Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Death of Bolo Mongol and the Birth of a Superstar

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It was one of the greatest "slight of hand" moments in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history. In one 24-hour period, Bolo Mongol was banished from the territory and the Masked Superstar arrived. What no one noticed was that it was the same man in the role of both characters.

Poster from the collection of West Potter
In 1976, Professor Boris Malenko managed the fearsome team of the Mongols, Bolo and Geeto, the famous IWA tag team champions who had jumped from that organization and had come to Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA and had brought their IWA tag belts with them.

In the NWA, the team was briefly recognized as the "International" tag team champions. It was a way of acknowledging that the IWA (International Wrestling Association) tag champs were in the area without actually using that organization's name.

The team ran roughshod over the Mid-Atlantic area in the late winter through early fall of 1976. They had numerous matches that were seen, if not billed, as title unification matches with the Anderson Brothers, who were reigning NWA World tag team champions for most of that year. The Andersons eventually won that war. And the IWA eventually got their belts back after threatening legal action. That's a story for another day.

International Tag Team Champs the Mongols
managed by Professor Boris Malenko

(Photo by Gene Gordon/Copyright Scooter Lesley)
By the fall of 1976, the Mongols had broken up as a team and Geeto left the territory. Prof. Malenko still managed Bolo Mongol, who was embroiled in a bitter feud with Chief Wahoo McDaniel. Malenko wanted revenge for Wahoo breaking his false teeth in a memorable moment on Mid-Atlantic television, and so a match was set for the Greensboro Coliseum where the loser would have to leave the territory, a stipulation known in that era as a "loser leaves town" match. In addition, Malenko added the stipulation of hair vs. hair.

Actually, Bolo had a series of loser-leaves-town matches in the days leading up to Greensboro across the territory, against both Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones. But it was the Greensboro match with Wahoo, with the added stipulation of hair-vs.-hair, that would prove to be Bolo's Mongolian Waterloo.

It was the main event of a big card in Greensboro on September 26, 1976, a wild an woolly affair, eventually won by McDaniel, who proceed to cut the top-knot off Bolo Mongol's head after the match. But the more critical repercussion of the match was that Prof. Malenko's prized client would have to leave the Mid-Atlantic territory for good.

And so he did, not only leaving the Mid-Atlantic area, but disappearing from wrestling forever. But he didn't truly leave, because you see, the man who portrayed the character of Bolo Mongol was the legendary Bill Eadie, and the very next night, he reappeared on the scene as a new wrestler, the Masked Superstar from parts unknown, once again under the managerial genius of Professor Malenko.

Prof. Boris Malenko and
The Masked Superstar

(Photo by Bill Janosik)
The most amazing thing about these events at that time was that no one was the wiser; fans didn't have a clue that the new wrestler behind the mask had just been dispatched days earlier as Bolo Mongol.

"One day we finished Bolo with a hair match in Greensboro against Wahoo on a Sunday evening," Bill Eadie told the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in a 2003 interview, "and Monday night I was in Greenville as the Masked Superstar…and nobody knew."

It was an amazing transformation and an incredible feat to pull off, especially for someone so relatively new in the business. Eadie had only been wrestling at this point for a few years. It was Malenko who was instrumental in preparing Eadie for the switch.

"As I was still wrestling as Bolo Mongol, Boris Malenko took me to Park Center in Charlotte every Monday during the day when we had off time to try to change my approach. I would focus on more wrestling and less stomping, and would work on interviews," Eadie told us.

That preparation paid off. The Masked Superstar was presented as more of an intellectual and technical wrestler. He did "Russian leg sweeps" and "flying swinging-clotheslines" and won with the dreaded "cobra hold." Bolo Mongol just beat you to death, and when he was through with that, would kick and stomp the crap out of you as a bonus for good measure. Malenko presented the Superstar on TV in interviews as having a doctorate in psychology and having been a medal winning athlete in the olympics. The Superstar gave long, eloquent interviews; think Nick Bockwinkle, except with a mask. All Bolo Mongol ever did was grunt occasionally. And with Superstar's verbal eloquence and that mask and the different gear, no one had a clue that Bolo Mongol and the Masked Superstar were one and the same.

The whole idea of the Masked Superstar as a character came from the fertile mind of George Scott, who was the booker for Jim Crockett Promotions in those years.

"George [Scott] just came up to me one night and told me that we’d always had a masked guy in the area and asked if I’d be interested," Eadie told the Gateway. "I told him it would be up to Geeto, but at that point Geeto really wanted to go home. After Geeto and I talked about it, I told George that I’d try it."

And the rest, as they say, is history. The Masked Superstar went on to become one of the most famous and successful wrestlers in the world, splitting most of his time between the Mid-Atlantic and Georgia territories, but also as a top title challenger in the WWF to both Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan, as well as a top star for New Japan Pro Wrestling in Japan, feuding with Antonio Inoki.

Eadie made another famous transformation later in his career, becoming "Ax", one of the founding members of the Demolition tag team in the WWF. He also wrestled in both the WWF and New Japan as the masked Super Machine.

From the collection of Andy McDaniel
 The transformation from Bolo Mongol to Masked Superstar is one of our favorite moments from one of our favorite years in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.

The Transition Dates:
  • Sunday, September 26 - Wahoo McDaniel defeats Bolo Mongol (mgd. by Prof. Boris Malenko) in a hair-vs-hair, loser-leaves-town match in Greensboro.
  • Monday, September 27 - The Masked Superstar (mgd. by Prof. Boris Malenko) makes his in-ring debut, defeating Johnny Weaver in Greenville, SC.
  • Wednesday, September 29 - At a TV taping at WRAL studios in Raleigh, Bob Caudle and Wahoo McDaniel review the film from Greensboro where Wahoo defeats Bolo Mongol, cuts off his top knot, and sends him packing. On the same show, Prof. Boris Malenko introduces his new man, the Masked Superstar, to the Mid-Atlantic fans.