Thursday, May 30, 2019

Ivan Koloff Wins the Mid-Atlantic Title from Ricky Steamboat (1981)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

APRIL 16, 1981
The month leading up to this change there was no buildup to this switch, and if you believe Steamboat, they had never wrestled before the title change. The change in Norfolk had the Koloff-Steamboat match fourth from the top.

The angles that were going on the month before the change in Norfolk included the Anderson Brothers reuniting, the NWA TV Title tournament, and the Greg Valentine-Sweet Ebony Diamond controversy, the conclusion of the Blackjack Mulligan-Iron Sheik program, and the debut of Lord Alfred Hayes.

Koloff and Ray Stevens had their brief run as NWA World Tag Team Champions during this period, managed by Gene Anderson. The Koloff team dropped the straps back to Paul Jones and the Superstar at the time Gene announced he was heading back into the ring with Ole. This freed Koloff up for singles action, but while targeting Steamboat (among others), he never specifically targeted the Mid-Atlantic Title.

During this same time period, Steamboat was mainly matched with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka in the Mid-Atlantic title bouts. Snuka had started to talk again, and was about ready to leave the area. There was even an unofficial one day reign for Snuka…winning the Mid-Atlantic title in Dorton Arena on 4/7/81 and having it returned to Steamboat at the TV taping the next day!

Steamboat and Koloff were billed (with Ricky as champ) in Richmond for a non-title match on 4/17/81. A number of the tape excerpts below are from the local promos for that match, along with other snippets from my tapes that track the TV part of this Mid-Atlantic title change:

KOLOFF: “I'm looking forward to coming to Richmond on the 17th, finally I got this Ricky Steamboat to sign a contract to wrestle me. He's been dodging me all this time! He still won't put up his Mid-Atlantic it because you're afraid of me? Well Steamboat, you have the credentials, you've proven yourself. You were man enough to take the belt, to capture the belt, now you're not man enough to put it up? Is it because you're afraid of Koloff? Is it because you realize you're not wrestling with pineapples, or a surfboard? You may be sent back to Hawaii after this match!” (Local Promos, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling 4/1/81)

STEAMBOAT: “You know Richard, I’m listening to the statements from the Russian Bear Ivan Koloff stating the fact that maybe I am afraid of him because the title is not on the line. When the promotion brought me the contract Ivan, you had signed it, fine. I signed it without a moment's hesitation. But it read Ivan Koloff versus Ricky Steamboat, NOT Ivan Koloff versus Ricky Steamboat FOR the Mid-Atlantic Championship. I sincerely apologize for that...maybe next time.” (Local Promos, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling 4/1/81)

LANDRUM: “Another fine champion, Mid-Atlantic Champion Ricky Steamboat...Superfly Snuka has been after you, hasn't he?”

STEAMBOAT: “That's right, the man has been hot on my trail, and I'm not embarrassed to say that I've been hot on his trail, too. Whatever statements he wants to make about me, that's fine because of the fact that I don't care what he says because a lot of people in this area know, a lot of guys have done a lot of talking and I just wanna say that I back up what I say and have to do in that ring.” (World Wide Wrestling mid-show interview 4/1/81)

STEAMBOAT: “You know something Richard, I'm sure that for the people in Richmond there's gonna be a lot of curiosity seekers upon my particular match with Ivan Koloff, the Russian Bear. We've never met, we've never wrestled before, but I know he wants to use me, use my name as a steppingstone for this area, possibly to come back to Richmond for a title shot. Well Ivan Koloff, the people in Richmond have seen what I can do and they've seen what I have're not gonna use me for a steppingstone.” (Local Promos, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling 4/8/81)

LANDRUM: “Rick Steamboat, I'm just happy to say, and I'm proud that the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight belt is back around your waist. It really looked like Snuka had taken it away from you, but after the NWA reviewed the film and all and some illegal tactics, I'm glad to see the belt's back around your waist.”

STEAMBOAT: “Well, thank you very much Richard. I hope that everybody is happy as much as I am. I want to thank the review committee from the NWA all the way up to the highest where the President even took a look at the film and I'd also like to thank the fans for their support and happiness on my behalf of getting the belt back around my waist. Now Jimmy Snuka, this all revolves around you, it all revolves around you and your manager Gene Anderson. Now why don't you be a man for once in your life, stand on your own two feet and challenge me once again for this belt which would be fine. Anywhere, anytime, except this time Mr. Snuka be a man and for once in your life be there by yourself.” (Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, taped interview 4/8/81)

KOLOFF: “Like I told you before, I'm looking at the possibility in the near future of setting a great name for Ivan Koloff in this area. You know, the best wrestlers in all the free world today are right in this the Mid-Atlantic area and the Wide World Wrestling area. And this is what I'm intending on doing, first of all I want to go out and either cripple, defeat or put out of wrestling people such as Steamboat, Ricky Steamboat, this Ric Flair, this Mulligan, Superstar, this Paul Jones. What I'm trying to tell you is, by doing this, by either crippling them or putting them out of wrestling, I will bring recognition to myself and I will step up that ladder higher and higher.” (World Wide Wrestling in-show interview 4/8/81)

Piper challenges Flair on TV, and the Anderson’s distract Flair and Koloff attacks Ric. This sets up the Flair/Koloff feud that goes on for many months. (World Wide Wrestling 4/15/81)

Richmond promo for 5/1/81 card where new M-A Champion Ivan Koloff wrestles Dusty Rhodes:

KOLOFF: "You know my contract to get rid of Ric Flair, to put him out of wrestling has not been fulfilled yet, and now I've got Dusty Rhodes to wrestle May the first in Richmond. I don't know what his intentions are, I know the only way he would sign the match would be for a Mid-Atlantic Title shot. Well, you've got it Dusty Rhodes, let's see how good you are." (Local Promos, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling 4/22/81)

STEAMBOAT: MACW interview with Steamboat who talks about Koloff attacking Ric Flair and then says, "I've also got a little bit of a beef to go with Koloff also because he's got the Mid-Atlantic belt that he took away from me. He's gotten on TV and admitted, admitted, the way he's taken it was by cheating, but since the referee did not see him, he's telling everybody he didn't cheat! That's sort of like going out and stealing something...if you didn't get caught you didn't steal it.” (Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in-show interview 4/22/81)

WEAVER: "We do have news, we have a new Mid-Atlantic Champion, who happens to be Ivan Koloff, not only has he been stirring up a lot of animosity among wrestlers, imagine he has stirred up a lot with Ricky Steamboat, he has also stirred up quite a bit with the one and only Nature Boy Ric Flair.” (World Wide Wrestling show opening 4/22/81)

KOLOFF: "This Ricky Steamboat around here...I've got your title Steamboat! I told you I was after you and wouldn't let up until I got you, I got what meant everything to you. Now I've got it! So Ric Flair, Steamboat, I don't care...I'm out to set a reputation for myself and believe me it's gonna be at your cost!” (World Wide Wrestling in-show interview 4/22/81)

Interviews are direct transcripts from the Chappell Audio Cassette Collection