Saturday, June 30, 2018

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Opening and Theme Music

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The WWE has added about four years worth of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" from the 1981-1985 to their streaming service (The WWE Network) beginning this past January. We've been enjoying these episodes that begin in September of 1981 and currently run through June of 1985, with more to be rumored to come in the next few weeks. There are dozens of missing episodes, some of them key in the evolving storylines, but by and large it's a wonderful collection of shows and we're glad to have what we've got so far. Hopefully, there will be more, including filling some of the holes.

One of the unavoidable disappointments was the replacement of the original opening theme music with music that the WWE licensed to replace it. It's completely understandable but so unfortunate. The WWE did not want issues with copyright to the opening music Jim Crockett Promotions used then. Oddly enough, they did not replace this music when these shows aired on their now-defunct on-demand cable channel from back in the 2000s. Regardless, it's been replaced now, and it is somewhat jarring to hear different music used in the opening, closing, and bumper segments.

For those a bit nostalgic, here is the original opening with the music used for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling from 1979-1986:

The music heard here is edited from from Don Ray's 1978 disco classic "Got to Have Loving" from his album "The Garden of Love" on Polydor Records. It's not known if the music was appropriately licensed by Jim Crockett Promotions at that time. Most wrestling promotions used commercial music for TV show themes and wrestler entrance themes without regard to licensing until sometime in the mid-1980s when the licensing organizations BMI and ASCAP cracked down on that.

The WWE replaced the original music with appropriately licensed stock music from a collection for that intended purpose.  The tune is "Manila Skies" by Seymore Milton from the album "Funk and Disco." This is the tune you hear played on the WWE's version of the Mid-Atlantic shows  (usually at higher volume than the rest of the show so as to drown out the original track.


When Mid-Atlantic Wrestling debuted its new musical theme and opening sequence in 1977, it was a sharp departure from the show opening Jim Crockett Promotions had used for the previous several years, which was a montage of wrestlers and wrestling maneuvers from the TV show. This new opening featured three distinct graphics and one brief wrestling scene, each one finally scaling down into a screen divided into four equal sections.

The four sections were as follows:
  1. the familiar Mid-Atlantic logo on a blue background
  2. a short wrestling clip, shot in an dimly lit arena
  3. the title "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" with a small collegiate-style wrestling icon
  4. and five states that represented the Mid-Atlantic area at that time, all in yellow on a red background. 
From the moment this new opening aired, I was fascinated by the short wrestling clip. It appeared to be one wrestler cradling another for a pinfall, but I couldn't identify the wrestlers. At first I thought it might be Jack Brisco and Terry Funk from their NWA title match in Miami Beach in 1975. In that match, Brisco went to apply the figure-four leglock and Funk cradled him for the pin. In this brief opening wrestling clip, it looked at first as though perhaps the same thing was happening. Or maybe not. It all happens so quickly.

I had only seen the Brisco-Funk clip one time, when Mid-Atlantic Wrestling showed it in December of 1975 right after that title change. I was only 13, and going on my memory of that. We didn't have VCRs then, so there was no way to compare the two clips.

The segment with the wrestlers only lasts about 2-3 seconds, and is full screen for less than a second. With no DVRs or VCRs in 1977, there was no way to pause or freeze-frame the clip to examine it. All I could do was wait until next week's show and try to get another quick look at that 3 seconds.
While the wrestler on the mat had curly hair and at a quick glance looked very much to me like Terry Funk did at that time he won the NWA title, the wrestler on one knee had what appeared to be a horseshoe on his trunks. I knew that wasn't Brisco. Also, the referee in the shot sure looked like Tommy Young, and I knew Tommy Young was not the referee for the Funk/Brisco match.  It also became clear after watching it several times that the wrestler on one knee wasn't being cradled when applying a figure-four leglock or a spinning toe hold; it was clearly a hammerlock on the arm into the cradle. This wasn't Funk/Brisco.

The mystery remained.

In a 1999 exchange with several folks on a wrestling message board speculating on this very subject, there were a number of different guesses, everyone going on their memory of this alone; no photo was posted. One person put forth the guess of "Cowboy" Frankie Laine as the wrestler in the blue trunks. Speculation continued on Terry Funk on the mat in the black trunks.

The mystery remained.

Doug Somers and
"Cowboy" Frankie Laine
When the WWE started airing complete episodes of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on its On Demand channel around 2005, the crystal-clear digital transfer from the master tapes (from which the image above was taken) allowed a much closer look at the short clip. The Frankie Laine guess looked good, but it still wasn't clear who the wrestler on the mat was.

In 2010, I received an email from a visitor to the website who had seen an earlier article on the Gateway speculating about all this. He asserted that the wrestlers in the opening were Frankie Laine and Doug Somers. Another look at the photo above confirmed that. Doug had that brown curly hair back then (long before he became "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers with the bleached-blonde hair.) It made perfect sense; Laine and Somers were both mid-card guys in those years and would have wrestled each other a great deal I'm quite sure.

If there had been a contest, and winners were announced for the first correct guess, I'd have to award the prizes to Richard Sullivan for first guessing "Cowboy" Frankie Laine in that Wrestling Classics message board thread from 1999, and Randy Elrod for his more recent identification of Doug Somers in 2010.

That opening theme segment for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling aired from 1977 until 1983. "Cowboy" Frankie Laine and Doug Somers were seen more times on that open than any others wrestlers ever seen on the show itself. Funny that it took another couple of decades before most of us were ever aware it was them.

Mystery solved.

Originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway 9/2/2015, and also on the Gateway Archives from 2010.

Take a look at the opening theme to Mid-Atlantic Wrestling from 1981.
This video open was used from 1977-1983. There were two different versions of theme music used. 
1977-1979: "Good King Bad" by George Benson
1979-1983: "Got to Have Loving" by Don Ray

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: NWA Champion Dory Funk, Jr.

Brack Beasley Collection
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's "Classic Poster Friday" and we present another rare poster from Lexington, NC, from the collection of Gateway contributor Brack Beasley.

NWA World Heavyweight champion Dory Funk, Jr. was in the main event against veteran Art Nelson on Saturday, March 14, 1970.

It was Funk's first appearance in Lexington, a weekly linchpin in the Crockett Promotions touring schedule in those years. Nelson had made many appearances there, most recently teaming with the hated Kurt Stroheim.

A funny little graphic blooper on this poster - - the person who put it together graphically got his "Nelsons" mixed up, as the poster features a picture of Nelson Royal instead of Art Nelson.

In most cases, fans got behind the local challenger when challenging the reigning World champion. But Dory Funk, Jr. was the decided fan favorite in his title defense against rough and tough veteran Nelson and received somewhat of a hero's welcome at the Lexington YMCA. NWA title matches in Lexington were somewhat rare.

According to newspaper reports at that time, Funk retained the title but had to do so in come-from-behind fashion. Nelson won the first fall with a bear hug, but Funk roared back winning the both the second and third falls with his signature spinning toe hold.

The newspaper also pointed out this nice little bit of trivia: Funk, at 27 years of age, was the second youngest man to have ever held the NWA crown at that time. The only man to have held it at a younger age was the legendary champion Lou Thesz who first won the title at the age of 21, and of course subsequently held it on many occasions.

In the second main event that night in Lexington, the Canadian tandem of George and Sandy Scott (the "Flying Scotts") battled the "Minnesota Wrecking Crew" of Gene and Ole Anderson. The Andersons came out on top in a 2-of-3 falls contest.

Interesting to see three different brother combinations on this card - - the Anderson brothers, Scott brothers, and Kay brothers.

Special thanks to Brack Beasley for sharing his poster and Mark Eastridge for the newspaper research.

Check out other Classic Posters featured on Classic Poster Friday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Anderson Brothers' Greatest Year (Part 2)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Did you miss PART ONE the story? Check it out here:
The Anderson Brothers' Greatest Year - Part One


While the second segment with filmed action featuring Gene and Ole Anderson from the 1975 Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Year-In-Review show was couched as "highlights," the film clip actually showcased the Andersons' lowest point of the year. In the Greensboro Coliseum on May 15, 1975, Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel became the NWA World Tag Team Champions and for just under a month ruled the roost in the tag team division. Gene and Ole Anderson, seemingly invincible, did in fact come back down to earth in that Greensboro title defeat...if for ever so briefly.

Bob Caudle smiled as he brought up the sore subject of the lone title loss in 1975 with Ole, chirping, "Now we have a match coming up here, Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel, you wrestled them several times during the year." Ole retorted, "Yeah, we did and I hope 1976 isn't a repeat because 1975 should have showed everybody including Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel that certainly we're the best. I know that you've got a piece of film here or something that you want to show everybody..." Caudle interrupted, "This is where you lose, that's right!"  Ole unapologetically continued, "The one time, the one time in our lifetime that we've maybe lost a match. But that's only one time, and that doesn't make us any less great than we are."

The film began to run for the fans at home condensing what was a 33 minute bout and Bob noted, "I think all the fans are going to enjoy seeing's a match that the Andersons' do lose. Now watch Wahoo...Ole, he landed a couple of tremendous chops on you!" Ole answered, "Well, there's no question about...people say who are your toughest opponents and invariably I think Gene and I come back to guys like Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones; certainly some of the matches we've had with them are classics."

After a snippet of Wahoo brutalizing Ole, the film shifts to a part of the match where Jones is getting the upper hand over Gene. Ole then respectfully comments, "Paul Jones as we've said so many times is just a real tough and gutsy competitor. You can see right here he's giving Gene a couple of shots...the guy just doesn't know when to quit! He just keeps on coming and you can have him going and he just comes back and comes back and comes back and it's hard to put him down."

Then, a bit surprisingly, Ole compliments McDaniel to the television audience, "A guy like Wahoo McDaniel, he's got everything going for him. He's big, he's rugged and he's got a lot of strength. And...somebody wanted to know how those chops feel. Well, short of getting in there which I wouldn't recommend to anybody, I suppose if you got run over by a truck that might be comparable to it. Everything that those guys do is fantastic, except one thing that they aren't able to do, and that's beat us for these championship belts."

Announcer David Crockett then interjects himself, calling Ole on the last part of his statement, "Well Ole, they beat you one time didn't they?" Ole, chuckling, shot back, "Yeah, they beat us one time and, as far as we're concerned it's gonna be the only time that we're ever gonna be beaten!" Caudle followed up, "Well you fellas have travelled all over the world, being the World's Champions Ole, and I've heard you say that when you come back to the Mid-Atlantic area right here, this is still where you get your roughest and toughest competition."

The vocal Anderson responded to Bob and then turned his focus back to the film clip, "Yeah, we have to admit it, certainly...they've got the best competition right here. Here you see where Jones and Wahoo do a little double-teaming of their own and we come back a little bit, just give them a little bit of their own medicine." Crockett then interrupted Ole, "There you threw him over the top rope."  Ole wasn't quite so sure, explaining, "Well, I don't know whether he went over the top rope or the second rope I couldn't quite see it...the film looks a little bit cloudy to me."

As the abbreviated film nears its conclusion, Ole voices his clear displeasure complaining, "But whatever it was, now here's something! You talking about sometimes the things we do here's the deal with me that should have been thrown out right away. This Wahoo McDaniel, as far as I can tell shouldn't have even been in the ring...he's not in there legally. This is the victory that you're talking about that somebody's got over us."

Caudle couldn't help but gush about the fans' joyous reaction to a rare Andersons' loss noting to Ole and Gene, "Look at the fans...they're ecstatic about your losing." Ole disgustedly replied, "Well, you know you can't go anything by what the fans say, one minute they're for somebody and one minute they're for somebody else."

The younger Anderson continued his diatribe against the celebrating fans fuming, "They apparently don't realize just how great we really are; they still believe in somebody like Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones...they still think they're the best, but the best are the Anderson Brothers. There's no question about it, no question in our minds. Look at all these people coming up and congratulating 'em and everything else, well just to me it shows idiocy on their part if they can't see who the great wrestlers are, if they can't see who the real World Champions are, then they must be blind!"

Caudle concluded the recap of the Andersons' low-point of 1975 saying, "Well, that's where Ole and Gene Anderson lost the belts David in that match right there to Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel." Crockett crowed about the controversial finish gloating, "They got a taste of their own medicine!" As it appeared the perturbed Andersons' were about to walk off the set, Caudle offered them an olive branch to stay stating, "But Ole, to really complete the picture for 1975 we've got to show where you two came back..."


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Wally Dusek Baseball Passes

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack,
I don't care if I never get back..."

A recent minor league baseball memorabilia auction on Ebay featured a loose wrestling connection with Jim Crockett Promotions.

The auction (listed by Christianne and Mike at Funkijunk)  was for two vintage season passes to the Charlotte minor league baseball team, one for the Charlotte Hornets in 1969 and one to the Crockett-owned Charlotte O's in 1976.

The passes belonged to the late Wally Dusek, the former longtime Crockett lieutenant who played a vital role in the organization in the 1960s through the early 1980s. Dusek was also the longtime timekeeper and occasional ring announcer at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Both passes are signed by Dusek, and the 1976 pass, which was the first year the Crockett family owned the team, was signed by David Crockett.

Here is an edited transcript of the original listing as it appeared on Ebay:

You are bidding on a collection of items that encompasses two interesting storylines in the history of Charlotte, North Carolina...Minor League Baseball and Professional Wrestling. This little wallet includes passes and schedules from a couple of old Charlotte baseball teams, and a few interesting signatures to boot.

It is from the estate (living) of Frank Santen, a.k.a. Frank Dusek of professional wrestling's famed Dusek family. These items belonged to his father, Charles Santen, a.k.a. Wally Dusek, who was introduced as a "Dusek cousin" to the professional wrestling family in the 1930s.

Wrestler Wally Dusek had in this wallet a complimentary pass to see the 1969 Charlotte Hornets baseball club. He also toted around a 1968 Hornets schedule. The pass is signed by the club president, and when you flip it on the back, it is also signed by Wally Dusek! Okay, we know that his name was actually Charles Santen, but if you have been "Wally Dusek" for over thirty years, you sign "Wally Dusek". Also, Wally Dusek is the sort of guy that gets complimentary season passes, where regular old Charles Santen may not.

In 1976, Jim Crockett, Jr., famed professional wrestling promoter bought the Asheville Orioles affiliate AA baseball team and moved them to Charlotte. The baseball team that had been known as the Hornets for decades was now replaced by the Charlotte O's. A year later, the tiny Griffith Park that had been in the Dilworth neighborhood since 1941, would be known as Crockett Park.

Wally Dusek also carried in this wallet a 1976 schedule and season pass to see the Charlotte O's. The schedule still calls the venue "Clark Griffith Park". The season pass is made out to Wally Dusek and is signed by David F. Crockett!

David Crockett, besides being a General Manager for the first season of the Charlotte O's, was also a professional wrestling announcer for his brother Jim Crockett Jr.'s National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) show. He worked in tandem with Tony Schiavone to provide commentary for the matches. David Crockett would later become a promoter for WCW wrestling and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. He was the recipient of a Nikita Koloff clothesline that would incite a feud between the "Russian" and Ric Flair.

The information on David Crockett in the last paragraph is a bit unfocused. Crockett was, of course, much more than simply an announcer for his brother's company. The company actually belonged to all four of the Crockett siblings (Frances, Jim Jr., David, and Jackie), all of them with varying degrees of responsibility and title. The oldest of the three brothers, Jimmy Crockett, was indeed the president and the person in charge.

As it regards announcing, David was indeed a television announcer on top of his other responsibilities for the wrestling shows from 1974 until the company was sold to Ted Turner in 1988. But long before he was joined by Tony Schiavone on "World Wide Wrestling" in 1984, Crockett was co-host of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" with the legendary longtime voice of JCP wrestling Bob Caudle.  The two were a team for over 8 years (1974-1982).

David was Vice President of Jim Crockett Promotions, and was an executive involved in television production for Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling (WCW) from 1989 until it was sold to the WWE in 2001.

This was/is a very cool auction with connections to two important people within the Crockett wrestling and baseball organizations.

Info on Ebay about the sellers:
Hello! We are Christianne & Mike, full time antiques dealers for the past 24 years. Concord, North Carolina is our home. We sell at local antique shows & at the Depot at Gibson Mill. Follow Funkijunk on Instagram & Facebook. Telephone 704-578-0531

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Jim Crockett marries Elizabeth Eversole (1935)

Carroll Hall recently published several newspaper clippings from the 1930s on his wrestling website regarding the marriage of Jim and Elizabeth Crockett, and we found Mrs. Crockett's story fascinating!

You can view and read the original clipping on the "All Star Championship Wrestling" website, as well as seeing other period photos of Mr. and Mrs. Crockett.

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Lucky Jim! This Time It Is Dan Cupid  
Bristol, Tennessee -  December 21, 1935

The Rev. Mr. and. Mrs. Findley M. Eversole of Bristol announce the marriage of their daughter, Elizabeth Jackson Eversole to James Allen (Jim) Crockett on Friday, December 20. The ceremony was performed by Dr. Robert Yost in the presence of close relatives of the couple.

Mr. and Mrs. Crockett left this morning on a honeymoon trip to Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami, and Havana Cuba. On their return they will reside at the Hotel Charlotte, Charlotte, N. C.

The bride is the second daughter of the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Eversole, who spent many years as missionaries in Korea. Born in North Carolina, she lived with her parents for 14 years in Korea. She was educated at Pyeng-Yang foreign school, Pyeng-Yang, Korea, and at Stonewall Jackson College.

Mr. Crockett is a son of Capt. C. S. Crockett of Bristol. He was educated at Norman Park Institute and King College and is vice president of the Southeastern Company, which conducts professional sports in 20 cities in the South Atlantic states.

(See the actual newspaper article clipping.)

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Thanks to Carroll Hall at "All Star Championship Wrestling." Carroll collects and posts some amazing artifacts on his great website.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: Flair vs. Wahoo in 1975

Brack Beasley Collection
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

This beautifully designed classic poster is from 1975 and features one of the definitive main events of the era - - Wahoo McDaniel vs. Ric Flair for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship.

At first glance, you might think this was a poster form 1976 when the Flair/Wahoo feud was one of the main feuds of that year, and lasted nearly the entire year. But it is actually from the summer of 1975, less than three months before the Wilmington, NC, plane crash that threatened to prematurely end Flair's career.

Wahoo was the reigning Mid-Atlantic champion here, having defeated Johnny Valentine for the title three weeks earlier in Asheville, NC. With Valentine having subsequently defeated Harley Race for the U.S. title and no longer a threat to Wahoo, the Chief had moved on to the challenge presented by Valentine's protege, Ric Flair. The feud with Flair was in its very early stages, but it was already clear to anyone paying attention that this was a money program.

Flair would win the Mid-Atlantic championship from Wahoo in Hampton, VA, almost exactly two months after this Roanoke stadium show. Two weeks later, the private charter plane Flair was on went down short of the Wilmington runway and put Flair out of action for nearly four months. The 30-day rule was apparently waived through special dispensation and he was allowed to keep the Mid-Atlantic title until he returned to action in early 1976 and immediately began the long program with Wahoo. The two traded the Mid-Atlantic title back and forth for all of 1976, and they remained rivals for most of the rest of Wahoo's career, as Wahoo would become a top challenger for Flair's NWA world title at various times in the 1980s.

  • Roanoke posters always had the cool designation at the top: "Roanoke Sports Club Presents." The Roanoke Sports Club was the name of the promotional company run by local Roanoke promoter Pete Apostolou. 
  • This is my favorite of all the typical designs for wrestling posters in that era: portrait (vertical) orientation with the main event in big block letters so that it jumps off the poster. Notice also in this case that Flair's name stacked on Wahoo's made the perfect pyramid. Just a great looking poster.
  • Advance tickets for wrestling in Roanoke were always on sale at The Sportsman, a bowling and entertainment facility owned by Pete Apostolou in downtown Roanoke.
  • Interesting to see Jerry Blackwell early in his career billed here as "Man Mountain Blackwell."
  • Victory Stadium was one of three regular venues for wrestling in Roanoke, the other two being Starland Arena and the Roanoke Civic Center.

Originally published on the Gateway April 8, 2018.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Ric Flair: The All Around Cowboy

During Georgia's "World Championship Wrestling" on WTBS on 6/2/84, Ric Flair stood with Gordon Solie at the podium, holding his coveted NWA World Championship belt, doing color commentary for an ongoing match.

Just nine days earlier, Flair had regained the NWA title from Kerry Von Erich in Japan. He took the opportunity to talk about having the title belt back, which included this quip about his relationship with the women of Texas - - - one of my favorite Ric Flair lines of all time:

"Gordon, I've said this before, you know, now Kerry Von Erich and all those people in Texas are going to have to live with this thought one more time:
I've never worn a cowboy hat, I've never had on a pair of jeans in my life, never even seen a pair of cowboy boots. But every woman in Texas calls Ric Flair the all-around cowboy.
And now they are going to have to call him the World Champion once again."
- Ric Flair 6/2/84

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Sad Final Chapter in the 1982 World Tag Team Tournament

The 1982 NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament
PART TWELVE - The Final Chapter
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 discussions that follow. 

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
PART NINE: Wahoo & Muraco Win the West 
PART TEN: Anderson & Hansen Win the East
PART ELEVEN: Wahoo & Muraco Split as a Team


Wahoo & Muraco Dissolve Their Partnership
Two things happened in May of 1982 that sent the NWA World Tag Team Tournament flying off the rails. One was the story taking place on camera for the fans to see. The other was a story taking place behind the scenes that fans never knew about.

In front of the camera, Wahoo McDaniel regained the United States Championship. It was a title which had been taken from him by the NWA in the summer of 1981 due to some shenanigans pulled by Roddy Piper and Abdullah the Butcher. When Wahoo returned to the Mid-Atlantic area in April of 1982 fresh off the Western Division tournament victory with partner Don Muraco (a fictitious part of the tournament), he received a non-title shot at U.S. champ Sgt. Slaughter on TV, which he won. This ignited a feud between Slaughter and Wahoo over the belt, and Wahoo eventually came out on top. Now with new title defense obligations that the championship required, Wahoo's focus turned to the U.S. title and this proved to be very disappointing to his partner Don Muraco.

Muraco, by his own admission a little bit crazy, lost his composure about the whole matter in quick fashion, walking off on Wahoo in the same interview where he intended to congratulate him. Only five days after Wahoo had won the U.S. title, Muraco turned his back on the Chief after a misunderstanding in a standard TV match. Muraco thought Wahoo had turned his back on him first in the ring, being solely focused on his feud with Slaughter. (You can read all about that here.)

Muraco's paranoia ran wild and he went a bit off the deep end, telling a crazy story about Wahoo coming to Hawaii to borrow money from King Curtis before seeking Muraco out to be his partner. Muraco said he was furious that he had moved his family across the continent so that he and Wahoo could chase the World tag team titles in this multi-month tournament. Muraco felt Wahoo had now abandoned that goal to focus on his newly won U.S. title.

In a way, you can see his point. (And I love booking where the heel actually has a point, but just goes about resolving it in the wrong way.)

Behind the scenes, as we've discussed in previous parts of this series, booker Ole Anderson and Jim Crockett Promotions were about to head their separate ways. I talked with Ole Anderson twice about these tournaments, once in 2008 (with mutual friend Peggy Lathan visiting Ole and Paul Jones outside Atlanta) and again in 2011 (at the NWA Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Atlanta.) I asked Ole for details about that falling out, but he basically explained (in the colorful language he is known for) that everyone else was an idiot that didn't see things his way. (Ole is nothing if not consistent.)

Just as Crockett Promotions announced the Best-of-Seven series between Eastern and Western winners for the championship, Ole basically left JCP and based himself in Georgia full time, where he continued as booker there.

The Championship - and the Belts  - - go to Georgia
What also happened when Ole left JCP was that he took the NWA World Tag Team title belts with him. When Stan Hansen returned from Japan commitments, Ole and Stan were named NWA World Tag Team champions in Georgia on the nationally broadcast "Georgia Championship Wrestling" show on WTBS. This took place on Saturday, June 26, 1982.

Gordon Solie offered a reasonable explanation for that title development, basically explaining that since the Western Division winners had broken up as a team, Ole and Stan, the Eastern Division winners, were awarded the tittles basically by default.

Here is a brief video of that explanation:

As Gordon Solie pointed out, "by default" was really not an apt way to look at it. In fairness to Anderson and Hansen, they were the only team to enter all six regional/city tournaments, and the only team to win more than one. They had certainly earned their way to the Eastern Division Championship.

Ole Anderson and Stan Hansen
NWA World Tag Team Champions in 1982

The Belts Go Back to Crockett Promotions
Eventually, Jim Crockett Promotions wanted their belts back, and a deal was struck for Ole to bring them back to Charlotte. He even arranged a booking out of it for the trip, working a Charlotte house show on 8/22/82 in a six-man team event.

The belts were clearly returned on that trip, as Anderson and Hansen had them on Georgia TV the day before Ole's trip to Charlotte, Saturday, 8/21/82, but no longer had them the following Saturday 8/28/82.

The titles were not mentioned again on Georgia TV.

New Champions Named in Jim Crockett Promotions 
For their part, Jim Crockett Promotions waited until a month later to resolve the situation and name new tag team champions. A story was concocted in the interim that Sgt. Slaughter had headed to Japan and had summoned Pvt. Don Kernodle to join him there, and Kernodle immediately hopped on a plane. A few weeks later, on the Mid-Atlantic TV shows that aired 9/29/82, Slaughter and Kernodle showed up with the NWA World Tag Team title belts and were announced as new champions. The story was told that they had won a tournament for the vacant titles in Japan, defeating Antonio Inoki and Giant  Baba in the finals. This, it goes without saying, was a fictitious tournament.

A Theory as to What Was Supposed to Have Happened
I've had a theory (that is as good as any theory out there otherwise, I suppose) that the original booking plan all along was for Muraco to turn on Wahoo, but that it would have happened during the Best-of-Seven finals series for the championship. A Muraco turn was foreshadowed from first day he arrived in the territory, as Muraco told fans he would "never turn his back on a friend."

Regardless, Ole and Stan would have still wound up winning the titles in the end.

I've even fantasy-booked in my head that Wahoo might have been forced by Slaughter to defend the U.S. title on the same night as match #7 in the Best-of-Seven series, forcing Wahoo to wrestle twice in that night and causing Muraco and himself to lose to Ole and Stan.

But when Ole and the Crocketts had their falling out and Ole left before the finals could take place, JCP went forward with the Muraco turn early, thereby creating a plausible explanation why the tournament wouldn't continue to its conclusion.

Title History Clarified
For the record, since most title histories have this wrong, here are the dates related to the status of the NWA World Tag Team titles, as documented in this 12-part series:
  • 01/23/82 - Gene and Ole Anderson stripped of the NWA World Tag Team titles for failure to defend. Tournament announced.
  • 06/26/82 - Ole Anderson and Stan Hansen awarded championships after Wahoo McDaniel and Don Muraco default for the final series in the tournament for the vacant championship. (Anderson and Hansen were Eastern Division winners.)
  • 08/22/82 - Ole Anderson and Stan Hansen vacate the championship.
  • 09/29/82 - Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle announced as champions having won a tournament for the vacant titles in Japan.

The elaborately conceived tournament that had been announced back in January and had gotten underway in Greensboro in February, had come to an unceremonious end in June. Anderson and Hansen defended the titles regularly for Georgia Championship Wrestling, not only in Georgia, but in their tours of Ohio, Michigan, and West Virginia. Eventually JCP got their title belts back and new champions Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle went on to have a classic, industry-changing feud with Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. And the rest, as they say, is history.

For his part, Ole Anderson's run as NWA World Tag Team champions with Stan Hansen was Ole's last. He and brother Gene Anderson, making a brief run out of retirement, took one last stab at getting the titles in March of 1985 when they unsuccessfully challenged Ivan and Nikita Koloff for the titles in the Omni in Atlanta.

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Special thanks to Mark Eastridge and Brian Rogers.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: All Three Anderson Brothers - 50 Years Ago Today

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Lexington NC  June 15, 1968
This week's Classic Poster goes all the way back to June 15, 1968 in Lexington, NC - - fifty years ago today! It's an especially rare poster because it features all three Anderson brothers in a six man contest.

That Saturday night at the Lexington YMCA, home of so many exciting weekly cards in that town over many years, Gene and Lars Anderson were joined by their little brother Ole to battle Paul Jones, Nelson Royal and Chief Little Eagle.

Alan "Rock" Rogowski had arrived in Charlotte just five days earlier and made his debut as the third brother in the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Yes, Ole Anderson had arrived. It began a 4-month period where all three Anderson brothers were in the Crockett territory at the same time, wrestling in several six-man features over that time period.

Although special for its rarity, a small disappointment was a photo placed in error of the Torres brothers (looks like them, anyway) instead of the Anderson Brothers.  

Lars, Gene, and Ole Anderson
It was a small window of time to see all three of these brothers together. Lars left Jim Crockett Promotions to return to the AWA in October of 1968, just four months after Ole first arrived. From that point forward, the main Anderson team would be Gene and Ole Anderson, and that team would dominate the tag team scene in the area for the next 14 years.

As far as this big night in Lexington, here's the back story leading up to the this six-man tag team main event:

Over previous weeks, Gene and Lars Anderson had fought to several disputed tag-team decisions with Texas heroes Paul Jones and Nelson Royal. In hopes of providing a clear winner in the series of skirmishes, special stipulations were added to the final bout scheduled between the two teams on Saturday, June 8, 1968.  One stipulation was that the match be fought under no-disqualification rules. The second stipulation provided that Chief Little Eagle, who had his own history with the Anderson Brothers in Lexington, be assigned by the NWA as a special referee. Jones and Royal won the match, but the Andersons charged that it had been with the help of the special referee, and the brothers challenged Jones and Royal to take Eagle as their partner the following week and they would bring in a special partner of their own - - their brother Ole Anderson who had just entered the territory.

"With all the argument, a six-man has been arranged this week. Little Eagle will join Royal and Jones while another Anderson - brother to Gene and Lars - will complete the other team. Ole is moving into the territory and has a reputation as being just as rough as his brothers." - Lexington Dispatch Newspaper

The results of the wild six-man action can be read in the Lexington Dispatch article below.

Also of note is the preview of the following week's card which saw Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods) make his debut in Lexington.

Special thanks to Mark Eastridge for the newspaper clipping and Brad Anderson for the photo of the Anderson Brothers, from his father's personal collection. The poster is from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway collection.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Telling it Like It Is (Baltimore 1984)

 "World Championship Wrestling is the best. The best! To me, and I'm double sure by saying...World Championship Wrestling is far better than Hulk Hogan, the World Wrestling Federation champion. I come to see Ric Flair and the guy know, here's two guys that are twice World champions, they come down here, and you let Baltimore have it. This is Georgia Championship Wrestling come to Baltimore, and it's far better than Madison Square Garden."
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Preach! This was one of the great TV moments in the final months of Georgia Championship Wrestling on WTBS in 1984.

Ole Anderson talks to an obviously knowledgeable fan at ringside in Baltimore before Georgia Championship Wrestling's big show at the Baltimore Civic Center on April 7, 1984. This was during the time Georgia Wrestling was attempting to expand into the traditional WWF territory after Vince McMahon's WWF was aggressively making inroads into every territory in the country.

The main event that night in Baltimore was Ric Flair defending the NWA World Heavyweight championship against former champion Jack Brisco in what would be one of Brisco's last shots at the NWA title.

The WWE Network recently added the Flair/Brisco match to its "Hidden Gems" section of the the Vault. The video began with some of the footage shown on WTBS of Ole Anderson talking to several fans that was shown on WTBS. But they understandably omitted the footage above. That gentleman passionately spoke for a lot of true wrestling fans at the time, and represented the genuine excitement fans felt about Georgia wrestling and the NWA champion coming to Baltimore.

Sadly, three months later, the WWF would take over the TV time of Georgia's "World Championship Wrestling" on WTBS. Black Saturday.

The video is from the show that aired on Saturday, April 14, 1984.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Wahoo McDaniel Talks Wrestling, Football, and Scary Airplane Flights

Note: This article and interview with Wahoo McDaniel was published in Wahoo's hometown newspaper in 1962 during his first year in pro-wrestling. Wahoo, at the time in the off-season from playing football for the AFL's Denver Broncos, was making a return to West Texas, wrestling for Dory Funk's Amarillo territory.

by Spec Gammon, Sports Editor
The Odessa American 
March 27, 1962

Rough and tough pro wrestlers and pro footballers he can take in stride, but he's more than just a little gun shy of riding airplanes that bounce around in high winds.

Pro Football Journal
"It was the first time in my life that I was really and truly scared," Edwin (Wahoo) McDaniel related as he thought back on last Saturday's airplane flight from Denver to Lubbock. "I was supposed to be in Amarillo for a wrestling date Saturday night. All was fine until our plane was within 10 minutes of Amarillo and we ran into this storm. Man, was it ever rough. I'll swear that at times that plane was sitting sideways, one wing straight up. Food and coffee was spilled all over the place, women and girls were screaming and crying. I was really scared."

The pilot didn't attempt to land at Amarillo but pushed on to Lubbock. "It wasn't calm there, either, by any means," Wahoo said. "They were afraid the wind was going to blow the plane over on the ground so they unloaded two passengers at a time, out the back end, too, and took on two new passengers."

Wahoo parted company with the plane in Lubbock. He rented a car and drove on to his home in Midland. He'll be in Odessa tonight, headlining promoter Pat O'Dowdy's star-studded professional wrestling card in the Ector County Coliseum.

How did the former Midland High football standout get interested in pro wrestling? "Well, Jim Barnett, who books wrestlers out of Indianapolis, called me and said he wanted an Indian wrestler. So, I met with him, liked the deal and now I'm a pro wrestler."

Actually, the 23-year-old Choctaw-Chickasaw Indian is a combination pro wrestler-pro footballer. "I'm going hack to the Denver Broncos (in AFL) when practice starts in July," Wahoo explained. "I'll continue wrestling in the off season."

Wahoo's first wrestling match came last December 27, against Dan O'Shocker, in Terre Haute, Indiana. He won and now after some 60 matches he still is undefeated.

Which is the rougher sport, football or wrestling? "I don't know for certain. I've gotten a few stitches from wrestling already, and a few broken bones from football. They're big and rough in both sports."

This is a busy week for him in Texas wrestling rings. He was in Abilene Monday night, here tonight, in Lubbock Wednesday and Amarillo Thursday. "Then I fly (he shuddered) to Detroit where I wrestle Saturday night."

What kind of money does this football and wrestling bring in? Wahoo hesitated on that one for a moment, grinned and replied, "Just say that my pro football salary is in excess of $10,000 and that I'll surpass that figure for wrestling from December through June."

What about the future of the American Football League? "It's good and will get better every year. Two teams, Houston and San Diego, made money last year. The play was twice as good last year as it was the first year. Houston could have played a lot of the NFL teams to a standstill last year."

Wahoo is a defensive specialist for Denver, playing middle linebacker. "It's not so tough because I have Bud McFadin in front of me. He's about the finest man I've ever met. He has more friends than anyone I've ever met."

At 6-5 and 285 pounds, McFadin isn't apt to have many enemies—at least not any who'd admit it, anyway.

Looking back on his football careers at Midland High and the University of Oklahoma, Wahoo says his greatest high school football thrill was "beating Odessa my senior year. It was the first time Midland had won in I don't know how many years. It was the best game I ever played."

How about the year before? "Man, the Broncs nearly killed me. Don Phillips was all over me all afternoon but it was Don Hitt who really racked me up!"

At OU, he had two big moments. "Against Oregon my junior year I had a real good day and was runner-up as the nation's lineman of the week (he played end at OU). Then, against Iowa State that year I got off a 91-yard quick kick which was the longest punt in the nation."

A season later, when OU met Kansas, the Jayhawks' quarterback, John Hadl, erased Wahoo's record with a 96-yard punt. "I was sick," Wahoo said. "The ball would have rolled into the endzone, but one of our halfbacks picked it up and was tackled immediately."

Wahoo, now is a 240 pounder. He weighed about 195 when playing fullback at Midland. At OU his playing weight for three seasons was 183, 193 and 203. "At OU they assign you a playing weight and you'd better report to practice within two pounds of that figure, too."

Who is the best back he's faced in the AFL? "Well, Abner Haynes of Dallas is real elusive but Billy Cannon of Houston is a better all-around back. He's just as fast and a lot bigger and more powerful."

Right now he has other things on his mind—like facing The Viking here tonight . . . and boarding that airplane in Amarillo later in the week.

Originally published in the Odessa American newspaper, March 27, 1962

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Friday, June 08, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: Ric Flair Will Be In The Building

(Brack Beasley Collection)

This week's classic poster is from the spring of 1981. The main event was an odd one as Dusty Rhodes was not a regular in the area. Koloff had just recently won the Mid-Atlantic title and although it's not listed as such on this poster, we're guessing that this was a shot for Dusty at the Mid-Atlantic Championship.

Dusty was still mainly booked in the Mid-Atlantic area as a special attraction, although he had appeared on Greensboro cards in the last six years far more often than any other town in the territory.

This main event was simply a vehicle to continue the wild feud that had started between Ric Flair with his cousins the Andersons and their ally Ivan Koloff. Back in April, Roddy Piper told Flair he would give him a shot at the U.S. belt on TV, but when Flair entered the ring he was momentarily distracted by the Andersons and then attacked from behind by Ivan Koloff with his Russian chain. This led to Flair bringing his own 'equalizer' in the form of a baseball bat to counter Koloff's chain. He would chase Koloff with it, both at live events and on television.

As a result, Flair was suspended and barred from several buildings in an official capacity. But he told fans that the Crocketts couldn't keep him out of every building because he would buy a ticket just like anyone else. Once he had his ticket, he would hit the ring and attack again. The poster even clearly states here that Ric Flair would be in the building, but as you see, not listed for a match.

Yes, the draw for this main event was to see Ric Flair go after Ivan Koloff with a baseball bat.

This was a short little program was a throwback to one of the most famous tag team feuds ever in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history.

On 5/1/81 in Richmond, VA, Gene and Ole Anderson won the NWA World Tag Team titles from The Masked Superstar and Paul Jones. Here is Greensboro, the Anderson Brothers would be tested by a team that were their arch rivals back in 1975, Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel. The teams had traded the titles back and forth on a couple of occasions, and had drawn huge houses with hour-long broadways that led to special one-and-a-half and even two-hour time limit stipulations.

So it was a nostalgic thing for many fans to see these two teams go at it again in 1981.

Austin Idol was a newcomer in the territory at this point, working both the Mid-Atlantic and Georgia territories as Ole Anderson was starting to book both areas.

Idol got a pinfall victory over Steamboat here as Steamboat was going to be gone for about a month on a tour of Japan.

Mr. Wrestling II was on this card, working several Mid-Atlantic dates under the developing talent exchange between Georgia and the Mid-Atlantic area.
Jimmy Valiant was also relatively new in the area, wrestling as a heel. It would be roughly a year before he would become "The Boogie Man" Jimmy Valiant in our area and become one of the most popular babyface characters.

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See also last week's "Classic Poster Friday" featuring the rare teaming up Ole Anderson and Wahoo McDaniel - - "The Swede and the Indian." with classic vintage audio as well! 

Special thanks to Brack Beasley.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Tournament in Shambles: Wahoo and Muraco Split as a Team

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
PART NINE: Wahoo & Muraco Win the West 
PART TEN: Anderson & Hansen Win the East


Tournament in Shambles
As we discussed in previous posts, the NWA World Tag Team Tournament that started back in early February of 1982 began to fall apart as booker Ole Anderson and Jim Crockett Promotions had a falling out that eventually led to a parting of the ways. It's never been clear what the genesis of the problems were between the two parties, but it was likely to have centered around the dual-booking arrangement by which Ole Anderson was booking both the Mid-Atlantic and Georgia territories at the same time.

Just as it was announced that the final round of the four-month tournament would take place in the form of a best-of-seven series between the Eastern and Western winners, Ole Anderson left Jim Crockett Promotions.

Here is a timeline of how things played out:

Best of Seven Series Announced
On the Saturday 5/15 episode of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling", David Crockett announces that the Western winners Wahoo McDaniel and Don Muraco will meet the Eastern Division winners Ole Anderson and Stan Hansen in a best-of-seven series to take place in various cities to be announced soon.

New U.S. Champion Wahoo McDaniel talks with Bob Caudle
as Don Muraco stands by looking somewhat annoyed.

Wahoo McDaniel Wins the U.S. Title
On Friday 5/21, Wahoo McDaniel defeats Sgt. Slaughter for the United States Championship in Richmond, VA. On Saturday TV 5/22 (which was taped on Wednesday 5/19), Bob Caudle announces that Sandy Scott will be back the following week 5/29 to announce the seven cities that will host the best-of-seven series. Wahoo's first TV appearance as new U.S. champion would not be until that show that airs on 5/29.

Muraco Turns on Wahoo
By the time TV is taped again the next week on Wednesday 5/26 (to air 5/29), Ole Anderson is basically no longer working with JCP and disappears from Mid-Atlantic TV without comment. Wahoo McDaniel is introduced as the new U.S. champion and they announce that due to his scheduled title defenses conflicting with dates of the finals of the tag team tournament, the tournament best-of-7 will have to be pushed back.

Don Muraco is noticeably frustrated with this development. As Wahoo talks with Bob Caudle, Muraco interrupts. He's not being aggressive, but he is clearly upset:
"You come to me in Hawaii, and I spend close to $15,000 to move my family to the East coast, we win the [West] coast regional and, well congratulations on winning the U.S. title, I know you deserve it, beating Slaughter. But originally, I thought I was coming here for the World Tag Team championships, not to fool around with a bunch of other belts. You got your belt, that's fine." - Don Muraco
Muraco walks off in frustration, almost to avoid getting more upset. Wahoo, for his part, admits that he never thought he'd win the U.S. title when he and Muraco came in as Western Division winners. But now, as awkward as things are, he has the U.S. belt and he plans to defend it. 

"It's embarrassing to me because we have been friends for a long time, we're a good team together, and I'd hate to see anything come between us.." - Wahoo McDaniel

Wahoo and Muraco are the first match on the 5/29 show with a tag team match against Juan Renosa and Bill White. The two are working well together as a team until Sgt. Slaughter, angry over having lost the U.S. title to Wahoo, starts interfering in the match. Wahoo chases Slaughter out of the studio, briefly leaving Muraco alone to be double teamed by Renosa and White. Muraco is able to escape the double-team, but when he goes over to make the tag to Wahoo, he finds that Wahoo isn't there. Wahoo returns as Muraco continues to fight both opponents. This time Muraco angrily makes the tag to McDaniel and then walks out of the ring, leaving Wahoo now to fend for himself.

Wahoo is able to win the match, and is noticeably surprised that Muraco would leave him in the ring, but tells Bob Caudle that he believes he and Muraco will work things out in the end. 

World Tag Team Titles Forgotten in Mid-Atlantic Area
After four months of building toward new world tag team champions with this elaborate tournament, Jim Crockett Promotions simply ceases to mention the tag team titles further. Behind the scenes, the booker who put it all together, Ole Anderson, has left the territory - - - and taken the NWA World Tag Team title belts with him.

On the Saturday 6/5 Mid-Atlantic TV show, Don Muraco tells a crazy story about Wahoo showing up broke in Hawaii earlier that year looking to borrow money from King Curtis, and then begging Muraco to be his partner in the tag team tournament. Wahoo responds by telling Muraco he sees him all the time on cable TV making money there (a reference to Muraco's weekly appearances on "Georgia Championship Wrestling" on WTBS) and that he feels he should be able to defend his U.S. title and make some money of his own. Muraco completely disavows McDaniel, and their time as a team is now completely finished.

Even though we're told the finals of the tournament are simply delayed, this is the last time the NWA World Tag Team titles are mentioned again in the Mid-Atlantic area until September of that year when Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle are introduced as new champions having won a fictitious tournament in Japan.

But in the meantime, new NWA World Tag Team Champions would indeed be announced - but only in Georgia Championship Wrestling, as it turned out.

The NWA Tag team Champions are announced, but not in the Mid-Atlantic area. We'll take a look at how Gordon Solie explained it on WTBS (including video) and we'll also propose a theory as to what the original plans for the conclusion of the tournament were to be. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 04, 2018

Magazine Memories: Official Ratings (1977)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The Ratings section was always one of my favorite sections in the newsstand magazines. As a young teenager, I would study these closely, always happy to see my Mid-Atlantic favorites show up on these pages. I also liked breaking down the top contenders for the NWA title, and especially if the former champions were still in contention.

Look at those top four contenders to the NWA title: two former NWA World champions, Jack Brisco and Terry Funk, and two future champions, Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes. Plus former champ Dory Funk, Jr. also makes this Top 10 list at #7, as does former WWWF titleholder Pedro Morales at #10.

Dusty Rhodes is all over these ratings making four seperate appearances. He is the #1 contender for Superstar Billy Graham's WWWF Heavyweight title while also being the #4 contender for Harley Race's NWA World title, the #7 ranked tag team (with partner Dick Slater in Georgia) and the #1 most popular wrestler in the country. 

The Anderson Brothers are all over these ratings, too. Ole and Gene Anderson are the #1 ranked tag team as reigning NWA World Tag Team champions. But Lars Anderson also represents the family well as the #9 ranked contender for the NWA World title and the #5 most hated wrestler in the country.

Anderson cousin Ric Flair also makes three appearances, as the #3 contender to the NWA World title, the #5 ranked tag team (with partner Greg Valentine in the Mid-Atlantic area), and the #3 most hated wrestler in the country.

Mid-Atlantic tag teams are especially well represented in the tag team rankings holding 3 of the top 5 slots. The Anderson Brothers, wrestling in both the Georgia and the Mid-Atlantic territories, are the top ranked team. Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champs Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat are #4, while Greg Valentine and Ric Flair fell in at #5.

Former NWA World Champion Jack Brisco also makes three appearances, ranked as #1 contender for the NWA World championship, #9 ranked tag team (with brother Jerry Brisco in Florida), and the #5 most popular wrestler in the country.

Other Mid-Atlantic stalwarts appearing in these national ratings include Paul Jones (#5 contender for the NWA title, #5 tag team with Ricky Steamboat), Wahoo McDaniel (#4 most popular wrestler), Dino Bravo (#10 most popular wrestler), Greg Valentine (#5 tag team with Ric Flair, #8 most hated wrestler), and Blackjack Mulligan (#10 most hated wrestler.)

More great "Magazine Memories" to come.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Classic Poster Friday: The Swede and the Indian

Sunday, December 11, 1977      Greensboro, North Carolina
(From the Collection of Brack Beasley)

"Greg Valentine and Ric Flair, sitting there thinking that there's not going to be a combination around that can beat them, have now got themselves an unbeatable combination." - Ole Anderson, Dec. 1977

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

Also featuring classic vintage audio, embedded below.

One of my favorite tropes in wrestling is the unexpected teaming-up of a top babyface with a top heel, previously mortal enemies, to form a popular team united to fight a common foe.

Sometimes it is the result of a recent turn of a bad-guy to good-guy. Sometimes it's just a matter of the old proverb "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Either way, it always results in a fresh, exciting combination for fans.

Ole Anderson
There are several memorable examples of this in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history during the years I was a young fan. Booker George Scott was a master at creating these scenarios. Most notable was the 1978 babyface turn of Blackjack Mulligan and his subsequent teaming with former enemies Paul Jones and the Masked Superstar to challenge Ric Flair and various partners. And a year later in 1979, Flair himself turned good-guy to team with former arch enemy Ricky Steamboat and then former foe, now friend again, Blackjack Mulligan.

But the best one of all, for me at least, was the first major teaming of this kind that I saw as a fan. In October of 1977, Gene Anderson was injured in a match where he and his brother Ole lost the NWA World Tag Team titles to cousin Ric Flair and his partner Greg Valentine. The two teams had been locked in a brutal feud that began in the final months of 1976.  A video was shown of Gene Anderson in a hospital bed from Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, GA with announcer Freddie Miller and Ole Anderson by Gene's side. Ole would swear revenge on his cousin Flair and the scoundrel Valentine.

Fans had largely already gotten behind the Anderson Brothers in their feud with Flair and Valentine over the last year. But with Gene now out of action for several months, Ole asked Wahoo McDaniel to be his partner in title rematches with Flair and Valentine to take place in December. Fans could hardly believe such a thing was possible given the bloody history between Wahoo and the Anderson Brothers over the last several years. Wahoo had actually teamed with the Andersons once earlier, back in January of 1977 in a six man vs. Flair, Valentine, and Blackjack Mulligan in Greensboro. But trusting each other enough to go after the titles? This was an amazing development.

Ole admitted that Wahoo was the toughest competitor he had ever gone up against. Wahoo, for his part, had some added motivation to accept Ole's invitation. He was seeking revenge against Valentine for breaking his leg a few months earlier. Also, of course, he relished any opportunity to go after Flair.

Ole Anderson and Wahoo McDaniel: this was the textbook definition of a "dream team."

Their first two matches as partners took place on Sunday, December 11, 1977. The first battle was in Asheville, NC for a 3:00 PM matinee show at the Civic Center. That was the dress rehearsal for their big match later that evening on a 7:30 PM show in Greensboro, NC at the fabled Greensboro Coliseum.

Ole was wrestling full time in Georgia in 1977, and was also the booker there. But he made regular monthly appearances for Jim Crockett Promotions, usually in the form of double shots on Sundays, as he and Gene continued their ongoing feud with Flair and Valentine over the World Tag Team titles. Since Ole was not in Raleigh on Wednesdays for the taping of local promos, he sent in a VTR promo from the WTBS studio in Atlanta. On the set of "Georgia Championship Wrestling", host Freddie Miller introduced Ole as the last standing member of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew laid out what was ahead for Valentine and Flair: a reckoning with the Swede and the Indian.

Ole Anderson Promo: "The Swede and The Indian"

The same tape was used to promote both the Asheville and Greensboro shows, and was inserted during the 2-minute "halftime" interview segment on the Mid-Atlantic and Wide World Wrestling shows that aired in those markets. But only those two markets would hear Ole's classic promo.

But now, everyone can hear it here, via the magic of this vintage audio recording made on Saturday December 10, 1977 by Gary Wray in Reidsville, NC.

Valentine and Flair retained the titles in these two epic contests. There was more money to be made from their chase down the road, and Ole would return in both January and February and team with Wahoo to go after Flair and Valentine's titles once again, including a match where Gene Anderson was a special second referee. In the end, Flair and Valentine escaped all challenges from "the Swede and the Indian" as the crazy brawls between both teams often ended up as disqualifications.

The poster featured above on this "Classic Poster Friday" is for the Greensboro show, and it was a loaded 7-match card that also featured U.S. champion Ricky Steamboat, Blackjack Mulligan, the Masked Superstar, "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods, Bobo Brazil, and many others. The poster is from the collection of collector and Gateway contributor Brack Beasley.

Please note: "Action Figures Friday" is on a summer recess. In the meantime, we will be focusing on a classic wrestling poster each Friday and offering context from that time.  

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Details of this entire story are woven into the amazing timeline history of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew and their cousin Ric Flair in the book "Minnesota Wrecking Crew," on sale now in the Mid-Atlantic Gateway bookstore and on