Mid-South Wrestling (TV #121)
December 30th 1981
Irish McNeil Boys Club: Shreveport, LA.
With 1982 on the horizon, Bill Watts was our host for a “very special look”, as the Cowboy put it, at the best of the Mid-South action from 1981. Watts explained that Boyd Pierce was “on vacation” in Hawaii and hyped the Dream Match for next week’s show. As I noted last week, it appears as MS#122 has been lost to history, however never fear because MS#123 features the “second place” Dream Match which is a lot more star-studded than the Dibiase/Orndorff match that the fans “voted” into first place. Watts talked about Ernie Ladd getting suspended from active competition, so Ladd went to the trouble of getting a manger’s licence and coached the Samoans to the Mid-South Tag Team Titles. Awesome.
Our first clip was JYD & Mike George vs. The Samoans w/Ernie Ladd from October 15th at the Mississippi Fairgrounds for the Mid-South Tag Titles. Watts provided the commentary, as he would throughout the show for the non-televised matches, and talked about Ernie Ladd being a Chess Champion which helped him become a master of “Human Chess” and “the King of Sports, Professional Wrestling.” They aired about 3 and a half minutes of highlights. Finish saw Ladd get knocked off the apron by JYD, who then planted Afa with the Big Thump. Ladd came back and tried to hit JYD with a chair but the Dog moved and Ladd nailed Afa in the head; JYD made the cover to win the Mid-South Tag Team Championship.
Back with Watts in the studio and he noted that the Samoans had been suspended after an incident during the rematch in Lake Charles, LA which saw them strike a referee. Watts then blatantly read from a script as he recapped the saga of Terry Orndorff and the yellow mask. The deal was the Orndorffs challenged JYD & George to a match where the loser of the fall would have to wear a yellow to signify their cowardice and shame! We saw the closing moments of Paul & Terry Orndorff vs. JYD & Mike George in a rematch two weeks later, with Terry wearing the yellow mask as per the stips. Ernie Ladd & Bob Orton Jr came down and Orton went under the ring and emerged in the yellow mask! Ladd tripped George from the outside and Orton pinned him with a piledriver, before rolling back outside and giving the yellow hood back to Terry Orndorff.
In the studio, Watts accused the heels of, “CAMOUFLAGE and SUBERTEFUGE “ then explained that the following week on TV a rematch was set however Terry never showed up and Bob Roop took his place. They showed the finish of Paul Orndorff & Roop vs. JYD & Mike George. This time, Bob Orton Jr ran in with the yellow mask on and attacked JYD for the DQ. The masked Orton tried to piledrive JYD on the floor, but Dog reversed with a backdrop then unmasked the devious Orton to the delight of the fans. Orndorff, Orton & Roop outnumbered the babyface Tag Champs and put a beating on them. Orndorff put the yellow mask on JYD then Ted Dibiase stormed the ring to run off the three heels. JYD, still in the hood, sold and staggered (not Lee) to his feet, throwing punches at whoever may have been in front of him. Dog finally removed the mask to see George & Dibiase and he eventually calmed down. – This was a really great little angle. It was a simple, wacky, old-school deal but the psychology was great. Ordorff & Orton had already used the yellow mask once to get a win over JYD & George, however this time the babyfaces were ready for it and outsmarted the heels, until the 3-on-2 advantage caught up to the good guys.
At the desk, Watts stumbled over his words something fierce then talked about the history of the Dusty Rhodes feud with Gary Hart which dated back to 1974 in Florida where Dusty famously turned on Pak Song to become the American Dream. Watts threw to a promo from Gary Hart with his “Asian Assassin, the man from CHINA(!)” the Great Kabuki. Hart cut a typically great menacing promo about Kabuki being his hired mercenary and told Dusty “the Boogeyman gonna get cha!” Watts explained that Kabuki’s “religious background” meant he painted his face to display what kind of mood he was in and said Dusty Rhodes sent in a video from Florida with his own war paint on.
OK, this is wear things got awesomely bizarre. Dusty Rhodes appeared with his face painted entirely BLACK, with a white outline around his jawline. Dusty was 100% serious and refrained from his usual promo staples of cute phrases, stories about growing up a poor son of a plumber and “If you weels.” He spoke softly but his tone was that of a man who meant business and told Kabuki the American Dream was ready to go to war.
Back with Watts again and he said Mid-South Wrestling was unable to sanction a Bunkhouse match between Rhodes & Kabuki, however he noted the match would take place down the road. We got another promo from Dusty a few weeks after the “black face” deal. Dusty noted that the TV station had received calls and complaints about him painting his face (I wonder why) then explained that “black was the dominant factor in Louisiana” and that “black” was the colour of “war”, which probably didn’t make the people who complained feel any better.
Up next were highlights of Paul Orndorff defending the North American Heavyweight title against Ted Dibiase at the Mississippi Fair Grounds from October 15th. After a couple of minutes worth of solid action, Bob Roop attacked Dibiase for the DQ and JYD & Mike George ran in to make the save. Watts noted that Dibiase beat Orndorff for the title on November 1st in Lake Charles then said that Paul Orndorff had sent his brother Terry back to Florida, “in disgrace” for not getting the job done and that Bob Roop had come in to help Paul Orndorff find a way to counter Dibiase’s Figure Four.
We saw Ted Dibiase vs. Ed Wiskowski from episode #117, the very first that we looked at, and Roop was on commentary talking about having a counter to the Figure Four. Next, were clips of Bob Roop vs. Jim Garvin from the following week (#118) then back at the desk with Watts and he talked about the Iron Sheik but said there was no time for highlights of him in action! BOOOOOO!!!!! Watts put over Paul Ellering for standing up to Sheikie then went back to discussing the Orndorff/Dibiase Figure Four storyline. Our final highlights were the Dibiase/Orndorff match from MS#118 with Ernie Ladd being an amazing man on commentary, putting over Orndorff countering the Figure Four like he had just witnessed cold fusion or something. The show ended with Watts talking about Roop being the mastermind behind the Figure Four counter and he speculated whether Roop & Orndorff could continue to work together. Watts signed off and told viewers that Boyd Pierce would be back from “vacation” next week and hyped the Dream Match, which, again, we unfortunately are unable to see but from my understanding it involved Ted Dibiase beating both Paul Orndorff and Bob Roop in separate matches.
This was probably the weakest of the Mid-South TV shows we’ve looked at so far, but with a clip show that is to be expected. There were still some cool deals here, like footage from the Mississippi Fair Grounds and the Gary Hart promo, plus all the Orndorff/Dibiase stuff was great as I have mentioned many times. Then there was that Dusty Rhodes black face promo, which I genuinely couldn’t believe the first time I saw it. I know it was 1981, but come on. Surely even at that time, in LOUISIANA & MISSISSIPPI of all places, a white man painting his face black and saying “black is the colour of war” is a terribly ill-conceived idea.