Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Chris Taylor's Mid-Atlantic Cup of Coffee

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Richmond, VA - March 14, 1975
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling fans were teased in both 1975 and 1976 with the prospect of an Olympic medal winning wrestler coming onto the Jim Crockett Promotions roster. Chris Taylor, who was a bronze medal winner in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, was purportedly heading to the Mid-Atlantic area to see action. Taylor, a 450 plus pound behemoth, also won the 1972 NCAA wrestling championship while at Iowa State University.

Chris Taylor (Pinerest)
Taylor’s foray into Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in 1975 was a true cameo appearance. On March 14, 1975 Taylor flew into Richmond, Virginia and participated in a 12 man Russian Roulette Battle Royal with a $5,400.00 purse going to the winner. Chris didn’t win the top prize, but did capture a pinfall win over Klondike Bill in one of the preliminary matches. Taylor’s appearance in Richmond drew the attention of Virginia’s statewide newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which ran a piece on Taylor’s unlikely journey to Richmond and the professional wrestling ranks. The article stated that after Taylor finished his ‘one-night stand’ in Richmond, he immediately flew back to Chicago the next morning.

In the summer of 1976, Taylor got a bit more buildup and exposure to the Mid-Atlantic faithful, and even appeared on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show taped on July 7, 1976. Announcer Bob Caudle introduced Chris saying, “Chris Taylor, Olympic medal winner in the 1972 Olympics, and Chris let me welcome you to the Mid-Atlantic Championship area.” Taylor, the gentle giant, standing on the set with Mid-Atlantic Television Champion Paul Jones replied, “Well, I’d like to thank you very much for having me here, and I’ve been watching these matches here tonight, and I’ve watched them before. And this big [Jerry] Blackwell, and Flair, and all these guys…”

Click image to enlarge.
Caudle then interjected, “Blackjack Mulligan and Angelo Mosca, you’ve got to put them all in there!” The soft-spoken Taylor replied, “Yeah, these fellows, I’m here for a reason. I’m sure Mr. Jones can probably handle it; he probably will. I want these boys to come on down and give me a whirl sometime, and I just want to see what they got!”

Following up, Caudle commented, “I think you can take them on. And I know all the fans want to know now Chris, since you were a medal winner in 1972 in Munich ,what do you think about the U.S. wrestling in this year’s Olympics?  Chris opined, “Well, I feel that this year will be a fine year for the United States in wrestling. You’ve got some of the finest athletes, I feel, ever to come out of the United States and are on a wrestling team. And of course it’s gonna be hard to copy, or to even do better than ’72, but I really hope for the best and I hope they do well, and I have confidence in the boys and I’m sure they will.”

As he then segued to Paul Jones, Caudle stated, “Well, it’s great to have you here and again let me welcome you to the area and I know, like you say the competition is tough here but I think you’re ready for it.” Taylor concluded, “Well, this is the toughest I’ve seen all over the United States and this is why I am here.”

Engaging Jones now, Caudle then announced, “All right and Paul, now of course the TV champion here and I know you’re delighted to have a fellow like this now come to the area.” Jones answered, “Well I tell you I want to be one of the first to congratulate, you know, welcome you to this area… because he’s a great athlete and I have a lot of respect for anybody that represented the United States at the Olympics and did as well as Chris did. He’s also a credit to the profession, and I tell you, I welcome him to this area. Just like I said before, all the top wrestlers come to this area, and that’s why Chris is here…I’m sure he wants top competition.”

Taylor wasn’t exactly paired with top completion during his 10 day stint in the territory in July of 1976, but the Olympic medal winner did have several entertaining bouts against fellow super-heavyweight competitor Jerry “Crusher” Blackwell. Chris scored a trio of wins against Blackwell, defeating Jerry in the Richmond Coliseum on July 9th, repeating the feat in Roanoke, Virginia at Victory Stadium the next night and then wearing out “Crusher” in Greenville, South Carolina on July 12th.

After teaming with the veteran Danny Miller to defeat Boris Malenko and Hans Schroeder in Spartanburg, South Carolina on July 17th, Chris Taylor exited the Mid-Atlantic area for the last time. True, if you would have blinked your eye you would have missed Taylor’s cameos, but it’s not every day that a legitimate Olympic wrestling medal winner graces your presence. So it’s at least a Mid-Atlantic cup of coffee worth remembering.