Where we left off: Part two (Memphis, AWA, Pro Wrestling USA….)
Here and There
While on tour in Australia Jay Youngblood suffered a spleen injury in the middle of working a match. He went to the hospital complaining about having severe abdominal pains, and was diagnosed with pancreatitis. The surgery to remove his spleen seemed to go fine, but then Youngblood started suffering acute renal failure, abdominal sepsis and other issues. He wound up in a coma that lasted two weeks before his body gave out. Youngblood suffered a heart attack and passed away. He had been lacking in his conditioning over the past few months prior to his death as his drinking got out of hand and his weight shot way up. The doctors credited the alcohol binges with worsening his chances for survival.
Don Owens brought in NWA champ Ric Flair, Bruiser Brody, Sgt. Slaughter and AWA World tag champions the Road Warriors, among other NWA talent for a series of shows. Portland drew 8,000 fans to see Flair defend against Magnum T.A.. The card also saw the Road Warriors fight Slaughter and Billy Jack Haynes, Brody went to a draw with Jesse Barr, and Ivan Koloff and Krusher Kruschev downed Mike Miller and Karl Steiner.
Seattle drew just under 5,000 fans to witness Flair defend against Billy Jack Haynes. Other action saw Slaughter down Karl Steiner, the Warriors pound Koloff and Kruschev, Barr and Brody fought to a draw again and Magnum pinned Moondog Moretti.
The crew then traveled 500 miles for a show in Boise, Idaho where the Warriors were DQ’d against Sandy and Jesse Barr, Billy Jack Haynes bested Rip Oliver, and Brody and Bobby Jaggers fought to a draw. NWA champ Ric Flair was listed to wrestle, but if the match took place it has so far been lost to history. 3,000 fans took in this event.
Satoru Sayama (Tiger Mask) and Akira Maeda were both key talent and leaders for Japan’s UWF, shoot-style promotion. However, Maeda wanted the promotion to move to a more submission based work style, while Sayama pushed for more kicks to be utilized. This disagreement in ideology, among other issues were serious enough that Maeda shot on Sayama during a match on September 2nd, kicking the former Tiger Mask in the groin several times. Sayama was furious afterwards, quitting not just the promotion, but pro wrestling all together. Maeda lost his top drawing opponent with Sayama’s departure, and the UWF fell apart. This led to Maeda and others heading back to New Japan a few months down the line. This is one story that could easily be a much more long form article.
EMLL’s 52nd anniversary show was forced to be canceled after an 8.0 earthquake hit Mexico City on September 19th. The card was to be main evented by a “Mask vs. Mask” match between Supreme and El Dorado. That stipulation match would never actually take place .
On September 6th, Antonio Inoki suffered his first “clean” pinfall loss since 1978 as he fell to the Giant Machine after the referee “screwed” Inoki over and sided with his monster heel opponent.
Dick the Bruiser, clearly not a master of trademark laws, ran a wrestling show at the Pontiac Silverdome on September 14th which was advertised as “Wrestlemania”. I failed to properly save the advertisement, which popped up on Twitter a few years ago on one of the many wrestling history feeds. From what I recall, this wrestling show was put on as part of a car show or something similar. If anyone has access to the ad I would love to see it again!
Ric Flair came to the Continental area to defend his NWA World title against Tommy Rich and Brad Armstrong.
Dick Slater stopped in Continental in between his JCP and Mid-South runs. He came in as a babyface, teaming with the Armstrong family, but then turned on “Bullet” Bob. Slater reportedly quit JCP after being upset over having to put over Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey with Buzz Sawyer as his partner. Slater would become Bill Watts’ booker. Buzz Sawyer would follow him there a few weeks after this.
Flair traveled to Puerto Rico to accept the challenge of Hercules Ayala in front of 22,000 fans at Bithorn Stadium. The show also saw the Fabulous Ones double cross the Road Warriors. The Warriors were scheduled to go over in an AWA World tag title match, but Steve Keirn was sick of the Warriors’ no selling and stiff work from their AWA feud, so he told Stan Lane that they were going to have the Sheepherders distract them for a count-out finish instead. Hawk was so enraged that he tried to break into Keirn’s hotel room later that night. Other action included Carlos Colon fighting Abby the Butcher to a draw, Jimmy Valiant besting Kamala via DQ, Sweet Brown Sugar (aka Skip Young) pinning Dory Funk Jr., and the Invaders surviving a barbed wire match with the Sheepherders.
With Mike Von Erich on the shelf after suffering from the after effects of toxic shock syndrome, Kerry and Kevin Von Erich had Brian Adias join them to wrest the WCCW six-man titles from Jack Victory, the One Man Gang and Mark Lewin in front of 8,000 fans in the main event of “Labor Day Star Wars.” Other action that night saw Kevin Von Erich best Chris Adams to keep the never ever ever ever ending Dynamic Duo vs. Von Erichs feud alive, Gino Hernandez downed Adias for the Texas title, and Bruiser Brody bested the Gang by DQ.
The Von Erichs/Dynamic Duo feud continued throughout the month, with the American tag titles being held up after one controversial match. To show how long this feud has gone, the main event of October’s Cotton Bowl show was booked to be the Von Erichs vs. Chris Adams and Gino Hernandez for the second straight year, with some variance in who was teaming with who. There is epic, long term storytelling, and then there is stagnation on top of your roster.
Antonio Inoki, badly needing talent, willingly gave Fritz Von Erich $25,000 for the rights to use Kerry and Kevin for a tour.
Jake Roberts turned babyface during a TV match where he and the Nightmare faced off one on one. Roberts successfully unmasked the Nightmare, revealing Randy Colley under the hood. This drew out Lord Humongous. John Nord (the Barbarian) then ran to the ring to save Roberts, who had been his partner for several months. Nord suddenly joined the other heels in mauling Roberts. Colley would keep the mask off and spend the next several months in tag teams with Humongous and Eddie Gilbert.
Oliver Humperdink sent his monsters, the One Man Gang and Kareem Muhammad after the new Mid-South tag champs Al Perez and Wendell Cooley. The heels ended up instead coming to blows, much to Humperdink’s dismay.
Kamala was asked to do a series of jobs to “Hacksaw” Duggan in “Loser leaves town” matches, but chose to quit the territory instead.
The WWF and Mid-South fought for the Tulsa fan’s money on back to back nights. 1,200 fans came for the WWF’s show, headlined by Mid-South favorite JYD beating Terry Funk by DQ. Ricky Steamboat sought revenge against Don Muraco in another feature bout, and southern legend and recent Mid-South star Mr. Wrestling II tangled with Randy Savage. The following night 7,200 fans came to Bill Watts’ show to see Jake the Snake fight John Nord, Butch Reed down the Nightmare, Kerry and Kevin Von Erich clash with Chris Adams and Gino Hernandez, Lord Humongous coming up short against Dick Murdoch, and a main event of Duggan, Watts (as the Masked Rider), Al Perez and Wendell Cooley defeating El Cosario (Savio Vega), Kareem Muhammad, Bob Sweetan and Dr. Death.
Florida ran it’s most significant event since the death of Eddie Graham as they put on a loaded show that was not only seen in Florida but was also syndicated in Boston, Charlotte and Dallas. The “Battle of the Belts” drew 7,600 fans to Tampa’s Sundome in the middle of horrid weather that killed the walk up business off.
The main event saw NWA champ Ric Flair tangle with his old foe Wahoo McDaniel. McDaniel fell short of victory after 43-minutes of action. The AWA champion RIck Martel was not able to make it in due to the weather, so he was replaced by Frankie Lane, who Nick Bockwinkel quickly dispatched. The AWA World tag champions, the Road Warriors, fought Harley Race and Stan Hansen to a double-DQ in a wild contest, rookie sensation Kendall Windham won the Florida title from Jack Hart, and Billy Jack Haynes lost to Rick Rude in the key bouts. My review of the event can be found here.
One night earlier in Orlando the Warriors were disqualified in a battle with Wahoo and Haynes.
JCP drew 2,000 fans mixing their talent with Continental’s for a show in Pensacola. NWA champ Ric Flair bested Dusty Rhodes by DQ, AWA World tag champions the Road Warriors slugged it out with the Koloffs, the NWA tag champions Rock and Roll Express tangled with Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey, Magnum TA took US champ Tully Blanchard to a draw, Tommy Rich saw his hand raised via a DQ win against Adrien Street, Steve and Brad Armstrong beat the National tag champions – Arn and Ole Anderson- by DQ, and Jimmy Valiant downed the Barbarian.
Blackjack Mulligan returned after taking several months off as he recovered from a broken leg. Before returning to Florida, he worked WWF shows in Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Maryland. I would love to know how he worked out such an arrangement at this stage of the wrestling war.
Kevin Sullivan and Bob Roop made life Hell for Kendall Windham, Wahoo McDaniel, Tyree Pride and Mike Graham as they attacked the men in separate incidents. Blackjack Mulligan stood by his son’s side, ready to fight against this menace.
Buddy Rose came to the area doing an angle where refused to work TV as he sought tougher competition.
Miami was a battleground city as the Florida office and the WWF both put on shows within a week of one another. JCP partnered with Championship Wrestling from Florida to draw over 5,800 fans to see NWA champ Ric Flair defend his gold against Billy Jack Haynes. Other matches saw Magnum TA take Tully Blanchard to a draw, the National tag champions Arn and Ole Anderson were disqualified against Dusty Rhodes and Wahoo McDaniel, and Southern champ Rick Rude wrestled to a draw against Mike Graham. Meanwhile the WWF drew 3,600 fans for a battle royal, along with Tito Santana defending the IC gold against Brutus Beefcake.
On September 29th, Ric Flair was defending his NWA World title in a cage match against Nikita Koloff. After the match concluded, Ivan Koloff and Krusher Kruschev got involved and Flair found himself being pounded on by multiple commies. Dusty Rhodes, who hated the USSR and respected Flair, came to the ring to aid the “Nature Boy”. As Rhodes cleared the cage, Ole and Arn Anderson entered the squared circle. The Andersons locked the door and suddenly attacked Rhodes! Flair joined in, ultimately delivering a knee drop to Rhodes’ ankle that “broke” it. Flair then locked on the figure-four as Magnum T.A., the Rock and Roll Express, Sam Houston and others came to Rhodes’ rescue. This angle laid the foundation for the “Four Horsemen”, turned Flair from tweener to full heel and gave the world Rhodes’ masterful “Hard Times” promo.
No one can accuse Flair of not being a hard worker. In September alone, between his travels across the country, Flair wound up working in at least 29 matches.
Jim Crockett had intended to try and run a solo show in the Meadowlands, but ultimately canceled JCP’s show that had been planned for the 27th. They ran the venue as partners with the AWA several more times over the next several months, but never ventured back solo for the remainder of the 80’s.
Terry Taylor came in from the Mid-South and was given a push. He captured the National title from Black Bart
Magnum T.A. and Tully Blanchard continued to spill one another’s blood in arenas across the territories. T.A. challenged for Flair’s world title on several evenings. He also partnered with Rhodes to fight the Andersons and Blanchard in standard tag matches, and six-man bouts.
The AWA World tag champion Road Warriors joined JCP for several battles with the Koloffs.
JCP drew over 10,000 fans to the Norfolk Scope to witness Magnum T.A. taking Ric Flair to a sixty-minute draw. Other action saw the NWA World tag champion Rock and Roll Express downed in a non-title cage match by the Koloffs, and Dusty Rhodes was DQ’d against U.S. champ Tully Blanchard.
JCP ran two shows at the Omni. The first one was headlined by Ric Flair facing Nikita Koloff in a “lumberjack” match, the finish of which necessitated a follow up cage match a few weeks later. Rhodes and T.A. bested the Andersons in the other pushed match. Jim Cornette saw some rare in-ring action as he partnered with Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey to upset Jimmy Valiant and the Sawyer brothers.
The second Omni show was headlined by the aforementioned Flair/Koloff cage encounter, which ended with the Rhodes injury angle. That show also saw Magnum and Blanchard fight to a draw as their feud waged on. The Rock and Roll Express bested the Koloffs by DQ, and Rhodes pinned (Konga) The Barbarian.
Thanks for reading! I’ll be back soon with more news, notes and results from October 1985~!
Feel free to follow me at https://twitter.com/Brody1982