Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Gateway Interview: Baron Von Raschke (Part 3)


Need to get caught up?
Check out Part 1 and Part 2 


Chappell: After that program with Johnny Weaver, you were pretty much a tag team specialist for most of the rest of your run in the Mid-Atlantic area. Greg Valentine was the first of your really big-time partners. 

Raschke: Right…the Hammer!

Chappell: You all had the famous TV angle in June of 1978 where you put up your TV Title against Paul Jones, in exchange for a shot at the NWA World Tag Team Titles. You lost the TV belt to Jones, but you and Greg won the World Tag Team Belts from Jones and Steamboat! And all this happened on one TV show! 

Raschke: Yes… Greg and I made a real good team. He was a great partner for me. 

Chappell: Describe Greg as a partner, if you would. I spoke with Greg a couple of months ago, and he was very complimentary of you. He said you taught him how to be patient in the ring. 

Raschke: (laughs) I don’t know if I taught Greg too much! He was always a really good performer, and he was just a good hard worker. He was very steady. It was a pleasure for me to be with a partner of his stature. He was great.

Chappell: Greg was very similar to his Dad (Johnny Valentine) in a lot of ways, wasn’t he? 

Raschke: Well, they looked just like each other---picture images. They were both very well built people, and they both worked really, really hard. Fortunately, Greg didn’t have his Dad’s weird sense of humor! (laughs) 

Chappell: (laughs) I don’t think Greg could have ever topped his Dad in that category.

Raschke: (laughing) 

Chappell: Besides Jones and Steamboat, another team I remember you and Greg up against during your title reign was Blackjack Mulligan and Dick Murdock. 

Raschke: The old M & M Boys…they were quite a combination! 

Chappell: Yes, for sure. I told Blackjack I would be talking with you tonight, and he wanted me to be sure and tell you ‘hello’ for him. 

Raschke: Please give him a ‘hello’ back from me! 

Chappell: I definitely will. Well, the title reign of Baron Von Raschke and Greg Valentine came to an end at the tail end of 1978…to newcomers Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka. Tell us about the Orndorff/Snuka tandem. 

Raschke: They were two great athletes. There was nobody like Snuka, as far as flying around. He could climb those ropes, and leap further than anybody I’d ever seen. He was like a kangaroo going across the ring! 

Chappell: (laughing) Snuka was unbelievable with those dives. 

Raschke: And Orndorff had a terrific athletic background. He was a real horse in the ring. They both were very impressive…to the fans and to us. 

Chappell: What was going through your mind when Snuka was preparing to jump across the ring onto YOU? 

Raschke: I got very tense and my eyes got extremely large when I would see Snuka climbing those ropes on the other side of the ring, getting ready to make that big dive! 

Chappell: I can only imagine! And for that time period, Baron, that was an almost unheard of move. 

Raschke: It certainly was. And in the late 70s, Snuka weighed 30-40 pounds more than he would into the early 80s. 

Chappell: And those 30-40 pounds were all muscle! I always thought Snuka and Orndorff got over pretty much on their athleticism. They weren’t much on their interviews but they were new and so athletic, the lack of mic skills didn’t really hurt them all that much. 

Raschke: And, David, they looked good too! 

Chappell: Exactly. 

Raschke: And they really were good. 

Chappell: After you and Greg went your separate ways, you actually teamed up in early 1979 with you former enemy, Paul Jones. 

Raschke: Imagine that! 

Chappell: (laughing) Actually, Baron, it WAS pretty hard to imagine! You two even won the NWA World Tag Team Titles. 

Raschke: That we did. 

Chappell: But I tell you, the thing I remember most about you teaming with Jones was when you two wrestled Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat during the summer of 1979. You and Paul were in large part responsible for Flair really getting over as a babyface for the first time. 

Raschke: Oh yeah…that was a great series! I think that’s when we sold out your hometown.

Chappell: You’re absolutely right! For the first match of that series, I don’t think the Richmond Coliseum was ever packed with more people…or had more people turned away at the door. 

Raschke: I believe we sold [ Richmond] out several times. We kept selling that match out. That was a great run with Paul and myself against Flair and Steamboat. 

Chappell: Tell us about the dynamics of the Raschke/Jones team. In a lot of ways you all seemed to be total opposites, but boy did that team ever work! 

Raschke: You know, Paul and I had the same phenomenon like I was mentioning before…it was a lot like Mad Dog Vachon and Baron Von Raschke. Paul was a little shorter than I was…I was the tall one of the team. I’m not the best looking guy. It was automatic heat. 

Chappell: In that time frame, I remember Paul briefly putting a blonde wig on you and saying that the only thing people could call you then was ‘handsome!’ I also recall Paul saying with that blonde wig on, you got ALMOST as many girlfriends as Paul did! (laughs) 

Raschke: All that wig did was make matters worse! (everybody laughs) 

Chappell: How did Paul rank as a tag team partner? 

Raschke: Very high. Paul and I really clicked…it was just great. Paul and I also had a great time traveling together. 

Chappell: You and Paul rode the Mid-Atlantic highways together? 

Raschke: Yes…usually by ourselves. Paul had been around the territory a long while, so he knew his way around very well. 

Chappell: Before we leave the subject of you and Paul against Flair and Steamboat, I’m curious about one thing… 

Raschke: You’re a very curious fellow… 

Chappell: I’m not quite sure how to take that Baron! (everybody laughs) At any rate, was there any thought of putting the World Tag Team Belts on Flair and Steamboat? They were so hot as a team for that brief period of time. 

Raschke: I really don’t have any idea about that. Belts were really never that important to me.

Chappell: There seems to be a split of opinion with your colleagues as to whether holding a title was all that significant. From the wrestlers I’ve talked with, there appears to be about an even split of opinion on that subject. 

Raschke: Belts were something to talk about; they gave the fans something to talk about. But I could work in the ring whether I had [a belt] or not. 

Chappell: It was funny, they never put the belts on Flair and Steamboat, but later that summer in 1979, they put the Titles on Flair and Blackjack Mulligan. I come back from summer vacation that year, and you and Paul had lost them and already won them back! 

Raschke: David …you HAVE to pay attention to these things! 

Chappell: I know…always keeping the people guessing. Can’t ever miss an episode! 

Raschke: There you go! (everybody laughs) 

Chappell: Your final major tag team program in the area was a very memorable one, in the fall of 1979. You and Paul battled the new duo of Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. Steamboat and Youngblood would become one of the Mid-Atlantic area’s top teams for four more years. 

Raschke: They were another young upcoming team. We had some really good, really serious, matches with them. 

Chappell: At that time, Jay Youngblood had never gotten a serious push. Even teaming with Ricky, there had to be some concern about him getting over. And the program as a whole getting over. 

Raschke: You see what happened there, was they teamed up Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood…a couple of guys that were kind of so-so looking. Then, you have Paul Jones and myself…two very attractive and handsome men… 

Chappell: Huh? 

Raschke: All the young girls were just going crazy over Paul and I. When the girls would come to see Paul and myself, of course, they saw Youngblood and Steamboat too. So there were a few, a small number, that started liking Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat. Can you imagine that? 

Chappell: Baron, I’m having a hard time imagining any of this! (laughs) 

Raschke: It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? 

Chappell: You might say so! But all of this sounds a little backwards to me… 

Raschke: The passage of time can twist things sometimes, you know? Anyway, some of our young attractive fans … Paul Jones’ and Baron Von Raschke’s attractive fans ... had the gall to go over to Ricky Steamboat, who looked so-so, and to Jay Youngblood, who looked so-so. So, Steamboat and Youngblood got a few more fans. 

Chappell: (laughing) And a tag team rivalry for the ages was born! You know, when I interviewed Paul Jones he insisted to me that Ricky Steamboat turned on him in 1978, about a year before all of this happened. I’m starting to understand now why you and Paul got along so well! (laughs) 

Raschke: (laughing) 

Chappell: At the risk of dredging up some painful memories for you, do you remember when Steamboat and Youngblood painted the yellow streak down your back on TV… 

Raschke: HEY!!! 

Chappell: (laughing) I’ll take that as a ‘yes.’ 

Raschke: How come you had to remember THAT? 

Chappell: You have to admit, that angle is pretty hard to forget! Here’s your chance, all these years later, to explain that to all of us fans! 

Raschke: Well, it was a terrible, terrible thing that they did. Young punks…and their screaming, hollering fans---yelling and screaming and enjoying something like that. 

Chappell: (laughing) Sounds like your memory might be improving, Baron! I remember on the TV interview right after it happened, Paul said he couldn’t get the paint off of him. When I interviewed Paul in Charlotte about a year ago, I should have asked him if he had any remnants of that yellow paint still on his back! 

Raschke: That wasn’t easy to wash off…we’d probably still have to check his back! (everybody laughs) Yeah…that was quite a deal! 

Chappell: Without having you and Jones to start off with, do you think Steamboat and Youngblood would have become the superstar team they eventually became? 

Raschke: They were good talents…they would have eventually gotten there anyway. 

Chappell: Well, Baron, nothing lasts forever…and neither did your partnership with Paul Jones. You two had a falling out in early 1980, and had some heated matches against each other. And you were actually cheered in those matches! 

Raschke: (laughs) Yes…I was.

Chappell: I’m not quite sure why, but I cheered for you then also! 

Raschke: To know me…is to love me! (everybody laughs) 

Chappell: How could such a great team have had it all end like that? 

Raschke: You want to know why? 

Chappell: Yes, I would. 

Raschke: That Paul Jones was a sneaky coward…he was manipulative. You know, he would give me a medal every time something would happen…and I would go for it. Then I found out that he was just using me… 

Chappell: Using you? 

Raschke: He kept using my nice personality, and my good looks… 

Chappell: (laughs) A man can only take so much of that abuse! 

Raschke: But, yeah, Paul and I had some terrific cage matches. And then I was off to a different territory. 

Chappell: Was it difficult facing Paul again as an opponent, after the great run together as World Tag Team Champions? 

Raschke: I look back on that, David , and it’s all good memories. I enjoyed what I was doing, and Paul enjoyed what he was doing. We went our separate ways there for a while, but we got back and saw each other in Las Vegas recently, and it was a great feeling on both sides, I think. 

Chappell: That’s terrific…had you seen Paul anytime recently before the Cauliflower Alley Club event? 

Raschke: No, not since the time I came back to Charlotte in the mid 80s and wrestled for a while there then. I’m not a real good person about calling and writing people, so seeing people in Las Vegas was really great. 

Chappell: When you left the Mid-Atlantic area in early 1980 after the matches against Paul, you went to Georgia and the AWA and some other areas. But in the fall of 1983, you briefly came back to the Carolinas with Gary Hart as your manager…attempting to unmask Charlie Brown. Why was that stint back in the Mid-Atlantic area so short? 

Raschke: Then, my daughter had started into college and my son was in high school…so we didn’t want to move. At that time, my family wasn’t with me and I got to be a very, very lonely guy---and I didn’t like that. So, I needed to get back to where my family was. That’s why I didn’t stay in Charlotte any longer than I did.