A number of strange things were definitely in the air at the Richmond Coliseum on this frigid night in December. First, could it actually be possible that “Number One” Paul Jones was going to wrestle AGAINST his former friend and tag team partner, Ricky Steamboat? Secondly, what was up with a Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling card on a TUESDAY night? Friday was Richmond’s normal night for wrestling, but once in awhile we had cards on a Saturday, even on a Sunday once in a blue moon. But wrestling on a Tuesday? That I could never remember. And third, could Richmond get a Christmas present one day late, in the form of a major title change with the NWA World Tag Team Titles being defended with No Time Limit, No Disqualification stipulations?
The new duo of Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka had come onto the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling scene in the early days of November 1978, and one couldn’t help from being impressed with their athleticism. But were they world championship caliber? Count me as being one of the early skeptics. But they just kept winning match after match. Snuka, from the Fiji Islands, dazzled everyone with his leaps from the top rope. And Orndorff, billed as being from Winchester, Virginia, seemed to possess the complete package of wrestling skills. And when this tandem defeated NWA World Tag Team Champions Greg Valentine and Baron Von Raschke on the World Wide Wrestling TV program in a non-title bout several weeks before the Richmond title bout, well, they made believers out of me! But could they take the final, and most difficult step, of taking the titles away from Valentine and Raschke?
If the fans in Richmond needed any more reason to root against Valentine and Raschke, in the weeks prior to the match the villainous duo attempted to injure Jimmy Snuka, and were hinting about leaving the Mid-Atlantic area with the world championship belts. This was the backdrop to the Richmond bout, a title match with no rules! And these four were definitely not in the holiday spirit towards each other!
The large Coliseum crowd saw the champions control the early part of the match, not allowing the challengers with their athletic moves to get untracked. Keeping the action for the most part on the mat, Valentine and Raschke kept the pace of the match to their liking during the early going. But the champions got overconfident at their early success, and Orndorff and Snuka were poised to make them pay.
During the middle portion of the match, Snuka and Orndorff gave the people what they expected to see…lots of highflying maneuvers! But because of the No Disqualification stipulation, the bad guys were usually able to counter those moves fairly easily. Snuka and Raschke gave the fans a very interesting contrast in styles, with Jimmy running circles around the befuddled Raschke more often than not. What frustrated the big German even more, was that his vaunted Claw hold had virtually no impact on the wild man from the Fiji Islands!
As the bout proceeded beyond the 30 minute mark, it appeared the champions were being worn down by the youth and vigor of Snuka and Orndorff. And the Baron was so frustrated by the tide of the battle going against him and his team, that he was taken almost completely off of his game. Even all of the brutal tactics that were employed by Valentine and Raschke, which were legal in this match, were not getting the job done. After the challengers caught a quick pin to end the contest to the delight of the assembled faithful at the Coliseum, the Baron went berserk and piledrove the referee, appearing to injure him seriously.
Not only did Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka capture the NWA World’s Tag Team Titles, but Mid-Atlantic fans would soon learn that Baron Von Raschke was suspended by the NWA for his actions immediately after the match! What a great belated Christmas present for the fans in Richmond, and certainly nobody in attendance was complaining about having wrestling on a Tuesday night!
In the co-feature, it was surreal that Paul Jones would be entering the Richmond Coliseum ring from the bad guy’s side of the arena! Fans were still in disbelief that Paul had turned on Ricky Steamboat several weeks earlier, and incredulous of the vicious new wrestling style that Jones was employing. Technically, Jones’ NWA Television Title was at stake for the first 15 minutes of the bout, but nobody in attendance was thinking much about that. The fans just wanted to see if Paul Jones would actually be the rulebreaker they had seen on TV over the last few weeks. They wouldn’t have to wait long to find out.
Paul Jones came out of the bad guy’s dressing room to a cascade of boos that was thunderous! And at the other extreme, the cheers for Ricky Steamboat appeared louder than ever! At the outset, it appeared that Jones wanted to “make up” with Ricky, but Steamboat saw through that tactic immediately. During the early portion of the bout, it was clear that Jones was stalling, trying to run out the 15 minutes that his NWA Television Title was at stake. Steamboat had several chances to take a fall on Jones before the initial 15 minutes expired, but Paul was cagey enough to withstand Steamboat’s early onslaught.
It was after the first 15 minutes were over, that the fans were truly able to witness the “new” Paul Jones. And they certainly didn’t like what they saw! Using his fingers that were taped, and a new found reliance on karate-type moves, “Number One” showed a side of himself that nobody in Richmond had ever seen. Taking advantage of Steamboat at every turn, Jones kept Ricky off-guard with one illegal maneuver after another. It was almost unfathomable how Jones was acting.
As the bout wound down, Steamboat had a burst where he dominated Jones with his tremendous speed and agility, and looked like he was poised to take the win. But Paul resorted to his bag of tricks, which he dug deeply into, and turned the tide with karate thrusts to Steamboat’s throat. And with a yank on Steamboat’s trunks, Paul emerged with a tainted victory. And at least for this night, Paul Jones was indeed, “Number One.”
It certainly seemed like a blast from the past when Johnny Weaver wrestled Brute Bernard! These two had many great battles over the years, and while no longer a main event match, this battle was highly entertaining. Johnny was actually on a bit of a role, being involved in a program with Ken Patera at the time of this match. The Brute had lost a step or two, but his strut around the ring and facial expressions were worth the price of admission! Having very little offense to offer against Weaver, the Brute succumbed to the Sleeper hold of Johnny’s in fairly short order.
A very solid tag team bout saw the dynamic duo of Richard Blood and Skip Young defeat the veteran Swede Hanson and burly Scott Irvin. The victorious good guys took to the air in an outstanding exhibition of high flying wrestling. By contrast, the slower but stronger duo of Hanson and Irwin tried to keep the action on the mat. The contrasting styles were quite entertaining to watch, and in the end, speed and quickness carried the day for Richard Blood and Skip Young.
Veteran Mid-Atlantic grappler Abe Jacobs was impressive in defeating rugged Charlie Fulton by disqualification. Abe seemingly had Fulton defeated by use of his famous Kiwi Leg Roll, but Charlie managed to get into the ropes and avoided the loss in that fashion. However, Fulton’s rulebreaking behavior after that saving maneuver got him tagged with a DQ loss.
The curtain jerker saw two new wrestlers to the area, young Steve Regal square off with rugged Joe Palardy. Regal looked quick and extremely athletic, and got the nod over the plodding Palardy.
Up Next--10 Honorable Mention Cards That Didn’t Quite Crack The Top 15
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Press the play arrow on each sound file to hear the audio promos for this big card!
Good Guys Promo
Ricky Steamboat, Paul Orndorf, and Jimmy Snuka
Bad Guys Promo
Paul Jones, Greg Valentine, and Baron Von Raschke
Jimmy Snuka and Paul Orndorf left the Richmond Coliseum with the NWA World Tag Team Championships. Santa Claus had delivered one more present to the Richmond faithful.