SMW VOLUNTEER SLAM (1992)
– Presented on May 22nd, 1992 from the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum in, you guessed it, Knoxville, TN. The show runs 90-minutes and was produced in-house for home distribution, so I would expect most matches to be clipped down, but not to unwatchable levels. According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (yup, get used to reading this here, too), the attendance was around 1,000, which is slightly better than what WCW had done recently, and slightly down from the WWF, which goes to show how hard the times were, at least for WWF. In the Dark Match, Hector Guerrero & Joey Maggs defeated “Hustler” Rip Rogers & “Bad Boy” Barry Horowitz.
– Les Thatcher and Phil Raney are at ringside to call the action, while “Dirty” Dutch Mantell and Mark Astin are backstage conducting all the interviews with tonight’s winners and losers. The lighting for the arena is poor, I’m not going to lie.
FIRST ROUND (20:00 Time Limits)
– Dixie Dy-No-Mite vs. The Dirty White Boy (w/ Mr. Ron Wright):
The Dirty White Boy is a seeded participant, while Dixie Dy-No-Mite had to defeat Carl Stiles in a Wild Card Match to earn his spot. Lockup, Dixie grabs a side headlock. Whip and Dixie connects with a dropkick. Clipped ahead to a crisscross sequence, with Dixie taking White Boy over with an arm drag and sending him to the floor with another dropkick. Clipped ahead to the Dirty White Boy in control of a test-of-strength. Dixie fights back to stomp the hands and takes the White Boy over with another headlock. They go through a series of counters, with Dixie getting the better of things each time. Crisscross and this time the White Boy lays Dixie out with a clothesline. Dirty White Boy with a slam and leg drop for a relaxed cover and two count. Dirty White Boy with a swinging neck breaker. He goes for the mask, but Dixie fights him off. White Boy with a knee lift and DDT, but he makes an arrogant cover and gets cradled for two. Whip and White Boy with a clothesline, followed by a trio of elbow drops for two. Dixie counters a slam with a small package for two. Whip to the corner and White Boy misses a charge. Dixie with boots to the midsection, whip to the ropes, and an elbow. DWB thumbs the eyes, but runs into the Confederate Kick. Cover, and White Boy gets a foot on the bottom rope. Whip, Dixie misses a dropkick, and the White Boy connects with the Bucksnort Blaster to advance at 7:58 (shown). ** Decent “underdog” match, with the dirty White Boy clearly the favorite, but Dixie getting enough shine to not look like an incompetent fool.
– Dutch Mantell is in the locker room with Buddy Landell, with comments on Primetime Brian Lee. We’re not talking about dinner, we’re talking about wrestling. The weights don’t fight back, and he’s going to have to show what he can do in the ring.
– “Primetime” Brian Lee vs. “Nature Boy” Buddy Landell:
Brian Lee earned a guaranteed spot in the tournament, even defending it against short-term nemesis Dutch Mantell. Landell, without having an official match, backdoored his way into the tournament, too. Lee lifts referee Mark Curtis out of the way to get at Landell, but he hides in the ropes. Clipped ahead to Landell working Lee over with varied strikes. Whip and a short-arm clothesline for two. Landell with rights and lefts in the corner, snap mare and a front face-lock. Landell using every dirty move in the book in as short of time as possible. Lee no-sells a second short-clothesline and choke lift and drops him on the canvas. Lee with mounted corner punches. Whip to the opposite corner and Lee meets a boot. Whip reversed and Lee with a Power-Slam. Lee comes off the top, missing a flying knee drop. Landell works the leg and goes for the Figure-Four, but Lee counters with a small package for three at 3:18 (shown). Can’t rate a match that was clipped down from 13-minutes, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them.
– Mark Astin is in the locker room with Tim Horner. He’s been waiting for a long time to get his hands on Paul Orndorff for degrading the fine folk in Smoky Mountain Wrestling and the people of East Tennessee.
– White Lightnin’ Tim Horner vs. “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff:
Horner was gifted a spot in the tournament in exchange for never singing “Shameless” on television ever again, while Orndorff turned heel and destroyed Hector Guerrero to earn a spot he felt should’ve been already earned with victories around the world over the likes of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. Orndorff with trash talking, leading to a shoving contest. Lockup, Horner with a side headlock, followed by a shoulder block. They do some chain wrestling, with Horner getting the advantage with a hammer-lock. Orndorff escapes with a fireman’s carry, but is quickly trapped in a head scissors. Orndorff with forearms across the face. Whip and Horner sends Orndorff out of the ring with a hard right. Crisscross and Horner with a diving body press for two. Clipped ahead to Orndorff stomping away at the midsection. Orndorff with elbows and a knee across the forehead. Orndorff chokes with a ringside cable. Back inside, Orndorff hooks a chin-lock. Horner escapes, but runs into a clothesline. Orndorff with a fist drop for two. He argues the count, allowing Horner to cradle him for a near fall. Slugfest in the corner, with Orndorff going to the midsection with a forearm to regain control. Horner gets the knees up to block a splash from the second rope. Horner with a whip and elbow, followed by a snap suplex for two. Charging corner clothesline connects. Orndorff gets an elbow up the second time. Horner counters a neck breaker with a back slide for two. Small package for two. Orndorff grabs the ropes to break a sleeper and tosses Horner to the floor with a handful of tights. Back inside, Orndorff ties up the leg of Horner in the ropes and covers him to advance at 13:52 (clipped down from 19:00, and you could tell by the pacing in the opening minutes). **1/2 Nothing to knock your socks off, but based on what we saw, the work was fine. The ending was beyond dumb, since the referee could clearly see his leg wrapped in the rope before he even went down for the cover.
– “Rock & Roll” Robert Gibson vs. Jimmy Golden:
To my surprise, both men earned their seeded spots in the Tournament, and had been calling each other out before the brackets were announced. The only sure thing here is the unlikely hood of Golden advancing. Based on logical booking, either Gibson goes over, or neither man advances. Golden attacks during the introduction, dropping Gibson with a boot to the head. Whip reversed and Gibson comes back with a hip toss. Whip and slam, sending Golden out of the ring for a breather. Back inside, Golden offers a handshake. Gibson doesn’t bite, so he gets slapped. The referee gets Gibson tangled up, allowing Golden to clip the knee. Golden works the knee with a spinning toe hold. Gibson tries fighting back, but Golden sweeps the leg and slams the knee across the ring apron. Back inside, Golden turns him over with a single-leg crab. Clipped ahead to Gibson kicking Golden off and ramming him into the post. Back inside, Gibson surprises him with an enzuigiri. Whip and Golden counters a back drop. Whip, Gibson ducks under a clothesline, and the bulldog finishes at 7:47 (shown). * Even with the editing, I wasn’t feeling this one.
SEMI-FINALS (30:00 Time Limits)
– “Primetime” Brian Lee vs. The Dirty White Boy (w/ Mr. Ron Wright):
I’m surprised they didn’t rearrange the brackets to have this as the Finals, but then it would be too predictable, I guess. Lee unloads with a flurry of rights before the bell. Whip to the corner and a clothesline sends the White Boy in retreat. Lee follows and rams him against the ringside table. Whip and Lee with a back drop for two. Thatcher compares Lee to a runaway freight train (… why are you so popular?). Lee with left jabs and a clothesline, with White Boy bailing, again. Wright creates a distraction, allowing the White Boy to sucker punch him and ram him head-first onto the time keeper’s bell and ring post, busting Lee open. Back inside, White Boy targets the cut with rights. That’s hardly the worst cut we’ll see on Lee in SMW. Whip and a clothesline, followed by more clubbering blows. White Boy with a corner clothesline and elbow drop. Whip and a Power-Slam for two. White Boy wraps up Lee in the ropes in a move I like to call the Andre Special. Lee comes back with shoulders to the midsection. He sees the blood and starts to get hyped. Slugfest in the middle of the ring, won by Lee. Lee with a clothesline, followed by a dropkick. White Boy gets a boot up in the corner and plants Lee with a slam. Lee rolls away from a flying splash and covers for three at 10:14 to advance to the finals. Post-match, White Boy puts the boots to Lee and smashes him across the back with a chair. **1/2 Mostly one-sided for the Dirty White Boy, but they worked a solid match and with a little more time, I could see them being THE Main Event of a card.
– Dutch Mantell is backstage with the Dirty White Boy, who says Brian Lee just got the biggest fluke in history. There’s not a chance in you know where that Lee could ever beat him again. He may not be the SMW Champion tonight, but he’ll make sure Lee doesn’t win the belt, either.
– “Rock & Roll” Robert Gibson vs. “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff:
There’s absolutely no doubt now who’s moving on to the Finals to face what’s left of Brian Lee. Orndorff shoots for the leg, but Gibson scoots out of the way. Clipped ahead to Gibson being laid out on the concrete floor, and Orndorff putting the boots to him. Back inside, Orndorff continues to work the knee, wrapping the leg around the top rope. At least there’s continuity from the first match, where Jimmy Golden spent most of it working the knee, too. Gibson with a gesture to attract Orndorff’s attention. Charge and Gibson gets a boot up. He rams Orndorff into the turnbuckle and charges forward with a clothesline. Whip reversed and the knee can’t handle doing a hip toss. He hits the Bulldog out of nowhere, but Orndorff has a foot on the ropes to break the count. Orndorff clips the knee from behind and cradles him (with a handful of tights) for three at 3:42 (shown). Another match I can’t rate, since we were only shown what looked to be the final few minutes, but it was decent action for what was presented.
– Dutch Mantell is backstage with Jim Cornette and the SMW Tag Team Champions, The Heavenly Bodies. Cornette says the Party Patrol will be looking for the back door when they see the Heavenly Bodies in the ring. After this match, they’ll be arrested for WRAF: Walking Recklessly, and Attempting to Fall. Lane says this is serious business, and they don’t party, they come here to fight. Prichard adds that the Party Patrol are going to learn that there’s not much difference between a pat on the back and a kick to the pants when you get in the ring with the Champions.
– SMW Tag Team Championship Match:
The Heavenly Bodies (c) (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. The Party Patrol:
(Stan Lane & Tom Prichard vs. Davey & Johnny Rich)
This was originally intended to be the Finals of the Tag Title Tournament, but we’ve already covered that story a couple of times. Cornette warns the men to control their women, because he doesn’t want the ugly hillbilly rednecks in the crowd groping the greatest tag team in the universe. Clipped ahead to Lane and Davey Rich exchanging holds. The Party Patrol quickly clear the ring with double dropkicks and hip throws. Back inside, Davey with a side headlock and shoulder block. Prichard tags in and gets taken over with a hip toss. Crisscross, Lane with a cheap shot from the apron, and Prichard from behind with a clothesline. Lane with a snap across the top rope and clothesline, turning Davey inside out. Prichard with a suplex and knee drop across the chest for two. Davey gets dumped to the floor and thrown on top of the announcer’s table. Cornette winds up and blasts him with the tennis racket for good measure. Back inside, double team elbow, snap mare, and choking. Johnny protests, allowing Lane to toss Davey over the top rope without being DQ’ed. Whip and a double clothesline for another over-sell bump. Prichard climbs the ropes and misses the drifting elbow drop (see also: Ted Dibiase). Johnny with the hot tag, going wild with rights. Dropkick and elbow to Lane. He grabs a full nelson, but Prichard breaks it up. Davey pounds on Prichard at ringside. Meanwhile, Cornette trips up Johnny, and Lane with a leg drop across the back of the head for two. Davey cheap shots Cornette, allowing Prichard to load up the boot and KO Davey from behind, allowing Lane to cover for three to retain the titles at 10:19. *** Good, standard formula, tag team action. Too one-sided to be much better than that.
– Dutch Mantell is once again in the locker room with Jim Cornette and the Heavenly Bodies. Lane says the phrase “it’s lonely at the top” is a lie, because it’s great being on top. They’ll remain the Tag Team Champions for as long as they deem fit. Prichard gloats about putting the Fantastics out of action and dusting off the Party Patrol. Cornette doesn’t understand why anyone thought he wouldn’t be associated with anything but winners. Johnny and Davey Rich were just another example for the rednecks and hillbillies that they’ll have to deal with the Heavenly Bodies sitting on top of the world.
– SMW Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals:
“Primetime” Brian Lee vs. “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff:
This one, as they say, is for all the marbles. Bob Armstrong gives a sob story for Lee, who has a damaged shoulder and lost a lot of blood, and threatens to award the belt to Orndorff, but UH-UH, Lee isn’t going down like that. Orndorff attacks immediately, sending Lee from corner to corner and dropping a fist across the bandaged forehead. Whip is reversed and Lee is met with a boot to the face. Orndorff with a clothesline and elbow from the middle rope. Orndorff takes it to the floor, but Lee is still putting up a fight. Back inside, Lee with a clothesline and suplex. Orndorff regains control and stomps at the cut. Lee with a brief rally, broken up with a tear drop suplex for two. Whip to the corner and a double clothesline puts both men down. Whip and this time their heads collide. Referee Mark Curtis gets bumped, bringing out Commissioner Armstrong. Orndorff goes for a Piledriver, but Lee counters with a back drop. The Dirty White Boy shows up and tosses Orndorff a foreign object. Lee ducks the punch and connects with an atomic drop. Orndorff bounces off the ropes, and they bop heads again. Orndorff covers and Armstrong makes the two count. Orndorff with the weapon, but this time Armstrong sees it in the struggle and awards Lee the match and the SMW Heavyweight Title, via Disqualification, at 6:29. Orndorff and Lee double team, but this leads to Armstrong having to get physically involved, as well as half the SMW locker room. *1/2 I’m not a huge fan of a protected finish in the Finals, but it’s not like it hasn’t been done before. Lee did get clean victories against Landell and the Dirty White Boy, so it’s a bit more forgivable.
– Dutch Mantell is backstage with Paul Orndorff, who is hopping mad over the decision. He’s got blood all over him, and it’s not his. He says there’s been a conspiracy against him, led by Bob Armstrong. He wants another shot at the title, and Lee can name the time and the place.
– Mark Astin is with “Primetime” Brian Lee, who is a bloody mess. This should be the happiest day of his life, except for two reasons. #1: The Dirty White Boy, and #2: Paul Orndorff. He won’t stop until every inch of Orndorff’s body looks like the top of his head. I don’t know, I’d still consider it to be the happiest day of my life if I were the Heavyweight Champion.
Final Thoughts: After several months of programming, we finally have a Heavyweight and the Tag Team Champions of Smoky Mountain Wrestling crowned. As a general rule, I never have high expectations for a show that mostly features a large tournament, and this was a fine effort. For the most part, the finishes were strong and even the losers were protected well enough to be kept as reasonable contenders. There weren’t any show stealing performances, but this was more about crowning Brian Lee and cementing him as the top babyface in the territory. The Tag Title Match was a nice bonus to break things up a bit, but it was one of those place-holder challenger situations where any reasonably intelligent fan could tell they were buying the Heavenly Bodies time for the return of the Fantastics. Nothing to blow you away, nothing that outright stunk, just a solid 90-minutes of rasslin’.
Coming up next week… It’s MOUNTAIN MAYHEM, and the fallout from the Volunteer Slam!