Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Gateway Interview  

Tommy Young

Interview by David Chappell & Dick Bourne, with George South and Charles Robinson, June 10, 2003

Above photo L-R: George South, Tommy Young, David Chappell (photo / D. Bourne)


Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Gateway lobby

The Mid-Atlantic Gateway was indeed fortunate to recently have had dinner with Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling's preeminent referee, Tommy Young.

Tommy entered Jim Crockett Promotions late in 1975 and refereed until 1989. During that time frame, Tommy was involved in some form or fashion in nearly every major angle that the promotion put forward.

Tommy Young, circa 1976

photo by Les Thatcher

During our dinner meeting in Charlotte with Tommy, we discussed a wide range of topics ranging from his start in the business in Detroit to his untimely career ending injury in the ring in 1989. And pretty much everything in between.

Joining us for dinner, we were also privileged to have our good friend George South with us. George was kind enough to take time out and set up this meeting with Tommy. George also participates in the interview. Thank you George, as always.

As an added treat, we were pleased to have current WWE referee Charles Robinson and his daughter Jessica join us for dinner. Charles took time to join us after just getting back to Charlotte from an overseas tour with the WWE. Charles also briefly participated in the interview, before he and Jessica had to depart. And the universal consensus from everybody at the dinner table, was that Jessica was the most pleasant and well-mannered young lady that any of us had seen in a very long time! Thank you Charles and Jessica.

David Chappell with 

Charles and Jessica Robinson.


Most of all, we thank Tommy very much for all his time and his candid answers. We hope that you will enjoy the interview. Anybody who ever followed Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling to any degree will never forget Tommy Young. Tommy is a true legend in every sense of the word. 

 -D. Chappell

David Chappell: Since we’re here eating dinner with you tonight, do you have any road stories when you and the wrestlers were doing pretty much what we are tonight?


Tommy Young: One comes to mind, and David, it was up in Richmond (Editor’s note: David Chappell is a native of the Richmond, Virginia area). We used to work the Norfolk-Richmond circuit. Usually we worked a show in Norfolk on Thursday night and go right on to Richmond because they let us check out late.


David, you remember a Chinese restaurant in Richmond called the Lotus?


DC: I sure do, it’s still in business today.


Tommy: It was open until 2:00 a.m. , so you could eat there real late. Back in 1981-1982 when Ole Anderson was our booker, he and five or six of us would go to the Lotus to eat. Was Ole ever chintzy…wow.


Ole would always tell the waitress to put everybody’s meal on his check. 


But after the meal was over, Ole would come around to each of us to collect the amounts for our individual meals. I thought, I know what he’s doing…he’s getting all the money and then he’s going to put the whole tab on his expense list like he bought it all and then write it off. That was my opinion, anyway.


So, I’d tell the waitress every time after that I wanted a separate check. Don’t put mine on his…I wasn’t going for that.


DC: Since we are on the subject of Ole Anderson, what did you think of him as a booker for Jim Crockett Promotions?


Tommy: He killed this area in a matter of a year and a half…just killed it.


Dick Bourne: How so?


Tommy: I mean, this was a guy who didn’t even think Ricky Steamboat was a hot property…that’s how out of touch Ole was. To this day, he thinks he’s ‘Mr. Wit.’ He got his jollies by putting people down.


Don Kernodle was like that too, but he was a little better than Ole. Don remains a friend. I mean, if I see Ole I’ll say ‘How you doing Rock.’ He used to call himself ‘Rock.’ His real name is ‘Rogowski.’ But he became one of the Anderson Brothers.


DB: What is your opinion of Gene and Ole Anderson as a tag team?


Tommy: I must say, Ole and Gene were without a doubt the most fluid team I ever refereed. And I refereed hundreds of teams.


DC: Did the Anderson Brothers generate some heat with the fans, or what?


Tommy: But they never put the heat on the referee. But, I mean, some guys didn’t know any better…they would think that was getting good heat. Hey, the referee is not coming back next week in a return match. Use your head brother…you don’t want the heat on me.


Some guys would tell me, ‘you prima donna, you don’t want the heat.’ I always told them I could live with the heat. Referees always live with heat…so do umpires.


But you’ve got to understand, we’re talking about drawing money. And the heat has to be in the right place to draw money. Nowadays, there’s really no such thing as heat anymore in today’s wrestling.


Speaking of today’s wrestling, what happened to Ric Flair last night on RAW, it looked like he was bleeding from the back of the head?


Charles Robinson: Ric got kicked in the back of the head by Shawn Michaels.


Tommy: Potatoed?


Charles: Yeah.


Tommy: I thought he must have gotten kicked pretty hard if he’s bleeding like that...it didn’t look right with the blood coming from the back.


Charles: Later Ric caught the ‘red eye,’ and he was still bleeding on the plane.


DC: Red on the ‘red eye,’ that’s amazing.


George South: Talking about Ric, there’s always something I’ve wanted to ask you Tommy. Do you remember when you refereed Flair and Steamboat and Flair would put him in the figure four…Ricky would be selling it so bad that he would pull your shirt off! I’ve always wondered if that was spur of the moment. Was that planned?


Tommy: Oh yeah, I remember that. No, I didn’t know he would do that. But anything Steamboat would do was fine. (laughs)


Steamboat was so good. The guy is in so much pain he didn’t even realize he was doing that. That’s what made Steamboat and Flair so great.


Charles never got an opportunity to do a Flair-Steamboat match, and I wish he had.


DC: Tommy, were there matches between guys that you never did, but wish you had?


Tommy: You better believe it. I wish I had the opportunity to do Jack Brisco and Dory Funk, Jr. Their matches were classics. I’ve never actually seen them, but I’ve heard so much about them. They were both such consummate pros. Excellent wrestlers and great performers…I heard about how fluid their matches were.


Their matches were probably not as good as Flair-Steamboat…but very good. Neither Jack nor Dory was real flashy. They didn’t throw a lot of dropkicks, that kind of thing.


DB: You never did a match of theirs?


Tommy: Well, they were always in different areas, usually in Florida , and I was always in Charlotte . And most of their classics were in the early 70’s, right before I started.


DC: Jack and Dory worked a little bit together in here in late 1982 I believe.


Tommy: Exactly. But Dory was booking back then and Jack was pretty much finishing up his career. He and Dory just weren’t doing much of anything at that point.


Continued in PART TWO







Al Costello demonstrates the abdominal stretch on Tommy Young (from IWA Wrestling Parade magazine.