Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling: Q1 1973
Here’s a look at the 1st quarter of 1973 in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. We look at the talent roster, title histories, the big feuds in the territory, and a schedule of all known house shows.
I’d like to thank Dick Bourne and Mark Eastridge of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway for providing the bulk of the house show records I used to compile this data. The Gateway, which is updated regularly by David Chappell, is an invaluable resource. I strongly encourage you to visit (and bookmark!) it: http://www.midatlanticgateway.com
EDITORIAL NOTE: This was originally going to be released later in March, but with the passing of Jim Crockett Jr. March 3rd, I decided to move it up. Mid-Atlantic was an important part of my early wrestling fandom. As a teenager in New York, my first exposure to it was on a Spanish-language channel. I found myself drawn to it in a very different way than the WWF shows which dominated the New York area. Years later, my first experiences with looking up old wrestling cards on microfilm was in several different Mid-Atlantic towns, so the very genesis of what would eventually become Charting the Territories involved Mid-Atlantic. I will be making additional posts throughout the year that cover the rest of 1973.
Here’s a look at the talent roster using our exclusive SPOT Rating metric. The SPOT (Statistical Position Over Time) Rating measures a wrestler’s average position on the cards and provides a “depth chart” of sorts. SPOT is a number between 0 and 1 expressed as a two-digit decimal, with a 1.00 meaning the wrestlers was ALWAYS advertised in the main event of shows they were booked on.
If you're visiting this blog for the first time, you can find more details on the SPOT Rating at this link
At this point in time, Mid-Atlantic was known as a tag team territory. The main events usually featured tag team matches. There were often more heel teams than babyface teams, which led to occasional heel vs heel bouts billed as “The Battle of the Bullies”.
On the babyface side, the top teams were Jerry Brisco & Thunderbolt Patterson, Art Nelson & Johnny Weaver, Bobby & Terry Kay (two of the Cormier brothers from New Brunswick, Canada), and Big Boy Brown (aka Luke Brown) & Klondike Bill. On the heel side, the teams were Rip Hawk & Swede Hanson, The Royal Kangaroos (Jonathan Boyd & Norman Frederick Charles III), Gene & Ole Anderson, and Freddie Sweetan & Mike DuBois (aka Alexis Smirnoff).
Killer Karl Kox debuted in the territory at the beginning of the year and steadily moved up the cards during the quarter. When Swede Hanson was injured, Kox took his place as Rip Hawk’s partner for a few weeks. Other notable names among the Upper Mid-Carders include Bobby Shane, Ronnie Garvin, George & Sandy Scott, Mike York, Frank Monte, and Nelson Royal. Shane wrestled here part-time while also making regular appearances in Florida and Georgia. George Scott started the year in the AWA but came here in March and would team with brother Sandy. York & Monte formed a team when York arrived in February; the two had been teaming up regularly for a couple of years as The Alaskans.
Going further down the cards, many of the wrestlers in the Mid-Carder category achieved greater notoriety for other roles in pro wrestling over the years. Jim Dillon is, of course, J.J. Dillon, wrestling manager extraordinaire. Buck Robley was often used in a managerial role while also wrestling full-time; he later was a booker for Bill Watts in the early days of Mid-South. Les Thatcher has done just about every behind-the-scenes job imaginable in the world of professional wrestling. Frank Morrell had a lengthy career in the ring but is also remembered for his work as a referee in Memphis. David Finley didn’t find too much success inside the ring but was one of the key television announcers for Mid-Atlantic in the 1980s (as David Crockett).
The identity of The Menace, a masked wrestler who was a Mid-Carder at this time but was pushed as an affiliate of the Andersons (and would occasionally team with them or run interference during their matches), is one of those “only in wrestling” stories. Per historian David Baker: “The original Menace was a guy named Allen Butler that Ole Anderson met while he was in Florida. Butler came to Carolina and portrayed the Menace…” At some point, however, Butler stopped wrestling. There are unconfirmed reports of various different people wrestling as The Menace at different house shows, until he is unmasked on May 4th in Richmond, VA and revealed as Killer Karl Kox. It seems they retconned this and tried to pass it off as Kox being the Menace the whole time; this was literally impossible, as there are numerous occasions when the Menace and Kox appeared in different towns on the same night.
You’ll note that two of the preliminary wrestlers, Mike Hall and Tony Romano, appeared to “switch sides” during the quarter. In looking at who their opponents were on all of the known house shows, it does look like Hall went from wrestling primarily against heels to wrestling primarily against babyfaces starting in February. A couple of weeks later, Romano does the opposite. In reality, many of the preliminary wrestlers didn’t have established heel/face personas and were just used on the undercards as needed. If there were imbalances among the crew, they might flip a preliminary wrestler to the other side to even things up.
Another notable name among the Preliminary wrestlers is Sonny Fargo. While Fargo was primarily here as a referee and part-time wrestler, one or two times a year he would transform into one of the biggest box office attractions in Tennessee: Roughhouse Fargo. Sonny was the real-life older brother of Jackie Fargo, and when Jackie would find himself in a particularly heated feud while working for Nick Gulas, he would bring in his brother, who would have to be “checked out of a mental hospital”. It sounds silly today, but man oh man did it draw money.
OTHER WRESTLERS NOT LISTED IN THE SPOT RATINGS
NATIONALLY KNOWN STARS
Dory Funk Jr., Jack Brisco, Terry Funk and Tim Woods
Dory came in for two nights in late January, defending the NWA World Heavyweight title against Johnny Weaver in Charleston and Spartanburg. Both matches went to a draw, with Spartanburg going the full 60 minute time limit with no falls. Terry Funk defeated Woods on January 25th in Greensboro. Jack Brisco joined up with brother Jerry to beat Gene & Ole Anderson on January 13th in Winston-Salem.
Angelo Martinelli, Bobby Williams, Buck Forrest, Don Ritchie, Don Wright, Evil Eye Gordon (technically a full-timer who finished up the first week of January), Ron Wright and Tinker Todd
Debbie Johnson, Donna Christianello, Dottie Downs, Fabulous Moolah, Jan Sheridan, Joyce Grable, Lilly Thomas, Paula Kaye, Peggy Patterson, Penny Banner, Susan Green, Toni Rose and Vicki Williams
(their overall SPOT Rating was a .72 this quarter)
MALE MIDGET WRESTLERS
Billy the Kid, Cowboy Lang, Farmer Pete and Little Bruiser
(their overall SPOT Rating was a .74 this quarter)
The promotion had two titles at this time. The singles title was billed as the Eastern States Heavyweight title and the tag belts were the Atlantic Coast Tag Team titles.
Rip Hawk was the Eastern States champion at the beginning of the year, having won it from Jerry Brisco on December 28th in Greensboro. Brisco regained the title on March 3rd in Winston-Salem. On that same card, Gene & Ole Anderson won the Atlantic Coast Tag Team titles from Art Nelson & Johnny Weaver, who had won the titles from the Andersons the previous November.
Next up is a look at the biggest “feuds” in the territory during the quarter. These use another proprietary metric called the FEUD (Frequent Encounters Using Data) Score. It measures not only how often a specific match occurs, but how those matches are distributed over time.
Here’s a look at three of the biggest feuds and how they progressed in select cities. Details and match stipulations are listed where known, but keep in mind that this information is often incomplete.
BIG BOY BROWN & KLONDIKE BILL vs JONATHAN BOYD & NORMAN CHARLES
12/28/72 Boyd & Charles won
1/25/73 Double disqualification
2/1/73 One fall to a finish, winner take all: results unknown
2/8/73 No disqualification: Boyd & Charles won
4/5/73 Boyd & Charles won
12/30/72 results unknown
2/10/73 Brown & Bill won by disqualification
2/17/73 match ended in a disqualification (no further details known)
2/24/73 Two referees: results unknown
2/14/73 Brown & Bill won; Boyd & Charles attacked them (and a ringside official) with their boomerangs afterwards
2/21/73 Boyd & Charles won
2/28/73 Boyd & Charles won
4/11/73 Double disqualification
2/16/73 Brown & Bill won; Boyd & Charles attacked them with their boomerangs afterwards
2/23/73 Boyd & Charles won
4/20/73 Boyd & Charles won
BOBBY & TERRY KAY vs FREDDIE SWEETAN & MIKE DUBOIS
12/26/72 Texas death bout: Sweetan & DuBois won
1/2/73 Boots vs boots (the Kay’s will wear cowboy boots): the Kay’s won
1/16/73 Lumberjack match, the Kay’s will wear cowboy boots: the Kay’s won
12/30/72 Double countout
1/20/73 No disqualification: Sweetan & DuBois won
2/3/73 The Kay’s won by “forfeit” when DuBois left the ring and wouldn’t return
1/17/73 Sweetan & DuBois won by disqualification
1/24/73 No disqualification: Sweetan & DuBois won
3/21/73 Boots vs boots, lumberjack match (card cancelled due to inclement weather)
1/29/73 The Kay’s won
2/12/73 Boots vs boots, any teams that runs out or does not finish the match will have their purse held up: the Kay’s won when Sweetan & DuBois “did not finish” the match
2/19/73 Lumberjack match, boots vs boots: the Kay’s won
2/20/73 Sweetan & DuBois won by disqualification
2/27/73 Boots vs boots: the Kay’s won
4/10/73 Sweetan & DuBois won
HOMER O’DELL & RIP HAWK & SWEDE HANSON vs JERRY BRISCO & JOHNNY WEAVER & THUNDERBOLT PATTERSON
O’Dell managed Hawk & Hanson, but this feud seems to have grown out of a feud between Hawk & Hanson and Brisco & Thunderbolt, presumably with O’Dell’s constant interference leading to him being “forced” to wrestle.
1/1/73 Brisco, Weaver & Thunderbolt won
1/15/73 One fall sudden death, lumberjacks with canes: Brisco, Weaver & Thunderbolt won
1/2/73 Brisco, Weaver & Thunderbolt won
1/16/73 Lumberjacks with canes: Brisco, Weaver & Thunderbolt won
Here is a calendar of all known house shows in the territory during the quarter.