Friday, August 12, 2022

Flair and Valentine at WRAL

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Photographs from the Bleachers at WRAL by Ric Carter

We've been featuring a series of rare photographs taken by photographer Ric Carter from the bleachers of the studio during an hour of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" in July of 1975.

Now we take a second look at the team of Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair in a great photograph in the moments after their victory over Kevin Sullivan and Bob Bruggers. (See more photos from that match here.)

At left, Sullivan kneels over his partner who had just taken a vicious suplex and elbow drop from "The Champ" Johnny Valentine.  Referee Johnny Heidmann checks up on the losing team as well.

Johnny Valentine had taken Flair under his wing somewhat during this time and the two teamed frequently on TV. Valentine was the reigning United States Heavyweight champion and Ric Flair held the Mid-Atlantic Television title.

In another great photo from the bleachers, Ric Cater grabbed a shot of the new United States Heavyweight title belt as it lay on the ring apron before the match, just moments before ring attendant scooped it up. You can see the ring attendant in the background, just placing Flair's TV belt over his left arm. This was the first time the new U.S. title belt, with its sparkling gold plated cast plates and shiny red crocodile leather, had been seen on T.V.
The story on every title change and every belt from the Crockett Promotions years.

As mentioned in our earlier post on this match, it was Johnny Valentine's first TV appearance as United States Heavyweight champion. He had just defeated Harley Race six days earlier for that title in Greensboro. During Valentine's TV match, Les Thatcher told fans that they would be reviewing tape of the title change from Greensboro on next week's show.

Champions At This Time:
NWA World Champion: Jack Brisco
World Tag Team Champions: Gene and Ole Anderson
United States Champion: Johnny Valentine
Mid-Atlantic Champion: Wahoo McDaniel
TV Champion: Ric Flair

This show was taped Wednesday, 7/9/75 and aired on Saturday, 7/12/75. Other matches on this show included Chief Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion, "No. 1" Paul Jones and Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones vs. "Crusher" Jerry Blackwell and George "Two Ton" Harris, plus Ole Anderson vs. Bob Burns.

This is the fifth and final installment in our series of photos from WRAL studio in 1975. 

1975 Photo Feature Summary
1. Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion (Part 1)
2. Wahoo McDaniel vs. The Blue Scorpion (Part 2) 
3. Johnny Valentine & Ric Flair vs. Sullivan & Bruggers (Part 1)
4. Paul Jones & Rufus R. Jones vs. Blackwell and Harris 
5. Johnny Valentine & Ric Flair vs. Sullivan & Bruggers (Part 2) (This post)

All photographs in this series by Ric Carter, © Used with permission.
Vintage audio provided by Gary Wray.

Edited from an original post in August 2018.