel and Flair

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

"I don’t know if it was serendipity, or Joe Murnick in the heavens taking one last look, or the Lord illuminating greatness that made that perfectly dramatic moment happen."   - Bruce Mitchell

Whenever summer thunderstorms roll around, I'm reminded of one of my favorite wrestling stories, the night Buddy Landel and Ric Flair turned them away at Raleigh's Dorton Arena - - the night lightening lit up the July sky through the massive windows of Dorton Arena at the precise moment Flair dropped Landel to the mat in an explosive (literally) vertical suplex.

This was always one of my favorite feuds that never really got out of the gates because reportedly booker Dusty Rhodes was saving it for later. It was guaranteed money. When Landel's career self-destructed in late 1985, we never had the chance to see that conflict come to its fruition other than the few matches they had earlier that summer.

Bruce Mitchel of Pro Wrestling Torch wrote about that night in Raleigh for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway last summer following the untimely death of Landel. It is one of my favorite guests posts we've ever had, and one of the most popular posts ever on the website. It's also one of my favorite titles: The Lightening and the Thunder of the Nature Boys.

So as I watched lightening light up the sky last night and heard the thunder's response, it made me think of Landel vs. Flair and what might have been. I decided to post a link again to Mitchell's story. Through it, we get to enjoy what was, if only for a moment in time, one hell of an exciting match-up.

The Lightening and the Thunder of the Nature Boys
by Bruce Mitchell, Pro-Wrestling Torch 
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
July 10, 2015

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Former U.S. Champions from the Title's Golden Age appearing in Charlotte at Fanfest

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Growing up watching "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling", the top singles title in our area was the United States Heavyweight Championship. From its inception in 1975 until the sale of the company to Ted Turner in 1988, the U.S. title was always the top prize and one of the key areas of focus for Jim Crockett Promotions.

The book that details the history of the title
and the belts themselves.
The roster of wrestlers who held that championship reads like a Who's Who in wrestling. Half of them are in the WWE Hall of Fame.

Several of the former great champions who held that prestigious title will be appearing at this year's Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte from August 4-7. They will be signing autographs and taking photos with fans over that long weekend.


"No. 1" Paul Jones was a major player in the title's early history. After Johnny Valentine forfeited the title following the tragic plane crash in October 1975, Jones tore through the subsequent tournament to fill the vacant championship, losing to Terry Funk in the finals. But Jones rebounded three weeks later on Thanksgiving night to beat Funk in the rematch for the honors. Two additional weeks later Funk beat Jack Brisco for the NWA title in Florida, and all of that interwoven story led to big matches between Jones and Funk for the NWA title, too.

Jones' main feud over the title, though, was with the rugged Blackjack Mulligan. The two Texans battled the entire year of 1976 over the championship, trading the title between each other several times.


Magnum T.A. got his big break on a national level when he was brought in to the Mid-Atlantic area by booker Dusty Rhodes to fill the vacant spot left by Barry Windham when Windham left for the WWF in the fall of 1984. Magnum debuted right after Starrcade '84 and quickly shot to the top of the roster challenging Wahoo McDaniel for the U.S. title. When he defeated Wahoo in Charlotte for the belt in March of 1985, Magnum became a "made man", having survived a brutal series of matches with one of the areas legitimately tough opponents in the ring in McDaniel.

The remainder of his run for Jim Crockett Promotions was centered around two memorable feuds over the U.S. title, first with Tully Blanchard which led to the memorable "I Quit" match at Starrcade '85. He followed that up with an 8-month feud with Nikita Koloff that culminated in the famous "Best of 7" series of matches for the U.S. title during and after the Great American Bash in the summer of 1986.

Had Magnum not had the tragic automobile accident in 1986, he was destined to regain the U.S. title at Starrcade that year, and generally was thought to have been headed for a run as NWA world champion as well. 


Tully Blanchard may best be remembered in the Mid-Atlantic territory for his on-again off-again long running feud with Dusty Rhodes, but perhaps his most memorable singles feud and title run of that era was with Magnum T.A. over the U.S. championship in the second half of the year 1985.

Tully, accompanied by his "Perfect 10" Baby Doll, defeated Magnum that summer in Charlotte, and put the title on a big national stage as Jim Crockett Promotions had taken over the TV time on the national cable network SuperStation WTBS in the months prior. Magnum chased the title the rest of the summer and all that fall, culminating in the memorable "I Quit" match mentioned earlier at Starrcade '86 Thanksgiving night in Greensboro.

Tully never got the U.S. title belt back but went on to hold almost every other title in the area, including the National heavyweight title, a second run as TV champion, and most famously perhaps as Arn Anderson's partner for the NWA world tag team titles.

It's also notable to point out that during the feud with Magnum over the U.S. title, Blanchard would join Ric Flair and Flair's cousins Ole and Arn Anderson, along with new manager James J. Dillon, to form the group that would be known as The Four Horsemen.


Nikita Koloff took the wrestling industry by storm, and despite only being in the business two short years, had a remarkable series of matches with Magnum T.A. over the United States championship in 1986.

It started early that year with several unsuccessful attempts to get the title resulting in Nikita showing his frustration by attacking Magnum with his feared Russian chain. But the real slow-burn build to their memorable matches began when uncle Ivan Koloff refused to let Nikita wrestle on TV until Magnum and Jim Crockett Promotions had agreed to the stipulations that Ivan even asserted had been signed off on by the Kremlin!

Eventually, everyone came to terms, and the match was signed, but in the ensuing press conference where the contract signing took place, Nikita insulted Magnum's mother, which resulted in Magnum going nuts, later punching out the president of the NWA, and having the title stripped from him.

This all culminated in the famous "Best of 7" series during the Great American Bash mentioned earlier. Nikita won the first three matches, but Magnum came back to tie the series 3-3 in dramatic fashion. Nikita eventually won the title in match #7 in Charlotte. The two were headed for a climatic rematch at Starrcade '86, but Magnum's tragic automobile accident ended that, and Nikita turned "good guy" paying his respects to the fallen Magnum and forming the "Super Powers" tag team with Dusty Rhodes.


As a member of the second famous version of the Four Horsemen (with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson,  and Tully Blanchard managed by James J. Dillon), Lex Luger defeated Nikita Koloff for the U.S. title at the Great American Bash event in Greensboro in the summer of 1987.

His run as U.S. champion in the Crockett era culminated in the big cage match with Dusty Rhodes at Starrcade '87 in Chicago when he tried to use a steel chair on Rhodes, but it backfired and the American Dream took the U.S. title from him. It was ironically Dusty's first ever run as U.S. champion, coming near the end of his illustrious career, despite having been vying for the title since the early days of championship against Johnny Valentine.

Luger went on to hold the WCW U.S. championship on several occasions. That WCW U.S. title was the linear descendant of the Crockett U.S. title.


After this article was originally published comes word that "The Hammer" Greg Valentine will be making an appearance at the Fanfest as well.

Greg was a three-time U.S. title holder whose first reign as champion involved his infamous turn on his longtime tag team partner Ric Flair in 1980. After a successful stint in the WWWF, he returned to the Mid-Atlantic area in 1982 to renew his bitter rivalry with Wahoo McDaniel, winning the gold belt from Wahoo and then began a brutal feud with Roddy Piper over the title which culminated in their famous "dog collar" match at Starrcade '83.

Greg was one of the few U.S. champs to wear three different versions of the U.S. title belt, all outlined and illustrated in our book on Jim Crockett's U.S. Heavyweight Championship.

All of these great former champions will be appearing at the Fanfest in Charlotte. The event takes place August 4-7 at the University Place Hilton in Charlotte, NC. Visit the Fanfest website or their social media pages for complete details on when these great wrestlers will be appearing during that big weekend.