Thursday, June 27, 2019

SOME WENT BOTH WAYS

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.


GREG VALENTINE

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.


JACK BRISCO

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.

PAUL JONES

"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 whomever 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.

DORY FUNK JR.

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.

ANGELO MOSCA

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.

WAHOO McDANIEL

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 23, 2019

HEELS

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:

HIRO MATSUDA
(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.


THE GREAT BORIS MALENKO
(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.)

KILLER KARL KOX
(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.

SLAVE GIRL MOOLAH / THE FABULOUS MOOLAH
(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.

THE MUMMY
(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 mostly in jobbing capacities.

Friday, June 21, 2019

BABYFACES

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:


KOA TIKI

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

BILLY TWO RIVERS
(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.

LES THATCHER
(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.

JIMMY VALIANT
(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.

JOHNNY WEAVER
(1935-2008)

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.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

MID-ATLANTIC RING ACTION


JAKE (pre-'The Snake') ROBERTS clamps a headlock on THE GRAPPLER (LEN DENTON).

JOHNNY WEAVER holds the leg of THE MISSOURI MAULER (LARRY HAMILTON) as GEORGE BECKER lays one in. Referee ANGELO MARTINELLI observes.

High-flying DINO BRAVO coming in for a landing.
(This is gonna hurt.)

'The Russian Bear' IVAN KOLOFF snears at his victorious opponent.

The rugged ART NELSON puts the boots to the back of TOMMY SIEGLER.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

UNDER THE CHARLOTTE DOME

September 7, 1959
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

60 Years Ago

JOHNNY HEIDEMAN

PAT O'HARA

DICK STEINBORN

CYCLONE ANAYA

THE GREAT BOLO

'DANDY' JACK DONOVAN

STEVE BOLUS
---
Eighteen wrestlers, the most to ever appear on a single wrestling card in the history of CHARLOTTE grappling, will make tonight's LABOR DAY mat program at the CHARLOTTE COLISEUM a most memorable one.

The huge holiday card features three tag team matches, one of which matches six wrestlers.

Headlining the card is the SIX MAN setto, with the Jap trio of MR. MOTO, DUKE KEOMUKA and SUIGI taking on ruffians LARRY 'CRUSHER' HAMILTON, PAT O'HARA and the masked man, THE GREAT BOLO.

None of these men respect the rules of the sport, so it is bound to be an explosive skirmish. It's scheduled for the best two-out-of-three falls with a one-hour time limit.

The semi-final brings in four colored girls for tag action. One team has BABS WINGO and MARVA SCOTT to face the opposition of CAT WINBLEY and ETHEL JOHNSON.

Then comes a pair of single tussles, one sending crowd favorite GEORGE BECKER against STEVE BOLUS, and the other featuring DICK STEINBORN against DANNY MERCE.

The third tag battle will open the 8:15 card when JOHNNY HEIDEMAN and partner 'DANDY' JACK DONOVAN square off against the duo of JOHN FOTI and CYCLONE ANAYA.

Advance tickets are available at the NATIONAL HAT SHOP in downtown Charlotte.