Monday, May 14, 2018

Wahoo McDaniel and Don Muraco Win the West

The 1982 NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

If you missed earlier posts in this series, check them out in the links below, especially the INTRODUCTION, which puts the whole tournament in a perspective and serves as a launching point for the following discussions. 

PART ONE: Introduction
PART TWO: Greensboro
PART THREE: Charlotte
PART FOUR: Richmond
PART FIVE: Atlanta
PART SIX: Fayetteville 
PART SEVEN: St. Petersburg
PART EIGHT: The Lost Tournaments


The Eastern Division city tournaments (sometimes referred to as the regionals) had been going on since early February, but up until now there had been no mention of the Western Division. That changed in early April.

Sandy Scott announced on the 4/10/82 episode of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" that we now had Western Division winners:

"I talked to Eddie Graham late this afternoon and he has informed us that there is a winner of the Western Regional. They took place in Hawaii, and the winners are Wahoo McDaniel and Don Muraco."    - NWA Representative Sandy Scott

Bob Caudle smiled big on the announcement and pointed out that Wahoo McDaniel was familiar to all the fans. It would be Wahoo's full-time return to the area after nearly a 5-month absence where he had been wrestling in Florida, Georgia, and a month long tour of Japan.

Don Muraco would be making his first appearance in the Mid-Atlantic area. Fans who had Superstation WTBS on their cable systems and could watch "Georgia Championship Wrestling" each week were somewhat alarmed by the announcement that Wahoo and Muraco had teamed up because they knew Muraco was a "bad guy" in Georgia, feuding with Tommy Rich and forming an alliance with the hated Roddy Piper.

But two weeks later, Bob Caudle introduced in person the Western Division winners on the 4/24/82 episode of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, and the pair looked great together and looked ready for the finals.

"Well you know, Muraco and I used to wrestle together when we were in the AWA, and I was on the way to Japan, he was too, we got together, met, got in the tournament and we won a little money and an opportunity to go on in the tournament. We are the Western Division champions in this tag team tournament and we are looking forward to whoever the Eastern winners are in the tournament. We are ready."  - Wahoo McDaniel

Wahoo had woven some truth into this tale, as he had indeed been on a month long tour with New Japan Pro Wrestling in January and February of that year, teaming with old AWA foe Superstar Billy Graham and wrestling such legends as Antonio Inoki and future legend Riki Choshu.

The Western Division was entirely a fictitious part of this storyline. Booker Ole Anderson created the story that Wahoo and Don Muraco had won the western division finals in Hawaii, which was Muraco's home, and would play into the story as it went along.

Muraco, for his part, gave his first interview in the area, and immediately foreshadowed how this story would eventually play out for this team.

"Let me tell you something, it looks like it's starting to get nuts around here. Looks like everybody is starting to go crazy. And when it starts getting nuts, and it starts getting crazy, when it starts getting mean, the Indian came looking for someone because I'm a man that never turned his back on a friend, number one. And number two, I never backed down from anybody. This man over here is a legend, all over these parts. And he wanted somebody crazy, he wanted somebody who could stand by his side."    - Don Muraco

Muraco's comment that he had "never turned his back on a friend" planted the seed for what was to come in May, as the Eastern Division still had to play itself out in the ring.

It didn't take the two long to show off why they "won the west." Wahoo and Muraco teamed up on TV for the first time, defeating David Patterson and Ken Timbs in a stiff match, both of them wrestling very aggressively, but cleanly. Jack Brisco was on color commentary with Bob Caudle, and mentioned that he was there to scout this team as he and his brother Jerry were hopeful to win the Eastern Division, and if so would be facing this team.

One of Jack's roles in his commentary was to put Muraco over to fans in the Mid-Atlantic area who may have never seen him before. Brisco described Muraco as one of the most brutal wrestlers he had ever seen. Brisco spoke from experience, having feuded with Muraco years ago in the Florida area.

Brisco also pointed out that Muraco was a former World Champion surfer, having won the world surfing championship in the over-200 pound class, and described him as quite an athlete.

At the end of the 4/24 show, both Wahoo and Muraco were amped up and seemed more than ready to head to the tournament finals.

"Everybody's here to tune up. But we're here to play!"  - Don Muraco
"I know you all are going home and trying to revamp, try to get ya a little bigger partner, go to that gym in the morning and try to work out a little harder, but it might be just a little late. We're here! The tournament's on top of you! You can't get in too good a shape in ten or fifteen days.  We've been layin' in the bushes waitin'. Two good tans; we didn't get 'em layin' in the sun, we got 'em runnin' down the beach! We've been workin' out together every day. We're ready."   - Wahoo McDaniel

Wahoo and Muraco would have to wait a short while for their trip to the finals. The Eastern Finals hadn't taken place yet. Sandy Scott would also show a video from Florida with tournament director Eddie Graham giving an update, and Sandy would announce the teams that were still alive as we headed to the Eastern finals. All of that and more next time! So as Bob Caudle would say, so long for now.

PS - We love the t-shirt Muraco was wearing when he was introduced with Wahoo: "Patience my ass. I'm gonna kill somebody."