Pat O’Connor was one of pro wrestling’s legendary shooters, but Wahoo McDaniel was a fearless street fighter. What would happen if the two ever went at it for real? Well it happened once, and future WWE producer Bruce Prichard saw it first-hand.
Fight: Wahoo McDaniel vs Pat O’Connor
Date: 1977-1979 (exact date unknown)
Location: San Antonio, TX
Source: Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard
It was the late 1970s, and a teenage Bruce Prichard was working for Paul Boesch in the Houston wrestling territory as both a ring announcer and referee. On the night in question, Boesch helped book a match in San Antonio between NWA World Champion Harley Race and Wahoo McDaniel. San Antonio was run by Joe Blanchard, with Wahoo as the booker. But neither Blanchard nor Wahoo were members of the NWA, so Boesch booked the match since Wahoo was the guy Boesch wanted to work with Race.
There was to be a 3-match series between Harley Race and Wahoo McDaniel, and this night in San Antonio would be the second match that would lead to the third and final match. The stipulations were it would be an Indian Strap match for the NWA title, which was Wahoo’s specialty since he was Native American and loved to bleed. Both cut great promos leading up to the event, with Race saying it wasn’t right that he’d be subjected to this and that the Indian Strap rules were ‘unfair’ to something as prestigious as the NWA championship.
The problem was, Race didn’t trust either Wahoo or Paul Boesch. Race showed up with famed shooter Pat O’Connor, which is notable because O’Connor was much older by this point, and also because Race himself was one of the most legendary tough guys of all.
Race and O’Connor (but mainly O’Connor, the policeman of the NWA) argued that they wouldn’t be able to participate in a strap match because it wasn’t regulated by the NWA. This was despite the fact that Race had already sent in promos for the match, which did complain about the strap match rules, but that was part of the storyline and buildup. They wanted it to be traditional NWA rules were the winner is determined only by pinfall or submission. Boesch was saying it was all a work and there would be no problems, but still the only way they’d agree to it was if O’Connor would be made the referee in case there were any problems.
Boesch agreed to let O’Connor be the referee, which made Wahoo livid. Race himself was caught in the middle and just wanted to get through the night. Tensions were high and Wahoo could be known to have a hot temper.
The match took place as planned, but it started to fall apart. For one, a fired up Wahoo was suplexing Race so hard that one of the ring beams broke. Then the entire time Wahoo and O’Connor were mouthing off to each other, and it wasn’t part of the show. An already hot situation was only being escalated, while Race largely stayed out of it.
Wahoo could take no more. While he and Race were in the corner, he slid out and wrapped the Indian strap around the ring post and tied Race up. With Race tied up, Wahoo was free to go after O’Connor (because if Race wasn’t tied up, he’d have backed up O’Connor and Wahoo would’ve been mincemeat).
Sure enough, Wahoo went right after O’Connor. They ended up outside the ring, and as Bruce Prichard (who was right there at ringside) described it, “They beat the living sh*t out of each other.” Paul Boesch ended up breaking them up, which couldn’t have been easy. Both Wahoo and O’Connor were pissed, and all Harley Race could do was sit there and watch since he was tied up.
We’re not sure how the match ended up or what the finish was, but obviously Race kept the title so it was likely ruled a no-contest or disqualification.