The Mid-Atlantic Gateway presents

The Top 15 Cards Ever

in Richmond

by David Chappell


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Number 3   -   FRIDAY AUGUST 1, 1975

As far as personal favorites go, this Friday night August 1, 1975 Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling card at the Richmond Coliseum was the best of them all for me. A lot of that is based on the quality of the matches that night, but a good bit is also based on sentimentality and how it ended up being historically significant as it involved two of my all-time favorite Jim Crockett Promotions wrestlers never again appearing in the Richmond Coliseum after that night.

This card was loaded with great matches, but I’d have to say that the main event probably drew the majority of fans to the building that night. And if the Coliseum wasn’t sold out that night, it was very close to it. This card was the longest night I ever spent at the Coliseum, which as an early teenager at the time, it was awesome getting home around 1:30 in the morning! And that Saturday afternoon, telling everybody at a family reunion where my father and I had been the night before! And because of the length of the card, it also had to be the smokiest night ever at the Coliseum! But somehow, reeking of cigarette smoke for a day or so after this card didn’t make a bit of difference to me!

The main event for this Richmond lineup was a bout for the NWA World Tag Team Titles between champions Gene and Ole Anderson, and the challengers Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel. The special stipulation for this match was that the match had a 90 minute time limit! That stipulation would come into play in a big way during this Title match!

To fully appreciate the magnitude of this match, a little bit of brief historical context might assist. Gene and Ole Anderson brought the NWA World Tag Team Titles into the area at the beginning of 1975, and appeared all but unbeatable for the first few months of the year. However in mid May, the Champions were upset by the wildly popular duo of Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel. Jones and Wahoo held the Titles for about a month, until they were defeated on TV for the belts by the Anderson’s in the famous “Supreme Sacrifice” match where Ole ran Gene’s head into Wahoo, resulting in the winning pinfall for the bad guys.

Immediately after the Anderson’s regained the World Titles back, the chase was on, and Paul and Wahoo made ferocious attempts to win back the belts. These return matches were some of the greatest tag team matches that the Mid-Atlantic area ever produced. The program started with 60 minute time limit matches, progressed to 90 minute time limits and climaxed with, believe it or not, two hour time limit matches throughout the territory!

Richmond’s first rematch between the two teams was on the 4th of July, with the teams going to a memorable 60 minute draw. When it was announced that the August 1st card would feature a NINETY minute time limit bout, it seemed inconceivable that the teams could last even a minute beyond the 60 minutes of the previous Richmond match!

The 90 minute time limit match on August 1st was simply the best tag team match I’ve ever seen. The Anderson’s dominated for stretches using their patented “Tag and Block” maneuvers, keeping their opponent in the ring from reaching his tag partner. Paul Jones suffered the majority of the abuse in this match, having his arm jacked up behind his back and being body slammed on that arm innumerable times. Both Anderson’s would try to wrench Paul’s arm out of the shoulder socket time after time, but Jones would never submit…though the fans were sweating bullets through the whole match thinking he would!

When Paul would finally make the “hot” tag to Wahoo, the noise in the Coliseum was deafening! The chops that Wahoo hit Gene and Ole with were as hard and vicious as I have ever seen in a professional wrestling match. How Gene and Ole were able to continue after being on the receiving end of those tomahawk chops still boggles my mind!

When the match surpassed the 60 minute mark, I think it’s fair to say that nobody in attendance believed that the combatants could reach the 90 minute mark. During the final third of the match, the Wahoo and Jones duo clearly had the better of the action. As the minutes ticked off, Gene and Ole were increasingly grabbing the ring ropes in an attempt to break the momentum of the challengers. When the match got to the 85 minute mark, Paul and Wahoo were dragging the exhausted and staggering Anderson’s into the middle of the ring and were getting a series of near three counts. And at the very end of the match, Gene Anderson was pinned for a three count, but only after the bell had rung to signal the end of the 90 minutes!

Incredibly, the match ended as a 90 minute draw! Leaving the Coliseum’s smoke into the early morning summertime air, I knew I had seen one of the greatest wrestling matches anywhere at anytime! And I knew Paul and Wahoo got the best of the Anderson’s at the end! Even to this day, my father who took me to this card, says that at the end of the match, Gene and Ole “were flopping around the ring, like fish out of water.” Of all the matches my father took me to, he only still talks about one…the 90 minute time limit draw on August 1, 1975. That alone makes this card extra special to me!

A month or so after the 90 minute draw, the Richmond Coliseum got the two hour time limit/No Disqualification “blow off” match of this incredible tag team program. To heighten the two hour stipulation, the promotion had that match go on earlier during the card. That tended to take some of the steam out of the match, and it paled in comparison to the 90 minute draw.

The semi-final bout on the August 1, 1975 card was also an extremely memorable match. Johnny “The Champ” Valentine put his United States Heavyweight Championship on the line against “The World’s Strongest Wrestler,” Ken Patera. Valentine had won the U.S. Championship only a month or so earlier, so it was a big deal to see “The Champ” defending this new prestigious belt! Several weeks prior to this Richmond bout, Patera wrestled Valentine for his $2,000 silver dollars on television, and Ken had Valentine flat out in the ring when the 10 minute time limit expired. Based on that strong showing, many in the crowd were confident that Patera would become the new United States Champion on August 1st!

To me, Valentine’s ring entrance that night was hauntingly eerie. Always deliberate coming to the ring, Valentine seemingly took forever to reach the ring on this night! And on his trek to the ring, Valentine had the fans in a frenzy against him! This championship bout had a 45 minute time limit, and the lengthy bout came within a couple of minutes of being a draw.

Much like their match on TV, Patera dominated the bout and controlled Valentine for the most part. In fact, Ken kept Valentine in a vice-like head lock for a large portion of the match. Whenever it appeared that Johnny would pass out from the pressure that Ken was applying, the “Champ” was able to make the ropes and require Patera to break the hold. Then almost immediately, Ken would get the headlock back on Valentine!

Every test of strength during the match went in favor of Patera, and gave the fans the feeling that Patera was doing so well that it was almost too good to be true. As it turned out, it was too good to be true. Around the 40 minute mark, Valentine managed to get the jump on Ken, slipped behind him, and delivered a devastating suplex. Patera kicked out, but a fraction of a second after the referee counted three. The result left the fans in stunned disbelief.

What happened a few months later was even more stunning. Valentine’s injuries in the Wilmington, North Carolina plane crash ensured that his August 1, 1975 match against Patera was his last appearance ever in the Richmond Coliseum. Now thinking back with that bit of history, Valentine’s extra long ring entrance that night seems all the more eerie.

The third match from the top of the card was also a fascinating matchup. The flamboyant Mid-Atlantic Television Champion Ric Flair battled the muscular newcomer from Roanoke, Virginia, Tony Atlas. Tony had come on the scene only about a month earlier, and had a physique unlike anybody in the Mid-Atlantic area. More than once, announcer David Crockett said Tony “has a body like a Greek God!”

This match in Richmond was likely the first time Atlas had been up against a main event caliber opponent, so it figured to have a lot of intrigue. Instead, it was the most disappointing match of the night. After several tests of strength at the beginning of the match, won by Atlas, Ric put on his track shoes and ran from Tony. After a few fits and starts back in the ring, Ric took off for good, with Tony in close pursuit! Tony’s win by disqualification didn’t give the fans much indication as to where he stood with the elite in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, but certainly legitimized his awesome strength!

The remaining matches on this August 1, 1975 card were all strong and entertaining in their own ways. A tag team bout involving Art Nelson and Doug Gilbert against Bob Bruggers and Don Serrano was one that I looked forward to seeing, because Art Nelson was always one of my favorites but had been slipping down the cards. Actually, his partner Doug Gilbert had been sliding down the cards during the early part of the summer as well. The power of Nelson and the chicanery of Gilbert was too much for the team of Bruggers and Serrano, and the bad guys pulled out a hard fought victory. Bruggers was another former main eventer in the Mid-Atlantic area, who had slid well down the cards by August of 1975.

The other tag team match of the evening was a lot of fun to watch…it was a midget tag team match! Having two midget tag teams paired against each other was certainly a rarity! The team of Cowboy Lang and Little Louie defeated the duo of Lord Littlebrook and Little John. I remember how impressed I was at how many maneuvers the midget wrestlers could execute, and the power they possessed in their small frames.

The first two bouts of the evening featured a couple of promising newcomers to the area on the good guy side of the ledger. Steve Keirn, the reigning NWA Rookie of the Year, bested Charlie Fulton in a fast paced match that nearly went the time limit. Keirn had a quickness and presence about him that stood out in my mind. Another newcomer, Ron Starr, also looked good in defeating the masked Blue Scorpion. Starr was a little larger than Keirn, but seemed to possess the same type of attributes. I remember thinking that Starr and Keirn would make a good tag team, and in fact they did team several times later in August.

Something I learned in later years made this August 1, 1975 date and card stand out to me more than ever. On the other end of the Mid-Atlantic area in Charleston, South Carolina on August 1st, the Super Destroyer wrestled his last match for Jim Crockett Promotions. The Super D. was always one of my favorites, and I wished his last match in the Mid-Atlantic area would have been in Richmond. I now think about what must have been going on in the Destroyer’s last Mid-Atlantic match in Charleston, as I was simultaneously watching the Richmond bouts on the same date and time. But it’s hard to quibble with what I saw at the Richmond Coliseum on August 1, 1975, even without the departing Super Destroyer in attendance. The Richmond Coliseum on August 1, 1975 gave my Dad and I memories that just won’t quit! Enough to make it Richmond’s third best Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling card in history!            -
David Chappell

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