Thursday, March 23, 2017

Blackjack is Back - - With a Vengance (Part 1)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The tragic airplane crash in Wilmington, North Carolina on October 4, 1975 threw Jim Crockett Promotions off its stride, and understandably so. Both the promotion and the fans of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling were in a state of disbelief. Wrestlers were badly hurt, and spirits were low. But it didn’t take long for somebody to reappear in the territory and shake the area out of the doldrums. Blackjack Mulligan was back…with a vengeance!

At the end of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on October 15, 1975, announcer Bob Caudle told the fans, “And moving in here with us at ringside right now, he’s been gone for many months…Blackjack Mulligan!” The mammoth Mulligan appeared on the set, and came out red hot! Blackjack exclaimed, “Stop everything you’re doing for just a second! It’s not a mirage…you are seeing it. Mulligan is back! Like a bad disease no matter whatever happens, the pride of the prairie, the wonder-man from West Texas has returned!”

Mulligan then proceeded to tell the fans what he had been doing since the late spring of 1975, when he abruptly departed the Mid-Atlantic area. Blackjack continued, “I’ve been on the wild prairie, I’ve been digging fence posts, I’ve been rindin’ wild broncs, I’ve been doin’ it all brother. And now I’m back!”

Blackjack then commented on why he came back to the Mid-Atlantic territory, stating that the main reason was to get revenge against the talented Indian, Wahoo McDaniel. Mulligan left Jim Crockett Promotions all of a sudden at the end of May after Wahoo brutally beat him in a string of violent Indian Strap matches. Mulligan clearly was still perturbed about those bouts, and loudly proclaimed, “Take a look at this back! Take a look at these stripes that that dirty rotten Indian put on me! Believe me; they are etched in my mind!”

Mulligan continued, “I have made a promise, I have made a vow. I will not stop, I will not quit until that Indian, the squaw-man, Wahoo McDaniel is completely thoroughly once and for all destroyed! I will never forget it. They strung me up at home; I embarrassed my family! I humiliated the Mulligan clan. My poppa and my grand poppa strung me up and they rubbed salt into the wounds. They said, ‘Did you give up boy? Did you give up boy?’ I said, ‘No sir, I didn’t give up! I never quit; I never quit fightin’! I never stopped fightin’!’

Blackjack battles Wahoo McDaniel
(Photo by Bill Janosik)
Blackjack then maniacally shouted, “They kept rubbing the salt in my wounds; kept rubbing it in. Believe me, I’ll never forget it; his kind of match. Wahoo McDaniel I promise you I cannot return home, I cannot return to the proud state of Texas until my vendetta is carried out! I’ve got to destroy him; I’ve got to put him on his back. And believe me, believe what I say, stop what you’re doing right now. I will not be defeated, I cannot give up; I do not know the word surrender. Under no circumstances will I be beaten!”

Due to the crippling injuries that United States Heavyweight Champion Johnny Valentine sustained in the plane crash, the U.S. Title was vacated and a one night tournament to crown a new United States Champion was set to be held in a few weeks. Mulligan briefly touched on that issue, before returning his wrath to Wahoo and the earlier Indian Strap matches. Blackjack commented, “The first thing I look to do…I understand the great Johnny Valentine has retired. Believe me, I will be in competition for the United States Heavyweight Championship …I’ve thrown my hat in the ring. I will be one of the most aggressive opponents ever in the history of wrestling!”

Mulligan then returned his attention to Wahoo, and seeking retribution for the Indian Strap bouts in the spring. Blackjack concluded, “Nobody can endure, nobody can understand the torture, the punishment, the mental anguish I’ve been through. Thousands of letters have been written to my home state; to my hometown, asking is Mulligan a quitter? I have never quit in my life; I have never quit at anything! I have never given up, and I vow to you Wahoo McDaniel, these stripes etched in my back, salt rubbed in the wounds, I will completely destroy you! Anyone getting in my way, the Jones boys, Patera; I beg you come on. I’ll wrestle anyone in the world today! I’m the greatest wrestler in the world…I cannot be beaten by anybody!”

Bob Caudle and the fans had to collect their breath after Blackjack’s diatribe. But Mulligan had succeeded in shattering the malaise that had tried to set in around the Mid-Atlantic area after the horrible Wilmington plane crash. The fans of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show had just gotten an earful on that Wednesday night TV taping, and announcer Ed Capral and the fans of Jim Crockett Promotions’ other television show, Wide World Wrestling, were about to hear in short order from the returning Mulligan as well, and the pride of the prairie wasn’t going to mince any words about what the future held for Jim Crockett Promotions with him back on the scene!

To be continued in part 2…