Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Jim Crockett's Grand Slam Champions - Part Three: Greg Valentine

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In PART THREE of our "Grand Slam" feature, we take a look at "The Hammer" Greg Valentine.

Valentine was the third wrestler to hold all five of Jim Crockett Promotions' titles during the Mid-Atlantic years, something we here at the Gateway call Crockett's Grand Slam Championship.

The five Crockett titles were:
  • NWA World Tag Team Championship
  • United States Heavyweight Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship
  • Mid-Atlantic/NWA/World Television Championship

There were only four men that held all five titles though their complete tenure in our area. Those men are:
  1. Paul Jones
  2. Ric Flair
  3. Greg Valentine
  4. Ricky Steamboat

Here is a summary of Greg Valentine's amazing championship pedigree in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling:


Greg entered the Mid-Atlantic area in the fall of 1976, first presented as the brother of Johnny Valentine, but later would accurately be known as his son. It didn't take long for "The Hammer" to win gold in the territory, defeating "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods for the Television Championship on November 6, 1976 in Spartanburg, SC. He would trade the title with Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones soon after for a second reign as TV champion, and with Sweet Ebony Diamond a couple of times in 1981, eventually losing to Ron Bass.

Upon entering the Mid-Atlantic area, Greg had immediately struck up a friendship with Ric Flair and the two formed a tag team that immediately seemed destined for championship gold. Flair had a falling out with his cousins, Gene and Ole Anderson, who were the NWA World Tag Team champions at the time. Flair took Greg as his partner to challenge his family and the two defeated the Andersons too take the titles on December 26, 1976 in Greensboro, NC.

Valentine and Flair would continue to feud with the Andersons over the tag titles for the next year and half, trading them once more in a series of memorable matches and angles. Valentine would later hold the titles with partners Baron Von Raschke and Ray Stevens.

Valentine had many bitter singles feuds in the Mid-Atlantic area during his various tenures in the Mid-Atlantic area, but the most famous feud was with "Chief" Wahoo McDaniel over the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship in 1977 and 1978. Greg first won the title from McDaniel on June 11, 1977 in Greensboro, but it was his second victory over Wahoo for the title that is stuff of legend. On September 7, 1977 at a TV taping in Raleigh, NC, Valentine not only defeated Wahoo for the title but broke his leg in the process. The angle was so memorable that it was brought up many times over the years, and was even part of a the build-up to their battles over the U.S. title five years later.

After the Anderson Brothers had regained the World Tag Team titles from Valentine and Flair, those titles were mostly defended in the Georgia area, and so the "Blond Bombers" set their sites on the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team titles until such time as they could gain another shot at the Andersons. On June 30, 1977 they defeated Dino Bravo and Tiger Conway, Jr. to win those belts, but lost them a less than two months later to Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat.

So in less than one year's time, Valentine had won four of the five titles in Jim Crockett Promotions, with the United States title being the only championship to elude him early on. It would take another three years, but Valentine would finally take the "fifth jewel" in the Grand Slam crown.

After four years dominating the championship scene in the Mid-Atlantic area, Valentine finally gained the one title that had eluded him. Returning from a successful stint in the WWWF in 1979 where he had headlined Madison Square Garden against WWWF kingpin Bob Backlund, Valentine was shocked to learn that his former partner-in-crime Ric Flair had become a fan favorite. Flair was involved in a bitter feud with "Anderson's Army" in the summer of 1980 and solicited his old friend and partner Valentine to aid him in a tag team match with Jimmy Snuka and the Iron Sheik. Valentine turned on his old friend, breaking Flair's nose with the cane of manager Gene Anderson. On July 26, 1980, Valentine defeated  Flair for the United States Championship in Charlotte, NC. The two former best friends had a bitter, bloody feud over that title for the rest of 1980.

Valentine would go onto hold the U.S. title on two other occasions over the next three years, renewing hostilities with Wahoo McDaniel and in a memorable feud with "Rowdy"Roddy Piper.

* * *

We shift our focus to "The Hawaiian Punch" Ricky Steamboat, the fourth and final wrestler to have held all five of Jim Crockett promotions' championships. We'll detail how he did it next time.

Did you miss our stories on the first two Grand Slam Champions? Visit the links:
"No. 1" Paul Jones
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair

Updated 10/18/18 with an additional detail on Greg Valentine TV title history. Thanks to Kenneth Childers.