Paul Jones still gets hot when he looks
at the poster promoting the annual Thanksgiving wrestling card in
Greensboro for 1975.
"Terry Funk and I worked so hard the
night of the US tournament in Greensboro. We both wrestled four
times that night, none of them quick matches," Jones told me in a
phone conversation in November 2005. "The tournament drew a record
house and a record gate, and we had this memorable match that had
the whole territory talking."
Indeed they did. One only needs to
listen to the audio tapes of the tournament matches that were
broadcast on Mid-Atlantic television in the weeks following the
tournament to know just how into that show Greensboro fans were. And
make no mistake about it, fans were shocked that an outsider such as
Terry Funk had won the tournament and the US title. Fans had gotten
comfortable with the US title now being their title after
Johnny Valentine had won it from Harley Race earlier that summer.
The US title had been a Mid-Atlantic based title ever since. Now
this brash young Terry Funk was promising to take the title back to
Texas, telling the Greensboro Record that future
contenders would have to come to the panhandle of Texas to vie for
But as legend has it, promoter Jim
Crockett, Jr. and booker George Scott along with Paul Jones himself,
lobbied NWA President Jack Adkisson for a rematch at the upcoming
annual Thanksgiving wrestling extravaganza. Minutes before Funk
cradled Jones for the tournament victory, Jones had covered Funk for
an apparent three-count, only referee Greg Peterson was unable to
make the count due to be knocked off his feet moments earlier.
Adkisson himself, at ringside for the big event, was on his feet as
Jones covered Funk. It was on this fact that Adkisson forced Funk to
return to Greensboro for the rematch with Paul Jones.
The stage was set. Paul Jones and Terry
Funk were set to draw another record gate in Greensboro. The advance
was huge based on this match as the main draw alone.
It's here where Paul Jones still holds
a small grudge against booker George Scott.
"George had (NWA Champion) Brisco
booked in the territory the week of Thanksgiving and decided to have
him defend the NWA title against Wahoo on the Thanksgiving night
show. But this show didn't need that match. Terry and I were the
draw and deserved to be on top of that card."
Paul is likely pointing to the fact
that having Brisco on the show meant 10% of the house gate would
automatically go to him, as well as a fee back to the St.
Louis office that booked him. This was was the norm for the NWA
champion at that time. Having that match with Wahoo on top of the
card also meant Wahoo would receive a high percentage of the gate,
watering down what would have gone to Funk and Jones had they been
on top of the card. Paul firmly stands by his assertion that the
show would have sold out without the addition of the NWA title match
on the card. One would find it hard to credibly argue against
that claim based on the interest in the US title and his re-match
with Funk, both set up by the memorable tournament three weeks
"When I see that poster, I get hot
because it was Terry and I that drew that house, not Jack and Wahoo.
That would be lost on someone today looking at that old poster and
not knowing the history."
Perhaps. For the casual fan, that's
likely so. For the die-hard Mid-Atlantic Wrestling fans that grew up
in that era, the month of November 1975 and the two Greensboro cards
held that month will always be remembered for the outstanding
matches fans witnessed featuring Terry Funk and Paul Jones.
"I guess it's a small thing, really,"
Paul Jones told me as he laughed. "But I wanted to set the record
- Dick Bourne
from telephone conversations with Paul