Friday, September 30, 2016

Make America WOOO Again! this is something we can all agree on, regardless of our own personal political leanings:

Flair '16: Make America WOOO again!

The Crockett Foundation has a brand new t-shirt in their online store.

From the Crockett Foundation website:

"Make America WOOOOO Again with this awesome 2016 Presidential Campaign T-shirt. 16 Time World Champ, 2016 Election Frontrunner…coincidence, we think NOT!"

"With each sale that we make, we donate a portion of the proceeds to our a veteran or veteran service animal in need. Some of the things that we purchase for these wounded heroes are post-traumatic stress disorder trained service animals which help veterans cope with trauma. We also purchase music instruments for veterans which has been proven to help veterans with PTSD to rehabilitate with music therapy. Another way we help is to buy yoga equipment and train them in yoga therapy which will help them tremendously as well.

"We set up our online shop and wrestling shirts store to also help wounded service animals by ways of paying for their veterinary care that is needed and also hope those canine hero’s find a loving home to be adopted into."

Check out all the cool items at the Crockett Foundation online store including their new book of wrestling photographs from the 1970s and 1980s "When Wrestling Was Wrestling", Four Horsemen shirts, Crockett Foundation logo gear and much more!

Support the Crockett Foundation by visiting their online store today!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tommy Rich with the Ten Pounds of Gold

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

NWA World Champion Tommy Rich with Freddie Miller on
"Best of Championship Wrestling" 5/3/81
In April of 1981, Tommy Rich shocked the world when he upset Harley Race to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and the belt known as the "ten pounds of gold."

Most fans didn't learn about Rich's historic win until after he had already lost the title back to Race. He won the belt on a Monday night in Augusta, GA and lost it back to Race 5 days later on a Friday night in Gainsville, GA.

Back in those days, the main TV shows for the territorial wrestling promotions all aired on Saturdays, and so Rich didn't even have a chance to celebrate his win in proper fashion on television.

When "Georgia Championship Wrestling" aired the Saturday after Rich's loss back to Race, Tommy was noticeably melancholy even when being congratulated by host Gordon Solie and NWA President Jim Crockett, Jr. They showed film footage of Rich's win over Race at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta. Crockett talked about having just flown back to the U.S. from Japan where that nation was all abuzz over Rich's title win.

Since that time, now 35 years later, the only VCR footage that has widely circulated was that Saturday segment with Solie, Rich, Crockett, and the footage from Augusta. It has been on YouTube for years, as well.

But recently, additional footage has surfaced (posted on YouTube by user KrisZ891979) of Rich being interviewed while he was still NWA champion, footage I had heard might exist but had never seen before.

In this clip, Rich is being interviewed by Freddie Miller, who did promotional announcing and occasional ring announcing on Georgia Championship Wrestling on WTBS. Miller also served as the host of the "Best of Championship Wrestling" program that aired on Sunday evenings on WTBS, and it was on this Sunday show that this interview aired, two days after Rich lost the title back to Race.

Which then begs the question when was this interview with Rich actually taped? Since Rich still had the belt, it almost certainly had to have been taped during the week in which he held it. However, the interview took place on the actual Georgia set with the Georgia Championship Wrestling backdrop which normally wasn't set up until Saturday morning before the weekly Saturday TV taping to air later that evening on WTBS. "Best of" was a studio show (without a studio audience) usually taped late on Saturday mornings or early Saturday afternoon after the 2-hour taping of the main Georgia show with Solie.

Could it be that this interview was actually taped on Saturday 5/2 after Rich had lost the belt back to Race on Friday 5/1? I suppose that's possible. Race was still booked with the georgia office on that Saturday, and defended the title for them that Saturday night in Chattanooga, TN, a GCW town during those days. Point being, the belt would have still been available for this interview with Race still in the territory.

But I doubt that could have happened. It would have been way too big a breach of kayfabe with so many people at the WTBS TV studio seeing this (cameramen, studio crew, director, etc.) and in those days that would have been unheard of. I'm guessing either (1) the studio backdrop was set up early for this interview before Tommy lost the belt, or (2) the backdrop was left hanging in the studio during the week as a normal practice in those days. It's also worth pointing out that Rich is wearing different clothes in each of the segments, indicating as well that segments were taped on different days.

Regardless of when or how the interview was conducted, it is great to see that a formal interview with Rich and the NWA title belt took place and still exists. Rich's reign as NWA champion is not much more than a mere footnote to the title's grand history, but as even Harley Race has said himself, Rich won the title in the ring and deserves to be recognized as a world champion.

The footage on YouTube contains both the Saturday and Sunday segments. The link below will take you to YouTube and directly to the point in the footage (7:33) where the Sunday interview begins.

Freddie Miller Interviews NWA World Champion Tommy Rich 
"Best of Championship Wrestling" - WTBS Atlanta GA - Airdate Sunday 5/3/1981
Thanks to Scott Bowden for letting us know about this rare footage of Tommy Rich with the "Ten Pounds of Gold."

Tommy Rich's Week As NWA World Champion (1981)
Monday 4/27 - Augusta GA - Rich wins NWA world title from Harley Race
Tuesday 4/28 - Macon GA - Rich beats Race to retain the NWA world title
Wednesday 4/29 - Columbus GA - Rich beats Race to retain the NWA world title
Thursday 4/30 - Rome GA - Rich beats Race to retain the NWA world title
Friday 5/1 - Gainsville GA - Race defeats Rich to regain the NWA world title 
Saturday - 5/2 - Rich appears on "Georgia Championship Wrestling" with Gordon Solie and Jim Crockett, Jr.
Sunday - 5/3 - Taped interview airs on "Best Of" of Freddie Miller and Rich with the NWA title belt.

This article is also posted over at the Domed Globe website, part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway family of websites.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ricky Steamboat defends Crockett's U.S. Title in Florida

Flair and Steamboat Travel to Florida for an Extra Payday During Crockett's Christmas Break
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Special Thanks to Mark Eastridge

Mark Eastridge Collection
As I've written about before here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, I always loved when wrestlers with Crockett-area titles defended those belts in other territories. Specifically, the United States heavyweight championship and the NWA world tag team championships were occasionally defended outside the Mid-Atlantic territory in other areas such as Georgia, Florida, and Texas to name a few.

In December of 1977, just a few days before Christmas, Ricky Steamboat took the U.S. title to Championship Wrestling from Florida and successfully defended it in Miami Beach.

He didn't go alone. His top rival for the championship, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, was also booked for Eddie Graham's promotion the same night, but not as the challenger for Steamboat.

It was a bonus payday for both Flair and Steamboat, who were in the middle of what was Jim Crockett Promotions' annual Christmas break. Each year in those days, the Crockett promotion would shut down for two full weeks right before Christmas, returning to action for big shows on Christmas night.

Barry Rose Collection
In 1977, the last Crockett shows before the Christmas break were on Tuesday, December 13 at their regular Tuesday stops in Columbia, SC and Raleigh, NC. The next night, they taped multiple episodes of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "Wide World Wrestling" at WRAL in Raleigh, including the annual year-end highlights shows, to get them through the next several weeks of TV while the company was down.

During the Crockett break, Steamboat and Flair took the opportunity to get themselves booked in Florida exactly one week later, on 12/21/77 at the Miami Beach Convention Hall.

Steamboat was the reigning U.S. champion at this time, having defeated Flair for the prestigious belt  in Greensboro, NC in October. He defended the title that night in Miami against another Mid-Atlantic regular Bill White. It was an interesting match-up and was likely White's only shot ever at the U.S. championship. Steamboat was successful in that title defense.

Flair wrestled Rocky Johnson in the semi-main event of this card, which was headlined by a WWWF title match between reigning champion "Superstar" Billy Graham and "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.

Also on the big card were Jack and Jerry Brisco, Bob Roop, Bob Orton, Jr., Buddy Roberts, Dutch Mantell and many others.

U.S. Champion Ricky Steamboat
in Miami Beach before his U.S. title defense
It was a homecoming of sorts for Steamboat. When he arrived in Florida in the spring of 1976 with only a few months experience under his belt, promoter Eddie Graham thought Richard Blood (his real name) looked so much like perennial Florida favorite Sam Steamboat, he gave him the name Ricky Steamboat. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Before returning to Miami as United States Champion, Steamboat's last match there had been a win over Jim Lancaster in the preliminaries on a card in July of 1976. 

With Superstar Graham on the card in Miami to defend the WWWF title against Rhodes, and two of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's top stars supporting that card, it was one of the more unique cards to take place in Florida in those years.

Photographer and photo-collector Pete Lederberg owns the rights to photographs taken this very night in Miami Beach.  The photos were originally shot by area photographer Brian Berkowitz. The title defense and those photographs are a cool little bit of history for Jim Crockett Promotions' U.S. championship.

Berkowitz's photo above of Steamboat with the U.S. title belt was featured full page in color in the book "Jim Crockett Promotions' United States Championship", along with a few other photos licensed from Lederberg. See many other photos from this night (including match photos of Steamboat vs. White and Flair vs. Johnson) in Pete Lederberg's Facebook photo album: Miami 12/21/77.

Thanks to Mark Eastridge, Pete Lederberg, Carroll Hall, and Barry Rose for their contributions to this article.

Republished July 5, 2020, and December 22, 2020

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Proud Sponsors of "This Week in History"

Ric Flair and David Chappell in Raleigh, NC.
The Ric Flair Show is part of the MLW Radio Network and presents a new show every Wednesday night. It's available on iTunes and all the other major podcast platforms, as well as at and

The Mid-Atlantic Gateway is proud to bring you "This Week in History" each week on The Ric Flair Show podcast. Co-host Conrad Thompson selects a terrific mix of great moments in Flair history as well as other memorable moments in which the Nature Boy was involved, including special audio clips and Ric's take on that point in time. It's one of our favorite parts of the Ric Flair Show!

Download it every Wednesday night! Wooooooo!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Flair & Steamboat in Raleigh and Spartanburg This Weekend

http://www.btwtickets.comA big weekend ahead with a little "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling" flavor to it as Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat, one of wrestling's greatest rivalries ever, will be reunited in Raleigh, NC and Spartanburg, SC this weekend. And this rivalry was born right here in the Carolinas.

Flair and Steamboat are part of two huge cards for Big Time Wrestling that are loaded with talent from several wrestling eras. They will be signing autographs and taking photos with fans on both nights. Visit their website for all the details, and try to make one of these shows this weekend of you are in the area. It's not very often that these two get together on the same night in the same city. And it may not happen again that often in the future.

Ricky Steamboat recently talked with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway about these shows and reminisced on his Mid-Atlantic career. Don't miss David Chappell's big interview with "The Hawaiian Punch" Ricky Steamboat!

Raleigh - Friday Night 9/23 - Dorton Arena!
Spartanburg - Saturday Night 9/24 - Memorial Auditorium!

For more details and ticket info visit the Big Time Wrestling website.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Results: Jan. - March 1975
Results, title histories, month-by-month storylines,
photos, programs, and so much more!
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Results
from the Clawmaster's Archive


1/1/75 Greenville, SC @ Memorial Auditorium
Paul Jones, Sonny King & Wahoo McDaniel beat Ivan Koloff, Johnny Valentine & Ole Anderson(sub for Super Destroyer)
Gene Anderson & Ole Anderson beat Sandy Scott & Bob Bruggers
Charlie Cook beat George Harris
Frank Monte draw Mike Stallings

1/1/75 Raleigh, NC @ WRAL Studios(TV)

1/2/75 Norfolk, VA @ Scope
Paul Jones & Tiger Conway, Jr. beat Ivan Koloff & Ric Flair
Mr. Fuji beat Sandy Scott
Charlie Cook & Tommy Seigler beat Brute Bernard & Art Neilson
Abe Jacobs draw Cowboy Parker

1/3/75 Richmond, VA @ Coliseum
The Avenger beat Super Destroyer by DQ
Gene Anderson & Ole Anderson beat Paul Jones & Tiger Conway, Jr.
Ric Flair beat Tommy Seigler
Mr. Fuji beat Bob Bruggers
Sandy Scott beat Brute Bernard
Abe Jacobs draw Art Neilson
Charlie Cook beat Cowboy Parker

1/3/75 Charleston, SC @ County Hall
Wahoo McDaniel & Sonny King beat Johnny Valentine & Ivan Koloff
Swede Hanson beat Chuck O’Connor
Klondike Bill & Tio Tio beat Frank Morrell & George Harris
Joe Furr beat Ken Dillinger

1/4/75 Roanoke, VA @ Starland Arena
The Avenger beat Super Destroyer by reverse decision
Tiger Conway, Jr. beat George Harris
Abe Jacobs & Tommy Seigler beat Mr. Fuji & Art Neilson
Cowboy Parker beat Tio Tio
Joe Furr beat Pedro Godoy

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ric Flair Wins His First Mid-Atlantic Title - 41 years ago!

Main Event Memory
September 20, 1975 - Hampton, Virginia
41 Years Ago Today!

The year 1975 was a big year for "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, although he actually wasn't the "Nature Boy" yet.

The year started off well for Flair, winning his first singles championship ever, the Mid-Atlantic Television Championship, defeating Paul Jones for the honor. Flair continued to improve throughout the year.

During the summer of 1975, he began to feud with Wahoo McDaniel as he began his chase of the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship. The veteran McDaniel had maintained the upper hand on the young, cocky upstart Flair until Flair finally laid down the ultimate challenge: he would put his beautiful blond hair on the line against Wahoo's title.

Hair vs. Title.

Wrestling fans from all over the Tidewater area turned out to the Hampton Roads Coliseum hoping to see Ric Flair's head shaved in the middle of the ring.

Hear these rare recordings of the local promos for the two main events on this show featuring Ric Flair, Wahoo McDaniel, Tim Woods, and Johnny Valentine. Hosted by Les Thatcher.

Local Promos for Hampton 9/20/75 (Low Fidelity)

But the fear of losing his hair was enough motivation to put Flair over the top. He was finally able to defeat Wahoo and win the Mid-Atlantic title.

Wahoo was pounding Flair with his trademark tomahawk chops when Flair was against the ropes. As the referee backed Wahoo away, Flair went into his trunks and pulled out a pair of brass knuckles. When Wahoo came back around, Flair decked him with the knucks and then covered him for three-count. The referee never saw the foreign object, and Flair's hand was raised and he was presented with the title belt.

Flair's victory over Wahoo McDaniel established him as one of the top stars in the territory, and began to get him attention outside of the Mid-Atlantic area as well. His star was on the rise.

However, just two weeks on his way to an outdoor stadium show in Wilmington, NC, the airplane Flair was traveling in ran out of fuel and crashed short of the runway. The crash ended the career of the legendary Johnny Valentine as well as Bob Bruggers. David Crockett and Tim Woods were also injured in the crash.

Flair was told by doctors he would likely never be able to wrestle again. But defying the odds, he returned to action just under four months later. It was at that point that booker George Scott gave Ric the "Nature Boy" moniker, as Flair reminded him of the great "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers.

Upon his return, Flair resumed his feud with Wahoo McDaniel and the two battled the entire year of 1976 over the Mid-Atlantic Championship, exchanging the title several times through the course of the year.

But his big rise to main event stardom began fort-one years ago today, September 20, 1975.

Check out all of the Main Event Memories features on the Gateway!

And don't miss our recent interview with Ricky Steamboat!

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Gateway Interview: Ricky Steamboat

A mainstay in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling for eight glorious years, Ricky Steamboat personified what it was to be the consummate “good guy” both inside and outside the ring. From early 1977 through early 1985, fans of Jim Crockett Promotions in the Carolinas and Virginia could always count on Ricky to valiantly battle, and usually slay, the wrestling giants that roamed the heel side of the talent rich Mid-Atlantic Wrestling roster. Steamboat’s most famous Mid-Atlantic rival, the boisterous “Nature Boy” Ric Flair was the perfect foil for Ricky’s unassuming and unpretentious character. But there were times when Flair aligned himself with the forces of good, and he and Steamboat became a formidable tag team combination to the fans’ delight. Later during the Mid-Atlantic era and beyond, Ric Flair ruled the roost as the NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion and he and Ricky had memorable bouts over wrestling’s most prestigious title. On February 20, 1989, “Steamer” realized his dream of becoming NWA World Champion by beating Flair, and the three match series between Steamboat and Flair at that time is widely viewed as the greatest championship trilogy in professional wrestling history. news came out recently that Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair would be doing a Mid-Atlantic reunion tour of sorts in the fall of 2016, retracing their steps in the Carolinas in a rare series of joint appearances. Big Time Wrestling sponsored mega events in Morganton, North Carolina on September 22nd, Raleigh, North Carolina on September 23rd and Spartanburg, South Carolina on September 24th will feature the homecoming of Steamboat and Flair, along with a cavalcade of other wrestling stars from today and yesteryear.

On the eve of Ricky Steamboat once again “teaming” with Ric Flair in the Carolinas, version 2016, the Mid-Atlantic Gateway had the privilege of chatting with Ricky about that upcoming reunion, the glory days of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling promotion and assorted other topics. While Ricky Steamboat found success wherever he competed in professional wrestling, including being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009, he will always be considered a “Mid-Atlantic guy” by those fans who cut their wrestling teeth with big bites of Ricky Steamboat versus Ric Flair in the Mid-Atlantic area, in some of the greatest matches ever!

David Chappell: Hey Ricky, thanks so much for visiting the Mid-Atlantic Gateway today. Greetings from Richmond, Virginia!

Ricky Steamboat: Thank you David. Richmond Coliseum, we would go there every other week on a Friday night.

Chappell: Absolutely. Boy, I tell you what, those were just wonderful times. I don't think that magic has ever been recaptured.

I saw one of your very first matches in the Mid-Atlantic territory. It was actually at a spot show just outside of Richmond on March 4, 1977 at the Colonial Heights High School gym, and this new guy named Ricky Steamboat was wrestling Jacques Goulet. Of course, we had never heard of you. But after a couple of minutes with Goulet, it was pretty obvious you were going to be a big deal!

Steamboat: 1977 would be the year in which I did go to the Carolinas from Atlanta. In the early part of the year, I think it would be February or March of '77. I don't remember that match particularly, but I do remember Colonial Heights. I do remember Jacques Goulet. He was from Montreal, Canada. I think he was like a Sergeant.

Chappell: Yes, Sergeant Jacques Goulet! I thought he was excellent in the ring.

Speaking of being excellent in the ring, you actually wrestled excellently as recently as 2009 in the WWE and suffered a scary injury in that brief stint. Can you tell us a little about that, because I was never real clear what happened then.

Steamboat: The incident happened on Monday Night Raw through Nexus. They brought me out because they were introducing my DVD about Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, and his career. We had these guys come out. They had just come up from the WWE school and they were trying to create some heat; four of these young guys. I had my hand in with all of them, and helped with training them down there at the school. During that live event on Monday Night Raw, I ended up with what they call a subarachnoid hemorrhage. In other words, I got thrown down real hard, and I ended up with a brain bleed.

Chappell: Yeah, we were really worried about you. We'd hear stuff, obviously, well after you experienced it. It sounded really scary.

Steamboat: It was a bad situation for me because the doctor said they could not do anything for it, it either had to stop on its own, or if it continued, the pressure would kill me. It was down inside my brain. They said unlike an aneurysm, which is mostly a surface bleed, to relieve the pressure they would drill a little hole in your skull and let it bleed out. The problem with mine was that they couldn't get to it. I was in intensive care for almost a month, which I didn't think anything about it at the time because I was so drugged up on the pain medicine because of the pressure in my head. Being in intensive care for almost a month, the doctors say was a very long time.

Most people go to intensive care, they're there for three or four days and then after that, they get moved up to the next level.

Chappell: Exactly.

Steamboat: I was in there for almost a month. It was a bit hard for me.

Chappell: I know it had to be, and everybody is just thankful that you were eventually okay.
But on a happier note, how great is it that you and your top Mid-Atlantic rival Ric Flair are going to be making joint appearances in the Carolinas in just a few days? Wouldn’t you love to get in the ring and wrestle him just one more time?!

Steamboat: I would really love to get in the ring with Flair, but the doctor told me my head's been traumatized too many times throughout my career, chairs and 2x4's, and DDT's on the cement floor from Jake Roberts!

Chappell: (laughs) Okay, I guess it’s understandable why it’s not going to be a physical deal! But how do you feel about just getting together with Ric again and hitting these old Crockett towns together?

Steamboat: This is such a great pleasure for me, and I also know it is for him. Even during our heyday, in the 70s and 80s when we campaigned through the Carolinas and Virginias, we had a lot of respect for each other when it comes to being a professional person in the ring. People ask about were you guys friends, and I would say yes, but we never hung out.

Chappell: You really couldn't hang out in those days could you?

Steamboat: Yeah, kayfabing was the number one deal. Even to invite one over to one's house to have dinner in a private way never took place. Our lifestyles were totally different. What you saw of me was the way I was. What you saw of him, the flamboyant guy was the way he was. To get together now is great; we have a show in Raleigh and we also have one in Spartanburg. To get together with Ric Flair, it is so rewarding for me on a personal basis. I also want to tell the fans this does not happen too often.

Chappell: That's true, very true. I think that's the great part of these upcoming events, Ricky. I don't remember… I'm sure you probably made a joint appearance or two with Flair after your in-ring days, but it certainly is not commonplace.

Steamboat: Let me say this. I actually retired in '94, so I've been out a little over 20 years. Both Flair and I have been doing these appearance gigs during this time. I'm going to be very honest with all my fans out there; we have been together on two other occasions for autograph signings in the past 20 years.

Chappell: Wow, I didn't know it was that limited.

Steamboat: Between the two of us, I know we have done hundreds and hundreds of appearances around the country. For us to get together on the same date in the same town, to sit side by side with each other is very, very rare. I'm pretty excited about it.

Chappell: And at the Raleigh and Spartanburg events, the fans will have the option to do a photo op with both of you together with the “big gold belt” as a prop!

Steamboat: Yeah, that's very rare to get our autographs, but at the same time get a picture with us with the World Championship. It's a very rare moment. The fans coming away at the end of the day with that, being able to put it in a photo album or frame it and put it up on the wall is very, very rare. The fans that are going to be able to do that, I'm not going to say will be very lucky, but I think will be very fortunate. I couldn't tell you when the next time the two of us will be able to hook up and do this again.
Chappell: I think that's well-said.

You've already hit on a couple of things I wanted to touch on with you, kind of reading my mind on these. You talked about not really being able to hang out with Ric much during the Mid-Atlantic days. I sort of divide you two in the Mid-Atlantic era between the early days when you were the babyface, which of course you always were, and Ric was the heel. Later, and I remember this really well, because one of the first big matches when Ric turned babyface, you all teamed up in Richmond. I don't think there were ever more people trying to get into that building, the Coliseum, than when you all unexpectedly teamed up. Do you have any thoughts of when you two were feuding over the U.S. belt when he was the heel, and then later when Flair became a babyface as well, and that dynamic? Do you have any particular recollections of those two time frames?

Ric Flair Celebrates 35th Anniversary Winning the Ten Pounds of Gold

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's hard to get my arms around the fact that it has been 35 years since Ric Flair won his first NWA world championship.

September 17, 1981.

Ric Flair holds up the NWA title belt
after defeating Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City
It was a Thursday night on the west side of the Missouri River in the venerable old Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS. Many folks erroneously report the change as happening in Kansas City, MO, an easy mistake to make I guess.

Promoter Bob Geigel's Heartland of America promotion based out of Kansas City played host to the title change. Legendary former 6-time NWA world champion Lou Thesz served as special referee in the title match that featured reigning 2-time champion "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes defending the historic, majestic, almost mythical title belt known as the "ten pounds of gold."

NWA President Jim Crockett, Jr. of Jim Crockett Promotions was on hand for the title change, too.  Crockett promoted Flair's home territory known as Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling out of Charlotte, NC, and was Flair's sponsor with the NWA board. Flair has often lamented the fact that his first NWA title victory was not in his home territory, or in a neutral location more familiar with him such as Atlanta.

Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS
Ric's parents were on hand to see him win the championship. It obviously meant a lot to him to have them there. If I'm not mistaken, I believe he has said it was the first time they ever saw him wrestle.

The belt itself meant a great deal to Ric. He has spoken and written before about the first time he saw it, around the waist of Jack Brisco. All of the guys he thought so much of during that era that held that title all wore that belt, from Brisco to Harley Race, to Terry Funk, and now on that night in Kansas City he stood across the ring from Dusty Rhodes knowing he would soon wear the fabled title belt, too.

When working on my book "Big Gold", Conrad Thompson and I sat with Ric at a local bar in Duluth, GA. Conrad asked Ric straight up, of the two NWA world title belts that he held - - the domed-globe and the "big gold" - - which belt he liked better. Ric admitted that the Big Gold belt was the fan's favorite and that it was no doubt the best looking belt ever made, but the belt that meant the most to him personally was the Ten Pounds of Gold. It was his first, and it had been held by the giants in the game at that time. Sentimentally, there was no choice.

Ric Flair went on to hold 16 world titles (more, if you count some unofficial wins), including the NWA, WCW, and WWF world titles. He is pretty much universally recognized as the greatest world champion of all time. And it all began 35 years ago today, September 17, 1981.

Friday, September 16, 2016

WBTV Website Story Includes Wrestling and Racing Memory

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Mike Cline, longtime friend of the Gateway and publisher of the terrific Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats website, forwarded to us a link to an article on the WBTV-3 TV website. The article is ostensibly about a current WBTV reporter, David Whisenant (author of the article) reconnecting with Charlotte area radio broadcasting legend Larry Bruton. After not having been in contact with each other for many years, David had received a letter and a package from Bruton. The package contained a gift for David, a 1960s 16mm Bell & Howell movie camera that was used to record silent film footage of local news events that would be used on the local WBTV TV newscasts. It was a memento from Bruton's career that he wanted David to have.

Larry Bruton in the mid-1960s (
Reporter Notebook: Two broadcasters reconnect over a period of forty years
By David Whisenant,

The letter, however, also contained a nice little Charlotte-wrestling memory Bruton had from the 1960s that related directly to the 16mm silent film camera.

Here is an excerpt (emphasis mine) from Whisenant's article that relates to Bruton's wrestling/auto racing story involving legendary pro wrestling manager Homer O'Dell.

Manager Homer O'Dell with
Bronko Lubich and Aldo Bogni
(Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats website)
This type of camera has a pretty interesting history, both with WBTV, and in the world of televised sports.  Larry recalled one of the first times that a TV news camera was placed inside of a race car actually running on the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway

"I shot film with this camera from a race car at speed at the Charlotte Motor Speedway that was broadcast on WBTV in 1966," Bruton wrote.  "We taped Bill Ward's Championship Wrestling show on Wednesday nights for rebroadcast on Saturdays, and one of the wrestling managers was named Homer O'Dell.  I think Homer was one of the first "bad guy" wrestling managers who shouted and threw chairs and such.  He was best known later for the tag teams of Brute Bernard and Scull Murphy, and Rip Hawk and Swede Hansen, but in 1966 he had two nasty wrestlers named Bronko Lubich and Aldo Bogni, a couple of real knuckledraggers."

Bruton said that at the time, O'Dell realized the value of a cross promotion between wrestling and racing.

"To promote his wrestlers, he had bought a patched up 1964 Ford race car, hired a driver, and officially entered the 600," Bruton recalled.  "During race week Homer came into the studio to tape the wrestling matches and began showing around pictures of the car.  I asked him if I could come to the speedway the next morning and try to shoot some film from inside the car while it was on the track for practice.  Homer was all for it, and they said they would rig up some kind of seat for me on the passenger side.  When I got to the track, the 'seat' was an upside-down wire milk crate sitting unattached to the shoulder harness or seatbelt.  And nobody seemed to question any of this.  These are the kinds of things you do when you are young and stupid.  Anyway, I locked an arm around a roll bar support to steady the camera and off we go around the track at full speed.  I held the camera braced against my chest pointing it out the windshield and the side windows, and we used the film on the 6pm newscast, so I'd say WBTV scooped the network in-car cameras by about 13 years."

Bruton says the race cars actual performance on the track wasn't as exciting.

"In the big race, the car blew up after only twenty laps or so, and the Homer O'Dell Wrestling #96 Ford finished dead last," Bruton added.  "I think he gave up race car ownership shortly after that an d went back to fulltime chair throwing."

(Editor note: The car didn't actually finish dead last, but it was close.  The Homer O'Dell Ford finished 38th out of 44 cars.  Driver Sonny Lamphear retired with drive shaft troubles on lap 29.)  (Read complete article.)

It's nice to come across even the smallest recollection from an era in pro-wrestling that is now largely forgotten or ignored. It's part of what Mike Cline does on his Grapplin' Greats website and what we strive to do here on the Gateway. It's nice to know Larry Bruton has some of those wrestling memories tucked away, too, and was able to share them with David Whisenant in his letter.

The Bell & Howell camera may have been the gift to Whisenant, but the wrestling memories are gifts to all of of us.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Richmond Countdown #15 - 12/30/79

Chap's Top 15 Wrestling Cards in Richmond (1973-1986)
#15 - Sunday, December 30, 1979
by David Chappell, Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Graphics and Vintage Audio Mastering by Dick Bourne
Newspaper Clippings from the collection of Mark Eastridge

This feature includes CLASSIC AUDIO from December 1979.

I'm proud to share my memories of my personal Top 15 cards ever in Richmond. Join me as I count down some of the most exciting thrill packed nights of wrestling action the Mid-Atlantic area ever saw!

* * * * **

Richmond's Top Cards: #15
In addition to a number of great matches, this card at the Richmond Coliseum had some unique features. This event was promoted for a good three weeks beforehand, as the holidays had caused the wrestlers to skip Richmond for several weeks. This event was a very rare Sunday card. Matches were almost always held in Richmond on Friday. Something else unusual was that this event was a 2:00 p.m. afternoon card. For whatever reason, Richmond was not a city that had its wrestling during the daylight hours. This spectacular afternoon event was also the last card held in Richmond during the decade of the 1970’s. What a fantastic decade the 1970’s were for Jim Crockett Promotions, particularly the mid and late 1970’s!

The main event of this card saw United States Heavyweight Champion Jimmy Snuka successfully defend his crown against Tim Woods. Gene Anderson had just become the manager of Snuka a week or so before this bout. The feud between Snuka and Woods had been building throughout the Fall of 1979 when Snuka (managed by then manager Buddy Rogers) injured the neck of Woods in a television match that aired on World Wide Wrestling. Woods came back sporting a neck brace and carrying a baseball bat (he called it the "ding-bat") vowing revenge on Snuka. Woods went as far as to print up and distribute "Wanted Posters" for Rogers and Snuka in arenas during this time frame. (See the poster at right.) This match in Richmond represented the end of this feud , with Snuka coming out on top. This would be Woods’ last Main Event ever in Richmond, and he would wrestle only one more time ever in Richmond-two weeks later in January in a mid-card match. A somewhat inglorious ending for one of Jim Crockett Promotions’ biggest stars in the 1970’s.

The semi-final bout saw Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Jim Brunzell defeat newcomer Ray "The Crippler" Stevens. Brunzell was at the height of his Mid-Atlantic run with Jim Crockett Promotions. Stevens had just entered the area about a month previously with a tremendous national reputation. Stevens immediately singled out Brunzell and his title. In interviews leading up to the match, both competitors brought up their previous feud in the AWA. The heat between these two seemed genuine, and their styles both in and out of the ring were completely different. With these contrasting styles, it all added up to a terrific match where Brunzell came out on top, but Stevens ultimately became a bigger and more long-lasting star in the Mid-Atlantic area.


Ray Stevens: "I like to hurt people."

Jim Brunzell: "That belt would make a nice Christmas Present."

To show you what a tremendous card this was, the third match from the top was a grudge match between Ric Flair and Greg Valentine! This match would have been the top match on most cards in Richmond, particularly at this time as Flair and Valentine had never wrestled against each other before. Ric Flair had turned face in the middle of 1979, at a time when his former partner Valentine was tearing up the WWWF. When Valentine came back to the Mid-Atlantic area in December, he was anxious to team back up with Ric. The two met face to face on Mid-Atlantic television with Flair saying he had seen the light and would not team with Greg as long as he was a rule-breaker. Valentine was furious, and the feud nobody ever thought they would see had begun. Flair took the measure of Valentine in this match, and Greg would focus on tag team wrestling for about six months before again turning his attention to Flair and the U.S. belt. (Read more about how Flair and Valentine came to be facing each other in Part 6 of "Dream Team: Flair and Valentine.")


Greg Valentine: "I can't digest this."

Ric Flair: "We've Done It All"

The undercard saw the team of S.D. Jones and Rufus R. Jones defeat Frankie Laine and Mr. X. Rufus was the dominant performer in this match. The ageless Johnny Weaver had no trouble putting away Doug Sommers. Don Kernodle and Rick McGraw took care of David Patterson and Frank Monte. During this time frame, Monte was faring much better in the world of bodybuilding than the world of wrestling. Brute Bernard got a rare win during this time of his fading career, besting Bob Marcus. Coco Samoa opened this memorable Richmond card with a win over Tony Russo.

This was a truly great event to usher out the 1970’s and bring in the new decade with a bang!

Coming up Next: Countdown #14
May 21, 1982

This feature is being re-published from an earlier feature on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hitting the Spot: Augusta Expo in Fishersville, VA

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Nestled in the scenic Shenandoah Valley, the Augusta Expo in Fishersville, Virginia was a popular Thursday night “spot show” stop for the stars of Jim Crockett Promotions during the era of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. About a hundred miles northwest of Richmond and about a hundred miles north of Roanoke, “Expoland” served the wrestling needs of fans that were a little too far away from those bigger towns.

The Augusta Agricultural and Industrial Exposition in Fishersville (almost always called “Fisherville” on the local in-your-area promos) opened in 1969, and in the Mid-Atlantic days had a seating capacity of around 3,000. From 1977 through 1984, the Expo was home to Mid-Atlantic cards every few months, and every major wrestler from the territory appeared in this venue at one time or another. One of the earliest Mid-Atlantic cards that got Expoland in the regular spot show rotation was held on January 13, 1977 on a frigid night with temperatures close to zero degrees, where the main event pitted Mr. Wrestling and Dino Bravo against Blackjack Mulligan and Brute Bernard.

Like most of the smaller spot show venues that were part of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling circuit, the Expo in Fishersville had a few interesting quirks. One of the biggest was that due to the configuration of the building and parking lot, the wrestlers parked in the main parking lot and entered the building through the same entrance as the paying customers. That led to some interesting scenarios when the wrestlers arrived at the building late for any reason!

Long time Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling fan Tracy Doyle, who lived in nearby Staunton and attended a number of cards at the Expo in the late 70’s and early 80’s, remembered a card when the NWA World Tag Team Champions Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke were late arrivals at the Expo. Doyle explained, “During a night at Expo, or as we called it Expoland, the matches had already started. Suddenly I noticed a commotion in the crowd over by the entrance. People were going nuts and giving someone some serious grief. Yelling at them as well as a good number of one fingered salutes. Finally I noticed who the unfortunate ‘victims’ were…none other than #1 Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke! They were apparently very late and had just made it to the hall. They did not know any other way into the building other than the main entrance, and I’m not even sure Expo had any ‘locker room’ entrances. Even though those two were the ‘mean bad guys’ the look on their faces trying to make it through that crowd made them look much more like ‘mean worried guys!’
Paul Cormier, another huge Mid-Atlantic fan from Richmond at the time, remembers attending one of the final regular Mid-Atlantic cards at the Expo on August 8, 1984. Cormier related, “I vividly remember the wrestlers parking in the same parking lot as the fans and coming in through the main entrance. I lost my mind when I saw Nikita Koloff and Paul Jones getting out of the car next to us!”

One of the real pluses of seeing a Mid-Atlantic card at a smaller spot show venue was that the setting was much more intimate, and the wrestlers and fans were literally rubbing elbows with one another. The Expo in Fishersville was no exception, and it truly provided an up close and personal experience for Mid-Atlantic fans. Cormier remembers, “Unlike shows I had seen up to that point in Richmond and Roanoke, I felt like the wrestlers were much more accessible at the Expo. I got to meet most of the guys working on the show, which was much more difficult at the bigger venues. In hindsight, it was kind of like indy shows are today.”

Buzz Sawyer and Matt Borne (Tracy Doyle Photo)
Another example of the intimacy at the Expo was explained by Doyle, who reminisced, “I was hanging out in front of the babyface locker room once during a show as a group of older kids had congregated there. Two wrestlers who I did not know at the time popped their heads out and made ‘kissy’ faces to some of the younger female fans. I had my little Polaroid with me and snapped a pic at that exact time. Those wrestlers were Buzz Sawyer and Matt Borne.”

Soon after Paul Cormier saw Angelo Mosca, Jr. defeat Nikita Koloff by disqualification in a Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title match on that August 8, 1984 card, Augusta Expo ceased being a regular spot show venue for Jim Crockett Promotions. Big time wrestling did resume at the Expo in later years, principally when the Smokey Mountain Wrestling organization ran sporadic cards there in the early 1990s as one of its easternmost venues. After another gap in time, Expoland again hosted professional wrestling in 2009 and has seen some high caliber independent shows in recent years.

Expo in Fishersville has had tenants ranging from musical acts, to craft shows to even rodeos over the years. But arguably no act that has been booked at the Expo has ever generated the level of excitement that Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling did. While the closest big towns of Richmond and Roanoke got deeper cards of Mid-Atlantic wrestling, the top bouts at the Expo were generally strong. For Mid-Atlantic fans stuck between Richmond and Roanoke, wrestling on Thursday nights every so often at Expo in Fishersville was their wrestling oasis, and it certainly hit the spot!

Ray Stevens works over Ric Flair at the Augusta Expo in Fishersville, VA
(Tracy Doyle Photo)

Friday, September 09, 2016

Flair and Steamboat Reunite for "Big Time Wrestling"

Big Time Wrestling makes another "Mid-Atlantic tour" through the Carolinas this month with stops in:

Morganton, NC - Thursday 9/22
Raleigh, NC - Friday 9/23
Spartanburg, SC - Saturday 9/24 

The big draw, especially for old-school fans, is the reuniting at all three shows of Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat, arguably the two biggest names in wrestling to have ever come out of the old Jim Crockett Promotions territory. The two had one of the most legendary, longest running feuds in wrestling history.

Flair and Steamboat will be joined by other names from the glory days of Crockett Promotions such as Magnum TA, Ivan Koloff, Jimmy Valiant, The Rock and Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) and others, although not all of those names will be at each show.

However, Flair and Steamboat will be at all three and there will be a rare opportunity to have your photo made with both of them together with a replica of the "Big Gold" belt that represented the NWA world heavyweight championship in 1989, the year that Flair and Steamboat traded that prestigious championship between each other.

For more information on these shows and other shows going on around the country for the group, and to purchase advance tickets, visit Big Time Wrestling's website at

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Crockett Foundation: "When Wrestling Was Wrestling" Crockett Foundation has published their first book, "When Wrestling Was Wrestling", a collection of photographs taken by Jackie Crockett in the Mid-Atlantic area in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Legends featured in this amazing collection of images, the majority of which are being seen for the very first time, include:

Jack and Jerry Brisco, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle, Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Valiant, Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine, Bob Orton, Jr., Jay Youngblood, Johnny Weaver, Paul Jones, Blackjack Mulligan, Baron Von Raschke, and many others.

The book is available exclusively from the Crockett Foundation on their website.

From the Crockett Foundation website:

Take a walk down memory lane, in "When Wrestling Was Wrestling", complete with never before seen images from the Golden Age of Wrestling in the Crockett Foundation's first paperback book release.

Inside the pages of this wonderful book you will find never before seen pictures taken by Jackie Crockett during his tenure as camera man for Jim Crockett Promotions. As the youngest son of Jim Crockett, Sr., he had unlimited access to some of the greatest names in professional wrestling history. You will definitely be taking a trip down memory lane as you page through the images contained in this gem.

Facebook / Crockett Foundation

The book can be purchased through the Crockett Foundation online store. A portion of each sale goes towards helping veterans and retired service dogs in need. The Crockett Foundation is a tax exempt 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization. 

Crockett Foundation Tag team Partners
"Tag in, help out!"

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

"Great Reads"

Another nice set of photos mentioning a couple of my books along with replicas of the belts. I appreciate the support, JZ!

Main Event Memories: Brisco, Valentine Defend Titles

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Forty two years ago, two of the NWA's top stars defended their titles on one big card on an early September Friday night in Richmond, VA at the Richmond Coliseum. The card was loaded with current and, in one particular case, future stars.

The Super Destroyer (Don Jardine) challenged Jack Brisco for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a match where if he won the title, he promised to unmask. The stipulation grew out of the fact that the NWA had declared they would not recognize as champion someone whose identity could not be verified. The Super Destoyer already had as a condition that he would unmask if he were defeated by pinfall or submission. Brisco was in his 14 month as NWA champion, having defeated Harley Race for the title in July of 1973 in Houston, TX.

The Super Destroyer applies his feared claw-hold to Jack Brisco during their
NWA world championship bout. (Bill Janosik Photo)

In the second main event, Johnny Valentine met arch-rival Wahoo McDaniel. It's a pretty sure bet that Valentine's Mid-Atlantic title was on the line here, although that was not stipulated in this newspaper ad. Valentine and Wahoo's rivalry went way back to their days battling in Texas. The two had renewed their feud in the Mid-Atlantic area and Wahoo spent the better part of a year chasing Valentine for the Mid-Atlantic Championship, which he finally won from Valentine in July of 1975.

Brisco was fortunate to have kept the title
after his battle with the Super Destroyer
A young Ric Flair, who had only been in the Mid-Atlantic territory only seven months at this time, would battle Paul Jones on the undercard. Jones, a very popular and established star in the area, would be a frequent opponent of Flair's in 1974 and early 1975, mentoring him toward main event status. Flair would defeat Jones for the Mid-Atlantic TV title early in 1975.

Also on the card were The Avenger (Reggie Parks), former NFL player Bob Bruggers, Mr. Ota, and many others.

David Chappell wrote about this card in his "Richmond Countdown" feature several years ago:

This card was one of the most intriguing nights in Richmond wrestling history. On top was a NWA World Heavyweight Title bout between the titleholder Jack Brisco and the masked Super Destroyer. Many fans believed that there would be a title change or an unmasking, as the Super Destroyer vowed not only to unmask if he lost by pinfall or submission, but also if he won the World Title. Alas, neither happened. The semifinal produced another classic championship battle between Wahoo McDaniel and Mid-Atlantic Champion Johnny Valentine. Third from the top was a bout between Paul Jones and the youngster Ric Flair. This was the first top flight singles opponent that Flair had wrestled in Richmond. A lot of fans, me included at the time, didn’t believe Flair could hang with the area’s "big boys" in singles competition. Ric used this match to start winning the naysayers over.

Reserved ringside seats were only $5.00 for this show in 1974, an amazing price especially considering the NWA champion was on the card. 

"Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" aired in Richmond each Saturday at 2 PM on WTVR channel 6.

Thanks as always to Mark Eastridge for the newspaper clipping. Thanks also to Bill Janosik for his amazing photographs.