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