Wednesday, August 22, 2018

WRAL Wednesday: Paul Jones and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Photographs from the Bleachers at WRAL by Ric Carter

It's Wednesday, and for nearly two and a half decades, that meant Jim Crockett Promotions was taping television wrestling at the studios of WRAL channel 5 in Raleigh.

We've been featuring a series of rare photographs taken by photographer Ric Carter from the bleachers of the studio during an hour of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" in July of 1975.

Ring announcer David Crockett introduces a "big" tag team event on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling:
Paul Jones and Rufus R. Jones vs. Jerry Blackwell and George "Two Ton" Harris

This week we take a look at the team we affectionately call the Jones Boys - "No. 1" Paul Jones and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones as they take on Jim Crockett Promotions' largest tag team combination "Crusher" Jerry Blackwell and George "Two Ton" Harris.


There is no doubt that the Jones boys had their hands full with Blackwell and Harris. In fact, if you take a look at this second photo below, you will see what at a glance looks like a difficult backdrop at best! You would think there is no way Rufus is going to get big Jerry Blackwell over in this backdrop attempt, who was billed at 400 pounds during this time. But he did, which got a huge reaction from the studio crowd, as well as from host Les Thatcher and guest color commentator Gene Anderson.

Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones attempts to backdrop big "Crusher" Jerry Blackwell.
Paul Jones and George "Two Ton" Harris watch from their respective corners.

Speaking of that, what a rare thing it was to have Gene Anderson of all people on commentary. During those years, Gene rarely spoke at all, letting his loudmouth younger "brother" Ole Anderson do all the talking for the team. If you look closely you will see Gene and Les Thatcher at the commentary desk, Gene on the left, Les on the right.

Paul Jones was a top contender for both the TV title and the World Tag Team titles (with partner Wahoo McDaniel) at this time. Rufus was always a contender for various titles as well. In fact, he and Wahoo would win the tag titles for exactly one week in early 1976, while Paul and Wahoo would never regain the titles. The Anderson brothers dominated the World tag team division for years.

Champions At This Time:
NWA World Champion: Jack Brisco
World Tag Team Champions: Gene and Ole Anderson
United States Champion: Johnny Valentine
Mid-Atlantic Champion: Wahoo McDaniel
TV Champion: Ric Flair

What a roll call of champions!

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 Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair vs. Bob Bruggers and Kevin SullivanChief Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion, plus Ole Anderson vs. Bob Burns.

This is the fourth in an ongoing series of photos from WRAL studio that we are featuring each Wednesday. More good stuff from the bleachers of the WRAL Studios next week.

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