Saturday, April 25, 2020

Favorite Episodes: Paul Jones wins the Mid-Atlantic Championship on TV (9/4/82)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

On of the Gateway's Favorite Episodes
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling,  Saturday, September 4, 1982

We all have our favorite episodes of old wrestling shows. The labor day weekend edition of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in 1982 is one of mine, mainly for the main event of that show, but for some other small reasons as well.

The show was taped on Wednesday, September 1, 1982 in the cramped confines of WPCQ channel 36 in Charlotte, and featured Jack Brisco defending his Mid-Atlantic title against "No. 1" Paul Jones. It aired in the primary markets that Saturday, September 4, 1982 as part of the extended Labor Day weekend.

In those days, a match between two main eventers was rare on TV, where most matches pitted main event guys against "enhancement talent" designed to repeatedly familiarize viewers with a star's moves, finishers, and even weaknesses. So when there occasionally was a title match between two main event stars, it was special, and you knew something special was likely to take place - - either an angle or even better, a title change!

Actually, 1982 featured a handful of great main event matches on TV, including Ric Flair vs. Jack Brisco, Sgt. Slaughter vs. Wahoo McDaniel, Dory Funk, Jr. vs. Jack Brisco, Roddy Piper vs. Jack Brisco, and several others. Brisco seemed to be a common thread in many of the matches, and so it was he had another great match with his old rival Paul Jones on this episode.

There was some history between the two: Jones and Brisco had a hot feud in Florida in 1972 when Paul first turned heel, and the success of that program was helped by their in ring chemistry; the two loved working with each other. Jones also was a top contender for Brisco's NWA World championship belt when Jack wore the ten pounds of gold in the mid-1970s.

In the months leading up to this Mid-Atlantic match in September of 1982, Jones career was floundering and he was languishing in the mid-card of most shows without much of a program with anyone. Paul knew he was soon to retire; it was just a matter of when. Booker Dory Funk, Jr. gave him a gift of sorts, putting him in a program with Brisco over the Mid-Atlantic title, letting Paul work the final months of his full-time in-ring career with the guy he most enjoyed working with more than anyone. The improvement in Paul's work was noticeable. It was like the old "No. 1" was back again.

This match was so great to me because it reminded me of Paul in his prime as a heel in the Mid-Atlantic area in 1979, when he turned on Ricky Steamboat (or was it the other way around?) and teamed up with Baron Von Raschke. No one was more hated than Paul Jones in 1979. His cocky arrogance was off the charts, and their was great wrestling humor, too, in his heel character, especially entertaining when teaming with the Baron. All of that resurfaced in this match, as Paul pulled every dirty trick in the book in a well executed finish to steal the title belt from Brisco.

The set up was that a week earlier, Jack had been jumped in the parking lot by the House of Humperdink, Sir Oliver Humperdink's band of bad guys that included Jones, and although Brisco was on crutches in the week leading up to this title defense, he was determined to take on Jones. Paul was ducking him, but Jack told him he would put the title on the line if Paul would fight him on TV. With a sly grin, Jones gladly accepted that challenge. The trap was laid.

Jerry Brisco tries to reason with his brother Jack before the title defense against Paul Jones.
 As the story played out, Jack was still suffering the effects of the parking lot beating. The week before in a TV interview, both Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood directly questioned Jack if he was at 100% to face Jones. Jack hesitated momentarily and simply replied, "I'll be ready." Moments before the match, Jack's brother Jerry tried to talk him into waiting a another week before wrestling Jones. Just watching these exchanges, you had the feeling danger was ahead for Jack in this match.

Sure enough, Jones took advantage of the injured leg of Brisco. Even then, though, Jack maintained an advantage through much of the match, but Jones always regained that advantage by going after the leg.

The finish developed like this: Brisco thwarted an attempt by Jones to apply his signature Indian death lock and the match devolved into a fist fight, with referee Stu Schwartz struggling to maintain control. With Jones in trouble, Brisco went for his patented figure four leglock, but stopped mid-stream when Jones' manager Sir Oliver Humperdink climbed to the apron and looked as though he would enter the ring. Brisco chased after him, but when Jack jumped to the floor in pursuit of Humperdink, his injured knee gave way. Jones took full advantage when Brisco crawled back into the ring, pounding the leg repeatedly with a barrage of punches, kicks, and knee drops. Still, Brisco managed to valiantly fight to his feet and whip Jones into the turnbuckle. As Brisco followed him in, Jones shot his right hand up with a karate thrust to the throat of Brisco, out of the sight of the referee. It was a direct callback to a familiar move he used in 1979, an illegal move he used often in his heated feud with former partner Ricky Steamboat. Brisco collapsed holding his throat, and Jones quickly covered him and as he went to hook the leg for the pin, grabbed a full hand of Brisco's trunks to illegally secure the pin. Schwartz missed that, too, and awarded the match - - and more importantly the Mid-Atlantic title - - to Paul Jones. As luck would have it, there was no camera angle to clearly show Jones holding the trunks, either, giving Jones more cover for his dirty deed. But the studio crowd was furious about it, and that more than told the story to the viewers at home.

Paul Jones pins Jack Brisco to win the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship.
It sure looked to most fans like Jones had a hand full of Brisco's trunks.

Jones celebrated as though he had just won the biggest match of his life, arms in the air in celebration, hugging Sir Oliver Humperdink. A huge smile on his face, he looked as though he was almost in tears! But it took the trifecta of Jack's injured leg, the karate thrust, and a hand full of trunks for Jones to win the Mid-Atlantic championship.

Paul and Jack would feud over the Mid-Atlantic title for most of the remainder of 1982, trading the title back and forth several times that fall.

  • One of the most stiff, brutal contests you'll ever see on TV took place between newcomer Jos Leduc and up-and-coming Kelly Kiniski. There may have been some bad blood at play between the two Canadians, perhaps going back to when Kelly's father Gene Kiniski was NWA champion. Who knows? Regardless, Leduc just totally beat the crap out of Kiniski for most of the match. To Kiniski's credit, he never backed up, and even managed to try and get in a few licks of his own. But this was one legitimately stiff wrestling match.
  • Paul's victory interview was funny, as he declared in typical fashion "I've always been a man of my word!" He accused Brisco of hiding the title in a closet, but now he had won the championship and took it out of the closet. "Number One" was sure in a good mood. 
  • Sir Oliver Humperdink announces he's offering Abdullah the Butcher to come in and take out Chief Wahoo McDaniel. Wahoo and Abdullah had a history going back one year earlier when Piper paid Abdullah to take out Wahoo which cost Wahoo the U.S. title. Greg Valentine says once Abdullah has softened up the Indian, it will be easy for him to break Wahoo's leg again, just like he did many years ago.
  • Mike Rotundo gives Greg Valentine all he can handle in a good match, but in the end it was the big Valentine elbow that put Rotundo away.
  • Wahoo McDaniel and relatively new fan-favorite Roddy Piper teamed up to take on the Medic and the Gladiator.  
The September 4, 1982 episode can bee seen in its entirety on the WWE Network, along with other episodes from 1981-1986. Even if you don't follow today's wrestling, the WWE Network is worth the $9.99 a month just for the classic content which includes complete shows in pristine quality from the Mid-Atlantic, Mid-South, World Class, 1980s NWA on WTBS, and many other of the old territories. And they offer a free 90-day trial.

David Taub's detailed summary of this show is available here on the Gateway, and we look forward to the eventual Mid-Atlantic Championship podcast on this show coming in a few months. For links to all the show reviews and podcasts, as well as direct links to the shows themselves on the WWE Network, visit our TV and Podcast Index.