Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Mid-Atlantic Election Controversy: 1975 Wrestler of the Year

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Election controversies are ever present in today’s world, but did you think that Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling had one of its own? Sure enough, the 1975 Wrestler of the Year award, voted on by the area’s fans, turned out to be loaded with controversy! And it all unfolded for the world to see at the beginning of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on February 7, 1976. 

Ric Flair and Wahoo McDaniel battled over
the Mid-Atlantic Championship in 1975-1976
(Photo by Bill Janosik)

In the mid 1970’s Jim Crockett Promotions conducted a contest at the end of the calendar year where Mid-Atlantic fans were urged to send postcards in to vote for who they felt was the outstanding wrestler in the Mid-Atlantic area for that year. The winner received a beautifully engraved watch as a token of the esteem of the voting fans. 

In the 1975 year-end voting, periodic updates were given on TV in the early weeks of 1976 as the votes were being tabulated. Ric Flair, who missed several months in the Fall of 1975 because of injuries he sustained in the Wilmington, North Carolina plane crash, had just returned to Mid-Atlantic television but had not yet returned to in-ring action. In the voting updates, Flair had not been mentioned as one of the leading vote-getters. Thus, it was a surprise when Ric appeared on the set at the start of the February 7th TV taping when the matches were being run-down, clamoring for “his” Wrestler of the Year watch to be given to him!

Ric bellowed over and over, “Where’s my watch, I want my watch!” Announcer Bob Caudle exclaimed, “David [Crockett], we’re gonna have to do something to quiet Ric Flair down.” Flair persisted, “Nature Boy wants his watch…I won the contest fair and square. I’m the people’s choice, I want my watch!” Caudle relented, “All right, all right…we’re gonna award the watch right now. Here is the president of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Jimmy Crockett. This is for the 1975 Wrestler of the Year award fans, and here is Mr. Jimmy Crockett.”  

Jim Crockett, Jr. then appeared on the set holding the beautiful watch and a bundle of postcards and said, “Bob, again it’s my pleasure this year to present the Wrestler of the Year award. Mr. Flair did get the most cards, this is just a small sample of the thousands that were sent in printed on both sides, unsigned. I believe Mr. Flair has used unfair practices so I am disqualifying him from the contest and awarding this watch as Wrestler of the Year to Mr. Chief Wahoo McDaniel!”

As Wahoo McDaniel came into camera range an incensed Flair screamed, “You are doin’ what?!? Givin’ him that watch?!? I put a lot of hard work into gettin’ that watch!! I am the winner!! Who got the most cards?!?” Jim Crockett answered disdainfully to Ric, “You printed an awful lot of them!”

Flair then turned his anger towards Wahoo venting, “McDaniel, you’ve done something backhanded again! You want this [Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship] belt so bad, and now you’re stealing my watch, huh?!” Wahoo incredulously replied, “I don’t know anything about this! It’s the first thing I’ve heard about it, I don’t know anything about it!”

Caudle, trying to quell the election controversy pronounced, “Wahoo McDaniel, fair and square, 1975 Wrestler of the Year.” The Nature Boy would have none of it, ranting and raving, “Who had the most votes…the Nature Boy did!! I am the Wrestler of the Year!!!” As he stormed off the television set, Flair hollered, “McDaniel you haven’t heard the last of this, neither have you Crockett!”

Bob, again trying to stamp out any further controversy inquired again of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling president Jim Crockett, “Ric Flair is disqualified Mr. Crockett, right?” Jim Crockett confirmed, “Ric Flair was disqualified.”

Catching his breath, Caudle stated, “All right fans and there it is, and here’s the watch Chief Wahoo McDaniel, the 1975 Wrestler of the Year…congratulations Wahoo!” McDaniel seemingly genuinely surprised answered, “Well, you know, this is a surprise to me because I knew that Flair was in the lead, and I heard he had a lot of votes come in but I didn’t know all the cards were the same. So, I appreciate it.” 

Caudle added, “According to Mr. Crockett they were printed like a printing press, printed on both sides! So, he was disqualified for that.” Wahoo then concluded, “You know, there’s only one thing I’d like for him to print, and that’s to print his name on a contract with my name on it and I’d accept it printed, any way…I wouldn’t turn it down. He can put an “X” there, as long as I witnessed it and I’ll take the match!”

Bob ended the raucous segment exclaiming, “Fans, congratulations Wahoo, there he is David the Wrestler of the Year for 1975, Wahoo McDaniel.” David Crockett replied, “That’s right, that’s a great honor to win that watch because that means he’s the most popular wrestler in everybody’s eyes.” Caudle concurred but added, “I think we’ve made some enemies though, at least one enemy with Ric Flair.” David then added, “Well, Ric Flair’s also made another enemy and I’m talking about Wahoo McDaniel.” “Right you are,” Caudle concluded as the show then went to the first match ring introduction.

Controversy would strike any number of times during the year of 1976 as Ric Flair and Wahoo McDaniel battled over the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship belt in a feud for the ages. But in this current election season, it is interesting to think back and remember that this momentous Mid-Atlantic feud between Ric and Wahoo started with an election controversy of its very own.