Mid-South Wrestling (TV #165)
November 6th 1982
Irish McNeil Boys Club: Shreveport, LA.
For the second week in a row, Boyd Pierce opened the show alone at the announce position and hyped up today’s card, including a main event of Col. Buck Robley & Mr Wrestlling II vs. The Grapplers. Boyd threw to Bill Watts, who was ringside with Ted DiBiase, Hacksaw Duggan & Matt Borne. Watts said last week they made fools out of Mid-South Wrestling, himself, Boyd Pierce, Paul Boesch and especially the Junkyard Dog. Watts also told DiBiase that he had wrestled his father and even though Iron Mike was known to break the rules, he did it in a “head on” type fashion and didn’t need anybody’s help to get it done in the ring. Watts then stated that DiBiase‘s father must have “rolled over in his grave” at his sons actions last week. DiBiase declared that he didn’t care what anybody thought and reminded everyone that the match last week was No DQ. Borne noted that DiBiase called him the night before the big Tag Title match and they came up with a plan to get rid of the Junkyard Dog. Duggan made some monkey noises then said it happened to be a little “particular” that it was a Gorilla who took out JYD – you know, because JYD was black. 1982, people. They showed the finish of the Tag Team Championship match last week then Watts, still at ringside with the heels, said that JYD had come back from adversity many times in the past and told the group that they were at the top of the Dog’s hit list. DiBiase replied that they had 90 days to think about it and the heels had a good laugh before walking off with all their championship belts. – A nice follow up to the big angle last week and it further established the yet unnamed Rat Pack as the top heels in the territory. From a modern perspective the Gorilla line was completely racist, however here in 1982, Shreveport, Louisiana, nobody even batted an eyelid and it was basically just a throwaway line.
Boyd & Watts were at the desk and Watts introduced a Tony Atlas training package. He said that the footage had been shot in an Atlanta gym two years ago and noted that it was before Atlas was given the “Mr USA” moniker. The video package was the quintessentially outdated deal of getting somebody over as a tough guy by having them lift weights instead of showing any kind of physical combat.
Tony Atlas vs. Bob Stabler was booked as the opener, however Hacksaw Duggan hit the ring before the match started. Duggan said he was the Louisiana Heavyweight Champion and that nothing happened in the State without him knowing about it. Hacksaw made fun of Atlas for having a “posing body” and told him he would demonstrate what it is like to be a real Athlete. Duggan challenged him to a push-up contest and he said Atlas would have to match the 20 regular push-ups that he set. Duggan did the 20 push-ups then Atlas dropped down and did 20 with no problem at all. Atlas then did a series of one-handed push-ups and finished off with the gimmick where you clap in-between each push-up. Duggan managed two one-handed versions then demanded that Atlas do it again; the crowd sensed what was coming. When Atlas dropped down to start his one-handed push-ups, Duggan immediately put the boots to him and went to work. Duggan delivered his Flying NFL Headbutt, however Atlas no-sold it and Duggan acted like he had smashed his head against a concrete wall. Because, you see, Tony Atlas was in fact black. Duggan even gigged to get over the offensive hard-headed black guy gimmick. Bob Stabler tried to jump Atlas but Tony fought them both off; Marty Lunde showed up to try and help his jobber pal Stabler, but Atlas sent them both packing in short order. Duggan & Atlas went at it again with some wild haymakers and Atlas got the better of the exchange. Stabler & Lunde came back, however Atlas disposed of them with ease once again and this time Duggan and the jobbers ran to the back. – This angle may have been full of 1980’s pro rasslin troupes – the babyface embarrassing the heel by performing some kind of feat of strength and the granite-skulled black man – however it undeniably worked as the crowd were going crazy for Atlas when it was all said and done. We were also spared from watching Atlas wrestle, which is always a plus.
Non-Title: Ted DiBiase (North American Heavyweight & Tag Team Champion) vs. Stagger Lee. – Lee over in 0:26. Ted DiBiase was set to take on “S. Lee” and an extraordinarily skinny man was introduced to the crowd by Resser Bowden. The malnourished geek, who was actually a young Randy “Pee Wee” Anderson, unveiled a banner which read, “S. Lee is Stagger Lee,” and DiBiase asked who in the hell was Stagger Lee. Lloyd Price’s 1959 number one hit Stagger Lee played over the P.A and nobody in the crowd knew what to expect. *For more on the history of the Stagger Lee song, see the end of the review. When the crowd got a look at the mystery man they instantly erupted as they recognised his familiar body shape. Stagger Lee hit the ring a house of fire in his green and orange full body suit and mask to quickly and decisively beat DiBiase with JYD’s Thump. Watts noted JYD told him that Stagger Lee used to beat him up on the school bus and take his milk money. The crowd went nuts and Lee loaded up his mask with a gimmick then sent DiBiase flying out of the ring with a big headbutt. Referee Alfred Neeley questioned the identity of the masked man and Stagger Lee pointed to the name on the back of his gear then triumphantly walked off. – This was an outstanding piece of pro wrestling television. Sure they could have kept JYD off TV for at least one week, however since he was the top babyface having him come back right away to out-smart the heels who screwed him was probably the right thing to do. Especially since there was only two more weeks of TV after this show until the big Superdome card on Thanksgiving night, where Stagger Lee would challenge DiBiase for the North American title. Of course it was never stated that JYD was under the hood, although Watts explained JYD had a “premonition” that something bad was going to happen last week and he had Stagger Lee “waiting in the wings.”
Non-Title: “Hacksaw” Duggan (Louisiana Heavyweight Champion) vs. Vinnie Romeo. – Duggan over in 1:30. Duggan didn’t come out right away for the match and Watts noted he would forfeit if he was unable to compete after what happened with Tony Atlas earlier. Duggan eventually showed up, head bandaged, with dried blood all over his face and he destroyed Romeo with ease. Watts said that everybody could probably guess the identity of Stagger Lee, however he stated that just like Mr Wrestling II, Mr Olympia & The Grappler, it was impossible to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt who these masked men really were. Duggan, even though he had his head split open by Atlas earlier, won with his Flying Headbutt and Watts put him over as tough badass.
Buck Robley & Mr Wrestling II vs. The Grapplers. – Robley & Wrestling II over in 5:05. Watts explained that “Iron” Mike Sharpe & Mr Olympia were booked against Marty Lunde & Vladic Smirnoff later on, however Ted DiBiase & Matt Borne had bought the contracts and would face Sharpe & Olympia instead. Even though this match was billed as the main event at the top of the show, it was the least interesting thing about the entire episode and felt like an unwanted distraction from all the other great stuff with the Rat Pat. Graps got the heat on Robley; Two made a comeback. Rinse and repeat. Finish saw Wrestling II pin Grappler #2 with his Knee Lift. – Sad times for the Graps, who are been beaten like a drum on their way out. While this was not as gripping as the Rat Pack storylines, Watts still managed to arc back to the heel trio by noting that Robley & Two could be in line for a title shot against DiBiase & Borne after this big win.
Kamala w/Friday vs. Jesse Barr. – Kamala over in 1:45. You know the gimmick by now. Kamala came out to his jungle music, Friday took off all his tribal garb, and the match was a one-sided squash which Kamala won with his big Splash.
Non-Title: Ted DiBiase & Matt Borne (Mid-South Tag Team Champions) vs. “Iron” Mike Sharpe & Mr Olympia – DiBiase & Borne over in 7:01. DiBiase cut a great furious promo before the match and accused Stagger Lee of being the Junkyard Dog. Mr Olympia stepped in and told DiBiase that he didn’t know who Stagger Lee was, just like DiBiase didn’t know who he or Wrestling Two were. Watts speculated that if DiBiase could unmask Stagger Lee and prove it really was JYD then the Dog would be liable for a potential one-year suspension from Mid-South. Match was good. Sharpe & Olympia shone early then the heels got the heat on Sharpe after DiBiase thumbed him in the eye. Olympia ran wild off the hot tag and got a couple of near-falls on DiBiase with a roll-up and a Backslide. DiBiase dumped Olympia to the outside to start another heat segment. Finish was great, as Sharpe made the tag but the referee didn’t see it and stopped him from coming in. DiBiase loaded his black glove and nailed Olympia behind the ref’s back and Borne stacked him up for the pin. – This was a great way to take the show full circle and get some heat back on DiBiase & the Rat Pack after the introduction of Stagger Lee.
Boyd & Watts wrapped up the show from the desk. They hyped Chavo Guerrero, Gino Hernandez & Mil Mascaras for next week’s show and Watts noted that Mascaras wasn’t the biggest or strongest guy but said he was “graceful like a ballet dancer.” Watts added that they hoped Stagger Lee would be back next week then Boyd signed off and thanked us all for watching.
This show was every bit of a must-see episode as last week with the big Loser Leaves Town Tag Title match and overall it was a much better hour of television than the famous show a week earlier. The Rat Pack were the focus of everything and Watts managed to get them over as strong heels while at the same time giving the babyfaces some big shine spots. Tony Atlas got over big by beating up Duggan, however Duggan came back later on the show and looked like a deranged madman. DiBiase lost clean in mere seconds to Stagger Lee, although it didn’t hurt him one bit due to the nature of how the angle was executed. Plus, DiBiase had a chance to get some heat back with his promo and the dreaded loaded black glove finish to the tag match with JYD’s buddies Olympia & Sharpe. You can really feel the booking and storytelling being taken to another level with the Superdome show coming up in a couple of weeks.
* The tale of Stagger Lee dates back to Christmas 1895 when Lee “Stack Lee” Shelton, a carriage driver and reputed pimp, shot and killed his friend William “Billy” Lyons in a saloon in St. Louis, MO. Shelton & Lyons, both black, were out drinking the night of the 25th and ended up getting into an argument over politics. Lyons foolishly snatched Shelton’s Stetson hat off his head and would not return it, so Shelton pulled out his 44 Smith & Weston and shot him in the abdomen. Shelton calmly walked out of the bar and went back to his home to get some sleep. He was arrested around 3am on Boxing Day and remanded in custody to await trail. Lyons died in hospital from his injuries. Shelton was eventually convicted of the murder in 1897 and sentenced to 25 years in jail, however he was pardoned in 1909 and released. Shelton found himself locked up again in 1911 for assault and robbery and he died while in prison in 1912.
Just how “Stack Lee” became “Stagger Lee” is not exactly clear. The most accepted version of the story claims that Shelton took the name from a well-known white man named Stacker Lee who fought in the civil war for the Confederacy and whose father owned the famous Lee Steam Line riverboats. After the war, Lee was made a captain by his father and his riverboat made frequent journeys along the Mississippi River traveling back-and-forth from St. Louis and New Orleans. Lee was 18 years-old and soon developed a taste for fast women, drinking, gambling and generally all kinds of debauchery. As a results of all his revelry, Lee ended up siring a number of illegitimate children, including with black and mixed-race women, which allegedly led to countless black children being named “Stack Lee.” Lee Shelton is not believed to be one of Stacker Lee’s illicit offspring and he likely took the name as a status symbol for his dealings in the underworld of prostitution and gambling.
As is the case with many historical tales in African-American culture, the story became a foundation for many black blues musicians and countless songs were written about old “Stack Lee” Shelton and the night he shot his friend in a bar for stealing his hat. In 1927 Little Harvey Hull and the Down Home Boys released the Original Stack O’Lee Blues, which featured the hallmark finger-picked acoustic guitar sound that Mississippi John Hurt would famously adopt a year later for his version of the Stack O’Lee Blues. Over the years there were a myriad of cover versions, including artists such as Fats Domino, the Isley Brothers, Pat Boone, Neil Diamond, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Grateful Dead, Huey Lewis and the News, and even Beck. However in 1959, Lloyd Price released what many view to be the quintessential version of the song, entitled Stagger Lee, and that was the music that JYD entered the arena to when under the Stagger Lee hood.
For more on the legend of “Stack Lee” Lee Shelton check out Paul Slade’s fantastic historical retrospective here.