USA Championship Wrestling – March 12, 1988

OK, here is the show I was going to review before California Championship Wrestling made a blip on the radar. From 1988, Ron Fuller (brother of Robert “Colonel Rob Parker” Fuller) presents USA Championship Wrestling from Knoxville, one of the last Knoxville wrestling promotions before Smoky Mountain Wrestling gave it one last try. It’s a who’s who of names in the promotion and just some good ol’ Southern rasslin’, so I thought I’d give it a look.

Hosts are no less than Gordon Solie, up from Florida, and Ron Fuller.

Johnny and Davey Rich vs. JD Wolfe and Craig Brown

Johnny and Davey are cousins, although it’s acknowledged that Davey’s real surname is actually Haskins, but he takes Rich for ease. Beyond that, Johnny and Tommy Rich are apparently cousins. Johnny dances with Bouncing Beulah, the Knoxville stunt granny, on the way to the ring. Davey starts the match by dropkicking Wolfe right out of the ring in an fantastic bump! He runs straight back into a hip toss and an armdrag. Double team punch to the gut and kneelift. Johnny works the arm. The Rich cousins and Scott Armstrong were members of the charmingly-named Rat Patrol. Craig Brown, who’s a big guy, comes in, but walks into another strong dropkick. Wolfe comes back in and almost gets caught and decapitated in the ropes off an Irish whip, with Ron speculating it’s broken his nose. Brown comes back in and eats a double dropkick, followed by a Thesz press from Johnny for the win.

Commercial: A rundown of the upcoming matches in the territory over the next week, with some big matches like Doug Furnas against Buddy Landel and the Bullet against the Mongolian Stomper, plus Terry Gordy in as well against Terry Adonis. I could’ve seen the promotion struggling just on payroll at the time.

Interview: Gordon talks to tag champs the Rock ‘n’ Roll RPMs, Tommy Lane and Mike Davis, who throw scorn at the Rich cousins. Davis was a great talker and both guys were decent workers, but no star appearance at all, with Davis missing a load of teeth for a start.

Interview: Gordon talks to Ron Wright, flanked by the Mongolian Stomper and the Dog (Moondog Spot). Ron talks up his bad heart and how it means he can only be an adviser at ringside and can NEVER get involved in matches, which is obviously a shame. Gordon deadpans his reaction by showing clips of him putting the boots to a jobber and holding him for Stomper to beat up, and even dispatching some people coming in to break it up. Ron was just trying to help the guy up, for goodness sake! “We have a difference in ocular observation in this situation”, says Gordon. Ron suggests a trip to the optician. You can’t trust these Tennessee people, they’re all liars, says Ron, that’s why he moved out of the state. The juxtaposition of Ron and Stomper cheating like rat bastards against Wright doing a sincere plea of innocence is hysterical and he was a regional classic.

Interview: Gordon talks to the Bullet, who broke up the Mongolian Stomper beating, and Scott Armstrong. Bullet does all the talking while Scott, with his bum fluff moustache and grandad glasses, hangs out in the back, before going on a riff about mountain climbing.

The Dog vs. Alan Reynolds

No idea why they couldn’t call him Moondog. Reynolds looks really good except for an obviously receding hairline. Spot muscles him up for a backbreaker. Reynolds rolls out for respite and Ron gets a shot in on the outside with his cane as Beulah goes to stop him. She even tries to help Reynolds back in. Spot gets a double axehandle off the second and back suplexes him before finishing with a flying clothesline. All fine, the Moondogs were good workers in any case.

Personality Profile: Bill Dundee is the focus this week, a small guy but a tough guy. We get clips of him in the USA Video of the Week to Wild Boys by Duran Duran, including against Nick Bockwinkel in years prior in Memphis. He can mat wrestle with the likes of Tony Charles and brawl with the likes of the Stomper and Jos LeDuc. He then comes out in his Elvis jumpsuit and glasses to Also Sprach Zarathrustra for an interview and talks about actually being from Scotland, but growing up in Australia and how it’s always David vs. Goliath for him. A babyface at this point, but that would change when his loudmouth son came on the scene.

Scott Armstrong vs. Mike Sampson

Here comes one of the Party Boys! Sampson attacks early and gets a suplex before Scott can even get his jacket off. He misses a fistdrop, triggering a comeback for Scott, who quickly finishes with the superkick. Scott was a good wrestler, but just was so small and insignificant compared to his brothers.

Interview: Gordon talks to Buddy Landel and Hector Guerrero, who’s goofing off in the background. Buddy with that classic dad joke “What has 32 teeth and weighs a thousand pounds? Front row ringside in Kentucky at the wrestling matches!”. The only reason that Doug Furnas is the strongest man in the world is that Budro had a temperature that day and missed the show. Hector barely says anything and they get cut off early, but that’s a great dynamic with Landel as the big mouth and Guerrero as his laughing boy.

Buddy Landel vs. Todd Morton

Todd is a ginger Ricky Morton lookalike who did jobs for WCW in the nineties. Buddy is doing the Don Carson loaded black glove gimmick at this time. He skips a dropkick and get a chop. One-armed suplex (both arms to get Morton up, then holds him with one before dropping him). Landel gets a neck vice and an elbow smash, then switches to a dragon sleeper while getting some poses in for the camera. Budro is often considered a bit of an embarrassing, low-rent Nature Boy, but he was a super worker and had far better presence than 80% of wrestlers, he just got in his own way and squandered his own chances with his bad habits. Corkscrew elbowdrop flattens Morton, then he loads the glove for the knockout punch and pin with one finger. Good showcase for Buddy. He goes to prop up Morton for more punishment, but Doug Furnas runs in to make the save. Before he can get the glove off Hector runs in, but takes the punishment while Buddy reloads the glove and takes down Furnas. The heels take out anyone who tries to run in and bust open Furnas before Superstar and the Rat Patrol run them off. That would definitely draw the crowds in Jellico, Pineville and Knoxville!

Interview: Dundee and Doug join Gordon at the table to talk about what just happened. They make the right decision to have Bill do the fired up promo while Doug wipes the blood off his head. Gordon closes with Ron and welcomes enquiries for TV tickets at the cost of $3 before hyping the matches in the territory over the next week.

The Bottom Line: How can you do wrong with the Dean on commentary and some good Southern workers? I’ll come back to this and Stampede for an episode each next week.