Wednesday, May 10, 2017

U.S. Champion Wahoo McDaniel with Rich Landrum (1981)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

We love images like this from the studio days of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. This has lots to love about it.

First of all, it's U.S.champ Wahoo McDaniel and Rich Landrum doing a local promotional spot for Houston, TX, which was a rare pairing at that moment in time. More about that in a moment. 

U.S. Champion Wahoo McDaniel with World Wide Wrestling host Rich Landrum

Secondly, it is a good shot of Wahoo with the second version of the United States Championship belt, used from 1980-1982. It is distinguished by the Mulkovich-cast main plate in the shape of the U.S. mainland, and also by the black leather strap. (Learn about all five different versions of the Crockett U.S. championship belt in the book "United States Championship.")

Thirdly, the backdrop in this image is the old "Wide World Wrestling" set that was used for that program from 1975-1978. In the fall of 1978, Jim Crockett Promotions had a new set made for the program, and around that same time is when Rich Landrum became host of the show (replacing Tom Miller) and the name of the show changed from "Wide World Wrestling" to "World Wide Wrestling." The old Wide World set was used for local promos only from that point forward, like the one you see taking place with Wahoo here.

This image actually came from a Houston Wrestling program promoting an AWA World title defense by Nick Bockwinkel against challenger Wahoo McDaniel. Jim Crockett Promotions sent in a tape to Houston which featured Landrum and Wahoo talking about the match with Bockwinkel. As an aside, this was one of the fun things that took place on TV back in the territory days. I always loved it when another territory sent a tape in to your home territory promoting a match. This happened frequently with the world champions who would tape an interview in one territory and send it into the next territory where he would appear in a few weeks. In this case it's Crockett sending a tape of the challenger in to Houston for a shot at Bockwinkel's belt, as Houston promoter Paul Boesch was recognizing the AWA's world championship at that time.

When I first saw this image, I knew it was pretty rare because Wahoo was only U.S. champion once when Rich Landrum was still with Jim Crockett Promotions, and for only 20 days at that.

So I checked some wrestling results, and sure enough that AWA title match in Houston took place on Friday, August 14, 1981. Wahoo had defeated Roddy Piper for the U.S. title just six days earlier in Greensboro, NC, on Saturday, August 8, 1981. He would be stripped of the title less than three weeks later as the result of a unorthodox rematch clause Piper had placed in the original contract. A story for another time (but also in the U.S. book!)

So the promotional spot with Landrum and Wahoo threaded the needle of Wahoo's first brief U.S. title reign. Wahoo would win the same title for the second time in May of 1982 from Sgt. Slaughter. Landrum left the company earlier that year.

Interesting to note, too, that this promo was likely taped on Tuesday, August 11 or Wednesday, August 12, at the studios of WPCQ in Charlotte, NC and would have been during only the second week Jim Crockett Promotions taped their wrestling shows in that studio. They had just moved to WPCQ from the channel 5 studios of WRAL in Raleigh one week earlier.

I just love this image. Wahoo is dressed for the golf course and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he squeezed in a round of 18 holes before that taping session.

Thanks to Chris Bryant for passing along the original image to us on our Facebook page. (We dressed it up in our trademark old-school TV set.)

Great memories on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway!