David Chappell's

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling History

February 1979

by David Chappell

The Almanac

Almanac Index

February 79 Roster

Championship Picture This Month:



NWA WORLD TAG TEAM---Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Sunka




MID-ATLANTIC TAG TEAM---Ken Patera and John Studd



February of 1979 started off with a bang right off the bat, as on Saturday, February 3rd the fans that tuned into the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that day around the area saw two very noteworthy events occur.


A major star entered the Mid-Atlantic area for the first time on that TV show, and it was none other than the “Big Cat,” Ernie Ladd. Standing six feet nine inches tall with a professional football background, Ladd was an imposing figure as he stepped into the ring for his debut match against Herb Gallant. But interestingly, Ernie came into the ring wearing his street clothes and said he wasn’t going to wrestle. When pressed, Ladd said he would shake Gallant’s hand and let him have the match. But rather than shaking Gallant’s hand, Ladd attacked Gallant, leaving him laying! Ernie wouldn’t appear in the area’s arenas until later in the month, his first arena bout being on February 26th against Tony Atlas in the Greenville Memorial Auditorium, and he followed that up with a victory over Paul Orndorff in Raleigh’s Dorton Arena the following night.


The other interesting event that occurred on the first TV show that aired in February saw “Part II” of Ric Flair’s weightlifting challenge that started the previous week. Thoroughly embarrassed by Ricky Steamboat the prior week, Flair promised to pay $1,000 to any “good guy” that could bench press over 500 pounds. Ric, of course, didn’t believe any wrestler on the fan favorite side could push that much iron. Well, perhaps Flair should have considered Tony Atlas! The muscleman from Roanoke, Virginia was designated as the lifter, and proceeded to press 405, 455 and finally 505 pounds!! Flair had to part with more money, and listen to the derisive laughing of Dino Bravo. This led to yet another contest, this time between Flair and Bravo the following week!


The third installment of the strength-type contests occurred on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped from the WRAL TV studios on Wednesday, February 7th. This contest was supposed to be between Ric Flair and Dino Bravo and was called “Ten and One” which was an endurance exercise involving deep knee bends and push ups.  Ric had said earlier that he would pay Bravo $1,000 and give him a match on TV if Dino beat him in this endurance contest. However, Ric came out and right before the contest was to start, and said he was too far above Bravo’s stature to participate, but that if Bravo could beat his “number one protégé” Steve Muslin, that was as good as beating Flair. Bravo took the measure of Muslin in the “Ten and One,” but Ric quickly left the studio, apparently reneging on his promise to give Bravo the money and a match.


The February 7th television taping was significant for another reason, as there was a massive overhaul of the television production! The announcer’s position was changed, new music was debuted, along with a new set that had additional states on the map and a new logo that read, “Mid-Atlantic Championship Sports.” Another significant change in the TV show was that there were no longer introductions of the wrestlers from the ring. Instead, Bob Caudle did the introductions from the announcer’s area, and a second screen showed the wrestlers as they were being introduced. Quite a change!


Baron von Raschke and his feared claw hold returned to the area in February. The Baron finished serving his suspension doled out by the NWA, and hit the territory’s rings with a vengeance. However, the Baron’s first match back was a loss, as he dropped a spirited clash with high-flying Jimmy Snuka on February 13th in Columbia, South Carolina.


The major Mid-Atlantic card in Canada during the month occurred at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on February 4th. The featured match was a United States Title Match between Champion Ricky Steamboat and challenger Greg Valentine. After quite a bout, Valentine was disqualified by referee Wayne Cashman at the 19:31 mark due to outside interference by none other than “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, who rushed the ring and attacked Steamboat. Perhaps Flair was in a foul mood, as earlier in the card Ric was pinned in 19:35 by Dino Bravo in a Canadian Heavyweight Championship bout! A second card in Toronto during the month was cancelled on February 18th, when snow in the Mid-Atlantic area prevented wrestlers from getting to Canada!


In addition to defeating Greg Valentine in Canada, Ricky Steamboat had a busy month of February with successful United States Title defenses. At one end of the month, Ricky took the measure of John Studd on February 1st in Norfolk, Virginia and at the other end, successfully defended his Title on February 23rd against Baron von Raschke in Charleston, South Carolina. In between, Steamboat’s primary challengers in February were former U.S. champs Ric Flair and Paul Jones. And on February 11th, Steamboat actually had to defend his U.S. belt against BOTH Ric Flair and Paul Jones!


Steamboat first took on Flair on the afternoon of February 11th in Charlotte, North Carolina for his prized United States Title. This match was a wild two out of three falls contest, where the first two falls were split. In the deciding third fall, Steamboat was uncharacteristically disqualified, giving the victory, though not the Title, to Flair. Ricky then had to travel up to Greensboro, North Carolina, to face Paul Jones for the U.S. belt that same evening! Ricky fared better in this matchup, pinning Jones cleanly to retain his championship belt.


Steamboat and Jones had intriguing battles in both Columbia, South Carolina and Richmond, Virginia during February. In Columbia, the two battled in a terrific U.S. Title vs. TV Title bout on February 6th and came back the next week with both titles again on the line, with Ricky coming out on top. In Richmond, Steamboat and Jones also squared off in two heated bouts during February. In the first match of February 9th, the action got totally out of control and both combatants were counted out of the ring! The two came back to Richmond on February 18th in a Lumberjack Match to try to keep the action in the ring. Both titles were on the line in the rematch, and while neither title changed hands, the action was off the charts!


Ricky’s title matches with Ric Flair in February certainly gave the young star from Hawaii all he could handle.  Ric was now calling himself the “uncrowned World Champion” and was telling the fans, “to be the man, you have to beat the man.” Flair, much like he did four days earlier in Charlotte, defeated Steamboat in a two out of three falls Title match in Norfolk, Virginia although Ricky retained his coveted strap. Likewise, in their matchup in Fishersville, Virginia on February 22nd, Flair controlled much of the action against his hated rival.


NWA Television Champion Paul Jones continued to show unabated viciousness while defending his prized belt during February. While Jones’ “United States Title versus TV Title” bouts against Ricky Steamboat were classics, Paul also had his hands full with Tony Atlas during the month. Jones and Atlas met for the TV Title numerous times during February, with one of the best bouts between the two being at the Scope Coliseum in Norfolk, Virginia on February 15th. In this melee, Paul managed to get himself disqualified to save his belt.


Even more chaotic was the TV Title Match between Jones and Atlas at the Roanoke Civic Center in Tony’s hometown on February 4th. In this match, BOTH Jones and Atlas were disqualified! These two were to come back to Roanoke on February 18th for a No Disqualification Match, but the Roanoke card was cancelled because of snow. What a shame! During February, Paul Jones also had successful TV Title defenses against Jay Youngblood, Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka.


NWA World Tag Team Champions Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka continued their mastery over former champs Ric Flair and Greg Valentine during the early part of the month.  Orndorff and Snuka effectively snuffed out the challenge of Flair and Valentine by beating the bad guys cleanly in title matches in Norfolk on February 1st, Raleigh’s Dorton Arena on February 6th and in the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium on February 10th.  The World Champions also disposed of Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions Ken Patera and John Studd on February 4th in Asheville, North Carolina. A second bout during the month featuring World Champions Snuka and Orndorff against the Mid-Atlantic Tag champs Studd and Patera was scheduled in Roanoke on February 18th. However, as was mentioned earlier, “Mother Nature” had other ideas---that card was cancelled due to heavy snow!


The Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show that was taped on February 21st featured a six man tag team match that was definitely of Main Event quality! The “good guy” team of Tony Atlas, Ricky Steamboat and Dino Bravo battled the “bad guy” trio of Ric Flair, Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke. After getting Atlas outside the ring, the Baron waffled Tony with two brutal chair shots. Then meantime in the ring, Jones put Steamboat in the Indian Death Lock while simultaneously Flair caught Bravo in the Figure Four Leg Lock, slapping Dino in the face as he applied the pressure. Eventually, Atlas got a chair of his own and cleared the ring. The bad guys were disqualified for using the chair first, but clearly Atlas, Steamboat and Bravo got the worst of it despite their win by disqualification.


Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Ken Patera had a number of Title defenses in the month of February, and in a large number of championship bouts he resorted to getting himself purposely disqualified to retain his belt. Dino Bravo defeated Patera by disqualification in two rough and tumble contests, one on February 9th in Richmond and another in Raleigh on February 13th, but Patera still wore the belt out. Jimmy Snuka also saw Ken hold onto his belt in similar fashion, when Patera got himself disqualified in Roanoke on February 4th. The popular Rufus R. Jones, who just returned to the territory, suffered a similar fate in Hampton, Virginia on February 17th, earning a win over Ken but only because Patera got himself intentionally disqualified. Patera’s only outright win in a Title match during the month was a victory in Charlotte on February 11th against Tony Atlas in a Lumberjack Match.


Ken Patera was also one half of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions, but he and partner John Studd had limited defenses during the month of February. The duo did have a spirited and successful defense on February 2nd against the talented tandem of Rufus R. Jones and Dino Bravo. And in another noteworthy Title defense, Patera and Studd obliterated the young team of Skip Young and Jay Youngblood on February 15th in the Norfolk Scope Coliseum


The final Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television show of the month, taped on February 28th, gave the fans some hope that they would be seeing one of their favorite wrestlers again very soon. Blackjack Mulligan was shown in a tape from Texas, saying that he was rested and refreshed and was coming back to the Mid-Atlantic area very soon! Blackjack said his ribs had healed from the injury that John Studd had inflicted on him. Mulligan singled out Ric Flair and Studd as the two people he was primarily coming after---Flair being the person that put the Bounty out on him, and Studd being the wrestler that collected the Bounty.


The February 28th TV show also saw Ricky Steamboat with a beautiful Hawaiian lei, presented to him by two adoring female fans. However, before the lei could be taken to the backstage area, Paul Jones swiped it from the ring side attendant and tore it up! Ricky was justifiably furious with his former tag team partner. But on a more pleasant note, this program also gave fans a very early preview of a tag team combination that looked to have lots of potential. Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood teamed up, and looked extremely impressive as they dispatched the roughhouse duo of Kim Duk and Charlie Fulton.



1. Ricky Steamboat---Steamboat kept a strong grip on the United States Heavyweight Championship during the month, and was also a focal point of the weightlifting challenge series, managing to humiliate Ric Flair in the process!
2. Dino Bravo---The Canadian Heavyweight Champion continued to impress during the month, and was after Ric Flair for the most part. Dino excelled in the “Ten and One” endurance contest on TV, whipping up on Flair’s “number on protégé.”
3. Tony Atlas---The strongman from Roanoke, Virginia impressed the area’s TV audience when he bench pressed over 500 pounds in the second part of the weightlifting challenge series. Tony also had a solid month on the wrestling mat!


1. Greg Valentine---The “Hammer” had a rough go of it in February. He had difficulty in his singles matches, and he and Ric Flair could not seize the World Tag Team belts, despite numerous opportunities. By the end of the month, Valentine had left the area.
2. Ric Flair---Ric had numerous shots at the two top belts in the area, the U.S. Title and the World Tag Team Titles, but came up empty on both. And the strength contests during February that had Flair front and center, were unmitigated disasters for the Nature Boy.
3. John Studd---While “Big John” remained one half of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions, those belts were beginning to lose their luster and starting to become irrelevant. Studd seemed to lose his focus a bit after collecting the $10,000 Bounty on Blackjack Mulligan, but there were strong indications by the end of the month that Blackjack was on his way back to confront Studd!




© 2011 David Chappell   Mid-Atlantic Gateway  Published 3/3/10