What the World Was Watching: Fire on the Mountain (1995)

This show took place on August 12, 1995 at Freedom Hall in Johnson City, Tennessee.  According to prowrestlinghistory.com, the card drew 1,900 fans, 1,400 more than attended a Summer Blast tour card in the city a month earlier.  Footage was provided courtesy of a fan cam.

Chip Kessler tells fans that Ricky Morton is gone from Smoky Mountain Wrestling, promising them that if they tune into Smoky Mountain TV next week, they will get more details.  Due to Morton’s absence, Kessler repeats the announcement from recent SMW TV that SMW Tag Team Champions the Heavenly Bodies will defend against the THUGS in the main event.

Opening Contest Where Boo Bradley is Blindfolded:  Boo Bradley (16-7) pins Tommy Rich (3-0) after a thrust kick to the back at 5:03:

This is Tommy Rich’s dream match, and it serves as a comedy opener as Bradley plays with his blindfold before putting it on.  He also tells Rich that he is a chicken for wrestling a blind man and that Rich will carry the shame of losing to a blindfolded wrestler after the match is over.  Even though Bradley’s character has not developed since beating Chris Candido in February, the kids still like him.  The blindfold they use for this match is weird as it only covers the top part of Bradley’s face.  To compensate for his lack of vision, Bradley tries the Jack Roberts approach from WrestleMania VII, pointing in various directions so that the crowd can cheer appropriately.  It is a tool that is not used much since Rich pounces on his prone opponent for much of the contest.  The best part of the match is when Bradley corners the referee, thinking he is Rich and almost punches him.  Rich is knocked into the referee out of nowhere five minutes in, allowing Bradley to hit him in the back with a thrust kick and score the pin.  The comedy bits kept the match out of DUD territory and thankfully they kept this short.  Rating:  ½*

Handicap Match:  Robert Gibson defeats the Headbangers after pinning Mosh following a Thrasher Stage Dive at 15:40:

The original plans called for the Rock N’ Roll Express to wrestle the Headbangers as part of Thrasher’s dream match where if the Express lost, they would have to wear dresses.  With Ricky Morton gone, Gibson decided to stick to the original commitment and stipulation and wrestle alone.  Jim Cornette must have wanted the original match to go on for a long time since the two sides spend much of the first ten minutes working the crowd.  The Headbangers insult the crowd on the house mic, Gibson lifts Mosh’s skirt, and Gibson also holds the ropes open for Mosh and Thrasher to enter the ring at various points, only to crotch them when they try to re-enter the ring.  This causes the Headbangers to threaten to leave, earning them the crowd’s ire.  All of this generates heat, but it stalls the match out, irritating the person holding the fan camera.  After a long while, the Headbangers seize the offensive when Gibson is pushed into their corner on a figure-four effort and they dominate most of the action.  The heels set Gibson up for the Stage Dive, but Gibson backdrops Mosh to escape it and Thrasher comes off the top rope with his leg drop anyway, hitting his partner and costing him team the match.  That finish makes the Headbangers look stupid, but their promos have been putting them over as airheads, so I guess this in keeping with the gimmick.  Rating;  ½*

Six-Man Battle Royal:  Brad Armstrong, Buddy Landel, the Punisher, Tommy Rich, Al Snow, and Unabom wrestle to a no-contest at 1:26:

This is the Punisher’s dream match and its whole point is to wear Armstrong out before he can wrestle Landel later in the evening for the SMW Championship.  The match goes awry since Landel tells Armstrong that he is going to beat him one-on-one later, informing Jim Cornette that he is not welcome to appear in his corner since he cost him the Intercontinental Championship against Shawn Michaels a week ago at The Super Bowl of Wrestling.  After the speech, Landel goes to the locker room, leaving five men to compete.  Armstrong shows a rare flash of babyface intelligence by giving token punches to Cornette’s Militia and eliminating himself in less than fifteen seconds.  Fans cheer since it leaves four of Cornette’s guys left, ostensibly to fight each other, but after throwing a tantrum Cornette orders all of his men to return to the locker room and the match ends without a clear winner.  The booking angers a vocal fan near the camera, who screams “You can’t let him do that!” over and over.

Falls Count Anywhere Match:  Tommy Rich & the Punisher defeat Boo Bradley & Brian Armstrong when Rich pins Bradley after a Bradley blind charge into a table at 5:10:

Fans near the hard camera are not happy to see Bradley again, with the holder of it screaming “Oh no!  Bradley AGAIN?!?!”  The Mongolian Stomper was booked to appear as Bradley’s partner, but Bradley tells the crowd he no showed, so Armstrong is going to be his replacement partner.  The match is laid out like a tag match in ECW, with the participants pairing off and going their separate ways, switching off after brawling with each other for two minutes like a dance routine.  Bradley props a table against the ring post but when he tries to avalanche Rich against it, Rich moves and gets revenge for losing to Bradley earlier in the evening.  A short brawl, but a fun one.  Rating:  **

After the match, the ever-polite Bradley tries to set the broken table back up for the ring announcer and timekeeper, but it will not stand up.  Frustrated, he stomps it several times and destroys it.

Loser Leaves Town Match with Jim Cornette as Special Guest Referee:  The THUGS (7-3) beat the Dynamic Duo (7-7-1) when the THUGS pin Unabom after a double flying shoulder block at 13:21:

The wrestler that eats the pin is gone from SMW as per the stipulations of this Al Snow dream match.  This was originally supposed to be for the THUGS SMW tag team titles, but they lost them to the Heavenly Bodies at The Super Bowl of Wrestling so now it seems like the Duo are putting their careers on the line for nothing.  Cornette plays the job of biased referee to perfection.  He fast counts all the Duo pin efforts, allows them to pull the hair – while chastising the THUGS for doing it when the Duo complain – and double team with impunity, and slow counts every THUGS pin attempt.  Tracy Smothers and Snow emphasize this in the middle of the match by trading near-falls.  Cornette eyen gets involved by raking the Dirty White Boy’s eyes, provoking a near riotous response from the crowd.  The allows the White Boy to be placed in peril after the Duo stomp him to death.  Despite the obstacles, the THUGS rally and Smothers catches Snow with a corkscrew elbow smash off the top rope, but Cornette slow counts that fall and then tries to help Snow beat up Smothers.  However, heel miscommunication knocks Cornette out.  Smothers clotheslines Snow over the top rope and the THUGS double team Unabom, covering the big man as referee Mark Curtis runs in, picks up Cornette’s hand, and smashes it on the canvas three times to end Unabom’s eight-month run of destruction in the promotion.  After a slow start, this rolled well and is exactly how a biased referee match should be booked.  Rating:  ***

Following the bell, Snow cries into the house mic that Unabom is leaving SMW.  Unabom is also distraught, knowing he was going to the WWF as Jerry Lawler’s dentist.  He probably made more money from his SummerSlam ’95 appearance against Bret Hart, though, than he made in his entire SMW run.

Brad Armstrong (8-1) pins Brian Lee (w/Jim Cornette) after a side Russian leg sweep at 7:20:

This is Buddy Landel’s dream match, which pits Armstrong against a mystery opponent to soften him up for the match later in the evening.  Cornette comes out and announces that Armstrong’s opponent will be two-time SMW Champion Brian Lee, who was working for the USWA at the time after a cup of coffee run in the WWF in 1994 as the fake Undertaker.  Lee tears into Armstrong before the opening bell and Armstrong rallies with a great comeback, only to have Lee block a side Russian leg sweep attempt by grabbing the top rope.  Lee spends the bulk of the match working over Armstrong’s shoulder, cutting off Armstrong’s comebacks with a big boot and powerslam.  However, when Lee decides to try a flying knee drop, he misses, and Armstrong hits his finisher for his ninth win of the year.  If there was more give-and-take in this match it could have been the match of the night as these two seemed to have good chemistry together.  Rating:  **

After the bell, Lee and Cornette pound on Armstrong until his brother, Brian, makes the save.

Ron Wright’s retirement ceremony takes place, with Chip Kessler doing the announcing duties.  Kessler goes over Wright’s accomplishments in the East Tennessee area, highlighting his feud with Whitey Caldwell in the 1960s and 1970s.  The Dirty White Boy, who Wright managed in his early years in SMW, says nice things about him and then says that his dream match is to face Wright.  Recognizing that Wright is in no condition to wrestle, the White Boy says he would be proud to lay down for Wright.  This leads to…

Ron Wright pins the Dirty White Boy (7-2) in three seconds:

The White Boy lays down so the legend can beat him, which is a nice gesture.  This would have been the perfect opportunity to have the White Boy turn heel as well, but SMW is not pulling the trigger on that because they need the THUGS in the tag team division for the time being.

First Blood Match:  Jim Cornette (w/the Punisher) beats Bob Armstrong (0-1) at 5:56:

Cornette never wanted to face Armstrong here but was forced to when the Wolfman forfeited his dream match due to a posterior injury.  As a result, Cornette runs away from Armstrong, only managing offense when the Punisher interjects.  All three men end up under the ring for the finish, with Cornette and the Punisher showing no signs of wear and tear.  However, when Armstrong emerges he is bleeding, costing him the match.  So yes, this tired feud must continue!  Rating:  ¼*

To get some heat back, Armstrong clears the ring of Cornette and the Punisher at the end of the match.  That last bit is harmful for the Punisher’s image as a tough man since he should be destroying the older Armstrong without a lot of effort.

Lumberjack Match for the SMW Championship:  Brad Armstrong (9-1) pins Buddy Landel (14-12-1) after hitting him with Jim Cornette’s tennis racquet at 6:26:

After going through two dream matches booked by Cornette’s Militia, Armstrong gets to turn the tables as the THUGS and Robert Gibson surround the ring with tennis racquets.  That never comes into play, though, as Landel keeps the action in the ring and deliberately works over Armstrong, who is weakened by his match earlier in the night against Brian Lee.  A double knockout spot allows for the overbooking to kick in as Cornette’s Militia tries to interject themselves into the match, only to be held off by Armstrong’s lumberjacks.  This distracts referee Mark Curtis and allows Cornette to hop on the apron and toss Landel his tennis racquet.  An angry Landel throws the object on the canvas, yelling at Cornette that he wanted to beat Armstrong one-on-one.  As this goes on, Armstrong has no reservations about using the racquet and he blasts Landel with it to win the title, giving SMW its first heavyweight titleholder since July 1.  Rating:  *

Fans chant for Landel after the match since he continues to argue with Cornette.  Cornette leaves before Landel can get his hands on him, and Landel tells fans that Cornette has cost him two titles in the span of a week.

SMW Tag Team Championship Match:  The THUGS (8-3) beat the Heavenly Bodies (Champions w/Jim Cornette) (2-0-1) via disqualification when Cornette interferes at 7:32:

These two teams had a fun match at The Super Bowl of Wrestling and the THUGS maintain the intensity of the first match from the beginning, using wooden boards to decimate their opponents.  Only Cornette’s interference helps the Bodies go on the offensive after three minutes as he trips Tracy Smothers when he runs the ropes.  After the Dirty White Boy gets the hot tag, he levels Jimmy del Ray with the Bucksnort Blaster, only to have Dr. Tom Prichard break it up.  Prichard uses a loaded boot behind the referee’s back, but the White Boy kicks out and a frustrated Cornette runs in and hits the White Boy with his racquet to save the titles.  These two teams were on the path of doing an acceptable sequel to their match a week ago, but the interference put a stop to any chances of doing that.  Rating:  **¼

The THUGS quickly turn the tables on the Bodies and Cornette when the match is called off, prompting Cornette’s Militia to run in and do a heel beatdown.  Sandy Scott and Mark Curtis also fall victim to it until Robert Gibson, Boo Bradley, and Brian Armstrong run out to even the odds and force the heels to retreat.

The Last Word:  The dream match concept was a good gimmick to build the show around but it was hurt by last minute changes due to Ricky Morton’s firing – which had a trickle-down effect on the SMW tag team title scene – and the Mongolian Stomper’s no show.  Brad Armstrong is finally the promotion’s top titleholder, although his victory is overshadowed as part of an apparent Buddy Landel babyface turn, a turn that could wreck some booking in SMW since there are no strong heels beyond Landel, a problem compounded by losing Unabom to the WWF.  Overall, the show was fine, but it is not going to be a game changer for a promotion reeling from talent losses and no easy way to replace them.

SMW held a card in Charlotte, North Carolina the following night, but just like Charlotte Memories it drew a disappointing crowd of fewer than 100 fans.  Here are the results of that show, courtesy of prowrestlinghistory.com:

Charlotte, North Carolina – the Grady Cole Center – August 13, 1995 (80):  The THUGS beat Tommy Rich & the Punisher in a first round match in the Carolina Cup Tag Team Tournament…The Headbangers defeated Robert Gibson & Curtis Thompson in a first round match in the Carolina Cup Tag Team Tournament …The Heavenly Bodies beat Bobby Fulton & Boo Bradley in a semi-final match in the Carolina Cup Tag Team Tournament …The THUGS defeated the Headbangers in a semi-final match in the Carolina Cup Tag Team Tournament …SMW Champion Brad Armstrong pinned Buddy Landel…The THUGS defeated the Heavenly Boides to win the Carolina Cup Tag Team Tournament.

Up Next:  Smoky Mountain TV for August 19!