Friday, December 17, 2021

Poster: Classic 1976 Feud for the U.S. Title: Mulligan vs. Jones

by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This poster promotes a card held on May 22nd, 1976 at the Starland Arena in Roanoke, VA and the U.S. Heavyweight Title was on the line in the main event.

Paul Jones was in the midst of valiantly trying to regain the U.S. belt that he had lost to Blackjack Mulligan back in March but unfortunately for Jones, this would not be the night. He would eventually manage to win the belt back from Mulligan much later in 1976, October 16th to be exact. 

The semi-main event was an excellent tag team match-up of Johnny Weaver and hometown hero Tony Atlas versus Geeto and Bolo Mongol. Preliminaries featured some interesting match-ups as well with Angelo Poffo versus Pete Sanchez, Bill Howard versus Dr. Fugiani, and Two Ton Harris versus Larry Zbyszko.

With a vertical layout, the poster has all black print on a two tone orange and yellow background along with images of Jones, Weaver, and Harris. 

The Sportsman in Roanoke would be the place to purchase advance tickets.

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Gateway notes: 

  • It's hard for younger fans who might only know Paul Jones from his managerial days in the 1980s on WTBS to fully grasp how over Paul Jones was as both a U.S. Champion (the top territory title) and challenger for that title as well. Jones/Mulligan headlined many cards during the year 1976.
  • Tony Atlas (also billed occasionally in Roanoke as Tony "Atlas" White) was indeed a legend in the local area, both as a high school athlete and weight lifter. He would be given a short Mid-Atlantic title run a year and half later by booker George Scott, both winning and losing the title in his hometown Roanoke. 
  • Dr. Fujianai was the U.S. working name at the time of a young Tatsumi Fujinami, who would become a legendary wrestler in Japan for New Japan Pro Wrestling as IWGP champion and once defeated Ric Flair at the Tokyo Dome to win the NWA World Championship (although that win was later disputed.)
  • Brack mentions The Sportsman as the place to buy advance tickets, which was usually noted on Roanoke posters and in local TV promos.  The Sportsman was another enterprise of local wrestling promoter Pete Apostolou, located in downtown Roanoke. According to a note I received from longtime area fan (and Mid-Atlantic Mafia member) Kyle Rosser, The Sportsman was a downtown Roanoke fixture for many years featuring a restaurant/lunch counter on the first floor, a pool hall on the second floor, and a bowling alley on the third floor. Sounds like a very cool place! - DB

The Sportsman, Roanoke VA
The Place to purchase advance tickets for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.