A Wrestling Year – 19.03.1986-25.03.1986 (Part 1)

We are now very much in the world of two Mid-South episodes every week – one now rebranded as UWF and the Power Pro Wrestling show as well. This is the first week in which the UWF name was used, and this meant that the card for TV was relatively stacked with two title matches – one booked in advance, one that came about due to an on-show angle. With that said, let’s head straight into action.
UWF TV 22.03.1986

With the big shill for the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tournament still very much underway, the first ten minutes of the show recaps the revealing of the seedings that we saw on NWA television the previous week. The Sheepherders are seeeded ninth and Ted Dibiase/Steve Williams are seeded tenth, coincidentally the two teams who will meet for the Mid-South Tag Team Titles later in the show.

We then have a big angle to set up an impromptu North American Heavyweight Title contest, as Dick Slater replaces the TV title medal with an actual title, one that he passes on to Buzz Sawyer. This belief in Sawyer comes back to haunt Slater, as he signs a blank contract in the ring with Bill Watts, who fills in the gaps with the North American Heavyweight Title and the name of Jim Duggan. Slater is apoplectic with rage, but is removed to allow for the title match between Duggan and Sawyer to take place, a match for Slater’s title.

The match is pretty close to a squash, similar to their initial conflict on TV earlier in the year. Duggan has a taped waist, but this doesn’t really come into play at all. Sawyer is slammed around the ring and a kneedrop gets Duggan two. Sawyer is able to avoid the spear and ram Duggan into the guard rail at ringside, but his fightback is cut off with a shot to the gut. Sawyer is able to head to the top to attempt his flying splash, but misses it and gets knocked down with a spear for Duggan to get the three count and win the title. This angle is just a bit of a convoluted mess, but it does get Duggan a chance to have the North American Heavyweight Title before it is retired and a tournament is set up for the new UWF Heavyweight Title.

The other title match is one that has been in the offing for a while, as Ted Dibiase and Steve Williams come down to ‘Born in the USA’ as they prepare to defend their titles against The Sheepherders. Jack Victory is in their corner and acknowledged by the commentators, before they salute the flag to much furore from the fans. The opening exchanges are just brawls, with Williams and Dibiase coming out on top, even though it takes a Williams’ rake to the eye to slow down Miller. After the advert, Williams misses an elbowdrop, but he is never booked to be down for long, and is able to fight out and tag in Dibiase. All four men end up in the ring, and Victory gets knocked off the apron. In the confusion surrounding his attempted interference, Dibiase gets hit in the throat with the flag pole and The Sheepherders win the gold! A real surprise to have the heels go over on your big rebranding show, but really does hammer home the fact that anything can happen in the UWF.

Dibiase and Williams lose

I thought this would be the end match, but they find an opportunity to squeeze two more matches into the show. The first one is your generic squash match with Koko B Ware against Mike Scott, the main highlight being a stiff clothesline and the second rope dropkick by Ware to get the three count, and an odd running over of Scott that Ware does after getting the victory. The second match is strange as it involves Chavo Guerrero and Taras Bulba. Bulba manages to hit a backbody drop, but Guerrero picks up the victory after a leapfrog, dropkick and northern lights suplex. Having a guy you were building up as a bit of a monster lose in less than two minutes is a bit of an odd booking choice, but I guess it ends the overdone concept of the ‘undefeated heel’ gimmick.

Chavo Guerrero

PPW 22.03.1986

For those who missed the flagship UWF show, the PPW show starts with footage of both title changes, before a promotional video for the Fantastics has them shirtless and hitchiking to get downtown to all the pretty girls. I’m getting tired of the Fantastics in Memphis, so some higher profile matches in UWF might do more for me. As further promotion for the team, we see a match between The Fantastics and the team of Tom Pritchard and Pat Rose. Poor Pat Rose – he must be sick of going up against the Fantastics. Pritchard is able to match holds and throws with both Fantastics, but Rose is the weaker link by far, the arm work that is the norm for the Fantastics occurring to him. Pritchard is able to wrest control from the faces, but a missed charge in the corner by Rose allows Fulton to get tagged in. The obligatory heel collision spot is followed by an odd dropkick/back suplex combo for the three count.

The shill is still on for the Jim Crockett Memorial Sr. Tournament as we get an older match between The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts) against The Rock and Roll Express. Roberts is stooging early on, getting sent into the turnbuckle on a hammerlock reversal after spending time complaining about Gibson pulling his hair. There is an awkward drop toe hold on Roberts, but the Express save it by hitting a flipping wishbone before punching Hayes off of the apron. It is Hayes who gets the heels moving offensively, slipping out of a lock and slamming Morton’s face hard into the mat. The ring is cut off by the Freebirds, and it takes a blocked bulldog by Morton to get the hot tag to Gibson. With all four men in the ring, Hayes gets his team DQ’d by launching Gibson over the top rope mid-roll-up on Roberts. A decent showcase for the Rock and Roll Express for the fans watching at home.

It seems like we are seeing a lot of action with stars who are currently working elsewhere, as Buddy Landell takes on Johnny Mantell. The match is very even throughout, with both men trading reversals early on before Mantell gets a two count with a backslide. Drop toe holds keep Landell grounded, and it takes an eye rake for Landell to try and get a foothold in the match, only for him miss a subsequent elbow drop. A pin following a high knee by Mantell sees the ref take a small bump, but that is enough time for Landell to use a foreign object to win an evenly contested match. Admittedly, Memphis probably have more invested in Landell succeeding, but he is a much more interesting character there than I have ever seen him in Mid-South.

Buzz Sawyer also gets more ring time this week as he goes up against Don Turner. Sawyer talks about slapping Hulk Hogan and Junkyard Dog, before challenging Jim Duggan pre-match. He doesn’t seem to take Turner very seriously, and keeps offering him the chain to get locked up. When the match officially starts, Turner is blown away by Sawyer. A big dropkick and a powerslam combination leads to a Sawyer victory in short order.

The final match of the evening is one where we join Dick Murdoch versus Steve Williams in a cage match in progress. The referee is Killer Karl Kox to add a further aspect to the conflict. A lot of the footage we are shown focuses on Murdoch in stooging mode, as he begs off from Williams, and tries to escape the cage after landing a back body drop, only for his tights to get pulled down! Something I never wanted to see, Dick Murdoch’s pasty white ass. Murdoch begs off of a fired up Williams, but uses the naivety of his opponent to sucker him in for an eye rake. A Murdoch dropkick is a surprising wrinkle to his offense, and he pulls out an object to attack Williams with. Karl Kox isn’t going to let it stand though, and blocks the attempted swing, leaving Murdoch vulnerable to a Williams powerslam for the win.

The show finishes with promos from both the Sheepherders and the team of Steve Williams and Ted Dibiase. The Sheepherders are unsurprisingly happy, whilst the team from the US are targeting the opportunity to get their tag team titles back.

Big changes with the rebranding and two new champions. As mentioned earlier, we will be soon to see a UWF Title replace the North American Heavyweight Title, as well as some big names enter the promotion as Watts would try to compete with the WWF juggernaut. I look forward to seeing what takes place over the next few weeks as Watts continues to try and build the Universal brand.

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