Sunday, July 24, 2016

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.