Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ric Flair's Crystal Ball Was Clear in 1975

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

On June 18, 1975 Ric Flair was about a year into his tenure with Jim Crockett Promotions. While Flair was the Mid-Atlantic Television Champion at that time, the young “Nature Boy” was still clearly a work in progress. The Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that was taped that night featured a bout between reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco and the 1974 NWA Rookie of the Year, Steve Keirn. The rare appearance of the NWA World Champion on Mid-Atlantic TV was not lost on the supremely confident Flair.

In a brief interview segment on that show with announcer Bob Caudle, Ric exclaimed,

“I just want to take one minute here to tell everybody that I had a dream! You know, I have a lot of girlfriends around the country and one of ‘em happens to be a fortune-teller. And one day she looked at one line of my palm and she said, ‘You’re the best lookin’ man in the world!’ And the next day she looked at another line in my hand and she said, ‘You got the greatest body in the world!’ And the next day she looked at a line in my hand and said, ‘You’re gonna beat Paul Jones, you’re gonna beat Wahoo McDaniel, you’re gonna beat Jack Brisco, WOOOO, and you’re gonna be the World’s Champion! Because there’s only one Nature Boy, and you are the greatest wrestler in the world today Nature Boy, know it for a fact!’”

Flair concluded by saying, “I am the best, I am the good, I am the bad…I am everything daddy, and don’t you forget it!” Caudle deadpanned in response, “Well, there’s no doubt what Ric Flair thinks of himself.”

Self confidence has never been an issue for Ric Flair, even back in 1975. But when I watched this interview segment nearly 42 years ago, I didn’t see the young brash Nature Boy as a World Champion. Back then, that prospect seemed almost laughable to me. Was Flair entertaining back then? Yes, without a doubt. But, Ric Flair as a World Champion? Not even a remote possibility in my humble opinion!

As the years progressed, my opinion of Ric Flair and his World Title possibilities certainly changed. But while myself and others had to come around to the idea of Flair as a World Heavyweight Champion, the Nature Boy’s crystal ball on this subject was clear all the way back to June of 1975. And when Ric ascended to the NWA mountaintop for the first time on September 17, 1981, I vividly remember hearkening back to this interview, and realizing that he had one heck of a fortune-telling girlfriend in his past!


Monday, January 30, 2017

"WHW Monday" with Tony Schiavone is Live!

It's "the greatest podcast in the history of our sport!"

"What Happened When" (WHW Monday) features Tony Schiavone and co-host Conrad Thompson as they look back at the biggest stars and the biggest events in Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1980s and WCW in the 1990s.

Topics are voted on by fans every week on Twitter. Follow WHW Monday at @WHWMonday.

For more information on this show and many others, visit the MLW Radio Network website.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

An Afternoon with Bob Caudle

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

David and his wife Diana and I had the opportunity to have lunch and spend the afternoon with Bob Caudle and his wife Jackie this weekend. Bob and Jackie are two of our very favorite people and it was great to spend some time with them.

Bob Caudle and the Gateway Boys visit in Raleigh with their Hall of Heroes hardware.

Bob was kind enough to introduce David and I for induction into the Hall of Heroes Class of 2016 at the NWALegends.com Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte this past August. We were recognized for our contributions to wrestling history through our website. It was such an honor to share the stage with him, and we are forever grateful for the kind things he said about us and the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

With my "other Mom", the lovely and
gracious Jackie Caudle
Bob is a member of the inaugural class of the Hall of Heroes, inducted in 2007 in Charlotte. When we got together this weekend, Bob pulled out his plaque and Diana took a photo of all of us together with our Hall of Heroes awards (seen above). It was a nice little moment for us.

Bob is such a part of the fabric of what made up Mid-Atlantic Wrestling for nearly three decades. Wrestlers would come and go, but Bob Caudle was the one constant that we could count on week in and week out. Every week, after that familiar theme song, we would hear those familiar words:
"Hi Wrestling fans, this is Bob Caudle, welcome to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. And have we got an hour of action and excitement in store for you this week..."
There was nothing more comforting than to hear those words every Saturday afternoon. We knew we were in store for the best hour on television.

And to cap it all off this weekend, we were happy to learn that Bob and Jackie had just celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary! Incredible!

Happy Anniversary to them both!!


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Saturday TV: World Wide Wrestling 1/4/86

Tully Blanchard & Baby Doll: The Slap heard 'round the World 
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

This is one of the great episodes of World Wide Wrestling and was in a transitional time where J.J. Dillon became aligned with Tully Blanchard as part of Tully Blanchard Enterprises, and the Four Horsemen were soon to follow.

In fact, "the bundle of questions" David Crockett quizzes NWA champion Ric Flair about the trouble he and his "family" the Andersons have been causing Dusty and his crew lately, and mentions you almost have to throw Tully Blanchard in with that family. 

And if you want to see David Crockett at his obnoxious best, don't miss the incredible interview he conducts with Tully Blanchard after his split with Baby Doll. We always talk about Ric and Arn as two of the best promos ever. But Tully Blanchard made you believe this stuff was REAL.

The Midnight Express jump the Rock and Roll Express to kick start their feud which would be one of the top programs throughout 1986.

And of course, it features "the slap heard round the world." And Big Dust rides in to save the day. Real heat, brother.

I believe this was taped in Greensboro just before the Crockett's Christmas break in mid-December of 1985, and aired on the syndicated network on 1/4/1986.

The show features Ric Flair, Magnum T.A., Manny Fernandez, Tully Blanchard, James J. Dillon, Baby Doll, Black Bart, the Rock and Roll Express, the Midnight Express and Jim Cornette, George South, Gene Ligon, Ron Bass, the Koloffs and Krusher Khrushchev, Denny Brown, and of course the American Dream Dusty Rhodes. Your hosts are David Crockett and Tony Schiavone.

PS - One beautiful note of continuity: You will notice that Ole Anderson doesn't appear on this show. It was taped in mid-December and the Andersons had appeared earlier in this same evening on a show that was taped for air on 12/28/85. But Ole is not seen or heard from on the 1/4/86 show. The reason is that on 1/1/86 in the Omni in Atlanta, Dusty Rhodes and the Road Warriors "broke the leg" of Ole Anderson that put him out of action until June of that year. Booker Dusty Rhodes knew to keep him off the syndicated tapings that would air on 1/4 because a nationwide audience on WTBS would be shown the Omni footage on 1/4. That's how much they protected kayfabe back then. A beautiful thing.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Conrad Thompson announces new podcast with Tony Schiavone

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Conrad Thompson announced today on his podcast with Bruce Prichard that he will launch a second podcast with longtime Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW announcer and producer Tony Schiavone.

The podcast is called "What Happened When" (WHW Monday) and debuts this Monday, January 30, on the MLW podcasting network. Follow them on Twitter here or on the MLW Radio Network website.

https://twitter.com/WHWMondayTony and Conrad will bring you classic stories from Jim Crockett Promotions and World Championship Wrestling from over the years. It is expected that the show will be similar in format to the extremely successful Prichard podcast on MLW, except with a focus on 1980s Jim Crockett promotions and 1990s WCW.

Given the success of the Prichard podcast on MLW, we look forward with great anticipation to "What Happened When" every Monday to hear Tony's take on what took place behind the scenes during an amazing era in professional wrestling. Much like the "Something to Wrestle" podcast, followers of WHW Monday on Twitter will get to vote on the topics for future episodes.

One of the things that interests us personally about Tony at the Gateway is that he grew up a big fan of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" during the exact same years David Chappell and I did in the 1970s. So we're the same age and share a lot in common with him as far as what made all of us wrestling fans to begin with. I imagine many of our favorite wrestlers and storylines from that era are the same as his.

Schiavone got his start in wrestling in 1983 when Jim Crockett, Jr. moved him over from the baseball side of their business to doing interviews on the wrestling side. It didn't take long for him to move up within the ranks there, and was soon co-hosting "World Wide Wrestling" with David Crockett on their syndicated TV network.

Schiavone and Crockett on "World Championship Wrestling"
His biggest break came, though, when Jim Crockett, Jr. and booker Dusty Rhodes decided to make him the lead announcer on their newly acquired nationally televised program "World Championship Wrestling" on SuperStation TBS in the spring of 1985. Schiavone became the face and voice of NWA wrestling nationwide for the next five years, much in the way Gordon Solie had been the face and voice of "Georgia Championship Wrestling" in the same Saturday 6:05 PM time slot for the previous 10 years.

After a year-long stint as a top broadcaster in the WWF in 1990 and 1991, Schiavone returned to work for Ted Turner's WCW and became major player in production behind the scenes for the company in the mid-1990s, eventually hosting and co-producing "WCW Monday Nitro" on the TNT network during the 'Monday Night Wars.' Tony was the face and voice of that program during a period where WCW dominated the professional wrestling business.


All of that experience will be relived weekly on "What Happened When (WHW Monday)" when Tony and co-host Conrad Thompson will explore a different issue, angle, or performer from the glory days of Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW. Those topics will usually be selected by fans from their votes in polls on Twitter. The WHW Twitter page can be found at @WHWMonday.

Official information from the MLW Radio Network.

For a few more posts here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway involving Tony, check out these stories:

Ross, Caudle, and Schiavone Reunite in Charlotte
Three of the top announcers ever share memories and fellowship at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling legends Fanfest in Charlotte in 2015.

Tony Schiavone Talks Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on the Ross Report
When Tony was Jim Ross's special guest on "The Ross Report" podcast, he talked about getting his start with Jim Crockett Promotions and growing up a fan of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. (Special audio excepts included.)

Andersons Don't Wear Fedoras
Tony Schiavone and the First Four Horsemen Promo
Part of a discussion with Arn Anderson led to the learning that Tony Schiavone played a big roll in the birth of the Four Horsemen.
Caudle, Schiavone, and Ross a highlight of Fanfest
The Gateway was looking forward to seeing these three great broadcasters at Fanfest!

Norfolk TV Station Catches the Tidewater ara up on Tony Schiavone
The voice of the Gwinnett Braves returns to his home state covering baseball.

Tony Schiavone's best Starrcade Memory
We loved Tony's answer to a question he got on Twitter.

Tony Schiavone Profile (Charlotte O's in 1982)
before he worked for the wrestling division of Jim Crockett Promotions, Tony was the radio voice of the baseball side of the business.

Schiavone: "There Was No One Like Bob Caudle"
A fan asked Tony on Twitter if Lance Russell or Gordon Solie were some of his favorite wrestling announcers. Tony set the record straight.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Bunkhouse Stampede

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

When I think of the Bunkhouse Stampede I usually think of the initial December events that Dusty Rhodes started in 1985 with Jim Crockett Promotions. Each year, the legendary Nelson Royal would invite us to sit down by the campfire and he would tell us about how disagreements were settled back in the old days of the bunkhouses, and how this translated to the new concept of the Bunkhouse Stampede.

The Bunkhouse Stampede was basically a battle royal with the added stipulations that you could come wearing whatever you wanted and bring all the foreign objects you wanted, too, if I remember correctly.

Even though the Stampede became a bit of a downer to fans as time went on (it only lasted three years) because Dusty Rhodes kept winning them all, they are still remembered fondly for the imagery and the memorabilia associated with them. My particular favorite image is of the buckle and the badge, seen above. That big Bunkhouse Stampede boot/trophy was pretty cool, too.

Here is a memorable promo by the "Bull of the Woods" Dusty Rhodes and a great shot of the Bunkhouse Stampede badge and boot:

The program had a cool cover, a simple shot of a cowboy hat with the new version of the NWA logo on the hatband.

J.W.'s Wrestling Collectables
Josh Watko at J.W.'s Wrestling Memorabilia web blog wrote about getting Dusty's autograph on the cover of that program, and I have to admit that made for one cool piece of memorabilia. Dusty had a great autograph anyway, and it worked perfectly on that cover.

Josh wrote the following in 2009:

Usually when I get a program signed, it's the beginning of a "project." A project consists of an item, usually a poster, magazine, program, book, or vhs/dvd cover or box, that you get signed by the stars who are featured on that particular item. When I purchased this program off of NWA Fanfest promoter Greg Price a few years ago, I knew immediately there was only one signature I wanted on it--"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.

In all, I had seven items signed by my all-time favorite wrestler, Rhodes, at Signamania, and this was by far my favorite. The fact that he signed it with a full signature and was in great spirits made it all the more special.
You can read his full post here, including a wonderful photo of Josh with "the Dream" doing that famous million dollar smile.

The final Bunkhouse Stampede was a pay-per-view event when those were still somewhat rare, 29 years ago this month.


Monday, January 23, 2017

School's Back in Session in 1975 - The "Professor" Returns

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

For fans of Jim Crockett Promotions in the mid 1960s, the “Great Malenko” was a menacing grappler who tore through the territory from September of 1965 through January of 1967. While having his share of singles successes, Malenko was particularly lethal with his equally nefarious partners Bob Orton, Sr. and Larry Hamilton, the Missouri Mauler. While holding one-half of the Southern Tag Team Titles, Malenko engaged in vicious battles with the likes of fan favorites George and Sandy Scott and George Becker and Johnny Weaver. Malenko was so despised that he was even stabbed by an irate fan at the Fairgrounds in Richmond, Virginia after a tag team match where he teamed with Orton, suffering a severe wound to his abdomen requiring in excess of 30 stitches to close.

Bob Caudle with The Great Malenko and the Missouri Mauler (circa 1967)

After the passage of nearly eight and a half years, Malenko would return to Jim Crockett Promotions in the late spring of 1975. By that time, both Malenko and the territory had undergone a name change. Malenko was called “Professor” rather than “Great,” and the territory was now called Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. At the television taping on June 4, 1975, announcer Bob Caudle told the fans who had just viewed and booed the returning Malenko in the ring, “Our guest with us here at ringside is Professor Boris Malenko, and Professor Malenko has a middle name, but I can’t pronounce it!”

Malenko responded, “For your information Mr. TV announcer, the middle name is Maximilianovich…Boris Maximilianovich Malenko. I can’t tell you people how good it did me to come into this television studio today and listen to that warm reception when I climbed into the ring. It was beautiful; it was heart warming! You know something? Take a whiff; take a good smell…I smell excitement in the air!”

The Professor continued, “You know why this professorship has been bestowed upon me in six different countries? Because I truly am a professor! I come from the college of hard knocks, black and blue is our color; our school yell is ‘ouch.’ I am 230 pounds of mind and muscular coordination that is unbeatable; the greatest piece of wrestling machinery that has ever been composed; a human destruction machine that can destroy and will destroy all of its opposition.”

Malenko concluded, “I’ve proved myself time and time again, even here once long time ago. And I’ll continue to do it once again. I will get into your hearts, and you’ll welcome me! Because you need somebody you can look up to, and I will be that person.”

Caudle commented, “All right fans, Professor Boris Malenko, and I’m sure we’re going to be hearing a lot more and seeing a lot more of Professor Boris Malenko in the very near future.” Caudle was right, and immediately the Professor was dominating fan favorite wrestlers with his highly effective “Russian sickle” finishing hold. Boris teamed back up with his old comrade the Missouri Mauler, and the two were a formidable upper mid card tag team for the remainder of 1975.

In 1976, Malenko segued to a managerial role, though he would continue to don the tights occasionally. The Professor initially managed the Mongols, Bolo and Geeto, but was probably best remembered for managing the hated Masked Superstar from the fall of 1976 through the early months of 1978. And probably the most infamous incident of Malenko’s managerial run was when his victory cigar was stuck in the eye of the popular Mighty Igor, damaging the eye of the Polish powerhouse. And who could forget Wahoo McDaniel stomping on Malenko’s false teeth in separate incidents in 1975 and 1976, with Boris threatening lawsuits against Wahoo on both occasions.

Yes, just as school was letting out for kids in the Mid-Atlantic area in June of 1975, a very different type of Professor was starting school back up in the wrestling world of Jim Crockett Promotions. And conducting himself much like he did as the “Great” Malenko during his first run in the area nearly a decade earlier, Boris Malenko’s actions as a “Professor” would frequently land him in the principal’s office in his school of hard knocks.

Additionally republished 12/9/19


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saturday TV: World Wide Wrestling 3/9/85

Tony Schiavone and Johnny Weaver host this loaded program of NWA superstars in action at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium as Jim Crockett Promotions prepares for "SilverStarr '85" celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Greensboro Coliseum along with the 50th anniversary of Jim Crockett Promotions.

The show features Ric Flair, Wahoo McDaniel, Dick Slater, Magnum T.A., Buzz Tyler, Jimmy Valiant, Tully Blanchard and Baby Doll, Arn Anderson, Sam Houston, Dusty Rhodes, Superstar Billy Graham, Kabuki, Buddy Landel, Keith Larson, Manny Fernandez, and others. Plus Jim Crockett and NWA President Bob Geigel.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Enforcer Luciano's Ode to "The Godfather"

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I thoroughly enjoyed David Chappell's recent post here remembering the funny moment on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in 1980 when the mafioso Enforcer Luciano presented Blackjack Mulligan with a dead fish. ("Blackjack Mulligan vs. Enforcer Luciano ... in a FISH match??")

Enforcer Luciano with Bob Caudle and David Crockett

Luciano's intent, of course, was to play off the famous scene in the movie "The Godfather."

Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes. 

I didn't see the first Godfather movies when they first came out in theaters in the 1970s, it wasn't until I was in my twenties in the 1980s that I rented them on VHS and watched them, several years after I had seen the Luciano/Mulligan skit. So when Luciano and Mulligan played out this angle on TV, I had no idea at that time what the fish in the angle meant!

Blackjack played it like he didn't know what it meant either, claiming "Down where I come from it means you've been cat-fishing on a trout line or something."

Video of the Luciano/Mulligan angle on Mid-Atlantic television is not known to exist, but here (as a cultural point of reference!) is the scene in "The Godfather" on which this wrestling angle was based:

So Luciano was clearly sending a message to Blackjack that this is where things were headed. Relive the (somewhat) famous "fish" angle with Enforcer Luciano and Blackjack Mullgian by reading David Chappell's detailed account of it on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Republished 7/13/20


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

JAWS: Prof. Boris Malenko's Forgotten Assassin

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

If you've hung around the Mid-Atlantic Gateway for very long, you know we like to seek out the obscure. Hard to argue that we haven't succeeded in that quest with this.

First, it was David Chappell's look back at Enforcer Luciano. Now we take a look at Boris Malenko's henchman JAWS.

Photograph by Jackie Crockett
© Crockett Foundation. Used with permission.
In 1977, the Mighty Igor was embroiled in a bitter war with the camp of Professor Boris Malenko -- which included The Masked Superstar and the "Korean Assassin" Kim Duk. Malenko liked to call his group "the Malenko Family." Despite the Professor's best efforts, he had continually failed to eliminate the Polish strongman from the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling scene. Igor remained a perpetual thorn in Malenko's side.

During a brief few weeks in the spring of 1977 when the Masked Superstar was on a tour of Japan, Malenko brought in a third member to his family, a masked wrestler named JAWS. With this new masked assassin, he hoped to finally rid the territory of the Mighty Igor.

Now I can't seem to remember important things about work from last week, yet I typically can remember the smallest little details about Mid-Atlantic Wrestling from 40 years ago. However, even I had completely forgotten about Jaws until I was sorting through the photographs Jackie Crockett had taken back in the late 1970s and early 1980s that I was helping prepare for the Crockett Foundation's book "When Wrestling Was Wrestling."

There among the photos of legends like Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, and the Brisco Brothers were two photographs of a masked wrestler I didn't recognize at first. But something about the mask looked familiar - - my goodness, it was the open mouth of a shark - - these were photographs from 1977 of the long forgotten henchman in the family of Professor Malenko. This was JAWS!

We have never known there to be any pictures of Jaws before, none in the Crockett publications of that era, and none in the news stand magazines. These photographs were a rare find, indeed.

There is no mistaking the mask, though; the open jaws of a shark surrounding the front face of the mask, with a small emblem of a shark on the side.

It's unknown who thought up the idea of Jaws as a wrestler, but it wasn't unusual for pro-wrestling to play off something very hot in popular culture. In 1975, Steven Spielberg directed his first massive theatrical hit, the Academy award winning film "Jaws", an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Peter Benchley. "Jaws" was a massively popular movie, setting all-time box office records that stood until toppled by "Star Wars" a few years later. "Jaws" was so popular in the summer of 1975, it was re-released again in the summer of 1976 to huge business. It is widely considered one of the greatest movies of all time.

Even further, playing of the popularity of the film, a character was created for the 1977 James Bond motion picture "The Spy Who Loved Me", a steel-toothed villain called Jaws, played by actor Richard Kiel.

So why not in wrestling? And Jaws was born.

I asked David Chappell if he also remembered Jaws, and he quickly confirmed that not only did he remember him, but he had a brief bit of an audio recording where Boris Malenko was talking about him on TV.

So from Chap's archival audio recording straight from the TV broadcast, here is Prof. Boris Malenko extolling the virtues of Jaws to Bob Caudle and David Crockett on "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" taped 4/20/77:

Prof. Malenko: "I have imported this fellow Jaws here, and he's going to take care of Igor for once and for all! He's gonna get rid of him, I don't want any more menacing of the Malenko Family."

David Crockett: He's not doing a very good job of it right now, he's laying on his back!"

Jaws wasn't around long, apparently for only a matter of weeks, and he did not headline against Igor as best we can tell from exploring newspaper ads from that time. He did wrestle on TV (as heard here) and wrestled mid-card on a few house shows and in tag matches against Igor that spring of 1977.

So how's that for the rare and the obscure? Only on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. We celebrate this kind of stuff.

And if you're interested in more rare photographs from that era, this photo of the wrestler Jaws is but just a small example of the amazing collection of rare pictures to be found in "When Wrestling Was Wrestling", a collection of photographs taken by Jackie Crockett of the famous Crockett wrestling family. Proceeds from the sale of the book support the charitable work of the Crockett Foundation. The book can be purchased on their website (click here for their online store) or in person at selected fan conventions.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Blackjack Mulligan vs. Enforcer Luciano . . . in a FISH match??

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One of the strangest feuds in the storied history of Jim Crockett Promotions featured the legendary Blackjack Mulligan against the whacky Enforcer Luciano in the summer of 1980. The Enforcer was only around the Mid-Atlantic area for about three months, but he managed to pull off several strange stunts on television in his short tenure including chewing up glass from a light bulb.

Enforcer Luciano with Bob Caudle and David Crockett
When Luciano came out during the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show taped on June 4, 1980, color commentator David Crockett noticed, “Looks like he’s got a bag, whatever it is.” The Enforcer told the fans, “Right now I have something; it’s a family tradition. And I’d like to call Blackjack Mulligan out here. I have something for him here.” An incredulous announcer Bob Caudle asked, “You mean you have a gift for him?” Luciano confirmed, “I have a gift for Mr. Mulligan.”

The Enforcer then called out Mulligan to come in front of the cameras to accept his gift. When Blackjack appeared from the back with “Cousin Luke” Mulligan, Luciano insisted that Luke not be part of this gift presentation. As Mulligan reluctantly escorted his cousin to the back, Luciano told the fans, “I want to explain something to these people. You see this hand? I did a job one night; I took a crowbar and I was breaking presses for some of the boys. There were ten presses, and I broke nine of those presses.”

Enforcer Luciano
Mulligan then reappeared on the set, and Luciano barked, “Just get out of the way; I’m talking.” The Enforcer then continued, “I broke nine of those presses. And the boys came in and they caught me, and there was one press left. Well, they put this hand in that press and they CRUSHED it…AND THE PAIN WAS PLEASURE! They put the hand together with steel pins. This hand is STRONGER than any human hand!”

As everyone on the TV set looked on in disbelief at Luciano, the Enforcer said, “Now Mr. Mulligan, I have something for you. This is a family tradition.” Mulligan countered, “What is it, a bomb or something in there?” Luciano retorted, “Just take it and open it up and take a look.” Mulligan said, “For me?” Luciano answered, “It’s for you; just take a look. This is for Mr. Mulligan. Mr. Mulligan can appreciate this I’m sure!”

Bob Caudle then asked, “What is it Blackjack?! As Mulligan began to open the bag he said, “I think it’s a bouquet of flowers.” As the gift was revealed an astonished Caudle commented, “Oh goodness gracious alive it’s not; it’s a FISH!” A beaming Enforcer Luciano then chimed in, “Come on take it out of that thing! Take it out of that thing!” A dismayed Crockett bellowed, “What?? A FISH??” After getting a good whiff of it, Caudle confirmed, “And it’s a REAL fish!”

A maniacal Luciano then yelled out, “DO YOU KNOW THE TRADITION? DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MEANS MR. MULLIGAN? DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS??” A completely dumbfounded Blackjack Mulligan responded, “Down where I come from it means you’ve been cat fishing or fishing on a trout line or something.” Luciano became even more overbearing, shouting, “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS MR. MULLIGAN, HUH? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA?” And at that point Luciano slapped Blackjack across the face, and scurried backstage.

Trying to regain his composure, an infuriated Mulligan exclaimed,

“YOU WON’T GET AWAY WITH THIS YOU WEASLEY RAT! Let me tell you something Bob Caudle, I don’t know what this means. Where I come from it means you’ve got a big meal. But nobody slaps me and gets away with it. I’ll tell you something Luciano, you yellow rat, if it’s a match you want… you want a Fish Match? I don’t care what you want! But now you’ve got my wrath! I’m gonna wrestle you in any kind of match, any place, anywhere…it makes me no difference! You name the rules brother, and I think I’ll take this and cook it up tonight.”

As Blackjack went off camera, Crockett exclaimed, “Please do!” And Caudle followed up, “Take it somewhere! David, it’s a real fish!” Crockett laughed, “Yes it is, and it’s ripe too!” Caudle countered, “It’s been around a while David; around out of the water! I don’t know what it means.” Crockett concurred, “I don’t know the meaning of the fish either, but I’ll try to find out for you. If he wanted to make Mulligan mad, and if that’s what the fish was for, he did it.”

While there was no follow up that I recall about the fish (I guess we were supposed to understand the reference to the Godfather movies), this TV incident did spark and lead to a number of specialty bouts between Mulligan and the Enforcer, including Detroit Street Brawls, Texas Street Fights and Russian Chain matches. However, the one match that Mulligan mentioned that didn’t happen between these two was a Fish Match! And considering the wackiness that followed Enforcer Luciano everywhere, it really is surprising a Fish Match wasn’t served up on the plate of some Mid-Atlantic arena sometime, somewhere during the summer of 1980!

* * * * * * * * * *

For more on the whacky character Enforcer Luciano, see these other posts on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway:

Almanac - May 1980 - Enforcer Luciano comes to the Mid-Atlantic area

Hot August Night  Enforcer Luciano's swan-song in the Mid-Atlantic area on a big card in Richmond. (Includes audio of the Enforcer!)

* * * * * * * * * *


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Jimmy Snuka - Rest in Peace

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Sad to hear the news of the passing of Jimmy Snuka this weekend. Personal controversies not withstanding, Snuka will always be remembered as a huge star in the Mid-Atlantic area in 1979 and 1980, first as one half of the world tag team champions with Paul Orndorf, and then later his long, bloody, memorable feud with Ric Flair over the United States Championship.

One of my lasting memories of Jimmy Snuka will always be a special moment I shared with him at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest weekend in Charlotte in 2010 when I photographed him with the a replica of the U.S. belt he wore for Jim Crockett Promotions in 1979-1980. He lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw it and I will never forget the sparkle in his eyes as he briefly reminisced about wrestling Ric Flair and being managed by Gene Anderson.

"Good times, bruddah!" he said with a big smile on his face.

You can read my complete account of that moment here:
Jimmy Snuka Remembers the U.S. Championship Belt

Our condolences go out to Jimmy's family and friends.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Gordon Solie gives a shout-out to Peggy Lathan on WTBS (1984)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's not often that one of the top wrestling announcers in the country mentions your name on national television. But such was the case in May of 1984 when "World Championship Wrestling" host Gordon Solie mentioned it was nice to have our friend (and Gateway contributor) Peggy Lathan in the audience for the TV taping.

During a WTBS studio match between Jerry "Crusher" Blackwell and Dale Veasy, Solie gave a shout out to several special guests in attendance:

We've always known Peggy was the queen of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. On that particular Saturday it was Georgia, too, and a nationwide audience on the SuperStation.

Wrestling came across on such a personal level back in those days. It was a regular thing on the territory TV shows (especially those emanating from the television studio as opposed to an arena setting) for wrestling hosts such as Solie, Bob Caudle, Lance Russell, Charlie Harville and others to mention folks who were in attendance. It was often a local church group or the local Boy Scout troop. Solie would often mention those that were in Atlanta for the taping that had come from some distance, as you heard in this clip. It is a nice touch that has long since passed us by and is one of the little things I miss about territory wrestling.

Thanks to Andy Tolbert who caught the reference while watching old Georgia Wrestling on YouTube.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Saturday TV: Tully beats Dusty for the National Championship

World Wide Wrestling 3/15/86 - Complete Show

This is one of my favorite World Wide shows of that era for a number of reasons, mostly having to do with the main event and the interview that followed.

The main event of Dusty Rhodes (with Babydoll) defending the National Heavyweight Championship against Tully Blanchard (with James J. Dillon) was actually not taped at the same time as the rest of the show. It took place a week earlier as a special match that followed a normal Mid-Atlantic/World Wide TV taping in Spartanburg, SC and was the main event of that local show, but not a part of the those TV tapings.

They had Ric Flair come out and do color commentary with Tony Schiavone and David Crockett which foreshadowed Flair's involvement in the finish. The crowd was insanely hot for this match, and the audio level of the commentary is such that the crowd pops often times drown out the commentators.

The finish is perfectly executed, and the after match where the Horsemen are holding Baby Doll for Flair to jump on her from the top rope is one of the craziest, most heated moments you will ever see. This was during a wonderful era where a lot of people still believed, and they were totally buying into this. And even if you knew better, it was easy to suspend your disbelief and get totally caught up in what was happening. This was also before the time where men typically got physical with women on TV wrestling, and so it made the prospects of Flair actually jumping on Baby Doll from the top rope more shocking.

The real payoff is the interview that follows the match, where host David Crockett is at his (wonderful) obnoxious best losing his mind with Tully Blanchard and Tully just totally puts him in his place, followed by a funny jab from J.J. Dillon, too. An absolute, not-to-be-missed classic.

Also on this show, tremendous promos from Ivan and Nikita Koloff and Magnum T.A. as that feud was just getting rolling, setting the stage for the eventual best-of-7 series between Nikita and Magnum that was still four months away.

What a great era to be a wrestling fan.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Audio Recording: Mick Mixon Mentions Mid-Atlantic Wrestling

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One thing you've probably learned about me by now if you've visited this website for any length of time is that I love the smallest little details, moments, and memories having to do with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. A little over a year ago I wrote about Carolina Panther's play-by-play voice Mick Mixon invoking the memory of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling while describing an on-field brawl between Panther's cornerback Josh Norman and New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham.

"My goodness, it's like Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling out there!" - Mick Mixon 

What I didn't have at the time was the actual audio from that broadcast; I only could provide a written description of what Mixon said. But recently I was able to obtain a recording of that radio broadcast and I have excerpted the relevant discussion (approx 1:15) and have included it below:

The audio is from the 12/20/15 game between the Panthers and the Giants. The original article (also updated with the audio) can be found here:
Mick Mixon has to be a Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Fan

Yes indeed, it's the smallest details.Thanks to Mick Mixon for helping keep the memories of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling alive.


Monday, January 09, 2017

Talent List for Wrestle Expo in Richmond is Growing

The list of those scheduled to appear at the Wrestle Expo in Richmond in May continues to grow.

Those announced so far include:
Demolition Ax and Smash (Bill Eadie and Barry Darsaw), James J. Dillon, Greg Valentine, Jimmy Valiant, Road Warrior Animal, The Rock and Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson), Rich Landrum, The Barbarian, Td DiBiase, Nikita Koloff, Big Van Vader, James J. Dillon, Bruce Prichard, Bill Apter, along with referees Earl and Dave Hebner, and Tommy Young. 

A complete list of talent is updated here:

The first ever Wrestle Expo is being held May 19-20 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Virginia.

The Mid-Atlantic Gateway will have a booth there, as well as the Crockett Foundation. 

For full details, including updates on talent, schedule, tickets, and more, visit their website at: http://www.wrestleexporva.com.


Thursday, January 05, 2017

Ten Years Ago: A Visit with Ole Anderson

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Ten years ago this month (January of 2007), George South and I went to visit Ole Anderson at his home in Toccoa, GA. This article was originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in August of 2007, written primarily so that I wouldn't forget every detail of that special day.

* * * * * * 

In the Woods of North Georgia
A Visit with Ole Anderson on the shores of Lake Hartwell
(Originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway August 2, 2007)

The mid-winter blues. We all get them at one time or another. Those grey December days that are made tolerable by Christmas lights and family gatherings suddenly turn into bitter, sometimes lonely, and always cold days of January. 

It was on one of those raw cloudy days, a Tuesday afternoon in January of 2007.  I was miserable, business was bad, nothing was working out like I wanted it to. Then the phone rang.

“Highspots needs two cases of Ole’s book, and they want them autographed,” George South said. “Ole doesn’t want to ship them, so I’ve volunteered to go get them, and that way I can visit with him. I’m going to Toccoa tomorrow morning. Want to come with me?”

The real world suddenly seemed less important for the moment. This is not a question George needed to ask me twice.

* * * * * *

Wednesday, in contrast to the day before, was one of those beautiful cold winter days; sunshine and blue skies. The temperature was right at freezing when I arrived at 7:45 AM to pick George South up at his house in Concord. His twins Abigail and Scarlett and youngest son Garrett were getting ready for school. The smell of bacon and eggs still lingered, and George’s wife Missy had started chili in the crock pot for supper later that night. Man, that house smelled good.

With Ole Anderson at his home on Lake Hartwell
in Toccoa, GA in January 2007

We headed out for a three-hour road trip to Toccoa, GA.  Journey is the official music of Gateway road trips. They are George’s favorite band. That music takes him back to the early 1980s, during the time Gene Anderson managed US Champion Jimmy Snuka, when Steamboat and Youngblood ruled the world as tag champs. Like a lot of us, George lives in the past, so Journey just always seems right, no matter what the circumstances. That music had gotten us through two separate 22-hour round-trip adventures to the Headlock Ranch, and it was now serving us well on our way to see Ole Anderson.

Toccoa is a small north Georgia town at the intersection of US highways 17 and 123, several miles off Interstate 85, just south of the Georgia/South Carolina state line. Business-17 is the main drag through town, littered with the usual suspect steakhouses and fast food joints. The original plan was to meet Ole for lunch at Quincy’s restaurant downtown, where we were to meet him for lunch and pick up two cases of autographed books to take back to Highspots in Charlotte. But the plans changed when we called Ole mid-morning from the road to make sure we were still set to go.

“We’ll have lunch and then you guys follow me out to my house and you can pick up the books there,” Ole said.

We were in shock. A day earlier when George had called to line up the trip, he told Ole we would be glad to come to him and pick up the books so he wouldn’t even have to leave his house. “Hell no!” he said. “There has never been a wrestler at my house, and the first one sure isn’t going to be George South!” Needless to say, we thought this was a great change of plans. We couldn’t believe we were going to Ole’s house.

We got to Quincy’s Steakhouse around 11:30 AM and Ole got there not long afterward. He looked great, shook our hands, and seemed glad to see us. I had met Ole on a few occasions before, at a show three years earlier in Hartwell, Georgia where he was there signing autographs. David Chappell and I had been fortunate enough to have dinner with Ole and Paul Jones at the NWA Fanfest in Charlotte in 2005. George of course had known Ole for almost 25 years, first doing TV matches for him in the last days of Championship Wrestling from Georgia in 1985 on TBS, and then as a regular enhancement talent for Crockett Promotions throughout the rest of that decade. There is lots of video tape of Ole and Arn Anderson beating the crap out of George in buildings everywhere from Shelby to Roanoke.

When we had walked into the restaurant, it was like walking in with Norm at Cheers. All the waitresses said hello to Ole. We found out later that this was where Ole had lunch almost every day. A waitress came over and asked Ole to sign an autograph for a lady at another table who was too shy to ask for it herself. The girl that ran the cash register told us she had grown up watching Ole on TV with the Horsemen, watching wrestling out of Atlanta with her Dad every Saturday. Ole Anderson should run for Mayor of Toccoa. He’d be a sure bet.

At one point Ole asked George “So you are still doing this horseshit?” George responded “Shoot Ole, I’ll probably never quit wrestling.” George told Ole about the short little program he had with Brad Anderson, Gene's son, the previous summer, and how Brad carried his dad’s boots to the ring, how he wore his Dad’s ring jacket (that famous maroon jacket with “Gene” written in script on the front and “Anderson Brothers” on the back.) Ole stopped eating and looked at us. “You’re kidding,” he said. He paused for a moment, smiled, and said, “Well that’s great.” It was sort of a special moment; you rarely seem to get a smile out of Ole.

He started talking about those boots, the maroon and gold stripped boots so closely associated with the Andersons over the all the years they wrestled. He told us Gene and Lars wore them first, and then he started wearing them when Gene brought him in to the Carolinas in 1968 and made him one of the Anderson Brothers. It was such a thrill for us just to hear him talking about simple stuff like those boots. Those boots are so iconic of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew, one of the strongest lasting memories I have of watching wrestling growing up. The Andersons always wore those maroon and gold boots.

I’m surprised Ole could finish his lunch with George talking a mile a minute. No kid on Christmas morning could possibly be more excited than George South at 44 years old when he gets to spend time with one of his childhood heroes. Ole gently kicked me under the table. “Does he ever shut up?” he asked, with a quick wink. “My God, how in the hell did you ride down here with him?” We were just glad Ole seemed to be having a good time.

After lunch, we headed for Ole’s house. He still drives that same old Cadillac that he told us later had over 300,000 miles on it. George rode with Ole, and as I followed behind them, all I could see was the profile of George’s face, that mouth yacking a mile a minute. Poor Ole.

We drove along a two lane highway, and then off onto a winding road that snaked around Lake Hartwell, occasionally crossing bridges that spanned inlets and entrances to small lake coves, then through long sections of deep woods.

I imagined for a moment that Ole might actually be taking us out in the woods to shoot us.

Suddenly he pulled off of the two-lane road onto the shoulder. There was this long pause and I could see Ole talking to George. Then George got out of the car. My goodness, Ole has had enough and thrown George out, I just knew it! Thankfully, he had only asked George to get the mail out of his mailbox. To this day, that’s one of the things George liked most about the trip: he got Ole’s mail out of his mailbox.

We pulled off the main road into the drive way, a long winding gravel road that led to the back of his 14 acre property. You always hear people talk about what a cheap son of a gun Ole is. When we got to his house, we got to see first hand what being a cheap son of a gun all those years allowed him to enjoy now. What a beautiful home. He built the house himself, a huge 4000 sq. ft. two-story Cape Cod-style structure sitting on a hill some 200 feet high over looking Lake Hartwell. That house is immaculate. Ole even made us take our shoes off in the garage before we could come in. So there we were, getting a tour of Ole Anderson’s house - in our sock feet. This was pretty cool.

Ole showed us the rock work he did himself on the fireplace in his bedroom, the furniture he had re-finished, even a table that he had made. He was especially proud of the wood work he had done, the custom molding he had made around the ceiling. It was simply a beautiful house, inside and out.

There was a huge bookcase in the living room full of photographs of his family. One in particular caught my eye, his son Bryant graduating from college, walking the stage in cap and gown, receiving his diploma. What jumped out were Bryant’s huge trademark Anderson sideburns. Ole explained Bryant was getting started in pro wrestling at the time, and he had the complete Anderson look. He was the spitting image of his Dad.

Ole sat down at the kitchen table and stated signing the books we were picking up to take back to Charlotte. He bitched and griped about signing every one. “We aren’t through yet?” he asked when I opened another case. In between every fifth book or so, George kept shoving something in for Ole to sign. At one point Ole punched George right in the chest, never looked up, signed the photo, and then grabbed the next book. “Jesus Christ, how many kids do you have?”

Ole Anderson with replicas of the NWA
World Tag Team championship belts that
he and Gene Anderson wore in the 1970s
When he got through signing books, it was my turn to pester him. What a mark I am for him. I had brought my replica NWA world tag team belts with us. These were custom made from Reggie Park’s original 1974 engraving artwork. I wanted  to get a photo of him with them if he’d agree to do it. I was half-way expecting him to throw me out the bay window there in the kitchen. But his reaction actually surprised me. He held one of the belts and said “These look great,” but then he quickly pointed out they weren’t exactly like the originals. The original plates were in two pieces, the engraved pieces attached to a separate flange piece. The plates on my replica belts were all in one piece (as they are typically made today.) Ole actually remembered how the original belts were made. Dave Millican, who made these beautiful belts, later told me it was really kind of neat that Ole made that observation because so many of the guys never paid attention to things like that. For someone who would occasionally insist that belts were simply props, Ole sure had a good memory of those belts that he hadn’t seen in 27 years.

Throughout the visit, we got Ole talking about our favorite old wrestling angles, including the “Supreme Sacrifice” that took place during Gene and Ole’s epic feud with arch-rivals Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel. Grumpy old man that he is (and by his own admission, by the way), Ole seems to dog everyone, but he clearly has respect for those two guys. He seemed most proud of their one-and-a-half-hour time limit draws that led to two hour time limit matches in the Mid-Atlantic territory in 1975.

Finally, after several hours, it was time to head home, and I was sure Ole was quite ready to get rid of us. We loaded the books and put our shoes back on out in the garage. Ole thanked us and told us to be careful driving home. It took several minutes to load everything up and get turned around in the big driveway.

As we pulled away, the sun had started to set over Lake Hartwell, and it was getting cold again. I looked back and saw Ole standing out at the edge of his garage. He was waving goodbye. Or perhaps he was just making sure we didn't rob the place. There are a couple of people who know Ole really well that have told me that despite his gruff exterior and constant grumpy disposition, he is basically an old softie deep down. I obviously couldn’t tell you, but there was something special about seeing him at that moment. It is a memory I never want to forget.

* * * * *

Our trip to visit Ole took place on January 17, 2007, ten years ago this month.


Monday, January 02, 2017

Tommy Rich in Columbia (1981)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Tommy Rich comes to Columbia SC's Township Auditorium

In 1981, Ole Anderson was for a short time the booker for both Jim Crockett Promotions and Georgia Championship Wrestling.  As a result there were several wrestlers who worked both territories during that time, usually full-time in one area while working spots in the other.

Tommy Rich was one such wrestler. He worked primarily for Georgia Championship Wrestling, but made several shots for Jim Crockett Promotions during the year, including appearances on the TV shows.

This April 14, 1981 show in Columbia, SC, at the Township Auditorium is but one example. Here, Rich appeared in the semi-main event against "Bad Boy" Bobby Duncum. You will notice in the ad for the show, local promoter Henry Marcus billed Rich "from Georgia Championship Wrestling - Channel 17", the attempt being to make Rich seem like a special attraction coming off his exposure on the Superstation WTBS.

The main event featured the battle between the two top tag teams fighting for the NWA world tag team championships. Reigning champions Paul Jopnes and the Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie) defending against former champions Gene and Ole Anderson. All four wrestlers were Mid-Atlantic main-stays, but fair to point out that all four were equally familiar to Georgia audiences as well.

Two weeks later, on 5/1/81 in Richmond, VA, the Andersons defeated Jones and Superstar to regain the NWA tag team titles. But on this night in Columbia they were able to escape as champions.

Later in 1981, the Superstar returned to Georgia as his home base and he and Tommy Rich had one of the most bitter, hard fought, main event rivalries in the territory that last for many months.

Fun to see the continuing "sharing" of talent between the Mid-Atlantic and Georgia areas. in the 1970s and early 1980s.

More Mid-Atlantic / Georgia Connections

Part One: Paul Jones and the Hollywood Blondes in Augusta
Part Two: Thunderbolt Patterson tours the Mid-Atlantic area
Part Three: The Mid-Atlantic Challengers in Augusta 5/9
Part Four: Georgia Fans Find Out About World Tag Title Change - Before It Happens
Part Five: Paul Jones Surprises Charlotte During Mid-Atlantic/Georgia Talent Exchange
Part Six: Wahoo McDaniel Returns a Favor 5/16/77

...and many more.