Do you recall your first appearance in the
I remember I came into Greensboro in August 1976. They
just flew me up from Tampa for one shot.
This was before you ever appeared on the Mid-Atlantic
television shows, correct?
Yes. I came in on that Greensboro show in August and
did the elbow off the top rope on Johnny Weaver…and left
Weaver laid out. Sold out crowd in Greensboro…like they
always had there.
I came in for good about six weeks later, they just kept
feeding me bodies to hurt. (laughs) But that’s the way
you get over.
Speaking of getting over, I remember the week before
you debuted on Mid-Atlantic television, they sent up a
tape from Florida where you were breaking solid wooden
boards with your ‘bionic elbow.’ Gordon Solie was
announcing it, and Mike Pappas was assisting you. That was
a great way to usher you into the Mid-Atlantic area!
Yes…all that was a way to start getting me over in
You had mentioned Johnny Weaver as being you first
opponent in the area, before you had even been on TV up
here. I remember soon after you came on TV, you put Weaver
out for a number of months in a TV match. I remember the
announcers made a big deal about you suplexing him from
outside the ring ropes back into the ring!
Right…yes! He was the first ‘big name’ guy that
I really had carted out on TV. (laughs)
That was about the time you were first teamed up with
Ric Flair, I believe?
They tagged me up with Flair pretty much right away.
And you all went after the Andersons, and the NWA
World Tag Team Titles?
Tell us about that memorable program of you and Ric
against the Anderson Brothers. Being heel against
heel…that was quite unusual at that time.
Yeah…actually, I was scared to death of Ole and Gene
Anderson, you know! (everybody laughs) Man…they
were pretty brutal. I had to get a lot tougher up
here…and I did.
How was Ric Flair as a partner then?
Flair was a great partner. [The promotion] couldn’t
have put me with anybody better. Ric was the top villain
when I came in, so they decided to put us together, and it
worked really, really well.
Tell us about the matches you and Ric had with Ole and
The matches we had with Ole and Gene were LONG. Man,
we never had a match with them that probably went under 45
Were they actually as stiff as they looked?
Oh yeah! They were stiff, because those guys wrestled
hard and they were ganging up on me. But at the same time
they were teaching me too.
course, they ganged up on Flair too…and Flair was in
here as their ‘cousin’!
That’s right. It was an even bigger deal because
Flair took you over his own ‘family.’
Right. So, it all worked out really well. And, as you
know, we won the titles from them…in Greensboro. And
that just catapulted me a little higher up the scale
How important was it for you to win a title that
significant that early in your Mid-Atlantic run?
Oh, it was a big deal to me, because I had never held
a World title before. And being Flair’s partner was big
too, because Ric had a lot of notoriety then. We had a
great niche together, and we were both on our way.
You two had a great run as the World Tag Champions,
and as a team generally.
I think we lost the World belts, and then won them
back from Ole and Gene again. But we kept right in the mix
with them for almost a year.
Do you remember the match in Charlotte in May of 1977,
when Wahoo was the Special Referee and cost you and Ric
the Titles against Ole and Gene? I believe Wahoo tripped
Ric, and they caught the fall on him.
Yeah, right…I do. A lot of memories back there! They
had a lot of good storylines back then. That match was
important, because it gave me a reason to go after Wahoo
and break his leg. (laughs) And that allowed me to get the
Mid-Atlantic Title off of him. And eventually the U.S.
Title some years later. Everything played off of each of
You and Ric as a team also feuded with Jones and
Steamboat too, I think?
Yeah…Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat. I had a lot of
different tag team partners here. I had some great matches
here with Steamboat and Jones when I was teaming with the
Baron (Von Raschke). And with Steamboat and Jay Youngblood
when I was teaming later with Ray Stevens.
Tell us about your partnership with Baron Von Raschke.
That was a unique team. And you all became partners in a
strange way, in that June 1978 taping at WRAL where the
Baron lost the TV Title to Paul Jones, but out of the blue
the Baron picks you to be his partner and you all beat
Jones and Steamboat for the World Tag Titles on the same
Right…Ric had the U.S. belt then and was feuding
with Blackjack Mulligan, who had just turned babyface.
Actually, a few months before that, [the NWA] had stripped
Ric and me of the World Titles because they said we
didn’t show up for a match.
by that point, I didn’t really have a partner. And
Raschke…he was mean and ugly! But a great guy!
Everybody I’ve ever spoken to says the Baron was a
He was a perfect partner for me. It was kind of like
‘Beauty and the Beast.’ I’m not really beautiful,
but compared to him I am! (everybody laughs)
was really good. He was such a great guy. He never got mad
at anything outside the ring. I learned a lot from him…I
learned how to have some patience.
You and the Baron had a good run against Jones and
Steamboat. Describe those two as opponents.
Oh, they were great. Paul Jones…he didn’t do a lot
of spectacular moves, but he had such great timing. And
Steamboat had all the moves. So, they were a great
They were sort of like the mentor and the
student…they played that up.
They were very, very good.
You really accomplished something unique for Crockett,
in that you were at the VERY top for long stretches as
BOTH a singles wrestler and tag team wrestler.
And what I remember on the tag team side of it was,
that all the magazines out of New York in the NWA rankings
slot kept my tag teams as number one even during the times
after we dropped the titles.
Thinking back on it now, do you have a favorite tag
Probably Ric, because you know I didn’t have to
baby-sit Ric. Some of the other guys that I’ve had in
the past, I either had to baby-sit them a little bit or
teach them. I didn’t have to teach Ric anything, because
we started at about the same time.
Why didn’t the
Valentine-Ric Flair tag team have a longer run,
considering how great you two meshed together as a team?
Absolutely…good question! Well, I went to New York
in 1979…and when I came back from New York about a year
later, Ric had turned into a fan favorite, and was
starting his push for the World singles Title. That sort
of nixed any idea of us teaming up significantly after
You mention leaving for the WWWF in early 1979. You
and the Baron lost the Tag Titles to
my Snuka and Paul Orndorff in Richmond just after
Christmas in 1978, and you left the area soon thereafter.
What was your reason for leaving the area then? As fans,
as much as we hated you, we were kind of sorry to see you
go! (everybody laughs)
The first time I went to New York, it was George
Scott’s idea. The business up there was really in bad
shape, and they wanted to change their whole thing around.
They had a bunch of guys up there that didn’t
wrestle…they did every kind of cheap move, you know?
They pulled hair, pulled tights…all the crappy type
wrestling. That ‘Tennessee Wrestling,’ I call it.
(everybody laughs) It’s bull [crap] wrestling, excuse my
You wrestled (
) Backlund up there then, right?
They had me wrestle
Backlund for one hour. That was the first time I was ever
in [Madison Square] Garden. I was petrified, but after
about ten minutes, I was too blown up to be nervous!
How were the matches with Backlund and others up in
I wrestled Backlund for an hour, and they held the
(World) Title up. And one thing about Vince McMahon, Sr.,
when he brought me into New York they had me on TV for
three months before I ever worked an Arena. Every guy that
I worked with, I broke their leg and they carried him out
on a stretcher! (laughs)
Note: At this point, long time Mid-Atlantic rival Ole
. Ole was also part of the event in Lenoir, NC, for an
autograph signing, and had just arrived at the building.
They briefly visited
before we got back to the interview.]