Thursday, April 16, 2020

Blackjack Mulligan Faces The Indian Strap (Part 5 - The Finale)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Before reading this,
catch up on PART ONE, TWOTHREE , and FOUR of this series.

* * * * * * * 
After Blackjack Mulligan’s bitter defeat to Wahoo McDaniel in the Richmond Coliseum on July 18, 1975 in a Texas Death Match, Mulligan retreated back north to the WWWF with no plans to return to the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling area. But Blackjack wasted no time reestablishing himself at the top of the wrestling world, capturing the WWWF Tag Team Championship with partner Blackjack Lanza on August 26, 1975.

As Mulligan was busy defending the WWWF Tag Team Championship belts in the early autumn of 1975, the last thing on his mind was Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. But that all changed on October 4, 1975 when a small plane carrying United States Heavyweight Champion Johnny “The Champ” Valentine and Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair crashed, severely injuring the top two “bad guys” on the Jim Crockett Promotions roster. Jim Crockett, Jr., the president of the company, had a huge void to fill and he reached out to none other than the big man from Eagle Pass, Texas, Blackjack Mulligan, to fill that void.

Blackjack had misgivings about returning to the Mid-Atlantic area, and knew any break away from the WWWF was going to be ugly, but the lure of becoming the top “rulebreaker” for Jim Crockett Promotions after the way he unceremoniously left the territory courtesy of Wahoo McDaniel’s Indian strap ultimately pushed him back to Charlotte.

Mulligan’s first appearances back in the Mid-Atlantic area occurred on television tapings from the WRAL TV-5 studios on October 15th and October 29th. An invigorated Mulligan was at his best during these first TV shows back in the area, particularly on the second show as he and another newcomer Steve Strong got the best of former Olympian Ken Patera, dropping weights on Patera’s chest during a bench press contest. At this same time period, Blackjack continued to wrestle in the arenas of the northeast, and the “Pride of the Prairie” did not make an appearance back in a Mid-Atlantic arena until November 7th in Richmond, Virginia.

But as soon as Mulligan dropped the WWWF Tag Team straps in early November of 1975, he immediately rocketed to the top of the ladder in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling starting with feuds involving Tim Woods and Paul Jones, the United States Heavyweight Championship followed in early 1976, and the rest is history. Straight through into the early 1980’s Blackjack Mulligan was one of the most enduring stars of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. And to think…it was all nearly derailed for Blackjack before it even got started by his facing Wahoo’s menacing Indian strap.