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!