Chappell: Ironically, that timing would change by October of 1975, when neither Valentine nor Jardine were in the picture anymore.


Mulligan: That’s exactly right.


Chappell: Obviously, you made the jump from McMahon to Crockett right after the Wilmington plane crash in October of 1975. It had to be a tough decision on a number of fronts. How was the relationship between McMahon and Crockett?


Mulligan: They had a good working relationship…up until what was fixin’ to happen with me! I’m fixin’ to end that relationship in just a second! (laughs)


Chappell: (laughing) Okay Blackjack, tell us what went down!


Mulligan: Everybody went nuts…bonkers! I said to George, ‘Are you sure?’ And he says, ‘YES, I’ve gotta have you here NOW!’ I told him I had to give a notice to Vince, and he said he wanted me here for the next Raleigh TV taping. I just happened to be off that Wednesday, and George said, ‘Great!’


Chappell: Well, I remember you being on Mid-Atlantic TV very soon after the plane crash.


Mulligan: Here I’m left with this…I’m taking a major risk in my career. You know, at that time, [the WWWF] was the Mecca. I mean, San Francisco, Chicago and New York…they were the Mecca. NOBODY does what I did…taking a chance on the Carolinas under those circumstances! You just didn’t do that!


Chappell: What possessed you to do it!


Mulligan: (pauses) Well…I trusted George Scott. I really, really did.


Chappell: What was the deciding factor…the money? A promise to be on top here?


Mulligan: It was [George]. He was an honest man…he had always kept his word to me.


And the deal was, and nobody has ever known this to this day…he said, ‘I’ll give you the number one slot. I’m getting this kid (Flair) ready, and you’ll hold the number one slot until he’s ready. We’re gonna prep this kid, and we’re gonna take him all the way. You’ll have it as long as I’m here, and when we get him ready, we’ll move you to number two. And then you’ll hold that slot as long as you want it…as long as you can withstand the work of it.’ I’ll get to that last part in a minute.


Chappell: The heavy workload?


Mulligan: Yes…the work was a lot different in North Carolina. Very, very hard work. You [didn’t] get away with easy work in Carolina with George Scott…he was like, like a taskmaster.


I wasn’t really built to do those one hour broadways. I was a 15-20 minute guy, bashing tables, that kind of stuff.


Chappell: George Scott certainly featured A LOT of long matches in the Mid-Atlantic days.


Mulligan: George loved those long drawn out [matches].


Chappell: And you agreed to come into the Mid-Atlantic area, knowing that he was going to expect that from you?


Mulligan: I had to have that conversation with George too. I said, ‘George, you know I’m not built to do these one hour things.’ He said, ‘No, I’ll take care of you. You just do your thing and we’ll see how it works out.’


I guess it was just his personality. The guy having a lot of moxie to come after me to step out of the territory I was in.


Let’s put it this way…about the most you could max out in Carolina in those days was 35-40 thousand dollars, and that wasn’t even in my ballpark then. Compared to what I was making with Vince.


Chappell: By comparison, what were you making for Vince?


Mulligan: We were doing over $100,000 in New York…and Chicago too. We were making some big money.


Chappell: So…deciding to go with Crockett after the plane crash, you were risking losing a heck of a lot of money.


Mulligan: Making that move, it could have been a career disaster. Be that as it may,  George talked me into it!


Chappell: Tell us about the actual switch to the Mid-Atlantic area…this would be in October of 1975.


Mulligan: My coming back to Charlotte was directly as a result of the plane crash. I promised George I would do TV for him that next Wednesday.


After the conversation with George that evening, I’m left with having to call my partner (Lanza) as I said, and calling Vince McMahon. (laughs)


Chappell: I bet those were two phone calls you just couldn’t wait to make! (laughs)


Mulligan: Oh man…I somehow got past that. Vince McMahon said, ‘You’re totally crazy…you need to be under psychiatric care! If you do this thing…I don’t accept this. You’re not thinking right…you’re drinking or on drugs, there’s something wrong with your thinking. Talk to me on Monday at TV about this.’


Chappell: Sounds like Vince didn’t even want to think about what you were going to do!


Mulligan: He would not take my notice!


This is another little known thing…I’m up there in the ring with (Dominic) Denucci and…the other Italian, (Tony) Parisi. I think the other guy was Parisi…maybe it was (Victor) Rivera…


Chappell: This is after you had given your notice to Vince, right?


Mulligan: Right…they wouldn’t accept my notice, David. So, we were wrestling a World Championship Tag Match…we were working a small show up there. It was two out of three falls…Lanza and I won the first fall and they won the second fall.


During the last fall, in a slam I pulled Denucci on me and covered myself---one, two, three! We jump up and they’re the World Champions…they couldn’t believe it. That’s how I ended up REALLY giving my notice!


Chappell: Is this a rib?


Mulligan: (laughing) No, no…they wouldn’t accept it. I made sure that it was on camera!


Chappell: McMahon must have been FURIOUS!


Mulligan: Vince McMahon called me, screaming on the phone. They cancelled the camera, and shut that down. They gave the belts back to us, and he told me, ‘You can’t do that. I can’t believe you did that. That’s unbelievable.’


Chappell: (laughing)


Mulligan: I told Denucci…now, nobody knows this except me, Lanza and Denucci. I pulled Denucci, Dominic, on top of me. I’m covered…one, two, three and we lose the World Tag Team Championship.


Lanza went, ‘Oh my God…I knew you were gonna to do that---I knew you were gonna do that!’


Chappell: So after you pulled a stunt like that, McMahon let you loose?


Mulligan: That’s how I finally got out of there. They didn’t even change the billing on the next TV show up there…but I didn’t go to TV. I told them that was it, and you have to accept it. Vince, Sr. finally says, ‘I hope you get everything that comes to you.’ I don’t know how he meant that…


Chappell: I don’t think he was real happy with you, Blackjack! (laughs)


Mulligan: Those things waned. the business. In my career, to the end, I always left on my own terms. Actually, I kind of burned bridges to get out of places.


Chappell: You said earlier that Lanza didn’t react much better to your leaving?


Mulligan: When I called Lanza after I made my decision, he said, ‘Nobody in their right mind does this.’ After that conversation, Lanza and I were never really the same again. It was that big a break.


Nobody had ever done this before…in (wrestling) history.


Chappell: So, you made that immediate TV taping on Wednesday night in Raleigh that George was so adamant about?


Mulligan: I showed up in Raleigh for TV there. Ol’ Bob Caudle is there. And there’s nobody on top…I’m it! The Anderson’s were there, but the singles slot was wide open. They brought Angelo (Mosca) in about the same time, I guess.


Chappell: How did George start you out in this situation?


Mulligan: I said, ‘George, listen. I have a very strange way of getting myself over. They’ve never seen this before anywhere in this area. You just have to brute-force me over. You need to let me do what I have to do…you give me the time and give me the guys, and you let me worry about getting over.’


Chappell: What exactly did you feel you needed to do to get over for Crockett?


Mulligan: This is what I told George I needed to do. I told him, ‘I want you to allot me 7-8 minutes. I want you to double-tape me…I want to be on A and B (TV shows). And I want interviews…not following the match---but I want interviews prior to the match and within two segments after the match.


George said, ‘Boy…you’re very demanding!’


Chappell: (laughing)


Mulligan: I said to him, ‘No, no…I’m just telling you this is the best way to go for me. You banked on me, and I’ll tell you what I need to get myself over.’


Chappell: Well Blackjack, I’m sure you knew what you needed to do…better than anybody else. But at that point, under the circumstances, what choice did George really have but to follow your advice? (laughs)


Mulligan: Back in those days, it went a little different. You controlled a lot of your own destiny, you really did. The booker was there and he gave you the idea…but you controlled whether you got over. You shot ideas to him, he gave you the time…and you went in there and did your thing.


But George was receptive to what I was telling him. He said, ‘Here’s the format, I’ll give you the 7-8 minutes and put you on the A and B tapings like you want. We’re going to push you right over, stronger than anybody has ever seen in this territory.’


Chappell: To that point, Crockett’s pushes did tend to be a bit more methodical than what you’re talking about.


Mulligan: They had never seen anybody pushed that strongly in Carolina. They had pushed everybody before real slowly…methodically, like you said. I mean, when I started, I was just clobbering guys! (laughs)


Chappell: You’re right!


Mulligan: And it had to happen quick…and it did happen quick. Because they had open dates for [Flair and Valentine] that they were booked for, that I had to close. And I had to go back to New York and fill those dates up there.


The timing worked out right where I could fill the big dates. I had to knock off some little dates…like the ‘Villes’ and the ‘Burgs’ up in New York—I had a few of those, but not too many. 


I made the big shots in Charlotte, and filled in for Johnny (Valentine). What great timing for me…and the rest is history!


Chappell: What were your thoughts coming into the Mid-Atlantic area then, as the ‘Top Dog,’ so to speak?


Mulligan: There’s Flair, caught in this little Mid-Atlantic position, getting started…trying to learn the business. Here I am, the old pro moving in. I was at the prime of my career at that point. Flair was obviously on his way up. Mosca was always kind of in the middle. And they brought Billy Graham and Steve Strong in.


Chappell: There was definitely a roster makeover at the end of 1975…a lot of it occasioned by necessity.


Mulligan: The thing popped so fast, David. I mean, it really just went crazy! It just built, and built, and built…we broke all kinds of (attendance) records.


Chappell: Wasn’t Tim Woods your first program after the plane crash?


Mulligan: (laughs) Timmy Woods…God bless him---one of my favorites! Him and Johnny Weaver.


Chappell: Weaver?


Mulligan: Johnny Weaver is one of my favorite people of all time…


Chappell: You remember that audio CD of your promos that Dick (Bourne) sent you? You said on one of those, back in 1976, that you were going to hang ol’ Johnny Weaver from the rafters at the Richmond Arena and have a good laugh! Now you’re telling me he’s your best buddy? Come on now…would you have hung him? (laughs)


Mulligan: (laughing) Yeah…I’d have tried that on Johnny!

Hang ol' Johnny Weaver


Johnny Weaver and Blackjack Mulligan on the set

of "Best of NWA Wrestling"


But, David, Johnny Weaver probably had the greatest mind in this business. He was such a steady, ‘Steady Eddie’ type guy. He was old school, and he knew all the moves. He knew things about this business that most people would never even think about. He had more ideas in his brain about this business than I’ll ever dream of. And if he heard something, he always remembered it.


Chappell: Nobody knew the territory better than Weaver, that’s for sure.


Mulligan: Ohhh yeah…the whole business of wrestling. Johnny Weaver was the anchor, and he kept everything steady. He was always there when you needed him. He was a super human being…one of my favorite people.


Chappell: I don’t think Weaver ever got the credit he deserved for the things you speak of.


Mulligan: No he hasn’t, and that’s a shame. And he was the booker before George was brought in.