Saturday, December 30, 2017

Mid-Atlantic September 1981 TV Episode plows new ground for WWE

Earliest Mid-Atlantic show listed for WWE Network precedes previously aired shows on the defunct WWE Wrestling Classics 24/7 channel.

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The WWE Network recently announced they would begin carrying early 1980s episodes of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling (expected to debut on 1/8/17 per the WWE Network News website) as part of their "Vault" section of their streaming service. They also indicated there would be 10 selected episodes that would be included in the "Collections" section of the service in advance of the major 100-episode drop.

The first of those selected episodes has an air date listed as 9/12/81 and the following description:

Mid-Atlantic Television Champion Ron Bass partners with Jay Youngblood for a tag team match main event. Roddy Piper leads Abdullah the Butcher into action against Ron Ritchie. Plus Sgt. Slaughter, Jake Roberts, and many more in action.

There are lots of things interesting to note about this episode as it related to the context of the times as well as a peek into what the WWE library of Jim Crockett tapes includes.

First of all, this episode predates the episodes that previously aired on the defunct WWE Wrestling Classics 24/7 pay channel back in the 2000s. Their episodes began with the 11/18/81 (taping date at WPCQ studio) show. It's nice to see them include in this early show on their list: it predates the first show from the 24/7 network by over two-months.

I'm hoping since this is simply a "selected" episode, the library goes back a bit further. There is some indication that it might, as indicated by a brief clip of Rich Landrum and Johnny Weaver with Roddy Piper from a summer 1981 episode of "World Wide Wrestling" that aired as a clip on one of the WWE Wrestling Classics round-table shows. (That round table show is probably on the WWE Network now.)

In the summer of 1981, Jim Crockett Promotions moved the location of their TV studio wrestling tapings from the classic confines of WRAL studios in Raleigh, NC, to the cramped and awkward setting of WPCQ in Charlotte. The first taping took place on Wednesday night, August 5, with the original air-date of Saturday, August 8. So it's worth noting that this 9/12/81 episode in the WWE list is very early into JCP's tenure at WPCQ.  We're hoping that perhaps some of the final episodes from WRAL are part of the WWE's library, especially given that the aforementioned clip with Landrum, Weaver, and Piper exists from that studio.

Ric Flair first won the NWA World title on September 17, 1981, so there will be at least this one episode where Rhodes is till champion, and hopefully a few more. This also means we should see the episode in late September where Ric Flair is introduced as the new NWA World Champion.

The other champions as of this program:
  • World Tag Champs: Gene and Ole Anderson
  • United States Champion: [VACANT - Wahoo Stripped of Title]
  • Mid-Atlantic Champion: Ivan Koloff
  • Mid-Atlantic Tag Champs: The Russians (Volkoff and Markoff mgd. by Lord Al Hayes)
  • Mid-Atlantic TV Champion: Ron Bass
  • World Jr. Champion: Les Thornton

From some notes we made back in 1981 while watching wrestling here is what it looks like will be on that 9/12/81 show.
  • The tag team of Ricky Steamboat and Jake Roberts open the show.
  • The team of the Super Destroyer (Scott Irwin) and The Grappler (Len Denton) face Scott McGhee and Don Kernodle in another tag team event.
  • Ivan Koloff and the recently-arrived Sgt. Slaughter wrestle in singles action.
  • Newly crowned TV champion Ron Bass and Jay Youngblood tag up to finish the show.
  • The referee for the show is Stu Schwartz.
  • Austin Idol appears on an interview segment. 
  • This show may include a tape of the infamous match where Wahoo McDaniel was attacked by Abdullah the Butcher and the footage had to be video-distorted for blood. There is at least some footage of Abdullah in action, accompanied by Roddy Piper, as indicated in the WWE"s short description of the show (see above.)
  • The Super Destroyer (Scott Irwin) wins for his team with a vertical suplex from the second turnbuckle, a move he called the "superplex." As hard as it is to fathom in this day and age, that was a revolutionary move for its time, and no one had really seen anything like that in our area up until then. We had seen flaying body-presses from the top rope (ala Ricky Steamboat) and flying body splashes from the top rope (ala Jimmy Snuka), but never a suplex delivered from the turnbuckles. This was considered cutting edge for its time. 

It will be great to see this show for the first time since it originally aired over 36 years ago.

Stay tuned for more on our WWE Network updates.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Figures Friday: Champions in the Mid-Atlantic Area (1977)

A brief departure from Mike Simmerman's incredible collection of action figure photographs as we take a look at a few of our own in the "Mid-Atlantic Gateway Action Figures Collection."

Featured above are three legendary champions from 1977 representing the three top singles titles in the Mid-Atlantic area (set against the backdrop of Bob Caudle's Hall of Heroes induction plaque.)

Harley Race first won the NWA title in May of 1973 from Dory Funk, Jr. and then won it a second time defeating Dory's younger brother Terry in February of 1977.

Ric Flair would later win the NWA title in September 1981, but before his rise to the top of the mountain, he was a multi-time United States champion back when that title was recognized as the top title in the U.S. just below the NWA title. Flair first won the U.S. title in July of 1977 defeating Bobo Brazil, and later won the title from Ricky Steamboat in April 1978. He would hold the title on several more occasions.

Greg Valentine first won the Mid-Atlantic title in June of 1977 from Wahoo McDaniel, losing the tile back to Wahoo before winning it from the Chief a second time in September of 1977 in the famous TV match where he broke Wahoo's leg.

These three actually only overlapped with these three titles as featured in the photo above for 11 days in late July and early August of 1977.

The replica figures, robes, and belts evoke great memories of a great time in for Jim Crockett Promotions and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

Next week it's back to Mike Simmerman's collection, but we will occasionally sneak a few of ours in, too.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling thought to debut on WWE Network January 8th

The WWE Network News website announced today that Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling may debut on the WWE Network's vault section on January 8, 2018. There is a possibility that a huge number of episodes will drop that day, according to the WWE Network News report.

There also is the possibility that the 10 selected episodes may pop up earlier in the "Collections" section of the streaming service.

Read their report here:


Preview the earliest episode they have announced so far, September 12, 1981.

More information as we get it.

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Also see our latest history update, the 4th and final installment in "Wahoo McDaniel: Missing in Action"

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wahoo McDaniel: Missing in Action (Part 4 - Final Chapter)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Catch up on what you missed earlier:

And now the final chapter of the saga of Wahoo McDaniel missing in action in Charlotte:


Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling fans were on the edge of their seats as Greg Valentine was pressed to weigh in on the reasons for Wahoo McDaniel showing up late to the Charlotte Park Center in a bloody, bruised and battered condition. An unrepentant Valentine explained:
"Listen, I don’t know why Wahoo showed up late. Maybe he went to some bar and got drunk and got beat up by a bunch of guys. I don’t know why, I don’t know why he had blood all over him. But I’ve heard we’ve been accused of beating up Wahoo McDaniel at some package store, or some Safeway store or whatever. Well that’s ridiculous! It’s ridiculous and it’s absurd!"

Safeway Supermarket
Unconvinced, David Crockett turned everyone's attention back to the film clip from the infamous night in Charlotte. Crockett said, "Well, we’re gonna hear from Wahoo right now." As the film played again, the fans could hear the Charlotte ring announcer say, "The referee’s decision for this match is a no contest, a no decision match," to a loud chorus of boos.

At this juncture everyone would finally hear from the Indian Chief himself, Wahoo McDaniel! Wahoo bellowed, "Let me tell you something, when I was on my way to the match I stopped at the store and both of ‘em jumped on me! I tell you one thing, I’ll get ‘em both! Nobody’s ever done this to me and got by with it, I promise you!"

Bob Caudle then pronounced, "And that’s what Wahoo said happened." A grinning Valentine scoffed, "Yeah, I heard him and that doesn’t make any difference because let me tell you something...Wahoo McDaniel, you are lying, you are lying through your teeth! You were over at some bar out there getting drunk, and you got beat up by about five or six bums and that’s why you got there late!"

The Hammer continued to roll, "And you’re tryin’ to accuse it on the Nature Boy and myself well let me tell you something Wahoo McDaniel…I don’t need Ric Flair to beat you up! I can beat you up by myself anywhere, anytime in a street, in a bar, in any arena! I don’t need Ric Flair and Ric Flair doesn’t need me to beat you up…we can handle you by ourselves!"

As the Bionic Elbow strutted out of the television studio, the perturbed Crockett shouted at Greg, "I hope you try it, I definitely hope you try it!" Caudle concurred, "I do too David, because I think this is something that we’ve seen the beginning, but certainly not the end of this." Crockett concluded the segment, "That’s right, we’re gonna see Wahoo…he’s got two of them, he’s gonna get them singly now."

This explosive TV segment served to begin the transition of Wahoo McDaniel moving out of his 1976 epic singles program with Ric Flair to one with the newcomer Greg Valentine that would dominate much of the following year, including the memorable TV match where Valentine broke Wahoo's leg in September of 1977.

Bob Caudle was certainly prophetic when he commented that this episode was only the beginning and not the end of Wahoo's issues with Flair and more particularly with Valentine. And who would have ever thought that a dust-up at a Safeway store would usher in one of the greatest feuds in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling history?  Wahoo's disappearance in Charlotte and the reason why unlocked the key to much of what we were to see between McDaniel and Valentine for many years and great matches later!

Republished in December of 2021 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The original Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie) is seen here at WRAL Studios, in Raleigh, NC, right around Christmastime in the late 2000s.

WRAL was the TV home of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling from 1959-1981. The studio wrestling shows were taped there.

This photo was taken by Eric Stace and is one of our favorite Christmas season images, a nostalgic look back at a great territory and one of its greatest wrestlers. 

David Chappell and I wish all of you Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, Peace on Earth, and a very Merry Christmas. Hope to see you in 2018!  -Dick Bourne

Take a look back at Mid-Atlantic Christmas Night wrestling cards in the 1970s

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For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2: 11-14 KJV)

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This announcement from the WWE Network was a nice early Christmas present for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling fans that have been wiaiting since the WWE Network launched in 2014 for them to add Mid-Atlantic television.

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling makes its WWE Network debut with this month’s new on-demand offering. Featuring nearly 100 episodes and over 70 hours of throwback action, travel as far back as 1981 and see the very early careers of WWE Hall of Famers such as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Sgt. Slaughter, Ric Flair, and more. Enjoy a small taste of the latest offering with this New Classic Content collection, featuring 10 memorable episodes from 1981-1983.

After Christmas, we will begin regular updates on the Gateway about episodes of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling being added to the WWE Network.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Coming to WWE Network in January

This announcement from the WWE Network was a nice early Christmas present for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling fans that have been wiaiting since the WWE Network launched in 2014 for them to add Mid-Atlantic television.

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling makes its WWE Network debut with this month’s new on-demand offering. Featuring nearly 100 episodes and over 70 hours of throwback action, travel as far back as 1981 and see the very early careers of WWE Hall of Famers such as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Sgt. Slaughter, Ric Flair, and more. Enjoy a small taste of the latest offering with this New Classic Content collection, featuring 10 memorable episodes from 1981-1983.

More information here:  WWE Network News

After Christmas, we will begin regular updates on the Gateway about episodes of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling being added to the WWE Network.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Action Figures Friday: U.S. Champion Jimmy Snuka

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
(Action Figure from the Collection of Mike Simmerman - @mikesimmerman)

One of the big stories in 1979 was the heel-turn of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and his accession to the United States Heavyweight Championship under the managerial tutelage of former NWA World Heavyweight Champion "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers.

Snuka won the U.S. title in a tournament in Charlotte, NC, in 9/1/79 after the title had been vacated by Ric Flair in August when he and Blackjack Mulligan won the NWA World Tag Team titles.

Snuka defeated Tim Woods and Jim Brunzell in early rounds of the tournament before defeating the "Hawaiian Punch" Ricky Steamboat in the finals.

Snuka held the iconic "red strap" version of the Crockett U.S. championship (in service from 1975-1980), a belt with cast plates crafted by belt-maker Nikita Mulkovich. 

In 2010, I had a chance to show Snuka my replica of that U.S. belt which got a very nice reaction from him. He had a huge grin on his face and said "Very nice, bruddah,very nice." I wrote about that on the Gateway and you can read that here: "Jimmy Snuka Remembers the U.S. Championship Belt - An Iconic Image from 1970s sends Jimmy Snuka down Memory Lane"

An earlier installment of "Action Figures Friday" focused on the bloody feud over the U.S. title between Jimmy Snuka and Ric Flair.

The book "Jim Crockett Promotions' United States Championship" chronicles the entire story of the feud between these two hall-of-famers, as well as every story of every title change of all five version of Crockett's U.S. title from 1975 until 1988 when the family business was sold to Ted Turner. Check it out through the link below.

Thanks, as always, to Mike Simmerman for providing the great photos of his action figures collection. Follow Mike on twitter at @mikesimmerman.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Night Wrestling in the 1970s

As we do every year about this time, we've linked to an old feature that is still found on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives (our legacy site) that features the newspaper ads for Jim Crockett Promotions Christmas Day shows in the years 1968-1979. We will eventually (maybe? possibly? definitely!) get around to adding 1980-1988, but until then enjoy these great memories from days gone by. And MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on Christmas Day

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Caroling with Roddy Piper

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Check our best-selling book "Four Horsemen" at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway bookstore.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Wahoo McDaniel: Missing in Action (Part 3)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Catch up on what you missed earlier:

And now the saga of Wahoo McDaniel missing in action in Charlotte continues to unfold:

As David Crockett, Greg Valentine and Bob Caudle continued to view the film of Ric Flair and Tiger Conway battling in the ring, everything seemed to stop in its place while the crowd erupted for some unknown reason. Then the camera panned to a familiar face approaching ringside, covered in blood! Crockett exclaimed, “Ah ha! It looks like Wahoo! That’s right, that’s Wahoo McDaniel!”

Clearly flustered, a bellicose Valentine hollered, “Now, this is completely unfair!” Crockett responded, “Why is it unfair, he was supposed to be in the match!?” The “Hammer” elaborated, “But Ric Flair was wrestling Tiger Conway and Wahoo McDaniel comes in from behind and starts beating on Ric Flair…this is completely unfair!” Crockett pressed his luck yelling, “No it isn’t!”

The film then showed a sequence of the bloody McDaniel in street clothes giving the “Nature Boy” quite a beat-down. Greg, becoming animated and more and more agitated, followed up, “There’s no way you should let a thing like this go on…look at that!” Becoming ever more confrontational Crockett shot back, “Tiger’s not wrestling Ric now, Tiger’s not wrestling Ric, so why shouldn’t Wahoo wrestle him? Tiger’s outside the ring!” Valentine countered, “That just shows you what kind of man Wahoo McDaniel is.”

Valentine, who had successfully defended his Mid-Atlantic Television Title in the previous bout of the evening, got wind of what was going on in the ring and interjected himself in what was now the regularly scheduled matchup between Flair and Wahoo. David continued on towards Greg, “Now, you come into the ring…” The “Bionic Elbow” attempted to explain, “The reason I came into that ring…” At that juncture Crockett interrupted, and it drew a strong rebuke from Greg!

“WILL YOU SHUT UP,” Valentine hollered to David! Crockett relented and Greg explained, “The reason why I came into that ring is because Wahoo McDaniel got in there and jumped Ric Flair from behind…that’s the only reason I came in because my partner Ric Flair needed help, he had two men on one!” Crockett mustered up the nerve to speak again and commented, “Look at Wahoo…he’s a man possessed, he’s a man possessed! Now Wahoo was in there, Tiger wasn’t helping him.”

A seething Valentine retorted, “I can beat Wahoo by myself anytime, anywhere, in any arena.” On the film, both Valentine and Flair departed the ringside area prompting Crockett to say, “But now, both of you left the ring…why did you leave?” Greg countered, “We both left the ring because what had been done had been done…Wahoo, again, made a complete fool out of himself.”

Now the ring announcer could be heard on the film saying the referee had declared the match a no decision, no contest finish. With there no longer being a match to describe on the film, Crockett asked the question everyone in Charlotte and now the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television audience wanted answered, “But why did Wahoo show up late, why did he show up late?” Caudle concurred, “I was gonna say, let’s pursue that for a moment David.”

Valentine paused…and his upcoming explanation for Wahoo’s showing up late was truly one for the ages!


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Blackjack Mulligan interview before the the Great American Bash in St. Petersburg

Blackjack Recognizable
by Jimmy Nasella
Assistant State Sports Editor, Tampa Tribune
July 24, 1987

TAMPA - He's big, no. make that gargantuan, by the normal-sized person's standards. and recognizable throughout the country.

A pair of factors that can go a long way In keeping one going for 20 years in pro wrestling They also go a long way In letting a guy move around to keep himself, and the fans, from becoming stale. The proof Is in Black Jack Mulligan.

Mulligan, 6-foot-7, 325 pounds will lug his mass into the ring again tonight as part Of the National Wrestling Alliances Great American Bash at the St. Petersburg Bayfront Center.

Being part of the month-long event (the Bash's are winding down a tour of 13 Florida dates) Is but another benefit of Mulligan's longevity.

He recently returned from a stint In the World Wrestling Federation, a journey afforded because Mulligan's longevity makes him one of few in the business who can go from place to place with little problem.

"I'm one of the old-timers who can do it," Mulligan said In a telephone interview from his small ranch situated between Lakeland and Plant City. "It's the result of a long-term investment in the business."

In other words, he has come a long way since his first match on a hot summer day in San Antonio.

It's an even longer way from childhood in Sweetwater, Texas, when he and neighborhood kids would wrestle after watching shows (he liked the bad guys) from Chicago and Fort Worth.  "I knew early on what I wanted to do." he said. "I wanted to be a football player first (he was with Denver and the New York Jets before a leg injury forced retirement in 1970) and a wrestler second. Never thought I'd get to do it,  but ..."

He began wrestling in junior high school and played football at Odessa High (under Iowa coach Hayden Fry) and college ball at Texas-El Paso (under Bum Phillips). Through it all, however, pro wrestling kept nagging in the back of his mind. "In college we would stage our own matches," he recalled. It was setting the stage, although he didn't know it at the time, for the real thing The real thing, however, didn't seem to be all Mulligan had cracked it up to be when his chance to get in the ring came in San Antonio.

"I'll never forget it." he said between coughs through the phone line, "It was 110 degrees in the mite of the summer. I was against Joltin' Joe Blanchard who had been an All-American at Kansas and an All-Pro in the Canadian Football League. It was horrible — it wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I thought that there must be an easier way to make a living."

Since then Mulligan has been to nearly every country in the world, outside the Iron Curtain. He has made a nice living with his Polk County place and another home in Texas. He has done television commercials and has gone from wrestling nine times a week to "about 10 a month." Yes, he says, he has lost a step or two over the years, but it's still fun and he's not ready to retire.

And, since then, Mulligan has seen it all In the ring — including his current plight. Ironically. as Ironies go in pro wres-tling tonight he is teamed with one of his formerly most-hated rivals, Kevin Sullivan as they go against Dory Funk Jr. and Sir Oliver Humperdink in a barbed-wire cage match.

"He's a most unusual partner," Mulligan understated. "We have had combat and he is both a worthy opponent and worthy partner. I'm still not sure I trust the dirty rat — I think he may be connin' me. I keep one eye on Kevin and one on the opposition."

In other matches tonight: Ed Gantner and Bugsy McGraw take on the Sheepherders; Mike Rotunda faces the Black Assassin: Ron Simmons, Scott Hall and Jimmy Valient meet The Raging Bull, Ivan Koloff and Vladimir Petrov; Ronnie Garvin takes on Inkubus, Jim Backlund and Jerry Grey team to meet the Cuban Connection; Lazortron faces Nelson Royal, and the Mulkey Brothers meet Luis Astia and Rick Ryder.

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Thanks to Mark Eastridge for sending the newspaper article on Blackjack Mulligan. Transcription courtesy of Online OCR.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Action Figures Friday: The Mid-Atlantic Champions

A collection of Mid-Atlantic Champions
Front row L-R: Iron Sheik, Greg Valentine, Paul Jones, Roddy Piper, Wahoo McDaniel, Ricky Steamboat
In ring (back row) L-R: Ivan Koloff, Ken Patera, Jack Brisco

This week on "Action Figures Friday," collector Mike Simmerman shows off an assortment of figures, many customized, that represent some of the great Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champions of the late 1970s and early 1980s. They are in his custom designed TV studio reminiscent of the look of the WRAL and WPCQ TV studios where Mid-Atlantic and World Wide Wrestling were taped in the 1960s-1980s.

Great display, Mike!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wahoo McDaniel: Missing in Action (Part 2)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Catch up on what you missed in PART ONE that set the stage for the tremendous battle between Ric Flair and Tiger Conway, Jr.

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When Greg Valentine was confronted by David Crockett regarding the disappearance of Wahoo McDaniel an indignant Valentine snarled, “Well, why do you have a feeling that I know where Wahoo is?” Crockett answered, “We’ll see what happens in the match. Right now…now Ric Flair is up to his usual tricks, he has his man down and he wants to punish the man.” Greg, smiling now as he’s viewing the film cackles, “Now you see, this is what I told you before…STAMINA! Tiger Conway is blowed up; he’s had all he can take! Desperation punch there, but he is tired…”

Crockett then interjected, “That’s right, he’s tired from wrestling a previous match.” Valentine then deadpanned, “Now, this surprised me that he had energy to do that.” As Conway turned the tide, an excited Crockett exclaimed, “Look at this, look at this!! Tremendous slam, almost all the way across the ring!” At this juncture, announcer Bob Caudle clarified for the fans watching on TV the key point that the fans in Charlotte witnessed in person, “David, you mean that he’d all ready wrestled a match prior to this?” Crockett affirmed, “That’s correct, and Tiger he’s goin’ full gun. Ric Flair now, Ric Flair’s on the defensive…he’s backing up!”

Mark Eastridge Collection
The “Bionic Elbow” was not about to give Tiger any credit retorting, “Well, let me tell ya something, Ric Flair only backs up when knows he needs to step back and think and get ready to make another move. That’s the only reason he’s backin’ up, not because he’s afraid of Tiger Conway, Jr. because there’s no way.” Crockett continued to push back against Valentine stating, “Well, he’s standing back and now he’s sort of got his hands up saying stay back a little bit. Now, look at Tiger! He’s goin’ 110 percent. It looks like Ric Flair is the one that’s blown up!”

Valentine fired right back at Crockett saying, “I’ll have to disagree with you there. The match is still new; the match has only been goin’ five or six minutes. As I said before, Ric Flair will wear the man down.” Caudle then again clarified the situation for the fans at home noting, “David, do you think Ric Flair knew where Wahoo was?” Crockett answered, “I think he did.” Caudle followed, “You think Ric also knew, then?” David reiterated, “I think he did, I definitely do.”

As the film continued to play, it showcased what was a very competitive match between Flair and Conway that had to be thrown together because of the surprising absence of Chief Wahoo McDaniel. David Crockett continued, “Tiger Conway, Jr., he’s doing very well taking up for Wahoo. He’s doing a fantastic job! Now Ric Flair…” The “Hammer” then interrupted, “That’s a familiar hold right there, a familiar knee right into the old bread basket.” Crockett concurred, “Yes it is, and now Ric is working on the mid section.” Seeing Tiger in trouble, Valentine then gleefully quipped, “Now you see Tiger Conway, laying flat on the mat!”

The back and forth between Flair and Conway was intense, and the film showed how enraptured the Park Center crowd was with this impromptu bout between these two. But there came a time during the film replay that a booming crowd reaction came that didn’t seem to track a brief lull in the action in the ring. It was even to the point that Ric and Tiger almost stopped their brutal assault against each other to see what the crowd was reacting to. While viewing the film at this point, David Crockett’s voice rose in anticipation, “Now, wait a minute…wait a minute! Ric Flair’s looking around! I think he senses something…”

What was unfolding before Crockett’s eyes was the dizzying spectacle that the fans in Charlotte watched with in amazement in person, and one that the fans around the Mid-Atlantic area on television would momentarily witness in disbelief!


Monday, December 11, 2017

Best of the Gateway: Flair vs. Steamboat - How It All Began

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Originally published February 8, 2016

When I attended a spot show card at the Colonial Heights, Virginia High School gym on March 4, 1977, little did I know that I was witnessing the professional birth of one of the greatest stars in wrestling history, Ricky Steamboat. Ricky defeated the always dangerous Sgt. Jacques Goulet that night in Colonial Heights, Steamboat’s second match in the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling area. The young Steamboat continued his slow ascension up the proverbial ladder over the next three months, with flashes of promise popping up with each succeeding match. But nobody could have foreseen what the late spring of 1977 would bring for the up-and-coming Steamboat.

On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television taping date of May 25, 1977, Steamboat closed the show by being interviewed by announcer Bob Caudle. Discussing the tough competition in the Mid-Atlantic area, Ricky commented, “With what I know, I feel I have some confidence within myself. I’ve spent a lot of years and years and years…” But Steamboat couldn’t finish, as he was interrupted by none other than the flamboyant Ric Flair! At this juncture, Flair was a Mid-Atlantic veteran compared to Steamboat, having been wrestling in the territory for three years and Ric was the current holder of the Mid-Atlantic Television Championship belt.

The “Nature Boy” dismissively scolded Steamboat, saying, “Step aside kid, the people came to see me and Valentine, not some punk kid! Step aside kid!” Ricky, somewhat taken aback replied, “I’m sorry, I thought this was my interview time.”  Flair, knowing he was effectively pushing Steamboat’s buttons commented, “Don’t make the mistake again…take off kid, take off. And don’t make the mistake of coming in again.” Gaining some confidence, Steamboat counterattacked, saying, “Flair, let me tell you something. I’ve been in this area now for about three months. I’ve been watching you; I’ve been studying you. And let me tell you something; let me tell you something. I can beat you any time of the week, any time of the day, you name it…we’ll go. Don’t YOU make that mistake.” This first confrontation between Flair and Steamboat ended with Flair again trashing the new star from Hawaii, saying, “ Get out of here; get that kid out of here. We got more important things to talk about, get lost kid, we’ve got men to talk about, get lost kid.”

The next week on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV, Steamboat and Flair had their second incident.  Steamboat and Bob Caudle were talking about Ricky’s victory over Lanny Poffo earlier in the show, when Flair showed up again unannounced. Steamboat exclaimed, “What’s going on, what’s going on?!?” Ric countered, “Here I am, $500 suit, looking as only I could look! Step back punk, every time I got something to say, this punk kid is in my way.” Steamboat, incredulous that he was being interrupted yet again, said, “They told me this was MY interview time!” Flair laughingly retorted, “You’re gonna have to learn like everybody else has had to learn, nothin’ goes unless the Nature Boy says so, you  understand that boy, now just step back.”

At this juncture, the youngster from Hawaii had about enough of Ric’s mouth, explaining, “Hey, Flair, let me say something now partner…I do a little bit of talking out here to the fans and everything, but I do my business in the ring. I don’t want to do it right here in front of TV and the interviewer here…I don’t want to get him involved. So let me say something…if you want to go right now we’ll climb in there…” Ric rudely interrupted, “I don’t want to hurt you…get lost punk! I’m dressed up and I’ve got the girls out there screaming! I don’t want to wrestle a punk like you, hurt you and put you in the hospital, how does that make me look? I don’t want to wrestle someone underprivileged like you!” When Steamboat then hesitated, Flair said, “You got something to say? Speak up boy!” A now fuming Steamboat snarled, “This is the second time you’ve done this, the second time. Don’t push your luck too far, you understand? Don’t push your luck too far.” Ric, a little caught off guard by Steamboat’s retort, incredulously asked, “Who does this punk think he’s talking to? You hear all the girls screaming, the guys are in fear, and the mightiest man of them all is standing right here. Take a walk kid!”

The following week on the TV taping of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, taped on June 8, 1977, Steamboat and Flair confronted each other once again on the set. Flair screamed at Steamboat, “I want the whole world to see you and I have this out. You’re trying to tell me and tell all the fans that there is someone greater than the Nature Boy, someone younger someone more beautiful …me with the $5,000.00 robe! Look at it boy!” Ric then proceeded to slap Steamboat in the face and then said, “That’s what I think of him…he’s just a punk and he’s gone. I’m the greatest…you get that through your head!”

An incensed Steamboat fired back, “Mr. [Jim] Crockett, I’m sorry for what is about to happen here. This is the third week now…the third straight week. I have been trying to be as gentleman as I can be…” Ricky then landed a thrust to Flair’s head and knocked the Nature Boy out into dream-land!  Steamboat said, “I’m sorry” as David Crockett, Jim Crockett along with Blackjack Mulligan looked on in amazement as the prone Flair was not moving. After being knocked out with one punch, Flair had to be helped out of the studio as David Crockett exclaimed, “He pushed him too far…he just pushed him too far!”

Fast forward to the end of this TV program, and an agitated Ric Flair comes back on the set where Bob Caudle is talking to Ricky Steamboat. Caudle said to Flair, “I thought you would have had enough.”  Ric responded angrily, “I HAVEN’T HAD ENOUGH OF ANYTHING…THINGS HAVE JUST STARTED!” Flair continued, “Step back kid and hear what I got to say. I want you. You see this robe right here…$5,000.00 and I got bent feathers and feathers missing because of you! Not to mention the humiliation of what you did to me on TV! I know you had something in your hand!” A furious Ricky Steamboat replied, “What you’ve been doing to me the last 3 weeks…every time I’ve been getting out here you’ve been butting in and taking up my time, saying it’s your time all the time!”

Flair scolded Steamboat, “You hear what I got to say and you hear it good. Nobody has ever knocked me out with one punch in their entire life. You took something out of your trunks and had it in your hand…I want you. You see this [Mid-Atlantic TV Championship belt] right there?  Next week…you and me…I want you so bad!” Steamboat jumped in immediately and said, “I ACCEPT; I’LL ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE!” A perplexed Flair said, “You’re pretty anxious aren’t you?  You think you can handle me in that ring??” Steamboat confidently said, “I told you I’ve been watching you for 3 months, I told you I can beat you! Next week brother, it’s gonna happen!”

As Steamboat left the TV studio, Ric told Bob Caudle that Steamboat didn’t know who he was dealing with. Caudle countered, “Did you realize that you may have been suckered into putting that belt on the line…it may be YOU that’s in for trouble Ric.” Flair, not surprisingly, disagreed saying, “I’m going to bring it down to earth for a minute. I know I get a little high once in a while, and sometimes I get real spaced out. But I’m going to tell you something right now…I know what I want. This guy is hording in on all aspects of my life. They even tell me that when I have my back turned, this kid is moving in on my private stock!  Well, Steamboat, like every other punk that’s come around and thought he had something going on…I’m going to teach you the same lesson! You ask Wahoo and you ask Paul Jones what it is to pay the price to get in there with the Nature Boy!! WOOOO!!”

The anticipation was palpable when Flair and Steamboat met for the first time in a singles match on June 15, 1977at the studio taping in Raleigh, NC of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show. And Flair’s prestigious Mid-Atlantic Television Title was on the line! Ric’s close friend and tag team partner Greg Valentine joined Bob Caudle and David Crockett in announcing the match. This bout had a true big match feel to it!

Steamboat showed early on in the match that he belonged on the big stage with Flair. Ricky’s athleticism and hard chops kept the Nature Boy off balance early. Valentine countered that Steamboat did not have the stamina or experience to keep it up much longer. After a period of even battling, it appeared that Flair had the win locked up when he dropped Ricky to the mat with a vicious suplex. To the surprise of everyone, particularly Greg Valentine, who was rendered nearly speechless, Steamboat kicked out of the pin attempt before the count of three! Soon after, Ric flung Steamboat out on the concrete floor and it appeared unlikely Ricky would make it back in the ring before the 10 count…but Steamboat persevered and made it back into the ring!

Flair was never the same after Steamboat made it off of the floor. After several more minutes, a disoriented Flair was wobbling around while Steamboat climbed to the top turnbuckle, Ricky leaped off the top rope with a double-chop that disabled Flair, enabling “Steamer” to capture a three count, and the Mid-Atlantic Television Championship! Valentine ran in from his announce position, and joined an embarrassed Flair to double-team an unsuspecting Steamboat. The “bad guys” were beating Ricky senseless until Wahoo McDaniel joined the fray after a couple of minutes, and pandemonium ensued! Luckily for Steamboat, he was able to leave the ring and not be seriously injured.

As the program was about to go off the air, Bob Caudle got a few words with the new Mid-Atlantic TV Champion. Ricky said, “I’m very fortunate to have won that match; he’s a very tough competitor…but I never knew that Flair was the type of individual to have something going on with his partner. To me, this is just the beginning…but I’m gonna tell you something Flair. Deep down inside, this is just the beginning between you and I. Anytime you want me just let the promoter know, and we’ll go.”

Everything has to start somewhere…including famous wrestling feuds. Even on that Wednesday night way back in June of 1977, Ricky Steamboat seemed to sense that his first singles match with Ric Flair was the start of something big. Really big. But nobody could have known at that time just HOW big! One of the greatest feuds in wrestling history began just because Ric Flair would not let Ricky Steamboat finish several innocuous TV interviews! But thank goodness those interruptions happened, as we fans got to enjoy 17 years of a fantastic rivalry and great matches as a result!

- David Chappell

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Best of the Gateway: Sundays with Schiavone

Originally published in a Seven-Part Series February - March 2017

When professional wrestling fans think back to the red hot days of Jim Crockett Promotions in the mid 1980s and the even hotter time following the advent of WCW’s Monday Nitro about a decade later, the name Tony Schiavone is front and center. Tony’s face and voice on television brought us many of the most famous angles and events in professional wrestling history, starting at the lead-off for Starrcade 1983 until the demise of WCW in 2001.

What many fans may not know is that Tony grew up in the western section of Virginia as a huge fan of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

This interview with Tony is different than any he has ever done before, as it will delve into Tony Schiavone the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling fan.

Among the multitude of subjects Tony will touch on are his earliest memories of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling starting in 1974, watching the product on television, his favorite Mid-Atlantic wrestlers and the angles they were part of, his road trips to a number of the Crockett towns and his impressions of why and how the Mid-Atlantic territory captured the enduring love of so many fans to the point that we still want to talk about it today in 2017.
The timeline of this interview will cut off during the year of 1983, when Tony actually went from being a Mid-Atlantic fan to a Mid-Atlantic announcer. The reason for this is that Tony has just begun an exciting new podcasting adventure with the Gateway’s good friend Conrad Thompson, called "What Happened When" (WHW Monday), where Tony and Conrad will dig deep into Tony’s broadcasting career throughout the 1983-2001 time period when Tony was a fixture in the wrestling business. They will discuss a different topic each week as voted on by fans and listeners through a weekly poll on their Twitter account. WHW Monday can be found on the MLW Radio Network, with new episodes dropping every Monday! 

* * * * *

David Chappell: Tony, thank you for taking the time to chat with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway today. You being a native Virginian I’d like to focus on your memories of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, and then we’ll segue to your tremendous new podcast with Conrad Thompson where you two will be breaking down your time in the wrestling business from 1983-2001. Sound okay? 

Tony Schiavone: Sure, that’s fine.

Chappell: I understand you grew up in the Staunton, Virginia area?

Schiavone: Yeah, my hometown is Craigsville which is west of Staunton; kind of southwest of Staunton. It’s much closer to the mountains than Staunton is. It’s Augusta County, but that’s basically the area.

Chappell: Last August I was up that way for a work conference and stayed at the Stonewall Jackson Conference Center, and that was a great place.

Schiavone: Right, that’s been there forever.

Chappell: It has, but they’ve kept it looking great. I used that occasion to hit a couple of old Crockett towns nearby. One night I went down to Roanoke and met Dick Bourne for dinner, and on another day I went by the Expo in Fishersville on the way back home!

Schiavone: Oh yeah, the Fishersville Expo!

Chappell: One of the great spot show venues in Virginia!

I have heard that you started following Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling around 1974?

Schiavone: Around 1974 I was in Craigsville. We had, I guess they still do, an IGA grocery store and I worked there on the weekends as the bag boy and the stock boy in the grocery store which was owned by my father’s best friend. And I would walk down there on Saturday’s, Saturday mornings, to work and then I would take a lunch break and I would walk back home, which was not too far to go. And I would stop in my Uncle John’s house, he lived on the same street, and I’d stop in during lunch hour and he’d be watching wrestling. And I started watching wrestling with him, and that’s where I kind of got hooked on it.

Chappell: Was this on channel 6 in Richmond, or the station out of Harrisonburg, Virginia?

Friday, December 08, 2017

Action Figures Friday: Jones & Steamboat vs. Flair & Valentine

One of the big tag team rivalries from 1978 for both the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team titles and the NWA World Tag Team titles.  - - Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair and Greg Valentine.

Another great photo evoking great memories with customized action figures and ring set-up by Mike Simmerman.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Texas Connections Part 5: Sound Clips!

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In this final PART FIVE of our "Texas Connections" series, we travel back in time and hear some vintage audio clips from some of the great Texan stars that were part of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling including Terry Funk, Bobby Duncum, Dick Murdoch, and of course Blackjack Mulligan. Along the way you'll hear some other voices including Bob Caudle, Tom Miller, Joe Murnick, Ed Capral, and even Ric Flair!

Here is a summary of what you'll hear on this special Mid-Atlantic Gateway audio montage:
(1) Joe Murnick introduces Blackjack Mulligan
(2) West Texas Bar (Bob Caudle and Tom Miller)
(3) Joe Murnick introduces Paul Jones
(4) Blackjack Mulligan on Paul Jones
(5) Terry Funk: Texas Athlete of the Year
(6) Bob Duncum: 4-Time Texas Champ (with Bob Caudle)
(7) The Murdoch Shuffle (Bob Caudle and Dick Murdoch)
(8) West Texas Style (Blackjack Mulligan)
(9) Big Bad Texan (Bob Caudle)
(10) Blackjack Will Never Let You Down (Ed Capral and Ric Flair)

Some of our favorite quotes:

"Two of the baddest of the bad. If you put Flair and Mulligan in a west Texas bar on a Saturday night, you'd have to call out the national guard to clean out the place." - Tom Miller, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling 

“The Cowboys might let you down, the Oilers might let you down, the great University of Texas might let you down. But Blackjack Mulligan never lets anybody down.” - Ric Flair, Wide World Wrestling

"I'm a 4-time Texas champion. I travel all around this high world representing the great state of Texas which is one of the biggest honors you can really have." - Bobby Duncum, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling  

Miss any of our earlier "Texas Connections" installments?
Here are links to all of them:

in the Mid-Atlantic Area
Part 1: Hailing from the Great State of Texas
Part 2: Crockett's Connections with Joe Blanchard's Southwest Wrestling
Part 3: Crockett TV in Texas (1977-1978)
Part 4: Terry Funk Takes Crockett's U.S. Title Back to Texas
Part 5: Audio Clips!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Wahoo McDaniel: Missing in Action in Charlotte

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Fans filing into the Park Center in Charlotte, North Carolina were looking forward to another outstanding Monday night card of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling on November 15, 1976. A double main event was on tap that evening, featuring Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair battling “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel and second from the top the newly crowned Mid-Atlantic Television Champion Greg Valentine squared off against Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones. The top tag team bout of that stacked card matched Tiger Conway and “Cowboy” Frankie Laine against the up and coming Poffo Brothers, Randy and Lanny Poffo.

Mark Eastridge Collection
This card, replete with tremendous action, was progressing normally until the main event was scheduled to go on. At that juncture, the Charlotte faithful were advised that Wahoo, shockingly, was nowhere to be found. The fact that McDaniel would no-show against his bitterest rival was unfathomable. But the show had to go on, and Tiger Conway, despite having wrestled in a lengthy bout earlier in the evening, was called upon for double-duty and faced off against a fresh and ready “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

During the match between Flair and Conway, the fans in Charlotte were left wondering, ‘Where is Wahoo?’ Well, they were about to find out in shocking fashion! And on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on November 17, 1976 the whole Mid-Atlantic territory was about to find out why Wahoo McDaniel came to be missing in action in Charlotte…and the unsolved mystery at the time was blown wide open!

Tiger Conway, Jr.
(Online World of Wrestling)
The TV segment was started by color commentator David Crockett who said, “Now, let’s get down to a little matter that I have, I’ve brought a piece of film and I wanted Ric Flair to be here and Greg Valentine. Ric Flair is not here; Greg Valentine is here. I want to call him in right now, Mr. Valentine come in here.” Announcer Bob Caudle then noted, “Fans, here comes Greg Valentine in now.” With Valentine now on the set, things would get quite interesting.

Crockett started, “Now, this pertains to a match that took place between Ric Flair and Tiger Conway, Jr. Now, there’s some things that happened in that match that I want Mr. Valentine to explain to us.” Caudle responded, “Good, we’ll let him do a little commenting as we go along, right David?” Crockett answered, “That’s right.” The film started to roll, with Valentine looking piqued all ready. “As soon as we can, okay we’re into the match and right now Ric Flair is wrestling Tiger Conway, Jr., and Mr. Valentine right now Tiger has got the best of Ric Flair…how about that,” Crockett inquired of Valentine.

The “Hammer” replied, “Well, he’s a good athlete. I never take anything away from Tiger Conway, Jr. He’s gonna be a great star and in fact, he’s a good wrestling star right now. But, how long can he keep this up? You know, the match is very new right now, it’s only been going about two or three minutes so how long can he keep it going? How good is his stamina? That’s where the real professionalism comes in, in this wrestling game.”

At that juncture, Crockett would ask the $64,000.00 question, “All right, during the match though I was standing out of the ring and people asked me, ‘Where is Wahoo?’ And I had to say I didn’t know. And…I have a feeling that YOU know where Wahoo was.” Valentine bristled up, and the mystery of Wahoo’s disappearance was set to take a shocking turn…


Friday, December 01, 2017

Action Figures Friday: Flair vs. Wahoo

Wahoo McDaniel and Ric Flair had the top feud of 1976, battling the entire year over the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship and trading it back and forth several times. Flair describes his matches with Wahoo as the period that prepared him for what was to come in his career, both in experience and in toughness.

Great image from collector Mike Simmerman who is kind enough to share these photographs from his personal (and customized) collection.