Saturday, December 31, 2016

Johnny Valentine's Softer Side

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In early December of 1974, Johnny “The Champ” Valentine was a dominating force in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Known as the “Hammer,” Valentine was the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion and was running roughshod over foe after foe. But in an edition of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped right before the wrestlers took off a little bit of time before the Christmas holidays, we learned some surprising things about the Hammer.

On this TV show, Valentine faced off against Belton, South Carolina’s favorite son, Tommy Seigler in a non-title bout. Johnny’s 2,000 silver dollars were not at stake in this match. This contest was the final bout on the show, and as such the length of the match was set for television time remaining. Seigler, a solid mid-card performer would be expected to give Valentine a good tussle, but in this match he held Valentine to a TV time limit draw. This surprising result may finally have exposed a small chink in Valentine’s armor.

But the biggest surprise to come out of this TV bout for me was a bit of information that was produced from color commentator “Big” Bill Ward. To put this bit of surprising news in perspective, one only had to think back to when Valentine was wrestling “Mr. Wrestling” Tim Woods on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television two months earlier, his deliberately breaking Woods’ leg, and smiling as Woods screamed in agony from the broken bone.

Ward told the Mid-Atlantic faithful, “A lot of times the fans write in, and we like to honor their requests. Someone wanted to know the hobbies of Johnny Valentine…well, you’d be surprised. A rugged guy in the ring like Johnny Valentine, can you imagine what his hobbies would be? Painting and gardening! Now, that’s amazing isn’t it?”

A shocked announcer Bob Caudle paused and then replied, “It really is…you wouldn’t think it was his nature.” Ward responded, “Well, the delicate touch he has in that ring could be applied to gardening and to painting. But it amazes me that a man that can be as rugged in that ring can have hobbies like that!”

Witnessing Johnny Valentine brutalize Mid-Atlantic opponents with his sledgehammer right hand in nearly every bout he participated in for Jim Crockett Promotions, I’m not quite sure when and where Bill Ward saw the ‘delicate touch’ of Johnny Valentine that he mentioned. But I certainly agree with “Big Bill” that I was amazed to hear that Johnny’s hobbies were painting and gardening.

I’ll never forget when TV announcer Les Thatcher followed up with the same line of thought with Valentine on Les’ Mid-Atlantic Wrestling TV show later in 1975, and even got Johnny, the Hammer, to talk about his garden. I about fell out of my chair when Valentine told Les that it was a source of great pride for him that the vegetables he grew in his garden were bigger and healthier than those of his neighbors. It’s just hard to imagine the brutal Johnny Valentine comparing and contrasting his tomatoes to those of his next door neighbors.

Oh well, I guess even a Hammer can have a softer side!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Weaver Cup Post from August 2016

An earlier post to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway from August of this year reporting on the result of the 2016 Johnny Weaver Memorial Cup Tournament was removed for editing and then failed to be re-posted. We have posted the results again, backdating the post appropriately for historical and contextual purposes.

Please go to that post now and read about Nick Richards' big win of the 2016 tournament.  
Nick Richards Wins the 2016 Johnny Weaver Cup Tournament 

The Johnny Weaver Cup tournament is an annual event of CWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

U.S. Title Match: Magnum T.A. vs Nikita Koloff

If you want to know what heat in general felt like back in the 1980s, when there was still real heat, then watch this match. There is more heat in this one match than in a year of Raw all added together.

Not sure of the date of this match, but it was sometime after March 8, 1986 (when this version of the U.S. belt made its debut) and when Magnum was stripped of the title in early June of 1986.

I think this is Greensboro, but there again, not completely sure. But that looks like Wally Dusek at ringside with Tony Schiavone so I'm thinking Greensboro. However, Tom Miller was usually ring announcer for Greensboro, so this may be Charlotte. Who knows? Who cares? It's awesome.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Gateway Interview: Jim Brunzell (Final - Part 6)

Interview by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

(Catch up on the introduction and what you missed in Part 1Part 2  |  Part 3  |  Part 4  |  Part 5)

Chappell: As we wrap up Jim, I’d like you to comment on several Mid-Atlantic guys that we haven’t mentioned up to this point. How about a word about Big John Studd?

Brunzell: (pauses) Big John…John Minton! Honest to God, he had worked up here in the AWA and of course he went to the WWF…

Chappell: He even had an earlier stint in Crockett in 1974 as ‘Chuck O’Connor.’

Brunzell: You know, they used to book me with John and John would say, ‘I don’t think the crowd can possibly believe that you can beat me,’ and I said, ‘John, you have to tell them! You have to work the part, that there’s a slight chance I can beat you!’ (laughing)

Chappell: Yeah, it takes two to tango!

Brunzell: He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘You gotta get off your feet and you gotta take some bumps!’

Big John Studd
Chappell: Little bit of a size difference there between you two!

Brunzell: (laughs) OH GOD!

You know, I saw him at the end when I went out to L.A., and honest to God he got involved with all these meatheads out there. He was close to 500 pounds when I saw him, and he was using all these real abstract brand new different growth hormone drugs, and stuff like that. And it wasn’t much longer after that, that he got cancer, and then he died.

Chappell: Sounds like a very tough closing chapter for big John.

Brunzell: I’m sure all of his experimentation, you know, of him trying to fulfill his need to be a giant, you know he always wanted to be a giant…

Chappell: He was!

Brunzell: He was… six feet ten inches! I’ll never forget that Brian Blair and I as the Killer Bees worked John and King Kong Bundy in Joe Louis Arena. We had a hell of a match with those guys! And honest to God, King Kong Bundy was six feet four and weighed 400 pounds and John was six feet ten and 395 pounds. And here’s Brian and I at 225-235 pounds, but we had a hell of a match!

Chappell: (laughs) Maybe size doesn’t matter!

Brunzell: That match showed that big versus small could work! Studd just couldn’t get in his mind that in the business, you in the ring had to dictate what the people thought! He didn’t think people could see me beating him. I said, ‘Just go down!’

Chappell: (laughs) Just give me a little help!

Brunzell: Yeah!

Chappell: Another guy who just had a cup of coffee for Crockett, but is almost a cult figure today because of what a strange character he was, is Enforcer Luciano. You all were in the area together during his short stint in the summer of 1980.

Brunzell: (pauses) AW MY GOD! AW GOD, I felt bad for him! George brought him in, and to be honest with you, he had no talent AT ALL!

Chappell: (laughing) But he could chew up a light bulb like nobody’s business!

Brunzell: He had no talent, and he didn’t look the part. And I remember he had a gimmick deal that he took his hand and he punched these bricks…

Enforcer Luciano with Bob Caulde and David Crockett
Chappell: Yeah! On TV, I think he did that right before he chewed up the light bulb! He said he had steel pins in his hand…

Brunzell: Well, what he did was he injected his hands, fists, with Novocain and he punched this doggone brick and he broke the brick…but he broke his hand!

Chappell: Oh my God, for real? I mean, I remember after he broke the brick he said, ‘AND THAT DOESN’T EVEN HURT!’ He must have been tough as hell!

Brunzell: I just remember thinking, ‘Where in the hell did George get this guy from?’ George must have been taking some hallucinogenics on the side! I have no idea, God rest his soul, where his thought process was on this character.

Chappell: (laughing)

Brunzell: He was just horrible, and he wasn’t an athlete either!

The Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie)
Chappell: Sort of a polar opposite from Luciano, even though they teamed up, was the Masked Superstar Bill Eadie. Your thoughts on Bill?

Brunzell: Yes, Billy was an exceptional talent! One of the best masked guys ever. He was great in the ring; a good athlete. He was a football player in college, and I still see him around. He and the Demolition might still work, and he’s six months older than me!

Chappell: He’s been very supportive of the Gateway over the years.

Brunzell: He was always a good guy. I think he went to West Virginia, or one of those colleges in that area. He got over good in the Mid-Atlantic.

Another guy I want to mention David, is Paul Orndorff.

Chappell: I always thought you basically replaced him in the Mid-Atlantic area, because he was a babyface then and right about the time he left in 1979 you came in.

Brunzell: Oh God, Paul was such a great guy and a great talent! He REALLY got a big push when he went to New York. And he did incredibly well as ‘Mr. Wonderful.’

Chappell: He sure did.
Paul Orndorf

Brunzell: I tell you, this guy had a lot of talent and he had one of the best wrestling physiques I’d ever seen.

Chappell: And he got so much better on the mic up in New York from where he was during his Crockett stay.

Brunzell: Really a good guy; a little hot-headed in the ring once in a while.

Chappell: I could see that!

Brunzell: (laughs) It might have been in Richmond, but he and I were in a tag match with Gene Anderson and somebody else, and they were trying to take advantage of Paul, and out of the clear blue sky Paul picks Gene up and ran him all the way across the ring and slammed him in the turnbuckle!

Gene’s head went violently over the side of the turnbuckle and snapped back!

Chappell: That sounds scary. I wouldn’t think Orndorff would be one you’d really want to mess with…

Brunzell: (laughing) Oh God no, he had a horrible temper! Thank God he and I were good friends! There are a lot of tough guys that you’d meet, but very few of them were real shooter types in wrestling. Most of them were guys that were street fighters, and were tougher than a cobb!

Chappell: Who was the legit toughest guy you dealt with during your wrestling career?

Brunzell: In my book I talk about Haku…

Chappell: Haku seems to be at the top of everyone’s tough guy list!

Brunzell: He was by far the toughest guy, and I saw him in action in a couple of bar fights. He was the grim reaper!

Chappell: (laughs)

Brunzell: This is the gospel truth, he was at this table where these guys were being smart. He took a real stand if people were saying something about wrestling…and he would take it as an insult. So, he went over and slapped one guy in the side of the head, and then he came back and he hit a guy with a chop right between the nose and the mouth and knocked both those guys out…

Chappell: Whew!

Brunzell: And then another guy started to come up, and Haku dove across the table and bit the end of the guy’s nose off!

Chappell: Oh my God!

Brunzell: And the guy freaked; he went into shock! And of course Haku got arrested, and faced a civil suit but he was a one man wrecking crew! But he was such a wonderful guy. I met him when he was 18 years old in Japan, and he was a little slimmer then but he was a heck of a talent even then.

Chappell: How did the guys feel about working with Haku?

Brunzell: There were a lot of guys like the Road Warriors that came in and thought they could take care of anybody, and they would sort of mow over people, but when they were against Haku they were like sheepish little guys, you know? (laughs)

They were very concerned about him in the ring…

Chappell: (laughs) And rightly so!

Brunzell: They were very concerned about him in the ring; they were very afraid that he might expose them if they tried to get really rough with him!

Chappell: I bet! Getting back to Mid-Atlantic guys before we conclude, what are your thoughts of Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke, who held the NWA World Tag Team Titles for most of the time you worked for Crockett?

Brunzell: Yes, well the Baron…I see Jimmy [Raschke] quite a bit and we still get together once in a while. And almost every area I went he was there.

Chappell: You couldn’t get away from the claw master!

Brunzell: Yes! And Paul Jones was sort of a legend in the Mid-Atlantic…

Chappell: Definitely, Paul is a great friend of the Gateway! He’s still going strong!

Brunzell: Is he really?!

Paul Jones & Baron Von Raschke
Chappell: Oh yes, we communicate with Paul regularly.

Brunzell: Please tell him ‘hi’ for me. He’s got to be in his 70’s, right?

Chappell: I believe Paul is 74 years young.

Brunzell: Hey, how about Johnny Weaver?

Chappell: ‘Mr. Mid-Atlantic!’

Brunzell: He was a HECK of a guy! And he was a down-home guy, and he was really over in Charlotte. He’d probably been there 25-30 years…

Chappell: A Crockett guy through and through…

Brunzell: Johnny was a great guy! And back to Paul, I got to tell you, Paul Jones and I were working in a small town, and it was right before Christmas. And he said to me, ‘Be careful in there, I don’t want to get hurt before Christmas.

(laughs) And I said, ‘Paul, I don’t either!’

Chappell: Very understandable!

Brunzell: So he jumps me and starts beating on me and he’s going to give me a turnbuckle and he said ‘reverse,’ so I reversed it and he hits the turnbuckle and there’s a piece of wire that’s jetting out of the turnbuckle! I don’t know what happened, but it was a stiff piece of wire…

Chappell: This doesn’t sound good for Paul’s Christmas!

Brunzell: It was about three inches long, and it hooked him right in the back! And he let out with a scream, and he turned around and I could see where it had cut into his back…

Chappell: That’s brutal

Brunzell: Yeah…I said, ‘Oh s#@t!’ He called the reverse, so it could have been me! (laughs) Paul was over in a big way in the Mid-Atlantic.

Chappell: How would you sum up your time in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling?

Brunzell: Like I’ve said, David, I had just a great time. I know my wife liked it in Charlotte and we had great neighbors. We worked a lot, but at least you could get home every night and that was a big plus. Like in New York you were gone for three weeks at a time. And in the AWA, which was the finest and best territory I ever worked, because Verne didn’t book you much in the summer because everybody was outside here. So, you’d work 14 times a month, which was perfect…you got half the month off!

But it wasn’t like that in the other areas and territories…

Chappell: That sounds almost too good to be true!

Brunzell: But I had a great time in the Mid-Atlantic, and met a lot of great people.

Chappell: Well, Jim, you left a great mark in the Mid-Atlantic area. I’ve always thought your work for Jim Crockett Promotions has been overlooked, and thank you for giving the Gateway a chance to showcase those 16 months today.

Brunzell: Well thank you so much for having the interview David, and to have me relive those days because it was a really nice time in my wrestling career. I’ll never forget it; I had a great time down there.

And actually I’m going to be in Richmond in May of next year…

Chappell: Outstanding, the event that’s being put on by a group including Rich Landrum! The Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo running May 19-20, 2017 at the Richmond Convention Center.

Brunzell: Yes! I’m looking forward to it so I’m looking forward to running into you there.
Chappell: I will definitely be there, and am really glad you’ll be there and looking forward to seeing you in my wrestling hometown!

Any final words for all your fans out there?

Brunzell: There are so many great fans out there! It’s fun talking to them and listening to them and have them reminisce. It brings back some nostalgia for me!

I want to thank you again for having me on, and I really look forward to seeing you at Rich Landrum’s Richmond event.

Chappell: It’s been a real pleasure, Jim. Happy Holidays to you!

Brunzell: Same to you. Thanks David, I really appreciate it…it was fun!

Special thanks to Jim Brunzell for sharing his time with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Check out all SIX parts of our interview with Jim through these links:

(Catch up on the introduction and what you missed in Part 1Part 2  |  Part 3  |  Part 4  |  Part 5)

And don't forget Jim's book "Matlands", available at

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Night Mid-Atlantic Memories in the 1970s

As we do every year about this time, we've linked to an old feature that is still found on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway archive that features the newspaper ads for Jim Crockett Promotions Christmas Day shows in the years 1968-1979. We will eventually (maybe?) get around to adding 1980-1988, but until then enjoy these great memories from days gone by!

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on Christmas Day

Christmas WIshes from WRAL, the Masked Superstar, and The Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The original Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie) at WRAL Studios, in Raleigh, NC,
WRAL was the TV home of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling from 1959-1983.

Wishing all of you Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, and a very Merry Christmas. 

Hope to see you in 2017!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Gateway Interview: Jim Brunzell (Part 5)

Interview by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

(Catch up on the introduction and what you missed in Part 1Part 2  |  Part 3  |  Part 4)

Jim Brunzell: Before I forget, David, we’ve been talking about George’s booking in the Mid-Atlantic. Every Monday, all the talent used to go in and meet with George and they would give George ideas about what they thought would be good to work into the next program, what would draw, et cetera, et cetera. And I never went to one of these meetings…

David Chappell: Really?

Brunzell: He called me one time and said, ‘Why don’t you come to these meetings?’ And I said, ‘George, I’m not a booker.’ I just didn’t believe in going in and doing that, and I guess this shows how naive I was…

Chappell: You’ve talked about George Scott a lot, did you perceive the booking being different or better in other places you worked?

Brunzell: In Minneapolis in the AWA and in the Central States, and s#@t, in Central States nobody, I mean Geigel and O’Connor were going to keep themselves on top, and book the rest of us to fill the card. You know, the AWA was managed so well and then when you got in the Mid-Atlantic and the NWA, I mean, you could see the writing on the wall in terms of what they wanted to do. But it was just no comparison.

Chappell: But you did enjoy your Mid-Atlantic stint?

Brunzell: I enjoyed Mid-Atlantic. Like I’ve told you before, when I left Charlotte I was in the best shape of my life. Honest to God, we wrestled every night and long matches. It was a great time. It went by like a flash, the amount of time I was there. The weather was great, and I just wish we would have had a little more time to enjoy the family. But that’s just the way it was; that’s the way George conditioned it.

Chappell: Have you kept up with any Mid-Atlantic guys over the years?

Brunzell: I have no idea whatever happened to Jim Crockett. I heard he moved to Dallas, but I don’t know what happened to him…

Chappell: He’s pretty much disassociated himself from wrestling…

Brunzell: I know George passed away. I see Steamboat; I saw Ricky at the Cauliflower Alley Club in Vegas in April which was fun. (laughing) And I see Ric occasionally; he’s going to be 68 shortly! He’s still involved and it’s funny, David, because as a former University of Minnesota athlete, I work with the M Club during the football games. And we have an M Club room to reminisce with guys…it’s been 45 years since I’ve played football there.

Chappell: How time flies!

Brunzell: But it’s funny, because up on the screen they have a video that they put out and they use Ric two or three times doing his ‘WOOO!’ It’s incredible; it’s great!

Chappell: That’s been done down here at sporting events as well, particularly in the Carolinas. The ‘WOOO’ has definitely made its mark!

Brunzell: Yeah!

Chappell: We’ve talked about the Iron Sheik a bit already, but when he took the Mid-Atlantic title off of you in May of 1980 that was the beginning of the end for you in the Mid-Atlantic area. Tell us how your run with Crockett ended. I still can’t believe that “Gentleman” Jim Brunzell got fired! (Note: Jim mentioned this briefly in Part 1 of the interview.)

Brunzell: Well, I’ll tell you exactly how I got fired. George had booked Khosrow and I in a second shot, we had an earlier shot, and Cosgrove said his back was hurt. So, in Franklin, North Carolina, George wanted us to do an hour…

Chappell: Of course!

Brunzell: (laughs) And Khosrow says, ‘My back is hurt Jim.’ So it wound up that I had him get disqualified. So, George calls me up and he said, ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘Khosrow told me his back hurt, so we did a disqualification.’

Then George calls Khosrow up and Khosrow said, ‘No, I never said that.’

Chappell: Geez…

Brunzell: I said, ‘George, Jesus Christ, you think I would do this without some reason?’ And he said, ‘Well, Jim, you disobeyed my booking; I gotta fire you.’ So I said, ‘You gotta do what you gotta do.’

Chappell: Wow…

Brunzell: So he fired me, but he let me work another four or five weeks. And I called Verne, and told him I ended up getting fired in Charlotte and asked him if there was an opportunity to come back. And he said, ‘Oh, that’d be perfect, but you can’t come back for this amount of time.’

Chappell: What did you do in the interim?

Brunzell: So meanwhile, I worked for Jim Barnett in Atlanta…I don’t know how long. But that was really a circus there, honest to God!

Chappell: (laughs)

Brunzell: (laughs) You know, they had two or three different bookers…it was pretty depressing

[Editor’s note: Jim Brunzell does a great Jim Barnett impression here!] Jim Barnett says, ‘Now Jimsey, now what do you want to do?’ And I said, ‘Jim, I just want to go home.’ So I went home. And you know what he told me? He said, ‘This will be the biggest mistake of your wrestling career.’ And I said, ‘Well, I hope you’re wrong.’

Chappell: Did you then restart with the AWA?

Brunzell: [The AWA] wasn’t quite ready for me, so they booked Nick Bockwinkel and I in Japan as partners, upholding the AWA. So, we went over there for four weeks, then we came back and Greg and I teamed up again.  When Jim Barnett told me leaving Atlanta would be the biggest mistake of my life, that next year in ’81 I made $80,000 which was the biggest salary I had made up until that time!

Chappell: I think you did just fine for yourself, Jim!

Brunzell: (laughs) Yeah, I made the biggest mistake of my life, and five years later Jim Barnett is working in New York and I see him there a couple of times!

It’s funny, this world in pro wrestling is so small…you run into people all the time. And you try to be a good person and treat everybody in the way you’d like to be treated professionally. I was very fortunate during my career that I had a lot of just great friendships. Guys really helped me and I benefited from them and it was a great experience.

Chappell: By the time you saw Jim Barnett again, this time in New York, the business was really changing.

Brunzell: I hated to go to work for New York, because I knew things were changing. It never was the same, and it still isn’t, you know?

Chappell: I agree.

Brunzell: I look back on all the talent that I was so fortunate to learn from in the areas that I went. Like in the AWA, the Central States and in the Mid-Atlantic…and I can honestly say that I didn’t learn too much in New York because it was so contrary to what I’d been taught.

Chappell: In so many ways! we start to wind down Jim, your book which you’ve mentioned a few times is fantastic. Please tell everybody a little bit about it specifically.

Brunzell: The book is titled ‘MatLands,’ and I self published it through a company called ‘’ If you go there you can punch in MatLands by Jim Brunzell and it will give you a ten page preview telling you what the book is about. It’s done real well, and it was really fun to do the book even though it was a hard process. I had never written a book before, and I had no idea what I was doing! My wife had given me a Dictaphone that I could record into, and people in our social group used to tell me that I told great stories, and I should write a book! So I did the book…

Chappell: It’s great history, but very entertaining as well.

Brunzell: It’s worked out real good. A good buddy of mine, Hillbilly Jim Morris, just recently did a book that he sent me. It’s so funny, because a number of the guys are writing books now. Bob Backlund’s got a book, and I think One Man Gang’s got a book. You think of all the guys that have worked for so many years, and it’s great they’re putting togther something of their path, and where their path led in the world of pro wrestling.

Chappell: Without a doubt.

Brunzell; You know, it’s fun to look back. Matter of fact, Brian Blair and I are going to go to Germany next year for three days. You still have a worldwide market. People can see you all over, and they can see the old tapes.

Chappell: How are you doing health-wise these days, Jim? Unfortunately a good many of your wrestling brothers are having some tough times in that regard.

Brunzell: I feel very fortunate that I didn’t really have any real serious injuries during my career. Although, I’ve had a shoulder replacement, a hip replacement and a knee replacement as a result of that career. But I think anybody that was in the wrestling business over 15-20 years is gonna need some spare parts!

Chappell: I know in a number of your Mid-Atlantic interviews you talked about a big part of your success revolved around your ability to stay healthy, so it’s good to hear that you practiced what you preached!

Brunzell: For sure; I was very fortunate.

Stay tuned for PART SIX where we wrap things up with Jim Brunzell and he talks about many of his fellow wrestlers in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Deck The Halls: Georgia Wrestling Christmas

The following is a part of compilation of features that the Turner broadcasting company did each year in the late 1970s and early 1980s where each of their in-house pograms presented a Christmas-themed video.

I believe, although not 100% sure, this is from 1982.

Front row (L-R) Bruno Sammartino, Jr., Gordon Solie, Mr. Wrestling II, Freddie Miller, Ted Oates 
Back Row: (L-R) Bob Armstrong, Brad Armstrong, Big Red, Michael Hayes, (undetermined), Tommy Rich.

Others seen in brief wrestling clips are Austin Idol, Mike Jackson, El Gran Apollo,  Ken Timbs, Terry Gordy, Ole Anderson, and a few others.

Not sure who that is between Michael Hayes and Tommy Rich - - sort of looks like a very young Steve Lombardi. Anyone have any ideas?

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Saturday TV: Drinkin' and Leg Divin'

*  *  *

"From the time I was born, I was runnin' bad, Jack. I mean they had to chase me around the 'hawspital', you understand, trying to get me to calm down. 
I was throwing elbows on nurses, and leg divin' doctors, Jack!"

Thursday, December 15, 2016

U.S. Wrestling Club: Ricky Steamboat

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

MAY- JUNE 1981

In 1981, Jim Crockett promotions developed a club for their fans and called it the "United States Wrestling Club." For a membership fee of $5.00 for one year, fans got the bi-monthly club newsletter "Ringside," a discounted subscription offer on "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine," discounts on tickets to local Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events, and discounts on concessions at those events. Despite being initially well received by fans, Jim Crockett Promotions folded the club after only one year.

The premier 4-page issue of the "Ringside" newsletter for the United States Wrestling Club arrived in the late spring of 1981. The first feature article was editor Steve Waid's interview with Ricky Steamboat about his interest in body-building. Steve photographed Ricky working out at the gym.

The issue also included "Club News" from Jim Crockett, Jr., an enrollment form, and letters to the editor.

Ricky Steamboat, Wrestler and Body Builder
by Steve Waid

One of the reasons professional wrestling superstar Ricky Steamboat has made it to the top of his sport is that he maintains a sleek, powerful physique.

Certainly Steamboat has one of the best-built bodies in wrestling, and the strength it generates has helped him win many matches he might otherwise have lost.

To become a professional wrestler takes hard work, but Steamboat had to work that much harder to perfect his body. Years of sweat and sacrifice are required to produce the kind of physique which ultimately helps make champions.

“I started body-building about seven years ago,” said Steamboat. “I do a lot of traveling in my job as a wrestler and I was fortunate enough to have a lot of friends who operate gyms in various cities. They let me slip in and have a few workouts.”

“But in my home, Charlotte, NC, I worked out regularly at a gym.”

Steamboat’s routine usually consists of steady workouts with weights and body-building machines six days a week. “I’m really involved in it when I’m getting ready for a body-building competition,” he added. “Right now, I’m competing in the regional level (Mid-Atlantic) and to prepare myself, I spend several hours each day working out.”

“But it’s a bit different in the off-season, when I have more time. I usually work out four days a week then.”

Body-building not only improves the look and tone of the physique, it also helps in the ring.

“Keeping your muscle tone and strength is like building a set of shock absorbers,” Steamboat said. “If your muscles are tight, you are less susceptible to injury. Getting slammed around in the ring and falling to the mat can seriously hurt you. But you will avoid most injuries if your muscles are tight.”

Steamboat added that ligaments and tendons are often twisted during a match, and injury can result if the wrestler’s muscle tone isn’t good.

“You have to remember that in my profession, a lot of the moves and holds applied goes against your joints,” Steamboat said. “You have to have the proper muscle tone to make sure you can absorb the pressure. I’m sure football players have to be the same way. They have developed the same basic reasoning.”

Steamboat’s workouts can be rigorous. Working with dumbbells, weights and Nautilus machines is a tedious process – and at times a painful one. When Steamboat undergoes several weightlifting repetitions, it’s not unusual to see him sweat, strain and groan.

He advises that no one who wants to become involved in body building undertake the exercise he does. It takes time to rise to his level of proficiency. And no one should attempt any sort of body building program without a doctor’s approval.

“To develop a good body takes a great deal of time,” Steamboat said. “You must first learn to be patient. Guys come up to me and ask if they lift weights for six months, will they look like me? There is no way.”

“I would recommend that a person start out very lightly. Don’t go and see how much you can lift right away – we calling that ‘maxing out’. Just lift what you can for 12 to 15 repetitions for six to eight weeks.”

“If you can increase your repetitions from 15 to 20, then add some more weight. Find your levels and work out at them. Then, maybe after six months, you can take a chance and see how much you can lift.”

Steamboat emphasized that the biggest thing for any body builder is to stay healthy.

“If you suffer an injury and can’t work out, you will quickly lose what you have gained,” he said. “Suppose you have added a half-inch to your arms. If you injure yourself, you’ll lose that in just two to three weeks, and it will have taken you six months to gain it.”

Diet plays an important role in body building and Steamboat pays careful attention to his. “When I am preparing for competition, I go on a low-fat, low-carbohydrate diet,” he said.

“This means I reduce the intake of carbohydrates and fats and take in more protein. I don’t eat bread, pasta or any sweets. I eat a lot of fish and chicken. Steak is a good provider of protein, but it also has fats.”

“You need the protein to repair and rebuild your muscles’ tissues, which you tear down during body building.”

When he is not preparing for competition, Steamboat relaxes his diet only a little. He eats fruits (which he also eats in his more strenuous program), steak, baked potato and sometimes, even dessert.

“Usually, I take one day in the week and just let go,” he said. “I eat pretty much what I want. It helps break up the monotony.”


Club News
by Jim Crockett, Jr.

Judging from the mail and phone calls received, the response to the United States Wrestling Club has been tremendous.

Hundreds of wrestling fans across the country have responded to our USWC membership drive and it looks like the club is going to be a big success.

To become a member of the USWC, Just send a $15 membership fee to the United States Wrestling Club, P. O. Box 3854, Charlotte, NC 28203. Don’t forget to include your name, address and zip code.

Being a member entitles you to discount tickets on a regular basis to wresting matches in your area. You will also receive the Club Newsletter, “Ringside” every two months. This will feature in-depth stories on your favorite wrestlers, along with photos, club news and other items of interest to wrestling fans.

You will also received a colorful membership card, which will entitle you to special 10 percent discounts on wrestling posters, t-shirts, wrestling jackets and other items.

And there’s a big bonus. As a member, you receive at a discount, Wrestling Magazine, a publication which highlights wrestling on the local and national level. It also features profiles and interviews with the wrestlers, as well as some first class photos of your favorites.

As a USWC member, you get Wrestling Magazine for just $10 for six issues, and it’s a regular $18 value.

Don’t wait – join the United States Wrestling Club today and get in on all the action.

(Note: This material is presented for historical purposes. Reprinted from 1981 newsletter. The club is no longer active. DO NOT send money to the P.O. Box above!)

Editor: Sid Morris
Managing Editor: Sid Morris
Associate Editor: Anita Gersch
Art Director: Frank Nemis
Membership: Donna Taylor

See also: Ringside Vol. 1 Issue 3 on Roddy Piper

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Gateway Interview: Jim Brunzell (Part 4)

Interview by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

(Catch up on the introduction and what you missed in Part 1Part 2  |  Part 3)
Jim Brunzell's book is available at

Brunzell: A couple of these stories I tell in my book…[George Scott] brought in Buddy Rogers…

Chappell: Oh yeah, I was definitely going to ask you about the original Nature Boy!

Brunzell: (laughs) And Buddy Rogers was going to come in and help George. You know, with the booking. Buddy Rogers had notoriously for YEARS, every territory he’d come into, he’d steal all the heat from all the heels and he’d be the number one guy. Well, Buddy had to be close to 50 years old then…

Chappell: You’d think, at least…

Brunzell: Yeah, and he comes in…and I didn’t trust him at all, because I’d heard so much about him. (laughs) I remember he ended up stealing all the heat from everybody, and he was managing Jimmy Snuka. So, it was Jimmy Snuka, Buddy Rogers against Ricky Steamboat and I. I remember Buddy Rogers putting Band-Aids over his ears…

Chappell: That’s right, I remember he used the bad ear gimmick to feed the crowd reactions at the house shows.

Brunzell: He’d come on the interviews and say, ‘I just can’t stand the noise when people boo me!’

Chappell: (laughs)

Brunzell: So in the match he’s got these doggone Band-Aids on his ears, and it worked out that Steamer gave me a tag and I’m making a comeback on him and I get him in the corner, and I ripped one of the Band-Aids off his ear and he goes crazy and the fans go nuts! Then I ripped the other one off, and the fans go crazier!

Chappell: (laughs)

Brunzell: He also had a big Band-Aid on his chest, and I thought, ‘Oh s#@t, I’ll just rip that one off too!’

Chappell: (laughs)

Brunzell: (laughs) What had happened is that he had burned himself, in one of the very first sun tanning beds that they had then…

Chappell: Okay, now we know how Rogers always had such a good tan!

Brunzell: And he was blistered! So when I pulled that Band-Aid off he screeched like an owl!

Chappell: (laughing)

Brunzell: (laughs) And as I biel tossed him out of the corner he said to me, “I bet if you had five more seconds you’d take my boot off!’ That’s what he said to me, and we never worked again! (laughing)

Chappell: (laughing) That’s hilarious!

Brunzell: You know, he was a character…Oh God!

Chappell: For sure, and speaking of characters, you had an extended program in the Mid-Atlantic area with the strongman Ken Patera over the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title which you won from him on September 14, 1979 in my wrestling hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Please tell us a little about Patera and the Mid-Atlantic belt.

Brunzell: Right, you know Kenny was a good heel and he was so powerful, and a great athlete. He was sort of a natural heel, because that was basically what his personality was too. And I remember George sort of let us flounder around underneath a little bit. Kenny and I had worked this deal, and we had a no disqualification match in Richmond for the championship. And I remember the finish was so unique!

Chappell: Oh yes!

Brunzell: I was making a comeback and he’d stopped me and thrown me outside and he kept knocking me off and running my head into the post and then the turnbuckle and the mat and everything, and then what happened was that the referee was pushing him back, and as he pushed him back Kenny comes whipping around and I had grabbed the top rope and slung myself and jumped and actually hit him with a head-to-head shoulder block tackle and covered him one-two-three. And it got over like a son of a gun!

Chappell: That’s an understatement, Jim!

Brunzell: First of all, it was a great match and the finish just came out of the clear blue sky. You know, because I was still down there selling and Kenny had kicked out and he got up and threw me out of the ring and then they give me the belt and he jumps off and the people go crazy!

Chappell: A magical Richmond Coliseum moment!

Brunzell: You know, we had a good run with that and you know it was fun. Oh God, Richmond was a great wrestling town! Richmond was one of the best big towns that we hit in the Mid-Atlantic. I mean, you know, Raleigh was okay and Norfolk was okay and Charlotte was good, but I tell you Richmond had a beautiful civic center there and it was round and the people were with it…they had great crowds in there!

Chappell: The Richmond Coliseum was the place to be on Friday nights!

Brunzell: I had some really good matches there. Matter of fact, I remember I had a match there with the Iron Sheik, and after the match he grabbed something and started choking me and he choked me so damn hard that I was almost knocked out! And then he threw me out of the ring and I was sort of half conscious, and when I went out of the ring I slammed my head on the concrete and I had 23 stitches in the side of my eyebrow!

Chappell: Whoa!

Brunzell: I’ll never forget that…that was from Richmond! The Iron Sheik, Khosrow, was such a character. In my book I talk about Khosrow and the Mid-Atlantic Title. He had wound up beating me on TV using that loaded boot!

Chappell: I remember that well! It’s interesting that three Mid-Atlantic opponents we have talked about, were in that 1972 training class with Verne!

Brunzell: Yeah, and it’s funny too I remember this match we had in Norfolk. I had beat Khosrow on TV by putting the sleeper on him…

Chappell: Yeah, I think you said Johnny Weaver had helped you perfect the sleeper.

Brunzell: And he was down in the ring…ding, ding, ding. I take off his loaded boot! And I think it was Rich Landrum doing the promos…and I go say to Rich, ‘I’m going to wrestle the Iron Sheik in Norfolk, I’ve got his boot and there’s no way he’s gonna be able to keep the Mid-Atlantic Title.’ So that coming week we had a double shot, an early shot in Norfolk and then we had that night in Charlotte. Sandy Scott is the agent running the town, and Khosrow and I are on last. Sandy comes up to me and says the finish is an hour draw! I said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Sandy, I’ve got the gimmick boot. If I can’t beat Khosrow with the gimmick boot in 60 minutes what the hell does that say about me?’

Chappell: Yeah…

Brunzell: And Sandy says, ‘Well, that’s what George wants.’ I was furious. It was funny, I got home that night and I saw him in Charlotte and I took him aside and I said, ‘George, you might as well have buried me in the middle of the ring in Norfolk, because I’ll never draw another dime there.’ And he just didn’t get it, you know. He was so lucky that the Mid-Atlantic drew so well and had such great talent. Again, I’ll say I like George but his booking was horrible; his finishes were horrible.

Chappell: George did a lot of fantastic angles in the Mid-Atlantic area over the years, but I concede the loaded boot angle wasn’t his best! And he was near the end of his run as Crockett’s booker when you came on the scene. One thing that puzzled me about your booking in Mid-Atlantic was your quick run with the legendary Ray Stevens at the end of 1979. You two had a history in the AWA, traded the Mid-Atlantic Title between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then barely wrestled again after that! Even at that time as a fan, I was thinking, ‘What gives?’

Brunzell: Well, I thought the same thing David. And you know, Ray was one of the greatest of ALL talents.

Chappell: No question.

Brunzell: He was just incredible, and he and Nick Bockwinkel were AWA Tag Team Champions. He was HUGE out in San Francisco in the middle 60s to the early 70s. And Ray was the type of guy, you know, you could go in the ring with him and have a hell of a match, and he might not have slept for two days!

Chappell: (laughs)

Brunzell: He was incredible! And there were very few guys like him. I’ll say Ric was very much like Ray Stevens. Bobby Heenan was exactly the same; these guys were all naturals.

Chappell: I have heard Ric say that he emulated Ray in a lot of things he did.

Brunzell: Unbelievable talent!

Chappell: You worked with so many true legends like Ray Stevens over the course of your career. Were there any legends that you never worked with that you wish you had?

Brunzell: I was so fortunate that I had the opportunity in my early time at the AWA to work with all these great guys. And I did go to Kansas City and I saw Jack Brisco and I saw Terry Funk. And then when I went to Charlotte I worked with Terry Funk in a couple of shots. And when I went to Atlanta I worked with Dory Funk, Jr. But I never did get to work with Jack Brisco, who I REALLY admired! I thought he was one of the great champions.

Chappell: Absolutely.

Brunzell: Just an INCREDIBLE presence in the ring.

To Be Continued in Part 5!

Bonus Video: 
Jim Brunzell and Blackjack Mulligan vs. Tank Patton and Gene Lewis

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Paul Jones manages Tully Blanchard to his first Crockett Championship

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

When you think of Tully Blanchard in the Mid-Atlantic area, several things usually come immediately to mind:

(1) his feuds with Dusty Rhodes over the NWA TV title and the National heavyweight title
(2) his great tag team combinations with Wahoo McDaniel (the "Awesome Twosome") and Arn Anderson (in the Four Horsemen)
(3) the "I Quit" match and bloody feud over the United States title with magnum T.A.

And when you think of someone accompanying Tully Blanchard to the ring, you immediately think of his "Perfect 10" Baby Doll in 1985, and James J. Dillon with Tully Blanchard Enterprises and the Four Horsemen in 1986.

What seems to be largely forgotten in the lore of Tully Blanchard is his first  manager in 1984 that led him to his first championship for Jim Crockett Promotions.

Not long after Tully arrived in the Mid-Atlantic area in 1984, he took on Paul Jones as manager. Jones had a legendary career as a wrestler in the territory going back to the 1960s, and had retired in 1983 as an active competitor to take up the role as manager of champions. He guided Dory Funk Jr. to the Mid-Atlantic Championship in 1983 and would later guide Manny Fernandez and Rick Rude to the NWA world tag team championship in 1986.

But in 1984, he managed Tully Blanchard as Blanchard defeated Mark Youngblood for the NWA Television Championship. In fact, Jones was very instrumental in Tully's win, as you will see in the video below.

This video shows the finish to the match where Tully won the TV title from Youngbllod. The referee is Stu Shwartz and the match takes place on "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" hosted by Bob Caudle. Also seen in this video are some local promos from a Greensboro card featuring Blanchard, Ernie Ladd, Don Kernodle and Ivan Koloff. 

Thanks to my friend Brian Rogers who forwarded this link to me which reminded me of Paul Jones' key role in the early career of Tully Blanchard for Jim Crockett Promotions.

Friday, December 09, 2016

"Big Time Wrestling" Returning to the Mid-Atlantic Area

Big Time Wrestling, which has put on a string of successful nostalgia-related wrestling shows in the old Mid-Atlantic territory, will be returning to the area in February.

Dorton Arena in Raleigh, NC, and the Memorial Auditorium in Spartanburg, SC, will host huge events for the company again coming off big crowds in both cities for appearances featuring Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat back in September. This time it will be Sting headlining what is sure to be a loaded card of legends and the younger stars of today as well.

The shows are scheduled for the following dates:
  • Friday 2/10/17 Dorton Arena, Raleigh, NC
  • Saturday 2/11/17 Memorial Auditorium, Spartanburg, SC

For more information, including ticket availability, check out their website: Big Time Wrestling.

Bogni & Lubich vs. The Infernos

by Mike Cline
from Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats 4/17/16

The other day, I realized I have (for no particular reason) slighted one of the top tag teams to ever wrestle for JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS. Today, I shall correct my mistake.

Bronko Lubitch (far left) and Aldo Bogni (far right)
with broadcaster Charlie Harville and manager Homer O'Dell
(Mid-Atlantic Gateway)
The team I refer to is the duo of BRONCO LUBICH and ALDO BOGNI. These guys wrestled on top in MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING for much of the 1960s.

Now, I should point out that this duo was not adored by JCP fans, by any means. In fact, they were at the top of the territory's 'hate list'. LUBICH and BOGNI were ruffians who had no regard for the rulebook, and to make matters worse, the two were always accompanied to the ring by their manager, MR. HOMER O'DELL, without question, the decade's most fan-hated man on the CROCKETT payroll.

WBTV's wrestling commentator, 'Big' BILL WARD, often stated on the air that HOMER O'DELL was 'so low he would have to walk on stilts to look a snake in the eye.'

O'DELL, when managing, always wore a tuxedo and carried his legendary cane, and believe me when I say, this cane was responsible for putting lumps on many an opponent's noggin' in JCP wrestling rings.

Through the years, I witnessed many BOGNI and LUBICH and O'DELL matches, both on television and in Charlotte's Coliseum and Park Center.

Aldo Bogni's "corkscrew" takes its toll
(Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats)
But one match I recall was unique in that the fans actually cheered and pulled for these three rulebreakers the night at the Charlotte Coliseum when, in a Six Man Tag Team Match, BOGNI, LUBICH and O'DELL faced J.C. DYKES and THE INFERNOS. Both managers donned wrestling attire and joined their men as wrestlers.

This match was equivalent to a pair of locomotives hitting head-on. Referee Angelo Martinelli certainly earned his payday on this night.

The first fall went to O'DELL's team when BOGNI put one of the masked men out cold with his patented 'corkscrew' hold. The fans went wild. I was stunned. Cheers for HOMER O'DELL! I thought, 'what's next...a man on the moon?"

DYKES was able to revive his men and rally his troops in the second fall, which ended with LUBICH on the receiving end of a 'loaded boot' kick to the head, putting him into dreamland.

With the match even at this point, the third fall quickly became an all-out brawl. It must have been a NO DISQUALIFICATION match (I can't recall), but had it not been, referee Martinelli would have had to toss it out due to the rulebraking and brutality. Both O'DELL and DYKES were lacerated, and one INFERNO was also dripping blood from a much-torn mask.

Then, out of seemingly nowhere, was a huge flash! BOGNI was screaming and down, rolling around the ring in agony.
LUBICH and O'DELL grabbed their scorched partner, and bolted for the dressing room.

ANGELO MARTINELLI made the twenty-count, and raised the hands of DYKES and THE INFERNOS.

On Charlotte TV the next week, ironically, HOMER O'DELL claimed that 'DYKES and THE INFERNOS were the most brutal forms of humanity and a disgrace to the wrestling business and should be barred from the profession.' Odd that statement coming from him.

DYKES denied that he had thrown fire at anyone. 'Whether it's O'DELL, BOGNI, LUBICH, or any wrestling fans who say so must have been hopped up on LSD or something. The marks on BOGNI's ugly face are mat burns, where me and my men ground his mug into the wrestling mat. If he can't take it, he should find another way to make a living.'

These guys could really make me believe...

Link to story on "Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats" 
Re-published on the Gateway with the author's permission.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Letter from Jim Crockett Sr. in 1950

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Historian Matt Farmer recently posted on his twitter account (@mattfarmer93) a letter from Jim Crockett, Sr. to Jack Phefer, a famous (and sometimes infamous) pioneer promoter of pro-wrestling from the 1920s to the 1960s.

The letter was written in July of 1950 and is seeking advice from the veteran promoter Pfefer, who at various times promoted or booked wrestling in New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Masachusetts, and Illinois.

We're particularly interested in the restaurant Mr. Crockett mentions in the second paragraph in the letter, in relation to a framed photograph he thought to be stolen.

It has been reported in many places that Jim Crockett ran his businesses in an office in the back of a small restaurant in Charlotte, but have never know further details. Charlotte Observer columnist Tom Sorensen wrote in a 1987 column:
"Crockett first worked out of his home. Then he owned a series of restaurants - the Queen's Soda & Grill, a predecessor to the Town House on Providence Road; the Ringside Soda Grill in Elizabeth; Wesley Heights Grill; Jim & Jake's. The restaurants were his office."

As always, we're  hoping to eventually learn more and will report back here at that time.We love these little bits if history about Mr. Crockett and Jim Crockett Promotions.

From Friends to Foes: The Bloody War between Ivan Koloff and the Iron Sheik

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

When the autumn of 1980 arrived in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling “Hossein the Arab,” the Iron Sheik, was riding high in the territory. The Sheik was the reigning Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion, and he also held the Canadian Heavyweight Championship. If holding all that hardware wasn’t enough, the Sheik was set to form a tag team that had the potential to shake up Jim Crockett Promotions in a very big way.

The Iron Sheik came out on the World Wide Wrestling television show that was taped on September 24, 1980 and made a major announcement to the Mid-Atlantic fans. The Sheik told announcer Rich Landrum, “I have new news for Mid-Atlantic area. The newcomer, gonna be my partner, one of the toughest, roughest rugged wrestlers in the world, from up north my country Russia, and they call him Russian Bear…Ivan Koloff. You guys so lucky! You are so lucky American people to see the toughest, roughest man from old country to America. And we’re gonna show to you American people, what is wrestling about…what you people can see about wrestling. And you punks, young students, you should come see Ivan Koloff, the great Sheik, the best wrestler in the world.”

Absent from the Mid-Atlantic area since early 1975, Ivan Koloff made his return to Jim Crockett Promotions in early October of 1980. And while the Russian Bear did team at times with his friend the Iron Sheik in the early days after his return, Koloff initially got embroiled in a feud with the masked Sweet Ebony Diamond. At that same time, the Sheik was in a heated battle with Ricky Steamboat over the Mid-Atlantic Title. In November, when the Sheik lost the Mid-Atlantic belt to Steamboat and Ivan’s feud with Ebony Diamond began to fizzle out, Koloff and the Sheik started to team more frequently. The result of that increased teaming was surprising, to say the least!

Stunningly, issues between Koloff and the Sheik came out in the open as the holiday season of 1980 commenced, specifically during TV programming that was taped on November 26, 1980. On that World Wide Wrestling show when the two “friends” were being interviewed by announcer Rich Landrum after an easy victory over Special Delivery Jones and Jerry Caldwell, both the Sheik and Koloff were espousing the superiority of their respective home nations, Iran and Russia.

During the interview, the Sheik moved in front of Ivan as the Russian Bear was talking, and ended up cutting Ivan off and talking himself, laughing in the process. When Koloff got the microphone back he commented that, “Sheik is a great wrestler, but he is becoming a little hoggish of the [TV] time.”

But by far the biggest blowup between the Sheik and Koloff occurred on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show taping on that same November 26, 1980 date. Ivan and Hossien the Arab won another tag match, but there was some confusion at the end of the bout. Koloff appeared to be telling the Sheik to work on the opponent’s midsection, but the Sheik instead used a salto leading to the pin, with the Sheik’s foot grazing Koloff’s head in the process and leading to some heated words between the two in the ring. Announcer Bob Caudle commented, “Koloff and the Sheik are having a dispute, and they’re about to have a fight right in the center of the ring. I don’t know what caused that!”

When Caudle interviewed the two after the bout, he said, “Ivan, you and your partner, the Sheik right here, you guys are partners! Why are you all having a disagreement and a fuss in the ring?” The Sheik jumped in and was extolling his virtues and that of his home country, Iran, before Koloff could get a word in. Ivan then blurted out, “I think this interview was for both of us out here.” Koloff then went on to argue the superiority of the Russian athlete and their dominance in the Olympics. When the Sheik interrupted Koloff at this juncture, things started to get heated.

Agitatedly, the Sheik said, “Mr. Koloff, listen, I have a lot of respect for you, and I want to tell you something Mr. Koloff, you are older than me…I don’t want to INSULT you! You don’t know NOTHING about Olympics; everybody knows Iran is the oldest country. Maybe Russia gets a lot of medals, but not for wrestling! Russia gets the medals for swimming, for basketball, for hockey, for boxing Mr. Koloff…not for wrestling!” Ivan was none too pleased with that comment saying, “Don’t be stupid Sheik! Everybody know, and I know, what the record book says, that the Russian athlete excels in every sport…” Caudle then interjects, “This must be over national pride, Koloff? Is this what this is about?”

Ivan then takes this issue to a more personal level saying to the Great Hossein, “Another thing, this was no accident in the ring right now! I see on the monitor, on the instant replay, you do this intentionally. Is this not true?” The Sheik responded, “Mr. Koloff, you wrestling for many years, you must know, anything sometimes come by accident; probably was accidently. You know I didn’t do purpose…HA HA!” The Sheik went on to exclaim to Koloff, “I’m better than you; I’m better than lot of people!”

Ivan countered that the Sheik was in the Olympics at some point, but that didn’t mean he was good at the present time. Koloff continued, “I tell you in the ring to work on the stomach, to go after his weak point. The man’s stomach was weak on him, and you’re too STUPID to listen to me! You already say I’m more intelligent than you, that I’m older than you…only by a few months. Why can’t you respect the fact then that I am smarter? If it wasn’t for Russia, Iran wouldn’t even exist! You know this; the world wouldn’t exist without Russia!”

Sheik struck back saying, “Mr. Koloff, this is the last word I’ll tell you. I don’t want to tell you that you’re stupid, but you don’t know that much! Iran is older than Russia, Iran is older than America and Iran was always best for wrestling! You better know, and then talk on the national TV! Always people know, old country is Iran…Iran is the best, and still is the best!”

Koloff, raising a shovel he had been carrying around for some time to “bury” Sweet Ebony Diamond, retorted, “It just goes to show you Sheik that you’re not too smart. If you were smart, you’d listen to me! If you were smart, you wouldn’t lose your head. You wouldn’t go doing stupid things like you did in the ring!” The Sheik fired back, “I don’t have to listen to you; I don’t have to listen to nobody!” The two started to entangle physically and Caudle exclaimed, “I’m gonna get out of the way; I’m really gonna get out of the way of that shovel!” Ivan then excitedly added, “It looks like he needs a few more scars on his head to teach him a lesson. The man is not only an idiot, he is STUPID! And he’s going to find out, one way or another, who the boss is…who the smart man is, who is managing this team. If I have to slap some sense into him, I’ll do it!”

A flabbergasted Caudle blurted out, “All right fans, you heard ‘em and you saw ‘em! And I’ll tell you, I don’t recall ever seeing an argument among partners break out like that, and be as rough on each other as they really were…Ivan Koloff and of course the Iron Sheik!”

The next week at the December 3, 1980 taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show there was a match between Koloff and Sweet Ebony Diamond. Ivan was still trying to “bury” the masked man with that same shovel he carried around with him, seeking revenge for Diamond previously running him out of the west coast in a Loser Leaves Town match. The Iron Sheik joined Bob Caudle and David Crockett on television commentary, and he told the fans that he didn’t like either Diamond or Koloff but admitted they both were tough wrestlers.

As for Ivan, the Sheik said, “That Russian Bear, he’s older than me and has a lot of experience, don’t get me wrong, but you know and Mr. Crockett knows Iran is long, long, long time ago and the toughest wrestler in the world is from Iran. That’s because I’m here… Russian man come over here, he thinks he is the best; he think he’s the greatest at everything. Maybe the Russian man is the best compared to American wrestler. But still never ever compares to Iranian wrestler….the Sheik is always the best!”

The Sheik soon after that comment came from the announcer’s area into the ring with his street shoes on, and he began stomping on Diamond! After throwing Diamond out of the ring, Caudle commented, “And now [Sheik] has a chair, and he’s gonna go in the ring and go after Koloff with the chair!” David Crockett yelled, “OH MY WORD!! He nailed him with that chair!” Caudle added, “He put a dent in that chair that just won’t quit!”

After the Sheik smashed Koloff in the head again with the chair and attempted a third time, the Russian Bear got the steel chair away from the crazy Iranian. Caudle excitedly said, “Now Koloff has got it, and he conks the Sheik with the chair, and now across the back!” As the Sheik dove out of the ring, Koloff hit him again with the chair and then the two fought on the floor at ringside, with referee Sonny Fargo unable to restore order for quite some time!

Koloff and the Sheik then began their “Battle of the Bullies” program in earnest in the territory’s arenas around Christmas-time, with a particularly brutal battle between the two bad guys occurring at County Hall in Charleston, South Carolina on December 26th. The two former friends then traveled several hundred miles north to Lynchburg, Virginia on December 28th to close out the wrestling year on an extremely bloody note.

And on the last Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that aired in most markets just before New Year’s, on December 27, 1980, Koloff told announcer Bob Caudle, “You see the Sheik in there wrestling just a little while ago? He kept looking around, looking over his shoulder. He knows I’m after him! I’m going to pay him back, one way or the other Sheik. I don’t have to come out here and attack you from your back and hit you over the head with a chair or the shovel or anything like this. I got your name on a contract to wrestle you in different areas, so don’t worry about it Sheik. I’m going to have my time with you, and a good time I’m going to have. I’m going to enjoy every minute of it, and believe me it’s not going to take me too many minutes to maybe break your arm, break your leg. Believe me; I’m going to put you through as much pain as I can to pay you back for what you tried to do to me.”

Koloff was true to his word, as the first half of the month of January in the new year of 1981 saw he and the Sheik go at it in matches of unparalleled violence. Fans in the Palmetto state of South Carolina saw these bruising battles up close and personal, particularly in the cities of Greenville and Sumter. In both of these towns, Koloff and the Sheik battled to wild double disqualification finishes in the first bouts, which led to Russian Chain match return bouts in both towns. The Russian Chain match was Koloff’s specialty match, and the Russian Bear prevailed in both of these bloody return matches, the second of which occurred in Sumter on January 15th.

The former friends then headed north the next night to again do battle, this time in Richmond, Virginia at the Richmond Coliseum. Both had lots to say in the promos leading up to the January 16th Richmond match. Ivan was first, and he told promo announcer Rich Landrum, “In Richmond on the 16th Sheik, you won’t have time to go out and get a chair, because I’ll have you tied up and you won’t have no one to go back and cry to whenever you have something to do and you can’t get it done…get advice, or anything like that. Because I’m gonna run you out of this country; I’m gonna finish you in wrestling for what you tried to do to me!”

The Sheik in a later promo segment told Landrum, “Ivan Koloff in the Richmond, I’m not done with you. You’re gonna get it more. Your gonna get it more than chair; you’re gonna get it more than anything. You bring that goofy shovel, and you bring that goofy chain. I’m not Sweet Ebony Diamond…you’re gonna get it more.”

The Richmond match was another vicious encounter, with Koloff getting the dukes after a chaotic finish. The two protagonists continued to go at it hot and heavy for the rest of the month of January in spirited contests in the Charlotte Coliseum on January 18th, in Lynchburg, Virginia on January 23rd, at the Greensboro Coliseum on January 24th and at the Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina on January 27th. Koloff dominated the results in these later January bouts, but they were all highly competitive, blistering hot affairs.

February of 1981 marked the end of this brief Battle of the Bullies program between Ivan Koloff and the Iron Sheik. The last bout pitting the Sheik and Koloff took place on February 14, 1981, Valentine’s Day, but there was no love shared in the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium that day! Koloff triumphed again in this final encounter, before both men went their separate ways. Ivan began teaming up with Ray Stevens, and the two set their sights on the NWA World Tag Team Titles held by Paul Jones and the Masked Superstar, winning the belts on March 1st and having a brief three week championship run. The Sheik segued to a feud with Blackjack Mulligan, that he came out on the short end of, and the Great Hossein Arab exited the Mid-Atlantic area in early May of 1981.

While the rift between Koloff and the Sheik was brief and a mere footnote in the history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, it was noteworthy in that it was one of booker George Scott’s last programs, and a very rare instance of Scott pitting a bad guy against a bad guy. Prior to Scott taking over the Jim Crockett Promotions “book” in 1973, Battle of the Bullies programs between wrestling heels was something that Jim Crockett Promotions fans expected periodically, with some very interesting short term pairings occurring as a result. In that sense, it was a throwback in time to see the hated Sheik and the hated Koloff go from friends to foes before our eyes!

The Battle of the Bullies, version 1980-81, between the Iron Sheik and Ivan Koloff gave the Mid-Atlantic faithful a rare chance to cheer both wrestlers into beating the heck out of the other during and around the festive holiday season! It was “Season’s Beatings,” with out a doubt!