Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Memories of a Lincoln Continental Tournament in Roanoke VA (1977)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

When working on formatting Brack Beasley's recent poster entry about the Lincoln Continental Tournament in Roanoke in 1977, I emailed Mid-Atlantic Gateway contributor Thom Brewer who grew up going to wrestling matches in Roanoke. Ric Flair defeated Wahoo McDaniel in the finals of that tournament to win the car. I wanted to know if Thom was at that show show and if he had any specific memories about the tournament and the match-ups. 


Thom was indeed there that night. I received this email back with Thom's detailed memories.

If you missed it, check out Brack's post about that big tournament card in Roanoke and some of the context of the times. Then come back and read Thom's note below. 

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Email from Thom Brewer
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

I was actually there [in Roanoke] that night and the strap match two weeks later.  I didn't keep notes, but I remember a few things because it was a big night in my personal history.  

I had gotten a Kodak XL55 movie camera for Christmas.  I was 12 years old and it cost over $100, which is about $500 in today's money.  That was a LOT of money to us back then.  It was one of the best gifts I had ever gotten and it literally got my career as a photographer started.  I shot this tournament and a few other Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events.  And quite honestly the films were stunning. Unfortunately my parents moved a lot while I was in college and the films got lost.  

Anyway I remember some details very well.  I remember that car like it was yesterday. It was a bright, shiny maroon Lincoln Continental.  It was long and beautiful.  It was set up on one end of the floor near the ring and was roped off to protect it from the fans.  You could get close enough to get a good look, but not close enough to touch it.  It was IMPRESSIVE to a 12 year old.

I'm sketchy about the early matches featuring the enhancement guys.  I think Greg Valentine eliminated Johnny Weaver.  Wahoo eliminated Greg Valentine, I believe, to get to the finals with Flair.

Because I watched the movie a hundred times, I know for a fact that Ric Flair eliminated Dino Bravo, but it was pretty creative.  Bravo tossed Flair around for much of the match, which was okay with me because I wanted him to win the car. At one part of the match, the referee got thrown out of the ring.  I'm pretty sure it was Tommy Young.  While he is sitting on the floor, Flair is on the opposite side in the ring.  Bravo was not near him, but Flair runs across the ring, dives over the top rope, and lands right in front of the referee.  Tommy Young immediately disqualifies Bravo, thinking he threw Flair over the top rope.  The crowd was livid.  

That leaves Flair and Wahoo in the final match for the car.  I don't exactly remember how it ended.  I think Flair rolled Wahoo up and used the ropes for leverage for the pin.  I do remember that they chopped the heck out of each other.  The batteries in my camera were dying and because of it, it "undercranked" the film.  It made the action look twice as fast.  When I got my film back about a week later, those chops were coming hard and REALLY fast. It made Wahoo and Flair look like wrestling's version of the Keystone Kops.

Just about everyone in the pretty large crowd was mad that Flair had won the car.

Man, I would love to have those films today. I'd probably be an accountant or a short order cook without that camera. It set me on a path to being a journalist.

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Thom Brewer works for WDBJ-TV channel 7 in Roanoke VA, where local promoter  Pete Apostolou once staged live television wrestling matches from the channel-7 studios there. Thom provided some amazing photographs to us from his research about those studio TV tapings in the 1960s. They are featured in our page on WDBJ studio wrestling on the old Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archive site.