Thursday, June 21, 2012

Scott Watches CWA Championship Wrestling From Memphis (January 1, 1983)

Of all of the rasslin territories in the 70s/80s, Memphis is among my absolute favorites. I first became interested in Memphis when it was the USWA in the Apter mags of my youth, early 90s or so, and someone named Jerry Lawler was almost always the champion, or top contender. Then some of those guys would start to filter into The Big Leagues, including Lawler coming to the WWF as an interviewer and commentator and part-time wrestler, and what's weird looking back now, and I wasn't "smart" to shit other than I was pretty certain that no, they weren't really fighting, is that I didn't think, "Wow, Memphis must be rinky-dink bullshit because this part-time commentator is a big deal there." I thought, "I wonder what would happen if Jerry Lawler got some title shots?" I thought he would have fit better in my beloved WCW than in the WWF, something I know now was probably not true. Lawler was made for the circus (not that WCW wasn't a circus, but they were a circus in a bad way, while say what you will, the WWF is/was a circus in a good way, or close enough to good).

Memphis at its absolute best was this mix of cartoony stuff, cutting edge stuff, gimmick matches galore, and that gritty, hard-hitting action that today gives me the warm fuzzies. Memphis had it all. It was sometimes so stupid that it was great anyway, and sometimes so legitimately great that it was stupid.

Let us go back to early 1983 and discuss some Memphis television programming. Go and listen to the Wrestlespective Radio episode about Memphis featuring Jason Mann and Scott Bowden of the great Kentucky Fried Rasslin blog.

January 1, 1983

Lance Russell and Dave Brown, a classic combination. New Year's Day. Fuck the Rose Bowl. (The Mighty Michigan Wolverines lost to the Bruins of UCLA, 24-14.)

Here are clips of Jerry Lawler wrestling AWA world champion Nick Bockwinkel, rising from the stage in his glorious crown. The highlights are set to "Winning!" by Santana, making that now my favorite Santana song but then I hate Santana. Lawler won the match on December 27 in Memphis and appeared to have won the title, but it never officially counted, as Bockwinkel had his feet on the ropes. Right now it's treated as though Lawler is the new world's champion.

We join Lawler outdoors by a pond, sitting on a stump in a leather jacket, talking about becoming world champion. Talking about dreams. Becoming a wrestler. Frustrations and disappointments. "I guess the most disappointing thing that can happen to anybody is to almost attain a goal, and then not get there. Come so close, and yet so far." Lawler began to doubt himself. But it's a dream come true.

Outside of Memphis, Lawler's claim to the title wasn't even an issue. The King ends his speech and walks around the outdoors as "Sunshine On My Shoulders" by John Denver plays. It's beautiful. Jerry stares out at the world, walks around it. The world of which he is now the heavyweight wrestling champion. ... sort of.

Adrian Street, Miss Linda, and Jimmy Cornette join Lance, who runs down some upcoming matches. Cornette is young and thin and babyfaced, but he speaks exactly like he would always speak. Adrian Street was remarkable. The best of all the gay gimmicks as it preys on a keen misunderstanding of what and who gay men are. Sheepherders speak on strap matches against The Fabulous Ones. This isn't Luke and Butch, but Luke and Jonathan Boyd, and he does the talking. "We'll stand there and let ya whip us for five minutes, and then beat your bloody brains in."

First match gets cut out of the video. What asshole did that. What a load. Here's highlights of Bill Dundee and Terry Taylor vs Adrian Street and Apocalypse. Taylor and Dundee win but the bad fellas do a number on Dundee. Then the referee MANS UP and gets attacked, too, before the Fabulous Ones get involved.

The damn second match is cut out too. I'm gonna punch someone in the goddamn face. At least the main event is here. I guess this damnfool only taped main events and promos. What a goob.

Bill Dundee, King Cobra & Jacques Rougeau vs Adrian Street, Apocalypse & Jesse Barr

Barr smacks Rougeau in his young, pretty face to start. Seeing young Jacques is still weird for me since I can really only see him as the prettyboy member of the Rougeau Brothers, as I've essentially chosen to forget The Mountie, and the Quebecers/Amazing French-Canadians never did much for me as Jacques wound down his career.

King Cobra is your Unappreciated and Largely Forgotten Black Fellow for this match, a Memphis mainstay who eventually won the USWA belt though that was not recognized in Texas, which was standard practice around that time as Lawler would drop and regain the belt repeatedly in Memphis to the point that it was basically useless to acknowledge it for the Texas end of the promotion, I suspect. Cobra gets a pin early to win a fall.

Apocalypse was one of those "only in Memphis" sort of cheeseballs:

Apocalypse. ... Apocalypse.

Better than Korchenko at least. And...lots of other things. In the great list of retarded Memphis nonsense, Apocalypse isn't a serious contender.

Just a match for a little bit before it breaks down into a fight with everyone running around the ring except Jacques, and Dundee can't catch up to anyone to get his hands on them. Adrian Street is king of working the rubes into a lather without really doing anything. Barr pins King Cobra with an elbow drop to tie it up at one fall apiece and go to a draw.

We go to a pre-taped promo with the great Bill Dundee about an upcoming match with Adrian Street and Jim Cornette. Dundee warns Miss Linda that if she gets in the ring and lays a hand on him, he'll knock her out, even though that's not gentlemanly. The Fabulous Ones roll up in sweet jackets with sweet ass beards to talk on the Sheepherders and that strap match in Louisville.

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