The Best of Memphis Wrestling ’86: Volume 2

Bill Dundee rules the roost as Memphis’ top dog with Jerry Lawler vanquished. Who will step up to stop the menace?

From Amazon Prime streaming.

I had a blast watching Volume one, so I had to come back to this.  I will keep reviewing these as long as they tickle my fancy. The Coliseum Home Video reviews will still be churned out as well.

February 1st 1986:

Lance Russell and Dave Brown excitedly tell us about today’s line up.

Tony Falk comes out. Russell trolls him by showing his record is zero wins and 37 losses. This angle/match was actually shown in full in volume one, so we’ll move along.

We get local promos from Bill Dundee and Dutch Mantel on their upcoming bouts in the area.

Russell introduces clips of Koko Ware and Rick Casey (Wendell Cooley) facing Rip Morgan and Jonathan Boyd.  Things break down in a hurry as Dundee, Buddy Landel, Mantel and Dirty Rhodes run in. The heels bloody the faces up until the Fantastics race down to help even the odds. Phil Hickerson, Frank Morrell and Billy Travis get in to finish clearing the ring. A fun brawl, but it was hard to overlook all the empty seats in the Mid-South Coliseum.

Rick Casey and Dirty Rhodes vs. The Invaders

Casey is a short, but well put together youngster. He would go on to slightly greater fame as Wendell Cooley, an Apter magazine favorite for a while in ’87/’88. Dirty is doing a Dusty Rhodes cosplay, right down to the curly hair and blade job. The Invaders are jabronis. The faces take turns beating on the jobbers before Casey hits a bulldog for the win at 2:29.

In another clip rerun from volume one, Russell and Brown show a clip from the lawyers from outside a Memphis courtroom regarding Bill Dundee trying to stop a VHS distributor from selling Jerry Lawler tapes since Dundee beat Lawler in a “Loser Leaves Town” match recently.

Russell shows us clips of Dundee vs. Koko Ware. Phil Hickerson runs interference, knocking Dundee off the ropes. Ware earned an NWA title match via the win. We then see Dundee interfering in that very title match. Ware attacks Dundee at the next TV over his interference. We then see Koko (dressed as Santa) being attacked at the studios by Dundee and a bag of coins.

Koko Ware vs. The Patriot

Oh man! This is actually a famous squash as Koko murders this fellow. Ware hits a stiff clothesline and a number of stiff looking punches and kicks. A brain buster wins this thing in just over a minute.  Speculation was/is that Ware had off screen issues with this guy, but it would seem he was just selling his rage over Dundee’s recent actions.  Patriot wore a red mask, which was the same as the Invaders. They probably could have coordinated that better.

A clip of Buddy Landell beating Ware due to Dundee’s interference in a recent title match sends us to the commercial break.

A Bill Dundee music video airs. Not only as he the top heel, but I believe he was also booking, so the mega push is on.

Tracy Smothers and Billy Travis vs. Buddy Landel and Dutch Mantel

Travis was a “Rookie of the Year” for Memphis in 1985 and Smothers is also a young stud.  Landel gets out worked by each man, complaining about phantom pulls of his tights and such to explain his vulnerable moments.

Dutch and Landel try quick tags to gain an advantage, but Travis fights from underneath. Landel gives him a cheap shot and that earns Dutch the win in just under 4 minutes of round one. This is apparently “Best of 3 falls” for reasons that are not offered up. Sounds like a RAW from today.

Casey and Rhodes cut a localized promo on Mantel and Dundee. Casey looks like Bart Gunn in his full cowboy gear.

Austin Idol cuts a promo on Bill Dundee. Idol is coming back to the area to avenge Lawler. It’s a brief, but intense promo and a welcome dose of babyface star power.

Back to the match… Travis continues to frustrate the heels with his fighting spirit, but the heels keep up the pressure. Smothers is tagged in. Smothers out wrestles Landel, but the heels are willing to yank hair and double up on Smothers in order to take command. Landel traps him in a modified STF a full six years before WCW made the move “famous”.

Mantel misses a dropkick, which allows Travis to tag in. Travis tries to be a house of fire, but misses a dive and hurts his leg. The heels pounce on him. Travis survives being beaten on for several minutes before Smothers finally makes the tag. A four-way brawl breaks out. Landel locks Smothers in a figure-four with only seconds left of TV time and earns the win. Good effort by everyone for an underdogs vs. top heels match.

February 8th, 1986

Lionel Green vs. “Nature Boy” Buddy Landel

Green looks good, with pampered hair and a good body. Landel smacks Green around with ease. A slam attempt looks scary, but Landel is able to execute the move safely, if not textbook like. Dundee gets in a cheap shot just because he’s a prick. Landel hits his trademark twisting elbow and locks on the figure-four for the easy win in 1:45.

Landel cuts a promo as the fans catcall him. Landel is very winded and Russell has to help him get on track as they plug a “Win a Date with Buddy Landel” contest. Landel was rambling on about wheelbarrows full of letters, then insulted Dirty Rhodes before Russell cleared things up about the point of this promo. Rhodes comes out, so Landel runs away.

Localized promo with Dundee and Mantel.  They crap on the Fantastics as well as Casey and Rhodes.

Bobby Fuqua (?) vs. Abdul Gaddafi

Gaddafi is from Libya of course. He is jingoistic heel gimmick number 3342 as he is bearded and wearing camo. Gaddafi works a fast pace, just mauling this schmoe with punches, forearms and chokes. He wins with a belly to belly in short order. Gaddafi fit the look, and should have gotten decent heat with the gimmick. I look forward to seeing more of him.

We see the debut promo of the MOD Squad. We saw this in Volume one. JD Costello does a Jim Cornette gimmick of a spoiled rich kid, who has been a lifelong slacker. He hired two disgraced New Orleans police men as his wrestlers.

Russell promotes “The Thunderdome” match. It sounds like it’s just a renamed bunkhouse battle royal, with the winners being tallied across the territory and the top two workers with the most wins then facing off.

The Fantastics vs. The Undertakers match from volume one airs next. The sight of these two cloaked Lords of Darkness just chilling in the ring amuses me more than it should.

The Fantastics cut a promo. They have a “Win a date with the Fantastics” promotion going on as well. Dundee comes in and talks shit, leading to a brawl. Gaddafi and Dundee get the best of the pretty boys before Fulton runs them off. Fulton is FIRED UP and cuts a promo on those damn heels.

Tracy Smothers and Dirty Rhodes vs. Dutch Mantel and Bill Dundee

Mantel and Rhodes kick things off and something goes wrong with the ring. Russell tries to explain how the ring is constructed and why the ropes are suddenly hanging loose. Dundee uses Mantel’s bullwhip to help his team earn a quick advantage. Smothers is then sent to the floor and battered with a chair. A blow into the ringpost downs Smothers. Dundee slams him on the cement for good measure.  I was thinking they were going to do an injury angle, with Casey then stepping in for Smothers, but it was not so.

The heels take turns battering the now wounded Smothers. Rhodes tries to save his partner, but the ref keeps him out. Dundee dumps Smothers over the top rope and is thus DQ’d after six minutes. The heels beat the faces down after as Rhodes is bloodied up with the bull whip, meanwhile Smothers is PILEDRIVEN on the cement. In Memphis that should be a career ending spot. Dundee keeps attacking Smothers with a chair even after that.

After a commercial we see Smothers laying on chair, as Memphis has no stretchers or apparently any sort of local EMT crew. Rhodes and others try and carry off this tall man with a broken neck on a folding chair! Dundee waits until they pick it up and then he leaps on Smothers and knocks him to the floor. Rick Casey and Rhodes fight the heels off. Lance Russell is excited to move on as they haul off this poor kid to the morgue.

Larry “ThunderBolt” Hamilton vs. David Haskins

Hamilton cuts a little promo to establish his status as a face. Memphis is really weak on the face side without Lawler helping to give some of these geeks the rub. The ropes are still super loose, making this match look faker than it should as they do rope spots without actually being able to push on them.  Hamilton wins in short order.

Cagematch.net is all screwed up on Hamilton’s bio as this Hamilton is black, and a far more famous Larry “Missouri Mauler” Hamilton is white.  They have the two men’s gimmicks meshed together.

Frank Morrell brings out Billy Travis and explains that he is no longer “The Spoiler” as he wants to scuffle with the heels by gum! Pat Rose comes out looking like an overstuffed Pat Tanaka and another brawl breaks out.

Brown and Russell run down the action of the day. They downplay Smothers injury to a degree, which is surprising.

Final thoughts: Yikes! This roster meant Dundee almost had no choice but to over expose himself to carry the promotion. I like seeing a lot of different people being given exposure though.

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Written by Andrew Lutzke

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