SMOKY MOUNTAIN WRESTLING TV
Broadcast Date: February 1st, 1992
Taped: October 30th, 1991; Greenville, SC
– Salutations. Blogger Garth Holmberg, formerly and briefly known as Dino Bravo apologist “Dino Bravo is A-OK” here (I dropped the gimmick due to a lack of sincerity) to bring you the weekly content of Smoky Mountain Wrestling. I’ll be covering the entire run of episodes televised between February ’92 and November ’95, and as many of the large events as I can come across. Sit back and enjoy, professional wrestling the way it used to be, and the way you like it.
– I’m not one for long-winded introductions, especially for a wrestling territory from the 1990’s, but I feel it’s necessary to touch base on their formation. SMW was founded by Jim Cornette, with funding from record producer Rick Rubin. He noticed the loyalty of the fanbase in Knoxville and its surrounding areas, even for WCW shows where half the roster would no-show, and though it would be a great place to build a promotion that went back to its roots and focused on wrestling, where you cheer the villain and love the babyface and fans were passionate for the sport. With the declining popularity of the WWF and WCW’s numerous failed attempts at being a money maker, there was some question as to why someone would want to try and establish a territory in an age where territories were no longer part of the business, but dammit, Cornette pushed through with his idea and began taping for TV in the Fall of 1991. SMW was introduced to the world with such little fanfare that it barely was a blip on the radar in Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter for most of 1992, but a loyal fanbase and quality storytelling helped build their reputation as a solid alternative to the mainstream companies.
– Taped from the Memorial Auditorium in Greenville, SC on October 30th, 1991. “Professional wrestling the way it used to be, and the way you like it.” Bob Caudle and “Dirty” Dutch Mantel welcome us to the first episode of SMW television. We’ll see in action, Tim Horner, Fantastics Bobby Fulton, Primetime Brian Lee, THE BLACK SCORPION (that screams rib by Jim Cornette). Bobby Fulton will face Ivan Koloff in tonight’s Main Event.
– Killer Kyle vs. “Rock & Roll” Robert Gibson:
Killer Kyle (former WCW enhancement talent Mark Kyle) comes out dressed as a gangster muscle with a violin case (implying he’s carrying a gun, obviously), with “Green Onions” by Booker T & The MGs as his entrance music. Within seconds, I get a vibe of “Big Bubba Rogers” from him, and I’ve literally watched 10-seconds. He’s also introduced from Hell’s Kitchen, NY. Gibson comes out to “Rock N’ Roll is King” by ELO. Lockup and Kyle shoves Gibson across the ring. Kyle with a side headlock and running shoulder block. Gibson avoids the second attempt and takes Kyle over with an arm drag while Dutch puts over Gibson’s credentials as a former Tag Team Champion. Gibson doesn’t budge Kyle with shoulder tackles, but does take him down with a hooking clothesline. Gibson meets the post on a failed charging shoulder tackle. Kyle works the arm. Kyle misses a charge to the corner, and Gibson with a sunset flip for the surprising three count at 3:17. Finish came out of nowhere. Nothing wrong with the action, just unexpected.
– Bobby & Jackie Fulton are standing by with comments for Ivan Koloff. Yes, the Fantastics are really the Fulton Brothers, but Fantastics sounds cooler. Bobby says they can take a licking and keep on ticking, so Koloff needs to prepare for the fight of his life.
– Commissioner Bob Armstrong is standing by with his plans in that role. He says they’re bringing wrestling back to the people the way it used to be, and affordable for families. It’ll be treated like a real sport. Fines will be heavy for those who violate the rules. There will be no throwing people over the top rope or putting your hands on the referee, among other rules that will surely be broken.
– “Primetime” Brian Lee vs. Barry Horowitz:
Always a pleasure to see recognizable enhancement talent like Mr. Horowitz. Brian Lee would, of course, go on to infamous fame as the fake Undertaker a few years later. He’s using “Everybody Wants You” by Billy Squire as his entrance music. They trade hammer-locks to start. Horowitz with an elbow. Crisscross and Lee takes him over with a hip toss, followed by an arm-drag into the arm-bar. Horowitz tries to counter with his own arm drag, but Lee hangs on. Horowitz with knees to the midsection and a diving clothesline. Horowitz with a swinging neck breaker and leg drop for a one count. Belly-to-belly suplex for another two count. He takes Lee out of the corner with a snap mare and follows with the floating neck snap. Lee comes back with a flurry of rights and lefts, but Horowitz thumbs the eye. Snap mare and rolling cradle for two. Whip to the ropes and Lee hangs back to avoid a dropkick. Lee nails him coming off the ropes with a clothesline and finishes with “The Cancelation” (overhead back breaker drop) at 4:39. Lee’s still a bit green, judging on his technique on several spots, otherwise, a decent showcase. If you’ll notice, I’m not giving star ratings to short matches. There’s no need for it.
– Notorious local heel, Ron Wright, sitting in a wheel chair, is here to say he’s in need of a hip and knee implant (I’m sure he means replacement?) to repair the damage from his wrestling career. He’s looking for top talent to manage to raise the money for his operations. He’ll take whoever signs with him to the top of Smoky Mountain Wrestling.
– “White Lightning” Tim Horner vs. “Golden Boy” Joe Cazana:
You have to love when even the enhancement talent get nicknames. If you want a good laugh, look up the audio “clip” of Cornette burying Horner about his time in SMW. Horner comes out to “The Thunder Rolls” by Garth Brooks, probably the only Country song I don’t hate. Lockup into the corner and Horner with a clean break, because he’s a clean-cut babyface. Horner with a side headlock. Crisscross, Horner puts the breaks on, and takes him over with the reapplied hold. Mantel pleads for sympathy for Ron Wright, but Bob Caudle isn’t too convinced if people will buy into what he’s selling. Whip to the corner, Horner with a leap frog, hip toss, and a dropkick. Arm drag into the arm-bar. Cazana grabs a headlock, but is quickly taken down and back at Horner’s mercy. Cazana with a cheap shot in the corner. Whip to the ropes and Cazana with a back drop. Cazana climbs the ropes, only to be slammed off. Whip is reversed, and Horner with the O’Conner Roll for three at 4:29. That’s as anti-climactic as a finish can be.
– Bob Caudle is standing by with Jim Cornette. He says he’s in a “nothing place” because he’s feeling charitable, but also because professional wrestling is back. Major corporations have turned wrestling into a side-show. It’s not about if you can fight, but if you can sell a doll at Toys R’ Us or willing to get juiced up on Steroids. He brings up his former relationship with the greatest tag team of all time, The Midnight Express. Coming up in a few weeks, Cornette is bringing a dynamic tag team to Smoky Mountain Wrestling.
– Paul Miller vs. The Black Scorpion:
What is this, enhancement talent vs. enhancement talent? The Black Scorpion gets the big entrance (as big as you can get in SMW), so that should set up his victory. This has got to be a rib on WCW. There’s no other possible explanation for a masked wrestler with that name. According to unreliable sources, the Scorpion is Jeff Farmer, better known as nWo’s Sting. I’m still convinced it’s Carl Stiles, who will be seen in the coming weeks, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The Scorpion pounds away with rights. Whip to the ropes and Miller comes back with a dropkick. Diving body press, but no count on the cover. Scorpion hangs back to avoid a dropkick. Whip and the Scorpion with a Power-Slam, followed by a gut-wrench suplex. Whip and Scorpion with a clothesline, complete with spinning over-sell from Miller. Scorpion with a slam and leg drop. The Scorpion easily wins a slugfest. Whip to the corner, Scorpion counters a monkey flip with an inverted atomic drop. He lays Miller out with a running clothesline. He showboats between slams. On the third, Miller cradles him for three at 3:15. To be fair, Caudle said earlier in the show “underdogs could win”, and hey, there we go. Miller pinned the Black Scorpion! Hopefully this is the last we see of this particular masked man.
– Bob Caudle is standing by with “Primetime” Brian Lee. He’s so happy to be here and says there’s going to be a Heavyweight Tournament that he plans to win the gold. Dutch Mantel interrupts, saying Lee made a few mistakes in his match, and brags about how he wouldn’t have allowed his opponent to take advantage of those mistakes. Lee says Mantel would’ve lost the match. He may be a good wrestler, but he’s not ready for “Primetime.”
– Bobby Fulton vs. Ivan Koloff:
Tonight’s Main Event, scheduled for a 30-Minute Time Limit. Koloff is introduced from Moscow, U.S.S.R… didn’t that already change by this point (edit: quick search says December of ’91, so as of the taping date, it was still accurate)? Fulton comes out to “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top. Koloff tries to attack from behind, but Fulton is ready for him. Fulton counters a waist-lock with a takedown. Fulton works the arm and school boys Koloff for two. Koloff with a leg sweep and choking. Fulton tries getting a USA chant going, but it doesn’t take. Mantel says he’s going to wrestle next week to show Brian Lee what he’s all about. Koloff with a yank of the hair to take control of an arm-bar. They bring up Koloff winning the WWF Title… in 1971. Jesus, don’t call attention to something from two decades ago with a specific year. Ron Wright shows up in the aisle while they continue to jockey for position. Koloff with a shot to the throat, but Fulton comes back with a dropkick. Koloff counters a headlock with a back suplex. Whip to the ropes, Fulton ducks under an elbow and hits a diving body press for two. Fulton pounds away on the floor. Wright offers a handshake to Fulton, creating a distraction and allowing Koloff to send Fulton to the post. He bashes him with a chair, but it’s allowed since we’re at ringside, I guess. Back inside, Koloff with a swinging neck breaker for two. Fulton teases a comeback, but the referee backs him away from the ropes. Meanwhile, Wright passes a gimmick off to Koloff in the form of a handshake. He nails Fulton on the jaw and covers for three at 7:00. Post-match, Jackie Fulton comes out to dispute the finish and attacks Koloff. That’s not a very good baby-face move. Suddenly, “Vladimir” comes out to even the odds. I guess this is our cheap Nikita Knockoff. Caudle keeps screaming the finish is reversed, but we get no official word as they use the Russian Chain to hang Jackie over the top rope. Bobby makes the save for him as the Russians run like scolded dogs. Caudle is right, the referee raises Bobby’s hand in victory. Decent match to set up a future encounter.
– We’re backstage with Bob Armstrong. Ivan Koloff is fined $500 for using a foreign object, and next week, Bobby and Jackie Fulton will take on Ivan and Vladimir Koloff. Bobby Fulton says they want law-and-order, and not nonsense like Ron Wright handing a weapon to Ivan Koloff to jack his jaw. He throws in a Saddam Hussein reference to get some American support against the Russians, and promises to kick Wright “straight in the booty” if he sticks his nose in their business again.
Final Thoughts: It’s going to take some time before the company gets a bunch of angles in motion, but for a first episode, this did a decent job of introducing some recognizable, Southern babyfaces, and established that they will be going for a more “realistic” professional wrestling compared to the cartoony nature that had taken over both the WWF and WCW at the time. It was only in passing, but there was mention of a Championship Tournament coming up, and we have Jim Cornette’s new tag team to look forward to, whenever they decide to show up. The Fultons vs. Koloffs isn’t the most enticing reason to come back and watch next week, but you have to start somewhere. Next week is the second half of the October 30th taping, so we can expect more faces to make their SMW debut.