The Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
was one of the great regional territory titles in the 1970s and 1980s. Some
of the greatest names in wrestling history held that championship including Johnny
Valentine, Paul Jones, Wahoo McDaniel, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Dory Funk
Jr., Jack and Jerry Brisco, and many others.
The forerunner of the Mid-Atlantic title was the Eastern Heavyweight
Championship, which was established in 1970. While Crockett Promotions had featured a
singles title before, the Southern Heavyweight title during
the 50s and 60s, the Eastern title was a more focused effort to push a singles
championship in what had traditionally been a tag-team oriented territory.
the fall of 1970, it
was announced on television that the Missouri Mauler had defeated Pat
O'Conner in New York for the Eastern States Heavyweight Championship. This was a
fictitious title change, as was occasionally done when establishing a new title
in a wrestling territory. It does, however, establish O'Conner as
the first recognized Eastern title holder, even if he never actually
held the belt. Newspaper clippings for Mauler's early Eastern
title defenses in the Mid-Atlantic territory also mentioned him winning the title from O'Conner.
(See link below.)
As early as
March 1972, Jim Crockett
began to establish the brand “Mid-Atlantic Wrestling”, although for well
a year it only appeared sporadically in newspaper ads and on event
posters. The final transition really took place in the final quarter of
1973, when the Mid-Atlantic titles, and their new belts, were established.
The Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight title
evolved from the Eastern Heavyweight Championship on September 6th, 1973.
It was on that night in Greensboro when reigning Eastern Heavyweight
Champion Jerry Brisco was presented with the new Mid-Atlantic championship
belt (seen above), and the Eastern Title was officially retired.
Our friend Carroll Hall of
a long time fan of Mid-Atlantic wrestling, was in Greensboro that night. "Jerry wasn't defending the Eastern title
that night," Hall told us. "He was teaming with Cowboy Bill Watts against
Brute Bernard and Jay York. But after ring announcer (and WGHP High Point
NC television broadcaster) Charlie Harville had finished making several announcements about
changes in that night's card, he called Jerry Brisco out to the ring. They
announced the change of the name of the title, and I
don't remember exactly how many people were in the ring, but I believe it
was Jim Crockett, Jr. who handed him the new belt."
Brisco's last Eastern title defense in
Greensboro took place the month before, August 9th, against Gene Anderson.
His first defense of the new Mid-Atlantic title in Greensboro was Thanksgiving
night, November 22, 1973 against Terry Funk. Jerry's older brother Jack
defended the NWA World title against Terry's older brother Dory on the
It took a couple of months for Jim Crockett's many
local promoters to all sync up with the name change. Some newspaper ads
and event posters still continued to promote matches as Eastern
Heavyweight title matches, even into November.
History isn't clear about what happened to
that first Mid-Atlantic title belt presented to Jerry Brisco in September of
1973. Brisco, Johnny Valentine, and Paul Jones were the only three men to wear it. At
some point between 3/9/75 and
6/29/75, Johnny Valentine began wearing the
old Eastern Heavyweight belt again, which would be recognized from that
point forward as
Mid-Atlantic championship. (Those two dates are a window of time we've
developed based on the date Jones was photographed with the original
belt in Charlotte and the date Wahoo McDaniel won the belt in Asheville,
by which time we know the Eastern title belt was being used again to
represent the Mid-Atlantic title.) The Mid-Atlantic belt that had originally first
been presented to Brisco simply disappeared. Perhaps it was stolen. But Valentine and
successive Mid-Atlantic Champions in 1975 and 1976, which included Wahoo
McDaniel and Ric Flair, also wore the old Eastern title belt and were
recognized as the Mid-Atlantic champion.
The three versions of the Mid-Atlantic
Heavyweight Championship Belt
In early 1977, a new Mid-Atlantic title belt
was finally ordered to replace the first Mid-Atlantic belt. Wahoo
McDaniel was the first to wear it. This is this belt that is most
closely associated with the title, as 18 wrestlers over 9 years carried
it to the ring. It was last worn by Buzz Tyler in 1985. Tyler left the
promotion while still champion and never returned the title belt. A new belt
(3rd of three) was
ordered. Khrusher Khrushchev defeated Sam Houston at Starrcade '85 to
determine a new champion, and Khrushchev was presented with the 3rd and what would
the final version of the belt.
The title was vacated by
Ron Garvin on December 27, 1986, after Garvin and partner Barry Windham had won the U.S.
weeks earlier. Promoter Jim Crockett announced that a tournament would be
held for the vacant title, but no such tournament was ever held, and the title was never mentioned again.
This was the last in what was a series of sad events
for fans of the Mid-Atlantic territory.
Earlier that same year, the television show that bore the name
"Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" had changed names to "NWA Pro
Wrestling". Now, with the title and belt bearing
that name being dropped by the promotion, the great era known as
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling had quietly come to an end.
Originally posted October 2004
Updated August 2009, June 2010
Copyright © Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Updated June 2006 and March 2007
Photo of Jerry Brisco wearing Mid-Atlantic
belt (below) by Bill Janosik.
Photo of Jerry Brisco holding Mid-Atlantic belt
Mid-Atlantic belt (1973) photo by Gene
Gordon. Photo of the replica belt by Dick Bourne © Mid-Atlantic Gateway.
The replica belt was crafted by Dave Millican. The original belt was
crafted by Reggie Parks.
Thanks to Bill Janosik and Scooter Lesley for providing photos for this article.
Photo of the original Mid-Atlantic Belt © Ditch-Cat
Photography; Modified graphic version © Mid-Atlantic Gateway.
Special thanks to Carroll Hall for his
assistance with background for this article.
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