Sunday, October 30, 2016

Roddy Piper and Bob Armstrong bring their Georgia feud to the Mid-Atlantic Area Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The recent spate of excellent quality uploads of old "Georgia Championship Wrestling" shows on YouTube had me fondly remembering Roddy Piper's one-year stint in Georgia and particularly his early feud with "Bullet" Bob Armstrong.

In the fall of 1981, Ole Anderson became booker for both the Mid-Atlantic and Georgia territories, something pretty unheard of in that time.  One result of his having that dual responsibility was the cross-over of talent between the two promotions. This was yet another chapter in the long history of what I have dubbed the "talent exchange" or partnership between the Mid-Atlantic and Georgia territories that went back to the mid-1970s.

Gordon Solie and Roddy Piper, hosts of
"Georgia Championship Wrestling" on SuperStation WTBS
One of the most visible examples of this was Roddy Piper becoming the co-host of "Georgia Championship Wrestling" alongside Gordon Solie in late October of 1981. Piper proved to be the perfect bombastic and colorful compliment to Solie's rather dry style of calling matches. It's not clear what Solie must have first thought of Piper when he debuted alongside him on WTBS on Halloween evening of 1981, but after a few weeks he warmed up to him pretty quickly as there was great chemistry between the two and they became one of the top pro wrestling broadcasting duos in the country with broad exposure on the nationally televised Georgia program.

Piper was such a hit in the color commentary role that Ole Anderson also paired him with Bob Caudle on "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" a few months later. Piper was perhaps the only wrestler to ever be a color commentator on two top shows for two different promotions at the same time. It was this experience that would first get him noticed in that role and would later serve as a foundation for the groundbreaking "Piper's Pit" segments on WWF television shows in 1984. 

Bob and Brad Armstrong
Along with his commentary duties in Georgia, Piper also would occasionally conduct interviews. In his first few months, he seemed particularly enamored of the father and son combination of Bob and Brad Armstrong, and his passive-aggressive confrontations with the two eventually led to fireworks between Piper and Bob Armstrong.

For several weeks in a row, Piper would interview the Armstrongs at ringside, complimenting the tag team prowess of the team, but also questioning their strategies and execution. He even went so far as to get personal with Bob, suggesting he was perhaps a bad father for occasionally letting his son take a beating in a match.

Bob, for his part, handled all of this masterfully in the slow build to the inevitable explosion with Piper, at first just just acting mildly annoyed at Piper's antics, usually brushing him off or ending the interviews before Piper was ready to end them, leaving the rowdy Scot occasionally flummoxed and at a loss for words.

Bob Armstrong was the perfect foil for Piper, aptly able to hold his own in a verbal joust with him, using his popular southern wit to confound the west coast bullying and arrogance of Piper. Armstrong was now looked at as one of the wise old veterans in the territory by the fans, and fans enjoyed watching Armstrong put Piper in his place over those early weeks.

But Piper was relentless. And as he turned the volume up on his criticism of the Armstrongs, it began to get under Bob Armstrong's skin. However, the two never touched for nearly three months.

Things finally came to a boiling point on the 1/30/82 episode of "Georgia Championship Wrestling"  and Armstrong attacked Piper at the podium and the they brawled into the ring.

That wild melee led to an actual match between the two at the Omni on Sunday, February 7. It was Piper's long awaited first match in Georgia and part of a big night at the Omni which included National Heavyweight Champion Tommy "Wildfire" Rich defend that title against former NWA world champion Harley Race.

There are different accounts as to the result of the February match. Most reports say it was a double DQ or a no-contest finish. The match would actually serve as a springboard to a progression of matches Piper would have over the next few months at the Omni, moving from one challenge up to the next. Following Armstrong, there was Tommy Rich and then Dick Slater. Others opponents down the line in 1982 for Piper included Dusty Rhodes, Ole Anderson, and Don Muraco.

Even though Piper moved on to other opponents in Atlanta, his feud with Bob Armstrong would continue outside the territory. Piper's only real role in Georgia was doing TV's with Gordon Solie on Saturday mornings, and matches on the Omni cards every three weeks or so. He didn't wrestle often on the house show circuit in Georgia because he was a full-time wrestler for Jim Crockett Promotions, and was actually booked out to Atlanta through the Charlotte Crockett office. In fact, through much of this time period Piper was Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion, feuding first with Ricky Steamboat and then with Jack Brisco over that title belt.


Their feud was a quite unusual because it began in Georgia, but was largely carried out in the Mid-Atlantic territory, even though Armstrong never appeared in person on Mid-Atlantic television.  The feud had incubated every Saturday on WTBS for nearly three months (November 1981 - January 1982) without the two ever touching.

Then soon after that one Atlanta match on 2/7/82, things moved directly to the Mid-Atlantic territory, where Piper was the reigning Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion. But other than isolated matches in Norfolk and Greensboro, their war took place entirely in the city of Greenville, SC on Monday nights.

Over a two month period, beginning on February 22 and culminating on April 19, the two had five (5) different matches in the Greenville Memorial Auditorium.

  • 2/22/82 - Mid-Atlantic title match (mid-card)
  • 3/01/82 - No Disqualification match (semi-main)
  • 3/22/82 - 2 out of 3 falls match (main event)
  • 3/29/82 - Indian Strap match (main event)
  • 4/19/82 - Canadian Lumberjack match (main event)

With Armstrong not appearing in person on any Mid-Atlantic TV shows, and only a few isolated clips shown from Georgia, it is astounding that Piper and Armstrong went for five events in Greenville, headlining the last three of them. it is a testament to the chemistry they had together and how well things clicked on the Georgia show, which was seen on cable channel WTBS in the Greenville market, although cable penetration in 1982 was far more limited than today.

Piper and Armstrong also headlined three shows in Cincinnati, OH, a city which featured talent from both Mid-Atlantic and Georgia promotions. The local promoter for the Cincy shows was Les Thatcher.

Piper and Armstrong also headlined three shows in Cincinnati, OH which were part of the Georgia Wrestling tours of Ohio and Michigan at that time. The local promoter for the Cincy shows was Les Thatcher, and lots of Mid-Atlantic talent was booked on those shows as well.

It was a wonderful feud and a great memory from that time where so much talent was appearing in both territories simultaneously.


Thanks to Brian Rogers for his help with these Greenville newspaper clippings.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Flair & Steamboat - Hell Freezes Over. Again.

The Anderson Brothers vs. Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat 
August 11, 1981 - Raleigh, NC
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

"The Hawaiian Punch" Ricky Steamboat and
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair
It's hard to imagine now, with 35 years having passed by and so much water under the bridge, that two superstar wrestlers teaming up would be such a big deal. But in 1981, when Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat joined forces to challenge Ric's cousins Gene and Ole Anderson for their NWA world tag team championship, it was a very big deal.

Not as big, perhaps, as in 1979 when Flair had just turned babyface and fans and good-guy wrestlers alike weren't sure if they could trust the Nature Boy. Back then, when Flair asked Ricky Steamboat to be his partner and challenge Paul Jones and Baron Von Raschke for the NWA world tag titles that summer, it did indeed seem like hell had frozen over. The blood feud between Flair and Steamboat that had been going on for two straight years was unlike any other ever seen in the territory.

That was big, but now this seemed just as big to me for different reasons. This story had multiple layers to it now, calling back to family feuds and broken relationships going back some five long years.

Ric Flair's on-again, off-again relationship with his cousins Gene and Ole Anderson had been one of the greatest on-going stories in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling lore:

  • 1976: The big break-up as Flair took Greg Valentine as his partner and wrestled the titles from the Andersons in a scenario so unlikely that it actually made the fans cheer for the hated Anderson brothers. The two teams traded the titles back and forth over the next two years.
  • 1978: Ric's reunion with the family in 1978 when blood proved thicker than water and special referee Gene Anderson, thought to be impartial in the war between Flair and Steamboat, helped Ric retain the U.S title in the match where fans felt sure Steamboat would regain it. 
  • 1979: The family was at odds again when Flair turned good-guy and cousin Gene became the manager of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka who proceeded to take Ric's U.S. title, and his favorite robe to boot.

Now in 1981, with Gene back in action after his managerial stint was over, the Anderson brothers reunited and regained the world titles. Not being able to leave well enough alone, Ole saw to it that the family feud erupted again when he and Gene joined Ivan Koloff in ganging up 3-on-1 on Flair inside a steel cage.

While Flair's current feud with Koloff had seemed more professional (albeit very violent), the family feud with the Andersons was very personal. With the cousins again waging war, Flair made the decision to once again attempt to do what he hadn't been able to do since his days in 1976-1978 with partner Greg Valentine - - take the NWA world tag team championships from the Andersons.

Flair took several different partners early on to tackle the Minnesota Wrecking Crew - - Blackjack Mulligan, Jay Youngblood, Wahoo McDaniel - - but in the end, there was only one man Flair could turn to that had a chance of making that magic happen again. It was his career long rival and now one of his best friends and allies - - the "Hawaiian Punch" Ricky Steamboat.

Like an onion with seemingly endless layers to peel away, this match-up had all of this tangled up history behind it. Flair was once again living out this family feud that had been going on for five years. Steamboat must have remembered back to the bloody wars with Flair in 1977, how Gene Anderson had helped Ric keep the U.S. title in that major battle of 1978. But the two were able to once again put that history behind them and join forces, just as they had shocked the world in doing two years earlier.

I'm convinced that they would have eventually been successful in taking the world tag team titles from the Andersons had it not been for something else happening in the meantime that changed the face of wrestling history: Ric Flair defeated Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City, KS to win the NWA World Heavyweight title. The Anderson's tag titles were safe once again as Ric Flair turned his attention to touring the world in defense of the "ten pounds of gold."

With the world title in the picture, Flair and Steamboat would renew their rivalry several more times over the next 13 years, but for a brief few weeks in the summer of 1981, there was magic in the air again as hell froze over for a second time and Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat formed one of wrestling's most powerful and exciting combinations.

Republished October 27, 2020 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Check out other MAIN EVENT MEMORIES on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway:

1. The Anderson Family (1976) The Andersons and their cousin Ric Flair
2. Dusty's Big Championship Weekend (1976) with Flair, Mulligan, and the Andersons
3. Mulligan vs. Flair on a Hot July Night (1978) Worlds Collide!
4. The Origins of Wahoo vs. Flair (1975) with Wahoo McDaniel and Ric Flair
5. Blackjack Mulligan vs. Rufus R. Jones (1976) "Have mercy, Mama!"
6. The Briscos Challenge Flair & Valentine (1978) Jim Crockett makes the match.
7. A Local Boy Gets His Shot (1981) Don Kernodle teams with Ric Flair in his hometown.
8. Bullrope Match: Ole vs. Flair (1981) Dusty prepares Ric for a big match in Charlotte.
9. Ric Flair Wins His First Mid-Atlantic Championship (1975) Hair vs. Title in Hampton!
10. Blackjack Mulligan Regains the U.S. Title (1978) New Year's Night in Richmond
11. The Gathering on Tour (1986) Post Starrcade event in Columbia SC
12. Township Tangle (1978) Flair & Valentine vs. Wahoo & Jones
13. Flair Wins the NWA Title (1981) Historic Win over Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City
14. Brisco, Valentine Defend Titles in Richmond (1974) Huge main events in Richmond

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Roddy Piper's Debut in the Mid-Atlantic Area

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, who would become one of the biggest names in the history of professional wrestling, entered Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in the early autumn of 1980 as a virtual unknown to the fans of Jim Crockett Promotions. Without any advance publicity, Piper debuted in the territory on October 7, 1980 at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, defeating Special Delivery Jones. But it was at the next night’s TV tapings at the WRAL television studios in Raleigh that Piper was truly introduced to the fans of the Mid-Atlantic area.

Roddy Piper with his bagpipes
At the beginning of that October 8, 1980 television taping, color commentator David Crockett announced as part of the match rundown, “And we have a newcomer…Rodney Piper.” Announcer Bob Caudle responded, “David, he’s from Glasgow, Scotland, and I understand he’s a rough, tough Scot.” Crockett answered, “That’s right; he really is. He’s a young, good looking guy, though. He’s very good.”

After Piper won his first TV match with ease, Caudle attempted to introduce Roddy to the area’s fans saying, “At ringside right now, and you just saw him in the ring and I gotta say…” Piper couldn’t wait for the introduction, blurting out, “Let me just tell you something Mister. I tell you something; I come to the area here and I walk in the arena and this lady says, ‘Who are you?’ She says, ‘WHO ARE YOU,’ to me! Who am I, who am I? Do I look like the tidy bowl man?! I come to the arena; I’m in my wrestling gear. Since I’ve been 16 years old, I’ve been professional wrestling.”

A boisterous Piper continued, “I was the youngest professional wrestler in the world when I started wrestling! By the time I was 19 years old, I won the Light Heavyweight Championship of the World, brother. Who am I?? When I was 21 I took Muhammad Ali, the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, hip tossed him right down on his buttocks, and made him look like a fool. Who am I, you say?? You take a look at me, man; I’m the whipped cream on your strawberry shortcake! Who am I?? I am Rowdy Roddy Piper, 26 years old…”

Bob Caudle with Roddy Piper
At this juncture, a chant breaks out in the studio audience of ‘Rod-dy, Rod-dy, Rod-dy,’ which Piper feeds off of and pushes forward exclaiming, “…in the prime of my life, with ten years of experience! TEN YEARS of experience! And I come in here with a body that none can disclaim. Now don’t get me wrong, barbell plates and stuff like that is not my thing, brother. I am a wrestler! I am finely honed, I’m young and I’m ready. You listen to me, I see people comin’ around here, I see people comin’ around here, the ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair. What’s a Nature Boy, what does that mean? He runs through the woods nude?? The guy thinks he’s Euell Gibbons, comes up here and supposed to have all these pretty chicks chasing him all around?”

Without taking a breath Piper rants more on Flair and concludes, “Saw him the other day with some chicks, looked liked a Sasquatch exhibition, brother. Well, you listen to me. I’m what’s happening. You say, ‘Who am I?’ I told ya; I gotta question for you. You do you think you are, man?”

Almost at a loss for words, Caudle comments, “I tell ya fans, there’s no doubt what Roddy Piper thinks of Roddy Piper, and he can back it up as he said. He was the youngest wrestler in the world at 16, and held many championships. And that’s the story from Roddy Piper.”

It was a Mid-Atlantic story that had its first chapter in Raleigh in early October of 1980, and within less than a month saw Piper win the NWA Television Title in Richmond, Virginia in a spectacular one-night tournament. The United States Title came soon thereafter, and then many memorable feuds that culminated in 1983 with the vicious battles with former “Dream Team” friend Greg Valentine and the epic “Dog Collar Match” at Starrcade 1983.

The lady asking Roddy Piper who he was at his first WRAL appearance asked a fair question. But in his debut interview for Jim Crockett Promotions, Piper made it crystal clear who he was, and likely never had to answer that question again while wrestling in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Fans in the Carolinas and Virginia quickly recognized Rowdy Roddy Piper as a wrestling star that just doesn’t come around every day, and saw that star shining brightly even during Piper’s earliest Mid-Atlantic appearance.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lars Anderson Would Kick Santa in the Teeth

by Bob O'Connell
St. Cloud Times Staff Writer, December 18, 1968

A brassy new Buick will roll down St. Germain Wednesday evening, and behind the wheel will ride a former Granite City resident who Is one of the most hated, successful men in sports.

His name is Larry Heiniemi, better known to professional wrestling fans as Lars Anderson. With former All-American football player and fellow St. Cloud State College alumnus Les Wolff, the two will bring more than 500 pounds of brawn to the wrestling card that starts at 8:30 in the St. Cloud Armory.

Profits of the match will go to the St. Cloud State athletic scholarship fund.

Lars is a villain, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

In the last 18 months, his furiously competitive profession has taken him to tobacco country, where he has received the same heartfelt welcome from the Bible Belt as Sherman got at Atlanta. It is more of a truism in wrestling than in any other sport that nice guys finish last, with the exception of Vern Gagne, Larry's first trainer.

At the box, where it counts, the big folding green goes to the guys who push old ladies down in the street and resort to the roughest, basest tactics to win in the ring.

Wednesday night with Larry "Pretty Boy" Hennig, will be teamed a vicious, hulking half of "The Minnesota Wrecking Crew" tag team that terrorized the Southeast for 18 months. But the crowd will also be looking at a 1964 Olympic Wrestling team inductee. Lars Andersen knows his wrestling.

Besides a handful of Midwest AAU titles, Heiniemi also won the Canadian National Wrestling Championship in 1985 and took all NIC honors in football.

Why the name change to Anderson?

"My last name was too difficult for people to spell and remember in the South, and now that I'm back wrestling in Minnesota, I don't want to change back because half the wrestling world now knows me as Anderson," he explained.

Anderson has come a long way way since be first stood before Vern Gagne in the summer of 1966, a skimpy 215 pounds. Gagne set up a makeshift ring on his farm that summer and put him through his paces. After eight weeks of learning to fall, move, defend himself and pile on pounds without adding fat, Heiniemi was finally unveiled by his tutor In the Twin Cities.

His determination is obvious in and out of the ring, and it is comforting to know that, in a world of flower children and psychedelic love, the world is not all full of good fairies. There are still a few guys around who would unabashedly kick Santa in the teeth to be No. 1.

* * * * *
December 18, 1968 - St. Cloud Armory
Benefit for the St. Cloud State College Scholarship Fund

Lars Anderson & Larry Hennig vs. Cowboy Bill Watts & Billy Red Lyons 
2-of-3 Falls, 60 minute time limit

Les Wolff vs. Mike Riker

Viktor the Bear vs. Chris Markoff

Advance Ticket Outlets: Cecil's Bar, Rip Ripulski's, Little John's Pub

Thanks to Mark Eastridge for sending us this article.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Very Young Arn Anderson Makes His WTBS Debut

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's Saturday, so time for a little more Georgia Wrestling this week, especially in light of all these new complete shows being posted on YouTube from a time when there was so much cross-utilization of Mid-Atlantic talent on the Georgia TV shows (as discussed last week here.)

It was the first show of 1982, and current Mid-Atlantic star Paul Jones was making the second of two guest shots on "Georgia Championship Wrestling" for booker Ole Anderson, who was booking both the Georgia and Mid-Atlantic territories at that time.

What is more notable from a historical perspective about Jones's appearance, however, was his opponent on this show. His name was Jim Vertaroso and host Gordon Solie billed him as a power-lifting champion out of Rome, GA. What you will see is a big guy who is pretty green in the ring, but shows great promise. The longer you watch though, you will notice that the young man in the ring with Paul Jones is the future Arn Anderson. (Arn's appearance is at 12:54 in this video.)

We believe this was the week of Arn's television debut in a singles match. (Edit 9/24/19: Arn mentions on the debut episode of his podcast "ARN" that his recollection was his first appearance on Georgia TV was in a tag team match with partner Zeke Rivers against Bob and Brad Armstrong. This took place on the 12/26/81 episode of Georgia Championship Wrestling.)

Virtaroso (and we're assuming that's how he would spell it) would later wrestle under his real name Marty Lunde in Southeastern, Mid-South, and Georgia, before Ole Anderson gave him the name Arn Anderson when he came back to work for him in 1983.

Arn's look here in early 1982 is quite different as he is much heavier and with that big '70s looking mustache. Who knew watching this show just after the New Year's celebrations were over that they were seeing a future superstar and Hall of Famer in action against "No. 1" Paul Jones.

The match with Paul Jones vs. Jim Virtaroso (Arn Anderson) is at 12:54 in this video.

The show features co-host Roddy Piper with Gordon Solie, and also includes The Masked Superstar and the Super Destroyer, Dick Slater, Stan Hansen, Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk, Tommy Rich, Buzz Sawyer, Mike Jackson, and many others.

Plus, fellow belt-marks will enjoy the presentation of new National tag team title belts to reigning champions Bob and Brad Armstrong at the opening of the show.  

Republished in edited form in March 2021 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ken Conrad Added to Crockett On-Air Talent Roster

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

For years we've wondered about the name of one of the promo announcers for Jim Crockett Promotions in the early 1980s. Through the recent help of some friends of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, we've solved that mystery.

We can now confirm that the man interviewing Jim Crockett, Jr. in the video above is Mr. Ken Conrad.

Conrad worked for Jim Crockett Promotions from the fall of 1981 until around February of 1982 (we're still researching the exact dates) hosting the local promotional spots that were inserted into the syndicated programs "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "World Wide Wrestling." He began not long after Crockett moved their studio television production from WRAL in Raleigh to WPCQ (now WRET) in Charlotte. He was a local radio personality at that time and may have even been involved with studio work at WPCQ.

Ken Conrad in 2009 (WTVI Blog)
Conrad has been on the radio in the Charlotte area for several decades, including successful stints at WEGO-AM in Concord, WAVO-FM in Rock Hill, and WNMX-FM and Lite 102.9 WLYT-FM in Charlotte. He currently serves part-time on the creative staff at WTVI television, the PBS affiliate in Charlotte. You may also recognize his voice as the P.A. announcer at BB&T Park in Charlotte for the Charlotte Knights baseball franchise.

With a little help from our friends, here's how we confirmed his identity:

I recently posted a photo of Conrad interviewing Dusty Rhodes and asked if anyone could help us identify him. Greg Price at Fanfest linked our post to a Charlotte Radio/TV forum on Facebook and a fellow named Roy Rosen responded that it was Ken Conrad. Greg googled it and found a WTVI blog post about Ken joining them with a photo that pretty much confirmed it was him. The final confirmation came from Debbie Mrozinski of the Crockett Foundation who confirmed through Tommy Viola at the Charlotte Knights that our interviewer in 1981-1982 was indeed Ken Conrad. (He is listed on page 4 in the 2016 Charlotte Knights Media Guide.)

We are happy to finally know his identity and add his name to the roster of on-air broadcasting talent that worked for Jim Crockett Promotions over the years. That list can be found on the right hand side of the Studio Wrestling website, which is part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway family of websites.

Ode To The Legends

Mac McMurray
(photo by Peggy Lathan)

Les Thatcher recently sent us a poem written by his longtime friend Mac McMurray that Mac wrote before attending the annual Gulf Coast Wrestlers Reunion in Mobile, AL in 2008. Les thought Mac wouldn't mind it being shared with all of us.

It is a wonderful sentiment written by a very nice man we wish we knew better.

From 2008, updated for 2016, the poem by legendary referee Mac McMurray, "Ode To The Legends":

Ode To The Legends.  (Gulf Coast Wrestler's Reunion)

As 2016 begins to fade and gracefully we age
Our thoughts begin to dwell upon our turning a new page.
The days appear to drag along as March comes into view.
Reunion memories abound while planning things to do.

Now comes the time to make the trip, the planning soon pays off.
We hit the road, we take a plane not taking time to cough.
The highway's clogged with many cars, the airport's not much better.
The wind is blowing, it's raining hard it couldn't get much wetter.

But then the weather starts to clear, Mobile is now in sight.
Our journey's ending, the Red Roof's near, we'll soon bed down tonight.
The sun comes up, the skies are clear, our hearts begin to pound.
The building's just a little West near a race track that is round.

The boys are starting to arrive some young, some old, some gimping.
The younger ones are struck with awe, the older ones just limping
But one thing that we know for sure is that we'll all grow old.
The legends that we'll meet today were known through stories told.

But years have come and years have gone and never will return.
Our peers today will have to try to be their best, to learn
What years of bumps, a million miles, the struggle to survive,
Taught utter joy of a job well done, the joy of being alive.

The legends will accept the praise with modesty and glee,
The hardest part is knowledge that there will never be
New talent coming up the ranks whose hearts are full of fight
New talent that will miss the chance to be in the spotlight.

For most of us the legends live and will for ever more.
Their stories, tales and memories create amazing lore.
But from here on as time goes by, our legends pass with grace
But what I see that's sadder still, there's no one to take their place.

Respectfully submitted by:

Mac McMurray
August 2008

Monday, October 17, 2016

The "New" Paul Jones Returns

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

From the late 1960s through the late 1970s, Paul Jones was one of the most beloved wrestlers in Jim Crockett Promotions. Then, shockingly, Jones became a rulebreaker at the end of 1978, infamously turning on his friend Ricky Steamboat during a two ring Battle Royal in Charlotte, North Carolina. Through the entirety of 1979, “Number One” seemed to relish his newfound heel persona, teaming with former foe Baron von Raschke to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship and treat his ex-friends with disdain. Early in 1980, Paul and the Baron had a falling out after dropping the World Tag Team Titles to Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. By March of 1980, Jones had disappeared from the Mid-Atlantic area, seemingly without a trace.

Then, out of the blue, at the taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show on July 23, 1980 an old familiar face appeared on the set. An excited announcer Bob Caudle exclaimed, “Hey, David, I see a surprise just walking into the studio! Here is a surprise indeed! There is Paul Jones, David. Fans, Paul I know all of your many, many fans that have watched you for years see you here and they wonder what in the world is Paul Jones doing here?”

A contrite and rather subdued Paul Jones responded, “Well, Bob, actually I don’t know where to start. I want to say this, I just flew in from Florida. A lot of people ask why I left here in such a hurry. Well, I guess you might say that I woke up one morning, looked myself in the mirror, and didn’t like what I seen. You know, whenever you follow the devil, you’re taken away by not only being possessed by money, jealousy and a number of other things. I’ve hurt a lot of fans that have stood behind me for years. I’ve hurt a lot of wrestlers that were good friends of mine, like Steamboat over money, greed, jealousy. Listen, I could have stayed away from here, Bob, and never came back. But I think one of the hardest things to do, is to go back and admit you’re wrong, and take the punishment, and try to ask forgiveness. The good Lord forgives all if they want forgiveness. I’m here, I’m shaking in my shoes, nervous...”

Caudle then interjected and asked, “Are you saying Paul that you want to turn over a new leaf, that you want to be friends again with those old friends that you were friends with?” Jones responded, “Listen, Bob, I’m not apologizing to the people, to the wrestlers, for being a coward. I am a man, a man that’s seeing a new light. I’m no longer following the devil. I ask for forgiveness. I’m not very good with words…all I want, is the opportunity to make it up. I feel like I can pay the people back, pay the wrestlers back, with the opportunity to do it in a square ring like I’m looking at right now. Listen, I’m ashamed of what I did. I left somewhere to get my head together, I even put a mask over my head I was so ashamed. But I’ll never put another mask over my head again. And I’ll never have to go to the people or the wrestlers and say I’m sorry.”

Jones continued, “I’ve been down a wrong road, and I realized it Bob, David. And all I want is the opportunity. I paid for this trip myself, I’m here tonight, if you want to charge me for the TV time, I’ll pay for it! I just wanted to come here tonight; I feel like a new man right now. I got it off my chest. It’s up to the people, it’s up to the wrestlers…I’m gonna talk to as many of them as I can. I just want to say this, I want to repeat myself, I don’t have any matches lined up in this area right now. I just got on the airplane and come straight here, said what I have to say, and thank God I’m on the right track. Thank you.”

Paul immediately walked off the set and Caudle commented, “Thank you…Paul just walked away. But I think it can be worked out to get Paul some matches, David.” David Crockett responded, “If you remember the way Paul was, good and bad, he was a heck of a wrestler. And I just hope it’s true.” Caudle answered, “Well, at one time, he was the idol of many, many people David, and had a great number of fans.” Crockett concluded, “There are a lot of fans out there that still love Paul Jones, there really are. And, we’ll just wait and see.”

Later that same summer night in the WRAL TV studios, Paul Jones paid a visit to the World Wide Wrestling television show taping, hosted by Rich Landrum and “The Dean of Wrestling” Johnny Weaver. Johnny exclaimed, “Hey, we have a surprise guest!” Landrum responded, “We do that! Paul Jones, as I live and breathe; I never would have expected to see you. Paul, good to see you again!” Jones answered, “Listen, while I’m in the area here, I’ve been visiting with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, and I didn’t want to leave you all out, as I’m talking to a lot of the same fans that feel the way they do about me.”

Jones proceeded to tell the World Wide Wrestling audience many of the same things he said on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show. For instance, Jones told Landrum and Weaver, “I know that deep down inside, even though I’ve done wrong things, I’m man enough to stand up here and say I’m sorry. I’m not asking the people to get down and say, ‘Hey Paul Jones welcome back, we still love you…we this and that.’ I want to earn my forgiveness, and I want to do it in that square circle right there, in that ring. I want to prove to the people that I am doing the right thing. And so help me God, I’m not standing here and telling you a lie; this is not a swerve job.”
As the fans in the studio audience listened intently, Jones continued, “I wouldn’t get up here; I didn’t have to come back. But I come back to take my medicine. Things I’ve done to wrestlers like Steamboat, God, this man, he would do anything for me, and I turned on him for a measly $10,000.00…and I want to make it up to the people, and I want to do it in the ring. And believe me one thing, you’re gonna see a new Paul Jones. And I guarantee you another thing…I’ll never, EVER, take the wrong road again. You people have been so good to me and I just hope someday, that you will come up to me and say, ‘Paul, I want you to be my friend again.’ Listen, let me tell you something right now, if you never speak to me again it’s my loss, not yours. But I hope you do, because I’m here, if they want me, if they’ll have me, to make up for the wrong I’ve done. Thank you very much.”

At this juncture, Johnny Weaver commented, “Paul, I certainly hope you’re sincere. I’ve said on many interviews in radio stations, that I know when you went the other way you had to give up a lot as a man that had to stand alone, and I’m sure that you reached the point that you could evaluate what the fans did mean to you.” Jones concurred by offering, “Well, that’s right John. Also, another thing, well I feel much better now. I feel like I’ve seen the light, I just feel like something’s been lifted off my head that’s been on my mind for months, I couldn’t sleep at night. And John, one of the hardest things was too, was you and I were friends for many years, and when I would walk down the street or around this building, I would look at you and you wouldn’t even look me in the eye, you were ashamed of me. But I guarantee you John, I wanna make it up to you too…just give me a chance.”

Paul Jones was given that chance, and returned to the Mid-Atlantic area to once again battle the forces of evil. Many of Jones’ former friends on the “bad guy” side ridiculed his turn back to a fan favorite, such as Ray Stevens who referred to Paul as the “preacher man.” While Jones wrestled in main events and had an extended run as one half of the NWA World Tag Team Champions with the Masked Superstar from the fall of 1980 into the spring of 1981, he never fully recaptured the magic that he had during his many earlier years as a “good guy.” By the summer of 1982, Jones once again turned into a rulebreaker, this time for good. Paul remained in Jim Crockett Promotions until 1988, primarily working in the role as a heel manager for most of that time.

Thinking back on all the dastardly things that Paul Jones and his “Army” did to Jimmy Valiant during Paul’s last run with Jim Crockett Promotions, it puts Jones’ words on that night at TV on July 23, 1980 under the microscope. While the commentators wanted to give Jones the benefit of the doubt, they also clearly took a wait and see attitude as to whether Paul was truly sincere in his plea for forgiveness. Their hint of skepticism, seen through the prism of time, turned out to be warranted. On July 23, 1980 the “new” Paul Jones returned and talked a very good game, but in the end, he couldn’t continue to walk that “good guy” walk again but for so long. Regrettably for the longtime fans of Paul Jones, the spots on that leopard had never really changed.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

As Close To Perfect as it Gets: The Greenville Memorial Auditorium

There was hardly a better arena for pro-wrestling than the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in Greenville, SC. There wasn't a bad seat in the house in the "old brown box" as it was known to locals.

The photograph above appeared in the Greenville newspaper following a big card on October 28, 1974. The main event that night was a big six-man tag team match. On one team you had the superstar tandem of Wahoo McDaniel, Paul Jones, and Andre the Giant. Across the ring was Ivan Koloff, the Super Destroyer (Don Jardine), and Chuck O'Connor (who would later be better known as Big John Studd.) This main event drew a sellout crowd with a huge turn-away crowd, as described in the caption above. The photo caption states there were approximately 3000 people turned away for this show.

The undercard featured Brute Bernard vs. Tommy Seigler, Klondike Bill vs. Frank Valois, and Joe Furr vs. Johnny Heidman.

Thanks as always to Mark Eastridge.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Georgia Wrestling Saturday (with a Mid-Atlantic Connection)

Georgia Championship Wrestling - November 14, 1981

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's Saturday, so why not watch a little wrestling? Back in the territory days, Saturday was the primary (and usually only) day for wrestling in every territory in the United States.

YouTube user "KrisZ891979" has been uploading some great Georgia wrestling from 1980 and 1981, including some complete shows from the fall of 1981 like this pristine video of the entire November 14, 1981 program that aired at 6:05 on WTBS.

Reigning Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Roddy Piper had joined Gordon Solie as co-host of the program two weeks earlier, and the two became quite a broadcast combination over the next year. Piper was the perfect cocky-heel counter to Solie's dry straight-forward approach and the two meshed really well in an unconventional way, especially for those times.

Ole Anderson was booking both the Mid-Atlantic and Georgia territories at the time, and one result was a small sharing of talent between the two groups. In particular on this program:

  • Mid-Atlantic Champion Roddy Piper, who is never acknowledged as such by Solie or Piper, but is acknowledged by Ivan Koloff as Mid-Atlantic champ in an interview on the program
  • NWA TV champion Ivan Koloff, carrying his championship belt and announcing his intention in defending the title in Georgia. (The title was a Crockett title)
  • Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champions Chris Markoff and Nikolia Volkoff (managed by Lord Alfred Hayes) are seen on the program in a tape from the Knoxville "NWA Championship Wrestling" program hosted by Les Thatcher. The team would be wrestling in the annual Thanksgiving tag team tournament at the Omni in Atlanta a few weeks later. The Knoxville office was closely affiliated with Jim Crockett Promotions at the time and used a number of pieces of talent from the Charlotte office. 
  • Ray Stevens, currently a top heel for the Crocketts and an occasional tag team partner of Ole Anderson's
  • and of course Ole Anderson himself, who along with his brother Gene, were the reigning NWA World Tag Team champions, primarily a Crockett area title.

That made for a total four Crockett Promotions champions appearing in one way or another on this Georgia program. Throw in Mid-Atlantic star Ric Flair, who had just recently won the NWA World Championship from Dusty Rhodes, and it's fair to say their was more than a small Mid-Atlantic influence on the Georgia promotion at the time. Flair is not on this program, but had been on almost every Georgia show since winning the title, and would be on the following week as well.

This Georgia show is loaded with a lot of great talent that were hallmarks of the Georgia Championship Wrestling promotion at the time including Tommy "Wildfire" Rich, Mr. Wrestling II, the Masked Superstar, Bob and Brad Armstrong, Austin Idol, Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy, Mike Jackson, and others.

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling was and always will be my first love, but Georgia Wrestling during this time was on fire, and was an important part of every Saturday as well.

Republished in edited format in March 2022 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Snapshot in Time: A TV Saturday in February 1974

This is a newspaper ad that ran down the Saturday line-up for WLOS-13 in Asheville, NC on February 16, 1974. WLOS was the Jim Crockett Promotions affiliate station for the "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" B-show hosted by Les Thatcher.

And at the bottom of this ad, you will see the listing for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling featuring George Scott, Joe Soto, and....


 You've got to love that. No doubt Ole would have.

Wrestling aired at 11:15 each Saturday night on WLOS, following the local news. it later moved to 11:30 PM in 1975 when the local Saturday night newscast expanded to a half-hour.

WLOS also holds a small place in the studio-wrestling history of Jim Crockett Promotions. In the early 1970s, promoter Paul Winkhaus (the local promoter for the Crocketts) would provide film clips of the shows at the Asheville Auditorium or the Civic Center to be played on the late news, usually hosted by Munsey Millaway. They would occasionally tape interviews with the wrestlers right there at the TV station, all in support of the local cards in Asheville. Winkhaus was a great promoter to have as your man on the ground.

It's also interesting to take a look at what else was on TV at the time, including the Pro Bowlers Tour, auto racing, and a preview of Evel Knievel's next motorcycle jump on the venerable sports show "ABC's Wide World of Sports."

"The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat...."

It also seemed odd that a show like "Shock Theater" would be airing at 1:00 PM in the afternoon. I would think a show like that would be much more fun late at night.

Thanks to Mark Eastridge for passing this newspaper clipping along to us.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Can You Identify the Announcer?

Can you help us identify the announcer interviewing Dusty Rhodes in this image? We have been unable to determine his full name name.

Update - Sunday 10/16: We have identified him as Ken Conrad, a longtime radio personality in the Charlotte area and P.A. voice of the Charlotte Knights baseball team. Thanks to Greg Price at for doing a little digging and solving this long held mystery.  We will be updating the site with full information on our mystery promo announcer this week.

Fans of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling from the early 1980s will remember him doing the 2 min 30 sec. local promotional segments that air twice during each syndicated episode of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "World Wide Wrestling." He only did this for a relatively short time period, from mid-1981 into early 1982. (The above screen capture is from October of 1981.)

We believe his first name is Ken, but we have no idea of his last name. He was interviewing Jim Crockett, Sr. on the "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" show taped 1/20/82 and Jim twice called him "Ken." Occasionally TV people used "working names," but we will assume at this point that Ken is his first name. That's all we've got to go on at this point.

We are guessing that he was either (1) a TV personality at the station where this was taped, WPCQ-36 in Charlotte, or (2) a local Charlotte area TV or radio personality.

Can you help us? Do you know the identity of our mystery announcer? Please write us using the address on our CONTACT PAGE on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

See the complete video of this promo plus more info over at the STUDIO WRESTLING website.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The 1980 Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Reunion on Monday Night Raw

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Photo from

Back in 2009 on WWE's "Monday Night Raw" (3/16/09), Ric Flair made a special appearance and brought out some of his old pals from his Mid-Atlantic Wrestling days. It was a part of a build to an angle with Chris Jericho in the wweks leading up to WrestleMania that year.

For a brief moment Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, Ric Flair, and Ricky Steamboat all stood shoulder to shoulder on the RAW stage. It made for a really cool moment for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling fans who will remember that all four were top stars together for Jim Crockett Promotions in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

WWE Network

It's also interesting to note that all four were United States heavyweight champions during that era. Ric Flair both won and lost the U.S. title to all of the other three at one time or another. Three of the four (Flair, Piper, and Steamboat) held the Mid-Atlantic heavyweight championship as well.

WWE Network

A very cool moment indeed on WWE TV. This episode of Raw is available on the WWE Network, and the Mid-Atlantic moments are at 59:15 in that show.

* * * * *
This is an edited version of an article we first posted on the now-domant "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling On Demand" website back in 2009, part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Superstar vs. Sweet Ebony Diamond: Collision of Masked Men in 1980

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

During the summer of 1980 in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, the stars appeared to be aligned for the first major extended mask versus mask confrontation in Jim Crockett Promotion since 1975. Back in late 1974 and early 1975, the masked Super Destroyer and the masked Avenger carried on a spirited program which saw the Avenger eventually defeated and losing his hood. These bouts were entertaining and well attended, so it was a bit surprising that it took the promotion five years to think about doing a repeat.
In May of 1980, the Masked Superstar was a Mid-Atlantic mainstay, in the middle of his second run with Jim Crockett Promotions. The cerebral but bruising Superstar was the NWA Television Champion, and was just finishing a tag team angle where he was teamed up with Superstar #2, who had been recently unmasked by Blackjack Mulligan as being John Studd. Hence, Superstar #1was primed to segue into a singles program with a new opponent.

At the same time, Ric Flair had been telling the fans of the Mid-Atlantic area that he had convinced a good friend of his to come to the Carolinas to wrestle. Flair told the fans that this man was a premiere athlete, and that he was full of charisma and soul. Eventually, Ric said this newcomer would be going by the name of Sweet Ebony Diamond. When the hooded “Diamond” arrived, he certainly seemed to exude all of the dynamic characteristics that his buddy Flair had promised. Muscular, but very light on his feet, and possessing a lightning fast drop kick, “Sweet Ebony” moved up the ranks of the “good guy” side of the roster in short order.

By the summer of 1980, these two masked men had taken note of each other and were making comments about the other during their interview segments. Then on the World Wide Wrestling television program taped on July 16th, it was announced that the Superstar would be defending his NWA TV Title again Sweet Ebony Diamond on the show! Color commentator Johnny Weaver said, “Get you a good seat in front of your TV set because we’ve got Sweet Ebony Diamond who is gonna go up against the Superstar for the TV Title! Now Sweet Ebony Diamond’s made a big hit with the fans; he’s a Ric Flair man and he’s shown us a lot of promise and today, the next hour, he’s gonna get his chance.”

Maple Leaf Wrestling
Prior to the televised bout, Diamond told the World Wide Wrestling fans, “Man, this is the big one right here on TV, right, for the TV Title. I’m so hyped up, I’m so psyched up, I’m so fired up…I don’t think anybody could beat me right now, man!”

Announcer Rich Landrum got the fans of World Wide Wrestling set for the battle of the masked men saying, “We’re set for our title match, with the Superstar putting his title on the line against Sweet Ebony Diamond, and what an exciting match this will be…15 minute time limit match for the TV Title! Two masked men in the ring…this ought to be exciting!” Weaver agreed, “Exactly, that’s an oddity…one mask against the other!”

The match began with a clean break between the two combatants, with Weaver offering that it was a show of respect between the two masked men. Weaver continued, “Sweet Ebony Diamond, a find of Ric Flair and he’s finally got his big chance here in the World Wide area. He’s been goin’ through everybody here so far.” Landrum added, “On national television to have a shot at the NWA TV Title…whoa! That moves you up about 10 steps on the ladder very quickly.” Weaver countered, “And he’s in there with a smart cagey individual, very cautious…it’s hard to make this man commit an error.”

As the match continued, with both men feeling each other out, Landrum elaborated on the Superstar’s cerebral style in the squared circle commenting, “I was just trying to think back, and I could probably, in the whole time that I’ve had the opportunity to watch Superstar wrestle…the whole time I could count on one hand all of the matches he ever made a mistake in, and those are very few.” Weaver concurred, “Very few, it’s hard to force him into a mistake. He doesn’t rush, and he’s a methodical type wrestler.”

Friday, October 07, 2016

Crockett Foundation/Mid-Atlantic Gateway Partner on New Book

Earlier this year, we announced our pleasure in partnering with the Crockett Foundation on a new book that features archival photographs from the glory days of pro-wrestling in Jim Crockett Promotions. The photographs were taken by Jackie Crockett, one of the four children of Jim Crockett, Sr., the patriarch of the famous Crockett family of Charlotte, NC, and founder of Jim Crockett Promotions, which promoted wrestling and other events as early as 1931.
The book, "When Wrestling Was Wrestling", is part of a fund raising effort for the Crockett Foundation, whose mission it is to help veterans and veterans organizations. (Read more about them here.)

Debbie Ringley Mrozinski, seen at right with Dick Bourne of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, is the president of the Crockett Foundation. Debbie is the daughter of Frances Crockett Ringley and the granddaughter of Jim Crockett, Sr.,

"The Crockett Foundation is happy to be joining forces with Mid-Atlantic Gateway in our ongoing efforts to help veterans," Debbie said in a press release earlier this year. "The only way the Foundation can continue to be successful is through the generosity of people like those at the Gateway. We are looking forward to working with them on this exciting book project."

As the oldest grandchild of Jim and Elizabeth Crockett, Debbie has the task of continuing her grandparent’s philanthropic efforts. Debbie watched her family’s business grow while doing everything from lowering and raising the microphone at Park Center wrestling matches to making popcorn at Crockett Park.

The Crockett Foundation has several "tag team partners" from the world of pro-wrestling working with them including Ricky Steamboat, Ricky Morton, Robert Gibson, Nickla "Baby Doll" Roberts, James J. Dillon, Bob Caudle, Road Warrior Animal, referee Tommy Young and others. Now, the Mid-Atlantic Gateway is proud to be one of those tag team partners, too.

"When Wrestling Was Wrestling" features never before seen wrestling photographs from the 1970s and 1980s featuring some of the greatest names in the history of the sport. Some of the famous names included in the book are Ric Flair, Jack and Jerry Brisco, Ricky Steamboat, Sgt. Slaughter, Don Kernodle, Jay Youngblood, Paul Jones, Baron Von Raschke, Rufus R, Jones, Bob Orton, Jr., and many others. There are even rare photos of Boris Malenko's short lived wrestling phenomenon known only as JAWS!

The book was released last month (September 2016) and is available exclusively from the Crockett Foundation website, as well as events and conventions where they have a booth.

Order your copy today!

When Wrestling Was Wrestling
Photographs by Jackie Crockett.
Edited by Debbie Ringley Mrozinski and Dick Bourne.
Independently published. © 2016 Crockett Foundation

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Results: April - June 1975
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Results
from the Clawmaster's Archive

4/1/75 Raleigh, NC @ Dorton Arena
Johnny Valentine double DQ Paul Jones
Rufus R. Jones & Ken Patera beat Mr. Fuji & Art Neilson
Bob Bruggers beat Brute Bernard by DQ
Klondike Bill beat Frank Monte
Charlie Cook beat Ken Dillinger

4/1/75 Columbia, SC @ Township Auditorium
Gene Anderson & Ole Anderson beat Wahoo McDaniel & Sonny King
Ric Flair double countout with Swede Hanson
Doug Gilbert & Blue Scorpion beat Kevin Sullivan & Abe Jacobs
Sandy Scott beat Cowboy Parker

4/2/75 Raleigh, NC @ WRAL Studios(TV)

4/3/75 Greensboro, NC @ Coliseum
Gene Anderson & Ole Anderson no contest with Paul Jones & Wahoo McDaniel
Blackjack Mulligan beat Dusty Rhodes
Sonny King & Rufus R. Jones beat Mr. Fuji & Art Neilson
Billy Graham beat Abe Jacobs
Sandy Scott draw Doug Gilbert
Tommy Seigler & Bob Bruggers beat Cowboy Parker & Ken Dillinger

4/3/75 Norfolk, VA @ Scope
Ken Patera & Swede Hanson beat Ric Flair & Johnny Valentine by DQ
The Avenger beat Blue Scorpion
Charlie Cook beat Brute Bernard
Klondike Bill beat Frank Monte
Frank Morrell draw Tio Tio

4/4/75 Charleston, SC @ County Hall
Paul Jones beat Ric Flair by countout
Charlie Cook beat Mr. Fuji
Tommy Seigler & Bob Bruggers beat The Outlaws
Bill Crouch beat El Gaucho(sub for Don Kernodle)

4/4/75 Lynchburg, VA @ City Armory
Super Destroyer vs. The Avenger in a match with 2 referees
Brute Bernard & Art Neilson vs. Abe Jacobs & Kevin Sullivan
Bobby Williams vs. Frank Monte
Mr. Hayashi vs. El Gaucho

4/4/75 Richmond, VA @ Coliseum 
Ken Patera & Sonny King beat Gene Anderson & Ole Anderson by DQ
Wahoo McDaniel beat Johnny Valentine
Blackjack Mulligan beat Swede Hanson by DQ
Rufus R. Jones beat Frank Morrell
Sandy Scott draw Doug Gilbert
Blue Scorpion beat Tio Tio

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Amazing New Documentary on Magnum T.A. Coming Soon

Michael Elliot at has produced what looks to be another winner of a documentary on pro-wrestling. "I Never Quit: The Magnum T.A. Story" is set to be released on October 14, the 30th anniversary of Magnum's tragic automobile accident that cut short his burgeoning career.

He only wrestled for Jim Crockett Promotions for 22 months (December 1984 - October 1986), yet Magnum's feuds and matches over the United States title with Wahoo McDaniel, Tully Blanchard, and Nikita Koloff are some of the most remembered and talked about from that era. Can't wait for this documentary.

We had a chance recently to talk with Magnum T.A. in advance of his inducting Dusty Rhodes posthumously into the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Hall of Heroes ( in Charlotte this past summer. You can read that interview here.

More details on this documentary as they are available.

Blooper! Jean, Jock, J, and Darin


Sometimes we can't decide if mistakes in these newspaper ads are really bloopers or just merely typos. There are four in the this short newspaper blurb for an upcoming card in Saluda, VA in 1979. We've decided they are all bloopers!


First of all, we know about all the many members of the famous Anderson family - - Gene, Lars, Ole, Arn, Bryant, Brad ..... but we never knew about JEAN Anderson!

And even though Jay Youngblood's first name is Jay - - let's just shortened it to J. Why not? 

And we knew Sgt. Jacques Goulet was a good wrestler, but we never knew he had the nickname JOCK. Hey, this was during the era of the Dallas TV series, where there was the very well known patriarch of the Texas oil family Jock Ewing. Easy to confuse, right?

And lastly, rather than assign military rank to JOCK Goulet, the newspaper ad writer decided to give him a new first name - - Sargent. There are all sorts of folks with the surname Sargent - - perhaps they were thinking of Dick Sargent who played Darin on Bewitched? But we've never known anyone with that as a first name - - until now: SARGENT JOCK Goulet!

Late edit: Ron from Syracuse, NY noticed another error, this one a typo, where Baron Von Raschke's name was misspelled ROSCHKE. However, if it were spelled the way 1975-1978 Wide World Wrestling announcer Ed Capral pronounced it, ROSCHKE might be correct! 

Did we miss anything?

See a list of all the earlier bloopers here. More bloopers to come.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Hitting the Spot: Culpeper, VA

The Culpeper, Virginia Junior High School Gym

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

At the northeastern terminus of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wresting area sits the town of Culpeper, Virginia. A scant 70 miles from Washington, D.C. and the WWWF territory, the Culpeper Junior High School Gym hosted the stars of Jim Crockett Promotions from 1980 through 1985. Richmond, Virginia was the closest major Mid-Atlantic town to Culpeper, being nearly 90 miles to the southeast. Culpeper sometimes took Richmond’s normal Friday night wrestling slot, though cards in Culpeper were mostly held on Saturdays. The gymnasium in Culpeper held between 2,500 to 3,000 fans, and much like other spot show venues had its share of quirks that made attending a card there quite interesting and entertaining.

Back in the early and middle 1980s, Michael Hicks lived in the area and attended Mid-Atlantic cards in Culpeper and usually had front row seats for the action. Hicks, currently residing just outside of Denver, Colorado, would arrive at the junior high school as early as 2:30 on Saturday afternoons back in the day for an 8:15 bell time, just for the opportunity to mingle with fellow fans who had just watched Mid-Atlantic wrestling on WTVR TV Channel 6 in Richmond. According to Hicks, wrestlers would often park in the front parking lots of the school, unaware that there was parking available behind the school. This led to some strange sights when the talent arrived at the front door of the gym! Hicks recalls, “One time Tim Horner did just that, walking up to the front door before fans advised him to drive around to the back. This was in 1982 on a card where Horner wrestled Carl Fergie.”

Even the main event wrestlers weren’t immune from having issues entering the building in Culpeper. Hicks remembered, “A year earlier, Blackjack Mulligan did the same thing. He was in town for a February 14, 1981 tag team main event match pitting him and Ric Flair against Greg Valentine and Roddy Piper. Because Mulligan arrived to the building sort of late, I’d say around 7:00 or so, maybe a few minutes later, he walked right in the front door, crossed through the upper bleachers. The junior high school had two sets of bleachers on both sides of the gymnasium, one on the floor and one upstairs.” Like many of the high school gym spot show venues, Mulligan made his way to the baby face locker room, which was the girls’ locker room during school hours. The heels were housed in the boys’ school locker room.

The first card in Culpeper sponsored by Jim Crockett Promotions was held at the junior high school gym on August 22, 1980, and of course was attended by Michael Hicks. The gym was packed, and the crowd was at a fever pitch. When thinking back on that first Culpeper card, Hicks said, “Without a doubt the memory that sticks out about that first card was the aftermath of the main event, which saw current U.S. Champion Greg Valentine wrestle former champion Ric Flair in a non-title bout. Valentine had really gotten the crowd’s ire up when he, on a televised promo for the event, had asked the following question: ‘I’ve heard of a bell pepper and a green pepper, but what the hell is a Culpeper?’ Instant heat! Flair rebutted the comment later in the show when he talked about the fine town of Culpeper and all the beautiful women who lived there.”

While the first Mid-Atlantic main event match in Culpeper was special, the post-match activities were even better. Hicks related, “After Flair had scored the pinfall victory, the younger fans around ringside had converged on the ring. They stood around the ring, as if they were lumberjacks, and started pounding the mat, chanting ‘loser, loser’ at Valentine, who had nowhere to go. Eventually, the ringside area was cleared out by security and an announcement from the public address announcer Bob Houck, who was president of the Lignum Ruritan Club, which sponsored the matches. But that was the signature moment of the first night when the promotion knew it had the town hooked. It set up a rematch between Valentine and Flair, this time for the U.S. Title, on November 22nd which Flair won by count out.”

Mid-Atlantic wrestling would then return to Culpeper every three or four months, and over the next several years fans in the area were treated to a plethora of big name stars from the Mid-Atlantic talent roster. Hicks recalls, “Culpeper was fortunate to see a lot of wrestlers come through the area in those five years, from Flair, Jimmy Valiant and Jake Roberts to Johnny Weaver, Piper and Paul Jones. The list also includes Ole Anderson, Dewey Robertson, George Wells, S.D. Jones, the Sheepherders, Don Kernodle, Jim Nelson, Bruno Sammartino, Jr., Nikolai Volkoff, Chris Markoff, Lord Alfred Hayes, Killer Kahn, One Man Gang, Dick Slater, Bad Bad Leroy Brown, Jack Brisco, Mike Rotunda, King Parsons, Dizzy Hogan (aka Brutus Beefcake), Kevin Sullivan, Mark Lewin, Chavo Guerrero, Black Bart, Ron Bass, James J. Dillon, Buzz Tyler and Denny Brown.”

During 1984 Jim Crockett Promotions took a hiatus from coming up to Culpeper, and the last Culpeper card occurred on February 9, 1985, and was memorable to Hicks just like the first card was back in 1980. Hicks recollected, “That final card was headlined by NWA Television Champion Tully Blanchard defending against the Ragin’ Bull Manny Fernandez, one half of the NWA World Tag Team Champions. Blanchard was accompanied by Baby Doll at the time. Just like how the first show grabbed the fans, this one did too, but for the wrong reasons. A fan got into a post-match skirmish with Baby Doll following the 20 minute time limit draw. It didn’t appear to be all that serious, but it was enough. Jim Crockett Promotions never ran Culpeper again.”

Fans such as Michael Hicks who frequented the Culpeper Junior High School Gym in the early and mid 1980s paid consistent ticket prices during Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling’s five year run there. Ringside prices were $6.00; general admission prices were $5.00 with kids under eleven getting in for $3.00. A trip to see Mid-Atlantic wrestling in Culpeper could also make for a long evening, as with only a single exit available to get out of the parking lot, a one hour plus traffic jam loomed before fans could make their way home. However, prices and traffic were no impediment whatsoever for the loyal fans in and around this far afield Mid-Atlantic outpost. And like many other smaller venues for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, the Culpeper Junior High School Gym served the wrestling needs of this northern Virginia area oh so well. Yes, it surely did…hit the spot!

Newspaper clippings and poster image courtesy Michael Hicks

Saturday, October 01, 2016

David Chappell Joins Jim Valley on "Saturday Morning Wrestling"

The Mid-Atlantic Gateway's David Chappell is Jim Valley's guest this week on his regular weekend PWTorch Livecast "Saturday Morning Wrestling".

Jim and David talk all things Mid-Atlantic including the famous Ric Flair/Blackjack Mulligan Hat and Robe angle, the Anderson Brother's "Supreme Sacrifice", the legendary Johnny Weaver,  the IWA and WWF invasions, 1984 as a year of transition, the Flair and Mulligan near miss in 1977, Thanksgiving cards, the Gateway Boys' induction into the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Hall of Heroes, and much more!

You can listen and download from the embedded podcast above, or you can download from your favorite podcast provider such as iTunes. Just search for PWTorch Livecast.

Thanks to Jim and PWTorch for hosting the Mid-Atlantic Gateway!