Our special thanks to the one and only Blackjack Mulligan for the time he has given to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.


Chappell: The Blackjacks were a great team, but nothing lasts forever.


Mulligan: We went all over the place. We toured all over Canada…at one time the Blackjacks had like 25 straight sellouts. I mean, all the way from Montreal to Edmonton and all the way down to Chicago. Ten straight (sellouts) in Chicago. Like I said, we popped Indianapolis…on Channel 9 over there where I think Les Thatcher is now, or was recently.


Anyway, we were in Texas doing our thing down in Texas, and I told Jack that I wanted to do a split. He said that was fine, because he wanted to go home for a while anyway.


Chappell: Where did you go at that point?


Mulligan: I signed a deal with Vince McMahon, Sr. But Vince said, ‘Well look, why don’t you grab your partner, and see if he’s interested in coming in here, and you and Lanza can have one more run.’


So I called Jack, and we made the deal. I don’t remember the exact month, but it was six months before we started. Back in those days, you came in six months or so ahead of time, and did your TV in New York building up for the switch, you know? 


Chappell: Right.


Mulligan: So, I had a little six month down time there. So Jack went to Minnesota, and I stayed on in Texas. And we would meet up in New York and do out taping sessions.


Chappell: And time wise, we’re talking about the end of 1974, early 1975?


Mulligan: Yeah. Now, in the meantime, Bronco Lubich told me that George Scott, a guy that I had wrestled over in Houston, wanted me to give him a call. George had heard that I had some down time, in between my tapings in New York…


Chappell: The WWWF spread out their tapings, didn’t they?


Mulligan: Every three weeks. So I went ahead and gave George Scott a call. He was still fairly new booking Mid-Atlantic at that time.


George said, ‘Jack, would you mind coming on in now, and doing a six month stint with me here. You can work your way right on into New York, and we’ll finish you up here as your (Madison Square) Garden opening time comes up.’


I thought that George’s idea was a good one…so I did that. Wound up in Charlotte, North Carolina that way.


Chappell: What were your impressions of wrestling in the Carolinas and Virginia then?


Mulligan: I would never really venture into that area because it was always known as…not a bad place, but just kind of a good steady place to go. Not the biggest money territory in the world. Just a real good, solid old-timer, old school…Johnny Weaver, Gene Anderson, Bronko Lubich…hard working place. It was really a place that featured the old style, two out of three (falls matches), a lot of wrestling…


Chappell: Tag teams…


Mulligan: Yeah, tag teams and all that stuff.


Chappell: But in early 1975, George Scott was changing the territory’s direction away from some of the older tag team guys.


Mulligan: That’s exactly right. George told me, ‘We have Wahoo, Johnny Valentine and Don Jardine in here now.’


Chappell: Who were primarily singles wrestlers. And Ric Flair was less than a year into the territory as well when you first came in here.


Mulligan: Flair was down in Corpus (Christi) with us for a while. If you can imagine this…Ric Flair was about 305 pounds…


Chappell: Yeah, he was a little ‘beefy’ way back then…


Mulligan: He had his head shaved, and he looked like Curly of ‘The Three Stooges!’ (everybody laughs)


He came out of Minnesota, and he used to hang out with me. He really wanted to emulate Dusty Rhodes…he was just a great performer at 300 pounds, because he thought he was going to be the next Dusty Rhodes!


I didn’t see Flair again until I came to Charlotte…he was a lot smaller and had blonde hair. Didn’t even look the same! George Scott said, ‘Here’s the kid I’m pushing.’


Chappell: How was George Scott as the booker for Crockett then?


Mulligan: Well, I made this deal with George, but nobody really knew what he was going to do. He had never been a booker before. I’d wrestled with him in Houston…he was called ‘The Great Scott.’ I was curious…I asked him why he called me and wanted me to come to Charlotte.


Chappell: What did George say in response?


Mulligan: He said, ‘In Houston, when we had to go 20 minute broadways you never complained. I’m a little guy and you’re a big ol’ guy, and you did it…and I always remembered that and appreciated it. 20 minutes…you didn’t have to do that. You could have beaten me anytime you wanted to.’


Chappell: (laughing)


Mulligan: I said, ‘Uh…George, I really appreciate you basing things upon that.’ (laughs) I didn’t really know George that well then.


Chappell: Tell us about this short run you had for Crockett in early 1975.


Mulligan: I did the six month trip in Charlotte. It did real well…it really popped. I mean, there was really a lot of competition there. I really wasn’t THE guy, because I was on my way to New York and we had planned to move me right on out.

Chappell: The thing I remember most from your first stay with Crockett, was the program with you and Wahoo…the Cowboy versus the Indian. Indian Strap Matches, Texas Death Matches…you two had some TOUGH matches!


Bill Janosik Photo


Mulligan: Right…that’s exactly right. I hooked up with Wahoo, and those were some BRUTAL matches.


Chappell: Were those series of matches with Wahoo as tight and stiff as they appeared?


Mulligan: Oh, those were almost shoots. Wahoo and I, we were like…let me try to classify this. Ballplayers always had their separate little deal. You know, there was no complaining and bitchin’ about getting hit or potatoes or anything like that. We just went out and worked each other over.


Chappell: Over the years, you worked with a number of fellow football players.


Mulligan: Many. There was Angelo Mosca. Ernie Ladd…he got a little touchy sometimes. There was Walter Johnson. There were a whole group of guys that came out of football, because we weren’t making any money in football. We were only making 15-20 thousand a year in football.


I saw Wahoo one day and he had a big stack of bills in front of him, and I asked him where he got all that money. [Editor’s note: Blackjack does a wonderful impersonation of Wahoo at this juncture!] He said, ‘Boyyyyyyyyy, you need to get into this wrestling. You need to get some of this money, man!’ It was kind of like the conversation I told you that Wahoo and I had in Corpus…when I said, ‘I think I’ll try that!’ (laughs)


But anyway, Wahoo was the highlight of that early six month run for me in Charlotte.


Chappell: Did you then go back to New York later in 1975 as planned?


Mulligan: I headed on back into New York. Lanza and I hook up, do the Garden and become the World Champions.


Chappell: That’s right, you actually won the belts during that last run with Lanza.


Mulligan: That was kind of funny, because we had really decided we were going to go our separate ways for a little bit. You see, the thing was, we had ( Bobby) Heenan with us for years…and Bobby couldn’t make the move with us because Vince always had his own group of managers in New York. I mean, he had Lou Albano, the Wizard, Freddie Blassie and a couple of other guys. So, Hennan couldn’t make the move with us…so Lanza and I went on in there and we were selling out and having a great time.


Chappell: Describe working in the WWWF, compared to some of the other areas you had worked in.


Mulligan: It was very, very easy working stints in the WWWF being the tag team compared to say, working in Texas and Minnesota. It was a different style…it was a big guy territory. You would pound guys to death, so the matches were shorter and easier. It was a very comfortable place to be…I enjoyed my runs there with Vince, Sr.


Chappell: How was the money there?


Mulligan: We made lots of money…making REAL good money. You didn’t make the money you made if you were on top…I mean, we were on top but the singles guy on top always made more money.


But Vince always promised us that Lanza would get one (singles World Title) shot a month and I’d get one shot a month…to get us some top money. Things were really going great…


Chappell: But fate would soon intervene and bring you back to Charlotte. Please take us through those events.


Mulligan: Well…I don’t really remember the time frame…90 days or four months or so, I get a phone call from George Scott. And he was like…just, broken. He said, ‘Jack, I need you immediately. You can’t believe what just happened.’


Chappell: The plane crash in Wilmington, North Carolina…


Mulligan: Yeah. George said, ‘The plane’s gone down. Johnny Valentine’s gone, Ric Flair’s gone, Timmy Woods is gone.’ And soon I learned that ( David ) Crockett and ( Bob ) Bruggers were also in the plane. I think that runs the gamut, doesn’t it?


Chappell: Yes…along with the pilot of the plane who eventually died of injuries he received in the crash.


Mulligan: George was devastated. I said, ‘George, are you thinking right my friend?’ I said, ‘I’m in New York, on top. I’ve got the second best slot in the world…the Tag Team Championship in the WWWF territory.’ Vince, Jr. had just come in the business, and we were breaking him in on TV at that time…this thing was really hot in New York. I told George, ‘This thing is hot here on top.’ And he said, ‘No, no.’


Chappell: Well, the Crockett territory was in desperate straights at that moment, particularly on the heel side of the talent ledger. They had just lost the top two singles heels, Flair and Valentine, and they still hadn’t found a big-time replacement for (Super Destroyer) Don Jardine, who had left the area two months earlier.


Mulligan: ‘Desperate’ is a good description. I gave him a (money) figure, and I said, ‘George, I’m looking at this kind of money.’ And he said, ‘I’ll match it…and I’ll make it better.’


Chappell: Scott and Crockett were actually in a position to do that?


Mulligan: I said, ‘George…be careful. I really like you, but…’ He said, ‘No, I’ll guarantee you that, plus more.’


I said, ‘You can’t guarantee me that out of the Carolinas.’ You know, they just didn’t have the demographics to match that. Back in those days, Vince’s territory ran in Washington, Baltimore, New York and Boston…so the demographics were there to make that kind of money. But George said, ‘Yes I can.’


Chappell: So, George Scott was persistent?


Mulligan: I said, ‘Let me just sleep on this, George.’ And he said, ‘No, I have to have an answer tonight.’ (laughs) And we’re talking MAJOR money here.


So I hang up the phone, and I call Lanza. He has a heart attack…some kind of thromboses. (everybody laughs)  He told me, ‘ARE YOU OUTTA YOUR MIND…HAVE YOU LOST IT!’


Jack had been in the Carolinas for a while prior to me as ‘Cowboy Jack Lanza,’ many, many years before.


Chappell: So Lanza had spent some time in the Carolinas before?


Mulligan: Yeah, yeah. As Cowboy Jack Lanza…as a babyface. Jack told me, ‘Man, they have the longest driving trips…here with Vince, we can fly from town to town…’


Chappell: So Lanza didn’t really want to come back to the Carolinas because of the travel, etc.


Mulligan: No he didn’t. And really at that time, David , the Crockett territory hadn’t popped yet. It was starting to awaken…they had already gone to the Coliseum in Greensboro and started to pop some. But not really all the way. Rich mond…really hadn’t maxed out, I don’t believe. Everything hadn’t started to max out yet.


Chappell: George had built around Johnny Valentine, but the territory was still in a bit of flux at the time of the plane crash…older guys around but with some great new guys coming in.


Mulligan: Johnny’s style was the slow old style…pound it out. Here I was…I was the new style. Myself, Dusty Rhodes and (Superstar) Billy Graham…we were the new style, and that style sort of changed this business.


Chappell: Tell us about this new style you’re speaking of.


Mulligan: We copied our styles after an old wrestler out of Atlanta, Georgia…named Thunderbolt Patterson.


Chappell: Oh yes…T-Bolt.


Mulligan: He did one of the greatest TV promos in the history of wrestling. He never got his due, I think because he went on this racial thing in Atlanta and had problems after that with some in the business. Regardless of that, Dusty started it and I came in right behind him…and we copied him. It was a soul-like down home barbeque type interview…people had never seen white boys do this type of promo interview before!


Chappell: So T-Bolt was the inspiration for all of those great interviews we heard from you in the 70s?


Mulligan: We did that kind of interview, and we copied it from Thunderbolt Patterson. We added our Western twang into it…and that thing just started popping left and right.


Chappell: Why do you think people took to that style so fast?


Mulligan: Because it was really us. It was a natural feel for us. And we copied some of the ‘soul’ content of it from Thunderbolt Patterson’s stuff…we robbed him! We robbed him blind! I say God bless him…I love him. (laughs)


Chappell: (laughing)


Mulligan: He knew we stole it from him…just raided him! (laughs)


Chappell: You were certainly a different-type character than we had seen in the Mid-Atlantic area to that point!


Mulligan: (laughing) I’ll take that as a compliment, David ! You’re right, the people in the Carolinas had never seen anything like that. I gave them a little bit of it during the first stint, and it was catching real fast. And because of that, George wanted me to stay on then, and I said, ‘George, you’ve got a full barn here with Johnny and Jardine in those (top) slots. I’ve gotta be number one or number two, or I’m not gonna play the game.’


Chappell: What did George say?


Mulligan: He said, ‘What bad timing, man!’ I said, ‘Not for me!’