Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The Gateway Interview: Bill Eadie (Masked Superstar / Demolition Ax) - Part One

(Note: We were notified on Sat. 5/6/17 that the Wrestle Expo event scheduled for May 19-20 in Richmond has been cancelled. )

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In any discussion of the storied history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, the familiar name “Masked Superstar” always comes to the forefront. Bill Eadie, the man behind the mask and later behind the paint as Demolition Ax in the World Wrestling Federation, is an enduring symbol of excellence to legions of wrestling fans. While he is no longer a fixture inside the wrestling ring, Eadie has not severed his connection to professional wrestling, much to the contrary.

The man we remember fondly as the Masked Superstar is integrally involved in the upcoming Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo 2017 in Richmond, Virginia on May 19-20, 2017. The venue for the Wrestle Expo is the Greater Richmond Convention Center, which is directly across the street from the Richmond Coliseum, the site of many of the Masked Superstar’s greatest bouts.

In this conversation, Bill talks about the upcoming Richmond Wrestle Expo and his return to Richmond after many years. And of course, there is lots of reminiscing about the Masked Superstar’s historic battles in the Richmond Coliseum and flashbacks to the golden era of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling!

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David Chappell: Bill, thank you for spending some time with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway today. It is great that you are coming back to Richmond, Virginia soon for the Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo 2017! And it’s terrific that you have a big behind-the-scenes role with this new fan convention.

Masked Superstar, Bill Eadie: Thank you David…you and Dick [Bourne] do a great job on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway and we appreciate your support.

Chappell: I know that you, Rich Landrum and Lee Crowder are working hard to make this a memorable event for the wrestling fans. I certainly hope this will become an annual event that Mid-Atlantic fans circle on their calendars, just like many do for the NWA Legends Fanfest in Charlotte every August.

Superstar: You know, it takes time; if this one doesn’t work, we’ll do another one and another one and finally we’ll get the formula. We are planning on multiple years. We realize the difficulty, and if we can break even we’re going to be happy. With your support and the Crockett Foundation and a lot of other good people, we might be able to do that.

Chappell: Like anything else new, it’s important to get the word out and the Gateway is delighted to assist. And we now also have this new animal called “social media!”

Superstar: (laughs) Social media, boy you’re not kidding! I’m not familiar with all that stuff, but fortunately Lee and you guys do all that stuff real well.

Chappell: How are preparations going for the big event in Richmond on May 19th and 20th?

(Note: We were notified on Sat. 5/6/17 that the Wrestle Expo event scheduled for May 19-20 in Richmond has been cancelled. )

Superstar: We have phone conferences once a week and we’ve been doing it for the last probably seven months or so. We talk at least an hour…Lee and Rich Landrum. We put a lot of time and effort into it. We’re not looking to make a million bucks; we’re looking to give back. There has always been good fan interest in the Richmond area and throughout the Mid-Atlantic area. So it’s our chance to help out the first responders and the Crockett Foundation and guys like you that have been so gracious to help us so we just appreciate it.

Chappell: Anything involving Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, we’re all in! When you think about your wrestling career and specifically the term “Mid-Atlantic,” what comes immediately to your mind?

Graphic courtesy Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats

Superstar: Well, I have nothing but fond memories of the Mid-Atlantic logo and the phrase, Mid-Atlantic. [Booker] George Scott took me under his wing, thank goodness, and gave me the opportunity to don the mask and start a new character. I’ve had a good career and I have some positive, positive memories of all my matches. And I don’t think I have any regrets…the only regret I would have about wrestling is that I couldn’t take my family with me wherever I went. I tried to enjoy the places I visited; I got paid to travel the world. Places that people pay handsomely to go to, I got paid to go.

Chappell: That says a heck of a lot to only have a single regret in one’s career.

Superstar: And I wish I had taken more pictures of the guys together. When you’re in the middle of the forest, you can’t see and appreciate all the trees.

Chappell: Just two regrets ain’t bad either! You know Bill; one of the greatest and most seamless transitions between characters in wrestling was in September of 1976 when you went from the persona of Bolo Mongol to the Masked Superstar in the blink of an eye. And no one was the wiser for it! That switcheroo was one the many things that made Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling so memorable to the fans of Jim Crockett Promotions.

Superstar: You know, and I think the fans may realize that the Mid-Atlantic wrestling area at that time was THE, and I mean THE, area to be involved in within the world of professional wrestling. Everybody that was anybody wanted to come to the Mid-Atlantic. One, because of George Scott and two, because of the fan base, and three because of the Crockett name.

Chappell: No doubt…

Superstar: I mean, they were honest individuals and all they asked was for you to do your job and make the towns. And you know, they had so many great arenas in the area…Greensboro, Charlotte and of course Richmond. It was fantastic, you know, you had a summer-style territory when you went down to Myrtle Beach and Wilmington…

Chappell: And don’t forget Virginia Beach!

Superstar: (laughs) Yes! And you had Asheville and Roanoke…every place was well established and a well run machine. And we just kept putting good talent in there, and like I said all the top talent in the world eventually went through there, and some decided never to leave.

Chappell: Selfishly, I wish you would have never left the Mid-Atlantic area!

Superstar: I would have never chosen to leave; I went to Georgia for a time period. Ole Anderson had asked me to go down there, but my wife and family still stayed in Charlotte. And I went back and forth between Charlotte and Georgia. But I would have been more than content to stay in the Mid-Atlantic area and go overseas to Japan for the rest of my career.

Chappell: We were glad to have you for as long as we did, but back then moving from territory to territory was part of the deal.

Superstar: You’re absolutely right, a lot of the promoters would keep calling and trying to put a sweet deal together. Everybody was afraid you’d burn out, I guess.

Chappell: Sure, there was the dynamic of trying to keep things fresh.

Superstar: Yes, so you’d move to another territory, but I kind of liked to keep Georgia and the Mid-Atlantic area in my hip pocket. Like I said, I have nothing but fond memories of the Mid-Atlantic area.

Chappell: It was a special time and place, for sure.

Scanned Photo courtesy of Andy McDaniel

Superstar: My girls grew up in Charlotte, and it was close to my family that lived in Pennsylvania and Ohio and I could shoot up there periodically if I needed to. It was just a good central area. It was in the south, and I grew up in Pittsburgh and I always told myself that I was going to get out of the cold wintry weather!

Chappell: Definitely some better weather down this way!

Superstar: (laughs) Charlotte was good, but then sometimes we’d go up to Richmond and Roanoke and that area and we’d get some wintertime!

Chappell: True, but not like Pittsburgh!

Superstar: Oh my goodness, yes!

Chappell: I didn’t realize you lived in Charlotte, but I guess that was the place where most of the Crockett guys lived back in the day.

Superstar: Lived in Charlotte at a couple of different places, and just when we were looking to purchase a home I was going back and forth between Charlotte and Atlanta for a time. And then my wife and I bought a home in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Although none of us were born in Georgia, we got a green card.

Chappell: (laughs)

Superstar: But my daughter and her husband still live in the Charlotte area, and we’ll probably be moving back up that way when I retire in the next year or so to be closer to them. If not in Charlotte itself, maybe in Myrtle Beach or somewhere like that.

Chappell: Can’t go wrong with Myrtle Beach, and Mid-Atlantic shows were put on back in the day on the Grand Strand. You’ve all ready talked about several of the Crockett towns, but some of your defining Mid-Atlantic moments occurred at the Richmond Coliseum, which is only a stone’s throw from where the Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo 2017 is being held!

(Note: We were notified on Sat. 5/6/17 that the Wrestle Expo event scheduled for May 19-20 in Richmond has been cancelled. )

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Bill Eadie talks about:

 - his crazy feud with the Mighty Igor and hints at the back-stage politics that ended it.
- his long run of cage matches with Blackjack Mulligan in the hot summer of 1978 trying to collect a $10, 000 bounty.
- memories of getting stabbed at ringside in Richmond and what happened at the next show when the cops thought it was getting ready to happen again!
- More on Wrestle Expo!

Don't miss Bill Eadie appearing as Demolition Ax at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestle Expo in Richmond on May 19-20. Visit their website for all the details.