Mid-South Wrestlefest 1985!

Bill Watts leads his militia of American beef up against Gen. Akbar’s Army!

From Tulsa, Oklahomaat the local fairgrounds grandstand.

July 27, 1985. (Some sources say Labor Day, but evidence from the show based on who are the champions and who has yet to turn heel makes the July date make more sense.)

Al Perez vs. Mark Ragin

There is a decent sized crowd here, with a concert stage set up on one side of the fairgrounds. A little research tells me Jerry Reed played after the show. (Awesome!) I’m not sure what the origins of this tape are, but it is a raw feed with no commentary. It does have match chyrons to mark each bout.

These two youngsters work a real solid, mat based, grappling encounter. Both are babyfaces, but the crowd is behind Perez. The fans are sun baked, mulleted, wearing terrible neon 80’s colors and showing off their pure southern goodness as they scream “Com’n Al, Git’em!”

The crowd is invested in the clean mat work, counter based style, and Perez gets the first real pop of the night by delivering a hip toss at the end of a countering sequence. Perez scores the win at around the six-minute mark with a German suplex. Basic stuff, but I was entertained!

Wendell Cooley vs. One Man Gang

This match now has Jim Ross on commentary, but they don’t keep the crowd noise intact, sort of ruining the ambiance. JR’s commentary admits that they are airing the match over a year after it was taped as part of promoting the second Wrestlefest. Free entry with the purchase of a fair ticket?!?! I’m in!

Cooley is a young comer here, but Gang is a monster main eventer, so this is a glorified squash. OMG was in WCCW at this point anyway, so he was just in as a special attraction.

Cooley whiffs on an early dropkick as he tries to rock the big man. Gang mauls him at will, gives the youngster a brief moment of shine, then smashes him with a splash for the win.

JR’s commentary stops at this point.

Brickhouse Brown vs. The Barbarian (John Nord)

The crowd cheers for both men.  Nord is the heel but was becoming a tweener as he and Jake the Snake were looking for a piece of Dr. Death and Ted Dibiase. Nord is roided up, but athletic as hell. The size difference large enough that Brown scoring some early hip tosses looks choreographed as hell. The crowd is actually doing some dueling chants of “Weasel!” (For Nord’s “weasel snapper” catch phrase) “Go Brown Go!” and “Take Brown down!”

Nord grinds into Brown for most of the match with clubberin’ and a facelock before scoring the easy win. It’s fun to see what might have been with a talent like Nord.

JR announces over the P.A. that Kevin Von Erich and Dr. Death’s match was canceled, but the tape cuts off before we hear why. Neither man ended up on the card, so it’s a double no show.

The Fantastics vs. Eddie Gilbert & Jerry Gray

Gilbert was right in the middle of the main event picture at this point. He was running around with the Nightmare, and feuding with Dick Murdoch and others, so teaming with Gray feels like he’s slumming it a bit. Maybe this was a sub?

Gray has bleached hair, perhaps a poor man’s Tracy Smothers in his look. Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers come down with some goober wearing a bow tie and suit jacket, in what must have been some sort of fan contest.  They kiss a ton of women at ringside, somehow avoiding rare strains of STDs along the way.

The Fantastics start hot, delivering dropkicks aplenty. The crowd eats it all up. The faces strut in unison. Gilbert and Gray act outraged. Rogers finds an old woman at ringside to help lead the taunts towards the heels. This is all good house show fun. This kind of stuff is generally not seen on today’s TV in order to make sure we can get in some extra talking, and the owner’s kids can get their face time in. Bitter.

The Fantastics use armbars on the heels, simply trading off behind the refs back without tagging, and get a big reaction from the fans each time as they love seeing the heels getting bamboozled.

Fulton finally becomes the face in peril. Fulton teases some hope spots, with the shirtless hillbillies in cowboy hats rising from the crowd to roar as he tries a cradle. Gilbert uses rough house tactics to keep Fulton in trouble, with Gray adding chokes and headlocks.

Rogers makes the hot tag and scores a cradle win on Gray within 30 seconds. The crowd squeals their delight. This was perfectly acceptable wrasslin with the non-stop crowd heat adding a lot to the battle.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Ted DiBiase

Roberts gets a big reaction coming out. Dibiase is wearing his omnipresent black glove. Dibiase does a bit of stalling as the crowd gets on him. Roberts and Dibiase have a tit for tat to start, and when things go south for Dibiase, he takes to the floor for a respite. Jake lures him in the ring by sitting down and eventually laying down in the middle of the ring.

After trapping Dibiase in a headlock for a bit, Roberts gets sent to the floor and has his skull driven into a ringside table. Roberts is hung up in the ropes, leaving him as an open target for Dibiase’s fists. The Snake spends several more minutes at Dibiase’s mercy.

JR can be seen at ringside smoking a cigarette, taking in all the action. Jake the Snake finally rallies as the crowd goes wild. The ref is bumped and the fans fear the worst. Dibiase tries to load his glove, but Roberts downs him with the DDT and scores the pin! Real solid match between old pros.

Butch Reed vs. Dutch Mantell

Reed is back home after an aborted run in the AWA. Mantel gets heat just from pretending to hide something in his tights. This crowd is so fun! I want old women and hillbillies to be given free tickets to every RAW taping. The heel tactics give us several minutes of easy reactions as Mantel, Reed and the ref play to the crowd over Dutch’s hidden weapon.

Mantel neutralizes Reed’s power early by downing him, then using strikes and chokes to keep him on his back. Mantel uses hair and tight pulling to keep up the cheap heat for several minutes. Reed mounts a comeback, but the ref is bumped for the second straight match during the babyface comeback. Dutch uses his bullwhip handle to rattle Reed, but it proves not to be enough to score a tainted win. Reed roars back with fists and delivers a press slam for the win. Another fun little match.

NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes

The editing on this tape gets even more bizarre as this match has Japanese commentary on it thanks to being shown on the “World Pro Wrestling” show in Japan that was made up of the best of the NWA and AWA action.

Dusty controls the first several minutes with a hammerlock and an armbar. Not much action to speak of. Flair gets a flash knock down of Rhodes, but misses the follow up knee drop, giving Dusty the chance to lock him in a figure -four. Flair goes to the ropes to escape.

Dusty finds himself on the mat next, with Flair using the ropes for unnecessary leverage during an elbow lock to incite the crowd. Rhodes elbows his way back into control and traps the champ in a sleeper.

Rhodes sends Flair off the ropes and attempts a press slam type move, but he can’t really get Flair up. Flair downs Rhodes and locks on the figure-four. Dusty makes goofy faces and hand gestures as a prelude to turning the hold over and escaping. Flair goes to the top rope and shockingly gets slammed off. Rhodes sends him across the ring for his corner flip bump, but Flair can’t quite get himself over the ropes.

The ref is bumped for the third straight match. Bill Watts ran this show!? Rhodes gets a visual pin while the ref naps. Rhodes is almost given a piledriver but he backdrops Flair to the floor. Rhodes suplexes Flair for another visual pin as the ref comes in and DQ’s Dusty for tossing Flair over the top.

This was a let down. Totally paint by numbers, with the lame DQ finish to boot.

Bill Watts, Hacksaw Duggan, & Dick Murdoch vs Kareem Muhammed, Kamala, & Skandor Akbar

Murdoch and Hacksaw come to ringside via the greatest entrance of all time as they ride on the back of a monster truck with American flags waving on both sides of them as the “Halls of Montezuma” plays over the P.A.! The driver revs the engine as the hillbillies roar!

The Nightmare comes to ringside with the heels. Akbar claims he has an arm injury and wants the Nightmare to take his place. Watts calls him a “camel jockey” and orders Grizzly Smith to force Akbar to wrestle.

The faces kick all four of the heels asses for good measure as the crowd loses their gawd-damned minds! Another skirmish breaks out a minute later the faces clean up again. Then the bell finally rings!

We start with another six-way brawl in and out of the ring. Watts flat out tosses the ref out of the way as the faces win another brawl. A thunderous “USA!! USA!!” chant breaks out.

Dickie Murdoch and Muhammed start things off formally. Murdoch kicks his ass, takes out Kamala, then invites his partners in to team up on Muhammed and Kamala as each are smashed and tossed around the ring.

Murdoch smacks Kareem with a series of rights, the ref grabs his arm to stop him, so he pops Muhammed with a left which downs the big man! The crowd loved it and I popped.

Kamala and Muhammed finally use their fists and fatness to take down Murdoch. Murdoch ends up downed 3 on one in the heels corner. The crowd is roaring with “USA!! USA!! chants.  Duggan comes in several times to try and save Murdoch, but the ref cuts him off. Murdoch gets a tease of a comeback on Muhammed, so Kamala runs in and splashes him.

A six-way brawl breaks out. Bodies are flying everywhere. Hacksaw smacks Kamala with a flying tackle, allowing Watts to scoop him up for the “Oklahoma Stampede” powerslam for the win! Muhammed foolishly goes in the ring for more fighting and gets blasted to the floor. The faces then grab the Nightmare and give him a smack for good measure. A fun brawl!

Apparently, there was also a Wahoo McDaniel vs. the Masked Champion match, but it did not make this tape.

Final thoughts: I’ll be objective and give this whole show 5-billionity stars! Wrasslin’!!

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.