Friday, January 11, 2019

Classic Poster Friday: One of Greg Valentine's Earliest Appearances as a Regular in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Today's "Classic Poster Friday" features a historical look at Greg Valentine's first main event match in the Mid-Atlantic territory back in September of 1976. It would be a run in that territory that lasted some 7+ years. 

Valentine made his very first appearance in the Mid-Atlantic area as a "guest' appearance on a Greensboro NC card in August of 1976. Greensboro was somewhat famous for having regular appearances by "guest" stars coming in from other territories. In this case, coming in from Florida, it was a big deal that the "brother" of Johnny Valentine (Greg was actually Johnny's son) was coming into the area that Johnny had dominated up until his tragic airplane accident less than a year earlier.

What fans didn't know then was that Greg would enter the area on a full time basis a month later.

The "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "Wide World Wrestling" shows taped 9/15/76 in Raleigh featured a special video tape segment hosted by Gordon Solie sent in from Florida. In the tape, Greg Valentine was demonstrating the power of his "bionic elbow" by breaking boards with it, etc. He told Solie he would be entering the Mid-Atlantic area soon. A week later at the tapings on 9/22/76, Valentine made his full time debut defeating Steve Bolus. Two nights later, he would wrestle in his first main event, teaming with Ric Flair (who would soon become his permanent tag team partner) against Wahoo McDaniel and Tiger Conway, Jr. on 9/24/76 in Lynchburg, VA, the headline event on the poster above.

The next night in Hampton, VA, Greg would challenge Wahoo McDaniel for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship. The match played off the history of Wahoo's epic battles with Johnny Valentine and also foreshadowed Greg and Wahoo's legendary feud that would begin in 1977.

It was somewhat unusual in those days for a newcomer to hit the main events as soon as he was in the territory, but Valentine indeed did just that. It didn't take him long to capture gold, either. In less than two months he defeated Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods for the TV championship and then a month later with partner Ric Flair defeated the Anderson brothers to take the NWA World Tag Team championship. 

In the semi-main tag match on this Lynchburg show, the brother due of Lanny and Randy Poffo challenged Red Bastien and Vic Rosettani. Randy Poffo would become "Macho Man" Randy Savage in ICW in the late 1970s, and go on to headline the WWF in the 1980s.

Of note about this card in Lynchburg, it was only a four-match show, which was still occasionally the case in smaller towns or spot show towns. Jim Crockett Promotions often ran three towns a night, and on this night they were also in the regular Friday night towns of Richmond VA (headlined by Blackjack Mulligan vs. Rufus R. Jones in a Texas Death Match) and Charleston, SC, (headlined by Angelo Mosca defending the TV title against Tony Atlas.)

Thanks to Jody Shifflett for the poster image and David Chappell for additional research.