A memorable match-up of two top
heel tag teams took place in the early months of 1976 in the
Mid-Atlantic area, as the NWA World Tag Team champions Gene
and Ole Anderson, the Anderson Brothers, battled the
International Tag Team Champions Bolo and Geto, the Mongols.
It was a relatively short series of matches lasting only a
couple of months, but it was significant for what it
represented in a behind-the-scenes promotional war between
the NWA and the rival IWA. To understand this significance
of the battles between the two teams, we first have to look
at some history.
In January of 1975, a new
wrestling organization appeared called the IWA
(International Wrestling Association.) It was run and
financed by entrepreneur Eddie Einhorn, who also owned the
Chicago White Sox at the time. The IWA ran in
opposition to the established NWA in several territories,
one of which was Jim Crockett's Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.
organization's tag team champions from the start were Bolo
and Geto Mongol, managed by George Cannon. The Mongols had
arrived in the IWA following the collapse of Ann Gunkle's
All-South promotion in late 1974 that also had run in
opposition to the NWA, primarily in Georgia. They developed
quite a reputation as one of the most feared and respected
teams in wrestling.
After only about nine months,
suffering large financial losses, Einhorn abandoned his
attempt to run the IWA nationally and divested himself of
the business. Johnny Powers took over the promotion and
attempted to run it on a much smaller scale based out of
The Mongols left the
organization at that point still the IWA tag team champions.
They took the tag belts with them to the rival Jim Crockett
Promotions in January of 1976 where they were billed as
International Tag Team Champions, wearing the IWA belts, and
managed by Professor Boris Malenko. (The belts actually say
"IWA International Wrestling Tag Team Heavyweight
The Mongols with Malenko
debuted in the territory on January 27, 1976 at Dorton Arena
in Raleigh and on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
and Wide World Wrestling TV shows taped January 28,
also in Raleigh. TV announcers Bob Caudle and Ed Capral
immediately started pushing the Mongols as a team that had
entered the territory to win the NWA world tag team titles.
When Boris Malenko introduced the Mongols on that first
show, he stated that the Mongols had been in the minor
leagues (a shot at the IWA) but were now in the major
leagues of wrestling.
That same night, 1/27, in
Columbia SC, the Andersons lost the NWA Tag Team titles to
Wahoo McDaniel and Rufus R. Jones, but the Minnesota
Wrecking Crew would regain them one week later in Raleigh. I
like to imagine it was the news that the Mongols had entered
the area that same night that caused the Andersons to
momentarily lose focus and allow Wahoo and Rufus to take the
upset win. Whatever the case, it didn't take the Anderson's
long to reclaim the title and sharpen their focus on the
Fans and promoters alike
immediately saw the potential in this match-up: the top two
teams in wrestling representing the top two organizations
who had been in fierce competition with each other, would
possibly get to settle it in the ring. It was a dream match.
The first meeting of the two
teams came quickly, but it was not for the NWA titles. Based
on research of available newspaper clippings from that time
period, the Anderson Brothers first met the Mongols on
February 6, 1976 in Lynchburg VA in a non-title match. While
no results were published from that card, one might
reasonably assume the Mongols won that match, because they earned
their first documented title shot at the Andersons two weeks
later on 2/19 in the same building on the return date in
Lynchburg. The published results indicate that the Andersons
won that match on a reversed decision.
Over the next six weeks the
Mongols received at least seven more title shots in
Winston-Salem, Raleigh, and Norfolk, as well as another
return in Lynchburg.
The feud would end in
Charlotte, where the two teams had two matches for the NWA
title, on March 29 and April 5.
What was happening behind the
scenes, however, was nearly as dramatic as what was
happening in the ring. IWA promoter Johnny Powers was
battling Crockett Promotions in court and in the local media
(it made headlines in newspaper and on local TV news in
Winston-Salem NC) over access to arenas and, as some
remember, trying to get his IWA tag belts back. Even
though the Mongols had
the IWA belts and were being billed on Mid-Atlantic
television as "International Champions", Crockett Promotions
was not billing them as champions in newspaper ads for their
challenges for the Anderson's NWA titles in the
various cities where they met. They were no doubt being
careful to avoid trouble as well as possible future litigation.
But for wrestling fans, there
was no doubt what was happening. The NWA champions were
battling the IWA champions.
And at least at one of the
arenas where they met over those two months, something
happened that resulted in the Andersons taking both sets of
belts with them to the locker room, if perhaps only for one
night. hotographer Gene Gordon took photos of Ole and Gene
Anderson with both sets of belts in the dressing room after
one of those matches. Did the Andersons unify the titles
with a victory over the Mongols? Or did Ole and Gene simply
grabs the Mongols belts and run following one of their
brawls with the IWA champs? History makes no record of what
happened that resulted in these photographs. When asked in
private conversations in 2007, some 31 years after these
events, Ole Anderson and Bill Eadie (who was Bolo Mongol)
have no recollection. We are left only to speculate.
Nothing more was said about the
International titles or the belts after that the final
series of matches in Charlotte in late March and early April
of 1976. The Andersons moved
on to feud with Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods and Dino Bravo
(Bravo himself was another IWA import), exchanging the NWA
tag titles with them that summer. The Mongols with manager
Boris Malenko fought many different teams over the following
months, but they were not in the title picture again
following the matches in Charlotte.
History does not record what
happened during those handful of matchers between these two
teams, matches that were sure to have been classics to those
fortunate enough to see them. Without Gene Gordon's historic
photograph, published here for the first time since it was
taken over 30 years ago, we likely never would have been
allowed to speculate that perhaps on some late winter or
early spring night in 1976, the Andersons unified the NWA
and IWA titles.
And it is just that:
speculation. But there is no disputing now that for at least
one night somewhere along the Mid-Atlantic wrestling
circuit, perhaps at the Lynchburg Armory where it all began
or at the Charlotte Park Center where it all concluded, or
at some venue in between, lucky fans who
bought their tickets and sat down with their hot dog and
Coca-Cola in a smoke filled arena saw the Andersons become,
at least for that moment in their eyes, the undisputed champions of
the world. Those fans could not possibly imagine how really
lucky they were.
- Dick Bourne
Revised May 2007
Was The Unification Billed After All?
The newspaper ad for the final
title match between the Andersons and the Mongols on April 5
in Charlotte billed the match as for the "United States Tag
While it is likely this was
simply an error at the paper (mistakes in newspaper ads like
that were not that uncommon), one might put forth the
proposition that Crockett Promotions billed the match that
way to represent that it was the Mongol's titles that were
on the line that night rather than the Anderson's NWA
world titles. Perhaps an ongoing legal fight (or just
good judgment) prohibited them from calling the titles
"International" at this point. On at least one other
occasion, a newspaper ad (for one of these matches in
Lynchburg VA) referred to the Mongols as "United States Tag
team Champions". It's possible that this was a safer way to
represent those titles legally.
I would tend to
believe that it was a newspaper error after all. But who knows?
Who Were The Good Guys?
Ever wonder who were the fan
favorites in the battles between the Anderson Brothers and
the Mongols? It was definitely the Andersons. And even
though it's safe to say that the Andersons weren't actually
the "good guys", they had one more battle in Charlotte with
the Mongols on 4/12, except
this time in a six-man tag team encounter. The Mongols took
their manager Boris Malenko as their partner, while the
Andersons took as their partner, to both the surprise and
delight of Charlotte fans, long time Mid-Atlantic veteran
and perennial fan favorite Johnny Weaver!
The Mongols and Malenko won the
match, thereby getting a little of their heat back. While it
isn't documented, I'm betting the Andersons turned on Weaver
at the end, getting their heat back, too!
The Andersons and the Mongols Meet
One Final Time
In September of
1976, two of the top tag teams in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling
were preparing to leave the territory.
First , behind
the scenes, the wrestler known as Geto Mongol was ready to
head back home to Pennsylvania, and Mid-Atlantic booker
George Scott had ideas about putting Bill Eadie, who was
Bolo Mongol in the ring, under a mask. These developments
were bringing an end to the team of the Mongols.
Second, Gene and
Ole Anderson were getting ready to leave the territory for
Georgia Championship Wrestling, taking their NWA tag team
titles with them.
several storyline elements devised to help explain the two
teams leaving. On September 11 in Roanoke VA, the Andersons
agreed to put up the NWA titles for a final time with the
stipulation that if the Mongols lost, they could never
wrestle as a tag team again. The Andersons won this match,
and Geto left the territory.
Bolo Mongol then
entered a series of loser-leaves-town matches with Wahoo
McDaniel in Norfolk VA, Paul Jones in Richmond VA, and Tim
Woods in Spartanburg SC, losing all three.
September 25 in Greensboro NC, Wahoo McDaniel fought Bolo
Mongol in a hair vs. hair match. For several months prior to
this match Wahoo had been engaged in a running feud with the
Mongols and their manager Boris Malenko. Wahoo had even
knocked Malenko's false teeth out on a couple of occasions.
Wahoo defeated Bolo, scalped him of his Mongolian top-knot,
and Bolo Mongol was never heard from again.
that Bolo left the territory. But in one of the smoothest
character transitions in wrestling history, Bill Eadie
showed up on TV the following week as the Masked Superstar
with his manager (who else?) Professor Boris Malenko.
Wrestling fans had no idea that Bolo Mongol and the Masked
Superstar were one and the same.
then lost a series of loser-leaves-town matches against
Rufus R. Jones, and he and Gene left the territory for
Georgia, still holding the NWA world tag team titles.
two of the top "bad guy" tag teams in the territory were
gone. The Andersons would be back and forth between the
Georgia and Mid-Atlantic territories for years. But the team
known as the Mongols were gone forever.
- Dick Bourne
Anderson Brothers vs.
Mongols For the NWA Tag Team Title
Lynchburg VA (Andersons win)
02/21/76 Winston-Salem NC
(No result available)
03/02/76 Raleigh NC (All
Four Men Counted Out)
03/05/76 Lynchburg VA
(Andersons retain title)
03/09/76 Raleigh NC
03/18/76 Norfolk VA (No
03/19/76 Winston-Salem NC
(No result available)
03/25/76 Norfolk VA (No
03/29/76 Charlotte NC
04/05/76 Charlotte NC
09/11/76 Roanoke VA
(Fence match - Andersons win)
Charlotte Newspaper Clippings
from the collection of Mark Eastridge.
Anderson Brothers photos with
NWA and IWA belts taken by Gene Gordon and courtesy of
Scooter Lesley/ © Ditch-Cat Photography.
Photo of the Mongols with the
IWA belts was taken by Bill Janosik and is © Bill Janosik.
Special thanks to Ole Anderson
and Bill Eadie for their input. Thanks to Carroll Hall and Mark Eastridge for their assistance in researching this article.
NOTES ON THE MAY 2007
REVISION TO THIS STORY
After follow-up conversations
with Ole Anderson and Bill Eadie regarding these events, and
learning of a processing-date stamped on of the photo slides
taken by Gene Gordon that put the Charlotte unification in
dispute, I revised the article above to simply reflect that
clealy an angle unfolded somewhere that resulted in the
Gordon photos of the Andersons with both the NWA and IWA
belts. It is made clear that a unification is purely
speculation, as history does not record that a unification
actually took place. The general thrust of the story, that
of telling the tale of these two teams meeting under unuusal
circumstances, remains the same.
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