David Chappell's

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History

December 1978

by David Chappell

The Almanac

Almanac Index

Dec. 78 Roster

Championship Picture This Month:



• Harley Race


NWA WORLD TAG TEAM Greg Valentine and Baron von Raschke

• Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka (December 26, 1978 at the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia)



Ric Flair

• Ricky Steamboat (December 30, 1978 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina)



• Ken Patera



• Paul Jones



• Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat
• Ken Patera and John Studd (Patera and Studd are announced as the new Champions on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program that was taped at the WRAL TV studios in Raleigh, North Carolina on December 6, 1978 without further explanation)



The month of December 1978 brought about one of the most baffling transformations of a wrestler in the history of Jim Crockett Promotions. And it did not take long in the month for this change to occur. December 3, 1978 was the day, and it will forever live in infamy to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling fans.

On December 3rd, the Charlotte Coliseum was host to a unique “Two Ring—24 Man Elimination” Match. Nearly the entire roster in the Mid-Atlantic area participated in this unique match. When there were only two men left that hadn’t been eliminated, those two wrestlers wrestled each other in a standard wrestling match, with the winner of that match pocketing a $10,000 purse! What a great concept!

The “Two Ring Battle Royal” was packed full of excitement, as could have been expected with that much talent piled into one ring! But something that wasn’t expected was the identity of the two finalists…they were none other than the holders of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles, Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat! These two best friends were thrust into the position of wrestling each other; winner takes all, for the $10,000 grand prize!

The match between Jones and Steamboat started out as a strictly scientific affair, with each wrestler exchanging a number of fluid moves and holds. Then, out of nowhere, Jones caught Steamboat flush in the face with a closed right hand fist. Being caught completely off guard, Steamboat never really recovered from the sucker punch. Jones showed a streak of aggressiveness that had never been seen, putting Steamboat in the piledriver, pinning him, and then kicking Ricky while he was down.

On the December 6, 1978 taping of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling at the WRAL TV studios in Raleigh, North Carolina, announcer Bob Caudle told the viewing audience that, “It’s like a bombshell has fallen, with some news that’s simply astounding!” Color commentator David Crockett told the fans that Ken Patera and John Studd were the new Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions, not specifying how the Titles were garnered by Studd and Patera. The newly named Champions did not defend their tag titles during the month of December.

Ricky Steamboat then came out and told the fans that Paul Jones had turned on him, and that the fans would see the film of the match next week. Needless to say, there were a lot of perplexed fans dying to see the film of what Paul Jones did to Ricky Steamboat!

When the December 13, 1978 taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show rolled around, a stunned audience saw the film of Paul Jones violently attacking his former partner, and pocketing the $10,000 prize. Steamboat said he noticed a little something funny about Paul over the previous couple of weeks, but had no idea that the animosity had reached that level. Ricky said he wanted the winner of their match to be based on the moves and holds, and was caught off guard when Jones sucker punched him.

Later in the show, Caudle talked with Paul Jones to get his side of what happened. A hyper Jones told Caudle that he didn’t want the promotion to show the film of the match, as what happened was between he and Steamboat. Jones said that he had a point to prove…that he was Number One and not Steamboat. Paul said that over the previous few weeks a lot of people had been calling Steamboat “Number One,” and that it had been getting under his skin for that long. Caudle told Jones that surely $10,000 was not worth losing their friendship over. Jones responded that he didn’t know anybody he could respect more than $10,000!

Part 1

Part 2

The feud that nobody thought would ever happen, began in earnest on Christmas evening when Paul Jones met Ricky Steamboat in a scheduled match at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. A sellout crowd of 11,303 witnessed the heretofore unthinkable matchup. Jones’ NWA Television Title was at stake for the first 15 minutes of the bout. During the three week buildup for the match, fans had difficulty fathoming the “new” Paul Jones, who was talking about not only beating his former partner, but sending him to the hospital! During the bout in Charlotte, the victorious Jones used brutal tactics that nobody had ever seen from him, repeatedly striking Steamboat in the throat with karate blows from his taped fingers!

Jones also pinned Steamboat in Richmond, Virginia at the Richmond Coliseum the next night, and repeated the feat again the following night in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Dorton Arena. Promoters claimed that the sellout crowd of 5,500 was the biggest wrestling crowd ever at Dorton Arena. These three wins at the end of the month at three of the area’s most significant venues, gave Jones the early edge in his crusade to prove he was “Number One” and not Steamboat.

Blackjack Mulligan also learned the hard way that Paul Jones’ shocking turn to rulebreaking was for real. On December 10th at the Roanoke Civic Center in Roanoke, Virginia, Mulligan teamed with Jones in a Title Match against World Tag Team Champions Greg Valentine and Baron von Raschke. During the match when Blackjack ran into trouble, Paul refused to reach out his hand and tag Mulligan! Soon thereafter Jones physically attacked Mulligan, and eventually all three wrestlers attacked Blackjack. Jones was disqualified, but he undoubtedly made a lasting impression on Mulligan that he had truly gone over to the dark side.

Ric Flair dominated the United States Heavyweight Championship for ALMOST the entirety of the month of December. However, on December 30th in the Greensboro Coliseum, Ricky Steamboat upended the “Nature Boy” and captured the U.S. Title in a wild Hair vs. Title bout!

Prior to his setback against Steamboat, Flair had successful U.S. Title defenses during the month against Blackjack Mulligan, Jimmy Snuka, Tony Atlas, as well as Steamboat. Flair’s Title matches with Mulligan were particularly violent. During December, Flair defended against Mulligan in Fence Matches in Charleston, South Carolina on December 1st, Richmond, Virginia on December 8th, Charlotte, North Carolina on December 25th and Raleigh, North Carolina on December 27th. Ric defeated Blackjack in all of these Cage Matches, and with those defeats the curtain was drawn on Mulligan’s almost year-long pursuit of the United States Title.

The battles between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat during the month were stupendous! Ric won a clean pinfall decision over Ricky in the Norfolk Scope on December 7th, but things started to deteriorate for the Nature Boy soon thereafter. On December 10th in the Greensboro Coliseum, Steamboat carried the fight to Flair to the point that it appeared certain that Ricky would wrest the Title from Flair. Only some very quick thinking and a resulting deliberate disqualification from Flair kept him in possession of the U.S. Title. The Nature Boy would not be so fortunate in the Greensboro rematch on December 30th.

A boisterous crowd of 10,327 fans witnessed the return Title match between Flair and Steamboat. There were stipulations galore. The bout was held inside a cage, with Steamboat being obligated to shave his head if he didn’t capture the Title. During the pre-bout interviews, Ric showed a large photo of Steamboat with his hair blotted out, making Ricky’s head look bald. A crazed Flair promised that before the end of that fateful night, Steamboat would be bald! The match itself was full of near falls, with Flair dominating most of the contest. Then out of nowhere, Ricky rolled up Flair for the three count, and the huge crowd went wild. All a dejected Flair could do was watch the post match celebration in stunned disbelief.

NWA World Tag Team Champions Greg Valentine and Baron von Raschke had more than their hands full in the month of December with the challenge of Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka. The athleticism of Orndorff and Snuka seemed to keep the Champions guessing and off balance. During the month, Valentine and Raschke were able to hold onto the Championship by the skin of their teeth, often purposely getting themselves disqualified to save their Titles. But on December 26, 1978 at the Richmond Coliseum, Orndorff and Snuka got the Title Match they wanted---one with No Disqualifications!

The Richmond match was a lengthy encounter, with both teams pulling out all the stops. The see-saw battle saw both teams have their opportunities to come out on top, but ultimately the challengers were able to capture a quick pinfall to the delight of the huge Coliseum crowd. The hated Champions had been dethroned by the upstart challengers! An enraged Baron von Raschke could not accept that he was no longer one half of the World Champions, and he proceeded to assault the referee, and then dropped him on his head with a piledriver! The NWA acted quickly on the Baron’s reprehensive conduct, suspending him almost immediately for his actions in Richmond.

Prior to their defeat on December 26th, Valentine and Raschke had a number of successful defenses of the World Tag Team Titles. One of the most interesting occurred against the team of Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat on December 2nd in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This was the last time that Jones and Steamboat tagged up before the big split at the Two-Ring Battle Royal in Charlotte. Also there were two odd stipulations in the Winston-Salem match---it was a best two out of three falls, and additionally the Titles could change hands on a disqualification.

Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Ken Patera was active in defending his prestigious Title during the month of December. During the course of the month, Ken successfully kept his Title from the likes of Tony Atlas, Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Snuka and Paul Orndorff. A surprising challenger emerged against Patera later in the month, in the person of the veteran Johnny Weaver. On the big Christmas show in Charlotte, Weaver scored an upset victory over Patera. The two also had competitive Title matches in Lynchburg, Virginia on December 15th, and a brutal return match in Lynchburg on December 29th.

While Patera handled Tony Atlas in their Title encounters during the month, Ken did not fare nearly so well in a number of “10 Round Fights” the two squared off in during the month of December. During the month, Tony defeated Ken in “10 Round Fights” in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Roanoke, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina. In the December 12th Boxing Match at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, Tony put on a dominating performance, stopping Patera in the 7th round with a series of thunderous right hands.

Despite turning into a rulebreaker during the course of the month, NWA Television Champion Paul Jones maintained his grip on the Title the whole month of December. Interestingly enough, Jones fared much better later in the month when his switch to rulebreaking was complete. Towards the end of the month, Jones completely dominated Ricky Steamboat as was mentioned earlier. Paul also scored clean TV Title victories later in December over Paul Orndorff and Jay Youngblood. The win over Youngblood occurred on December 16th in Spartanburg, and was likely Youngblood’s first Title opportunity in a singles match in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Billed as the “Battle of the Giants,” Blackjack Mulligan and Big John Studd continued their series of bruising battles during December of 1978. The matches were heated, and the results were all over the map. For instance, in Norfolk on December 7th, Studd scored a clean victory, while in Columbia on December 16th Mulligan exacted revenge in a Texas Death Match. Then on December 30th in Greensboro, a double disqualification was the end result. Whatever the result, these matches were so physical that it seemed that it was only a matter of time before one or both of the men would suffer serious injuries!

December of 1978 will always be remembered as the month where Paul Jones turned on his partner Ricky Steamboat…and his legion of fans around the Mid-Atlantic area. This event tended to overshadow everything else that happed during the month…even a Title change involving the NWA World Tag Team belts!



1. Paul Jones---Turning on his partner Ricky Steamboat in early December seemed to energize “Mr. Number One.” By the end of the month, the Number One rulebreaker seemed close to unbeatable in his TV Title defenses.

2. Jimmy Snuka---In addition to capturing one half of the NWA World’s Tag Team Titles during the month, Snuka also looked very impressive in his singles bouts during December.

3. John Studd---Studd continued to create havoc during the month, and his battles with Blackjack Mulligan were extremely violent. Studd also became one half of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions during December.


1. Baron von Raschke---The Baron not only lost one half of the NWA World’s Tag Team Titles during the month, but he was suspended after the match and would have to spend the early days of 1979 on the Mid-Atlantic sidelines.

2. Blackjack Mulligan---Mulligan failed in his final chances to take the U.S. Title away from Ric Flair. And when not battling Flair, the big Texan had more than his hands full with John Studd.

3. Ricky Steamboat---Despite winning the U.S. Title on December 30th, “Steamer” had a tough month. He lost his best friend and tag team partner Paul Jones early in the month, and Jones got the better of him every time the former friends faced off later in the month.



© 2009 David Chappell   Mid-Atlantic Gateway  Published 1/30/09