Two - Big Events, Big History, Big Champions
DC: Do you consider
the US tournament in 1975 and the subsequent victory over Terry Funk for the US
belt on Thanksgiving 1975 to be your highpoints in the Mid-Atlantic area? Those were both
Paul: Yeah, that was
big. I worked five times that night in Greensboro against some tough
guys. It was a long night. And then I came back three weeks later and we
sold out for the return against Terry Funk. The tournament set
attendance and gate records for the city and the southeast.
DB: What do you
remember about the plane
crash in 1975?
Paul: I was at Bob
Bruggers apartment and Jimmy Crockett and a few others were there and
we're having a beer. And it was getting on up into the afternoon, and it
was time for everybody to head to their show, I was going to drive to
Kingstree, Bob was going to drive to Wilmington. And Jimmy told Bruggers
he had decided not to go to Wilmington, that David could look after
things, and Bob could have his seat on the plane, and he wouldn't have
to drive, which Bob very much appreciated. And so that's how Bob wound
up on that plane. So when we left Kingstree later that night, you had to
go to Florence to then get to Charlotte, and we were on the way back and
we hear about the plane crash on the way back. And I thought, oh
my God, Bob was on that plane, too.
DC: Flair was on that
plane. What were your thoughts of a young Ric Flair when he came in?
Paul: They put him
with the Andersons to give him some experience. He was moving along, but
his big break, you hate to say it like this, but Flair got his break
after the plane crash, when he came back and Valentine had previously
controlled the territory, and Flair got to shine at that point.
DC: You were in the
middle of several pivotal moments in Flair's early career. Flair got his
first singles title from you. Then, when Steamboat turned on you in
Paul: I'm glad you
finally got that straight...
David: I catch on
quickly. You had been heel for a few months, and then they turned Flair
babyface, which shocked everyone, but at first it was heel vs. heel with
you and Flair, and then Flair made the complete turn and teamed with
Steamboat to go against you and Raschke for the tag titles. That was the
biggest crowd I ever saw in Richmond.
George: There was a
full color magazine cover of Paul working with Flair, and Paul's all
bloody and chocking Ric and the caption is "The Night Paul Jones
Made Ric Flair a Star".
Paul: Yeah, that was
huge. But you know, I didn't turn on Flair, all I heard was a "Whooo"
behind me and boom, the lights went out. Just like Steamboat, Flair
turned on me. (laughs.)
DB: The US tournament
and subsequent win over Funk we discussed earlier; that put you as the
top contender for the NWA title. What NWA champions did you wrestle over
your career and who were the best?
Paul: The first NWA
champion I wrestled was Lou Thesz. I also wrestled Pat O'Conner, Gene
Kininski, Harley Race, Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk. But the greatest
champion I wrestled was Jack Brisco. Most of the champions had the exact
same routine night in and night out. Wrestling in the territories
required that to some extent, but Brisco was different. And of course, I
wrestled him many times before he was champion, in Florida. And then we
had a lot of hour draws when he had the belt. But with Brisco, it was a
different type of championship match. It wasn't by the numbers, it
wasn't choreographed, we told a story. Every match was different.
We trusted each other, we gave each other our bodies, and that made for
a great match.
courtesy Paul Jones / Also available through WrestlingClasscis.com
/ Click to Enlarge
DB: When you and Jack
hooked up again here in 1982, it looked like the magic was back. Those
were some great matches for the Mid-Atlantic heavyweight title. It
looked like you were really enjoying working again, and Jack, too.
George: And you can't
put a price on that. There are times after you've been working for
awhile with guys and you're just going through the motions, and then you
get to work with someone you truly enjoy working with, and it's a great
feeling, an exciting feeling.
Paul: Jack and I could
work a match without even saying a word sometimes. We had that special
Three - Managing and the Great American Dream
2003 Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Gateway