25 May 2011

Episode # 1 Recap

Mid-South 1984 TV – Episode 1 (Mid-South 227) – 13 January 1984 (taped 4 January 1984) – Irish McNeil Boys Club, Shreveport, LA

Hosts: Jim Ross and Bill Watts

Ring Announcer: Reiser Bowden

Recap from Last Week: Darsow/Volkoff and Terry Taylor. The Russians challenge Junkyard Dog (JYD) and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, but young Terry Taylor answers instead. An impromptu match develops between Taylor and Volkoff and Taylor scores the upset with a sunset flip out of the corner.

Match 1: Terry Taylor vs. Doug Vines. Taylor has just arrived in Mid-South, coming in the Watts/Jarrett trade. Doug Vines was a journeyman wrestler who held a number of regional titles, usually with partner Jeff Sword. The referee for the match is young Joel Watts. Taylor wins a quick squash with the flying forearm (which Jim Ross would later dub “the five arm.” Volkoff and Darsow hit the ring after the match, but JYD and Duggan (who Watts is still calling “Doo-Gan” at this point) arrive before the Russians can do any damage.

Match 2: JYD and Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Jeff Sword and Larry Higgins – The JYD is the North American champion at the time of this match. Watts and Ross spend a good time during this match discussing the progress made by Magnum TA since teaming with Mr. Wrestling II. They also put over new referee “King Carl Fergie,” another arrival from Memphis. (Fergie is Jerry Lawler’s cousin.) Duggan gets the pinfall over Sword with the spear. After the match, the Russians again hit the ring and there’s a brawl between the two teams. The Russians flee after a few minutes, with the babyfaces leading the crowd in a “USA” chant.

Match 3: Non-Title Tag Team Match – Mr. Wrestling II and Magnum TA vs. Paul Garner and Don Rose (chyron says Don Ralston) - Watts discusses how the champions won the titles in a cage match vs. Hacksaw Butch Reed and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. Before the match starts, here comes Jim Cornette, carrying a bag of something. He calls the champs “chickens” and “cowards.” Condrey and Eaton hit the ring and Condrey knocks out Mr. Wrestling II with a blackjack (slapstick). As Condrey and Eaton hold down Magnum, Cornette “tar and feathers” Magnum with a bag of feathers and a jar of syrup. They put the boots to Magnum until some of the lower-card faces (Steve Williams, Rick Rude, George Weingroff) hit the ring.

Match 4: The Midnight Express vs Lanny Poffo and George WeingroffCornette says the crowd just saw “the Mid-South Chicken,” like the San Diego Chicken. Cornette parades around ringside making chicken flapping gestures. Even in 1984, Condrey is tying his bandana around his knee. Watts is putting over how he has never seen anything so dastardly in all his 20 years as what Cornette just did to Magnum, Even at the early stage of their partnership, Condrey and Eaton are already displaying the trademark quick tags. Watts is hammering home the “Mama’s Boy” nickname for Cornette. Eaton pins Weingroff after an elbow off the top rope while Condrey holds him up.

Interview: Watts with Mr. Wrestling II and Magnum II. Mr. Wrestling II is still selling his head and Magnum is still covered in feathers. II threatens to pluck Cornette and The Midnights. Magnum says this is the most degrading and humiliating thing ever done to him. “Tactics like this should not be used on anyone on this Earth.”

Match 5: Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart vs Tom Lenz – The Anvil has a big bushy beard, but not his trademark pointed facial hair. He also is already doing his “Yeah Baby” yell. Watts points out that Hacksaw Butch Reed is the one that turned on Neidhart, yet both are still heels. He also compares a tag team breaking up to a broken marriage. Watts mentions that Neidhart played for the Raiders and Cowboys when both were Super Bowl teams. Neidhart wins the match with a Samoan Drop.

Match 6: Steve “Dr. Death” Williams vs Krusher Darsow – Funny to hear Dr. Death billed as being from Colorado, given his Oklahoma background. Doc is still wrestling in a singlet, oddly blue not OU red. Watts mentions how much Dr. Death hates Russians. Doc trying a second rope splash seems like a bad idea. Watts points out that a traitor is more dangerous and vicious than the enemy itself. Darsow works a long chinlock, allowing Watts to get on his patriotic/jingoistic soap box. Both wrestlers are fairly green here, with some sloppy work. Doc uses football tackles to make his comeback. Volkoff makes his way to ringside, slipping a foreign object to Darsow. Darsow hits Doc with it while Volkoff distracts the referee and picks up a win over Dr. Death.

Match 7: Hacksaw Butch Reed vs Rick Rood – Yes, that’s how Rude used to spell his name. He also came to Mid-South in the Memphis trade. Rude is young, not tan, not shaved and wearing trunks. Watts makes reference to the NBA Referee’s strike, which allows cagey veterans to exploit the rules over the young players. Watts refers to Rood as “double tough,” which would become a trademark Jim Ross phrase. Watts puts over Dr. Death, another of the young wrestlers on the roster, as possibly the best rookie in wrestling. Watts gives Butch Reed’s college and NFL career credentials. Watts mentions some of the new talent coming in to the territory, including Buddy Landell and the Rock and Roll Express. Reed wins at the expiration of time with a delayed Gorilla Press on Rood.

This episode (volume 54) can be ordered on DVD from Universal Wrestling Archives.

03 May 2011

On Background

Before starting to look at 1984, we need to set the scene.

By all accounts, Mid-South Wrestling in 1983 was becoming stale. To spice things up, in late 1983, Bill Watts and Memphis promoter Jerry Jarrett (father of Jeff Jarrett) agreed to a talent exchange. Going from Memphis to Mid-South were a number of people who were in the mid-card for Jarrett stuck behind others. Memphis already had Jimmy Hart (the number one manager in Memphis) and the Fabulous Ones, Steve Keirn and Stan Lane (the babyface heart throb tag team), so leaving town were Jim Cornette, the Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton), Terry Taylor and the Rock-n-Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson). Maybe more importantly, "Superstar" Bill Dundee, Jerry Lawler's long-time partner/rival, went to Mid-South to become the new booker. The Memphis imports were working in the territory by Thanksgiving 1983, but didn't become a factor until the start of the new year. It is not difficult to see Dundee's fingerprints on the very first TV show in 1984 (but we'll get to that soon).

On January 1, 1984, Mid-South's champions were:

  • North American Title - Mid-South's top singles title was held by the Junkyard Dog, who won the belt from Hacksaw Butch Reed on 26 October 1983.
  • Tag Team Titles - Magnum TA and Mr. Wrestling II, who won the tag titles from Butch Reed and Jim Neidhart on 25 December 1983.
And that's where we will start....

Declaration of Principles


Other than why not, here are some reasons.

To me, Mid-South/UWF was the best of the territorial areas in the modern age of wrestling. Like many people of the time not living in that part of the country, I had only read about the company and its workers in the pages of the so-called "Apter Mags." At least until 1986, when Cowboy Bill Watts began syndicating his television show(s) across the country, to try and compete with Vince McMahon's WWF and Jim Crockett's NWA/Mid-Atlantic promotions. It was a refreshing change of pace from the aforementioned companies. Sadly, partially due to the economic hardships of the oil industry, Watts would end up selling the UWF to Crockett in 1987.


For people just discovering Mid-South/UWF wrestling (one of the few promotions whose tape library has not been bought by McMahon), the best way to watch the programs discussed here are by purchasing the DVDs straight from the source, Universal Wrestling Archives , own by Bill Watts' former wife and run by the Watts family.

We also recommend Jim Cornette's Midnight Express Scrapbook, for "you are there" information provided by the Louisville Lip himself.

There's also a tip of the hat to the Demolition Project, which is an inspiration for this endeavor, and, time and inclination willing, that project's co-creator Matt will be occasionally posting here as well, probably about his admiration for the work of Barry Darsow.

Edit: Forgot to explain the title. Yes, Bill Watts being buried under the Russian (Soviet) flag was from the UWF era of 1986. But, it's my second-favorite angle of all time*, so there you go. We thought about using "The Last Stampede" or "Tuxedo Street Fight in a Cage," but neither measured up.

* That would be the MX/MX TBS angle where Cornette bled all over his white jacket and Jim Ross gave us the epic call, "They don't even work here."