Sunday, September 17, 2017

Terry Funk Returns to the Lion's Den

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Raleigh Fri. 9/22      Spartanburg Sat. 9/23
Don't miss it this weekend!
It is with great anticipation for wrestling fans in the Carolinas and vicinity that former NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk returns to the ring later this week in two historic venues of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Raleigh’s Dorton Arena on Friday night and the venerable Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium on Saturday night. The amazing “Funker,” 73 years young, will wrestle at both events in a six man tag team main event with Jerry “The King” Lawler leading the opposing trio.

When I think of Terry Funk and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, visions of the spectacular United States Heavyweight Title Tournament on November 9, 1975 in Greensboro, North Carolina come immediately to mind where Terry bested “Number One” Paul Jones in the tournament finals, and took the coveted U.S. belt back to Amarillo, Texas with him, to the chagrin of the Jim Crockett Promotions faithful.

However, Terry’s United States Title reign lasted only 18 days as Paul Jones brought the Title back to the Mid-Atlantic area in a magnificent rematch on Thanksgiving Day back in Greensboro. Undeterred, Funk came back with a vengeance and captured the World Title on December 10, 1975 defeating Jack Brisco in Miami, Florida. Funk’s ascension to the top of the wrestling world made Paul Jones the immediate number one contender for the World belt, as he only two weeks before had knocked Terry off in Greensboro and Paul could say with conviction that he had Funk’s number. And the great Chief Wahoo McDaniel was also lurking in the Mid-Atlantic area as a top challenger for the new Champion.


Raleigh, NC - Dorton Arena - Friday, September 22 - Tickets
Spartanburg, SC - Memorial Auditorium - Saturday, September 23 - Tickets

Terry Funk   Kevin Nash   Jerry Lawler   Sgt. Slaughter   Tommy Rich 
Jimmy Valiant     George South   Rock & Roll Express    Magnum T.A. 
Many others!

Terry returned to the Mid-Atlantic area with the World’s Heavyweight Championship in tow at the beginning of February 1976, and gave a memorable interview on the set of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show. “Fans, in every sport there’s one at the head of the class and in professional wrestling right now that man is Terry Funk, World’s Heavyweight Champion, and it’s a pleasure always to welcome the Champion to Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, Terry,” announcer Bob Caudle exclaimed.

Funk responded, “Bob, it’s certainly my pleasure being here. You know, it just amazed me how much three seconds could change a man’s life. And my life completely changed on December the 10th 1975 whenever I put Jack Brisco’s shoulders to the mat with an inside cradle. Immediately I was making $250,000.00 to $300,000.00 per year. Immediately, from being the hunter I became the hunted…by every top wrestler in professional wrestling today.”

Terry continued, “What does this belt mean to me? By golly, whenever I was five years old, I wasn’t like most kids; because most kids had a dream…they usually dreamed of being a doctor, a lawyer, a fireman or something like that. My father was a professional wrestler, and I dreamed of having this belt around my waist sometime. And I tell you what, two dreams came true because Dory Funk, Jr. became World’s Heavyweight Champion for four and a half years, then I went ahead and took the belt…now this is something in professional wrestling to have one family hold the belt.”

The Champion then turned his attention to the challenges facing him in Jim Crockett Promotions explaining, “Now, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling; my brother told me to stay away from this area. He said, ‘Terry, don’t go within that area because they do have the World’s greatest wrestlers down there. Call ‘em into the Texas panhandle, call ‘em into your home stomping grounds.’ I said Junior I’ll do my best to do that, but the Board of Directors of the National Wrestling Alliance, they force me to go into areas where sometimes I am wanted very much by top contenders. And the top contenders are Wahoo McDaniel, Paul Jones, on and on and on, the Andersons, they’re right here within this area. I’ll come within the lion’s den if it’s necessary, but I don’t really want to!”

There is no question that Terry Funk will put on a can’t miss performance when he steps into the ring later this week in Raleigh and Spartanburg, but his special appearances in the Carolinas in a few days will also spark great memories of Terry wrestling as NWA World’s Champion in 1976, stepping foot into the lion’s den he called Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.