The Mid-Atlantic Gateway presents

The Top 15 Cards Ever

in Richmond

by David Chappell


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Number 4   -   FRIDAY, JUNE 6, 1979

In Richmond’s top 15 Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling cards, there was only one card where the event achieved its lofty ranking due to one match, and only one match. This was the case for the card on Friday night, July 6, 1979. In fact, it could be said that the July 6, 1979 card achieved its status due to only one facet of one match---the unthinkable teaming up of former arch-rivals Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat!

The main event of that hot July night in the Richmond Coliseum was Paul Jones and Baron Von Raschke defending their NWA World Tag Team Titles against the unlikely combination of Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat. The pairing of former long-time enemies Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat brought fans out of the woodwork, and sold out the Richmond Coliseum. The crowd was announced at 12,000, in a building that was supposed to hold no more than 11,000 people. The fire marshals apparently had the night off, as the raucous crowd was packed in like sardines, with many standing in the aisles. There were also hundreds and hundreds turned away at the door, as the lines to get into the Coliseum snaked around the building in a surreal sight never seen before or after at a Richmond professional wrestling event.

Ric Flair had been a Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling villain that the Richmond fans had loved to hate since his entrance into Jim Crockett Promotions in May of 1974. One of Ric’s bitterest rivals was Ricky Steamboat, who arrived on the scene in early 1977. The two fought over the Mid-Atlantic Television Title and the United States Heavyweight Title, and had some of the hardest fought matches that anyone could imagine. Overall, the Nature Boy had terrorized his “good guy” opponents for five years in the Mid-Atlantic area, and there appeared no end in sight to Ric’s wicked ways.


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Listen to the Audio Promos for this card:

Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat and Rufus R. Jones

Paul Jones and Baron Von Raschke





However, in April of 1979, some unusual things began to happen with the Nature Boy. In the Greensboro Coliseum on April 22, 1979, the United States Champion Ric Flair accompanied Paul Jones to the ring as part of a match between Jones and Ricky Steamboat. During that match, as Jones and Steamboat battled outside the ring, Flair attempted to help Jones by swinging a chair at Steamboat. Instead of hitting Steamboat, Ric missed, and hit Jones with the chair! While Ric called the chair incident an “accident,” Jones called the situation a “double-cross.”

During that same April 22, 1979 card in Greensboro, Jones got a measure of revenge against Flair. While Ric was wrestling Jimmy Snuka later in the evening, Jones came out of the audience and knocked Flair out with a chair, costing Ric the match. After that incident, Flair and Jones wrestled each other during the months of May and June, often times for Ric’s United States Title. While the fan reactions were mixed, Flair received the majority of the fan’s cheers in these matches.

As the weeks wore on, Ric also began wrestling Jones’ tag team partner, Baron Von Raschke. Since Jones and Raschke were the NWA Tag Team Champions, it made sense for Flair to consider going after the duo as a tag team. However, at the time, Ric was the U.S. Champion and had his hands full in singles competition. And the bigger question was, who could possibly be Flair’s partner in such a match? The Nature Boy had made enemies of Jones and Raschke, and others on the “bad guy” side of the ledger, such as Ernie Ladd, were questioning the way Ric was acting. And at the same time while wrestling Jones and Raschke, Ric was continuing to wrestle “good guys” such as Steamboat, Tony Atlas and Dino Bravo. As the month of June 1979 was coming to an end, it became pretty clear that Ric Flair really had no friends!

As Flair was straddling the fence between being a good guy or a bad guy, a memorable event occurred on Jim Crockett Promotions’ World Wide Wrestling television program, that out of the blue catapulted Ric into the fans’ open arms. On the taping of the World Wide Wrestling show from the WRAL studios on June 27, 1979, Buddy Rogers attacked Ric as Flair was demonstrating the figure four leg lock on Len Denton on the studio floor. Discussing a match that had occurred in Greensboro on June 17, 1979, where Rogers was a referee in a U.S. Title match between Ric and Dusty Rhodes, Ric had entered that TV segment as the bad guy and Rogers as the good guy. In a matter of a couple of minutes, the roles had been completely reversed!

Even with the slow Flair “good guy” turn, the actual announcement of the Richmond match pairing Flair and Steamboat as a team still left the fans in disbelief! Seemingly in an effort to convince the fans that Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat could ACTUALLY be viable tag team partners, Flair came out and gave Steamboat $10,000, telling Ricky that was his pledge to him that he wouldn’t turn against Ricky during the match against Jones and Raschke. Steamboat reluctantly accepted the money, and the unthinkable was apparently going to happen…Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat were going to be tag team partners!

If there was ever a “Super Bowl” feel to a Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling card at the Richmond Coliseum, July 6, 1979 was it! And it was all because of the unthinkable pairing of a true “dream team,” Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat! Prior to the match, the fans appeared equally split in three ways. About one-third thought that the match just wasn’t going to happen…that the promotion would announce that something had happened where Flair and/or Steamboat wouldn’t appear. Another one-third was convinced that Flair would turn on Steamboat, and join with Jones and Raschke to beat Steamboat senseless. The final one-third thought Flair and Steamboat would not only function together in the ring, but would emerge as the new NWA World Tag Team Champions! As is turned out, none of the pre-match speculation would come to pass.

When Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat came out together for the match, there may never have been a more deafening roar in the annals of the Richmond Coliseum! The “dream team” controlled the match for the early minutes, coming very close to capturing several pinfalls. The most anxious moments came when Jones and Raschke got Steamboat in severe trouble during the middle of the match. Would Flair actually tag Steamboat and come in and save Ricky from a beating? When Ric tagged Steamboat and cleaned house on Jones and Raschke, that might have been the second most deafening roar in the annals of the Richmond Coliseum! After that moment, the fans felt confident there wouldn’t be a double-cross on Flair’s part, and settled into cheering for Flair and Steamboat to win the World Tag Team Titles! The remainder of the match was a classic back and forth between four tremendous competitors, with Jones and Raschke having their moments, but the action generally being controlled by Flair and Steamboat. While Flair was soaking in the cheers of the fans, he hadn’t changed his rulebreaking style to any great degree, but those in attendance didn’t seem to care one bit.

The match ended up in a disqualification win for Flair and Steamboat, when Jones and Raschke made a second save which dictated an automatic DQ under NWA rules in place at the time. But for that second illegal save, Flair and Steamboat would without a doubt have won the World Tag Team Championship. While there was some level of disappointment in the outcome, with Jones and Raschke retaining the World Tag Team Championship, the fans nevertheless left the Coliseum that night knowing that they had witnessed something very special. To bolster that feeling, and something unheard of at that time, local Richmond television stations reported on the happenings at the Coliseum as part of their late newscasts! Yes, it truly was a happening!

The other matches on the card were almost an afterthought, though all of the wrestlers on this card knew it was a special night, and performed at an exceedingly high level.

In the semi-final bout, Rufus R. Jones defeated Gene Anderson with a “freight train” rush and vicious head-butt. In 1975 or 1976, this match would have been on the top of the card. However, in 1979, Gene Anderson was wrestling primarily as a mid-card singles performer. Rufus had recently returned to the area before this bout, and while still a main event performer, was not at the level he was several years earlier. Nevertheless, these old rivals put on a spirited performance in a bout that had little pre-match buildup.

Former NWA Tag Team Champions Jimmy Snuka and Paul Orndorff defeated the rugged duo of Kim Duk and Sgt. Jacques Goulet. This was the best match of the night, outside of the main event. What none of the fans knew at the time was that this was Snuka and Orndorff’s last match as a team in Richmond. Orndorff was about to leave the Mid-Atlantic area, never to return, and even more shockingly, Snuka was about ready to turn into a hated bad guy, managed by Buddy Rogers!

In a bout that had to be considered as an upset, young Len Denton upended former WWWF Champion Pedro Morales. Denton physically overpowered Morales from the get-go, to post an impressive win. The veteran Morales posted virtually no offense.

In the first tag team event of the evening, the tandem of Gary Young and Nick DeCarlo took the measure of Frank Monte and Tony Russo. Young was the star of this contest, effectively and consistently out-maneuvering his slower foes.

In the curtain raiser of this memorable Richmond Coliseum spectacular, Coco Samoa won one for the good guys with a victory over the veteran grappler Rudy Kay.

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