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…