Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Betrayal of Chief Wahoo McDaniel (Part Two)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway


Between 1981 and 1984, the NWA took the U.S. title from Wahoo McDaniel on three separate occasions, leading Wahoo (understandably) to believe that the NWA was out to get him in some way. In each of those three cases (storyline, of course), we believe Wahoo was treated unfairly by the NWA.

Last time, we reviewed the first betrayal of Wahoo when Roddy Piper hired Abdullah the Butcher to injure Wahoo, preventing him from giving Piper a contractually obligated rematch for the U.S. title. You can read all about that in PART ONE of this series: Betrayal #1 - - The Roddy Piper Conspiracy

Now, less than a year leter, it was about to happen again...

The Sgt. Slaughter Conspiracy

Wahoo McDaniel
After the NWA held up the U.S. title in the late summer of 1981, a tournament was held in Charlotte, NC to fill the vacant championship which was won by newcomer Sgt. Slaughter.

After the unreasonable treatment Wahoo felt he received from the NWA in 1981, he briefly left the Mid-Atlantic area to wrestle in Florida followed by an extended tour of Japan in early 1982, as well as appearances in Georgia Championship Wrestling and Southwest Championship Wrestling.

He returned to the Mid-Atlantic area full-time in April of 1982 along with new tag team partner Don Muraco. The two had won the (fictitious) Western Division of the ongoing NWA World Tag Team Tournament and were looking forward to facing the Eastern Division winners once they had been decided.

But in the interim, Wahoo became involved in a singles feud with Sgt. Slaughter after defeating him on television on 4/28 in a non-title match. The victory made Wahoo the number one contender for Sarge's United States belt. Just under a month later, Wahoo defeated Slaughter for the title in Richmond.

Sgt. Slaughter
It was a sweet victory for Wahoo, who many felt had been robbed of the title when he was stripped of it following the controversy over Roddy Piper’s unusual 20-day return match clause and the attack by Abdullah the Butcher the previous summer.  Add to that the fact Wahoo was not allowed to enter the October 1981 tournament that filled the vacant championship, and this victory was very special indeed.

A couple of weeks before Wahoo won the title, NWA representative Sandy Scott announced on TV that the NWA had selected the Mid-Atlantic territory for an experimental new rule for a 30-day trial period whereby title matches could not end on disqualification and could not end in time-limit draws. Every title match had to have a winner by pinfall or submission. The rule came about as an attempt to force matches to a conclusion since so many recent title matches had ended in disqualifications, count-outs, or time limit draws. The NWA claimed to be doing this for the fans.

As part of that new rule, a wrestler who failed to appear would have to forfeit the title to his scheduled opponent. In early June, Wahoo was injured in a match at the hands of Sgt. Slaughter and was unable to make a schedule title defense against Slaughter in Greenville, SC on 6/7/82. Wahoo failing to appear, even though injured by the very same opponent he was now scheduled to face, resulted in the NWA awarding the title to Slaughter by forfeit due to this experimental new rule.

Fans were furious, and so was McDaniel. He had now been stripped of the U.S. championship for the second time. Two successive U.S. title reigns had ended with the title being taken from him legislatively rather than in the ring.

Similar to the puzzling decision by the NWA in the late summer of 1981, this decision was also questionable, as the intent of the NWA's experimental rule was to force title match conclusions rather than endless DQ's, count outs, or draws. Wahoo was injured by the man who was then presented the title when Wahoo couldn't appear the next night.

Every title reign. Every title change.
All five belts.
And wouldn't you know it, to rub more salt in Wahoo's wounds, at the end of the the 30-day trial period, a week after Slaughter was awarded the title by forfeit, the NWA decided the experimental rule wasn't working as intended and would be discontinued. Wahoo had once again been caught in a technicality and the NWA refused to cut him any slack in the interpretation of rules and events that had taken place.

Wahoo finally gained a matter of redemption from Slaughter, defeating him cleanly on 8/22/82 in Charlotte to win the U.S. title for a third time.

This title reign ended in the ring in November of 1982  when Greg Valentine returned to the Mid-Atlantic area and defeated Wahoo for the title in Norfolk VA, renewing their rivalry that traced all the way back to a broken leg in 1977. But even that title change, although taking place in the ring and not by NWA legislation, still screwed Wahoo over as Valentine's manager Sir Oliver Humperdink was able to pass a foreign object to Valentine who used it knock Wahoo out cold, but of course the referee didn't see it. There was, however, clear evidence of this on film, yet the NWA did nothing to remedy the situation and Valentine was allowed to keep the title. This inconsistency in film review would rear its ugly head in 1984.

Frustrated with the NWA for all of these events, Wahoo left for the AWA where he wrestled until returning to the Mid-Atlantic full time in September of 1983, where he helped train Ric Flair for his upcoming NWA title shot at Harley Race at Starrcade '83.

Wahoo regains the U.S. title in unusual circumstances for a 4th time in April of 1984, and once again the NWA was about to rule adversely against the Chief. This time it would send Wahoo over the edge. Stay tuned!