Mid-South Wrestling: it’s fannnn-tastic! We dive into 1986 for a show from Tulsa, OK. The first thing I noticed on this show was how the lighting was much better; clearly some cues had been taken from WWF’s efforts in 1985. Our hosts are Bill Watts and Joel Watts and the latter is totally sucking up to his dad when he actually gets to talk. Bill plugs the Crockett Cup and the upcoming name change of the promotion in two weeks (which would be the Universal Wrestling Federation), while Joel tries to talk but keeps looking away. Good times, and our main event is Koko Ware vs Eddie Gilbert.
Footage is shown from February 28 in Houston of Dick Slater winning the North American title from Jake Roberts. This was necessary because Jake Roberts would be departing for the WWF immediately, and would even be on Wrestlemania 2 in early April. Slater won with a weak looking forearm off the ropes, but it doesn’t matter since Jake is leaving.
Slater is with his valet Dark Journey on a bridge. An interracial couple in 1986 was still apparently a big deal in the South. As per tradition for Mid-South promos shot outside, there is a ton of wind causing noise in the shot. The TV title at this point was still a medal, and Slater was stripped of that since he won the North American title. Like a rebel, Slater threw the medal in the Arkansas River, some 11+ years before Steve Austin would throw the IC title in the Merrimack River. Which was also cool because that runs near my house. Bill Watts promises a response, which was to make an actual belt.
Last week Jake Roberts faced Terry Taylor in a babyface matchup, and the Snake got a DDT on Taylor but his feet were under the ropes. Jake misses a kneelift and Taylor wins with an inside cradle. Man, they wasted no time jobbing Jake out.
Taylor took on Mike Scott, who is NOT the National League Cy Young winner from that year. He was way more interesting with the way he drove the ’86 Mets insane during the NLCS, but this Mike Scott lost to a forearm in less than two minutes.
The feature bout of Eddie Gilbert vs Koko Ware is next. Gilbert offers Ware a spot in Hot Stuff International, his burgeoning stable that would pick up more steam in 1986 but Koko tells him to shove it. The future Birdman lands right hands and hits his beautiful dropkick before getting a side headlock which Bill Watts puts over. It’s nice to hear commentary put over simple stuff like that. A side headlock would be effective in a fight, you know, though I prefer a good front chancery. Bill Watts also hates how Gilbert is supported by a woman even if it’s chauvinist. Gilbert gains control as I recall the one thing I don’t like about Gilbert is his offensive moveset. Never been impressed with it. A Koko comback is short circuited by a boot and a monkey flip out of the corner, a strange move for a heel. Gilbert misses a flying bodypress and Koko goes up for a 2nd rope missile dropkick for the win. Some guy named Toras Bulba is in to beat up Koko but that doesn’t last. Ware dropkicks a chair out of Gilbert’s hands. The more I see of Koko Ware in pre-WWF days, the more I am convinced that they didn’t utilize him to his potential. Mid-South could have pushed him even more since Watts liked to have a strong African-American babyface.
Bill Watts talks about the Sheepherders, who he hates because they are anti-American. Billy would totally fit in as a Fox News panelist in 2016, I reckon. Sheepherder Butch would like some new U.S. trash to beat, like Ted DiBiase and Dr. Death, the current tag champs.
The good Doc and DiBiase face Gustavo Mendoza of Cuba and John O’Reilly of Boston. Wonder how that team formed. DiBiase and Williams are babyfaces now, but Dr. Death is more featured and he gets the pin on Mendoza with the Oklahoma Stampede as the Sheepherders looked on. DiBiase comes in to powerslam O’Reilly to show the New Zealanders who’s boss, and the ‘Herders leave.
Eddie Gilbert interrupts the ring announcer to introduce his Russian charge Korchenko for the match with Ron Ellis. You may know him from such shows as Big Rig Bounty Hunters on History Channel. He wins easily and it would be later in 1986 that the famous angle happened with Bill Watts getting buried in the Soviet flag. Seriously, just watch this. Jim Ross absolutely loses his shit.
And now for the reason why this was uploaded to the Network: The Blade Runners, forerunners of Sting and Ultimate Warrior take on Steve Doll and Perry Jackson. The Runners really look like the Ascension does now except with a lot more steroids. Warrior is bloated to hell, while Sting is merely bulky. Watts blasts Gilbert for spending money to bring guys like this in, but isn’t that the name of the game? That’s why the Orioles and Dodgers were good for so long in the 1970s and 80s, because they spent on scouting. Warrior is really bad here, and Sting is less bad, but they win with a modified version of the Hart Foundation Hart Attack finisher.
My 1995 Royal Rumble hero Dick Murdoch teams up with the Masked Superstar to face Ricky Gibson and Tracy Smothers. The Superstar is best known as Demolition Ax, which Gibson is the brother of Robert Gibson. Watts promotes the 1986 Crockett Cup in New Orleans, which was pretty loaded and won by the Road Warriors. Smothers gets killed by a clothesline and does a fantastic sell leading to the pin. I loved him in the Full Blooded Italians in ECW a decade later.
Summary: I missed Jim Ross a bit here, but this is still just good wrestling television and I am rationing the remaining episodes because who knows if more will ever be added. Still a lot of star power in Mid-South and it’s a shame they would be gone less than two years later.