UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT

November 9, 1975    Greensboro Coliseum  Greensboro, NC

 

 

Reflections 30 Years Later: Paul Jones

from telephone conversations with Paul Jones,

November 2005


Paul Jones was laughing as he remembered back to his recent reunion with Terry Funk.

"Terry was sitting there with a big grin on his face," Jones recently told me in a phone conversation from his home in Tampa, Florida. "He was looking at me and saying Gee, it's good to see you Paul after so many years. We were laughing and telling old stories. Terry was pretty lit after his Q&A (earlier that night at the Mid-Atlantic Legends Fanfest). Tommy Young kept bringing him beer and mixed drinks all during that thing. So later we're visiting in the hospitality room, and suddenly Terry got real serious and says "Paul, why in the hell did you hit me so hard?"

Funk was laughing as he and Paul reminisced in the VIP suite for wrestlers appearing at the NWA Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte this past August.

"He just kept asking me that. We were laughing, we had both had a few beers and were talking about that night in Greensboro."

Paul and Terry were remembering the famous US championship tournament held after that title had been vacated following Johnny Valentine's injury in the October 1975 Wilmington NC plane crash. Funk had won the tournament, defeating Jones in the finals. Both men wrestled four times that night, culminating in an 18 minute championship match.

"We were exhausted, yet we were both feeling great for that match. Everything had gone well that night. Everything was clicking."

Many of the details were forgotten about that night. Neither Funk nor Jones remembered exactly who they had wrestled that night 30 years ago, but Terry Funk remembered one detail very clearly.

"Paul, why did you hit me so hard?" Funk asked again. Funk was referring to a hard punch Jones landed above Funk's left eye that had opened him up and required 18 stitches to close later that night in a Greensboro hospital.

"Well Terry, you called it." Jones said.

"I know I called it, but why did you hit me so hard?" They were both laughing now, two old friends telling old war stories.

I asked Paul if the shot that opened Terry up was an accident (wrestlers call them "potatoes") or was it done to add something memorable to the match.

"I think Terry called that as a way to say thanks." Jones told me. "He never actually said so, but he was going over in my home territory, in my town. I had worked awfully hard all night and especially hard in that match. In those days, guys rarely came right out and said thanks. I've always thought it was Terry's way of saying thanks."

"I remember that show like it was yesterday," Jones said. "There was a lot of pressure on everyone during that time because the territory was in such a state of change after the plane crash. I was being set up as the top babyface. Ric Flair was getting ready to be given his first big break as one of the top heels, stepping into Valentine's shoes. Who knows if or when he would have had that break had the plane crash not happened. That's a tough way to look at it, but it's true. He certainly made the most of it."

The Tournament drew a record gate for the city of Greensboro and the entire southeastern United States at that time.

"Traffic was backed up all the way down High Point Road, out Holden road, all the way to I-85. Thousands were turned away. Everyone knew it was a special night and a big moment for the promotion.  It's hard to believe it's been 30 years."

 

- Dick Bourne

Mid-Atlantic Gateway

from telephone conversations with Paul Jones,

November 2005

 

 

 

 

PAUL JONES PHOTOGRAPH BILL JANOSIK;

GRAPHIC PRESENTATION BY DICK BOURNE MID-ATLANTIC GATEWAY.

PHOTOGRAPH FROM TOURNAMENT BY GENE GORDON

PROVIDED BY SCOOTER LESLEY DITCH-CAT PHOTOGRAPHY


NOVEMBER 1975 INDEX