David Chappell's

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History

April 1979

by David Chappell

The Almanac

Almanac Index

April 79 Roster

Championship Picture This Month:



NWA WORLD TAG TEAM---Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka

Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke (April 25, 1979 at the WRAL TV studios in Raleigh, North Carolina. Aired in most markets on Saturday, April 28, 1979)


Ric Flair (April 1, 1979 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina)



MID-ATLANTIC TAG TEAM---Ken Patera and John Studd


Greg Valentine (April 8, 1979 at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada)

Newspaper clippings courtesy of Mark Eastridge.

April of 1979 got off to a rousing start, as on the very first day of the month a new United States Heavyweight Champion was crowned. Inside of a steel cage in the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina on April 1st, the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair took the measure of Ricky Steamboat in a grueling 37 minute encounter to become the new U.S. Champion. Despite leaving the ring in Greensboro bloody and battered from the cage, Ric carried out the “gold” that he desired so much.



On the April 4th taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show, Ric and a bevy of beautiful ladies announced to the fans Ric’s U.S. Title conquest. Later in the same broadcast, Ricky Steamboat narrated over film clips from the championship match. Steamboat was in Flair’s figure four leg-lock for a very long time, but finally escaped. Steamboat was beaten when he and Flair had a major collision mid-ring, and Flair recovered slightly faster and got a three court on Ricky just an instant before “Steamer” kicked out.


After capturing the U.S. belt, the Nature Boy was quite active defending it in April. Ric had several notable rematches against Steamboat. One of the toughest was actually Flair’s first title defense, on April 7th in Savannah, Georgia, where he battled a very aggressive former champion Ricky Steamboat. After a rough and tumble 35 minutes of action, Ric threw Steamboat over the top rope resulting in a disqualification, but ensuring that the Nature Boy would retain his newly won United States Championship in his first defense.


But as the month went on, it was becoming apparent that the Canadian Heavyweight Champion, Dino Bravo, was becoming Ric Flair’s most dangerous challenger for the U.S. belt. The Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina saw two blockbuster title matches between Flair and Bravo on successive Tuesday nights. On April 10th, Dino got his first championship bout against Flair, and almost had the belt won but the Nature Boy was able to sneak something by the referee. That result led to a rematch in Raleigh on April 17th where the NWA decreed that there would be 2 referees! Despite the second set of eyes, Flair managed to prevail over Dino via pinflall.




Towards the end of April, the U.S. Title bouts between Bravo and Flair were becoming more and more out of control. On April 24th in Columbia, South Carolina and then again on April 30th in Greenville, South Carolina, both Flair and Bravo became so belligerent that both were disqualified before a decision could be reached in the ring. These two were definitely developing a keen dislike for each other!


Adding fuel to the fire of the developing feud between Ric Flair and Dino Bravo was a film clip that Dino commented over on the April 11th TV taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show. In the match, which occurred before Flair had regained the U.S. Title from Ricky Steamboat, Bravo defeated Flair but after the bout Ric attacked Dino from behind, ran Bravo’s head into a ring post and caused Dino 25 stitches to close the wound to his head. Bravo was clearly using this incident as motivation to try and take the U.S. Title away from Flair!


In addition to emerging as the top contender to Ric Flair’s United States Heavyweight Championship, Dino Bravo also got the most title opportunities for Ken Patera’s Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship during the month of April. Dino controlled most of his championship matches with Patera, only to have Ken pull some underhanded tactics in the end to retain his belt. One of the wildest bouts of the month between these two occurred in Fayetteville, North Carolina where both Patera and Bravo were disqualified in a wild melee. Patera also saved the Mid-Atlantic Title by purposely getting himself disqualified against Dino in Norfolk, Virginia on April 12th and then again at the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia on April 27th.


During April, Patera continued with his money challenge to anyone who could beat him on TV in 10 minutes. On the April 4th TV taping from the WRAL studios, Ken faced perhaps his toughest test in “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, with the money amount up to $700. With John Studd providing guest color commentary, Patera threw Snuka over the top rope when things were getting tough, thus preserving Ken’s loot of the 700 silver dollars in the fish bowl at ringside.


The “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka also provided Mid-Atlantic Champion Ken Patera some stiff competition over Ken’s belt during the month of April. Patera salvaged his belt against Snuka by getting disqualified several times during April, and Ken also finagled his way into keeping his belt by running out of the ring when things were getting rough for him. On April 17th in Columbia, South Carolina, Snuka was dominating his Mid-Atlantic Title match with Patera, until Ken decided to take a powder a stay outside of the ring, thus getting himself counted out. A similar scenario happened three nights later at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia where Snuka had full control of the match only to see Ken run out of the ring, get counted out and save his title by a whisker.



The stars of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling had an eventful trip to the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada on April 8th. In the battle of the strongmen, Ken Patera scored an odd victory over arch-rival Tony Atlas. As the two battled outside the ring and both were close to being counted out, Atlas gave Ken a vicious head-butt that actually propelled Patera back into the ring, allowing Ken to beat the count. Atlas was still outside the ring and was counted out, giving the bout to Patera in 22:15.


Two big championship tilts highlighted the card in Toronto. In an upset, the “Hammer” Greg Valentine captured the Canadian Heavyweight Championship from Dino Bravo in a shocker at the 21:13 mark! And in a NWA World’s Heavyweight Title match, Harley Race retained his prestigious Title by going to a time limit draw with challenger Ricky Steamboat. The bout had to be stopped at 26:35 because of curfew.


In addition to Harley Race defending his World Title in Toronto during April, there were also a number of notable wrestlers doing “guest shots” around the territory during April. Early in the month, the “Eighth Wonder of the World” Andre the Giant made a short pass through the area, and greeted the Mid-Atlantic fans with a short interview on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that was taped on April 4th. The Giant was at his dominating best when in the ring, taking care of the “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd at Township Auditorium in Columbia on April 3rd and at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium in Spartanburg, South Carolina on April 7th. Sandwiched in between, Andre thrashed Big John Studd at County Hall in Charleston, South Carolina on April 6th.



The big man from Eagle Pass, Texas, Blackjack Mulligan, also visited the Mid-Atlantic area at the beginning of the month. Blackjack participated in a double-shot on April 8th, being one of 14 entrants in a Battle Royal in Asheville, North Carolina in the afternoon and then venturing to Roanoke, Virginia later that day to drop a close contest to Ernie Ladd. Mulligan battled Ladd the next two days as well, first at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium and then at Raleigh’s Dorton Arena. Mully lost both bouts, but the later match in Raleigh was a disqualification loss, as Blackjack completely lost his cool!




As the month of April wore on, more “guests” toured the territory, including TWO World Heavyweight Champions! AWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkle appeared in the area via a video tape in a match versus Chief Frankie Hill on the April 4th taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program. Nick then wrestled on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television program that was taped at WRAL TV in Raleigh on April 18th, defeating Herb Gallant. Bockwinkle even defended his AWA Title during the month, including defeating Paul Orndorff in the Greensboro Coliseum on April 22nd and barely escaping with his belt on April 24th in Raleigh’s Dorton Arena, when Ricky Steamboat won a hotly contested Title match by disqualification.


NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race toured the Mid-Atlantic area during late April, and had a very successful run. In addition to retaining his Title against the challenge of Ricky Steamboat in Asheville on April 22nd and at the Norfolk Scope Coliseum on April 26th, Harley also notched clean pinfall wins in Title defenses against Dino Bravo in Greensboro on April 22nd and against Tony Atlas in Columbia’s Township Auditorium on April 24th.


NWA Television Champion Paul Jones had an extraordinarily busy month defending his TV Title, where his championship was at stake for the first fifteen minutes of every singles match. “Mr. Number One” began the month and ended the month in the Cumberland County Memorial Arena in Fayetteville, North Carolina. On April 2nd, Paul survived the challenge of Dino Bravo in Fayetteville, and closed out the month on April 30th losing to Ricky Steamboat, but keeping his belt because the loss occurred after the 15 minutes had expired.


That was certainly a trend for Jones throughout April, purposely stalling at the beginning of his matches to try to insure that he was not beaten before the all important fifteen minute mark. Steamboat was Jones’ most frequent opponent during the month, but Paul also battled Jimmy Snuka, Paul Orndorff along with Dino Bravo in April for the NWA TV Title. And on the April 11th taping of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling show, Jones had quite a battle over the NWA Television Championship against the young Indian star, Jay Youngblood.


County Hall in Charleston saw THREE battles on successive Friday nights where Paul escaped with his TV Title intact. On April 6th, Jones and Steamboat were having quite a match, but “Steamer” got sick and tired of Jones’ stalling and decided to chase him all over County Hall! This led to a rematch in Charleston on April 13th under “Death Match---Falls Count Anywhere” rules! This bout was unruly to the hilt as these two battled all over County Hall! Jones came back the next week to Charleston, but he had a different opponent though someone very dangerous---Paul Orndorff. Jones through big doses of trickery, as he used throughout the month of April, again emerged with his TV Title intact over Orndorff.


But Paul Jones wasn’t just busy during April defending his NWA Television Title. At the end of the month, Jones and his new partner Baron von Raschke upset the duo of Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka to ace the NWA World Tag Team Title belts! On April 25th at the TV tapings at the WRAL studios in Raleigh, shown around the area on Saturday April 28th, by sacrificing one for the other, Jones and Raschke prevailed to take the Titles away from Orndorff and Snuka. The Baron’s family later had a bravery medal presented to Paul for Jones’ actions in that title changing bout!


These two teams had some titanic struggles at the end of the month. On April 23rd at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium the four wrestled to a back and forth 60 minute draw. The two teams went at it again, this time on April 26th at the Norfolk Scope Coliseum. This was another see-saw affair that saw Snuka and Orndorff ultimately emerge with a triumph by disqualification. Jones and Raschke closed out the month of April with a successful defense over Snuka and Orndorff in Wilmington, North Carolina.


April of 1979 was action packed, and in the midst of all that action, it saw the Mid-Atlantic area’s top two Titles change hands. And the two new title-holders, Ric Flair and the team of Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke, certainly had the look of Champions that could hold onto their new belts for quite some time.






1.     Ric Flair---The Nature Boy captured the United States Heavyweight Title from Ricky Steamboat on the first day of the month, and had a full month of impressive title defenses during April.

2.     Paul Jones and Baron Von Raschke---“Number One” and the Baron were certainly an unlikely combination, but these two gelled quickly in the ring and had the look of long term champions.

3.     Ernie Ladd---The “Big Cat” and “Number 99” continued to impress, using his massive size to dominate his opponents. The Cat even defeated Blackjack Mulligan on three successive days in early April…no small feat!




1.     Ricky Steamboat---Ricky not only lost the United States Title on April 1st and was unable to regain it, but was also unable to capture the TV Title from Paul Jones despite numerous opportunities.

2.     Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka---Orndorff and Snuka dropped the NWA World Tag Team Titles to an unlikely combination of Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke, and seemed at a loss as to how to deal with this novel new team.

3.     Blackjack Mulligan---While only a “guest” in the area during the month of April, Blackjack dropped bouts to Ernie Ladd on three successive dates early in the month. Definitely not the Blackjack Mulligan that Mid-Atlantic fans were used to seeing!






Copyright © 2011 David Chappell • Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Posted 10/02/11