David Chappell's

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History

July 1978

by David Chappell


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& Who's Not


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Championship Picture This Month:



Greg Valentine and Baron von Raschke



--Ken Patera


---Paul Jones


---Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat


Fans in the Mid-Atlantic area saw July of 1978 start off with a real bang! On Saturday, July 1st, the viewing audience around the territory saw Blackjack Mulligan come out on the set of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program, and tell announcers Bob Caudle and David Crockett that he was cleaning out an expensive van that he and Ric Flair had purchased together some time back.

Mulligan told the fans that the van belonged to him now, and that he had been cleaning out Flair’s contents in the van. As Flair was in the ring getting ready to be introduced for the show’s first match, he became livid as Mulligan began pulling out embarrassing items of Ric’s that came from his closet in the van.

Among the items belonging to Flair that Mulligan showed the TV audience was a blond wig, a picture of the Nature Boy that was autographed to himself, and what really set Ric off…a pair of pantyhose! Flair went ballistic, telling Mulligan that he crossed the line, that his private life was his own, and that he would finally give Mulligan a match, and Blackjack would be a dead man!

This started the first of the individual matches between Flair and Mulligan, and there were no more hotly contested matches in the history of the Mid-Atlantic area. The first singles match between the two former friends was at the Greensboro Coliseum on July 2nd….sort of. Before the two combatants even got into the ring, the Masked Superstar interfered on Flair’s behalf, getting the Nature Boy disqualified before the match really began. So, the first “real” match between Flair and Mulligan had the two rivals squaring off at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina on July 11, 1978 before a raucous crowd. Soon thereafter, Ric and Blackjack battled at the Richmond, Virginia Coliseum on July 14th. In both of these bouts, Mulligan got the better of the action, but Flair was disqualified, and thus retained his title. This would be a common theme between these two over the next several months.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race made a quick tour through the area during the early part of the month of July, defending his highly prized belt three times in the process. On July 1st in the Charlotte Coliseum, “Handsome” Harley defeated Ricky Steamboat after 43 minutes of a 90 minute time limit, No Disqualification match. Race followed that with two successful title defenses against “Sensational” Dick Murdock, besting Murdock in the Greensboro Coliseum on July 2nd, and pinning Murdock in Columbia, South Carolina as part of a spectacular July 4th holiday card.

Also making a quick tour through the area early in the month of July was the ever-popular Andre the Giant. Andre defeated Ken Patera by Disqualification in Savannah on July 2nd and in Raleigh as part of a big holiday card on July 4th. A huge crowd in excess of 3.200 fans packed the little Rocky Mount, North Carolina Ballpark on July 5, 1978, to see the Giant defeat the Masked Superstar by Disqualification. The only clean pin Andre secured during this swing through the Mid-Atlantic territory, was teaming with Tony Atlas in a handicap match to beat Ken Patera, Cyclone Negro and the Missouri Mauler at the Lynchburg Armory on July 7th.

United States Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair successfully defended his Title early in the month against Mr. Wrestling, pinning the masked man on July 1st in Charlotte. Ric also held onto his U.S. belt after Title matches against Ricky Steamboat on July 6th in Norfolk, Virginia, and on July 9th in Wilmington, North Carolina. Later in the month, Ric continued his bloody series of U.S. Title matches against Blackjack Mulligan, keeping his Title by the skin of his teeth after battles in Roanoke, Virginia, Columbia, Norfolk and Charlotte.

An intriguing feud between two of the strongest wrestlers in the world took hold in July of 1978. On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that aired around the area on July 8th, Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Ken Patera came out to show the area’s viewing audience his prowess with feats of strength. In front of the muscleman from Roanoke, Tony Atlas, Patera drove a spike through a solid walnut board with his bare hand! Then, Ken blew up and burst a nylon-threaded hot water bottle, to the amazement of everybody…particularly of announcer Bob Caudle, Bob saying he couldn’t even blow up a balloon!

Tony Atlas wasn’t as impressed, saying that Patera blowing up and bursting the hot water bottle proved that Patera was “full of nothing but hot air!” That comment got Patera to commit to defending his Mid-Atlantic belt against Atlas, and most of those matches began occurring later in the month. A classic battle between Atlas and Patera occurred at the Charlotte Coliseum on July 30th, where after a spirited contest, Patera threw Atlas over the top rope in order to get himself disqualified, thus keeping his Mid-Atlantic Title. Unfortunately, many of the Patera versus Atlas Mid-Atlantic Title matches in July had the same ending---Atlas winning the bout by DQ, but Patera still retaining the Championship. In addition to the eight Title defenses against Atlas during the month of July, Patera also successfully defended his belt against Paul Jones and Blackjack Mulligan during the month.

On the following edition of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show, Atlas continued to get under the skin of “The World’s Strongest Wrestler.” On this show, Atlas was able to match all of the feats of strength Patera had done, consisting of bending a steel bar, bending a steel bolt, and the two feats Patera had done on the earlier show, driving the nail through the solid walnut board with his hand, and blowing up a hot water bottle until it burst. Patera was so enraged that Atlas had successfully done all the feats of strength he had, that he and Atlas traded punches on the WRAL studio floor, with Atlas getting the best of it. Patera vowed revenge from that embarrassment on TV.

NWA World Tag Team Champions Greg Valentine and Baron von Raschke had a successful and busy month, defending their Titles nine times during July in the Mid-Atlantic area, and emerging from the month with their Championship intact. Valentine and Raschke’s primary opponents were Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat, who they wrestled six times during the month. Tony Atlas and Dick Murdock were unsuccessful in wrestling the Titles from the Baron and the “Bionic Elbow” on July 10th in Fayetteville, North Carolina and on July 16th in Savannah. Paul Jones and Mr. Wrestling also took their shot at the Champs on July 29th in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and also came up empty.

One of the toughest wrestlers to ever appear in the Mid-Atlantic area shot back into the forefront of the promotion at the end of the month of July. On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that aired on July 29th, a tape was shown to the viewing audience where Gene Anderson was refereeing a U.S. Title match between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat. Throughout the match, Gene’s counts were very slow when Flair was on the verge of getting pinned. When a dazed and bloody Flair was out on his feet, and Steamboat went to the top rope and dove off to finish Flair off, Gene pushed Flair out of the way! Then Gene did a fast count on the stunned Steamboat, costing Ricky the United States Heavyweight Title. David Crockett told the fans that Gene Anderson’s referee’s license was lifted because of his actions. Speaking to the TV audience around the area, Steamboat said he would go after Gene Anderson for what he did. And it happened immediately, as later that night on the 29th in the Greensboro Coliseum, Steamboat and Anderson had their first match of a series that went well into the month of August.

NWA Television Champion Paul Jones was active, and successful, in defending his Title in the month of July. The majority of Jones’ defenses were against the former champion Baron von Raschke, but Paul also defended against the Masked Superstar, Cyclone Negro and Greg Valentine during the course of the month. An interesting match involving Jones occurred in Fayetteville, North Carolina on July 24th. In that match, Jones wrestled Ken Patera in a Title versus Title match. In that wild bout, Patera pinned Jones, but it was after the 15 minute mark, so neither Title changed hands.

For the first time in many weeks, the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles were defended in July. In the only such bout during the month, Champions Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat turned back the challenge of Gene Anderson and Sgt. Jacques Goulet on July 23rd at the Roanoke Civic Center.

At the end of the month, a match was featured that would carry over into a red-hot feud through August and September. Blackjack Mulligan’s main focus in July, besides a few scattered Bounty Matches, was battling Nature Boy Ric Flair. But on July 28th, Blackjacked faced off in a bloody Texas Death Match against the Masked Superstar in The Richmond Coliseum. Mulligan won this battle by Count Out, but the brutal matches between Mulligan and the Masked Superstar were just beginning!

July saw the long awaited singles matches between Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan, and those wild and crazy bouts did not disappoint. Many of theses matches were promoted as being “The Match the Fans Have Asked to See!” But by the end of July, another sizzling hot series of matches were just getting going…big time Grudge Matches between Blackjack and his arch-nemesis, the Masked Superstar, which would define the Mid-Atlantic landscape during the month of August!



1. Ric Flair---The Nature Boy survived the ferocious U.S. Title challenge of Blackjack Mulligan during the month of July, and that in itself made this month a big one for Ric. Flair also successfully turned back challenges from Ricky Steamboat and Mr. Wrestling during the month.

2. Ken Patera---The Portland, Oregon muscleman was very busy defending his Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title during July. And while most of his Title defenses were tainted, Patera nevertheless maintained his championship belt for the entirety of the month. And those feats of strength were something else!

3. Dick Murdock---While not spectacular, Murdock continued his steady rise through the Mid-Atlantic ratings. He had an excellent won-loss record in his singles matches, and Dick formed a fine team with Tony Atlas, and that twosome had two World Title shots against Valentine and Raschke during the month of July.


1. Gene Anderson---It was probably not the wisest thing for Gene to do…jumping on Ricky Steamboat at the end of the month. Gene would not realize the full error of his ways until August, when Steamboat would exact revenge on many a night around the area.

2. Mr. Wrestling---The masked man slipped from any real title contention during the month of July, and his won-loss ledger was not up to his usual standards. Nevertheless, Tim Woods remained a tough foe for any bad guy.

3. Masked Superstar---The other masked man in the area, the Superstar, also had a bit of a sub par month by his standards. Superstar mainly ran interference for Ric Flair during the month of July. But by the end of the month, Superstar was embarking on a monumental feud with Blackjack Mulligan…a feud that would soon cost him his mask.



© 2008 David Chappell   Mid-Atlantic Gateway  Published 08/23/08