Monday, December 19, 2022

Tag Team Warfare: A Changing of the Guard (1977)

By David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The year of 1977 saw the fabulous young team of Ric Flair and Greg Valentine strip away the aura of invincibility from the veteran duo of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew, Gene and Ole Anderson. Flair and Valentine took the coveted NWA World Tag Team Titles away from Gene and Ole in Greensboro, North Carolina on December 26, 1976. 

NWA World Tag Team Champions
Ric Flair and Greg Valentine

In 1977, Ric and Greg slowly turned the tide of this bitter feud against the Anderson’s in their favor, but it wasn’t done without many classic battles. Flair and Valentine held onto the World Tag Team Titles through the Spring of 1977, but were dethroned by Gene and Ole in May in a match that Wahoo McDaniel served as a special referee. After that bout, the Andersons primarily had their base of operations in Georgia, but again dropped their Titles back to Ric and Greg in late October in a brutal encounter where they injured Gene Anderson.

In the 1977 Year-In-Review Wide World Wrestling television program that aired in most Mid-Atlantic markets on December 24, 1977, Flair and Valentine gave a rather biased review on the tag team battles between these four combatants in 1977. Announcer Sandy Scott led off by saying, “In ’77 and the tag team warfare, the World Tag Team Championship changed hands and we have two of the champions right here now. We’ve got Greg Valentine and Ric Flair.” 

Greg Valentine responded, “Well, you know, since you’ve spent about 35 minutes talking to all the losers it’s about time you brought a couple of winners on. Because that’s exactly what you’re looking at. The World’s Champions! You know, you’re talking about us being the World’s Champions, we had to chase the Andersons down for eight or nine months. The reason why we lost the belts in the first place was because of a certain individual by the name of Wahoo McDaniel being a referee in the match.”

Valentine continued, “[Wahoo] should have never had the license to be a referee, but we finally tracked him down, we nailed them right on television and made them sign a contract. And then just like we told all the people, we met ‘em in the Greensboro Coliseum and we beat ‘em fair and square, one, two, three right in the middle of the ring and now we’re the new World Champions. And Gene Anderson is suffering a very severe shoulder injury because of this, but you know that’s tough. That’s the breaks of the game.”

The Nature Boy then chimed in, “Sandy, what can I say? I’ve told you; I’ve told the people out here thousands of times. They gotta be sick of hearing me saying it! But they also have to know that it’s true. We are the greatest team of all time! Everything we do, everything we say is first class. Look at us! Tailor made clothes, big cars, pretty ladies, and the gold belts that symbolize the World’s Tag Team Championship. The gold belts that symbolize number one in the world today.”

Flair concluded, “And all you people out there that just can’t quite get it through your heads that we are the best. But you better open your eyes because ‘78 is gonna even be a bigger year. Bigger money, bigger cars, prettier ladies, finer clothes is all gonna happen to the World Champions in ’78! WOOOO!!” 

Flair and Valentine retained their World Tag Team belts into the Spring of 1978, when the NWA stripped them of the Titles alleging that Ric and Greg did not show up for matches and on occasion left the ring before verdicts were reached. Despite that inauspicious ending of their Title reign in 1978, this young and talented team of Ric Flair and Greg Valentine took the wrestling world by storm during 1977. Truly, a changing of the guard.