Friday, April 30, 2021


 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

MID ATLANTIC WRESTLING'S "FIRST LADY"

 Today I salute the 'FIRST LADY' --- as far as I'm concerned, she is, hands down, the 'FIRST LADY' of JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS and MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING.


PEGGY LATHAN

Peggy is my friend, in fact, a very good friend. But, I'll be honest, Peggy is EVERYBODY's friend. If you have attended any of Greg Price's NWA FANFESTS, you've seen her. Folks even buzz after the various FANFESTs, "Who's the woman all of the wrestlers hang around?" That's Peggy.

But, 'FIRST LADY' of MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING? How did this happen?

Young Peggy began watching JCP wrestling on television around 1965 (I could say she was two years old at the time, but never mind about that part of the story. Let's just say that I am older than Peggy, and we'll let it go at that.)

She ventured out to her first arena JCP show in late 1968 and soon was attending three-to-four shows PER WEEK. (How I envy her for that! She saw some great wrestling.) A weekly itinerary for Peggy, her mother and her grandmother 'Nannie' Smith * included shows in Greenville, S.C.Spartanburg, S.C.Anderson, S.C. and Asheville, N.C. EVERY WEEKPeggy went even when she was sick. Very few weeks went by that found these ladies not in their front row ringside seats. This road schedule lasted from 1968 until 1983. Throughout the 1970s, they would often be joined by Lynn and Debbie Tate (Lynn would later marry wrestler Bill White). In the 1980s, other friends Jean HollandRita Cantrell and Clay Sweet became part of the entourage.

When I asked Peggy how she got to know the wrestlers, she answered that she would go up and talk to the guys, and they would see her on the front row every week, so they knew her face. Bobby Kay was the first wrestler Peggy remembers meeting. Then came the legendary Johnny Weaver, then Ronnie Garvin and Ole AndersonPeggy met Gene Anderson soon after meeting Ole, since The Minnesota Wrecking Crew was always together. It wasn't long before she would babysit Gene's son, Brad, when his dad would bring him to Spartanburg. "Brad was about five, I guess. He'd sit with me and watch the matches," Peggy told me.

The wrestler Peggy gives credit to for introducing her to most of the guys she now knows was a fellow named Flair.

PEGGY and RIC...Then

PEGGY and RIC...more recently

PEGGY and OLE ANDERSON
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Many fans will remember the night in Greenville, S.C., when Ole was knife-attacked by an idiot fan and cut all the way diagonally down his chest. Lynn and Debbie Tate and Peggy were outside the dressing room. Peggy recalls, "We were in the hallway leading to the outside. The dressing rooms were downstairs. There were a couple of wrestlers there. The only one I remember is Bill Eadie (later The Masked Superstar, but at this time, he was one of The Mongols). Lynn was a nursing student at Clemson University, so she and Debbie held icy towels on Ole's chest, and I was elevating his left arm and putting pressure on his left hand as he had a bad cut across and below his thumb. Then after the paramedics arrived and took Ole, I rode to Greenville General Hospital with Gene, because he didn't know where it was, and I stayed with Gene in the ER until Ole was released about two in the morning."


PEGGY and 'The Dean' JOHNNY WEAVER
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Peggy's love for JCP wrestling continued until the company was sold to TURNER ENTERTAINMENT in 1988, and there are very few of the wrestlers she didn't know. And they all loved her...and still do.

Peggy's Grandmother 'NANNIE' SMITH


Photos courtesy of Peggy and / or THE MID-ATLANTIC GATEWAY

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

A HOT JANUARY NIGHT

 January 11, 1969

Lexington, North Carolina

MR. WRESTLING and SAM STEAMBOAT

RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON

TERRY and RONNIE GARVIN

JESSE JAMES

Professional wrestling's 'Blonde Bombers' --- RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON --- will take on the hero unit of Hawaiian star SAM STEAMBOAT and the masked man MR. WRESTLING in tonight's main event at the Lexington YMCA.

The Canadian brother duo of TERRY and RONNIE GARVIN will meet fan favorites BOB RAMSTEAD and JESSE JAMES in the semi-final tag team match.

Both tag contests will be decided under a best two-of-three falls stipulation.

Preliminary singles bouts will find rugged ROCK HUNTER meeting young BILLY SPEARS and TINKER TODD facing another masked man in the guise of EL LOBO.

The action gets underway at 8:15 p.m.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Sunday, April 25, 2021

JCP MOST WANTED - THE GREAT BOLO

 

I specifically remember THE GREAT BOLO and BOLO wearing this garb when they returned to the Charlotte Coliseum in the late 1960s to face JACK BRISCO and TIM (MR. WRESTLING) WOODS.

THE GREAT BOLO and BOLO work over one of THE KENTUCKIANS in one of the biggest money-making feuds in pro wrestling history.

THE GREAT BOLO (Renesto) reaches for his 'foreign object' while working on BIG BOY BROWN of THE KENTUCKIANS. (Note the tape under the mask to cover Renesto's mustache.)

Big TEX McKENZIE works over the masked man.

Even bigger HAYSTACK CALHOUN tries to physically rip THE GREAT BOLO's hood off, along with the head the mask covers.

A 1961 posed photo of BOLO and THE GREAT BOLO when the two were working for JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS.
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From the time I first started pro wrestling on TV, I was fascinated by a mysterious man who wore a mask and went by the name THE GREAT BOLO. This rulebreaker was the top heel in JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS and drew money like nobody's business.

Every week, all across the Carolinas and Virginia, droves of people tuned in and turned out to see the likes of GEORGE BECKER, 'Irish' MIKE CLANCY, CHIEF BIG HEART and GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT rip off the hood of this hoodlum so we could all find out who he was (not taking into account that just because we might see his face, we would automatically know his name), but that was a mute point.

The mask of THE GREAT BOLO was his championship belt. To lose the mask was to destroy his wrestling career. Many years after the fact, we now know that THE GREAT BOLO was a superb grappler named TOM RENESTO. But according to an interview the late Mr. Renesto gave a few years before his passing, at the time, the other wrestlers did not actually know who was under the mask of THE GREAT BOLO. Promoter Jim Crockett demanded that Renesto travel alone and don the hood before entering the wrestling venue.

Very similar scenario as the old-time movie serials in which the villains were named The Scorpion, The Wrecker, The Crimson Ghost , The Lightning, etc. Only in the last chapter would the identity of the evil doer be exposed to the audience.

But, ironically, the identity of THE GREAT BOLO would be revealed by only one person in the wrestling business. That person was...THE GREAT BOLO.

A number of years after leaving JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS, THE GREAT BOLO (Renesto) and his partner BOLO were wrestling in Georgia as THE ASSASSINS when Renesto decided it was time to leave the business as an in-ring combatant.

He removed his own mask, and THE GREAT BOLO was no more.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Friday, April 23, 2021

DYKE'S INFERNOS MAKING NOISE

 June 9, 1969

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

52 Years Ago


Any time THE INFERNOS and manager J. C. DYKES enter an arena, trouble is on the way. DYKES and his masked team approach the art of wrestling as if they're engaging in war, and DYKES can make matters even worse.

The team challenging THE INFERNOS tonight is SILENTO RODRIGUEZ and GREG PETERSON, and they have promised to give the hooded duo a tough outing on the PARK CENTER wrestling card, starting at 8:15. And this is only the semi-final match of the night.

"We will win fair and square, as we always do," smirked the red-haired manager DYKES. "THE INFERNOS are the hottest (pun intended) team in professional wrestling today. I say bring them all into the ring. The team that marches out the victors will be my blue tigers."

In the headliner tonight, two sets of brothers will be feuding again, as a return tag match pits GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT (really brothers) against GENE and OLE ANDERSON (not so).

The "FLYING SCOTTS" were disqualified their last time out with the "MINNESOTA WRECKING CREW" and tonight, that can't happen as the match will be fought with a NO DISQUALIFICATION stipulation, so anything goes.

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

In a special event, ladies PENNY BANNER and TONI ROSE will offer their contrasting brands of wrestling in a one-fall encounter. PENNY wrestles according to the rulebook and TONI throws that book out the window.

Tough Cuban PANCHO VALDEZ tangles with SONNY FARGO in the opening one-fall contest.

Fans are encouraged to arrive early as a sellout is expected.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

MORE WITH JCP'S "ROYAL COUPLE"

 JOHNNY WEAVER and PENNY BANNER were the KING and QUEEN of JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS as far as the wrestling public was concerned.


Enjoy these photos of them out of the wrestling ring...

Having fun for the camera...

Daughter WENDI letting Mommy in on a secret...

Fun on the links...
("Just pretend you see HOMER O'DELL's face on the ball.")

A little fun at the dinner table...
(I see a pet dish in the photo. WENDI, was it a dog or cat?)

I love this picture of PENNY and WENDI.

PENNY poses...

JOHNNY always took the time to spend with his fans.

PENNY was an avid horsewoman, whose love of the sport was passed down to daughter WENDI.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Monday, April 19, 2021

CROCKETT'S ROYAL COUPLE

 

Had JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS held an AMERICAN IDOL-type contest voted on by the fans to determine the company's top male and female personality, I (and, I'm sure most other MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING fans) would have cast my ballot for PENNY BANNER and JOHNNY WEAVER.

And, what many fans at the time did not know, PENNY and JOHNNY were in everyday life, married to one another.

I can't remember exactly when this fact came to light for me, but I was aware of it at a point when each of PENNY and JOHNNY's careers were still active.

I have seen photos in which PENNY and JOHNNY worked together in mixed tag matches, although I can't recall any personal memories of such in JCP, not to say it didn't happen.

PENNY and JOHNNY consented to do a layout for WRESTLING REVUE's August 1963 issue, which is the source for the following photos.

Daughter WENDI supervises the chess game.

A night on the town.
(WENDI still has JOHNNY's fedora.)

Making one of JOHNNY's ring jackets.

Suppertime.
(I like JOHNNY's WARD CLEAVER-type dinner attire.)

A little TV watching after dinner on a rare night off from wrestling.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Saturday, April 17, 2021

RIC FLAIR "WOOS" THEM

 TONY STEWART WINS WILD NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE !

Saturday, May 16, 2009
LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Concord, North Carolina

After a wild 10-lap last segment, Tony Stewart thrilled fans and banked $1 million on Saturday night with a win in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. He led only two laps before taking the checkers. This was Stewart's first victory in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. It was also Stewart's first victory as a Sprint Cup team owner.


Along with the race, there were all-day festivities at LMS, including KEVIN COSTNER and His Band, and a big part of it all was RIC FLAIR.


I was told by KENT BERNHARDT, Production Coordinator for the PERFORMANCE RACING NETWORK, that the lines for 'SPACE MOUNTAIN' were long all-day long.

And RIC disappointed no one. He was 'The Man' as always.

Thanks to Kent for sharing these festivities photos.

FLAIR on his way to the huge stage.

One of the countless autographs signed throughout the day.

RIC on stage addressing the mammoth crowd.

JEFF GORDON mingles with fans backstage.

The impressive stage and huge crowd (and that's not counting the fans in the grandstands).

KURT BUSCH with singer JESSE JAMES.

RIC poses with the Honor Guard before the ceremony.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Thursday, April 15, 2021

FLAIR / STEAMBOAT - NOBODY DID IT BETTER

 




RICKY STEAMBOAT

RIC FLAIR

Referee TOMMY YOUNG insists the combatants follow the rules...

YOUNG looks on as FLAIR refuses his 'official' request...



Whether they were opponents or partners, the matches of FLAIR and STEAMBOAT lit up the JCP territory as much as anything during the 1970s and 1980s.

Steamboat has the upper hand (arm actually).

Flair returns the favor.