Boyd Pierce was joined by Paul Boesch, who had made the trip over from Houston, this week. Boyd did his usual run-down of today’s action then told all the viewers about some big titles changes that had occurred recently. He announced that Mr Wrestling II was the new Mississippi Heavyweight Champion after defeating Mr Olympia on November 27th at the Jackson Coliseum in Jackson, Mississippi. Boyd saved the biggest announcement for last and revealed that Stagger Lee beat Ted DiBiase to become the new North American Heavyweight Champion at the Superdome in New Orleans on Thanksgiving night, November 25th. After the update Boyd gave Boesch a sterling introduction, noting that he was the promoter of the fourth largest city in the US and had been announcing professional wrestling on TV for over 34 years. Boesch joked that his headset wouldn’t fit over his cauliflower ears and that he never had to wear them in Houston, which he quipped was probably the reason he had been on TV for so long. “The Dean of wrestling commentators”, as Boyd called him, put over Mid-South for having the best wrestlers anywhere in the country and said he was proud of the relationship between Houston and Mid-South. After all the back-slapping, Boyd threw to a pre-tape of Boesch conducting an interview with the Louisiana Heavyweight Champion, Hacksaw Duggan.
The two were stood ringside in the empty Irish McNeil Boys Club and Boesch introduced “Duggan, with two Gs, and one belt.” Duggan said the Louisiana belt was a nice trophy to have, however he wanted a championship that properly represented his wrestling style and talked about Boesch being the first promoter to introduce the Brass Knuckles Championship. Duggan said he was sick of seeing Bill Watts still listed as the Brass Knuckles champ in the programs at the arenas and Boesch stated that Watts had held the title until he retired from the ring. As a great champion and a tough guy, Duggan said Watts was his kind of guy and declared that he wanted Watts to come out of retirement to defend the title against him. Duggan tried to switch topics and talk about Tony Atlas, whom embarrassed Hacksaw the last time he was in the territory, however Boesch pulled the mic away and told Duggan he had used up all of his interview time. Back at the desk, Boesch said the Brass Knuckles title was invented to signify the toughest wrestler in the world and that Duggan certainly met that criteria. Boyd sent it up to the ring, where Duggan was waiting to compete in the opening match. – Duggan’s promo came across as pretty important. Challenging Bill Watts to come out of retirement still felt like a big deal at this time, as Watts had hung up his cowboy hat about a year earlier and had not wrestled since. They fudged the lineage of the Brass Knuckles title a little to fit the storyline. The NWA Brass Knuckles Championship was indeed first introduced in Houston in 1953, with Wild Bull Curry being the first champion, however the Brass Knuckles title Bill Watts held on three occasions was the NWA Tri-State version of the championship, introduced in 1970 with Watts himself being the inaugural champion. The traditional NWA Brass Knuckles title was still very much active in 1982 and the current champion as of the date of this show was Bugsy McGraw. The Tri-State version of the title was retired early in 1982 when Watts acquired Oklahoma from Leroy McGuirk, however Watts wasn’t even the final title-holder; that honour fell to Don Fargo. Still, they can be forgiven for using alternative facts under the circumstances.
Non-Title: “Hacksaw” Duggan (Louisiana Heavyweight Champion) vs. Lester Parks. – Duggan over in 1:48. Total squash for Duggan, who gave his jobber absolutely nothing in return, and he won with his spearing Headbutt. Paul Boesch was great on commentary and made for a nice change of pace from the super serious style of Watts or any of the other guest commentators that come in from time to time. Boesch’s best line was claiming Duggan was trying to teach himself how to count by stomping his foot on the mat three times.
Non-Title: Mr Wrestling II (Mississippi Heavyweight Champion) vs. Mike Bond. – Wrestling II over in 4:18. Boesch talked about Two’s masks being “desecrated” by the anonymous vandal and said it was some kind of psychological warfare. Two out-wrestled Bond with an unbelievably long and boring front chancery; Bond hit a Suplex, but Two managed to hold on to the headlock. Total headlock time was 2:30. Two won with a Suplex and his patented Knee Lift. – This was indescribably boring. Two is usually pretty fun to watch when he had an opponent that could help carry the load and he was always effective in a babyface tag team. Maybe he just didn’t feel like doing much on this particular day and wanted to have the most basic match imaginable.
At the desk, Boyd threw to Boesch interviewing Ted DiBiase & Matt Borne. Once again, Boesch was at ringside in the empty Boys Club with his guests. DiBiase cut a great promo about being robbed of the North American title. He talked about unmasking Stagger Lee at the Superdome and everybody, including the press at ringside, saw that it was JYD. DiBiase said he couldn’t find one photographer willing to provide him with a picture of JYD as Stagger Lee and ranted about Grizzly Smith conveniently “not seeing” the match. Teddy also buried Boyd Pierce for being at ringside and turning his back on the truth. DiBiase said he went back a long way with “Mr Boesch” and talked about his dad wrestling in Houston for him. DiBiase politely asked “Mr Boesch” for a rematch with Stagger Lee in Houston, because he knew Boesch would make sure it would be a fair contest. Boesch ended the segment by declaring, “We’ll see what we can do.”
Back at the desk and Boyd Pierce explained what happened at the Superdome in his own words. Boyd claimed all the people knew he was a straight shooter and said he turned his back on the ring to talk to a policeman right when the unmasking started. He added that he didn’t have time to be a “star witness” for Ted DiBiase and all he saw when he turned around was Stagger Lee pinning DiBiase to win the title. Boesch appeared to be trying his best not to crack up while Boyd was spinning his story and he gave an amazing look to the camera signifying he knew Boyd was full of it. – The Stagger Lee angle may be a little wacky, but it is so much fun to watch develop. DiBiase’s promo was so good due to the elements of truth it contained, however it is easy not to feel sorry for the heels since they started this whole thing with the gorilla suit angle which led to JYD leaving for 90 days. The excuses the babyface authority figures came up with every week to not acknowledge that it was in fact JYD are also a great source of comedy. It’s so refreshing to see the heels being made fools of every week on TV and not the other way around.
Non-Title: Stagger Lee (North American Heavyweight Champion) vs. Marty Lunde. – Stagger Lee over in 1:10. Don’t know why we needed to see this match two weeks in a row; perhaps JYD was impressed with what a great job Lunde did putting him over last week he asked to face him again. Stagger Lee totally dominated and got the win with two big Headbutts. – Strong showing from the new top singles champion.
Non-Title: Ted DiBiase & Matt Borne (Mid-South Tag Team Champions) vs. Tim Horner & Buddy Landel. – DiBiase & Borne over in 7:21. The young faces shone early; Landel took Borne over with some nice Armdrags and a Backdrop. DiBiase tried for a Sunset Flip, but Landel countered then sent DiBiase to the floor with a Dropkick. Horner came in and the heels made him look great by taking some big bumps for a series of Armdrags. The scrappy young faces stayed one step ahead of the heels, until DiBiase came off the second rope with an Axe-handle to the back of Landel and they worked him over for the heat. DiBiase landed a Backbreaker and a big Backdrop then Borne delivered a Vertical Suplex. DiBiase went for another backdrop, but Landel caught him with a kick and made the hot tag to Horner, who ran wild on both heels. Finish was virtually identical to last week, as DiBiase & Horner bonked heads for a double down and Borne came off the top with Bombs Away behind the referee’s back. Boyd made sure to point out that should have been a DQ and DiBiase put Horner in the Figure Four to get the submission. – This followed the same basic formula as the match last week with Mr Olympia & Mike Sharpe, but due to it featuring two athletic young babyfaces and not Mike Sharpe, this was a much better match. DiBiase & Borne sold like beasts and made their young opponents look like they belonged in there with the champs. They could have come up with another spot to set up the Bombs Away, as it was identical to what they did last week, but even so it was still the best match on the show.
“Mr USA” Tony Atlas vs. Tug Taylor. – Atlas over in 3:48. It’s been a while since we saw either of these guys on Mid-South TV. Atlas had been gone about a month or so and in that time he had a brief program over the AWA World title with Nick Bockwinkle in Southwest for Joe Blanchard. Atlas had spent most of 1982 working in the WWF with feuds against the likes of Killer Khan & Jesse Ventura, and believe it or not he was a part of that year’s MSG Series in New Japan – the forerunner to the modern day G1 Climax. There is very little documentation of what Fred Ottman was up to when he wasn’t doing sporadic TV jobs for Watts. It looks like he spent some time in World Class in 82, so presumably he traveled around the south gaining experience as enhancement talent. Match was pretty ugly. Atlas, who Boesch put over big and called him the strongest wrestler he’d ever seen, plodded around and showed off his strength. Both guys selling was pretty horrible. Finish saw Atlas hit a Press Slam, Headbutt and a big Splash for the win. – Atlas had been working for over seven years at this point and he still wasn’t really any good. His selling was abysmal and even his offense didn’t look particularly good. He also wasn’t as over with the fans compared to the last time he was in the territory.
“Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez vs. Tony Torres. – Hernandez over in 5:22. Gino made his Mid-South TV debut on the October 30th episode (#164), which is best remembered for the JYD & Mr Olympia vs. Ted DiBiase & Matt Borne tag team where Duggan ran in with the gorilla costume, and defeated Jesse Barr. Boesch put Gino over as a great wrestler, but also got over his heel demeanor by explaining that he used many tactics he didn’t agree with. Gino kept going after the leg and worked a Kneebar; Boesch said he had already used more holds than he ever did in Houston and explained the fans irritated Gino to the point where he used dirty tricks. Much like the Mr Wrestling II headlock earlier, the leg work from Gino seemed to last an eternity. Eventually, Gino got the win with a Suplex and his goofy-looking reverse Elbow-drop off the second rope. – Decent showing for Hernandez, although with a better opponent he could have looked a lot stronger. Perhaps Boesch got in his ear and told him that Watts liked the shooter/athlete types and Gino decided he was going to work a Kneebar for as long as possible.
Chavo Guerrero & Mr Olympia vs. Rick & John Davidson. – Chavo & Olympia over in 4:24. The big heel brothers jumped the faces at the bell, but the good guys quickly turned the tables and hit a pair of Dropkicks to send the Davidsons packing. Olympia & Chavo got some shine spots in and controlled the match by working over Rick’s arm and with some quick tags. With about a minute to go, Boyd Pierce jumped in and said they were running out of time and he hyped two big matches for next week, with Tony Atlas challenging Hacksaw Duggan for the Louisiana title, plus Stagger Lee & Mr Wrestling II vs. Ted DiBiase & Matt Borne. Just as it looked like we were heading for a TV time-limit draw, Olympia gave Chavo a Slingshot from the apron and Chavo pinned John with a flying Crossbody. Boyd thanked Boesch for his services on commentary and signed off for another week. – Chavo & Olympia both looked really good here and the pinfall coming just seconds before the show went off the air was a nice touch, as most of the matches at the end of the shows usually don’t have a finish.
Not the best episode of Mid-South in terms of in-ring action. The best match on the show was (once again) the Rat Pack tag match, with Chavo & Olympia’s performances being a close second. Rest of the action was pretty dull. It was however, an important show in terms of storyline development, since it was the first show taped after the Thanksgiving Superdome and we were informed of what went down in the big Stagger Lee/DiBiase match. Not only did Stagger Lee beat DiBiase for the North American title, but he was in fact unmasked in the process and revealed to be the Junkyard Dog. The bad news for the Rat Pack is that all of the babyface authority figures (Watts, Grizzly, Charley Lay, even good ol’ Boyd Pierce) were coincidentally preoccupied during the crucial moment and missed the unmasking. Amazing. Speaking of the Rat Pack, the promos from Duggan – challenging Bill Watts to come out of retirement – and DiBiase – ranting about the Stagger Lee deal – also deserve a mention because they were delivered so well and felt genuinely important.