Friday, March 29, 2019

Ric Flair Show Flashback: Ric and Conrad talk about Wahoo McDaniel

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I've been doing research for an upcoming book on the history of the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship and came across an edited audio clip we presented earlier from the old Ric Flair Show podcast produced and hosted by Conrad Thompson for the MLW Radio Network. The topic for "This Week in History" on that episodes was the night Ric beat Wahoo McDaniel for the Mid-Atlantic title for the first time in September of 1975.

Ric and Conrad talk about the match with Wahoo, the plane crash that almost ended Ric's career just two weeks later, and some other stories about great Wahoo and what he meant to Ric personally and to his career.

The vintage audio clip during the segment is from "Wide World Wrestling"  in 1975 hosted by Ed Capral, who reviews film of the Hampton match with Ric alongside for commentary. The clip is part of a huge library of vintage audio from David Chappell.

So enjoy this classic audio trip back in time, not only to the glory days of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in the mid-1970s, but also to 2016 during the great run of The Ric Flair Show.

For the opportunity to see Ric Flair and other great Mid-Atlantic Wrestling legends like Ricky Steamboat, Greg Valentine, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham, Tully Blanchard, James J. Dillon, Magnum T.A., Terry Funk, and Tony Schiavone (plus tons of other wrestling legends from yesterday and today) head to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas May 23-26 for STARRCAST II, perhaps the greatest wrestling fan convention ever put together! Visit the Starrcast II website for more information.

No doubt 1975 was the breakout year for Ric Flair who would go on to become one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport, and certainly its greatest champion.

Relive all the events of the landmark year of 1975 in the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling 1975 Yearbook.

The book includes reproductions of all four issues of "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine" that was sold as the arena program that year.

Plus a huge collection of newspaper clippings, posters, and complete results for the entire year. Plus our signature "Almanac" material featuring a complete roster of wrestlers for the year, and summaries of all major feuds and matches for the year.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Gone Fishing Again: Butch Harris Lures

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Back in a 1977 issue of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine, there was a two-page spread titled "On the Lake with Wahoo" that featured wrestling legend Wahoo McDaniel and fishing legend Butch Harris out on the lake for a day of fishing.

R. K. "Butch" Harris was a hall of fame bass fisherman and ran a business called Butch Harris Bass Lures, which was under the umbrella of Ringley & Crockett, Inc., an arm of the Crockett promotional empire in Charlotte.

Wahoo McDaniel, in addition to being a former professional football standout and champion pro-wrestler, was an avid outdoor sportsman in general, excelling at both fishing and golf.

The feature in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine, authored by Les Thatcher, displayed an array of photographs taken during Wahoo and Butch's day on the lake.

"Even when you are one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling you have to have some time off to relax," wrote Thatcher. "Wahoo spent the day with close friend Butch Harris. They have been fishing buddies for several years."

The advertisement at right is from a 1973 issue of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine. The info at bottom gives contact info for Butch Harris at the old Morehead Street address for Jim Crockett Promotions and Ringley & Crockett, Inc.

John Ringley explained to us a few years back that Ringley & Crockett promoted everything non-wrestling (concerts, Harlem Globetrotters, fishing tournaments, and other ventures) while Jim Crockett Promotions handled everything wrestling related. After Jim Crockett Sr. died in 1973 and Ringley left the company in 1974, professional wrestling became the sole focus for the company, although the family also owned a minor league baseball franchise. Frances Crockett was baseball's first female general manger, running the Charlotte O's in the mid-to-late 1970s, a Baltimore Orioles farm league team.

Also fun to come across this old retail counter display of fishing worm lures sold by Butch Harris Bass Lures.At bottom the display reads "Butch Harris Bass Lures, a Division of Ringley & Crockett, Inc., Charlotte, NC."

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Almanac History - July 1980 (Part Two)

David Chappell's
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History


JULY 1980             WEEK 2
The second week of July of 1980 kicked off in earnest with the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television taping in the WRAL TV 5 studios in Raleigh, North Carolina on July 9th. The TV card featured a good mix of Mid-Atlantic stars, but the final bout of the card really stole the show!

The first television bout featured a mid-card matchup where Johnny Weaver and Special Delivery Jones bested the duo of Swede Hanson and Billy Starr. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine defeated Ron Ritchie, and the program also showcased wins by "Bad Boy" Bobby Duncum in his second TV appearance and the former World Tag Team Champions Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. But the last bout on the program would see a return to action of the former World Tag Team a quite unexpected way.

Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens
with manager Gene Anderson
Inserted in the middle of the July 9th TV taping was a film of the match where Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens defeated Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood for the NWA World Tag Team Championship. Announcer Rich Landrum narrated the video snippets, along with Steamboat and Youngblood. The end of the match saw Stevens piledriving Steamboat on the concrete floor, soon after Ricky had been hit with the cane of manager Gene Anderson.

The film clip went on to show that almost simultaneous to Steamboat being laid out on the arena's concrete floor, Snuka hit Youngblood with a flying head-butt with the "Superfly" capturing the three count on Jay for the pinfall victory.

Steamboat was particularly bitter about the loss of the titles in this way, and vented to Landrum while watching the film, "I'm motionless, I'm laying there [and] I'm knocked out cold. I don't know nothing, I don't feel nothing, but there's gonna be a time and day when Stevens and Snuka [are] gonna feel that cement floor on their heads!"

Ricky and Jay's anger came out in full force and effect when the last match on the July 9th TV program was about to begin. Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens were prepared to wrestle Tony Garea and Nick DeCarlo, and both teams were in the ring waiting for the opening bell to ring. At that very instant, Steamboat and Youngblood raced into the ring and immediately tore into Snuka and Stevens! Garea and DeCarlo seem startled by the turn of events, but left the ring, and the final bout of the show became a "main event" caliber match between the World Tag Team Champions and the former champs!

Color commentator David Crockett exclaimed, "This is the rematch...I wish the championship was on the line!" An equally excited announcer Bob Caudle followed, "What a match! It's all impromptu, at least as far as Snuka and Stevens are concerned and Gene Anderson...because it definitely wasn't on their minds they were gonna wrestle this match. Certainly not today!"

Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood appear to defeat Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens in the unscheduled TV match---but referee Tommy Young is forced to make a controversial ruling!

To be continued...                                                        ALMANAC DIRECTORY

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Pvt. Jim Nelson

Pvt. Jim Nelson is under orders to hold and protect Sgt. Slaughter's United States Championship belt.

Many fans may know him better as Boris Zhukov, who challenged Sgt. Slaughter in the AWA for his Americas title, or teamed with Nikolai Volkoff at WrestleMania III in the WWF.

But to us he will always be Sgt. Slaughter's young recruit Pvt. Nelson.

Nelson was one half of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champions with Pvt. Don Kernodle. He was also later a behind-the-scenes spy for Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood in their quest to regain the NWA World Tag Team titles from Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle, which they finally did at the famous cage match in Greensboro in March of 1983.

Don't drop that belt, maggot! Now drop and give me 20!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Action Figures Friday: Paul Jones and the Masked Superstar


Another great presentation of classic custom action figures from Reggie Richardson featuring the unlikely team of Paul Jones and the Masked Superstar.

The two men had been mortal enemies going back to their feud in 1977, but in 1980 they teamed up and took the NWA World Tag Team titles from Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka on Thanksgiving night in Greensboro.

Those little custom belts make these things work, too. Paul is wearing the NWA World Tag Team title belt, while Superstar is wearing the NWA TV title belt with his tag belt over his shoulder.

The backdrop is a classic issue of Mid-Atlantic Magazine that included two fold out posters, one of Paul and one of the Superstar. Great issue. Great set up!

The photograph was featured on Scottie (Reggie's brother) Richardson's Wrestler Weekly twitter feed. (Check out @wrestlerweekly)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

New Book by Mike Mooneyham Now Available

We are excited about a new collection of essays from one of the best wrestling writers we are fortune to have today. The book is available now from Evening Post Books, and while we haven't had a chance to see it just yet, we look forward to reviewing it shortly.

As a collection of essays previously published, we're sure we've read some of these before, but can't wait to explore them again, and read material that might have slipped past us. And it's nice to have this material in one volume.

From the Evening Post Books site:

Best-selling author Mike Mooneyham is back with a collection of his previous columns that remember some of pro-wrestling’s finest movers and shakers. From their rise to fame to the end of their days, Final Bell: Legends of the Mat Remembered pays tribute to fallen wrestlers such as Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper and the Fabulous Moolah. 

The book also includes quotes from the industry’s favorite wrestling professionals like J. J. Dillon, Jerry Brisco and Jim Cornette. 

Showcasing two forewords by industry pros Les Thatcher and Jim Ross, this book is a must-have for all dedicated wrestling fans!

The book is available now. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Crockett Lieutenants - Notes from a Conversation with John Ringley

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I was looking through some notes that I had made during a casual conversation I had with John Ringley back in 2016. There were some tidbits about some of the Crockett lieutenants and local promoters that I had not included in earlier posts resulting from those conversations. I thought I would tie up those loose ends now.

We talked about some of the key people working for Crockett when Ringley was with the company. These notes are taken from Ringley's reflections back on those days:

Leo Voss 
A referee and a good lieutenant for Crockett. He would go on the road and handle a lot of local spot towns (gate receipts, etc.) From Oklahoma, a big fisherman.

George Harbin
An ex-wrestler, who ran Lexington and did ring announcing there and Charlotte TV. Did lots of small things for JCP. An important lieutenant.

Wally Dusek
Ex wrestler, perhaps the most important lieutenant of all. Crockett trusted him completely. Like Voss, would handle gate receipts, and also receipts from outlet ticket sales (for example The Hat Shop in Charlotte.) Built rings, delivered them to arenas, with his crew set them up, tore them down. Was also an agent.

There were two other guys Ringley relied heavily on - -  Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson, whom Ringley said were also his close personal friends.

Then there was a discussion we had of the local promoters Crockett partnered with. These weren't technically Crockett's lieutenants, and they were also independent. I would give them a higher rank like captain or major. But they were the guys on the ground that made things work outside of Charlotte.

The local promoters were:
Joe Murnick - Raleigh, Richmond, Norfolk (and surrounding towns)
Pete Apostolou - Roanoke, Salem, Lynchburg (and surrounding towns)
Henry Marcus - Charleston, Columbia (and surrounding towns)
Paul Winkhaus - Greenville, Asheville (and surrounding towns)
Mr. Ringley told me these local guys were all independent operators, considered business partners to Jim Crockett Promotions, who originally booked talent from Jim Crockett for their towns but then later were basically just sent talent from the office. As these guys retired or died, they were replaced by “agents” (for example Sandy Scott, Danny Miller, and Wally Dusek.) Of all the local promoters, Ringley said Paul Winkhaus was his favorite.

Another little tidbit we discussed was related to my work on studio wrestling history for JCP, specifically the early TV tapings that took place at WFBC in Greenville, SC. in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Ringley remembered announcer Bob Poole, but oddly did not remember Bill Krieger. But the main voice he remembered was that of Billy Powell, who not only did local wrestling promos and ring announcing for Greenville for decades, but also did all the voice overs for radio and TV spots for the concert and other entertainment events Ringley and Jim Crockett promoted. He called Billy Powell "the voice of Ringely and Crockett Promotions." This was the name of the separate company incorporated in 1970 that promoted all non-wrestling events for the Crockett promotional empire, which include concerts, Globe Trotters basketball, etc. Jim Crockett Promotions, Inc. was still the company that handled everything wrestling.

Ringley also made these comments regarding his ex-wife Frances Crockett, unsolicited:
"I thought a lot of Frances, I still do. She had the best business mind by far of any of the children. She proved it with baseball. She loved baseball. When I met her, she had baseball posters in her bedroom."
Again, my many thanks to Mr. John Ringley for taking the time to talk with me back in 2016. I'm happy to tie up these "loose ends" from those conversations.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Bobby Becker's Silver Dollars

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One of the cool things that occasionally happens here at the Gateway is we hear from someone who has an interesting connection to wrestling's past.

Such is the case with a nice fellow named Gary J. Grieco who wrote to tell us about his connection to one of the famous brother combinations in wrestling's long-ago past - - George and Bobby Becker.

George and Bobby Becker
The famous brother team were big drawing
cards for Jim Crockett in the early 1950s

Gary found our website searching online for info on Bobby Becker and stumbled across our post from May of 2016 about a cool promotional postcard featuring the Becker Brothers used back in the 1950s by Richmond area promoter Bill Lewis. (See that post here.)

Gary grew up around wrestlers. His father, Mike Grieco, was an amateur wrestler prior to World War II at the Cooper Athletic Club in Ridgewood, Queens NY and then wrestled professionally from 1949-1955 under the ring name Mighty Mickey Cartolano. One of his father's best friends was also a wrestler, a fellow by the name of Johhny Emerling, whose ring name was Bobby Becker. In fact Emerling was Gary's godfather.
The Becker name is nearly synonymous with Crockett wrestling in the 1950s and 1960s. George Becker was a fixture in the Carolinas and Virginias during those two decades, also booking the territory during some of that time. Bobby Becker was sure to be a star here, too, but he died at a relatively young age after a short and sudden battle with leukemia.

The Becker Brothers were a very successful team here from 1951-1955, up until the time of Bobby Becker's death. The two were only brothers in wrestling lore; they were not related in real life. Richmond promoter Bill Lewis, who became a business partner with Jim Crockett, is credited with bringing the Beckers to our area.

A 12 year old Gary Grieco with Edouard Carpentier,
Skull Murphy, Magnificent Maurice, "Handsome"
Johnny Barend, and Jolly Cholly, the Wrestling Hobo.
Sunnyside Garden, Queens, NY circa 1963
Being a wrestler's kid occasionally has its advantages. Gary got to hang around locker rooms with his Dad, and he met lots of wrestlers such as Magnificent Maurice, Handsome Johnny Barend, Edouard Carpentier, Skull Murphy and others. Another wrestler, Al Smith (real name Al Alexander), was such a close friend of his father's that Gary called him "Uncle Al."

Gary has a large collection of memorabilia that his father kept from that era including early photos of the Becker brothers and other wrestlers, newspaper clippings featuring his father Mighty Mickey Cartolano on the bill (one seen below), as well program bills, etc.

But of all the memories and memorabilia Gary was nice enough to share with us via email, the one that struck me most was a poignant memory he shared related to Bobby Becker. Gary was born in 1951 and Bobby Becker (John Emerling) died in 1955, so Gary never really got to know his father's close friend. But there is one particular memory of Becker he still fondly recounts today.

Johnny Emerling, aka Bobby Becker
circa 1940s
"My memories of Bobby Becker are from when I was a three year old kid," Gary wrote. "He always gave me a silver dollar when he visited the house, and a three year old kid never forgets that kind of stuff!"

There is something very special and warm about that, those silver dollars a tangible token of a close friendship. Those simple acts speak to character and affection for folks you consider almost family. And what a cool thing to give to young kid. I just love that story.

While Gary didn't have much of a chance to get to know Bobby Becker because of Bobby's death in 1955, he was fortunate enough to meet and get to know Bobby's older wrestling-sibling, George.

A 1949 newspaper ad for a show that
included Gary's father (3rd match down.)
"I got to meet George Becker on several occasions as a teenager," Gary wrote, "and he was cut from the same bolt of cloth -- Bobby and George could have been brothers in real life."

That was particularly nice to hear. 

Gary's dad was also a sandlot baseball player and he had another neighborhood friend -- a diminutive shortstop named Phil Rizzuto. "I have a boatload of information and signed photos of Phil also," Gary wrote. "But that's a whole other story."

Sounds like Mike Grieco, aka Mighty Mickey Cartolano, led a fascinating and full life. A special thanks to his son Gary for sharing some of the memories of that fascinating life that have a connection to the area we cover here at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

(All photos courtesy of Gary J. Grieco)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Ric Flair vs. Gene Anderson: The Figure Four/Hair Challenge (1980)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
(Includes Rare Vintage Audio Recording)

"You might have pushed me around when I was five years old. You were a lot bigger then, brother. But times have changed. You wanna push me around now? Get a contract, and just like Buddy Rogers learned, brother, I'll go through you to get to Snuka."    -Ric Flair, World Wide Wrestling, January 12, 1980 

In late 1979, Gene Anderson retired from full-time competition to begin his managerial career, taking over the contracts previously held by Buddy Rogers. One of those wrestlers was "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, the reigning United States Heavyweight champion.

Ric Flair, at this point a beloved fan-favorite in the Mid-Atlantic area, was chasing the U.S. title once again, a title he never lost in the ring to begin with. He had given up the championship in August of that year when he and Blackjack Mulligan won the NWA World Tag Team titles. Snuka subsequently won the vacant U.S. championship in a tournament. Now Flair wanted the U.S. title back.

But in January of 1980, Gene Anderson suggested on television to "World Wide Wrestling" host Rich Landrum that he didn't think Flair deserved a shot at Snuka when he couldn't even beat him (Gene), calling himself "the teacher." In wrestling lore, it was Flair's cousins Gene and Ole Anderson that broke him into the business and taught him the ropes.

Flair obviously took issue with that and challenged Anderson to a match and told his cousin to name the town and that if he couldn't beat him in under 30 minutes with the figure four leglock he would never wrestle in that town again. And if he won, he would get the U.S. title shot at Snuka.

Anderson agreed, but said there would be something else Flair would have to put up. The following week, Anderson announced the stipulation and presented Flair with a contract: if Flair didn't beat him in under 30 minutes with the figure-four, he would have to shave his head!

We are happy to present here a vintage audio recording of the confrontation described here between Ric Flair and Gene Anderson, on World Wide Wrestling hosted by Rich Landrum and Johnny Weaver:


In a recent story here on the Gateway, I outlined a series of title matches over the years where Flair was chasing a championship with his "golden mane" on the line and how that stipulation proved enough motivation to Flair to never lose one of those matches. That same motivation served him well in the matches with Anderson that took place at the end of January and first of February as Flair defeated Anderson in each one.

There were at least four of those matches, taking place in Columbia and Charleston, SC, Greensboro, NC, and Hampton, VA (newspaper ad seen above.)

As a result of these matches, Gene Anderson had to begin using a cane because Flair had injured his knee with the figure-four. The cane became a source of great controversy after that as Gene often used it to interfere in matches where he managed Snuka, the Sheik, Stevens and others. It was also the cane that legitimately broke Ric Flair's nose in an angle gone haywire when Valentine tuned on Flair in the summer of 1980 setting up Valentine's eventual first U.S. title run. 

After the Figure Four/Hair match challenges between Flair and Gene Anderson, Flair would eventually take the U.S. title from from Snuka in April of 1980, but not before enduring one of the most brutal feuds in Flair's long career. He and Snuka, with manager Gene Anderson always causing trouble at ringside, had one of the most bloody feuds in Mid-Atlantic  Wrestling history.

* * * * * *

Thanks to Mark Eastridge for the newspaper clipping,
Gary Wray for the audio recording, 
and Carl Richardson for additional research.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Almanac History - July 1980 (Part One)

David Chappell's
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History

JULY 1980       (WEEK 1)
July 1980 - Part One
The Fourth of July holiday week of 1980 brought in the biggest star in professional wrestling, literally, in the person of Andre the Giant, to the Mid-Atlantic area. The first week of July also brought with it a series of action-packed battles where Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood attempted to regain the World Tag Team Tiles from the newly formed duo of Ray "The Crippler" Stevens and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.

A rare card in the Raleigh Civic Center on July 1st started out the first week of July, and the second half of the year of 1980, for the stars of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. The highlight of the event in Raleigh was a World Tag Team Title match where anger got the best of Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood, in their championship bout with Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens. Steamboat and Youngblood's venom directed against the bad guy's manager Gene Anderson turned a sure win into a disqualification loss.

Despite spirited attempts, Steamboat and Youngblood also came up short in their quest to unseat "Anderson's Army" for the World Tag Team Titles in the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 5th, in Asheville, North Carolina on July 6th, in Fayetteville, North Carolina on July 7th and at the Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina on July 8th.

The Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on Wednesday July 2nd featured the first appearance of the double-tough Texan "Bad Boy" Bobby Duncum, who dispatched Nick DeCarlo with little trouble. Duncum told announcer Bob Caudle at the end of the program, "I'm gonna tell you something, there's gonna be a lot people payin' some dues around here, you understand? You got Mulligan runnin' around here, big bad Mully made a legend of himself...he's gonna be beggin' and screamin' for mercy before I get through with him. You got Flair runnin' around with a nice robe, we're gonna take him down to his knees. He's holdin' the belt partner; I'm gonna leave 'em all layin', you understand?"

Andre the Giant returned to the area on July 3rd at the Scope Coliseum in Norfolk, Virginia. Andre was his dominating self in Norfolk, capturing a 13 man Battle Royal at the Scope. On the July 4th holiday, the Giant controlled another Battle Royal in Shelby, North Carolina before heading over to Winston-Salem , North Carolina later in the day to battle the Masked Superstar in a NWA Television Title contest. The Giant then appeared in Hampton, Virginia on July 5th and formed a dynamic trio with Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan to handily dispatch the combination of the Superstar, Greg Valentine and Enforcer Luciano.

Ray Stevens, Jimmy Snuka, and the Iron Sheik
Andre closed out the holiday weekend in Roanoke, Virginia on July 6th by teaming with "Jumping" Jim Brunzell and Ric Flair to dominate the trio of the Iron Sheik, Greg Valentine and Enforcer Luciano, before heading down the road to Greensboro, North Carolina later that same day to capture yet another Battle Royal, this time besting Jimmy Snuka at the end.

Former close friends and partners Ric Flair and Greg Valentine battled over Ric's United States Heavyweight Title in the Richmond Coliseum on the 4th of July, and followed that with title bouts in Greensboro on July 6th and Greenville, South Carolina on July 7th. While Flair won all these encounters, the matches were hyper competitive and could have gone either way.

July's inaugural week also saw Jim Brunzell capture two disqualification victories in title bouts with Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion the Iron Sheik in Richmond on July 4th and the next night in the Charlotte Coliseum, leaving the Sheik battered but still holding his belt. And finally, the first week in July saw the continuation of the bizarre program between Blackjack Mulligan and Enforcer Luciano with Mully scoring wins in Greensboro and Greenville, and also saw Blackjack's cousin Luke subbing for Mulligan in Richmond on the 4th and scoring a win over the Enforcer in Luciano's specialty match, the Detroit Street Brawl.

Next time: Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood review tape of their NWA World Tag Team title loss to Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka!

* * * * * * * * * *
More Mid-Atlantic History from July 1980 coming soon....or whenever! 

Friday, March 08, 2019

Action Figures Friday - No. 1 Paul Jones

What a great custom action figure of one of the real legends of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, No. 1 Paul Jones.

The figure, and the awesome presentation here with the custom U.S. belt and a 1976 issue of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine, are part of a series of posts by our friends at Wrestler Weekly. You can follow all of their great posts of classic wrestling memorabilia on Twitter at @wrestlerweekly. Reggie Richardson (brother of Scottie who publishes Wrestler Weekly) had the figure custom made and arranged this very cool presentation.

Some random info about the magazine cover you see here. It was Vol. 2 Issue 4 of a series of in-house magazines that served as the program at arena events for Jim Crockett Promotions in the mid-1970s through mid-1980s. The early issues of the magazine, including this one, were written and produced by Les Thatcher when he worked as a jack-of-all-trades for the JCP office.

In the artists rendering on the cover, you'll see two wrestling holds being applied just above Paul's head. Both were drawn from photographs taken during the legendary one-night tournament on November 9, 1975 in Greensboro to crown a new U.S. Champion following the Wilmington plane crash in October of that year that ended the career of then-champion Johnny Valentine. At left Paul grabs a headlock on "Handsome" Harley Race, who he defeated in the semi-finals of the tournament. On the right you see Paul working over the leg of Terry Funk, who defeated Paul in the finals. Paul went on to defeat Funk three weeks later on Thanksgiving night to claim his first U.S. championship, commemorated on the cover of this magazine.

Another great addition to our line-up of classic Mid-Atlantic Wrestling custom action figures.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

When Ric Flair put up his "Golden Mane" it meant Championship Gold

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Greensboro NC October 16, 1976
Legendary athletes find their source of inspiration and motivation in many different forms. For the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, it was his trademark blond hair - - his "golden mane" as he liked to call it.

Flair's hair was the stipulation in many matches over the years, but it seemed to especially work well for him in title matches where he was the challenger. All three of the Nature Boy's Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship victories over Wahoo McDaniel, for example, came with his hair on the line as a contracted stipulation in the title match.

Back in the 1970s in the early part of Ric's storied career, he was the hated villain and fans always relished the chance to see him have that golden mane shaved right in the ring in front of them. What a wild scene it would have been.

Here is a brief summary of five title matches between 1975-1978 where Flair's hair at risk was enough to push him to victory:

It was Flair's first major singles title (he had briefly held the TV title) and his win over Wahoo McDaniel put him on the map and set him on his path to stardom. That journey was almost derailed when two weeks later Flair was injured in an airplane accident in Wilmington, NC. But the NWA allowed him to keep his title during his rehabilitation and he returned in late February of 1976 and began his year long feud with Wahoo over the championship belt - - with his hair on the line along the way.

Wahoo got his title back from Flair in early may, but later that month, Ric reclaimed the honors. Once again, it was Ric's hair on the line vs. Wahoo's Mid-Atlantic title belt. This was the famous match where Ric hit Wahoo with a "gimmicked" table leg, broken from the ringside timekeeper's table. However, the table leg had a nail sticking out of it and even with the "worked" blow, that nail cut Wahoo across the eye resulting in nearly 50 stitches to close the wound. The number of actual stitches may have been far less; over the years the number fluctuated from 35 to 40 to 55 and back. Regardless, it was a mess!

After Wahoo had regained the title in September, Flair fought back to regain the title on this historic show in Greensboro. It was the night the three top championships for Jim Crockett Promotions all changed hands on one night. In this case, Flair put his hair up yet again in his successful bid to win the title for a third time in less than a year in the main event of that huge show. (See the poster above.)

In 1976, Gene and Ole Anderson had taken the NWA World Tag Team Championships out of the Mid-Atlantic area with them to Georgia. They traded the titles a time or two with their cousin Ric Flair and his partner Greg Valentine in 1977. In October of that year, the Andersons returned to Greensboro to put the titles on the line again against the "blond bombers." Part of what had enticed them to return for that shot was Ric agreeing to put his hair on the line. If the Andersons won, they would shave Ric Flair bald right there in the ring. Ole Anderson even sent in a video promo from Georgia to be shown on Mid-Atlantic TV:

Ole should have studied up on Ric's recent history with putting his hair up. Flair and Valentine regained the titles, kept them in the Mid-Atlantic area, and sent the Anderson Brothers back to Georgia empty handed.

Flair's second U.S. title win, a victory in Charlotte over Tim Woods, also came with his hair on the line. Flair had now won three different championships with the stipulation that if he lost those matches, he would lose his hair.

I'm sure there are other examples. If you remember some others that I haven't mentioned here, drop us a line.

(Poster from the collection of Brack Beasley.)

Friday, March 01, 2019

The Anderson Brothers defend the NWA World Tag Team Titles against Thunderbolt Patterson and Bill Watts

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It was the hot summer of 1977, and Gene and Ole Anderson dominated the tag team scene in the state of Georgia. At one point they held both the Georgia Tag Team titles and the NWA World Tag Team titles.

This screen capture from raw 16mm film footage seen in the Vault section of the WWE Network shows the Andersons wearing the World Tag Team title belts preparing for a defense against "Cowboy" Bill Watts and Thunderbolt Patterson at the Omni on June 24, 1977.

WWE Network

The Anderson Brothers were a month and a half removed from their big victory over Ric Flair and Greg Valentine in Charlotte, NC, on May 8, 1977 where they regained those World tag team titles in a famous cage match where Wahoo McDaniel was the special referee.

Later that fall in 1977, the Andersons would lose those titles to Dusty Rhodes and Dick Slater, but for only a month. The Andersons held those titles off and on in Georgia and the Mid-Atlantic area from 1975-1981.

The film footage, which dropped on the WWE Network on 2/28/19, is heavily edited raw footage of about 7 minutes in duration, and without sound. This clip comes out of the blue as it is believed that WWE doesn't own much Georgia footage, and the source of this material isn't known. It might have been added as part of their recognition of Black History Month, spotlighting Thunderbolt Patterson.

Not much wrestling in this match, as it was an all out, fists-a-flying, "pier six" brawl. Too bad there was no sound, as the crowd was surely into this match-up. Thunderbolt had been feuding with the Andersons for months with various partners over both the Georgia and World tag team titles. The finish to this match is hilarious, which eventually resulted in the Andersons keeping their titles. Check it out in the 1977 sub-section of the Vault on the WWE Network.