Saturday, October 29, 2022

WrestleArt: Wahoo McDaniel Joins the NY Jets (1964)


Wahoo McDaniel came to the N.Y. Jets in the old AFL in 1964. After he started playing as a linebacker for the Jets, McDaniel started wearing a custom jersey which had the name "Wahoo" sewn on the back above jersey. Whenever he made a tackle as a Jet, the public address announcer would ask the crowd "Tackle by WHO?", and the crowd would shout, "Wahoo!"

Bill Gallo's art for the NY Post, part of his "Finders Keepers" series, illustrated that Jets fans were happy they had found Wahoo McDaniel and weren't about to let him go. 

Illustration submitted to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway by contributor Andy McDaniel. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Bob Caudle's Most Dangerous Place

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

On the Wednesday night April 23, 1975 television taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show, announcer Bob Caudle told the fans that he wasn’t in a comfortable place. The early bouts on the show were dominated by the “bad guys.” Talented Doug Gilbert decisively defeated youngster Kevin Sullivan in the opener, gaining the advantage by feigning to help Sullivan up when Kevin was tangled up in the ropes, but instead Gilbert sucker punched him into oblivion.

The second match on the show featured the newly formed duo of the veteran Art Nelson and Mid-Atlantic newcomer Mr. Fuji easily handling the duo of Don Kernodle and Tio Tio. Fuji put Tio Tio to sleep with his devastating submission hold, the Japanese Cobra. Those three rulebreakers would join Bob for the show’s first interview segment.

Caudle began, “Fans at ringside right now, and I can’t think of any more dangerous place for a person to be than I am right now between three really notorious wrestlers, like Art Nelson here on my left, Doug Gilbert, and then Mr. Fuji.” Nelson gruffly responded, “Well let me say this, not notorious, well-conditioned athletes.”

Art continued, “Let me say this, when you get in that ring then you’d have to be worried. As long as we’re on the floor here, we don’t bother anybody. If you get in that ring, if you’re not in condition, you can’t take it, then you’d have to be worried about it. This is a man’s business, we’re men, and we go in that ring and we don’t fool with babies.”

Nelson added, “Fuji and I were here a few weeks ago and we were talking about wrestling top teams. Where are they? Where’s the Indian [Wahoo McDaniel]? Where’s little boy blue [Paul Jones], the guy with the belts, where’s he at? Where’s the strongman [Ken Patera]? I don’t see them around, I hear them, but I sure can’t see them. But as long as they’re scared to get in the ring with us, nothing we can do about it because we said we would meet all comers, we would wrestle anybody, right Fuji?

The man from Japan answered, “Right! Very, very true Mr. Nelson. You see fans, you see how very devastating, Japanese cobra hold is! Samoan boy [Tio Tio] he paralyzed already; he’s no good, like wrestling an old lady! Right Mr. Gilbert?”

Caudle interjected, “I gotta say Doug Gilbert, you know I thought you were gonna help Kevin Sullivan out, it looked like you were gonna commit an act of sportsmanship in your match and then all of a sudden you hit him. That’s very unsportsmanlike!” Gilbert deadpanned, “I won the match didn’t I?” Bob agreed, “You won the match, right.” Doug continued, “Well, you’re gonna have to realize that when you get in a profession like professional wrestling, sportsmanship doesn’t count very much. What counts is ability. What counts is winning the match, and that’s what happened. I won the match, these gentlemen won their match. That’s what counts…winning!”

Caudle then commented, “Doug Gilbert shows a lot of wrestling ability up there. You got a lot of moves and you use them up there. Why do you have to resort to some of the other type tactics?” Gilbert candidly responded, “It’s a lot easier.” Bob had to do a double take saying, “A lot easier to win that way then, Doug?” Gilbert nodded in the affirmative.

Nelson concluded the segment telling the fans that boiling it all down…making money, and lots of it, was the overriding aspiration in professional wrestling. Art exclaimed, “Green power is what’s important! Green power…that’s the dollar bill, ten dollars, a hundred dollars!” But with that final comment the three “notorious” wrestlers departed the set, making Bob Caudle’s interview area a much less dangerous place!

Monday, October 24, 2022

The NWA's Crown Jewel

 The Mid-Atlantic Gateway remains on a fall-break publishing hiatus. We look forward to returning with more Mid-Atlantic Wrestling memories soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Poster: Night of Champions in Norfolk

by Jody Shifflett
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This poster is from 1984 and showcases the best matchup that professional wrestling has or ever will see with Ric Flair versus Ricky Steamboat. It is also the largest Mid-Atlantic wrestling poster that I know to exist being 42 x 29 inches. 

This match ended in a draw and I’m assuming it had a 60-minute time limit. It featured a great undercard with the Road Warriors, Freebirds,  Wahoo McDaniel, etc. The other famous Night of Champions event was at the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey a couple of weeks earlier and this was shortly after Steamboat came out of his brief retirement. 

Places like Norfolk, Hampton, Richmond, Roanoke, Charlottesville and Lynchburg were truly a hotbed for Mid-Atlantic wrestling back in the day. Virginia was historic for Mid-Atlantic wrestling back in the day just as much as the other states in the territory. 

It’s not a flashy poster at all but boasts the famous 8:15 start time!


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by Dick Bourne, Mid-Atlantic Gateway

What a unique line-up for this Night of Champions show in Norfolk, VA. As Jody mentioned above, this followed the historic Night of Champions card at the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey, smack dab in the middle of WWF territory, and was JCP's first major response to the WWF's encroachment on their territory as McMahon began to expand nationally. 

In addition to Norfolk, JCP promoted a string of Night of Champions events in the weeks that followed including in Richmond VA and Raleigh NC (featuring Flair vs. Harley Race) and Greenville, SC (featuring Flair vs. future Horsemen partner Tully Blanchard). 

But none of those other cards featured a line-up quite as diverse as this one in Norfolk.  Early June saw JCP book several stars in from other territories such as King Kong Bundy, the Fabulous Freebirds, the Road Warriors, Stan Hansen, Kamala, Junkyard Dog, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, and others. Several of these would jump quickly to the WWF soon after, appearing for only a week or two on Mid-Atlantic TV. Race would give up in Kansas City and St. Louis a year or so later and also go north. Rhodes would soon come to JCP as booker and pop the territory in a big way. The Road Warriors opted to stay with JCP and were top stars for them throughout the last four years of the company. Stan Hansen would continue to work regularly in Japan, with a short run as AWA World champion to boot.

Other historical context: This was during the time when, behind the scenes, the WWF was close to taking control of Georgia Championship Wrestling - -Black Saturday was just 5 weeks away. 

Also, as Jody mentioned, Ricky Steamboat was just out of his "retirement" at this point (having gotten his gym business up and going in there meantime), and Ric Flair had just won the NWA World Heavyweight title back weeks earlier in Japan, regaining it from Kerry Von Erich.

June was a wild and unusual month in Jim Crockett Promotions! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

A Close Encounter with the Ten Pounds of Gold

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I suddenly realized the referee in the ring was walking towards my position. I thought, well this is it, someone is finally going to ask me to leave. But as I looked up, he reached out with the NWA world title belt - - the beautiful "ten pounds of gold" 

- - and waited for me to take it.

The year was 1982. I was 21 years old. I had just moved from Tennessee to begin work for Russell Corporation in Alexander City, Alabama. For the first time ever, I was isolated from Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, unable to watch the weekly adventures of my favorite group of wrestlers in my favorite wrestling territory.

I had settled in to my shabby little apartment on Highway 280 and hooked up local cable. I could get "Georgia Championship Wrestling" on the Superstation out of Atlanta, and saw some of my guys there -  Roddy Piper, Ole Anderson, Ray Stevens, and Ric Flair. I was getting familiar with the NWA promotion based out of Pensacola, Florida that ran the panhandle of Florida and the lower two-thirds of the state of Alabama. This would be my new home territory. Their TV show aired twice every Saturday - once in the afternoon out of Montgomery, and again late Saturday night out of Birmingham. People in the business called this territory the Pensacola territory. But most fans called it the Southeastern territory, taken from the name of their television show for so many years, "Southeastern Championship Wrestling."

I liked their TV show well enough. Charlie Platt and Ric Stewart were excellent studio hosts. I was familiar with a lot of their wrestlers who used to be regulars in the Southeastern promotion based out of Knoxville, TN, in the 1970s - - guys like Ron and Robert Fuller, Bob Armstrong, and Jimmy Golden. But nothing was ever going to quite replace Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions for me. That was the wrestling I had grown up on. And I missed it terribly.

However, that fall, Southeastern Championship Wrestling was running a tour called "October Fest" and the NWA World champion Ric Flair was coming to the territory to put his title up against a different challenger in a different town in the territory each night of that week. Ric Flair was a "Mid-Atlantic guy," having cut his teeth in the Carolinas beginning in 1974 and eventually becoming the NWA World champion in 1981.  he was the first ever wrestler in the 46 year history of Jim Crockett Promotions to have ever developed through the territroy and been selected by the NWA to be their champion. As fans, we were proud of that! And even though he was now the world champion and just passing through to defend the title, having him come through my new home state of Alabama made me feel a little less homesick.

My first decision was where to go see him. The closest towns where Flair would be were Montgomery and Birmingham, AL. We received most of the TV stations on our local cable from both markets. Flair was scheduled to defend against "The Tennessee Stud" Ron Fuller on Monday 10/25 in Birmingham, and "the Universal Heart Throb" Austin Idol two nights later on Wednesday 10/27 in Montgomery.

Montgomery was a little bit closer, a little over an hour's drive away, and the Montgomery Civic Center was a little easier to get to than Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham. So I chose to go to Montgomery for that stop on the "Southeastern Wrestling October Fest" tour.

The Montgomery Civic Center in Montgomery, AL. Circa 1960s. "Wrestling Tonite" on the marquee!

Another factor in that decision was the opponent for Ric Flair. I had always been a big Austin Idol fan, and had always wanted to see what would happen if these two guys ever met each other in the ring. It was a dream-match of sorts - - a battle of Austin Idol's "Las Vegas leglock" against Ric Flair's "figure-four."

I hadn't made any wrestling friends in my new hometown yet, so I decided to go to the matches alone. I got off work early that Wednesday and drove down to the Montgomery Civic Center box office as soon as it opened to get the best tickets possible. I was able to secure seats in the ringside area, although I was about four rows back. I took my camera and hoped to get a few good photos up near the ring.

There was surprisingly little security at this show. When Flair and Idol had entered the ring, I was able to sort of stoop low, scoot up and kneel down next to the ring with my camera. Surprisingly, no one said a word to me. I couldn't believe how lucky I was.

The ring announcer introduced Idol first and then introduced Flair. Ric opened his robe, took the NWA belt from around his waist and handed it to the referee. He then handed his big heavy robe over the top rope down to the ring attendant on the floor who was already holding Idol's full-length heavy robe in his arms as well. He left the ringside area to take the robes back to the dressing rooms. I watched all this and again, nobody said a word to me as I knelt at ringside.

I suddenly realized the referee in the ring was walking towards my position. I thought, well this is it, someone is finally going to ask me to leave. But as I looked up, he reached out with the NWA world title belt - - the beautiful "ten pounds of gold" - - and waited for me to take it.

I couldn't figure out what was happening. Like in a movie, everything sort of started to go in slow motion and I couldn't hear a thing.

I've always thought that the referee had turned to give the title belt to the ring attendant, but the ring attendant had failed to wait for the belt, having two large heavy robes to carry to the back. Looking back on it, I have no idea why he wouldn't have just handed the belt to the ring announcer who I think had already exited on the other side of the ring at this point after his introductions. But he didn't. Instead, incredibly - - perhaps thinking I must be at ringside for a reason - - he was trying to hand the belt to me.

So I took it.

And I want to tell you that for one brief moment - - one fleeting, crazy, impulsive, irresponsible, disrespectful, do-I-dare, moment - - I thought about walking right back down the aisle with that belt, right out the back door, never to be seen or heard from again!

I wouldn't really have done that. Even at age 21, I had so much respect for the belt, for the championship, for Ric Flair and all the others that had held it. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit I thought about it! For one brief second....

Ring attendant with the NWA title in Dothan, AL.
This wasn't me, this wasn't Montgomery, it just
reminds me of that moment in my life.

Instead, I just looked at it. I couldn't believe what I had in my hands. This was the famous domed-globe belt; the Lombardi trophy and the Stanley Cup and every championship trophy in every major sport all wrapped up into one. Ric Flair's world title. The same world title that had been held by Brisco, Funk, Race, and Rhodes. And now I was kneeling at ringside in Montgomery, Alabama with that belt in my hands.

If I had really wanted to run away with the belt (which I did not), my window of opportunity quickly closed as the ring attendant had returned and I suddenly realized he was right behind me. He snatched the belt from my hands.

"You need to get back to your seat, bud," he said with a cold stare. And so without a word, I complied.

Can you imagine how badly this might have ended otherwise? I'm guessing the boys in the back would have had a field day with the young punk who tried to steal the champ's belt. More likely, I would have been arrested and spent the night in the Montgomery county jail.

My pulse was still racing as I thought about what had just happened. It was my one brief moment to touch history, to touch this belt I would have never thought I would have a chance to get anywhere near.

Many years later, however , on October 28, 2008, Dave Millican and I had the opportunity to photograph this very same belt. These photographs would later wind up in our book "Ten Pounds of Gold."

I would have never dreamed I could have gotten that close to it again.


Edited from a story originally published in October of 2015 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Gateway Museum: Blackjack Mulligan's Lone Star Hat

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One of the most prized exhibits in the Mid-Atlantic Gateway museum is the Blackjack Mulligan tribute, which includes Mulligan's own Resistol cowboy hat with the famous Lone Star Beer / shotgun-shells hat band. It sits next to a cast replica of the U.S. title belt in the style that Mulligan wore in when holding the title on multiple occasions from 1976-1978. 

The hat was a special gift from Blackjack Mulligan himself, received on a visit to the "Headlock Ranch" (Florida annex!) back in the mid-2000s. It is a treasured possession, as you might imagine. According to Blackjack, there were only two of those hats with that particular hat band. The other was given to George South by Mulligan on that same visit to Mulligan's home.

The U.S. belt replica was crafted especially for the Gateway museum by Dave Millican. The plates were cast directly from the 1980-1982 version of the belt in cooperation with Sgt. Slaughter, who maintains possession of that 1980 belt to this day. (The original 1976 belt is apparently lost to time.) That 1980 belt was on black leather, but I asked Dave to create a red croc leather to make it resemble the 1976 version the Mulligan held. Dave absolutely nailed that leather, and the look of the belt. Both the original 1976 and 1980 belts were made by famous belt maker and wrestler Alex Mulko, better know by his working name Nikita Mulkovich.

Mulligan's hat sits on a Resistol display pedestal given to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway by Nelson Royal's widow Karen, who cleaned and re-shaped the hat for us at Nelson Royal's Western Store in Mooresville, NC. That was a special gift all on its own.

For more information on the United States Heavyweight Championship in Jim Crockett Promotions and the five belts that represented it from 1975-1988, check out the book in the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Book Store.

Saturday, October 08, 2022

Poster: Flair & Superstar battle Bobo and Igor in in Winston-Salem

by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

Promoting a card held at the Winston-Salem, NC Memorial Coliseum on Saturday June 25th, 1977, this poster features two very interesting tag team matchups.

In the main event, fan favorites Bobo Brazil and the Mighty Igor faced off with Ric Flair and the Masked Superstar while in the semi, Johnny Weaver and Ricky Steamboat took on Kim Duk and Great Malenko. With familiar names on the undercard such as Danny Miller, Big Bill Dromo, Two Ton Harris, and Klondike Bill, it made for quite an exciting night of Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

The poster has a horizontal layout with both black and high impact red print over a light pink background and five nice wrestler images.

No. 40 in the Beasley Poster Collection Series

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Mid-Atlantic Gateway Note
Interesting to see Malenko on this poster billed as 'Great Melanko.' He was known that way in most southern territories during this era, but in our territory, he was almost always known as Professor Boris Malenko.

Friday, October 07, 2022

Figure Friday: U.S. Champ Roddy Piper


Another nice staging for Action Figures Friday by our friends Scottie and Reggie at @wrestlerweekly featuring United States Heavyweight Champion Roddy Piper in 1981. All that's missing are the bagpipes and a kilt!

Piper was a two-time U.S. champion, first winning the strap on 1/27/81 from Ric Flair at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, NC. He lost the title on 8/8/81 to Wahoo McDaniel in Greensboro.

His second title reign came two years later when he defeated Greg Valentine on 4/16/83 in Greensboro, NC, only to lose the title back to "the Hammer" two weeks later on 5/1/83 in the same city.

Originally published in May 2019 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

NWA Champion Jack Brisco / Japan Coverage 1973

Tiger Conway, Sr. straps the brand new NWA world championship belt around the waist of Jack Brisco moments after he defeated Harley Race in Houston, July 20, 1973.
Originally published on the Domed Globe website in February 2015. 

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Poster: Infernos vs. Flying Scotts in Lexington NC

Click for larger Image
by Brack Beasley
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

This poster takes us back to Saturday, May 11th, 1968 and promotes a card held at the YMCA Gymnasium in Lexington, NC. Featured are several wrestlers that would later have significant contributions to Jim Crockett Promotions behind the scenes in the years to come. 

George and Sandy Scott became influential figures behind the scenes and on this night they faced off with the menacing masked team, The Infernos with manager J.C. Dykes in the main event. 

Les Thatcher would become responsible for creating the great Mid Atlantic Wrestling magazines in the late 70s and teamed with Amazing Zuma in the semi against Nikita Mulkavich (maker of many famous wrestling belts of the day) and Bull Johnson. 

In the opener was none other than "Roughhouse" Sonny Fargo from nearby China Grove, NC who later became a referee for JCP. With a vertical layout, the poster has all black print over a bright yellow background and images of the main event teams and Zuma.

Poster No. 39 in the Beasley Poster Series