Wednesday, August 15, 2018

WRAL Wednesday: Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair

Ric Flair, Les Thatcher, and Johnny Valentine on the set of
"Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling"

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

We're back in the old TV studio of WRAL channel 5 in Raleigh in 1975, where this week we take a look at photographs of the team of Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair. The photos were taken from the studio bleachers by Ric Carter.

In the photo above, Flair and Valentine stand with host Les Thatcher on the set of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling." Flair is wearing the Mid-Atlantic TV championship belt. Valentine is wearing the famous red-leather United States championship belt, but view of the belt is blocked by either a floor director or camera operator. You can just make out the top of the leather strap around Valentine's waist over the left shoulder of the fellow at ringside. It's better seen in the photo below.

It was Johnny Valentine's first TV appearance as United States Heavyweight Champion. He had just defeated Harley Race six days earlier for that title in Greensboro. During Valentine's TV match, Les Thatcher told fans that they would be reviewing tape of the title change from Greensboro on next week's show. 

In the photo above left, Ric is seen in the ring wearing the Mid-Atlantic TV title belt. In the photo above right, U.S. Champion Johnny Valentine (wearing the U.S. title belt) talks with Les Thatcher. Below that on the left, Flair works over his opponent on the mat.

Flair and Valentine's opponents in this tag-team match on this evening were Bob Bruggers and Kevin Sullivan.

At this time, there were two separate hours of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" taped each Wednesday evening at WRAL. The first hour (the "A" show) was hosted by Bob Caudle and was seen in every TV market that Crockett had at the time. The second hour (the "B" show) was hosted by Les Thatcher and was a second hour in markets where clearances for a second show could be obtained. The shows had the same theme music, but slightly different sets and graphics.

This particular show was taped Wednesday, 7/9/75 and aired on Saturday, 7/12/75. Other matches on this show included Chief Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion, Paul Jones and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones vs. Jerry "Crusher" Blackwell and George "Two Ton Harris (which we will feature next week), plus Ole Anderson vs. Bob Burns.

This is the third in an ongoing series of photos from WRAL studio that we are featuring each Wednesday.

All photographs in this series by Ric Carter, © Used with permission.
Vintage audio provided by Gary Wray.

Brand New 1976 Yearbook coming in September!