November 9, 1975    Greensboro Coliseum  Greensboro, NC



Reflections 30 Years Later: Terry Funk

from telephone conversations with Terry Funk

November 2005

Wrestlers by and large don't remember too many specific things about specific cards or matches. Fans seem to remember these things a lot more clearly than the wrestler's do. But there are always landmark matches that are remembered clearly, big nights in their career. 1975 was a big year for Terry Funk, in a career that is still going strong today (as of this writing.)


One of those memorable matches for Terry Funk is obviously the night of December 10, 1975 when he defeated Jack Brisco to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Another was one month earlier, for Jim Crockett Promotions in Greensboro NC.


On November 9, 1975, Terry Funk won the United States heavyweight championship in a one-night tournament that featured most of the top stars in the NWA at that time. When I spoke with Terry about that night, he didn't remember exactly who he had faced in the early rounds of the tournament , but he clearly remembered the final match, and man he faced across the ring.


"Paul Jones and I had a great match to end that tournament," Funk said. "My gosh, we wrestled something like 20 minutes, and this was after each of us had wrestled three other matches that night."


Funk was proud of how the whole thing came together, and how it all developed as the evening wore on. "This was a big night for the Charlotte territory. They were trying to move on after the plane crash. No one figured Johnny Valentine would ever wrestle again, and no one was sure about Ric Flair at that point either. They brought in guys from all over to be in that thing, it was a really big deal."


Funk was of course aware of the what was in store for him over the next weeks. "I was getting ready to win the NWA title from Jack. This tournament win helped establish me in the Crockett territory. When I came back a few months later with the NWA title, I had credibility with their fans because I had won that tournament. And of course, weeks after the tournament, I dropped the title to Paul, which then established him as the top guy there, and made him my natural opponent when I came into the territory to defend title," Funk told me. "It was a brilliant plan by the booker there, George Scott. It kept the title strong. It kept Jones strong. It kept me strong. And we did big business for that thing as well as our matches later."


There was another little detail that Funk remembered about that night. "Paul opened me up, I mean really opened me up. I cut my eye pretty bad, and had to have 18 stitches later that night."


You could here the respect in Funk's voice as I reminded him of who he faced in the tournament's early rounds. Red Bastien, Rufus R. Jones, Dusty Rhodes. These were some of the biggest names in the business at the time. "All of those guys were so special, and so on top of their game during that time," Funk said.


Then there were the guys Paul Jones met along the way. Ole Anderson, Johnny Weaver, and Harley Race. And other names elsewhere in other parts of the bracket, including major stars like Wahoo McDaniel, Superstar Billy Graham, Blackjack Mulligan, and others.


"It was like a big pyramid," Funk said. "If Jones and I had just wrestled each other in a match for the vacant title, it wouldn't have meant as much. But the tournament built it up more, made it special. Our match was better because of the work that all those tremendous people did in their matches leading up to our match. It is important to realize that. Big names in our business put other big names over throughout that whole night. I have such respect for all of them."


"That night, wrestling all those different guys with all those different styles, helped prepare me to be NWA Champion," Funk said. "There is no doubt about that."


 - Dick Bourne

Mid-Atlantic Gateway

from telephone conversations with Terry Funk

November 2005