Tag Team Appreciation Month

RIC FLAIR & GREG VALENTINE

 

1975-1978

NWA Tag Team Champions

 

Written by Mike Rickard

As we’ve seen countless times, everything old is new again in wrestling, as witnessed by the tag team known as “The Dream Team.” Several years before Brutus Beefcake teamed with Greg “The Valentine” Hammer in the WWF as “The Dream Team,” Valentine teamed with a rising star by the name of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, leaving a trail of bruised and sometimes broken bodies.

 

As you can see from reading the various tag teams here, Jim Crockett Promotions took its tag teams as seriously as its singles competition. Tag teams were often all-star combinations, with each team member capable of wrestling for a world singles championship or world tag team championship. Here, the team of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair were two rising stars, and their time as a team showcased not only their talents, but bright futures.

 

Second-generation wrestler Greg Valentine was billed as the brother of legendary bruiser Johnny Valentine (who was actually his father) to hide Johnny’s age. Johnny Valentine had been forced to retire after the 1975 plane crash that nearly ended Ric Flair’s career. Valentine proved to be as tough as his dad.... er, brother, dishing out beatdowns to his opponents in JCP.

 

Ric Flair had returned from his plane crash and formed a team with Valentine, quickly meshing into one of the area’s top teams. Flair’s kayfabe cousins Gene and Ole Anderson had helped Flair succeed under their tutelage but over time, it became clear Flair was becoming his own man. With Valentine at his side, Flair no longer needed someone to watch his back.

JCP slowly built the tension between The Dream Team and The Minnesota Wrecking Crew, letting casual remarks from The Dream Team about their superiority brushed off by the veteran Anderson brothers as mere puffery. That changed though during a six-man tag match involving The Dream Team and Gene Anderson vs. Tim Woods, Dino Bravo, and Sandy Scott when Anderson got into Flair’s face, yelling at him for a perceived mistake in the ring. Flair

responded by slapping Anderson and that was it.

 

The Dream Team battled The Minnesota Wrecking Crew over the NWA World Tag Team Championship (The JCP version as the National Wrestling Alliance had several at the time) in some of the most violent matches seen in the Mid-Atlantic area. The matches proved so intense that wrestler Wahoo McDaniel was brought in on multiple occasions to serve as special referee. There was intense heat between The Dream Team and McDaniel (a top babyface at the time) with Flair and Valentine questioning Wahoo’s ability to call things down the middle.

The Dream Team and the Anderson Brothers traded the tag team belts, usually in controversial fashion. On one occasion, McDaniel’s officiating was questionable enough that Flair and Valentine made it a point to put him out of action. This would lead to the infamous “I Broke Wahoo’s Leg” angle where Valentine put the big chief on the shelf. McDaniel wasn’t the only casualty, Flair and Valentine injured Gene Anderson’s neck during a match, sending him to the hospital.

 

While Flair and Valentine were dominant wrestlers, their cheating ways eventually caught up with them. Less than two weeks after defeating the Andersons, The Dream Team were stripped of their belts for missing appearances. While unorthodox, this was a way to get the

straps off of them, laying the groundwork for a future angle we shall see soon. Valentine and Flair’s dominance as a team ended after this administrative action but that didn’t stop Valentine from teaming with Baron Von Raschke and capturing another NWA World Tag Team Championship.

 

As 1978 neared its end, Valentine was on his way to the World-Wide Wrestling Federation. While Valentine was in the WWWF, Flair had a change of heart, turning babyface. Flair quickly became the promotion’s top babyface, basking in the fans’ cheers and allying himself with wrestlers he’d once hated such as Ricky Steamboat and Blackjack Mulligan.

 

When Valentine returned to the Mid-Atlantic area, he confronted Flair, asking him why he was friends with babyfaces. Valentine snapped and called Flair soft, leading to a brief series over Flair’s United States Championship.

 

However, Valentine seemed to have a change of heart. He appeared on JCP television and asked for Flair’s forgiveness, realizing Flair was right to be a babyface and his way the better way. Valentine and Flair decided to reunite, this time taking on the team of manager Gene Anderson’s heel team of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and The Iron Sheik. Unfortunately for “Slick Ric,” he’d been duped by his former friend, and Valentine refused to tag him in, leaving Flair on his own. Flair eventually fell to Snuka and The Iron Sheik but his agony was only beginning.

 

Valentine entered the ring and grabbed Gene Anderson’s cane, breaking it across Flair’s nose. The former friends were now bitter enemies and battled throughout the various arenas in the Mid-Atlantic area. However, alliances are always shifting in wrestling and just a couple years later, Flair was once again a heel, this time NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Flair renewed his alliance with Valentine (who was United States Champion at the time), taking out “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. The Dream Team would prove they hadn’t lost a step, injuring opponents whenever possible and winning by any means necessary.

 

Greg Valentine returned to the WWF, eventually forming a new Dream Team, with rookie Brutus Beefcake by his side. While there’s no comparison between the Dream Team of the 70s and the WWF version, Valentine and Beefcake won the WWF Tag Team Championship, and Valentine’s pairing with Beefcake helped the young star develop. 

 

If you’re looking for an in-depth look at The Dream Team (Valentine and Flair), check out the Mid-Atlantic Gateway’s eight-part series on this fabled team. I also encourage you to check out my book Wrestling’s Greatest Moments for more information on the “I Broke

Wahoo’s Leg” angle and “Valentine Breaks Flair’s Nose” angle.

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