With a long delay between posts due to NaNoWriMo, I felt that it was about time to at least offer up something wrestling-related to my dozens and dozens of fans (to shamelessly steal a line from Mick Foley). For a short while, it has been fun watching wrestling without reviewing it, but there is an itch that needs to be scratched – welcome back to Watts You Gonna’ Do, looking at Mid-South Wrestling during the 1980s. Following my look at the 1981 Year in Review show, I’ve watched the first three months of the shows and am now here to review and opine on my opinions on what I’ve always found to be one of the best territories that existed during the 1980s.
Unlike how I’d originally looked to set it up, I’m going to look at an overall view of things, rather than match by match. Realistically, that approach would just take too long. I’ll touch upon the big angles and matches during the time period, as well as comment on the fluctuations in talent as people come in and out of the territory.
Ernie Ladd and MSW have Akbar Issues
The biggest angle (at least until the end of March) had been the Wild Samoans’ aim to regain the tag team titles from the team of The Junkyard Dog and Mike George. Following an inevitable loss in a match against Andre the Giant, Dusty Rhodes and the aforementioned Dog on 1/14, Ladd is more outraged than ever, promising that the Samoans would regain their titles, and even bringing them out later in the show to defeat Jesse Barr and Frank Monte. It seemed like only a matter of time before the Samoans would get their rematch.
Only Ladd didn’t end up in their corner.
With his charge at the start of the year, The Iron Sheik, returning to help the Ayatollah Khomeini, Akbar was on the look out for names which he could guide to championships within Mid-South. From underneath Ladd’s nose, Akbar announced the contract of the Samoans had passed to him, including their shot at the title. Ladd was naturally confused and frustrated, but overstepped the mark in stepping up to Akbar. The Samoans jumped him, and when Ladd managed to fight them off, a new 400lb wrestler attacked him. With The Samoans holding Ladd against the mat, this newcomer jumped off of the top rope, splashing Ladd’s legs and ‘breaking’ them.
The Samoans continued to beat enhancement talent, along with The One Man Gang, the alias of their new stable mate. Following the attack on Ladd, the trio have also put Dick Murdoch on the shelf. Akbar’s allies definitely appear to be in the ascendancy in early 1982.
Friends Close, Enemies Closer
At the end of March, we saw the North American Heavyweight Title change hands, as Ted Dibiase lost the belt he had worked so hard to win in the first place. If you’d have suggested that Dibiase would lose the title before three months of the new year had passed, I’d have assumed Paul Orndorff would have won the championship belt – but all is fair in love and title belts, and it was Bob Roop who dethroned Dibiase, following some pretty nefarious antics outside of the ring to dispatch his best friend, Orndorff.
Following numerous attempts at the Louisiana and Mississippi Titles (held by JYD and Mr Olympia respectively), Orndorff and Roop were made number one contenders to Dibiase’s belt on the 3/11 show. By 3/18, it had been confirmed as Orndorff, only for Roop to come out and promise the people in attendance that Orndorff would definitely not make it. Even with these words, the booking committee had Roop fight (and lose) his match against Killer Karl Kox, but with no sign of Orndorff, Roop got the title shot.
Following a ref bump, the One Man Gang made his way down to the ringside and used his impressive bulk to crush Dibiase’s leg against the ringpost. A figure four by Roop saw the champion pass out, leaving the ref no choice but to call for the bell. However, before the show could end, an irate Orndorff came out and told Boyd Pierce about the car troubles he’d had. It turned out his car had been sabotaged, and it could only be one person: Bob Roop!
Orndorff proceeded to kick Roop’s ass all over the ring before the 3/25 match between Roop and Buddy Landell. You can only assume that this is only the start of the animosity between these two men.
- Dusty Rhodes had one match following the aforementioned 6-man tag team match, an easy victory over Ed Wiskowski. Indeed, after the showcasing of Wiskowski in the Year in Review show, he has done very little.
- Mr Olympia made his debut, and very quickly defeated Bob Orton Jr. for the Mississippi title. Orton Jr. has felt like a bit of weak link of the Orndorff/Roop/Orton Jr. alliance, jobbing on a number of different occasions.
- B. Brian Blair is one of the midcard wrestlers of note at this time – he is incredibly boring. I can only imagine that Vince McMahon signed him as a ‘fuck you’ to whoever had him at the time rather than any real excitement generated by him as a wrestler.
- Tully Blanchard has shown up, even being given a Mississippi Title shot against Mr Olympia. Buddy Landell has also arrived at the end of March, though I can’t take him seriously outside of the ‘Nature Boy’ gimmick – the guy is a heel all day long, rather than a bland babyface.
- Jim Ross debuted for Mid-South on the 3/18 show.
- Boyd Pierce has some truly hideous jackets. I’ll have to add some photos next time.
That is Watts going on in 1982 Mid-South. Join me next time as we look at the second quarter of the year, where Roop/Orndorff/Dibiase will continue to feud no doubt, whilst Akbar will look to consolidate his power, ably support by the Samoans and The One Man Gang.