What the World Was Watching: USWA: A Night to Remember

This show took place at the Louisville Gardens in Louisville, Kentucky on June 11.  According to Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer, the show drew a crowd of 3,500 and a gate of $25,000.

Corey Maclin welcomes out Jim Cornette, who walks to the COPS theme and is sporting his military-style jacket from WrestleMania X.  Cornette puts over how the Gardens is better than the Omni or Madison Square Garden and then welcomes out Lance Russell.  Russell and Maclin will be doing commentary.

Opening Contest:  Gorgeous George III (11-10-1) pins Super Mario with a clothesline at 1:13:

Mario is 5’1” and weighs 400 pounds, infringing on Nintendo’s trademark property by looking exactly like the famous video game character.  He made a few appearances for the USWA in 1993 and 1994 and wrestled in other independent promotions in Tennessee and West Virginia until 2000.  Oh, and he comes to the ring to the COPS theme song too.  That must be Jerry Lawler’s favorite tune.  Speaking of Lawler, his son, Kevin, referees the match.  Thankfully this kept short – no pun intended – as Mario moves awkwardly in the ring.  A blind charge eats buckle and George finishes with a simple clothesline.

United States Women’s Championship Match:  Debbie Combs (Champion) wrestles Miss Texas (12-3) to a no contest when Uptown Karen interferes at 4:25:

Combs was from a wrestling family as her mother, Cora, was a four-time NWA United States Women’s Champion and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2018.  Combs had a brief run in the WWF from 1986-1987, but came up short in some matches for the promotion’s women’s title.  She also had stops in the NWA, where she won the women’s championship, and the AWA before coming back to the WWF in 1994 to wrestle Alundra Blayze.  The two were reportedly scheduled to face off at WrestleMania X before the company decided to give the spot to Lelani Kai instead.  Combs is billed as the United States Women’s Champion, and that title is defended in this match, but her promotional affiliation is not specified by Dean Hill in the ring introductions.  Both women assume a babyface role and waste little time exchanging near-falls.  A blind charge causes Combs to fall to the floor, allowing Uptown Karen to blast Texas in the back of the head with a purse.  Combs gets back in the ring, slams Texas and covers, but listens to the crowd yelling about Karen and gets up.  Texas and Combs proceed to beat up Karen, causing the match to get thrown out.  Rating:  *

SMW Championship Match:  Buddy Landel (Champion) beats Tracy Smothers after rolling through an O’Connor roll and using the tights at 6:29:

Just like in Smoky Mountain, Landel collects a lot more cheers from the big crowds than he does boos.  After Landel dominates much of the early and middle parts of the match, Smothers scores some near-falls from a kick to the back of the head and a spinning elbow off the ropes.  However, Landel rolls through an O’Connor roll and uses the tights to retain in a perfectly acceptable wrestling match.  Rating:  **

Billy Jack Haynes (3-0) pins Brickhouse Brown (2-5) after Brown misses a flying headbutt at 4:34:

Haynes yells at the crowd before the match about how he is going to put fear into everyone in the USWA, but Brown attacks him before he can start going into Bill Clinton and Vince McMahon conspiracy theories.  Haynes is the bigger man, so he bullies Brown for most of the match until Brown crotches him on the top rope.  Each man struggles to do splashes off the top rope and Brown misses a flying headbutt, allowing Haynes to win this battle of shoot interview legends.  Since this is the third time Haynes has beaten Brown, this should end the feud.  Rating:  *½

The next match did not make the videotape but saw Bill Dundee, Brian Christopher, Moondog Rex & Moondog Spot defeat Jimmy Harris, Max Muscle, Mr. World Class & the Gambler in a no disqualification match.

USWA Tag Team Championship Match:  PG-13 (Champions) (21-10-1) beat the Rock N’ Roll Express (w/Andrea) (1-0-2) when Wolfie D pins Ricky Morton after J.C. Ice hits Morton with a hubcap at 16:39:

The Express were the NWA tag team champions at this time, which went beyond their booking position in Smoky Mountain.  This match has a surreal feeling as the Express wrestle heel, which was unheard of.  And they do a great job making timely switches behind the referee’s back without tagging and getting heat from the crowd.  In one spot, they roll through working over Wolfie’s legs and knock Ice off the apron.  After the hot tag things get crazier, with members of the respective teams trying splashes off the top and missing.  Andrea throws powder in Wolfie’s eyes when he attempts an O’Connor roll but referee Bill Rush stops the count at two.  He clears Gibson out of the ring after he gives Wolfie a DDT, allowing Ice to use the hubcap to help PG-13 retain their titles.  This was a great piece of tag team wrestling and is easily the match of the year so far in the USWA.  Rating:  ***½

After the match, Andrea slaps Ice and the Express beatdown their opponents.  Andrea then spray paints “Boy” on the backs of each of PG-13’s members.

The Fabulous Ones (w/Jim Cornette) (2-0) defeat Doug Gilbert & Tommy Rich (w/Ronnie P. Gossett) (10-6-2) when Stan Lane pins Gilbert after a Steve Keirn forearm at 21:14:

As noted in the backstage news, the Fabulous Ones were a huge act in the Memphis territory in the 1980s, feuding with the Sheepherders, the Moondogs, the New York Dolls, and the original Midnight Express.  This recent reunion was their first since 1991.  Gossett was Memphis’ top heel manager in the late 1980s, managing the likes of Jerry Lawler, Jeff Jarrett, and the Master of Pain (the gimmick used by Mark Calaway before he went to WCW).  This match is a rematch from the previous night in Memphis, where the Fabulous Ones beat Gilbert and Rich in the finals of the “Best of Memphis” tag team tournament.  Most of the match is based on working the crowd, as the heels keep bailing and stalling and Cornette uses his tennis racquet on Gilbert to get a reaction.  The crowd loses interest during the heat segment on Keirn because the action is disjointed.  You know things are bad when an overweight Gossett tries to distract from the match by falling onto Russell at ringside.  Stan Lane gets the hot tag to little reaction and when Gossett tries to interject himself, Cornette hits him with a tennis racquet.  When Gilbert uses the racquet on Lane, the referee refuses to count, so Keirn blasts Gilbert with a forearm to put an end to the match.  This should have been booked to go less than ten minutes.  And the finish was marred by the referee doing a fast count that was out of sync with how the rest of the match was called.  Rating:  *

USWA Unified World Championship Match:  Jerry Lawler (Champion) (11-3) beats Jos LeDuc via disqualification when LeDuc attacks the referee at 5:03:

LeDuc was a Canadian wrestler that started out in Stampede Wrestling in the late 1960s.  He sported a crazed lumberjack gimmick and went on to have a hot feud with Dusty Rhodes in Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) in 1973 and 1974.  He also wrestled for the WWF in 1988 but gained little traction there, losing to the likes of Sam Houston and Tito Santana.  The match here with Lawler has a historical backstory as LeDuc legitimately broke Lawler’s leg when he tossed him over the top rope in a match a decade earlier.  That plays a part in the contest as LeDuc teases tossing Lawler over the top to finish what he started.  LeDuc does lots of strikes and chokes, surviving Lawler’s strap pulldown and fist drop off the second rope.  The referee tries to get a break in the corner, so LeDuc slams the referee and clotheslines him, producing a disqualification and angering the fans.  This would be LeDuc’s last match as he would die of complications from diabetes four years later at the age of fifty-four.  Rating:  ¼*

The USWA honors some of its legends in Louisville.  The classic cheapness of Memphis is on display as the honorees get paper certificates instead of plaques.  Those recognized include Gypsy Joe, Frank Morrell, Corsica Joe, Sarah Lee, Cora Combs, Jim White, Tommy Marlin, Phil Hickerson, Bob Armstrong, Jos LeDuc (who stays in character by ripping away his certificate from Dean Hill and marching back to the locker room immediately afterward), Eddie Marlin, and Jerry Jarrett.  USWA General Manager Randy Hales also does a special recognition Christine Jarrett, who helped sell tickets and run the promotion of Louisville’s cards since 1970.  Jackie Fargo is also recognized and struts for the crowd to a big pop.

“Best of Louisville” Battle Royal:  Brian Christopher wins, last eliminating Tommy Rich at 6:40:

Other Participants:  Jos LeDuc, Buddy Landel, Phil Hickerson, Doug Gilbert, Jimmy Valiant, Bob Armstrong, Bill Dundee, and Jerry Lawler

The rules allow for elimination via pinfall, submission, or going over the top rope.  Eliminations happen quickly, as the Smoky Mountain talents Armstrong and Landel bow out quickly, with the latter eliminated by Valiant right after he tosses him.  Lawler and LeDuc cannot be bothered to job in the battle royal properly as they brawl outside without going over the top rope and are considered eliminated when they never return to the ring.  After Christopher pins Gilbert off camera, it comes down to Christopher and Rich, with the USWA Southern Heavyweight Champion winning with a schoolboy roll up and a fast count from referee Frank Morrell.  Rating:  *

Following the conclusion of the match, Billy Jack Haynes attacks Christopher and hits him over the head with the trophy he won from the battle royal.  Eventually, Lawler and Dundee make the save.

The Last Word:  Historically, this is seen as the last great USWA show as they never drew a house like this again.  The PG-13-Rock N’ Roll Express match was great but the rest of the show was brought down by matches that had bad finishes, went too long, or had little creative push behind them (like the main event).  Positioning Billy Jack Haynes as the promotion’s top heel is not a bad idea, though, as his promos have been better than what Brian Lee was doing, and he has a better look.  Since the syndicated USWA telecast included highlights of Memphis Memories II, as well as this show, we will move along to June 17 in our USWA coverage.

Backstage News*:        The USWA was hoping for better gates from Memphis and Louisville as the Memphis show drew less than half the number of fans as the first edition.  The USWA was hoping for a sellout of 5,500 in Louisville but did not come close to reaching that number.  Some of the attendance might be due to ticket prices, though, as they sold $3 tickets in Memphis last year to get a big crowd of 7,700 fans and this year the cheapest ticket was $7.

*According to arena reports, Memphis fans did not pop for the Fabulous Ones even though they got an elaborate entrance.  Jackie Fargo got a great reaction, though, and one of the notable speeches about him came from Stan Lane, who said he owed his career to Fargo since he was going nowhere until Fargo gave him the gimmick.

*Brian Lee was supposed to wrestle in the tag team opener on Memphis Memories II but blew his knee out.  He would not have been able to compete anyway as Danny Davis no-showed.

*Backstage news is provided courtesy of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for June 19.

Up Next:  USWA Championship Wrestling for June 17!