The SmarK Rant for Jerry Lawler’s Classic Memphis Wrestling – Episode 1

The SmarK Rant for Jerry Lawler’s Classic Memphis Wrestling – Episode 1 (06.26.18)

So although I mentioned that I had run out of episodes of Jerry Lawler’s Memphis shows on YouTube, in fact the original TV station added some episodes I haven’t seen yet on THEIR YouTube channel, so let’s go all the way back to the very first one!

Hosted by Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee, and brought to you by 745-CASH!

This is actually a different format than the other Lawler shows, as they have a studio with both guys sitting down at a table instead of Lawler hanging out in a casino.  I like it!  Dundee immediately denies being a friend of Lawler and only getting a lousy cup of coffee for doing the show.  Bill actually reveals that he’s not Australian, he’s a Scotsman who lived in Australia until 1975 and then moved to Memphis.

Jerry Lawler & Bill Dundee v. Wayne Ferris & Larry Latham

Oh damn, we’re starting strong with the TUPELO CONCESSION STAND BRAWL!  This is back from 1979 in Tupelo, Mississippi, with the Blond Bombers taking on Dundee and Lawler for the Southern tag team titles, although the match itself is not the notable part.  The Bombers eventually underwent drastic gimmick transformations and became Honky Tonk Man and Moondog Spot respectively.  So the match quickly breaks down with time running out on the show, and the Bombers steal the pin on Dundee with Lawler desperately trying to make the save.  And they continue brawling afterwards, beating on each other with the belts until the end of the show.  And then a further brawl continues after the cameras are turned off, so Lance Russell tells the director to turn the cameras back on as we follow them to the back, where they’re fighting in the concession stand while Lawler and Dundee relate a story about the promoter standing by the popcorn machine to make sure it doesn’t get damaged.  All four guys are bleeding and it’s total chaos, with jars of pickles getting thrown and Dundee strangling Latham with a mop.  Jerry Jarrett actually makes a cameo telling them to wrap it up before the popcorn machine gets hurt (“Mustard everywhere!” notes Lance) and Lawler and Dundee are having a grand time doing commentary in the present.  And then the Bombers attack Jarrett and tear his clothes while Lance keeps telling the director to keep the tape rolling.  “In case anyone died” notes Dundee in a deadpan.  This tape was one of the first ones sent around by tape traders when VCRs became a thing, with promoters all over trying to duplicate it.  If you’ve never seen it, and it’s absolutely worth checking it out to see where a lot of ECW’s format came from.

Next up, we move to 1983…

Loser Leaves Town:  Jerry Lawler v. Bill Dundee

From the Mid-South Coliseum of course, and Dundee is really funny before the match, complaining about how he always had to do the job for Lawler.  Lawler:  “We won’t spoil who wins and loses here…”  Dundee:  “I think I can take a guess.”  Lawler slugs Dundee down while Bill complains about the crappy coffee back in the present.  Dundee grabs a headlock and turns it into a bulldog to take over, then stomps Lawler down and hits another one, taking him all the way across the ring with it.  But then he tries a THIRD one, and according to the laws of wrestling, Lawler is able to reverse this one and crotch him on the top rope.  They collide and Dundee falls on top for two, but Lawler fights back and goes to the top.  Dundee cuts him off with a slam for two, but then he tries a charge and goes flying over the top rope off that.  “That would have killed a normal man!” declares present Dundee.  Lawler slams him back into the ring and goes up, but he misses a flying legdrop and Dundee gets two.  Cut to the ref being bumped and Dundee does an awful piledriver.  “You don’t know how to do a piledriver!” notes Lawler.  But then Lawler makes the comeback and Dundee backdrops him over the top.  Lawler heads back in and Dundee goes up for a double stomp, but mostly misses it and gets two.  Bill kicks him out to the floor again and runs him into the post, then rakes the eyes and bites the cut.  “I was hoping one of the wrestlers sitting at ringside would help me out, but they never did” jokes Lawler.  Back to the post for Lawler and they head back in for some choking from Dundee, and then he sends Lawler flying off the apron and into the announce desk.  Lawler’s doing some big bumps here by his standards.  Back in, Dundee slugs away, but Lawler PULLS DOWN THE STRAP and makes the comeback.  Lawler thinks he probably should have just pulled down the strap at the beginning of the match.  Lawler pounds away on the mat and goes up for the fistdrop, but Lawler does an arrogant cover and Dundee gets a sunset flip for two.  Blind charge misses and Dundee gets two as they get sucked into the match here in the present because they can’t remember who won!  Dundee clips the knee twice and gets two, but he charges in and walks into a piledriver and gets pinned at 14:12.  “See, that’s how you do a piledriver!” notes Lawler.  HELL of a match!  ****

Moving ahead two years to 1985 now…

Bill Dundee v. Jerry Lawler

This is Lawler leaving town up against Dundee and his wife getting their heads shaved now.  Dundee attacks Lawler, who is sporting a bandage on his eyes, and drops an elbow for two.  Lawler fights up and Dundee clips his knee, then hits him in the bad eye and gets two.  Apparently the Blade Runners are sitting with Dundee’s wife Beverly as bodyguards.  Dundee hammers away on the bandaged eye for two and comes off the middle rope with an elbow for two.  He slugs away in the corner and stops to strut, so he only gets two.  Dundee goes up with a fistdrop and chokes him out on the mat while Lawler mocks Dundee for making 50s references.  Dundee ruthlessly slugs away on the bandaged eye, but Lawler fires back with a haymaker and Dundee hits him with a running headbutt and goes up with a double axehandle for two.  Dundee keeps throwing shots and headbutts, but Lawler fights back and they brawl to the floor.  Dundee: “See, the referee is slow counting again…oh wait, that’s me, that’s all right.”  Dundee tries to run away up the aisle, but Lawler chases him up the bleachers and he ends up taking a bump over the railing and down to the concrete below.  So Bill heads back to the ring and demands a countout, but Lawler manages to make it back to the ring.  Present Lawler relates a story about Eddie Marlin telling him to stay down “because the bump looked too good”  They fight back into the ring and Lawler gets all fired up and pulls down the strap before making the comeback. Lawler drops fists and slugs Dundee into the corner, where Tony Falk pops out of the audience and hands Bill a weapon, and boom, Jerry Lawler leaves town at 13:24.  Another great brawl.  ***1/2

This show was GREAT.  I really love the format with Lawler and Dundee talking over the matches and relating stories about them and stuff.  This was tremendously entertaining and hopefully the other three episodes available are the same kind of thing.