December of 1975 saw a limited amount of in-ring action, as Jim Crockett Promotions gave its wrestlers a ten day break from December 14th through December 24th. As the territory had been in upheaval since the Wilmington, North Carolina plane crash in early October of 1975, everybody without a doubt deserved a holiday break! Nevertheless, December 1975 was an eventful month in the history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.
Paul Jones was announced on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television as the new United States Heavyweight Champion on December 3, 1975 from the WRAL studios. Paul stated that due to the travel associated with defending the U.S. Title, he was relinquishing his Mid-Atlantic Television Title as he couldn’t properly hold and defend both belts at the same time. David Crockett told the viewing audience that a tournament was being set up to crown a new Mid-Atlantic Television Champion. This tournament would be front and center during the early months of 1976.
The man who Paul Jones defeated for the U.S. Heavyweight Title, Terry Funk, pulled a major upset and unseated Jack Brisco for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on December 10, 1975. However, due to the time the promotion took off during the month of December, Mid-Atlantic fans were not told of the change on TV until a number of weeks later. In fact, on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling 1975 Year In Review show that ran in most Jim Crockett Promotions cities on Saturday, December 27th and featured Funk against Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones in great matches from the year 1975, Terry Funk was not introduced as the new NWA World Champion! On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show featuring Bob Caudle and David Crockett, this would not happen until the show that ran during the first week of 1976.
Tim Woods was announced during the month of December as having won a major tournament in Japan. Woods was getting ready to become embroiled in a major feud with Blackjack Mulligan, that would run through the early months of 1976. One of the first major bouts between Woods and Mulligan took place in the Greensboro Coliseum on December 26, 1975, with “Mr. Wrestling” winning, but having to be taken to the hospital after the bout. Things between these two combatants were just beginning to heat up as 1975 came to an end.
Blackjack Mulligan’s battles in December of 1975 were not confined to those with Tim Woods. Mulligan’s push for Paul Jones’ United States Heavyweight Championship began with his first U.S. Title match against Jones, on December 9, 1975 at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. These two would battle over the U.S. Title throughout 1976, and into the early months of 1977. Despite the vast difference in physical size between Jones and Mulligan, their budding feud would be among the most memorable in Mid-Atlantic history.
Two other rivals that went at each other hot and heavy during the month were Wahoo McDaniel and “Professor” Boris Malenko. The “Professor,” still smarting from having his teeth broken by the big “Chief,” engaged McDaniel in a series of Russian Chain matches. These bouts were Boris’ favorite specialty matches, and were held in a number of the territory’s big cities during December. Despite Malenko’s advantage in these bouts, Wahoo came out the victor in all of these brutal encounters. Wahoo would then turn his attention to a building rivalry between former pro football players, with “Big Nasty” Angelo Mosca. Wahoo’s program with Professor Malenko would spell the end of Malenko’s full time in-ring career for Jim Crockett Promotions. Thereafter, the “Professor” wrestled sparingly, and focused his attention on managing, where he would excel as well.
December of 1975 also saw the re-emergence of Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. While not wrestling, Flair was guest commentator on a number of the area’s TV wrestling programs. One thing became very clear, the plane crash had in no way affected Ric’s ability to talk! Flair also seemed to be building up alliances with two of the area’s most feared rule breakers, Blackjack Mulligan and Angelo Mosca. By the end of the month, Flair began his transition back to active duty, seconding several of his wrestling friends in the area’s arenas.
Gene and Ole Anderson continued their tight grip on the NWA World Tag Team Titles during the month of December. The Anderson’s finished their program with the young upstarts, Steve Keirn and Tiger Conway, defeating the youngsters in the last matches of the feud during December. For the rest of the month, the Anderson’s took on duos made up from the area’s finest good guys…Paul Jones, Wahoo McDaniel, Rufus R. Jones and Ken Patera. But the results we always the same---the Anderson’s retained their Titles!
As the month of December, and the year of 1975, reached its last week, several notable occurrences took place. One, the promotion reminded us that the 1975 “Wrestler of the Year” contest was nearing its end, and for fans to get their ballots in. While the winner’s name, Wahoo McDaniel, would not be released until early 1976, Wahoo’s eventual victory would not come without controversy. Ric Flair was the top vote-getter, but was disqualified for sending in hundreds of ballots voting for himself, making Wahoo the winner!
The last week of 1975 saw several “No DQ, There Must Be A Winner” matches involving Spoiler # 2 and the area’s top good guys. When Paul Jones was involved, the matches were “Mask versus U.S. Title” bouts. These matches stretched into the first two weeks of 1976, and went around to all the big towns in the area. The results were all the same regardless of the town…Spoiler # 2 was defeated and was unmasked, effectively ending the big man’s stint in the Mid-Atlantic area.
Another top flight star who concluded his time in the Mid-Atlantic area during the final days of 1975 was Superstar Billy Graham. After primarily battling Wahoo McDaniel during his Mid-Atlantic run, Graham teamed with Blackjack Mulligan to wrestle Tim Woods and Rufus R. Jones in Columbia, South Carolina on December 30, 1975. Despite having Ric Flair in his corner to interfere, Graham was pinned by Woods. The “Superstar” would soon head back to the WWWF full-time, and achieve his greatest fame there over the next two to three years.
Despite December of 1975 being a short month in terms of in-ring action, it set the table nicely for a number of huge programs that would boil over into the beginnings of the bi-centennial year of 1976. And December gave us pause to remember the year of 1975 as a whole, a year that was truly unforgettable in the annals of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling history!
PAUL JONES---“Mr. # 1” held onto his newly won United States Heavyweight Championship, and at this time was widely considered a top contender for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Jones was probably at the zenith of his Mid-Atlantic career this month.
BLACKJACK MULLIGAN---The big Cowboy from Eagle Pass, Texas was already right on Paul Jones’ heels, setting his sights on becoming the new United States Champion. Mulligan was destroying everything in his path, and appeared nearly invincible.
ANGELO MOSCA---The “Madman” from Boston was tearing through the competition, and was zeroing in on Wahoo McDaniel. As tough as the “Big Chief” was, Mosca seemed to have all of the attributes needed to give Wahoo a real run for his money.
SPOILER # 2---After coming into the area in the late summer of 1975 to avenge the unmasking of his friend, the Super Destroyer, December saw Spoiler # 2 suffer the same fate and exit from the territory!
SUPERSTAR BILLY GRAHAM---Coming into the area after the plane crash to help fill the void created by Ric Flair’s injury, Graham exited the area just as Flair was returning. No coincidence!
STEVE STRONG---Graham’s running mate, Strong began to slide down the cards just as “Superstar” was leaving the territory. Again, no coincidence!