Sunday, July 5, 2015

JUNE 13, 1966

Maybe you had to have been there.

And I wish you had, as this was a most memorable evening.

Backtracking a bit, I should point out that Jimmy Lewis and I had become good friends, having been in the same fourth grade class at N.B. Mills Elementary School. But the opening of Northview the following school year took care of that, at least for a while. I remained at N.B. Mills, but Jimmy was in the newly-developed Northview district, and off he went. Two years later, because of the Center Street dividing line, we continued apart - - he went to Oakwood and I went to D. Matt.

But the summer before SHS found us reunited in the classroom basement of the high school gymnasium trying to grasp the elusive concepts of Algebra I, something neither of us had accomplished in our final year of junior high. Cutting to the chase, we quickly became good friends once again and remained nearly inseparable our three years at SHS. In fact, Jimmy lived with my mother and me our senior year.

One memorable occurence I clearly recall is the night of June 13, 1966.

I had watched CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING most Saturday afternoons on WBTV-Channel 3 for several years, and aside from attending a few live wrestling shows on the rare instances they were held in Statesville, had never been to see them in the metropolis of Charlotte.

Jimmy and I had watched the wrestling show on June 11th and decided we wanted to go to see the live matches in Charlotte which were advertised on that week's TV show. But there was a problem - - how to get there. Both of us were still fifteen, thus no driver's licenses.

So we put our two skulls together and decided to ask my mother to take us. It wouldn't be an easy task of getting her to agree to our request. But Jimmy could be quite persuasive and so could I, and together as a tag team, we liked our chances. So we placed our one-sided proposal on the table, and my mother said yes. It had been much easier than we had expected.

In fact, my mom (Velma) asked a co-worker to go with us, and it became a foursome.

We left Statesville that Monday as soon as she got off work at 5:00 and headed for the "big city." Of course, no interstate to Charlotte then, so we went south on Highway 21 through Troutman (hey, there's the fair grounds), the then tiny hamlet of Mooresville and we eventually came into Charlotte. Our destination for wrestling was the Park Center (now Grady Cole Center). Being close to the then-popular Charlottetown Mall, we went to the S&W Cafeteria for a nice meal. Then off to the matches.

We arrived at Park Center, parked our really hot 1963 Plymouth Valiant (which would go from zero-to-sixty in ten minutes), and bought our RINGSIDE tickets.

I was soon sitting in the famous (to me) building, which held around three thousand. By the time the starting time of 8:15 rolled around, I doubt there was a seat to be sold.

I recall really nothing about the preliminary matches, except for the Missouri Mauler being in one of them. Everyone remembers the Missouri Mauler, right?

After an intermission, it was time for the main event match, and it was just not any main event, this match was for the Southern Tag Team Championship, which at the time, I thought, really stood for something, but I later discovered it was just a gimmick.

Up to this time, Jimmy and I had cheered and booed the wrestlers a little, but Velma and her friend sat silently. I assumed they were not having a great time. Mom would probably have been satisfied to be home watching THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW and BEN CASEY. After all, she had to go to work the next morning, and with school just out, Jimmy and I could sleep until noon.

The crowd roared with approval when George and Sandy Scott made their way to the ring. They were the "good guys" and were known as The Flying Scotts because they used an arsenal of high-flying maneuvers such as drop-kicks and flying head scissors.

As soon as the crowd's screaming died down, out came the "bad guys," who were also the current champs. Aldo Bogni and Broncho Lubich were their names, and they were not well-respected among wrestling fans. And they also had an ace-in-the-hole. They used the services of a manager. His name was Homer O'Dell. Mr. O'Dell always was donned in a formal tuxedo and was dressed to the nines. He also carried a cane, which he was known to use for everything except walking. By everything, I mean he used the cane to choke, to poke and to outright hit anyone who opposed his charges. O'Dell was easily the most-hated man in Charlotte-area wrestling for the entire decade. Big Bill Ward often said of him on TV that Homer was "so low he'd have to walk on stilts to look a snake in the eye."

The match began.

These four wrestlers were at the top of the business at that time, and they REALLY knew how to get the crowd involved. Ring psychology in wrestling was always a key to being successful in the business, and these guys had masters' degrees in their craft. The crowd was up and down more than a Lutheran church service, screaming their lungs out, cheering and booing. O'Dell used the cane on the Scott brothers, nearly inciting a riot. Fortunately, no one went overboard to the point the Queen City's finest had to get involved.

I looked over at Velma and her friend, and they were going wild just like everyone else.

The full sixty-minute time limit on the match expired, the referee separated the participants, and the villains scurried out of the ring with their championship belts and went to their dressing room. The "good guy" Scott brothers remained in the ring for a while, accepting the crowd's cheers and applause for a job well done, even if they had come up short becoming the new champions.

They finally exited the ring and headed up the aisle back to their dressing room. It happened to be the aisle where we were sitting. Velma was on the end of the row. Keep in mind, these guys had been going at it for a full hour and under the hot ring lights, they looked as if they had been dropped into a well. As the two grapplers passed her, she reached out and patted one of them on the back. The perspiration went everywhere, including all over Velma.

It got her good. But she shrugged it off and we all headed for the parking lot. The show was over.

As we headed out of Charlotte, we stopped for a snack at Krispy Kreme, capping off the evening.

Then the long drive back to the City of Progress.

An evening well spent.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015


June 13, 1964

51 Years Ago

Wrestling fans will be treated to plenty of tag team action tonight at the LEXINGTON YMCA as matches include both heavyweight and midget stars.

Topping the card tonight is HAYSTACK CALHOUN, the world's biggest wrestler, and his speedy young partner JOHNNY WEAVER.

They will be matched against the brutal team of SKULL MURPHY and BRUTE BERNARD in a best-of-three falls rematch between the two duos.

These four fought it out last Saturday night in a thriller won by CALHOUN and WEAVER. The skin-headed combo of BERNARD and MURPHY, not satisfied with how they lost, asked for another shot. (Actually, MURPHY did the asking as the BRUTE doesn't do much talking.)

Midgets and heavyweights combine on teams in the semi-final. Heavyweight ALEX MEDINA will work with little FRENCHIE SEMARD, and they will oppose little guy CHICO SANTANA and his heavyweight partner PAT O'BRIEN.

Singles action sends TIM WOODS against JOE TOMASSA, with CHRIS AVEROFF tangling with SONNY FARGO in the 8:15 opener.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


August 11, 1959







MR. MOTO and DUKE KEOMUKA will face another top challenge for their SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP in the headline bout of tonight's pro wrestling card at the PARK CENTER here in CHARLOTTE.
The Japs, who have protected their crown against all comers for the past month, will defend their belts against the clever and immensely popular tandem of GEORGE BECKER and BILLY TWO RIVERS. The championship match is set for two-out-of-three falls with a one-hour time limit.
The semi-final tonight squares off fan favorite PAT O'HARA against the dreaded masked man, THE GREAT BOLO. Perhaps tonight will be the lucky night for the Irishman in his quest to unmask the hooded ruffian. It's also two-of-three falls.
The top prelim will send the rugged LARRY 'CRUSHER' HAMILTON against young DANNO O'SHOCKER, and the 8:15 opener, set for one fall, twenty minute limit, has the handsome Canadian scrapper from Ontario, REGGIE PARKS, against the very tough CYCLONE ANAYA.

Monday, June 29, 2015


July 13, 1963

52 Years Ago

Wrestling fans who like tag team action will get a double dose in an all-star card tonight at the LEXINGTON YMCA.

The current SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS, RAY ANDREWS and ERIC POMEROY, will defend their honor and belts against the savage challengers, ALDO BOGNI and BRONCHO LUBICH, who are managed by their strutting, cane-carrying manager HOMER O'DELL.

Popular stars REGGIE PARKS and JOHNNY WEAVER return after an absence to face the mammoth duo of "big and round guys" GEORGE 'CRYBABY' CANNON and GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS in the co-main event.

Both tag team matches are set for the best-two-out-of-three falls.

Action will get underway at 8:15 when two more big men, FRANK VALOIS and PAT O'BRIEN, meet in the opener.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


September 12, 1960

55 Years Ago

The long-awaited return bout between fan favorite GEORGE BECKER and the much-hated masked man, THE GREAT BOLO, will headline tonight's PARK CENTER wrestling card starting at 8:15.

Hero BECKER, who recently returned to the ring after a six month absence due to a severe knee injury, has won three straight matches here preparing for his return tussle with the hooded BOLO.

In their first meeting, BECKER won the first fall, and then the pair fought a standoff the remainder of their one hour time limit.

Perhaps a technical BECKER victory, it was not an official one as two winning falls were not recorded, therefore THE GREAT BOLO was NOT required to unmask. BOLO has a stipulation in his contracts stating that he will unmask in the ring after losing two-out-of-three falls to a pinfall or submission.

Tag team action makes up the semifinal tonight when GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT face JAN MADRID and GYPSY JOE in another best-of-three falls contest.

Singles action opens the card with FARMER JONES returning to Charlotte to meet TOM BRADLEY, and JACK CURTIS goes against LOUIS TILLET in the opening contest.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


September 10, 1966

49 Years Ago

A LUMBERJACK MATCH has been scheduled to see if two top wrestling tag teams, TEX McKENZIE and NELSON ROYAL on one side, the MASKED RED DEMONS on the other, can settle their differences at the LEXINGTON YMCA tonight.

Six other wrestlers will spot themselves around the ring to prevent any runouts of any type taken by the RED DEMONS two weeks ago.

The Texas duo won that match on a count out. Tonight's main event is set for two-out-of-three falls within a one-hour time limit.

Huge Alaskan KLONDIKE BILL, with lumberjack experience, will join forces with fast-moving New Zealander ABE JACOBS to meet behemoths GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS and BIG BOY BLONDELL in another best-of-three falls contest.

A special event will send girl wrestlers TONI ROSE and DIXIE JORDAN against one another in what should be a crowd-pleasing event.

Newcomer DON KENT, who debuted here last week, meets CORSICA JEAN in a singles bout, kicking off the card at 8:15.

KLONDIKE, JACOBS, HARRIS, BLONDELL, KENT and JEAN will serve as the six lumberjacks during the headliner.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


In this case, I am speaking of wrestling 'philosophies' and nothing else...

Lately, I've been spotlighting 'good guys' and 'bad guys', but there was also a group of wrestlers who could work either way.

'Swerving' to the other side was automatic in terms of starting and building big programs in wrestling, and JCP was no exception in this regard.


This was a surprise to me, as Greg was such an engraved 'heel' in the minds of fans, that I wasn't sure he could really pull it off. And frankly, from my view, he was only moderately successful convincing me he was a 'good guy' in the ring. The fact that he feuded with DICK SLATER helped, but only so far.


In my mind, JACK was the epitome of a wrestling 'babyface', right up there with JOHNNY WEAVER and RICKY STEAMBOAT. I never suspected he would 'turn' (along with his brother) and pull it off convincingly. But when the BRISCO brothers had their big program with STEAMBOAT and JAY YOUNGBLOOD, leading up to STARRCADE '83, I was convinced. Good job, JACK.


"Mr. # 1", to me, was a better 'heel' than 'babyface'. While I liked PAUL as a 'good guy' (and we were supposed to), I believe it was due, to a large degree, because of whoever his partner would be - - NELSON ROYAL, WAHOO MCDANIEL, etc. But the night at the CHARLOTTE COLISEUM, when PAUL turned on poor innocent STEAMBOAT (excuse me, Paul), when that ungrateful STEAMBOAT turned on poor PAUL, the roof nearly came off the building. PAUL had worked 'heel' before, but never in CROCKETT country. It was a stunner.


It was natural for the WORLD CHAMPION to be booed when he made his rounds throughout the NWA territories. Part of his job was to enhance the reputation of the local main eventers (even in defeat). FUNK did it with class, but we still wanted him to lose his belt to our local hero. That never occurred in JCP, however, his program with JOHNNY WEAVER had me believing it was going to happen. Later in the 1980s, DORY worked 'babyface' for the CROCKETTs for a while, teaming with JIMMY VALIANT and RUFUS R. JONES in their quest to destroy PAUL JONES and THE ASSASSINS.


The man who "walked and talked the way he wanted" was born to be a wrestling 'bad guy'. He just looked the part (no offense Mr. Mosca). And he was a great one. I wasn't sold when he 'saw the light' and came over to the good side. Bringing in his son didn't help much either. He should have stayed in his element.


This is the turn that knocked my socks off. It was a gradual one, and if you were following the TV shows every week, it was apparent the turn would happen. It was well done, and WAHOO made the transition perfectly. He would be the hero who worked as hard as anyone in the business, didn't get any of the breaks and was growing tired of being the 'red-headed stepchild'. And when the turn was completed, we hated WAHOO as much as we used to love him. Great job, Chief.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Today, I swing the spotlight from the 'babyfaces' to a group of the bad guys of MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING.

When I say 'bad', I don't mean poor wrestlers, but rather, the 'heels' of the business.

These are the guys who break the rules.

An integral part of the wrestling equation. For every hero, there had to be a villain. Someone to 'acquire the ire' of the wrestling fan. A catalyst to fuel the 'heat' of a match.

Here are five who fit into that 'heel' category:

(Yasuhiro Kojima - 1937-1999)

Known world wide, but in JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS, best remembered as tag team partner of THE MISSOURI MAULER (Larry Hamilton) and managed by HOMER O'DELL. This was in the late 1960s. Feuded with JOHNNY WEAVER in a series of JUDO JACKET MATCHES. Returned to JCP in its final days (1987) and assisted LEX LUGAR in his feud with DUSTY RHODES, who ironically, was assisted by JOHNNY WEAVER.

(Lawrence Simon - 1933-1994)

Also an international wrestling star, in the MID-ATLANTIC territory, he was also a partner of THE MISSOURI MAULER in the mid-60s. Had a huge feud with KLONDIKE BILL. Later returned as manager of THE MONGOLS (one was Bill Eadie) and then immediately as manager of THE MASKED SUPERSTAR (also Bill Eadie). Fans probably recall MALENKO's dentures being destroyed by WAHOO McDANIEL. (BORIS used this gimmick in almost every territory he worked.)

(Herb Gerwig - 1931-2011)

Had a brief stint in JCP in 1973. Had a main event feud with JOHNNY WEAVER, often using the 'brain buster' as a finisher. KOX also teamed with RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON for some six man matches.

(Mary Lillian Ellison - 1923-2007)

Arguably, the most famous women's wrestler of all time. Wrestled throughout the world, debuted as SLAVE GIRL MOOLAH in 1949, serving as the valet for the ELEPHANT BOY, then for "Nature Boy" BUDDY ROGERS. She won the NWA Women's Championship for the first time in 1956. MOOLAH made several swings through CROCKETT country each year during the late 50s, the 60s and the 70s, always drawing the ire of the fans.

(Benjamin Ramirez - 1932-1995)

From around 1962 to the early 70s, Benji Ramirez put on the outfit of THE MUMMY and wrestled roughshod across North America. Unlike others, who did a mummy gimmick for a few months at the most, Ramirez played the role for almost a full decade. A main event performer in some areas (particularly out West), in JCP, THE MUMMY served only in jobbing capacities.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Today, the spotlight shines on a group of the good guys of MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING.

Called 'babyfaces' in the business, these are the wrestlers 'we the people' love to watch carry out the ideals of good, clean living.

Although the line between good guys and bad guys is a bit thinner in the business now than in days gone by, we buy wrestling tickets and pull to see these heroes dish out 'truth, justice and the American Way' to the perpetrators of evil.

Here are five such wrestling personalities:


A very good performer, limited in JCP to lower and mid-card matches, both in singles and tag matches.

(born 1935)

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a top 'babyface' in JCP, often teaming with GEORGE BECKER, feuded with all the top 'heel' teams. Inspired many a young boy to beg Mom and Dad for a Mohawk haircut. A few were successful in getting one, but not me. Retired from action in 1976.

(Leslie Alan Malady - born 1940)

Debuted in 1960, and since has done just about everything in the business. Besides being a great worker, Les has done TV commentary, TV production, bodybuilding and training (which he does today). During his long run with JCP, Les worked the entire wrestling spectrum, from 'curtain jerking' to main events. To know Les is to love him.

(James Harold Fanning - born 1942)

After breaking into the business in 1964, Jimmy became known world-wide as one of THE VALIANT BROTHERS while in the WWWF. Later was a big star in the Tennessee territory, feuding with JERRY LAWLER. Came to JCP and was dubbed 'The Boogie Woogie Man'. His popularity was stratospheric. Long-running feud with PAUL JONES and his many 'Army' members.


More than anyone except a Crockett family member, JOHNNY was JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS to thousands of MID-ATLANTIC fans. The top star of the company for over ten years, he wrestled, he booked, he commentated, he ran the Canadian territory, he hosted his own wrestling program and did them all superbly. Even non-wrestling fans knew the name JOHNNY WEAVER. We miss him so much.