The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – Mid-South Wrestlefest 85
Been waiting to get around to this one for a while now, but nothing like a lazy Sunday to catch up. I did actually start this one last week, but real life intervened and I had to stop and scrap it early on.
Taped from Skelly Stadium, in Tulsa OK, 07.28.85. Not sure on the gate but it looks pretty full. No commentary for this show.
Al Perez v. Mark Ragin
I’m not familiar with Ragin, who appears to be a territorial hand that didn’t do much else. Ragin takes him down with a headlock and works on that. The whole thing is a single handheld camera shoot, but the guy moves around ringside and gives all kind of different angles so it’s pretty cool. They work for a cradle on the mat and do some nice stuff down there while a redneck in the front row yells “WE NEED SOME ACTION!” Perez reverses a hiptoss and rolls into a cradle for two, but misses a dropkick and Ragin comes back with a delayed suplex for two. Perez goes behind and finishes with a german suplex at 5:55, however. Very basic and decent match. **1/4
One Man Gang v. Wendell Cooley
The Wildcat was a guy who had some star potential and then just never went anywhere with it and faded away. Gang disgustedly yelling “I know the rules, idiot!” while the ref gives instructions in a nice touch. Gang bullies him for a bit, but Cooley comes back with a dropkick before trying a monkey flip that is very unsuccessful. Gang pounds away and demands that the ref “Ask him!” and the ref replies “Ask him what?” Gang chokes away while reminding the ref that he does what he wants, but misses a blind charge and Cooley makes the comeback. Gang cuts him off again and botches an attempt at catching a bodypress, and then clotheslines him down instead and finishes with the 747 splash at 4:47. Basic big man vs. normal sized man clash here. *1/2
Brickhouse Brown v. (Nord The) Barbarian
With a mohawk and Fu Manchu moustache, Nord is looking more like Teijho Khan at this point in his career. Nord overpowers Brickhouse and stomps him down, then clamps on a facelock and hangs onto that for a while. Brown fights out and walks into a big boot, but the legdrop misses. Brickhouse makes the comeback with headbutts, but Nord hits him with a lariat out of the corner and finishes with the dreaded Full Norwegian Nelson at 4:49. Same as the last match. *1/2
The Fantastics v. Eddie Gilbert & Jerry Grey
Fulton runs wild on both heels and the Fantastics clean house to start, and then Tommy heads to ringside to cheerlead the old grannies at ringside. Say what you will about Eddie Gilbert, but anyone who learned their trade in Memphis knew EXACTLY how to rile up the grannies and he was a master of it. The Fantastics switch off on an armbar behind the ref’s back while Gilbert loses his shit and the old ladies go nuts for it. Grey misses a dropkick and Rogers hits a beautiful one and goes back to the arm. Gilbert comes in and they work on his arm as well and the heat for this is just off the charts. Finally Gilbert breaks with a cheapshot in the corner, but misses a blind charge and hits the post, and Rogers goes back to the arm again. Fulton takes a shot to the throat from Eddie and the heels go to work on him as Grey drops a knee for two. Fulton powers out of a chinlock, but Gilbert trips him up right in front of those grannies and the heels take turns dropping elbows while the ref tends to Rogers. Fulton with a sunset flip for two as the hope spot, but Gilbert cuts him off and suckers Rogers into chasing while Grey chokes out Fulton in the ring. Back to the heel corner as they beat on Fulton and Grey chokes him out behind the ref’s back, but he crawls away and it’s HOT TAG Rogers. Everyone slugs it out and Rogers finishes Grey with a sunset flip at 12:45. The Fantastics in their prime were amazing at what they did. ***1/2
Ted Dibiase v. Jake Roberts
Dibiase does a whole big show of letting the ref check his perfectly innocent black glove, so we know it’s 100% not loaded. The crowd is insane for Roberts, so Dibiase stalls for a bit to milk it and they do the test of strength back in the ring. Jake quickly turns that into a DDT attempt and Ted freaks out and exits again. Back in, Jake frustrates him with some hair-pulling, so Dibiase gets a cheapshot out of the corner and beats on him to take over. Jake fires back with a kneelift and Dibiase bails again, while Jake lays on his back and offers him a free shot if he gets back in. Jake works a headlock and Ted rolls him over for two, but he stays on that for a while. Dibiase tries a sunset flip to escape, but Jake punches him in the head to counter and teases another DDT before Dibiase runs away again. And then Jake finally makes the mistake of chasing him, and Dibiase pounces with a shot on the ropes and rams Jake’s head into the ringside table. Dibiase chokes and pounds away on the ropes until Jake can take no more and makes the comeback, but he accidentally takes out the ref with a lariat on the criss-cross and Dibiase loads up the BLACK GLOVE OF DEATH. Before he can finish loading it, however, Jake suddenly hits him with the DDT and pins him at 13:19. The ref actually finds the foreign object and we get a tease of a reverse decision, but not today. Dibiase was just great here as the slimy heel and this was a fun match. ***1/4
Dutch Mantel v. Butch Reed
Dutch works the arm to start and Reed beats on him to escape, but Dutch takes him down and gets some abuse in before tossing him. Back in, Dutch gets an axehandle off the middle rope as ring announcer Jim Ross calls “Ten minutes” at the 7:00 mark. The time calls have been shrinking as this show progresses, in fact. Dutch with an abdominal stretch, but he misses an elbow and then goes up and misses a splash as well and Reed makes the comeback. Fistdrop and he slugs away on Dutch, but the ref is bumped, allowing Dutch to get hit him with the bullwhip for two. Reed comes back with a press slam to finish at 9:52. Not much to this one. *
Hacksaw Duggan & Dick Murdoch & Cowboy Bill Watts v. Kamala & Kareem Muhammad & Gen. Skandor Akbar
Duggan and Murdoch do the MAGA entrance by driving down to ringside on a monster truck with American flags flying. Akbar immediately claims a broken arm and offers up the Champion (Randy Colley under yet another masked ID) as his replacement, but that dog don’t hunt with the Cowboy and he calls out Grizzly Smith to have Champion escorted out and Akbar put in the ring. And finally, after about 10 minutes of gaga, the bell rings and we’re underway. Akbar gets triple-teamed by the babyfaces and he runs away. Murdoch throws elbows on the African portion of the team and Watts chases Kamala out as the heels regroup. Back in, Murdoch slugs away on Kareem as the heels are getting nowhere here. Kareem finally goes to the eyes and beats on Murdoch to take over, and Kamala comes in for some choking. Akbar gets the camel clutch and stomps away on Murdoch, while Duggan keeps coming in to break it up and thus allowing more abuse. And we’re “ten minutes” into the match at 8:00. Double slam on Murdoch and now both Watts and Duggan storm the ring, but the heels throw everyone out and double-team Watts instead. Watts of course comes back and finishes Kamala with the Oklahoma Stampede at 9:28. This was pretty late in the career of Watts for him to be booking himself as the hero conqueror. Murdoch was all fired up but the rest was throwaway junk. *
NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Dusty Rhodes
I thought the Big Gold Belt came around this time, but Ric’s still got the old ten pounds of gold instead. They trade hammerlocks to start and Dusty works on the arm (“Yank the arm off and shove it up his ass!” notes one imaginative fan at ringside), but Flair breaks in the corner and then misses a kneedrop. Dusty follows with his interpretation of the figure-four and Flair is already losing hope and fading fast, but manages to make the ropes. Whew. Dusty slugs away with the FLIP FLOP AND FLY and goes to work on the leg now, but Flair takes him down by the hair and works the arm. Flair slugs away on the ropes, but Dusty comes back with the sleeper and gets two. Dusty gets a press slam and elbow for two, but misses the bionic elbow and NOW, WOO, WE GO TO SCHOOL. Flair holds onto the figure-four but Dusty turns him over to escape. Ref gets bumped and Dusty hits a lariat for the visual pinfall (More “flop” then “flip” or “fly” in that move) and then the ref revives and announces it’s a DQ win for Flair because Dusty threw Flair over the top. So not quite a Dusty Finish, but in the same spirit. ** “The ref never sees it when it happens to you, Dusty!” yells some sympathetic old guy at ringside. Like Dusty would ever take an over the top bump to begin with.
North American title: The Champion v. Wahoo McDaniel
They needed to find that jobber named The Challenger and put the title on him, so we could get a series of title matches between champion The Challenger and challenger The Champion. Champion throws a chop in the corner and gets it right back from Wahoo of course. Champion with a headbutt in the corner and he stomps away and stomps and chokes, but Wahoo fires back with his chops and drops a knee for two. Wahoo grabs a headlock and “accidentally” goes low to make the comeback, but Hot Stuff runs in for the DQ at 4:40. ½*
Workrate aside, this is the kind of stuff I love, old-school Mid-South wrestling with a jacked up crowd of rednecks and lots of people in their prime. The work wasn’t great, but it was entertaining all the way through and served the purpose needed, and that’s easily enough for a WATCH IT from me without hesitation. Hopefully they find more Mid-South and keep it coming out.