Tuesday, May 3, 2016

NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race - May 16, 2009

Wrestling icon RIC FLAIR named Honorary Race Director for SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE...


To be the man, you've got to beat the man, so becoming Honorary Race Director at Lowe's Motor Speedway just became a whole lot tougher. Speedway officials announced March 13th that RIC FLAIR, 16-time WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT WRESTLING CHAMPION, will serve as Honorary Race Director for the 25th running of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 16, 2009.

Sometimes, things just work out.

Yesterday, March 18, 2009, was such an example.

Scheduling for the 'Nature Boy' to come to the studios of the PERFORMANCE RACING NETWORK (located at CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY in Concord, N.C.) to record his participation in the radio campaign promoting the April race were set for yesterday afternoon. It would take about an hour.

So how did I fit into all of this? I didn't. However, KENT BERNHARDT, my best friend of thirty-five years happens to be Production Coordinator of the PERFORMANCE RACING NETWORK. 

So I invited myself to just happen to be in the vicinity at around the same time the recording session was to take place, pending authorization from PRN.

Fortunately for me, permission was granted.

I arrived a bit early so that Kent and I would have time to go upstairs in the mammoth racing facility to have lunch at the SPEEDWAY CLUB. (Turns out, Ric and his party were doing the same.)

After eating, Kent gave me a neat tour, even to the roof where we watched several drivers (Casey Kaine and Jimmie Johnson) doing tire testing on the track.

Then back to the PRN studios where Ric would do his thing on the mic (and we all know his genius in that area).

Very soon, Ric arrived with his then-agent, Nola Armstrong, and a few other folks, and it was straight to work.

After close to an hour of recording his copy several times over (as well as some great ad-libbing), the work was done.

Everyone then went out into the lobby, where Ric signed some photos and posed for a few pictures.

I had the chance to express my appreciation to Ric for all the great times he had provided me since his entrance into JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS some forty years ago.

Then, everyone went their separate ways on to other adventures, but this time frame on an otherwise ordinary Wednesday afternoon is a moment that I'll treasure until the brain cells are all gone.


Mike Cline, Ric Flair, Kent Bernhardt

Kent Bernhardt has been the official "voice" of PERFORMANCE RACING NETWORK since 1988, and joined the PRN team in December 2000 as Production Coordinator. He produces much of PRN's feature material, and in 2005, Kent was a co-recipient of the prestigious Barney Hall Award for outstanding motorsports radio reporting. He was recently named MOTORSPORTS ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR, a highly prestigious honor.




My sincere thanks to KENT BERNHARDT and DOUG RICE for allowing me to sit in on RIC FLAIR's recording session.

DOUG RICE is the President and General Manager of PRN, a co-anchor of all of the PRN race broadcasts and can also be heard on PRN's Fast Talk program.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

FIVE GREAT ONES FROM THE SIXTIES


BORIS (THE GREAT) MALENKO
Had a great run in JCP during the 1960s, often teaming with THE MISSOURI MAULER (Larry Hamilton), big singles program with KLONDIKE BILL (Bill Soloweyko).
He died in 1994.

HOMER O'DELL
No question, throughout the 1960s, no performer in JCP generated more heat than this man, and he seldomed wrestled. MR. O'DELL, later COLONEL O'DELL, then GENERAL O'DELL managed ALDO BOGNI / BRONCO LUBICH for a number of years and was on top in programs with every major babyface team in the territory, but most notably GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER. HOMER later managed RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON. This man was so hated, I doubt he could walk down a city street in any Carolina / Virginia town without being accosted.
MR. O'DELL has passed away.

NELSON ROYAL
Top fan favorite who actually entered JCP as a heel (SIR NELSON ROYAL). Worked on top with all the JCP babyfaces during the mid and late 1960s, most notably with TEX MCKENZIE, and later with PAUL JONES.
NELSON passed away in 2002.

And speaking of TEX MCKENZIE (Hugh McKenzie)...
TEX and NELSON ROYAL were a top JCP team for several years, feuding with all the major heel teams. TEX also worked a number of six-mans with GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER.
TEX passed away in 2001.

GEORGE HARRIS
Mostly known as 'Two Ton', GEORGE also used the nicknames 'Bunk' and 'Baby Blimp'. A top heel fans genuinely 'loved to hate'. Always proud of his wavy hair, he lost a hair vs. hair match against JOHNNY WEAVER and received a free haircut in the wrestling ring. Later turned to managing such teams as THE MASKED RED DEMONS and ALDO BOGNI / BRONCO LUBICH.
'Bunk' died in 2002.
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Any fan who followed JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS on their local TV or in their local arenas will certainly remember (and I hope fondly), the five gentlemen I spotlight today.
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Sadly, all five are gone, but as long as any of us who booed them or cheered for them are still here, they will live on.

Friday, April 29, 2016

SOME OF THE "YOUNG LIONS"

Watching the MID-ATLANTIC / WIDE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING TV shows each week, viewers became accustomed to hearing specific 'catch-phrases' on a regular basis...
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There was BOB CAUDLE's curtain line..."So long for now."
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There was JOHNNY WEAVER's singing..."Turn Out the Lights."
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And there was DAVID CROCKETT's weekly reference to the "Young Lions" of professional wrestling.
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This was a reference to a number of young wrestlers who primarily jobbed for the main eventers for TV matches, or in plain terms, lost week after week. But that was their purpose.
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Most of these youngsters, however, worked very well and gave good matches, even though viewers generally knew they wouldn't win.
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Some of these guys went on to become big stars in the business, either for JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS, or other wrestling organizations.
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Today, these men absorb the spotlight...


ED WISKOSKI
(born 1945)
Became a big star as Colonel DeBeers in the AWA

JAY YOUNGBLOOD
(STEVEN ROMERO 1955-1985)
Teamed with RICKY STEAMBOAT to become one of JCP's all-time popular tag teams.

TERRY SAWYER
(Norfolk, Va. native - was a Virginia high school State Wrestling Champion)

DEWEY ROBERTSON
(BYRON JAMES JOHN ROBERTSON 1939-2007)
Very successful as THE MISSING LINK in MID-SOUTH WRESTLING and WORLD CLASS WRESTLING.
MID-ATLANTIC TAG TEAM CHAMPION twice, once with JOHNNY WEAVER and once with GEORGE WELLS.

DOUG SOMERS
(first wrestled in 1971)
Always a great worker, either in JCP or later as a top AWA star.

BILL HOWARD
(I know little about his career away from JCP, but always enjoyed his work in the MID-ATLANTIC territory.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

August 28, 1965
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

HAYSTACKS CALHOUN

BRONCHO LUBICH, HOMER O'DELL, ALDO BOGNI

ABE JACOBS

RON REED

BOB ORTON

MIKE GALLAGHER

GORY GUERRERO

OMAR ATLAS

'ROWDY' RED ROBERTS
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Something unusual is on tap for wrestling fans tonight at the LEXINGTON YMCA as two heavyweight championships are up for grabs when action gets underway at 8:15.

The current SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS, ALDO BOGNI and BRONCHO LUBICH, will defend their title against the popular contenders in that of big HAYSTACKS CALHOUN and speedy ABE JACOBS.

HAYSTACKS is the biggest man in the wrestling business, and JACOBS is a top competitor who should mesh well with CALHOUN.

BOGNI and LUBICH will have their devious manager, HOMER O'DELL, in their corner.

SOUTHERN HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION 'BIG O' BOB ORTON will put his title up against top contender RON REED (he later wrestled as BUDDY COLT). REED is certainly capable of taking the belt away from the current champ.

Both title bouts are scheduled for two-out-of-three falls with one hour time limits.

Prelim action will find GORY GUERRERO squaring off against tough MIKE GALLAGHER.

The opening match pits good-looking fan favorite OMAR ATLAS facing the rugged 'ROWDY' RED ROBERTS.

Monday, April 25, 2016

FAMILIAR MID-ATLANTIC FACES

As the Statler Brothers song goes, "Do you remember these?" guys who wrestled for JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS?


RUFUS R. JONES
('The Freight Train')
Super popular with the fans.

LORD JONATHAN BOYD
(One half of THE ROYAL KANGAROOS)

JIM DILLON
(before he managed 'The Four Horsemen')

'Bulldog' DON KENT
(Mostly a jobber in JCP but achieved huge success in other territories.)

Remember MR. KLEEN
(I do, especially in a WGHP-HIGH POINT, N.C. TV match in which he was 'destroyed' by LORD JONATHAN BOYD)

BOB GRIFFIN

BOB (Buck) RAMSTEAD

Manager HOMER O'DELL and BRONCHO LUBICH

RICKY FERRARA

THE ALASKANS
MIKE YORK and FRANK MONTE

Saturday, April 23, 2016

FIFTY YEARS AGO

July 2, 1966
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

Two new tag team combinations will be seen in action against a pair of established duets on tonight's LEXINGTON YMCA pro wrestling card.

Action kicks off at 8:15 p.m.

Popular GEORGE 'CATALINA' DRAKE and LUTHER LINDSAY will combine their talents for the first time to meet the rugged twosome of THE MISSOURI MAULER and THE GREAT MALENKO. DRAKE and LINDSAY are quick and agile and wrestle by the rulebook. Across the ring, MALENKO and the MAULER are both rough wrestlers and have never heard of a wrestling rulebook.

Polished operators PAUL DEMARCO and KEN HOLLIS, both young guys loved by the fans, will join ranks to face off against the MASKED RED DEMONS in the other tag contest of the evening. The RED DEMONS continue to create problems for their opponents. In the short time they have been wrestling in LEXINGTON, they have taken both GEORGE BECKER & JOHNNY WEAVER, as well as GEORGE & SANDY SCOTT to the limit, one match by a double disqualification, the other a sixty-minute draw. Their identities remain a mystery.

Both tag matches are set for the best two-out-of-three falls.

Two singles matches, both promising lots of action, will send KARL GOTCH against big JOHN GUDISKI and popular STEVE BOLUS facing the veteran CORSICA JEAN.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

NO BETTER WRESTLING ANYWHERE

...Fans of the MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING territory were always in for a great evening when the stars of JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS came to their towns...

ARGENTINA APOLLO tosses SWEDE HANSON.

BILLY SPEARS and PANCHO VALDEZ go at it.

FRANK MORRELL puts the boot to the back of MATTI SUZUKI.

KOA TIKI has the advantage over GENE ANDERSON at this moment.

ABE JACOBS is at the mercy of PHIL ROBLEY.

UNMASKED MARVEL BILLY GARRETT clamps a nerve stinger on DANNY MILLER while the other MARVEL JIM STARR looks on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

WEAVER CHALLENGES THESZ FOR WORLD TITLE

JUNE 27, 1964
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

It's the opportunity of a wrestler's lifetime!

JOHNNY WEAVER, one of the most popular wrestlers in the Carolinas, will get a chance to capture the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP at the LEXINGTON YMCA tonight when he faces the champion LOU THESZ in the featured main event.

WEAVER is considered a top contender for the coveted championship due to his excellent record since arriving in the Carolinas about two years ago. THESZ is known as a champion who dodges no one.

"WEAVER is a very worthy opponent who can hold his own with anyone," said the World Champion. "I'll need to be at 100% to leave Lexington with the title, but I intend to do just that."

The title match is for the best-of-three falls with a one hour time limit.

Co-featuring the program will be a top tag team match between the bullish duo of BRUTE BERNARD and SKULL MURPHY facing the great Osage Indian star CHIEF BIG HEART and his new partner RONNIE ETCHINSON. Also for two-out-of-three falls, this match has a 45 minute time limit.

AAU champion TIM WOODS will be challenged by rugged PAT O'BRIEN in one preliminary match.

The 8:15 opener sends young ALEX MEDINA against the crafty TINKER TODD.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

TWO LOCOMOTIVES HIT HEAD ON


The other day, I realized I have (for no particular reason) slighted one of the top tag teams to ever wrestle for JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS. Today, I shall correct my mistake.

The team I refer to is the duo of BRONCO LUBICH and ALDO BOGNI. These guys wrestled on top in MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING for much of the 1960s.

Now, I should point out that this duo was not adored by JCP fans, by any means. In fact, they were at the top of the territory's 'hate list'. LUBICH and BOGNI were ruffians who had no regard for the rulebook, and to make matters worse, the two were always accompanied to the ring by their manager, MRHOMER O'DELL, without question, the decade's most fan-hated man on the CROCKETT payroll.

WBTV's wrestling commentator, 'Big' BILL WARD, often stated on the air that HOMER O'DELL was 'so low he would have to walk on stilts to look a snake in the eye.'

O'DELL, when managing, always wore a tuxedo and carried his legendary cane, and believe me when I say, this cane was responsible for putting lumps on many an opponent's noggin' in JCP wrestling rings.

Through the years, I witnessed many BOGNI and LUBICH and O'DELL matches, both on television and in Charlotte's Coliseum and Park Center.

But one match I recall was unique in that the fans actually cheered and pulled for these three rulebreakers the night at the Charlotte Coliseum when, in a Six Man Tag Team MatchBOGNILUBICH and O'DELL faced J.C. DYKES and THE INFERNOS. Both managers donned wrestling attire and joined their men as wrestlers.

This match was equivalent to a pair of locomotives hitting head-on. Referee Angelo Martinelli certainly earned his payday on this night.

The first fall went to O'DELL's team when BOGNI put one of the masked men out cold with his patented 'corkscrew' hold. The fans went wild. I was stunned. Cheers for HOMER O'DELL! I thought, 'what's next...a man on the moon?"

DYKES was able to revive his men and rally his troops in the second fall, which ended with LUBICH on the receiving end of a 'loaded boot' kick to the head, putting him into dreamland.

With the match even at this point, the third fall quickly became an all-out brawl. It must have been a NO DISQUALIFICATION match (I can't recall), but had it not been, referee Martinelli would have had to toss it out due to the rulebraking and brutality. Both O'DELL and DYKES were lacerated, and one INFERNO was also dripping blood from a much-torn mask.

Then, out of seemingly nowhere, was a huge flash! BOGNI was screaming and down, rolling around the ring in agony.
LUBICH and O'DELL grabbed their scorched partner, and bolted for the dressing room.

ANGELO MARTINELLI made the twenty-count, and raised the hands of DYKES and THE INFERNOS.

On Charlotte TV the next week, ironically, HOMER O'DELL claimed that 'DYKES and THE INFERNOS were the most brutal forms of humanity and a disgrace to the wrestling business and should be barred from the profession.' Odd that statement coming from him.

DYKES denied that he had thrown fire at anyone. 'Whether it's O'DELLBOGNILUBICH, or any wrestling fans who say so must have been hopped up on LSD or something. The marks on BOGNI's ugly face are mat burns, where me and my men ground his mug into the wrestling mat. If he can't take it, he should find another way to make a living.'

These guys could really make me believe...

BOGNI's 'corkscrew' takes its toll...

A bloodied DYKES cracks O'DELL's coconut with a metal canteen.

An INFERNO gives ALDO BOGNI a free ride to the arena floor...

HOMER comes to the aid of BRONCO LUBICH.

DYKES and THE INFERNOS have their arms raised in victory, at least on this night.

Friday, April 15, 2016

AROUND CROCKETTLAND IN 1967


THE GREAT MALENKO
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. - 1967

GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER beat THE MISSOURI MAULER and THE GREAT MALENKO.

PENNY BANNER pinned PEGGY ALLEN.

RAY GARDINI was stopped by CORSICA JEAN.
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BOBBY SHANE topped JOHN GUDISKI.


GENE KINISKI
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GREENVILLE, S.C. - 1967

LOU THESZ and ABE JACOBS topped GENE KINISKI and IKE EAKINS.

LUTHER LINDSAY and GEORGE 'CATALINA' DRAKE defeated THE GREAT MALENKO and THE MISSOURI MAULER via DQ.

JOHNNY WEAVER pinned LARS ANDERSON.

GENE ANDERSON bested BOBBY SHANE.

PENNY BANNER
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NORFOLK, VA. - 1967

RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON lost a TEXAS DEATH MATCH to GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER. (The match went twenty falls.)

ALDO BOGNI and BRONCHO LUBICH with HOMER O'DELL stopped KARL GOTCH and ALEX MEDINA.

PENNY BANNER pinned JUDY GRABLE.

KEN HOLLIS downed JOHN GUDISKI.

KLONDIKE BILL
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GREENSBORO, N.C. - 1967

GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT defeated THE MISSOURI MAULER and THE GREAT MALENKO via DQ.

GENE ANDERSON and KARL GOTCH fought to a draw.

KLONDIKE BILL upended TONY NERO.

GEORGE 'CATALINA' DRAKE topped LARS ANDERSON.

BOBBY SHANE won over JAN MADRID.

SANDY and GEORGE SCOTT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. - 1967

THE GREAT MALENKO beat SANDY SCOTT in a RUSSIAN CHAIN MATCH.

GEORGE SCOTT won from THE MISSOURI MAULER via DQ.

BOBBY SHANE and JESSE JAMES toppled JAN MADRID and JOHN GUDISKI.

KEN HOLLIS pinned ANGELO MARTINELLI.