Chappell: Wahoo became NWA World Tag Champions in 1975 with Paul Jones, and Paul was a great star throughout the 70s and into the early 80s. What are your thoughts on Mr. # 1 Paul Jones?


Kernodle: Paul Jones was a really good worker. Paul was probably one of the first really good looking type babyfaces…real dark handsome type guy. He was from Port Arthur, Texas, and he got over really good.


Paul got over in a lot of really great territories, and worked on top in a lot of those territories. He’s a good friend, and I like Paul.


Chappell: Paul and Wahoo lost the NWA World Tag Team Championship back to the Andersons in June of 1975, and that set up some hellacious rematches. Gene and Ole were the consummate tag team of the 70s. I know we’ve talked about the Andersons a good bit already, but anything else you’d like to say about your mentors?


Kernodle: Oh, I loved Ole and Gene Anderson. They were the only ones I really knew that much about when I started, and Ole and Gene spent a lot of time with me. They did all that stuff with me for FREE!


Chappell: That says a lot about them.


Kernodle: They just wanted to help get somebody in the business…break somebody in. They liked amateur wrestlers. You know that Big Mack guy I was talking about? They hated him, because Rip was the boss, and he just handed it to him, even though the guy turned into a pretty decent worker.


But Ole and Gene, I can’t say enough good things about them. They’re very close to Weaver in my eyes…Weaver and I were together all the time. I’ve got so much respect for Weaver and Ole and Gene Anderson…tremendous respect.


If it wasn’t for Ole and Gene, I probably wouldn’t have gotten in the business. They took so much time with me.


Chappell: Another guy that was on top in the Mid-Atlantic area from when you broke in until the end of the 70s, was “Mr. Wrestling” Tim Woods.


Kernodle: Tim Woods was a GREAT amateur wrestler. Tim and I lived together in Atlanta. Talk about a crazy son of a gun!


Chappell/Bourne: (laughing)


Kernodle: You’d get in a car with him, and he’d scare the hell out of you! I rode a motorcycle with him one time, and he scared the hell out of me…


Chappell: He was into bikes, wasn’t he? I remember a photo of him in one of the Mid-Atlantic magazines, and he was sitting on a beautiful bike.


Kernodle: He was a damn daredevil!


I remember one time we were sitting in the apartment in Atlanta. It was back when Farrah Fawcett was really hot, and she had this poster…


Bourne: Great poster in that red bathing suit!


Kernodle: Yeah, and she was smiling with those white teeth. We were sitting there with a 25 automatic, Tim had one, and he didn’t really like Farrah that much; he ribbed me about liking her. He turned and said to me, “I ought to shoot her teeth out!!”


Then he paused and said, “I AM gonna shoot her teeth out!!”


Chappell/Bourne: (laughing)


Kernodle: And he took that 25 automatic and shot right into the wall right in her teeth !!


Tim was a good guy, tough guy…but wild!


Bourne: He had a lot of other interests too, didn’t he?


Kernodle: And he was smart…so smart.


Chappell: I always heard he was tough as nails.


Kernodle: He was that!


Chappell: Wasn’t he into electronics?


Kernodle: He was electronically a genius. Woods was one of the first people I’ve ever seen, before I got in the business, that had a finishing hold with a cradle, and he’d do a head stand…


Chappell: Oh yeah, I remember that!


Kernodle: That was beautiful! He did some great stuff. Great amateur wrestler from Michigan.


Chappell: In 1975 and 1976 Woods feuded with Blackjack Mulligan. Blackjack was a huge star in the 70s and into the early 80s in the Mid-Atlantic area. What are your thoughts on Mulligan?


Kernodle: I was pretty close to Blackjack. Blackjack was a big ‘ol brawler, not a great per se wrestler, but tough. REAL tough guy!


And he was big…probably about 6 [feet] ten [inches], something like that, and over 300 pounds. Good guy, and we became friends and we liked each other. We traveled on the road a lot together. I bought some cars and stuff from him.


Really good guy. Haven’t seen or heard from him a lot lately, though.


Chappell: One of Blackjack’s rivals during the 70s was Rufus R. “Freight

Train” Jones.


Kernodle: Rufus and I were really good friends. Rufus always had some “White Lightning” around in his freezer…


Chappell/Bourne: (laughing)


Kernodle: He was a real good guy. He really got over good. He was a big man, and a lot of fun to be around.


The way he talked, you couldn’t half understand what he was saying…


Chappell: But the other half was pretty funny!


Kernodle: He was a comedian and everything…he was fun!


Chappell: Another one of Blackjack’s big rivals in the 70s was the Masked Superstar, Bill Eadie.


Kernodle: Bill Eadie is a real nice guy. I knew him first, when he wrestled as that Mongol guy…


Chappell: Bolo Mongol.


Kernodle: Right.


Chappell: That was quite a seamless transformation from Bolo Mongol to the Masked Superstar, wasn’t it?


Kernodle: Yeah, it was. I think he worked for the IWA, too?


Chappell: Yep, in 1975.


Kernodle: Yeah, then Crockett got him.


I think he’s a real nice guy; a real educated guy. He’s smart, and was a real good worker. Then later, he worked for the WWF…


Chappell: As Demolition Axe.


Kernodle: Yeah, that’s it. Good guy, real good guy. I liked him


Chappell: We’ve talked about Ric Flair already, but he was climbing straight to the top during the 1970s. Any other thoughts about the Nature Boy?


Kernodle: Flair and I became friends, and for about five years there we were traveling daily together. I think it was my job to drive him around, and keep Flair out of trouble!


Chappell: (laughs) With limited success!


Kernodle: Looking after him was probably harder than the wrestling matches! Not getting stopped and going to jail!


Chappell/Bourne: (laughing)


Kernodle: Trying to keep his girlfriends from catching him doing stuff. Flair’s a fun guy. I mean…unbelievable.


Ric would have me mess with guys in the ring. You know, play with them a little…shoot with them. He would smile and tell me, “Take [Greg] Valentine down!” It was all in good fun!


Chappell/Bourne: (laughing)


Kernodle: Flair’s done a lot of great things for me. If you’re with Flair, you can’t buy anything…your money is no good. He’s gonna buy everything!


But I tell you what…if you’re with Ric Flair, you were gonna have a good time!


Chappell: I believe it!


Kernodle: I had the greatest times in my life with him! It was great!


Chappell: One of Ric’s big-time running mates in the 70s was Greg Valentine. Tell us your thoughts about the “Bionic Elbow.”


Kernodle: Greg was a fun guy. Had a lot of good times with him, too. He was a party guy…like Ric. Had a lot of fun with Greg!


Chappell: Including when you messed with him in the ring…at Ric’s directive!


Kernodle: (laughs) That’s right!


Chappell: One of Greg’s great partners, was Baron von Raschke. They held the NWA World Tag Team Titles for much of 1978.


Kernodle: Baron von Raschke…really good amateur [wrestler]. Really good, fun guy. I got to know him pretty well.


Chappell: A guy who had a short, but effective, run in 1978 was “Sensational” Dick Murdock.


Kernodle: I knew Dick Murdock from here first, and then he was out in Amarillo…when I went out there in 1979. I liked Dick Murdock…he was a real tough guy. Good worker, and his daddy was a wrestler.


Chappell: About the time that Murdock left the area in the fall of 1978, a massive newcomer named John Studd came in. And Studd was actually in the territory in 1974, wrestling under the name of Chuck O’Connor.


Kernodle: (laughs) Chuck O’Connor knocked my teeth out on High Point TV!


Chappell: Not real fond memories of him!


Kernodle: I hadn’t been in the business very long then. He was real tall, I hit him in his stomach, threw him into the turnbuckle, and I went in the corner after him and he picked up his knee…and hit me right in the mouth!


Knocked my teeth out, and I had 28 stitches from that. I held the teeth in my mouth, to finish the match. And he went over. I was bleeding like a son of a gun!


Chappell: Tough, Don, very tough!


Kernodle: Then when I was up in the WWF in 1983, he was up there as John Studd.


Chappell: A guy that came into the Mid-Atlantic area at the tail end of the 70s, and sort of at the tail end of his career, was the legendary Ray Stevens.


Kernodle: I liked Ray Stevens. He was one of the great workers in the history of our business. People may not have realized that.


Ray Stevens did a lot of great things with tag team championships…


Chappell: Before he ever came to the Mid-Atlantic area.


Kernodle: Ray, here, was a very good worker…and I liked him and his wife a lot. We had a lot of fun. He was a party guy, too!


I wrestled a lot with Ray up in Canada, with me and Jim Nelson. And he was out in Amarillo for a while too, when I was out there.


Chappell: A guy who was on top both as a babyface and a heel in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling during the 70s was Ken Patera. Ken held the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship for most of 1978 and 1979.


Kernodle: Ken Patera and I were pretty good friends, but we had some heat for a short period of time there…but we got that straightened out.


But I liked Ken…I respected him. He was a great athlete, and a college educated guy. I think he went to Brigham Young University. He did some great feats of strength on WRAL TV.


Chappell: Another guy that came into the territory in the late 70s and stayed into the early 80s was “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. What about the guy from the Fiji Islands?


Kernodle: I liked Jimmy Snuka a lot. He was a really good worker; a good guy. I was up in the WWF when his girlfriend died up in Pennsylvania. There was a little controversy about that…


Chappell: Oh yeah, I remember that now…


Kernodle: Nobody knows, but they investigated it and everything.


But I liked Jimmy Snuka. He was really good to work with, and was a nice guy. He worked real believable matches.


Chappell: Out of the 70s now, but just barely! A guy that came in during the fall of 1980, and sort of took the territory by storm, was “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.


Kernodle: Oh, I liked Piper! We became friends. Roddy Piper was a real tough guy. People probably didn’t realize that, but he was really tough.


A lot of people tried to put me to sleep with the sleeper hold in the dressing room…I used to let people try that! They couldn’t do it…but Piper put me to sleep!


Chappell: Piper would always tell the ref, “ASK HIM!!”


Kernodle/Bourne: (laughing)


Kernodle: But Piper sure could put me out…nobody else could, because I’d make my neck all stiff!


Chappell: Piper was huge in the territory in 1981 and 1982. And that sort of takes us to when Slaughter arrived in the Mid-Atlantic area in late 1981.


How did you first meet Slaughter?


Kernodle: I met Sergeant Slaughter in Atlanta in 1977, and we became really good friends.


Then I was wrestling here as a good guy, and Sarge and I came up with that idea about me becoming a Private.


Bourne: So that happened in late ’81, early ’82?


Kernodle: Right. I was with Sergeant Slaughter recently; you know he lives here now?


Chappell: I’ve heard that.


Kernodle: I was with him two nights this week. We had a really good time.


Bourne: Is he okay? I heard he might have had some health issues a while back.


Kernodle: He’s doing fine…doing real good.


But, yeah, Sarge and I came up with that idea, and of course [Jim] Nelson was involved with that too.


Chappell: That was pretty soon after Slaughter had just come into the territory. So I guess up to that point, you were still content to be working underneath? But maybe you were getting a little less content?


Kernodle: I was still making GOOD money here. Then you’d go to some places like Amarillo and be on top, but you weren’t making as much money. The trips were horrendous out there. And the weather! I always thought it was hot in Texas, but Amarillo was one of the coldest places I’d ever been!


Chappell/Bourne: (laughing)


Kernodle: That wind coming out of that flat land in Oklahoma, coming across those plains with no trees…man, it was COLD!


I was just more happy here…


Chappell: Was it more Slaughter pushing you to do this thing with the Privates, or were you saying it was time to move up the cards?


Kernodle: David, we’d both talked about it for awhile. We just wanted to give it a try.


Chappell: I guess the time was right?


Kernodle: Yeah, it was. And Nelson was a big part of it, too.






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