Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Almanac: July 1980 - Part Five

David Chappell's
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History


The final days of the month of July 1980 featured two more television tapings from the WRAL TV 5 studios in Raleigh, North Carolina due to the month having five Wednesdays. The first of those remaining TV tapings occurred on July 23rd, and showcased the surprising return of a longtime star and a first of its kind "music video" featuring Ric Flair!

The returnee was none other than "Number 1" Paul Jones who had been absent from the area for several months after a lengthy run as a wrestling rule-breaker. Paul returned in his "good guy" persona to tell the fans that he was turning over a new leaf, and was going to start wrestling by the rules if the fans and wrestlers would take him back.

Jones told surprised Mid-Atlantic announcers Bob Caudle and David Crockett, "Listen, I'm ashamed of what I did. I left somewhere to get my head together, I even put a mask over my head I was so ashamed. But I'll never put another mask over my head again, and I'll never have to go to the people or the wrestlers and say I'm sorry, because I've always been a man. I've been down a wrong road, I realized it Bob and David, and all I want is the opportunity." Time would tell how sincere Paul was, and where his apparent change of heart would lead.

The most intriguing segment of the July 23rd program was a music video of sorts featuring Ric Flair. With the background music featuring Donna Summer's mega-hit "Hot Stuff" blaring, the Nature Boy strutted his stuff to the beat of the music. While Caudle and Crockett gushed over this novel production, not everyone was so impressed.

At the end of the show Greg Valentine complained to Caudle, "Now you showed this ridiculous thing with Ric Flair, out there disco dancing ." Caudle reacted, "That was great!" Greg continued, "I thought it was ridiculous. You know Flair, maybe you can dance pretty good, maybe you should stick to that! In fact, when I take that belt away from you maybe we can get you a job as a go-go dancer somewhere because that's all you'd be good for, except you'd have to wear a mask because your face is so scarred up."

The next two nights around the territory, Blackjack Mulligan continued his demolishing of Enforcer Luciano in Texas Street Fight matches, pounding the Enforcer into oblivion in Sumter, South Carolina and Charleston, South Carolina respectively. But Saturday night July 26th at the Charlotte Coliseum proved to be the most noteworthy arena event during the final days of July.

The super-spectacular card in Charlotte featured three title bouts, including NWA World's Heavyweight Champion Harley Race successfully beating back the challenge of Sweet Ebony Diamond. On that same star-studded card, and the Iron Sheik defeated Jim Brunzell in a wild and bloody No Disqualification bout. But the match of the night in Charlotte saw Greg Valentine defeat Ric Flair to capture the United States Heavyweight Championship with a clean win over the Nature Boy to the chagrin of the Charlotte faithful.

On Monday the 28th in the Greenville Memorial Auditorium and the following evening in the Columbia Township Auditorium, Ric Flair reversed roles and challenged Greg Valentine for the U.S. Title. While winning both of those contests by disqualification, the frustrated Nature Boy left both South Carolina venues title-less.

The final major arena card of the month of July occurred on the 29th at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia for a rare Tuesday night show, as Hampton cards were normally held on Saturday. What made this card additionally abnormal, was a power outage that occurred in the building during a tag team match pitting Swede Hanson and Enforcer Luciano against Special Delivery Jones and Johnny Weaver! Auxiliary power kicked in and the show went on with that tag match, with the bad guys prevailing once the lights returned.

The two main events in Hampton had significant pre-match buildups. The No Disqualification Mid-Atlantic Title bout between the Iron Sheik and Jim Brunzell had the feel of a last chance match for the challenger from White Bear Lake, Minnesota. In an in-your-area promo for the Hampton area fans, Brunzell told announcer Rich Landrum, "I don't like this match, Rich, but it's all boiled down to this. It's the only way things are going to be settled in the Mid-Atlantic area as far as I'm concerned, as far as the Iron Sheik is concerned. I'm tired of being put down, I'm frustrated, and I'm gonna vent those frustrations in this No Disqualification match. Sheik, I hope you're ready brother." Jim came up short in this critical matchup, which signaled the beginning of the end of Brunzell's year-plus successful Mid-Atlantic run.

The other main event in Hampton featured a World Tag Team Title encounter between champions Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens and challengers Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood, with the special stipulation of Johnny Weaver being in the corner of the "good guys" to counteract the champs' manager Gene Anderson. This stipulation was a direct result of Anderson interfering in a televised impromptu match between the two teams.

In an in-your-area promo for the Hampton faithful, Youngblood explained to announcer Rich Landrum, "You know, we asked Johnny to be in our corner and he jumped at the chance, because Johnny's the type of a man that likes to see a person get a fair break. That means Gene Anderson, there's gonna be law and order in that ring...we've got everything to gain and nothing to lose. And Hampton's gonna be the place where we get those belts back!" Unfortunately for the fan-favorites, while they won the match by DQ, they didn't carry the prized belts out with them. Much like the Sheik-Brunzell outcome, this decision portended storm clouds on the horizon for the Steamboat-Youngblood team in this feud.

The final TV taping of the month of July occurred on July 30th in the WRAL TV studios in Raleigh, and it was one to remember! Greg Valentine was announced as the new United States Heavyweight Champion, and came out on the TV set dressed in a tuxedo with two lovely ladies in tow. Greg gloated over his win, taunting Ric Flair and told Caudle and Crockett, "I'm not worried about challengers right now, I'm not accepting any challengers because I'm just gonna enjoy what this [belt] brings me...lots of money, and the fringe benefits right here."

Back in the control room listening to Valentine's diatribe, Ric Flair couldn't listen to anymore without taking action. The Nature Boy joined Valentine on the set, and proceeded to get the jump on the "Hammer" and tore virtually all of Greg's fancy clothes off, to the amazement of Valentine's girlfriends! However, Flair paid a heavy price for his embarrassing Valentine, as Greg's buddy "Bad Boy" Bobby Duncum came from the back and conked the Nature Boy flush with a steel chair with a sickening thud that reverberated through the TV studio.

Flair appeared at the end of the show, and thanked Johnny Weaver for taking his place in his schedule match. Ric said he was headed to the hospital to get checked out after the serious blow to his head. Duncum's involvement with the chair-shot later caused Flair to call his friend Blackjack Mulligan for assistance, and set up exciting tag team bouts featuring Duncum and Valentine against Flair and Mulligan as the calendar flipped over from July to August of 1980.

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Go back and review the entire month of July 1980!