The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – Leroy’s Lasting Legacy
OK, so here’s your crazy content drop of the day: A lost episode of Leroy McGuirk’s NWA Championship Wrestling show from 08.12.78, which was the precursor to Mid-South Wrestling before the relationship between Bill Watts and Leroy went horribly, horribly bad for Leroy.
Fittingly enough, they use the generic replacement music from the Mid-South shows on the Network to cover whatever was there previously.
Taped from Shreveport, LA, I’m assuming.
Your hosts are Boyd Pierce & Bill Watts.
Paul Orndorff v. Bill Irwin
Orndorff is young here, but looking very much like himself at this point. Irwin is just a rookie jobber, although of course he’d go on to some small amount of fame in the 80s. Orndorff has been stripped of the North American title due to something that happened with Ernie Ladd, and Watts is very upset about it. DAMN INSTANT REPLAY. Orndorff takes Irwin down and works the arm for a while with a top wristlock, but Irwin escapes with a backdrop and showboats about it. This gives Orndorff the chance to land on his feet, however, and he gets a full nelson from behind to finish at 2:44. Decent enough action here.
And now, via VIDEOTAPE REPLAY, let’s go to Georgia Championship Wrestling for a match.
Ray Candy v. The Challenger
Candy later became part of the goofy Zimbabwe Express team in the 80s, but was presented as a serious babyface contender at this point. Candy pounds on him with forearms and tries a hammerlock, but Challenger hides in the ropes. Challenger gets a few shots on Candy, but Ray slams him and follows with a backdrop, then hits the headbutt for the pin at 2:51. See, because he’s a big black guy. The Challenger was looking OK for a couple of minutes, but then completely blew up.
Meanwhile, Cowboy Bob Ellis has some words for Ron Bass, who attacked him at some point and shaved all his hair off.
Cowboy Bob Ellis v. Ali Bay the Turk
Watts lets us know that Bob is going to leave himself “slick headed” as motivation for revenge on Ron Bass. The Turk pounds away in the corner, but Ellis fires back with forearms while Watts relates how he’d rather be punched or kicked than slapped or shaved bald, because it might not hurt physically but injures his pride instead. And Bill Watts will not abide that. He’s a real man, kids. Stay in school and vote Republican. The two bald guys in the ring continue throwing forearms on each other until Ellis makes a comeback and hits a bulldog for the pin at 5:00. Ellis was actually the guy who invented the bulldog, but this was at the very end of his career so it wasn’t particularly thrilling action. Amazingly, Ellis is still alive today to the best of my knowledge, at around 90 years old.
Ernie Ladd v. Bill Irwin
Back to Georgia, with heel Ladd growling and slamming Irwin all over the place. He gets a full nelson in the corner and then blatantly gouges him in the eyes before adding a big boot and legdrop for two. Like that would ever finish anyone. Irwin tries a comeback and Ladd is OFFENDED by someone trying to get over on him, so he gets all fired up and slugs Irwin down, then searches his tights for a foreign object just to be a dick, and finishes with another legdrop at 2:40. The further they go back with Ernie Ladd the more I appreciate how talented he was.
Meanwhile, we get words from famed wrestling manager Rock Hunter, who has a love of foreign wrestlers like his new charge Siegfried Stanke, who does pushups and Hindu squats to show his motivation. I’m not exactly sure what nationality Siegfried was supposed to be representing, but as with most exotic European wrestlers, he was actually from Texas.
The Mongol v. Wade Holt
And again, as with all foreign wrestlers, the Mongol is very American, in this case yet another identity of Gene Lewis, aka Cousin Luke. Quick squash as he finishes with a MONGOLIAN CHOP in 1:30.
Outlaw Ron Bass v. Randy Brewer
Brewer works the arm on Bass while Watts notes that Brewer is taking a shitkicking from a series of veterans, sure, but he’ll start winning more than he’s losing and soon he’ll blossom into something and upset some big stars. Well, Cowboy was completely wrong, as Brewer’s career ended in 1981. Bass finishes him with the Texas Stampede slam at 3:57, and Bob Ellis runs in calling him a GUTLESS COWARD who is afraid to face him. Bass wisely leaves rather than deal with a pissed off bald guy.
The Brute v. Jose Lothario
The Brute looked familiar to me, and it turns out that he’s an early incarnation of Bugsy McGraw. They throw forearms to start while jockeying for position, and The Brute grabs a headlock on the mat, but Lothario goes to the throat to break. Brute tries a bearhug instead and they get into another slugfest before Brute goes into a crazy man act that’s obviously Bugsy. Brute goes up and misses a splash, but Assassin comes in and distracts Jose while the ref gets bumped, and then he runs in for the DQ at 4:20. The Assassin and the Brute sounds like a pretty dangerous tag team combo.
Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook v. Butch Cassidy & Cowboy Lang
Man, they just kept recycling the same midgets for years and years, didn’t they? Usual midget stuff until time expires at 4:30 and we’re DESPERATELY OUT OF TIME.
So yeah, this was pretty fascinating because it was essentially Mid-South a few years before the show actually became that. And it was so notably Mid-South style because Bill Watts was Leroy McGuirk’s right-hand man and booker, who helped him do monster gates in Louisiana and Oklahoma, and then they got into a dispute a year after this and Watts basically forced McGuirk out of his own territory and formed Mid-South. And this was after a partnership dating back decades. Wrestling is a cold-hearted business, my friends.
Anyway, definitely check this one out, especially compared to the bullshit that the WWWF was putting on TV at the time. This looked state of the art in comparison, basically the same show as what would be seen years later as Mid-South in terms of feel and presentation.