Monday, August 19, 2019

Dino Bravo's Mid-Atlantic Debut Was Memorable

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Dino Bravo made his debut on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on April 28, 1976. While there wasn't much advance billing of Dino's entry into Jim Crockett Promotions, there really didn't have to be. Bravo had been wrestling in the IWA for the previous year, where much of the focus of that promotion had been in the Carolinas.

Announcer Bob Caudle told the viewing audience that Dino would be wrestling Steve Strong, to which color commentator David Crockett replied, "Now that's going to be a very interesting match. Dino Bravo...young, upcoming fantastic wrestler, and I'm anxious to see this boy because he's got a body that the girls will love! Then you've got big Steve Strong; that's gonna be a real big test, Dino's first time on TV."

Dino spoke to the area's Mid-Atlantic fans for the first time, prior to stepping into the squared circle with Steve Strong. Bravo's initial interview followed one of the rarest events on TV wrestling that had just occurred in studio...Wahoo McDaniel defeating the NWA World's Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk by pinfall! But Dino didn't seem to be flustered by the World's Champion being upset just before he was handed the mic.

Caudle began, "What a night it's been on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, and right now we want to bring in and introduce to all the Mid-Atlantic fans a new youngster to the Mid-Atlantic area and we understand that some great things are expected of Dino Bravo...and welcome."

Bravo responded, "Thank you very much, and that's something we just saw with Wahoo McDaniel pinning the World Champion. If he ever has a championship match, I know the people will be behind him and he'll win it."

Bob continued, "Dino, we've heard some great, great things about you and as we said, we want to welcome you to the area where we've got what we think are the greatest wrestlers in the world right here and you're moving into what they say is high cotton." Bravo reflected, "I've waited a long time to come here, I think I'm ready to face all the competition here, and the reason I came here was to become a winner and this is the place to be in professional wrestling now. All the best wrestlers in the country are here, and accordingly all the money is here and that's why we're in professional wrestling."

Caudle then said, "I know that you know that guys are here like Blackjack Mulligan, the Anderson Brothers are here." Dino answered, "The whole card there are super wrestlers, the best wrestlers in the country are here, and I sure hope that I do well here." Bob followed up, "Does it sort of make you think, well I don't know, here I am coming into the area and I'm gonna be new and look what I gotta face. But I'm sure you gotta have a lot of confidence in your ability Dino, that you can move right in." Bravo replied, "There's no such thing as an easy match, from the bottom to the top I'm ready for any competition here."

Bob then broached a new topic with Dino and inquired, "What about tag teams, do you like tag team wrestling, or would you rather just wrestle by yourself?" Dino explained, "Well, all the time I've been wrestling it's mostly been tag teams so I enjoy it very much and I think that if I get myself a good partner we can go all the way up and get championships." Caudle agreed and noted, " I think that would be great, and by the way for the benefit of all the fans we understand that you have a great amateur wrestling background, and we hope to see some of that type wrestling from you too Dino."

Bravo then summed up his wrestling philosophy explaining, "Well, you'll see anything you want. If they want to wrestle I'll wrestle, if they want to fist-fight I'll fist-fight. Like I said, I waited to come here and I'm ready." Caudle added, "So it's going to be fire with fire, and whatever happens you're here, this is the opportunity, and you're going to make the best of it." Dino concurred, "I'm not gonna blow it, believe me." Bob finished saying, "Good luck to you." Bravo replied, "Thank you very much." Caudle concluded, "We look forward to seeing you in action in the ring, he's gonna go up against a real tough competitor Steve Strong."

Dino prevailed in his debut against the bruising Steve Strong, and that alone would have made Bravo's television debut in Jim Crockett Promotions memorable. But Dino made his presence felt in an even bigger way later in the show, confronting the World Tag Team Champions...and the fireworks were about to begin!

Dino Bravo boldly challenges Gene and Ole Anderson during his inaugural Mid-Atlantic TV be continued in Part 2!