My Lords of the Ring review, with the Ta-Gar section, got me in mind to check out some 1991 USWA, so here’s the closest episode to thirty years ago today.
From WMC-TV in Memphis, with Dave Brown and Michael St. John on commentary. Michael’s reliable enough, but he’s no Lance Russell, who was with WCW at the time.
Night Train Jackson vs. Sgt. O’Reilly
Night Train is WCW and WWF enhancement guy Gary Jackson, who took some awesome bumps in matches with guys like Dan Spivey, Razor Ramon and Rick Rude. The crowd is shockingly empty and quiet because apparently the episode is on earlier and not everyone has turned up yet. Jackson has Playboy bunnies and glittery silver armbands, so I don’t know if he’s supposed to be a male stripper or a leporine version of Koko B. Ware. He does do a decent rope walk into an armdrag at one point. Referee Paul Neighbors has the Pepe Casas look with the male pattern baldness and ponytail and takes forever to count three on a fisherman suplex for Jackson at 1:50. Harmless squash.
Promo for the Texas Hangman with a custom music video that sounds like it’s been recorded by an Iron Maiden tribute band. Some cool double-team moves highlighted, like a double axehandle/neckbreaker combo, but it’s the Texas Hangmen, who can get excited about that?
Interview with JC Ice Baby and Jeff Gaylord, who attacked Bill Dundee last week with about the same aptitude as he attacked Eddie Gilbert backstage in the GWF. Jamie’s black and white polka-dot outfit overshadows anything said.
Jeff Gaylord vs. Ronnie Leach
Gorilla press straight away, followed by slams. Leach looks like Jeff Jarrett if he’d never tanned, worked out or had his hair styled. Gaylord JUST ABOUT gets him up for a powerbomb, which looked like he was going to drop him on the head. Pumphandle slam finishes about two minutes in. Gaylord had good hair and a good body (but awful teeth) but was terrible in the ring and worse as a person.
Interview with Bill Dundee almost doesn’t get started as he attacks Gaylord and runs him off. “Where’s the white boy? I beat him up so bad he left town and that musclehead is going to end up the same way!”, says Bill. “Steroids! Steroids!”, responds a kid from the audience. That’s the trouble when it’s quiet as a morgue.
Recorded interview with Terry Funk, who’s currently the USWA champion, after we see him defeating Jerry Lawler following distraction from Eddie Gilbert for the belt. The Funker looks strange with just a moustache and not the goatee, which I’m guessing was for an acting job. I always thought the goatee was to cover a bit of a recessed chin, but he’s actually got quite a prominent one. Terry knocks all the fans in the area before moving onto Jerry and his mentor Jackie Fargo, who is a pervert and you shouldn’t trust your children around him because he’s a pervert. He’s going to stomp on that pervert’s chest and give the pervert a heart attack. Pervert! Terry just went on a riff at random and it was still great.
Special feature on Jerry Lawler after Michael has given him a bit of verbal gobbling. We start with some midi file-level regal music as he walks to the ring in fetching neon green before seeing him beat two dozen people to the Rocky Victory theme, then a cheesy bit of him working with disadvantaged to Thank God for Kids by the Oak Ridge Boys. They should’ve stopped at the Rocky montage.
Rundown of the Mid-South Coliseum card on Monday, featuring Steve Austin in action against Curtis Thompson, doubtless just before joining WCW, the New Kids against the Exterminators (bet they had leather jackets and shades, but not an Arnie body), a $10,000 battle royal (the winner’s not getting a tenth of that!), and topped off by Jerry Lawler challenging Terry Funk for the belt with that pervert Jackie Fargo as the special guest referee. You can guess the result.
Interview with Jerry Lawler, who recaps his loss and subsequent return to contention, with his most recent victory over Stunning Steve. I’m SHOCKED Stone Cold doesn’t still hold a grudge over doing that job. A minimum of glib comments from the King, with him even dropping the bombshell that if he doesn’t win on Monday night that he might wind his career down given the state of his neck, which even takes Dave aback. Wonder how that worked out. Lawler could sell ice to Eskimos, so as strong as ever in this one.
Highlights of Nightmare Danny Davis and El Grande Pistolero in recent action. Pistolero is Gypsy Joe under a mask with a name that I believe was an inside joke along the lines of if you put Alex Wright under a hood and called him Das Grosse Wurst. Pretty good action around the outside, including a cool atomic drop onto the ring steps. Back in the studio Davis does a pretty intense interview, although he doesn’t threaten to skull-fuck anyone like he did in the story Corny told on his podcast recently about dropout Stefan Gamlin keeping his daughter out after hours.
Dr. Tom Prichard and Eric Embry (w/Tojo Yamamoto) vs. Curtis Thompson and Brad Collins
The heels are representing the Texas end of the territory before Jerry Jarrett cut his losses. Collins looks a bit like Eddie Guerrero, but obviously not the same level of stardom. Thompson, as US Male, is like a male stripper postman. I saw a recent picture of him and he doesn’t look bad, with a bit of a mini-Warlord look, big thick beard and shaved head and muscles as a biker. Prichard and Embry stop by the commentary desk between tags to cut their own promos, dominating Collins while Tojo taps him on the head with a tinfoil Halliburton. Prichard COMPLETELY fucks up a slingshot suplex on the ropes and has to rely on Embry straightening the legs out and pushing Collins back before Prichard turns in to protect him, leading to a proto-Jackhammer. Embry follows with a diving headbutt off the top. Thompson never made it in. What was up with that, did he tear his groin ripping off his shorts?
Interview with Prichard and Embry, proclaiming themselves as from the United States of Texas. Embry promises everyone that Monday night will be Lawler’s last match and talks himself into being his next feud. Prichard does his interview supporting Funk and sounding like a cross between Roddy Piper and Brother Brucie. Other than shouting all the time, I could actually see Shawn Michaels taking a lot of his promo style from Tom with the mannerisms and intonations.
Jeff Jarrett vs. Steve Austin
Well, you wouldn’t see this one later in the decade! Austin, and Jarrett to a degree, look so much more ready for a national level his size, body, look, bumping and presence. His reinvention in 1996 never fails to shock me even with the knowledge of him as a blonde bodybuilder earlier in his career. That body wasn’t solely built on potatoes and tuna, though! Austin dominates early with his trademark punches, but gets small packaged going for a slam. Luckily he’d very clearly signaled JC Ice to get up on the apron for the distraction prior. He goes to a rear chinlock with a knee in the back, which was an early go-to of his for years, which Jeff escapes but gets a knee in the stomach for. Jeff comes back with a kick when Austin drops the head, then mounted punches in the corner. Steve gets a visual pinfall in the corner with his feet on the ropes, which Neighbors calls off. JC Ice slips him a foreign object for another apparent win, but Jeff gets his foot on the ropes. Backslide reversal into a sunset flip gets the win for Jeff, regaining the vacant Southern championship. Ice, Prichard and Embry swarm the ring to attack with the Halliburton, but Eddie Gilbert, now a babyface, makes the save. I get the feeling that was part of a longer con-job on Gilbert’s part. Jeff cuts an interview on Prichard and Embry, with Gilbert as his partner, ahead of a Texas Death match. They run out of time ahead of a commercial for Eddie to talk. How could Jeff ever be a babyface with that voice and promo? Ultimate babyface look, ultimate heel persona and interview.
Back from a break, Eddie gets his words in before the show ends, managing to promote Lawler’s match and his team’s match in intense style in thirty seconds before the end theme tune cuts him off. What a pro!
The Bottom Line: I only intended to look at this as a one-off, but I might have to hunt the follow-up down given how good this episode was! I wonder if the King won or retired…