Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Argentino Apollo Arrives in JCP (1970)

By David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Argentina Apollo

While November 14, 1970 predates the time period that encompassed Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling (by name), that date nevertheless carries some significance for me. It is the Saturday afternoon program of “Championship Wrestling” taped at the Channel 5 studios in Raleigh, North Carolina that represents the oldest program in my Jim Crockett Promotions audio collection. This program is also important to me as it introduced a newcomer to the Carolinas that I have many fond memories of.

In what was the second bout of that show, TV ring announcer Joe Murnick told the studio audience, “Now ladies and gentlemen, the second bout is also one fall and a 15-minute time limit, for the first time for our viewers, at 222 pounds from the Argentine, Buenos Aires, here is the sensational jumping jack of the ring, Argentina Apollo…Apollo!

Apollo, quick as greased lightning and wrestling barefooted, made quick work of the journeyman Joe Soto in the show’s second match with a rapid-fire backbreaker, and he received a strong and favorable reception from the studio audience in attendance. Soon after the bout concluded Apollo came out to the interview area and chatted with play-by-play announcer Nick Pond.

Pond began, “At ringside once again, it’s our distinct pleasure to have with us our winner of this afternoon’s second bout here on Championship Wrestling, a newcomer to our show, Argentina Apollo. You’re like a jumping jack Apollo!” The muscular newcomer responded, “Well, it’s like everything, you’re supposed to be in good shape to do things in the ring.” Pond interjected, “Tell us about that hold that you finished off Joe Soto with, it looked like a backbreaker of some kind.” Apollo explained, “Yeah, I call it Argentina backbreaker. It’s my hold. It’s not too easy to do, you need to be in very good shape to do a hold like that.”

The announcer continued and marveled at the acrobatic abilities of the area’s newest grappler. Nick gushed, “You did some moves up there we hadn’t seen, in fact we’d never seen before! You jump around a lot, and it looked like you kind of befuddle and mix up your opponent some.” Apollo agreed and noted, “Well, that’s why I say to be a wrestler you need to train very, very hard like I do. I get up early every morning and I train very, very much. I eat well; but I try to stay in good shape.”

Apollo then chuckled, “I’m in the best country in the world, and eat good, and try to keep in better shape even when I eat good! Of course, it’s very important for everybody, mostly the young generation, to train like I do and be in better shape than I do.”

Pond then segued to Apollo’s first arena bout in the territory saying, “Alright Argentina, you’re going to go against a tag team Tuesday night here in Raleigh, you’re going to be teamed with a great wrestler, the U.S. Negro Heavyweight Champion Luther Lindsey and you’re going to meet Chris Markoff and Bronco Lubich, two tough guys from Yugoslavia.” Apollo answered, “Well, it will be my first time over here in Raleigh, and I’m very proud and happy to be over here and I have in mind to be here a long, long time. As I told you these two men are very tough men Chris Markov and the other man, I’ll do my best to beat these men.”

Argentina Apollo's debut in Raleigh for Jim Crockett Promotions

 Apollo concluded, “I want to tell all of you people over here in the South, I’m very proud to be over here. I have never seen so many friendly people like I see over here in the few days I’ve been over here. I say ‘Thanks’ very much and I will repay you people the best I can and do everything I can to beat these men.” 

The November 17, 1970, card at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh saw Apollo’s career in the area’s arenas get off to a flying start as he and Luther Lindsey polished off Markoff and Chris Tolos, who was subbing for Bronco Lubich. Despite the constant interference by the bad guys’ manager Mr. George “Two Ton” Harris, Apollo and Lindsey got the dukes when Lubich and Tolos were disqualified in the third and decisive fall. 

The high-flying Argentina Apollo was off to the races and would have a strong year and a half run in Jim Crockett Promotions after these initial days in Raleigh that are memorialized on my oldest “oldie but goodie” wrestling tape!