Friday, August 11, 2017

Action Figures Friday: Greg "The Hammer" Valentine

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's Friday, and we always celebrate here on the Gateway with "Action Figures Friday" (and usually "Free Fries Friday" at McDonald's, too.)

This week we take a look at a tribute to that iconic image from 1977 where Greg Valentine donned one of the most infamous wrestling t-shirts of all time - - "I Broke Wahoo's Leg" - - after defeating Wahoo McDaniel for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship on TV, and breaking the Chief's leg in the process.

The replica figure is decked out with his own mini t-shirt and tiny replica of the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight title belt that was worn for many years during that era.

Valentine enraged fans back in the day with the t-shirt, often coming to the ring wearing a robe over it and then slowly opening the robe to reveal the shirt and the title belt with a devilish grin on his face.

And then when the robe came off, he would slowly turn so you could see the message on the back of the t-shirt, too - - "No More Wahoo."

And just as iconic as the shirt, and really the only thing that makes that imagery work, is the Mid-Atlantic championship belt strapped around his waist as well.

The Mid-Atlantic title was established in 1973, but has its roots going back to 1970 when the Eastern Heavyweight championship was established. That Eastern was renamed the Mid-Atlantic title in 1973. The complete title history can be found on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway here

The imagery and the memories of that famous t-shirt resulting from that historic televised match are still remembered today, and are even immortalized in a song by singer/songwriter Sweet G.A. Brown. (We've written a lot about that song, most recently here.)

In a short conversation with Greg while getting breakfast at the Univesity Hilton at Charlotte in 2016 at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest, he told me that usually one person will mention this to him at almost every appearance he makes. "I get asked to sign my autograph that way," he told our group. "All these years later, people still remember that."

All these years later, indeed. It's hard to believe it was 40 years ago this September of 2017.

I was the smart-alek who brought it up that morning at breakfast. Greg was in line at the buffet with his back turned and when we saw him, I said out loud, "Watch out folks, this guy broke Wahoo's leg." Greg slowly turned around with a big grin on his face and uttered in that deep, muttering voice, "You're damn right I did."

That is a nice memory of that weekend in Charlotte.

Thanks as always to collector Mike Simmerman for sending us these great photos from his amazing throw-back collection of action figures. To see all the other "Action Figures Fridays" posts, click here.