Thursday, February 23, 2017

An Embarrasement of Riches for Paul Jones in 1975

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In the illustrious Jim Crockett Promotions career of “Number 1” Paul Jones, a career that spanned from the late 1960s through the late 1980s, Paul experienced an untold number of high water marks. But there was probably no higher high for Paul than in the late autumn of 1975, immediately after Jones defeated Terry Funk for the United States Heavyweight Championship on November 27, 1975 in the Greensboro Coliseum.

Paul’s first interview as the new United States Champion on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television was conducted on December 3, 1975. Having just aced the U.S. belt, Jones was considered the number one contender for the NWA World Heavyweight Title in many circles. And at that time, Paul was also the reigning Mid-Atlantic Television Champion. Truly, an embarrassment of riches for Mr. #1!

Announcer Bob Caudle began the show, telling the fans, “First of all, we have a guest right here with a new championship belt…the new U.S. Heavyweight Champion Paul Jones, and Paul, you defeated Terry Funk.” Jones slipped onto the set and emotionally replied, “Well, that’s right. I’m so proud of this belt, I’m lost for words. But I want to say, I want to thank the people that stood behind me, the long fight to get this belt, and finally I won it, and I just feel great all over.”

However, not all of Paul’s news was good. Jones continued:

“But I also have some bad news tonight. You know, this Mid-Atlantic TV belt here…I’ve won this belt three times. It’s real close to me, and I feel like…the U.S. belt, I’m going to have to travel all over the United States to defend this belt in every city every state, so I feel like I won’t be able to do justice to the TV belt, which I have a lot of respect for and I’m real proud of it.” Paul then broke the bad news about his TV belt, explaining, “But what I’m going to have to do; I’m going to have to put it up for grabs. As much as I hate to, with all the hard matches I’ve had to win this belt. So I hate to do it, but I feel like I wouldn’t be doing the TV belt any justice by keeping it and carrying it around the country with me, and I’m just going to put it up for grabs.”

Caudle commiserated with Jones, commenting, “Well Paul, I know you hate to do that, like you say you’ve had it for a long, long time and it’s a beautiful belt.” Jones replied, “It really is, and I hate to part with it, but this belt here, I have to defend it all over the United States…and I just don’t have time.” Caudle countered, “Well, Paul, you’re going to be a great champion, a great U.S. Heavyweight Champion, I’m sure of that, and congratulations to you again.” Jones answered, “Thank you Bob,” as he exited the interview area.

Before running down the television card, Caudle interjected, “So Paul Jones, the new U.S. Heavyweight Champion, and David, he is relinquishing this TV championship belt.” Color commentator David Crockett offered, “And one thing, Paul has made this Mid-Atlantic TV championship belt mean more than any other TV championship belt in the whole United States.” Caudle added, “No doubt.” Crockett continued, “And also, when Paul Jones won the United States Heavyweight Championship from Terry Funk, he had to go through the whole Funk family, so that’s a great accomplishment, because Terry Funk is one of the greatest wrestlers in the world, and Paul Jones has the right to win that belt…he’s something else.”

‘Something else’ was the right way to phrase it, as Paul Jones was unquestionably on top of the wrestling heap in December of 1975, to the point he gave up an excess title! An embarrassment of riches for sure, but wrestling wealth that was well-earned and well-deserved in the minds of his legions of Mid-Atlantic fans.

Re-published on August 16, 2020.