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
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
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
from telephone conversations with Terry