Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Poster: Mr. Wrestling defends the U.S. Title against Ric Flair

by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

For personal reasons this is one of my all time favorite posters. It promotes a card held at the old Winston Salem Memorial Coliseum on Friday, March 31st, 1978. 

First and foremost, I was fortunate enough to be in attendance that night and acquired this poster from the box office where it was taped to the outside of the window. You can see where the tape was removed along both sides. 

Just like most young boys growing up, I had heroes and idols that I aspired to be or be like. First there was Superman, then Batman, but once I saw Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods under the hood of course) on TV for the first time, he was my new superhero. 

This hero was even better because I could see him in person on occasion, reach out and touch him, and get his autograph. He was indeed real unlike the others before. I wish my memory was better but I do recall going home with my best friend from school that day in Mt. Airy, NC and my father picked us up when he got off work. Then down Highway 52 to Winston-Salem we went. Dad even splurged on the ringside seats, probably all of 4 or 5 dollars each at the time, and a current copy of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine was mandatory for a dollar.

The main event of the evening was a match I had dreamed of seeing as Mr. Wrestling defended his newly won United States Heavyweight Title belt against the Nature Boy Ric Flair. Although the poster doesn't mention it being a title match, Mr. Wrestling won the prized championship from Blackjack Mulligan almost two weeks earlier in Greensboro, NC. 

Ricky Steamboat collided with the always tough Cyclone Negro in the semi while the lone tag team event of the evening had Bobo Brazil and Swede Hanson against Crusher Blackwell and Jan Nelson. The undercard consisted of Byron St. John versus Frank Monte and Mr. Sato versus Steve Musulin.

Much to my delight, and to the delight of the many fans in the Coliseum that night, Mr. Wrestling successfully retained his title. Although I don't remember many details of this match, the sight of Mr. Wrestling pinning Flair in the middle of the ring with his trademark standing head cradle as the crowd erupted has never left my mind. What a celebration it was seeing him get his hand raised in victory and being handed back his U.S. belt. Unfortunately, his U.S. title run was brief as Flair eventually won the belt in Charlotte only nine days later.

The horizontal poster layout features full body images of Mr. Wrestling and Brazil on the left and images of Flair, Steamboat, and Hanson on the right with the "Wrestling" splash in the upper left corner. The two tone bright yellow over pink background is eye-catching as well with the main-eventers, date, and locale in high impact red print.

This wasn't the first time I saw Mr. Wrestling in person, nor was it the last, but it was definitely the most memorable and satisfying. I am thankful to have this poster as it is a memento and reminder of such a great night many years ago. 


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See also: The Gateway Museum: Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods