David Chappell's

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History

March 1979

by David Chappell

The Almanac

Almanac Index

March 79 Roster

Championship Picture This Month:



NWA WORLD TAG TEAM---Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka




MID-ATLANTIC TAG TEAM---Ken Patera and John Studd



The early days of March 1979 likely had fans across the Mid-Atlantic area excited about the reemergence of two of their favorite wrestlers appearing back in the territory. The towering Texan from Eagle Pass, Blackjack Mulligan, and the great Indian Chief, Wahoo McDaniel, both were back wrestling in the area during the first week of the month. However, this excitement proved to be short-lived, as neither Blackjack nor Wahoo would end up returning as regulars back in the territory for quite a while.

While announcing at the end of February that he was heading back to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling from Texas, Blackjack Mulligan only wrestled in the Mid-Atlantic area two days during the month of March. On March 3rd in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Mulligan teamed with strongman Tony Atlas in a Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Title match against champions Ken Patera and John Studd, in a bout won by the champs. The next day Blackjack did a double-shot, battling his arch-rival Studd in single bouts in both Asheville, North Carolina and Greensboro, North Carolina. Mulligan was impressive in both matches, but particularly so in the Greensboro bout, where he dominated Studd throughout in route to a clean pinfall victory.

“Number 99” Ernie Ladd even made reference to Blackjack’s very brief foray back into the territory. On the March 7th taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling program from the WRAL studios, Ladd tweaked Mulligan saying that Blackjack had high tailed it back across the Red River because things were too tough for him in the Carolinas. And throughout March, the “Big Cat” continually taunted Mulligan, saying Blackjack was scared to come back to the Mid-Atlantic area now that Ernie Ladd was a regular in the territory.

More of a surprise was the brief return of Wahoo McDaniel during the month of March, as the Chief’s return was not announced at all on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television programs. Interestingly, Wahoo did the same double-shot on March 4th as Blackjack did---what a treat for those fans in Asheville and Greensboro! Wahoo faced reigning Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Ken Patera in both towns in Title bouts. While McDaniel did not walk away from either town with Ken’s belt, he did get the best of Patera in both matches. In Greensboro, the 7,129 fans in attendance witnessed Wahoo dominate the Champion, although in the end, both combatants were counted out of the ring.

Wahoo popped back in the area on March 25th for another double-shot. On this date, the Chief had two very noteworthy matches! First, in Asheville, Wahoo faced off against his former partner, Paul Jones, for Paul’s Mid-Atlantic Television Title! Wahoo no doubt had a hard time grasping Paul’s change of attitude since he’d seen him last, and Jones’ chicanery allowed him to hold onto his belt against Wahoo. Later in the day in the Civic Center in Roanoke, Virginia, Wahoo and Ernie Ladd battled in a match between former professional football players. Ladd took the measure of McDaniel in a hard fought contest, to the great disappointment of the 3,800 fans in attendance.

United States Heavyweight Champion Ricky Steamboat had an active month in March defending his prestigious Title. Ricky’s defenses were almost equally split between bouts with former partner Paul Jones, and with the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

In Steamboat’s title bouts with Flair during March, several had the feel of potential Title changes. In Charlotte, North Carolina on March 3rd and again in Norfolk, Virginia on March 8th, Steamboat defended against Flair in No Disqualification, No Time Limit and there Must Be A Winner bouts. In both of these see-saw encounters, Ric appeared to be on the verge of victory only to be denied by Steamboat at the very end. During the month, Steamboat and Flair also had two titanic battles in successive weeks in Raleigh, North Carolina. On March 13th, the two had an epic struggle in Raleigh with much of the action spilling outside of the ring. The two came back to Raleigh a week later on March 20th, this time in a raucous Lumberjack Match. With the action staying within the confines of the squared circle for the most part in this one, Steamboat prevailed but not without many tense moments!

March of 1979 also saw a continuation of the series of battles that occurred between Steamboat and Paul Jones, where Jones’ Mid-Atlantic Television Title was at stake for the first fifteen minutes of the match, while Ricky’s U.S belt was at stake for sixty minutes. These matches were ultra competitive, with tremendous bad blood between the two, but neither Jones nor Steamboat could garner a large enough edge to take the other’s belt away. In March, these two went at it in Title matches in Richmond, Virginia on March 4th, Columbia, South Carolina on March 6th, Savannah, Georgia on March 10th, Winston-Salem, North Carolina on March 17th, Fayetteville, North Carolina on March 19th and Greenville, South Carolina on March 26th.

But perhaps the most interesting Title bout between Steamboat and Jones occurred on the World Wide Wrestling television program that was taped from the WRAL TV studios on March 7th. Part of the ongoing “Dream Match” series saw Jones challenge Steamboat for his United States Title! Jones’ TV Title was also at stake. In a very rare U.S. Title defense on television, it appeared Jones had rolled up Ricky for a pinfall win and had won the United States belt. However, guest commentator Johnny Weaver saw Jones
pulling Steamboat’s trunks during the pin, and alerted referee Stu Schwartz to that fact. Instant replay slow motion confirmed it, and Schwartz then ruled that Steamboat had retained his Title. But Jones refused to return the belt to Steamboat, prompting a rare television appearance by Jim Crockett, Jr. demanding that Paul give the belt back to Steamboat. Jones reluctantly returned the belt, but as he was passing the belt back to Steamboat, he hit Ricky with a thrust to the throat that temporarily disabled Steamboat. What a wild scene!

While Paul Jones had the majority of his NWA Television Title defenses in the Title versus Title confrontations with Ricky Steamboat in March, Paul also faced stiff challenges from Dino Bravo, Tony Atlas and Jimmy Snuka during the month. Jones’ closest calls during the month were Title battles with Tony Atlas on successive cards in Roanoke, Virginia, Tony’s hometown. On March 11th in the Roanoke Civic Center, Jones and Atlas participated in a wild melee, which ended with both combatants being counted out of the ring. The two came back to Roanoke two weeks later in a Fence Match, where neither wrestler would be able to escape the squared circle! With his hometown crowd cheering him on, Atlas captured a clean win over Jones, but as the victory occurred after the fifteen minute mark, Jones retained his belt despite the loss.

A number of top Mid-Atlantic stars went to Toronto twice during the month of March, and gave the Canadian fans some fantastic action on both occasions. On March 4th, the top of the Maple Leaf Gardens card saw Ricky Steamboat and Dino Bravo defeat Ric Flair and Greg Valentine when Flair threw Bravo over the top rope leading to a disqualification at the 30:17 mark. While Valentine was at this time wrestling for the WWWF, this bout would have been a Mid-Atlantic grudge bout just a month earlier! In another bout on this star studded card involving Mid-Atlantic regulars, AWA World Tag Team Champions Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson defeated Johnny Weaver and Tony Atlas in a non-title contest.

Toronto also saw a number of big Mid-Atlantic stars at the top of the Maple Leaf Gardens card on March 25th. Ricky Steamboat successfully defended his U.S. Title with a hard fought victory over Ric Flair at the 18:06 mark of an exciting match. Dino Bravo defended his Canadian Heavyweight Championship when he was disqualified for throwing challenger Greg Valentine over the top rope after 14:18 of furious action. And finally, in a bout pitting two sets of Jim Crockett Promotions tag team champions against each other, NWA World Tag Team Champions Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka bested Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions Ken Patera and John Studd in 20:04.

Another Mid-Atlantic star from the recent past, who had been out of the territory for quite a while, returned to the area during March of 1979. But much like the “returns” of mid 1970s stars Blackjack Mulligan and Wahoo McDaniel, Ole Anderson’s return was also somewhat of a cameo appearance. Ole and Gene Anderson wrestled together on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program that was taped on March 14th. The Minnesota Wrecking Crew looked quite impressive in that bout, easily disposing of the young duo of Herb Gallant and Gary Young with their usual roughhouse tactics.

While in the arenas Ole beat Ric Flair in two brutal Fence Matches, one in Columbia, South Carolina on March 27th and the other in Richmond on March 30th, his stated purpose for returning to the Mid-Atlantic area was for he and brother Gene to go after the NWA World Tag Team Championship, held by Jimmy Snuka and Paul Orndorff. The only Title shot Gene and Ole got during the month was on March 31st in Charlotte, where the young Champions took the measure of their more experienced opponents in an impressive victory to retain their belts.

While fending off Gene and Ole Anderson at the tail end of March, NWA World Tag Team Champions Jimmy Snuka and Paul Orndorff also had to fight off spirited challenges for their belts earlier in the month. One of the most interesting was a Title defense the Champions had with the diabolical duo of Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke in Fayetteville, North Carolina on March 5th. Snuka and Orndorff seemed caught off guard by the viciousness that Jones and the Baron exhibited, but were able to right themselves before it was too late and retain their prized belts.

Another team that emerged as threats to Snuka’s and Orndorff’s Titles in March was the gigantic duo of Ernie Ladd and big John Studd. What a physically imposing duo! The Champs battled this mammoth team in Lynchburg, Virginia on March 9th and then again on March 27th in Raleigh. While Snuka and Orndorff walked out with their belts on each occasion, the sheer size and power of Ladd and Studd gave them fits.

Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Ken Patera started a competition on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television on the March 7th TV tapings where he put $500 in a fish bowl and would give the money to any competitor who could defeat him in ten minutes. Ken also promised to up the amount $50 each week for future challengers. On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped at the WRAL TV studios on March 14th, Patera put up $550 against the noteworthy challenge of the athletic Skip Young. Patera prevailed in this matchup in a very competitive bout. An even better match in this series occurred on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on March 28th. At this point, $650 was at stake when Patera wrestled the always dangerous Don Kernodle. Patera managed to hold onto his money on this occasion, but Kernodle gave him quite a run for his money!

Patera also put his Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title belt on the line a number of times during the month of March. Starting off the month with the two defenses against Wahoo McDaniel, Ken finished the month with a clean pinfall victory in a defense against Johnny Weaver at the Richmond Coliseum on March 30th. In between, Patera retained his championship over top contenders Dino Bravo, Tony Atlas and Jay Youngblood. County Hall in Charleston, South Carolina was the site of Patera defenses in back to back weeks during the month of March. On March 9th in Charleston, Dino Bravo took Patera to the limit, but in the end Ken’s tricky tactics allowed him to emerge with his belt intact. Things weren’t any easier for Patera on March 16th when he battled Tony Atlas in a contest that pitted strength against strength. Despite the urgings of the many fans in County Hall, Patera again managed to pull through and retain his Mid-Atlantic Title.

Throughout the month, Patera also continued to hold onto his other belt, that being one half of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship with John Studd. But other than their Title defense victory over Blackjack Mulligan and Tony Atlas early in the month, the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles were not defended in March. With the NWA World Tag Team Titles continuing to gain in prestige, it was beginning to seem as though the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles were an afterthought.


1. Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka---The NWA World Tag Team Champions held onto their belts, and were impressive against a wide array of opponents, including Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke, Ernie Ladd and John Studd and even the returning Minnesota Wrecking Crew, Gene and Ole Anderson.
2. Ernie Ladd---“The Cat” certainly made his giant presence felt during the month of March, dominating the vast majority of single matches he participated in. And even in tag team competition, Ernie had strong outings with John Studd and Ernie Ladd as his partners.
3. Baron von Raschke---The Baron was quite impressive in his first full month back from his suspension levied by the NWA at the end of 1978. In March, the Baron was moving steadily up the singles ranks, and had success on the tag team side pairing with Paul Jones and Ernie Ladd.


1. Paul Jones---“Mr. # 1” maintained hold of his NWA Television Title during the month, but he dropped a number of his bouts, but was fortunate that his losses occurred after the 15 minute time limit where the Title was no longer at stake. Additionally, despite numerous opportunities, Paul was unable to win Ricky Steamboat’s United States Title.
2. Blackjack Mulligan---After a promising buildup that Mully was crossing the Red River and coming back to the Mid-Atlantic area in March, Blackjack only wrestled a few matches in the territory during the early days of March. Blackjack’s fans would have to wait a number of more months to see their hero back in the area as a regular.
3. Ken Patera and John Studd---The Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions only had a single defense of their belts during the month of March. While these two formed an impressive team, it was disappointing that they chose not to defend their belts with any type of regularity.



Copyright © 2011 David Chappell • Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Posted 6/29/11