Mid-South Wrestling (TV #132)
March 18th 1982
Irish McNeil Boys Club: Shreveport, LA.
Man, have we got a big show for you this week, so let’s get right into it because something tells me this is going to be a long recap. Making his Mid-South television debut alongside Boyd Pierce was a fresh-faced, thirty year-old, Jim Ross. Boyd announced that Ted Dibiase would defend the North American Heavyweight title against Paul Orndorff, after the show went off the air last week with both Orndorff & Bob Roop in the running for the #1 contender spot. Boyd then introduced Jim Ross to the viewers and talked about Ross’s background as an amateur sports referee and said Ross was the commentator for ESPN’s National Rodeo as well as having some “nation TV wrestling commentary shows.” – Ross got his start in the NWA Tri-State area from Leroy McGuirk in 1974 as a referee and remained an official until 1977. After getting some exposure as a college football commentator and spending a year as the colour commentator for the Atlanta Falcons, Ross came back to work for Watts, who had bought out McGuirk’s Tri-State territory in January 1982, which is why Mid-South expanded into Oklahoma and Arkansas. Ross said he was excited to be there because everywhere he went all people were talking about was Mid-South Wrestling. Boyd said, “I’m just a simple country boy” and stated JR was “much smarter” than him and asked Ross to explain what the situation was with Ernie Ladd’s knee surgery. Before Ross could get into it, a panicked Bob Roop showed up and said he respected Grizzly Smith’s decision to give Orndorff the shot at Dibiase, however he had some terrible news! Roop claimed that Orndorff told him he was sick of Dibiase always embarrassing him and he might not show up! Roop offered to take Orndorff’s place against Dibiase, but Boyd Pierce did his “I’m just a commentator” bit and told him to go find Grizzly Smith. Roop got more agitated and “guaranteed” that Orndorff would not show up then left to go find Grizzly.
Ross then explained that Ernie Ladd’s knee was “torn up” and they threw to actual footage of Ladd undergoing knee surgery from February 26th. Ross proceeded to do play-by-play in graphic detail while we saw keyhole footage of a surgeon, whom Ross identified as Dr James Andrews, scraping away at the inside of Ladd’s knee. Back at the desk and Ross said the recovery time from the operation would be “fairly short”. They cut to an interview Ernie Ladd did two weeks ago (from missing episode #130) with Reeser Bowden and Ladd had his leg in a cast. Ladd declared that he was not a coward and that Mid-South was his backyard. He noted that Skandor Akbar’s crew had injured himself, JYD, Dick Murdoch & Mike George and said he would “go back to the past” to find some guys who could get the job done. Back with Boyd & Ross, who put over Ladd as a babyface coming for revenge on the evil Akbar before throwing to the first commercial break. – Wow, was there ever a lot to take in during the first 10 minutes of this show. The debut of JR, which from a historical perspective is huge news, Bob Roop showed up to set out the storyline for the episode, we saw actual surgery being performed on Ernie Ladd, who then cut an awesome promo about coming for revenge. Although, if the story of an old guy bringing in his old guy friends because the young guys aren’t up to the challenge of fighting some even meaner new guys was told in WWE today, I’m sure it would be criticised greatly for making the current roster look weak. It will be interesting to see what differences in booking occur in 1982 compared to today when the returning legend would just kill the younger heel like a chump.
After the break, Boyd put over Akbar’s One Man Gang for breaking Ladd’s leg and injuring Dick Murdoch. We got footage from February 23rd in Baton Rouge, LA with the Texas Outlaws vs. The Samoans. One Man Gang ran in and gave Murdoch a splash off the top, which Bill Watts explained, “busted” the ribs of Murdoch. Back to the studio and 16 minutes into the show, which is a pretty long time for Mid-South, it was time for our first match.
One Man Gang w/Skandor Akbar vs. Buddy Landel. – Squash for Gang in 1:28. Gang was billed at 6’10 and 454lbs. He worked like a monster and didn’t leave his feet for any of Landel’s brief offence. Gang won with a big splash. – Not much to it. Gang looked like a killer.
Resser Bowden introduced Bob Roop for the next match. Roop was still all flustered and had some amazingly over the top body language to demonstrate how worked up he was. Roop asked Resser for help and said he didn’t want to wrestler Killer Karl Kox because he didn’t want to get hurt just in case Orndorff didn’t show up and he got the shot at Dibiase instead. Like Boyd, Reeser played the straight man and simply said, “I’m afraid not.” – Something about ordinary men acting like normal human beings while these huge crazy wrestlers are running around is just awesome. Resser continued with his job and introduced Killer Karl Kox, who again was super over with the crowd.
Killer Karl Kox vs. Bob Roop. – Kox over in 2:01. Roop jumped Kox at the bell to try and get it over with as quickly as possible. Kox made a comeback with some knee lifts and punches and looked horrible. Roop begged off like a great cowardly heel but raked the eyes and tied Kox up in the ropes. Kox broke free and pinned Roop with his brainbuster, which looked pretty damn good. – Match wasn’t much, but Roop’s performance beforehand was tremendous. Considering where the story is going, having Roop lose here was one of those old wrestling deals where you beat a guy just before he wins a championship.
Non-Title Match: The Samoans (Mid-South Tag Team Champions) w/Skandor Akbar vs. Terry Gibbs & Jesse Barr. – Samoan squash in 3:40. Ross called the Samoans the, “Kings of the Madison Square Garden scene” in New York until they were “suspended.” Samoans killed Barr and threw some chops which missed by a mile that I’m sure Bill Watts wasn’t happy about. Samoans didn’t bump at all for the jobbers and Afa pinned Gibbs with the Samoan drop. – Strong enhancement win for the heel tag champs.
Ted Dibiase vs. Paul Orndorff was advertised for after the break, however when we came back Resser Bowden introduced Bob Roop as the challenger. Boyd Pierce said Roop was right when he claimed Paul Ordorff wasn’t going to show up so Grizzly Smith had no choice but to put the #2 challenger, Roop in the match.
North American Heavyweight Championship: Ted Dibiase (C) vs. Bob Roop. – Roop became the NEW champion in 7:07. Roop was selling his neck from the brainbuster earlier and tried to win quickly with a big right hand and a school boy because wrestling used to make sense! Dibiase took over and Ross called him the, “People’s Champion.” Roop raked the eyes then did the old rope burn spot. Both men tried to apply the Figure Four but each time it was countered before the hold was applied; Ross put Roop over as the mastermind behind the reversal to the Figure Four, which if you have been following along has been a major storyline since December 1981. Roop went for his finish, the shoulder breaker, but Dibiase countered with his powerslam and applied the Figure Four. Roop turned over to his stomach to reverse the hold, which in storyline he invented, Dibiase reversed back but Roop got to the ropes to force a break. Roop kicked Dibiase into the referee, who took a bump and One Man Gang ran down to attack Dibiase. Gang wrapped Dibiase’s leg around the ring post a bunch of times and Roop applied the Figure Four (incorrectly, but we’ll let that go). Dibiase held on for as long as he could, but he ended up “passing out” from the pain; referee Alfred Neely came to and stopped the match and awarded the championship to Bob Roop. The fans were absolutely irate about the decision and an exhausted Roop celebrated while he slinked away with the belt. – This was awesome and executed perfectly. It’s becoming clear that Watts’s booking style was heavily influenced by Eddie Graham, what with all the run-ins during big matches and such, however they are still working and drawing a lot of heat. I’m sure eventually it will get old, just like it did in the Attitude Era or like every year of TNA’s existence, but until it stops working and is beaten completely into the ground, I’m fine with it. On a side note, Bob Roop is quickly becoming one of my favourite guys on these Mid-South shows; his matches are usually always enjoyable or at least psychologically sound and he is just a tremendous cocky, cowardly heel.
JYD (Louisiana Heavyweight Champion) & Mr Olympia (Mississippi Heavyweight Champion) vs. Tully Blanchard & Mike Boyer. – JYD & Olympia over in 0:52. So Joe Blanchard’s Southwest Championship Wrestling would not get national TV exposure on the USA Network until December of 1982 and the territory was still part of the NWA here, which is why Tully made the trip up to Mid-South. He really shouldn’t have bothered though, as he never entered the match officially. Boyer got his ass beat by Olympia then JYD tagged in to deliver the Big Thump. Tully came in, but Olympia got rid of him immediately like a geek and the faces won easily.
Paul Orndorff arrived carrying his bag and Boyd Pierce went crazy, saying he could not believe Orndorff had missed his championship match. After the break, Boyd was with Orndorff and said the next standby match would not take place because of the, “Skulduggery or SkullDOGery…who cares about the right adjective,” that went down. Orndorff cut a fiery promo about running six blocks to get to the arena because his car wouldn’t start. He talked about initially blaming Ted Dibiase and said he arranged a “One Man Gang situation” to take care of Dibiase during the title match, which of course he never had the chance to compete in. Orndorff then explained that in the locker room, the boys were talking about how he had gone insane and was in a “madhouse” because Bob Roop was bragging about how he outsmarted him. Orndorff said he thought about who had the most to gain so he searched Bob Roop’s pockets and found a set of spare keys, plus the cam belt from his truck! Boyd quickly tried to wrap up the show, but Orndorff just kept yelling about how Roop stabbed him in the back and that he would make Roop pay! – What a payoff! It was Roop all along! It was clear where this angle was going from the moment Roop interrupted Boyd & Ross at the start of the show, but just because it was predictable doesn’t mean it was any less great. The story was told perfectly and executed just as well. When Roop & Orndorff formed their alliance back in November 81 Boyd Pierce and Bill Watts question if two such dastardly heels could work together and trust each other. Well, they worked together for a long time to try bring down Ted Dibiase, with Roop even teaching Orndorff the vaunted counter to the Figure Four. However, when Roop saw an opportunity for himself to take the title from Dibiase, he stabbed his buddy in the back and left him at the side of a road in Shreveport, Louisiana!
This was great hour of television and it really makes you wonder just why this stuff isn’t up on the WWE Network. Maybe they don’t want to expose just how crappy the current product is compared to a regional show from 1982, but come on. People need to see this stuff!