Richard Van Slater, who wrestled as “Dirty” Dick Slater died on Thursday at the age of 67.
Slater came up in Florida with an amateur wrestling and football background. The door was opened by Mike Graham and he began training and welcomed into the Florida territory.
After starting his career wrestling for Championship Wrestling from Florida under Eddie Graham, he traveled along the West coast and then settled in Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1972. He formed a team with Bob Orton, Jr. and the two became the Georgia tag team champions in June 1975 defeating Bob Armstrong & Robert Fuller. They vacated the titles when they became the Macon tag champions the following month.
Slater had several runs with the Georgia heavyweight title following his team with Orton, Jr. Slater won the title for the first time from The Spoiler Don Jardine in August 1976. Slater traded the title with Mr. Wrestling II that fall and won it for the final time in June 1977 from Paul Jones before dropping it again to Mr. Wrestling II in July 1977.
His biggest championship win took place in August 1977 when he defeated Jack Brisco for the Missouri heavyweight title. The championship was typically reserved for those that the NWA saw as future champions to represent the alliance. By defeating a former NWA champion in Brisco, it put Slater alongside a select company with prior Missouri champions including Terry Funk, Gene Kiniski, Harley Race, Bob Backlund, and Brisco. Slater held the title for the remainder of 1977 and dropped it to Ted DiBiase in February 1978. Slater never ascended higher for the NWA championship.
Slater’s next major territory was Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and was a part of the angle to set up the Harley Race vs. Ric Flair match that headlined the first Starrcade event in November 1983. Slater was reunited with Bob Orton, Jr. and carried out a bounty to attack Flair and try to end his career. Flair made his triumphant return and vowed revenge on Race, defeating Race for the NWA title in Greensboro at the event.
Slater followed with stints in Mid-South working under Bill Watts, wrestling as “The Rebel” for the World Wrestling Federation in 1986 and 1987, going to All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1987 and also a brief time with the AWA during the latter stages of the promotion’s existence.
Slater’s last major run was with World Championship Wrestling where he joined in 1989 and wrestled through 1996. Slater was introduced as a member of the J-Tex Corporation under Gary Hart alongside the Great Muta and Terry Funk.
He teamed with The Barbarian to become the final United States tag team champions in WCW in June 1992 when they defeated Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin. The titles were deactivated right after their title win after Bill Watts came in.
Slater later became a member of the Stud Stable under Col. Robert Parker with teammates Bunkhouse Buck, Terry Funk, Arn Anderson, and their bodyguard Meng. He retired after a 1996 back injury.
Slater was sentenced to one year of house arrest in June 2004 after being convicted of stabbing his ex-girlfriend, Theresa Halbert, in December 2003. He was also ordered to pay $18,000 in restitution over the stabbing, which he blamed on drug abuse when discussing the incident.