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