Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Valentine vs. Brisco: The Champ vs. The Champ

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The year of 1974 was a watershed year in the history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.  After being brought into Jim Crockett Promotions in October of 1973, Johnny Valentine soon became the focus of a territory that was about to take off in a big way. After claiming the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship belt at the beginning of 1974, Valentine became so dominant during the course of the year that he was simply referred to by the promotion as the “Champ.”

When NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco made a pass through the Mid-Atlantic area during 1974, he met the number one contender Valentine in a rare television match pitting Champion versus Champion. At the end of 1974, Valentine and announcer Sam Menacker talked over clips of this unique match in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling’s 1974 Year In Review television show.

November 24, 1974  -  Charlotte, NC
(Clipping from the Mark Eastridge Collection)
Valentine began the segment by telling the TV audience, “Well, they sent the World Champion in to make the Champ look bad, but he didn’t fare so well. In fact, he left after this match looking very bad himself and people were wondering why he was champion and not John Valentine.” Johnny continued, “You can see in this match as we go along that I handled him quite easily.”

Menacker noted, “Well, there’s no doubt about it, he’s the World Champion. And of course from what I heard about it you stayed right with him, but it wound up when the match was over he was still the champion.” Johnny curtly responded,  “Well, this was not a World Championship match or any championship match. It was a special TV match…if there were points given for this match I would have definitely won it on points. I was so far ahead it was ridiculous!” Valentine added, “He didn’t even look like a champion in this match.”

“It’s certainly evident that you’re the aggressor here,” Menacker commented. “I’m always the aggressor,” Valentine replied. The Champ continued, “I always strive to go out and win the match, not just waste my time and keep from getting beat because I knew then I was the better man. I had a hold of him for one minute and I knew I was a better man.”

As the film review continued Menacker stated, “Johnny, you really have a terrific arm bar hold on Jack Brisco.” Johnny chuckled, “Well, so far I’m the only one who had a hold…Brisco was strictly on the defensive. He’s backing up again in the ropes; he’s just hanging on for his dear life.” Valentine elaborated, “He expected to come in and make a fool of me, and look who is lying on the mat!”

In large measure, Menacker agreed exclaiming, “There’s Johnny, he’s picking him up, clubs him…man what a smash that was. And Brisco is definitely in trouble right there. I can’t help but agree with you, there’s a hard smash to the heart.” The Champ added, “This man was sent in just to make a fool of me but you can see what happened…the tables were turned! Brisco is out on the floor. Out on the floor, flat on his back. I personally think I should be World Champion.”

Menacker then commented, “Of course, in this television match, now it did wind up as a draw if I’m not mistaken...is that correct?” Valentine snarled, “Of course we ran out of time, lucky for Brisco we ran out of time because you can see who is taking all the punishment. There’s only so much punishment a body can take.”

As the film clip neared its conclusion Menacker observed, “Ordinarily I know those are punishing blows because I’ve seen Brisco and I know you have too where he has exceptionally quick recuperative powers, but in this particular match every time you club him he stays down for a while…it takes quite a time for him to get his bearings back. There he throws a punch, another punch, at you. He’s trying to come back, but he’s still weak. Beautiful move there, he brought you over in a rolling reverse cradle.”

Johnny answered, “Yeah, but I’m the stronger one; I’m able to come out. If I had him in that weakened condition he was in he may not have come out. I believe in hammering my opponent, hurting him, weakening him and then beating him.” Well, you are the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Champion and just watching this match here and having heard about it throughout the country I can understand why people say you should have another match with him besides yourself...naturally you want another match with him,” Menacker said. Johnny ended the segment by countering, “Well, naturally I want to better myself and having his belt will help.”

There can be no doubt that a Jack Brisco versus Johnny Valentine bout on television would be a highlight of 1974…or any year, for that matter. But the timing of this TV match, occurring when Brisco was the World Champion and Valentine was the Mid-Atlantic Champion made it even more memorable. Valentine’s strong showing certainly bolstered his status as Jim Crockett Promotions top dog.

And for sure, the Champ versus the Champ in 1974 was a moment in time on TV to be treasured by all the Mid-Atlantic faithful!

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See also: Jack Brisco's NWA title defenses in the Mid-Atlantic area in 1974.