Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Flair Injures Wahoo: Eye Witness Account of the Famous "Table Leg" Match

Editor's note: We recently received a nice message on Facebook from a fellow who was at the match in Charlotte in 1976 where Ric Flair hit Wahoo McDaniel over the eye with a broken table leg and won the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship. Even though Flair worked the shot, he was not aware that a nail was sticking out of the wooden leg, and that nail nearly gashed out Wahoo McDaniel's eye.

The account of this match in "The Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship" leaves out some key details of how this all came about which, thanks to the excellent memory of Chip Stokes, is laid out in great detail here.

I asked Chip to send me as detailed a report from that match as possible, considering it took place 44 years ago. I wanted to post those details I didn't have for the book.
One day I'll update the text of the book to include this information, but for the time being we'll let Chip fill you in himself. -DB

The Charlotte Table Leg Match
Ric Flair vs. Wahoo McDaniel
May 24, 1976 - Charlotte Coliseum
by Chip Stokes
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I was about 15 years old in 1976, born and raised in Charlotte.  I would drag my dad to the matches on occasion, at the Park Center or the big cards in the old Charlotte Coliseum.  This card was a double main event, with Ric and Wahoo first and Dusty Rhodes making a special appearance to challenge Blackjack Mulligan for the U.S. Title in the final match.

My vantage point:  Looking down on the ring like a football field, we were sitting just right of center field in the Mezzanine seats.  To the right of the ring, the side we were favoring, was the heavy wooden ring side table that would come into play at the end of the match.  Tommy Young was the referee.  So we faced the ring, the table to the right of the ring, from our view.

To this day, I still do not know who was supposed to win the match.  I think they immediately when to the finish when Wahoo was hurt.  Here is how we viewed it.

Tommy Young took a ref bump to the LEFT side of the ring, opposite the table.  He flew out – cannot remember who hit him – and he was out for the ending.  Ric and Wahoo went out of the ring to the RIGHT, side of the wooden table.  I think Ric threw Wahoo out, not sure, cannot remember that clearly.

Ric picked up the heavy wooden table, upside down over this head, table legs up in the air, and brought it down on Wahoo’s head.  Wahoo raised his hands to block the contact, but still sold it and went down hard.  I assume he probably bladed from that impact, I don’t know.  While Wahoo was down on the concrete floor, Ric dropped the wooden table upside down on the floor, table legs up.  Then Ric grabbed a leg and began trying to break it loose from the table.  We could see him pushing and pulling on the leg, trying to break it lose.

Finally Ric broke the heavy wooden table leg loose, about the time that Wahoo got back on his feet.  Ric then brought the table leg down on Wahoo’s head, holding the end of the leg, with the heavier portion that was nailed to the body/frame of the table coming into contact with Wahoo.  Wahoo again had his hands up to protect from the blow, and I am sure Ric pulled the swing correctly not to make real contact, but as everyone knows now, although Ric did not in that moment, the leg had a nail sticking out, a nail from where Ric broke the leg off the table.  So while Ric pulled the blow and Wahoo was protecting himself, the nail ripped into Wahoo’s head violently.

Wahoo went down again and began bleeding profusely on the concrete floor.  I think Ric saw this and immediately knew Wahoo was really hurt.  Ric rolled Wahoo into the ring and immediately, Wahoo's blood making a puddle around his head, flat on the mat. Wahoo wasn't moving.  Ric then literally ran to the other side of the ring where Tommy was just crawling back into the ring. Ric virtually picked Tommy up and carried him across the ring, so that he could make the count when he quickly pinned Wahoo. Ric then grabbed the old Eastern States belt and ran from the ring, I believe to quickly clear the way for medial personnel to come help Wahoo.

The blood on the mat just spread out.  They took Wahoo out via stretcher – for real this time – and his injury, and the stitches to close it, were reported on the next day in the Charlotte Observer.

In a subsequent month’s edition of the Mid-Atlantic magazine, they showed a picture of Dusty in the ring just prior to his bout with Blackjack.  At Dusty’s feet is the bloody puddle from Wahoo minutes earlier.

That's my memory from 43 years ago.  The greatest match I ever saw, between Ric and Wahoo over the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship.  And the most dramatic ending.