Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Jason Hess
Hello and welcome to the latest installment of
Houston Wrestling here at Kayfabe Memories.
In this edition of Houston Wrestling memories, we
will once again take a look at how Houston Wrestling was perhaps the
most unique “territory” in the United States.
Ever the one for continuity, Paul Boesch was able to take an
existing storyline from one company…..and switch it to another one.
Face Turn Like No Other:
One of the greatest face turns of all time is the late 1985 turn
of Ted DiBiase (chronicled greatly in the Mid-South section of KM!!).
At the time, DiBiase was one of the leading heels in wrestling,
but through the master story-telling of Bill Watts, DiBiase went from
heel to face within the span of one 60 minute Mid-South television
program. Basically, Ric
Flair and Dick Murdoch were the catalysts for DiBiase’s face turn, and
from that moment on, fans across Mid-South fell in love with
“Teddy.” His turn was so powerful that almost by default, his tag team
partner Steve Williams turned babyface as well!!!
Sticky Situation: From
late 1985-May 1987, Ted DiBiase was one of the lead babyfaces in the UWF.
During that time, he had extended feuds with Dick Murdoch, the
Sheepherders (with Steve
Williams), the Freebirds, and One Man Gang.
Although DiBiase was not the lead babyface during his time (due
to Hacksaw Duggan and later Dr. Death himself), he was always in the
thick of the action.
However, winds of change began to blow into the UWF
in early 1987. By then, the
UWF was beginning to lose money due to a weakened economy in most of its
touring and television region. Top
babyface Hacksaw Duggan had already left to join the WWF, debuting right
before WrestleMania 3. DiBiase
and Doc were still going fairly strong, with Dibiase moving into a
consistent challenger role for then UWF champion One Man Gang.
That role changed also, as Gang abruptly left the UWF shortly
after dropping the UWF title to Big Bubba Rogers. (which happened
shortly after the sale of the UWF to Jim Crockett Promotions)
DiBiase was left without a true angle for himself.
For a while, his character had no direction.
Things were looking up however. When he met with Jim Crockett to discuss his role in the
company, DiBiase was reportedly offered a huge contract, and was allowed
to keep up his Japan tours, which brought him additional income. In fact, DiBiase was seemingly headed for a heel turn, as he
was supposed to wrestle long time partner Williams in a “number one
contender’s match” in mid-May 1987.
There was just one problem:
DiBiase never made the match.
Before the scheduled match with Doc on May 17, 1987
at the UWF television tapings in Tulsa, Oklahoma, DiBiase shocked
industry insiders by signing to wrestle with the WWF.
His signing was quite unexpected, considering that he was
considered by many to be one of the best workers in the world.
Being a great worker was not the key to success in Titan Sports
during that period of time. However,
once the Million Dollar Man gimmick was established, Dibiase became a
main event level heel for most of 1988 with the WWF.
DiBiase wasn’t the only Mid-South mainstay to
switch his allegiance to the WWF. As
already mentioned, Hacksaw Duggan had made his way “up north.”
So had Paul Boesch. The
longtime Houston promoter had switched to WWF programming and cards in
April 1987. And here is
where the story really gets good.
The debut card at the Sam Houston Coliseum for the WWF was held on May 15, 1987. The show was a moderate success, drawing nearly $60,000 with the two main attractions being the Houston return of Hacksaw Duggan against Nikolai Volkoff (the two had a huge rivalry in Mid-South in 1983-84), and an Intercontinental title match between Rick Steamboat and Randy Savage. More...