Mid-South Wrestling (TV #166)
November 13th 1982
Irish McNeil Boys Club: Shreveport, LA.
Editor’s note: It’s been a long time since our last Mid-South review, however our goal is to finish up the year of 1982 as soon as possible and to compile a compendium of all the arena/TV results from that year. It will still probably be a while away, as there is usually not enough time to get a review done on busy news weeks. IT IS COMING THOUGH. We promise you that. Where do we go after reviewing every available Mid-South episode from 1982? Well, 1983 of course! You can find all the reviews of the 1982 TV shows (and a couple from 1981) here.
Boyd Pierce was on his own at the announce desk again and welcomed everyone to another episode of Mid-South Wrestling. He ran down the matches for the show, including the “muscular” Tony Atlas, Stagger Lee vs. Matt Borne and the debut of the “popular” Chavo Guerrero against the Grappler. Boyd threw to Bill Watts, who was at ringside with the Tag Team Champions, Ted DiBiase & Matt Borne.
DiBiase & Borne were visibly unhappy and Watts talked about them pulling the biggest “trick or subterfuge” since “Troy in Ancient Greek history” with Hacksaw Duggun under the Gorilla outfit. Watts asked DiBiase why he was so mad since his “little clique” had all the belts, except the Mississippi title, in the territory and they had sent the Junkyard Dog packing for 90 days. DiBiase ranted about everybody in the Irish McNeil Boys Club knowing that JYD was not really gone and that he had come back as Stagger Lee. DiBiase then told Watts that he had lost all respect for him because Watts was condoning JYD running around under a hood as Stagger Lee. Watts noted that he had also lost all the respect he once had for DiBiase due to his recent actions and delivered some of that famous, old-school, pro-rasslin’ booker logic that Mid-South was famous for. Watts asked DiBiase if he knew the real identity of the Grappler or Mr Wrestling II and DiBiase sheepishly claimed he had no idea who the men were under the masks. – Watts would always explain to the viewers that he and the Mid-South management did not know the identity of any masked wrestlers in the territory. The logic being that Mid-South would send a cheque with no name to a P.O box so the mysterious masked men could write their own name in before they cashed it.
They showed the finish of the JYD & Mr Olympia vs. DiBiase & Borne match, with the interference from Duggan in the Gorilla costume. Afterwards, Watts asked how low DiBiase and his buddies would stoop next time. DiBiase yelled about the match being No DQ and noted they did nothing illegal. He also offhandedly mentioned that the idea to put Duggan in the Gorilla suit came from a “little thing” in Southwest Championship Wrestling featuring Gino Hernandez & Tully Blanchard. Duggan was in Southwest at the time and the angle DiBiase referred to took place around June 1982 (for whatever reason, accurate SWCW results are hard to come by for that specific year). Duggan was on the same TV show that saw Ken Lucas & Ricky Morton, under the guise of masked luchadors El Charro & El Falcone, defeat the SWCW Tag Team Champions of Blanchard & Hernandez. Lucas & Morton unmasked and cut a promo about how they could beat the champs, any time, any place. DiBiase didn’t really need to bring this up, however it is a cool little footnote when looking at these shows historically. DiBiase & Borne protested some more about Stagger Lee then Watts threw to footage of S.Lee defeating DiBiase in his debut last week.
DiBiase ranted and raved some more about nobody else moving like Stagger Lee then pointed out that he used JYD’s famous “Thump” finishing hold. Watts hilariously said that DiBiase didn’t put up enough of a fight and noted that Stagger Lee “whipped” him so fast he couldn’t tell who it was. DiBiase complained about Stagger Lee loading his mask, but Watts cut him off and chastised him for loading his black glove for months. Watts then reiterated that they sent a cheque to a post box, just like they did for the Grappler & Mr Wrestling II, and asked the heels if they knew beyond all reasonable doubt that Stagger Lee was actually JYD. DiBiase & Borne asserted that it was the Dog and yelled about a “conspiracy.” Watts said before they went on the air, Tony Atlas performed a 500lb bench press and the two men spotting him were JYD & Stagger Lee.
Footage of Tony Atlas performing the bench press at ringside aired. Watts put over Atlas for being an elite athlete and a bunch of kids were sat on the apron to watch Mr USA attempt the lift. JYD spotted Atlas for the two reps of 500lbs while Stagger Lee looked on. JYD put some more plates on the bar and Watts asked him what it felt like to lift that amount of weight. The Dog said it was a great feeling and it shows “you know a lot about lifting weights.” He also told Watts not to get too close or to speak to Stagger Lee while they were working out. Watts asked JYD if it was true that Stagger Lee used to take his milk money on the school bus and the Dog said that his main man Stagger used to beat him up, but now he had brought him into Mid-South to beat up some other people. Watts asked to interview Stagger Lee, however JYD told him nobody else could speak to the masked man, so Watts asked JYD what he was going to do for the 90 days he while was suspended. JYD said he would buy a ticket to any arena he wanted and drive around with Stagger Lee in his big 450 Mercedes; the fans cheered and Watts seemed satisfied with his answer. Atlas came back and eventually performed the 550lb bench press after psyching himself up for an eternity.
Back with Watts, DiBiase & Borne; Watts pointed to the visual evidence on the tape and asked again if they were sure Stagger Lee & JYD were the same person. DiBiase said he couldn’t explain what he saw on the film, but stated “something funny” was going on and the only way to find out was to take the mask off Stagger Lee. DiBiase declared that Matt Borne had signed to wrestle Stagger Lee today on the show and he would definitely rip the mask off to prove it was the Dog. Watts assured them that if they could prove to Mid-South beyond any shadow of a doubt that Stagger Lee was in fact the Junkyard Dog then JYD would be suspended for “over a year,” however the heels only had 90 days to prove it. DiBiase & Borne were happy with the arrangement and Borne yelled that the mask was coming off today! – From start to finish, this entire opening segment went nearly 16 minutes. There was a lot going on, however the central issue was always clear and everything made absolute sense. Unlike today when meaningless 15-20 minute opening promos are the norm, the segment needed to be this long so all the parts of the story could be explained logically. Everyone was great in their roles. DiBiase was a tremendous hypocritical heel and Watts played the straight man perfectly. I’m sure most viewers knew JYD was in fact Stagger Lee and that Watts was just screwing with the heels to give them a taste of their own medicine. Still, there was an element of logic in there – no matter how silly – that Mid-South were unable to do anything unless they had indisputable proof. This was a lesson in great pro-wrestling storytelling.
Tony Atlas vs. Vladic Smirnoff. – Atlas over in 2:48. Watts said Smirnoff was undefeated on Mid-South TV – he had only appeared twice before and looked horrible. There was some more great Bill Watts logic, as he explained that Atlas was not the most technically skilled wrestler, so in order to compensate he wanted to become as strong as possible so nobody could throw him around the ring. Atlas dominated a poor match and got the win after a Press Slam and a Headbutt off the second rope.
Stagger Lee vs. Matt Borne (Mid South Tag Team Champion) w/Ted DiBiase. The bell never rang. Lloyd Price’s Stagger Lee played over the P.A and Borne jumped Stagger Lee as he was entering the ring. This was a total ugly fight, with lots of rolling around while Borne repeatedly went after the mask. DiBiase held Stagger Lee down and Borne hit the Bombs Away off the top rope. The heels unmasked Stagger Lee, however it was not JYD under the hood and the “real” Stagger Lee hit the ring to send DiBiase & Borne packing. – This was a nice little follow up to the opening segment, as once again JYD/Stagger Lee got one over on the heels. The phony Stagger Lee was played by enhancement talent, Joe Gaines.
Buck Robley & Mr Wrestling II vs. Tony Anthony & Marty Lunde. – Robley & Wrestling II over in 2:33. Anthony & Lunde bumped around for Robley & Two, who easily controlled the match while making frequent tags. The jobber heels tried to double team Robley, but he fought them off and Two pinned Anthony with his Knee Lift. Uneventful, but the faces looked strong. Watts spent most of the match talking about Stagger Lee outsmarting DiBiase & Borne.
“Iron” Mike Sharpe vs. Kelly Kiniski. – Sharpe over in 4:28. Resser Bowden did the ring introductions and hyped the match as the “battle of the big Canadians.” This was more competitive than the previous matches. They went back and forth with holds; Kiniski got a near-fall with a Dropkick then Sharpe started his comeback with some big forearms. Finish saw Sharpe perform a Leapfrog and get the win with a big Lariat. – The action was far from smooth here and the “big Canadians” were doing things like dropkicks and leapfrogs. It was fine, but entirely forgettable.
Non-Title: “Hacksaw” Duggan (Louisiana Heavyweight Champion) vs. King Cobra. – Duggan over in 2:35. Duggan established his power advantage early with a big Body Slam and Cobra used his speed advantage to land a quick flurry, punctuated with a Dropkick. Duggan got the advantage after raking the eyes and hit a big Knee Drop for a near-fall. Cobra went for another Dropkick, but Duggan countered and used a BackBreaker for another two count. Cobra just about pulled off a Sunset Flip out of the corner for a near-fall then came off the second rope, however Duggan nailed him in mid-air with his spearing Headbutt for the finish. – Match was extremely rough around the edges, but that only added to Duggan’s wild-man aura. Strong showing for the secondary title holder, which was in fact an important thing in 1982.
Chavo Guerrero vs. The Grappler. – TV Time Limit Draw in 4:03. Chavo was introduced to Mid-South viewers back on episode #162 in October, when they showed clips of a match with Kengo Kimura from New Japan in 1980. Chavo did an awesome delayed Headscissor takeover early and tied Grappler up with the Bow and Arrow, which Watts called “a Bow type move.” Grappler used an illegal punch to take control and landed an Atomic Drop for a near-fall. Chavo fought from underneath and came back with a Monkey Flip. Chavo landed a big Springboard Splash off the second rope for a Two count. Grappler loaded up his orthopedic boot, but Chavo avoided it and performed a picture-perfect Tope Suicida through the ropes! The crowd lost their minds, as did Watts, who put Chavo over huge. Chavo went after the Grappler’s loaded boot and tried to take it off, however the TV Time limit expired and the show went off the air. – Chavo’s lucha style seemed light-years ahead of everybody else on the show and he looked like a real star. Len Denton, who was also awesome, made him look really great here. It’s a shame that the match was so short, because these two worked really well together. The bad news is that the Grappler will be on his way out of Mid-South as we head into 1983, however with talent like Guerrero coming in the quality of in-ring work shouldn’t drop too much.
Another excellent episode of Mid-South TV after the big JYD 90 day suspension angle. The follow up has been great, as the story is now about DiBiase and the Rat Pack trying to reveal the identity of Stagger Lee in the 90 day time limit. DiBiase is evolving into a complete performer and is gaining a bigger presence with each passing week. Duggan is being kept strong as the unpredictable brawler, while Borne is getting the rub from hanging around with his tag team championship partner, DiBiase. The JYD/Stagger Lee deal is classic pro-rasslin’ and it’s so refreshing to see a top babyface outsmart a group of heels. There wasn’t much in terms of action to get excited about, although Chavo Guerrero’s debut was fantastic and is well worth a look if you can find it.