Mid-South Wrestling (TV #117)
December 3rd 1981
Irish McNeil Boys Club: Shreveport, LA.
Welcome to the first step on what will hopefully be a long journey into the illustrious history of Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling, one of the most influential and, still to this day, most acclaimed promotions in the history of professional wrestling. While World Class and later Mid-Atlantic stood out as flashy territories at different times during the 1980’s, with increased emphasis on production values and, in the case of the Dusty Rhodes booked Crockett territory, extravagant super-shows intended to rival those of the WWF, Mid-South was an unapologetically rugged and gritty promotion with a presentation so reliant on realism that would be almost incomprehensible to the modern 21st century wrestling fan. So say goodbye to boring 20 minute scripted promos, goofy comedy gimmicks, parity booking, main event matches given away for free on TV with no build, announcers that point out how stupid you are for watching their show and all the other senseless tropes of modern pro wrestling, and take a trip back in time when men were men, when babyfaces were beloved and heels were hated, and when wrestling was rasslin.
Boyd Pierce welcomed us to the “Mid-South Wrestling Television Network” 34 years before anyone had ever paid $9.99 for a monthly subscription to an online wrestling streaming service. Pierce ran down the card for the evening, because you see matches were already booked for the show as opposed to matches being “spontaneously” booked by some authority figure after some goofy angle. Bob Roop was the guest colour commentator for the week and Pierce threw to a match from last week pitting Roop against the other Nature Boy, Buddy Landell.
Bob Roop vs. Buddy Landell. – Roop over in a 2:50 squash. Roop had recently turned heel and he demonstrated his new persona by refusing to go for the cover after such highspots as a verticle suplex and a Harley Race high knee. Roop got the win with a shoulder breaker which Landell sold tremendously, quivering leg and all.
Back to the announce table and Roop gloated about his victory before the first commercial break then ring announcer Reeser Bowden introduced the next match.
Paul Orndorff vs. Tony Charles. – Orndorff over in 3:40. This was pretty fast paced for the time, although they mostly grappled and traded armbars. Boyd Pierce called Charles, “the man of 1000 holds”. The heel, Orndorff used the hair to get the advantage and used some illegal closed fists. There was some miscommunication, as Orndorff took a bump for no reason whatsoever during Charles’ comeback. Finish saw Charles take a spill to the outside and Orndorff stomped his head against the apron before getting the pin with a vertical suplex.
Non-Title Match: Ted Dibiase (North American Heavyweight Champion) vs. Ed Wiskowski. – Dibiase over in 5:45. Roop talked trash about Dibiase and said he wanted to give him a beating. Wiskowski got the heat with a side headlock of doom; Diabiase got a backslide in for a hope spot but Wiskowski went right back to the headlock. Roop continued to bury Dibiase throughout the match in true 1980’s heel style and chastised him for using closed fists during his comeback. Dibiase hit a nice powerslam and went for the figure four but Wiskowski kicked him off into the turnbuckle. Roop insisted that he and Paul Orndorff had figured out a counter to the figure four, even though we just saw Wiskowski escape the hold. For the finish, Wiskowski came off the second rope with a crossbody but Dibiase rolled through to get the pin.
Mississippi Heavyweight Championship: Bob Orton Jr (C) vs. Jim Garvin. – Orton retained in 3:20. This was a pre-Precious/Sunshine babyface Garvin, although he still has his sweet perm and moustache; Orton looked the same as ever. Roop continued to talk about how he and Orndorff found the counter to the figure four. “It will go the same way as the FLYING SQUEEGEE and the keylock” Roop asserted. Face Garvin out-wrestled Orton early with some tornado side headlock takeovers and Junior displayed some amazing 80’s selling and body language. Orton landed a dropkick at 3:20 to start the heat; Garvin made a comeback and went for another tornado side headlock but Orton countered into a belly-to-back suplex then used a nice piledriver for the finish.
Special Challenge Match: Junkyard Dog vs. Terry Orndorff (If Orndorff loses he must leave Mid-South.) – Orndorff via DQ at 3:20. This was the “main event” and boy what a wacky angle it was. Orndorff put on a yellow mask that he wore when he beat Mike George and told Reeser Bowden that it might help him beat the Dog too. JYD came out to his completely unlicensed Queen, “Another one bites the dust” song and was in great shape compared to his later years. JYD said he wasn’t going to wrestle unless the referee checked the mask and the ref checked Orndorff’s hood to make sure it wasn’t loaded. Awesome. Orndorff actually fought like his livelihood was on the line. He punched, scratched and clawed at the Dog. Paul Orndorff came out and gave Terry a gimmick then attacked JYD right in front of the ref; Roop said it was no DQ – keep that in mind. JYD slammed Paul Orndorff and went for the cover, which the ref actually tried to count for. Terry loaded up his mask with the gimmick and JYD landed a headbutt which laid them both out and saw the ref take a bump. Bob Orton Jr showed up in a yellow mask and tried to piledrive JYD, but the Dog countered and tossed Orton over the top rope. The referee saw the man in the yellow mask go over the top rope and disqualified JYD. – Even though the DQ finish made no sense since this was apparently a no DQ match, this angle had a lot of charm and was executed very well, plus the fans went absolutely crazy for all the run-ins.
Iron Sheik w/ Skandor Akbar vs. King Cobra (Stand-by Match). – Sheik over in 4:35. Pretty much an enhancement match for Sheik, who looked, and was booked, like a total badass. Sheiky jumped Cobra at the bell for the heat. Cobra landed a couple of dropkicks and Sheiky took a spill outside. Cobra tried to slam Sheik back inside over the top rope, but Sheik’s pointy boots hooked on the rope to prevent the slam. It was awesome. Roop said the pointy boots were used in the Arab world to kick the camels to make the go faster. 1981 everybody! “COBRA AIN’T NO CAMEL, THEY IN A RASSLIN RING!” Boyd furiously sniped back. Sheik racked the eyes and hit a nice German suplex and an elbow drop for the finish.
Jerry Novak & The Monk vs. Brian Blair & Frank Monte (Stand-by Match). Reeser Bowden announced this was “one fall or remaining television time” and he wasn’t lying. It was a basic 4:47 tag match and the bell rang to signal the end of the match and the hour of television time. Boyd Pierce thanked Roop for sitting in on the call and hyped the, “POPULAR LITTLE MIDGET GALS” for next week, plus Paul Orndorff vs. Ted Dibiase; look at that, announcing a big match for next week’s show. How novel.
We’re off to a solid start with Mid-South TV. Bob Roop, Paul Orndorff and Bob Orton Jr are the top sneaky heels with a plan to take down the white meat babyface, Ted Dibiase and expose his finishing hold! They also screwed the top star in the territory, JYD, out of winning the TV main event. Plus, Iron Shiek was booked like a scary no-nonsense ass-kicker, sort of like an early Iranian Kurt Angle, which is indicative of the Bill Watts booking philosophy that we surely will see more of in the coming weeks and months. I can’t promise these reviews will be a weekly feature, as I barely have enough spare time to stay up on contemporary pro wrestling, but they will assuredly pop up every now and then.