David Chappell's

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History

July - September 1977


 


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Who's Hot 

& Who's Not

 

 

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The third quarter of 1977 was replete with torrid action, title changes and some of the most memorable angles ever in the history of Jim Crockett Promotions. The United States Title slipped from the grasp of Blackjack Mulligan nearly as soon as the quarter got underway, and Mulligan would pull out all stops in July of 1977 to attempt to recapture the "gold" from Bobo Brazil. But by the time July ended, the U.S. belt was in the hands of Ric Flair for the first time, the title amazingly having been shared by three different wrestlers in the span of one month! Things did not slow down at all in the month of August of 1977, with Wahoo McDaniel defeating Greg Valentine for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title early in the month. Later in the month, the new combination of Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat took the measure of Ric Flair and Greg Valentine for the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles. Throughout the month of August, Mid-Atlantic newcomer Baron Von Raschke was making a lasting first impression with the area's fans. September of 1977 was defined by Greg Valentine defeating Wahoo McDaniel for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title in a match on Mid-Atlantic TV, breaking Wahoo's leg in the process. This angle, the aftermath of which played itself out for months, was one of the most memorable angles ever in the promotion and to this day is remembered vividly by many Mid-Atlantic fans.

JULY 1977

Blackjack Mulligan ran into difficulty almost immediately as the third quarter of 1977 began. A brief series of United States Heavyweight Title matches against top challenger Bobo Brazil ended in disaster for Mulligan on July 7, 1977 in Norfolk, Virginia when Brazil upended the seemingly unbeatable Texan for the coveted U.S. belt.

But Brazil's victory was not without controversy, at least in the eyes of Mulligan. On the ensuing television show of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Brazil's victory interview with Bob Caudle was interrupted by Mulligan, who claimed that interference by special referee George Scott cost him the victory. Specifically, Blackjack claimed that Scott grabbed his arm without reason, allowing Brazil to get a clean "coco butt" on him enabling Bobo to knock him senseless and score the three count.

In an attempt to have history repeat itself, Mulligan as he did in December of 1976, protested the decision and sent the tape of this match to NWA President Eddie Graham for review. Again, as in December of 1976, an ultra confident Mulligan produced a videotape from Graham to be played on Mid-Atlantic TV for fans of the area to see the decision reversed and Blackjack installed as U.S. Champion again. But unlike December of 1976 when Graham ruled that Mulligan be given back the U.S. belt, this time the President sided with Brazil, saying that George Scott's actions as special referee in no way prejudiced Mulligan. Blackjack watched in astonishment as Graham ruled against him, flew into a rage, and vowed to get Scott, whom he held responsible for cheating him out of the U.S. belt.

Mulligan's anger against George Scott grew even fiercer several days later when Blackjack had apparently won the title back from Brazil in a return match, only to have Scott step in when Mulligan was being awarded the U.S belt and reversing the decision back to Brazil because Mulligan had used brass knuckles on Bobo to capture the pin fall. Blackjack went ballistic, attacked Scott with the brass knuckles, opening up a huge bloody gash on Scott's head which required emergency medical attention. Mulligan had gotten his revenge on Scott, or so he thought!

Soon thereafter on an edition of NWA Wide World Wrestling, George Scott was being interviewed by Ed Capperal when Mulligan interrupted the proceedings by gloating over injuring Scott and challenging George to a match. Scott countered by saying he didn't wrestle anymore, which met with Mulligan calling Scott a coward and roughing him up on the set. Scott later came back saying that he had enough of Blackjack and that he would wrestle Mulligan, and produced a contract for Mulligan to sign. Blackjack broke out laughing saying that Scott was nuts and that he would destroy him, and signed George's contract without reading the fine print. It turned out that Blackjack had signed a contract to wrestle George Scott AND a mystery partner in TWO ON ONE HANDICAP MATCHES!! When Mulligan realized his mistake, he broke out in a hilarious tirade that was one of the funniest outbursts ever on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television!! These handicap matches would occupy Mulligan throughout the area until the middle of August!

Lost in the July 1977 Mulligan-Brazil saga was the fact that Bobo was destined to be merely a transitional U.S. Champion. As on July 29, 1977, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair captured the United States Heavyweight Title in Richmond, Virginia from Brazil, ending Bobo's reign after a scant 22 days. Flair's victory over Brazil in the Richmond Coliseum came about with Ric surviving one of the strangest match stipulations ever. Flair promised to "streak" the Richmond Coliseum if he failed to win the match and the U.S. belt from Brazil that night!! Flair's first United States Title victory clearly established the "Nature Boy" as a mega star in the business. Though his first U.S. Title reign only lasted about two and a half months, Ric Flair was a major step closer to his ultimate goal of becoming the NWA World's Heavyweight Champion.

July saw an unusual amount of comings and goings with big names in the promotion. Dino Bravo, who had been a main event mainstay in the area since April of 1976, abruptly dropped to mid-card status and left the area as a regular competitor during the month of July. During this same time period, Bravo and partner Tiger Conway were replaced as Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions by the tandem of Ric Flair and Greg Valentine.

A couple of well-known big names, Paul Jones and "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods, also reappeared in the area during July. Both had left the area in early 1977. Neither of these stars jumped right back into big angles immediately, but by early in the fourth quarter of 1977 both would be embroiled in historic feuds. But in July, Jones did most of his duty as a special referee and Mr. Wrestling did some stints as a color commentator on the area's TV shows.

Finally, a major new star entered the Mid-Atlantic area during the last week in July of 1977. Baron Von Raschke was introduced to the area's fans as a worldwide star that was one of the few men to ever beat Bruno Sammartino. Raschke would get an immediate push from the promotion, and he would be a mega star in the area all the way through until early 1980.

AUGUST 1977

August of 1977 began with the series of matches around the circuit where Blackjack Mulligan squared off against George Scott and his mystery partners. Mulligan came out on the short end of these handicap matches, losing to George Scott and his numerous partners such as Mr. Wrestling, Ricky Steamboat and even George's brother, Sandy Scott! Mulligan, disheartened over the loss of his U.S. Title and the George Scott situation, left the Mid-Atlantic area completely in mid August and did not return until October of 1977. At that time Mulligan explained that he left the area to tour Japan, and to get his "head together," and regain his focus.

On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that aired around the area on August 13, 1977, it was announced that Wahoo McDaniel defeated Greg Valentine for the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title, ending Valentine's title reign after approximately two months. Ric Flair came out and interrupted Wahoo's interview, challenging Wahoo to go after his U.S. Title, if Wahoo "was man enough." Wahoo countered by saying that he was on a lucky streak and was after Flair's U.S. belt and Harley Race's NWA World Title, and that he might be the first man in history to win those three prestigious titles in the same week! As it turned out, Wahoo had only a one-month reign as Mid-Atlantic Champion before suffering a serious injury in early September 1977.

The long-standing feud between the Masked Superstar and the Mighty Igor began to wind toward conclusion in August with a series of brutal Russian Chain matches between the two combatants. This specialty match was a staple of Superstar's manager, Professor Boris Malenko, so it was a bit surprising that Igor got the better of the masked man in these encounters. However, this feud would take a final and decisive turn in September.

A great new tag team was formed in the area in August with returning veteran Paul Jones joining forces with the rapidly rising newcomer Ricky Steamboat. It did not take the new duo long to ace a championship, as on August 22, 1977 Jones and Steamboat defeated Ric Flair and Greg Valentine in Charlotte, NC for the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles. At this time, the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles were at their highest level of importance ever as the NWA World Tag Team Titles were not held by Mid-Atlantic wrestlers or being defended in the Mid-Atlantic area. Despite dropping the tag belts, both Flair and Valentine were then able to concentrate on wrestling in singles and were very successful in the singles division for the remainder of the quarter.

August of 1977 was the first full month of action for Mid-Atlantic newcomer Baron Von Raschke, and what an impressive month it was for the big German. Espousing his German superiority and using his vicious "brain claw" with great effectiveness, Raschke demolished all his opponents on Mid-Atlantic television with startling ease. Raschke got immediate title matches in August with TV champion Ricky Steamboat and Mid-Atlantic champ Wahoo McDaniel. While the Baron did not win any titles during the third quarter of 1977, it was obvious with all of his abilities that it was only going to be a short matter of time before he tasted a championship in the Mid-Atlantic area.

SEPTEMBER 1977

Fans of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling will always remember September of 1977 for the televised match between Wahoo McDaniel and Greg Valentine that aired on TV around the area on September 10, 1977. This match pitted Wahoo putting up his Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title against 2,000 silver dollars of Greg Valentine. Valentine had challenged Wahoo to a title rematch earlier, but Wahoo declined to put the title up on TV unless Greg put up something additional as well. A deal was struck whereby Wahoo would defend his Mid-Atlantic Title on TV against Greg if Valentine put up an additional 1,000 silver dollars with the 1,000 silver dollars he routinely put up in single matches on Mid-Atlantic television.

The match was a classic hard-hitting encounter that was closely contested throughout. After about 15 minutes of non-stop action, Valentine grabbed Wahoo's leg and fell backward and held onto the leg. Wahoo began screaming in pain, and Valentine would never let Wahoo's leg loose.  The referee said Wahoo's leg had been broken, and awarded the match and Mid-Atlantic Title to Greg Valentine. Announcer David Crockett said the hold that did the damage was a  "leg-ankle suplex", while Wahoo later said that the hold was a European version of the figure-four and eighty percent of the time that it was applied it broke a man's leg.  Whatever the hold was called, Valentine's win set off a wild celebration in the ring with good friend Ric Flair, while a fallen Wahoo lay "flailing" in agony in the ring just a few feet from the jubilant Valentine.

The following week's Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show was a very memorable one. Wahoo was brought out to the television set on crutches to explain what happened the previous week. McDaniel was unable to make it out to the announcing area on crutches, and instead had to be wheeled out to Bob Caudle and David Crockett in a wheelchair. Soon after telling the fans that he was embarrassed by the title loss and the broken leg, Greg Valentine and Ric Flair came out and interrupted Wahoo's interview.  Valentine mercilessly taunted Wahoo about breaking his leg, calling McDaniel "boy" on numerous occasions and telling Wahoo that his wrestling career was over. Wahoo vowed to come back at all costs and pay back Valentine, but Greg just laughed while asking Wahoo if he had to get his wheelchair "custom made" for his fat body.

 

The promotion used the remaining weeks in September showing Valentine wearing t-shirts sporting the slogan "I Broke Wahoo's Leg." Valentine said that he had his boys in Las Vegas produce these t-shirts, and continued to brag and boast incessantly about putting Wahoo out of action. This continued boasting by Greg generated tremendous heat with Wahoo and his many fans, and set the stage for a tremendous series of revenge grudge matches when Wahoo finally came back to action in late November.

The month of September 1977 saw the Masked Superstar transition into a new feud while putting to rest one that had lasted for the majority of 1977. On September 4, 1977, the Superstar had his mask taken off by Paul Jones during a match in Greensboro, NC. Due to some quick thinking by Superstar's manager Boris Malenko, the masked man's identity was never revealed. But nonetheless, Paul Jones believed he had the Superstar's number, particularly in the Greensboro Coliseum. Superstar had different ideas, and was determined to make his point the next time the two battled in Greensboro in early October. Another one of the Mid-Atlantic's greatest angles would play itself out between Jones and Superstar at that time.

In the meantime, the Superstar used the month of September to finally end his long running feud with the Polish strongman, the Mighty Igor. A series of climactic fence matches around the area between these two finally tipped the scales towards the Superstar. While the Superstar would soon thereafter go on to a memorable feud with Paul Jones, the Mighty Igor was involved in only one more minor angle before his successful run with Jim Crockett Promotions ended in early 1978.

September also saw United States Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair defend his new title with considerable vigor against a series of worthy adversaries. Bobo Brazil, Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat were all unable to wrest the prestigious belt from the Nature Boy's grasp. Flair's matches against Steamboat, which were typically billed as U.S. Title vs. TV Title matches, were some of the finest yet between these two great competitors. The Flair-Steamboat feud, still in its infancy, was already producing classic matches for the ages!

The third quarter of 1977 will likely be best remembered for the September television match where Greg Valentine broke Wahoo McDaniel's leg and the aftermath that flowed from that event. But this three-month period had so much more to offer to the fans, including the Mulligan-Brazil saga, Ric Flair's first U.S. Title victory, the emergence of Baron Von Raschke and his "brain claw," and the return to the area of Paul Jones and Mr. Wrestling. The third quarter also set the stage for several major angles that would play themselves out fully in the final three months of 1977. The fourth quarter of 1977 would certainly offer up some surprises that none of us would have expected! And we would not have to wait long, as several pieces of astounding news in the wrestling world hit the Mid-Atlantic area right as the calendar turned over to October of 1977!


WHO'S HOT & WHO'S NOT

Who's Hot

1. Ric Flair---The Nature Boy captured his first United States Heavyweight Title in July and successfully defended it throughout the third quarter of 1977. Ric was impressive in rematches against Bobo Brazil, along with impressive defenses against old rival Paul Jones and up and coming star Ricky Steamboat. Flair showed everyone during this time period that he was a U.S. Champion to be reckoned with. 

2. Greg Valentine---Greg started and ended the third quarter of 1977 with the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship belt. In the middle of the quarter he lost the title to Wahoo McDaniel, but would win the belt back in stunning fashion in September. But Valentine not only won the title back, he did what many thought was impossible, putting the great Indian Chief on the shelf with a broken leg. The "Bionic Elbow" was riding high and at his pompous best as the third quarter ended. 

3. Baron Von Raschke---The Baron came on the scene in July of 1977 and made an immediate impact in the area. Terrorizing opponents with his feared "brain claw," the Baron immediately was thrust into main event matches with the likes of Mr. Wrestling and Ricky Steamboat. These two opponents would provide the Baron with his first major angles in the Mid-Atlantic area as the fourth quarter of 1977 got underway.

Who's Not

1. Blackjack Mulligan---The third quarter of 1977 was an extremely difficult time period for the big man from Eagle Pass, Texas. Mully lost his prized U.S. Title to Bobo Brazil, and was unable to recapture it despite going again to NWA President Eddie Graham to bail him out. Blackjack then got suckered into a series of handicap matches with NWA executive George Scott. When Mulligan came out on the short end of this series of matches, Blackjack left the area completely for the remainder of the quarter to "get his head together." 

2. Wahoo McDaniel---Despite holding the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title for a month during the third quarter of 1977, Wahoo was humiliated by Greg Valentine when Greg beat Wahoo for the title and broke the Indian's leg in a televised bout in September. Wahoo then had to endure Greg's verbal and psychological abuse as he attempted to heal up. Wahoo's first extended injury as a regular competitor in the Mid-Atlantic area was a top entry on Valentine's resume` for years to come. 

3. Dino Bravo---Bravo had been a main event performer in the area for well over a year, but quickly dropped out of sight early during the third quarter of 1977. As he left the area, Dino would also relinquish his portion of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Titles with Tiger Conway to the tandem of Ric Flair and Greg Valentine. Dino would not return to the area again as a regular competitor until early 1979.

 


(Check back regularly in the Almanac Index for the 1977 3rd Quarter Update)

 

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