Thursday, September 01, 2016

Dream Team: Flair and Valentine (Part 8)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Before diving in to this final chapter, 
check out all the previous installments of the "Dream Team."
Parts: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7

As the Thanksgiving holiday season of 1982 approached, Ric Flair reigned as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion and Greg Valentine was the United States Heavyweight Champion. Greg was a rulebreaker on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling roster, while Flair was also breaking the rules and was visiting the Mid-Atlantic area. On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that was taped at the WPCQ studios in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 24, 1982, Ric Flair put on an amateur wrestling exhibition for the fans, while Roddy Piper was commentating on the TV broadcast with Bob Caudle.

Flair lured Piper into the ring, claiming he would teach Roddy how to be an amateur wrestler! Piper had no problem climbing in the ring with Flair, and actually got the better of the World’s Champion in their amateur wrestling sparring. An embarrassed Nature Boy then suckered Roddy, and with the help of his old pal Valentine rubbed Piper’s face raw in the mat and on the concrete floor. “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Jr. came in to save Piper from further injuries, but significant damage to Piper’s face had been done.

On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling show that was taped on December 8, 1982 at the WPCQ television studios, Valentine and Flair teamed up against the youthful duo of Mike Davis and Keith Larson. After defeating those youngsters, Greg and Ric were still giddy over taking advantage of Piper two weeks earlier on TV. In one interview taped that day for the Florida market, Valentine told Caudle, “What you’re seein’ right here is the men that made the Mid-Atlantic area big-time, you understand? Way back in ’76-’77, when Flair and myself were the World Tag Team Champions…and now he’s got the singles World belt and I’ve got the United States belt…there’s no stoppin’ us now!”

In another TV interview on December 8th on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Flair and Valentine were gloating over a photo of Piper’s face where the area around his left eye was rubbed raw. Valentine chuckled, “It all started when [Piper] tried to embarrass this man right here, the World Champion. He did everything illegal, everything dirty, to try and embarrass the World Champion. And what happened Bob Caudle; HE GOT EMBARRASESD…RODDY PIPER GOT EMBARRASED! Look at that picture…look at that picture!! He says he’s bad to the bone, well, you can see the bone right there, the cheek bone!! That’s a BAD lookin’ face! I think it’s beautiful, actually!”

Flair then chimed in, “You know, the only thing wrong with this is? It really made me hurt right here, cause a couple days ago we had Linda on our left and Mary on our right, but Betty Jo was the girl we were with that night! And you know what she told us? She said Piper looks better now than he did before! As a matter of fact, we’re gettin’ letters from cosmetic surgeons all over the country wantin’ to know our technique! Now Piper, you emaciated and frail hunk of nothin’ happenin’ EX-wrestling star…when I can take time outta MY schedule to come over here, instead of droppin’ four or five thousand at 2001, or goin’ up to Friday’s to watch Valentine assault the women, like he does and only he does, then you know we got somethin’ big goin’ on!”

On yet another TV interview on December 8th, this time on the World Wide Wrestling TV program with Valentine and Paul Jones, Ric continued to bash Piper, explaining to David Crockett, “All we did was show Roddy Piper, that he can run roughshod a lot of places in this country…Atlanta, wherever else he wants to be, but when he comes in here and opens his mouth and says somethin’ to embarrass one of us, he is gonna pay the price! Just like so many have in the past…Do you really think there’s been a waking day of my life that Roddy Piper could ride me amateur wrestling style…no way! [Valentine] saw it, and all he was doin’ was comin’ out the door to explain to Bob Caudle and myself, that he saw Piper holdin’ my sweatpants. And what happens? Piper turns around and hits Greg, and Valentine melted him right there on the floor…one punch!”

The Nature Boy concluded, “Actually, we didn’t need to do anything else to Piper after Valentine hit him, but THEN I got the idea! A couple of years ago, Greg and I and Number 1 had to take a punk named Ricky Steamboat and rub him all over this exact same floor, I guess maybe that was up in Raleigh, North Carolina we did that, but we like when we have an opportunity to teach someone that tries to outshine us, we like to teach them a lesson. We like to teach them a little respect, so in this case the World Heavyweight Championship, the Mid-Atlantic Championship, the U.S. Heavyweight Championship prevailed. You understand what I’m tellin’ you? I’ve got one more thing to say…Bob Orton, in viewin’ this tape I’d almost forgotten that you had the nerve to come out and try and help out Piper. Evidently, he declares you as his savior. Well, Orton, I don’t like cowboys, I don’t like cowboy boots, and I don’t like punks like you. You think you’re a real bad operator, and you come in this area brother, and we’re gonna send you out in an empty can of skoal. You hear what I’m tellin’ you, and that’s a fact of life. We’re gonna stuff you in that tiny little can, and put you in the same place Piper is, and that’s hidin’ somewhere from the embarrassment of lookin’ the way he does.”

Flair and Valentine battled Piper and Orton in Richmond on November 26th, and things were definitely heated between these four. In fact, things got a bit too hot and heavy for the newly reformed “Dream Team,” as Flair and Valentine were counted out for not returning to the ring after a particularly torrid exchange. These events led to a rematch in Richmond on December 10, 1982, but this time with the stipulation that the participants would be locked within the confines of an unforgiving fence!

Each team had plenty to say about the Fence match in Richmond. Valentine told David Crockett and the Richmond fans in a pre-match promo, “Well, you think you got us trapped in a cage. Well, I tell you what. You got the World Champion; you got the United States Champion in a cage! We already whipped your butt once! And we’re gonna have to do it again Bob Orton, Jr. and Roddy Piper!” The Nature Boy added, “You know Orton, it’s one thing to be a big deal in New York. It’s another thing to be a big deal where a big deal really counts. In Richmond, you and Richard Simmons you come right in the cage brother, and you take a look at what’s goin’ on in professional wrestling, because daddy, we’re gonna take it to you as never before. Woooo!”

In the next interview segment Bob Orton, Jr. stood behind a section of fence and answered by saying, “You know brother I was standin’ back there in the wings listenin’ to the New York City song. Well Ric Flair, you said I was a big deal in New York. You’re right; I’m a big deal wherever I go! Let me tell you something brother, I’m not puttin’ you down because you’re the World Champion, and I know you’re good. Valentine’s good, he’s the United States Champion. But that don’t mean nothin’, ‘cause there’s one thing I can do that you can’t. I can take you by the hair, and bust your face in this fence…and I like it! You understand that? I like it!”

“Rowdy” Roddy added, “You wanna come around and put us down? Yeah, I’ll put you down! We don’t dye our hair blonde! We don’t run around goin’ wooo, wooo!! But we got you, we got you in a cage! We’re talkin’ Richmond, brother…we’re talkin’ showdown!”

A showdown it surely was, and the Dream Team battled ferociously in the steel cage, but Piper and Orton came out on top in Richmond, and the Piper/Orton team followed the Richmond showdown win with victories over Flair and Valentine in Columbia at Township Auditorium on December 28th, at the Norfolk Scope on December 30th and at the Roanoke Civic Center on January 2, 1983.

Ric Flair and Greg Valentine teamed once more in a major Mid-Atlantic match, losing a decision to Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood on February 20, 1983 in the Greensboro Coliseum. After that, the two Dream Team members began wrestling each other again, the first such bout being a match for Flair’s NWA World Heavyweight Title, where Ric and Greg went to a sixty minute draw as part of the famous “Final Conflict” card in Greensboro on March 12, 1983. And as the pages of the calendar continued turning, Flair and Valentine would start going their separate wresting ways, and their dynamic tag team receded into memories and history.

The Mid-Atlantic “Dream Team” of Ric Flair and Greg Valentine provided fans countless numbers of thrills during the heyday of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Never in the history of the Mid-Atlantic era did two extraordinary singles wrestlers the caliber of Flair and Valentine combine their individual talents as regular tag team partners. If their focus had been exclusively on tag team wrestling, the sky would have been the limit. As it turned out, Mid-Atlantic fans saw dream-like magic whenever these two decided to join forces. Love them or hate them, witnessing Ric Flair and Greg Valentine combine their exceptional talents into a brutal and efficient tag team machine was a wrestling fan’s dream, a dream that none of us ever wanted to wake up from.