Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Jason Hess
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. The
time period was one that while only 20 years ago, but now seems like a
different world from the scene today.
In a bit of irony, the time frame was exactly five years
previous to our previous installment (see last
month’s article). Some
of the cast of characters from last month….are here again this
month!! So, without
further ado…let’s jump right in.
things go south:
As we are currently experiencing in the current wrestling
scene, pro wrestling goes through “cycles” of popularity.
When you’re up you are up, and when you are down, you’re
down. The ever present
quest during “down” periods is to figure out a way to bring the
crowds back “up.” Promoters
have done some amazing…and unscrupulous things to try and drum up
business in a time of lessened interest in their promotion.
From the wrestling bears, to outlandish gimmick matches, nearly
everything under the sun has been tried to draw a crowd to the arena.
Some promoters would act differently than others in a down
time. Take Paul Boesch
the fall of 1983, Boesch and the Mid-South territory had begun a down
cycle after a very successful summer that included a crowd of over
20,000 fans at the Superdome in New Orleans.
This down cycle would continue to the point that crowds in
Houston would dip to 3,000 fans by the end of the year.
But instead of overloading on gimmicks, Boesch relied on the
stars who had drawn him great gates in the past.
of those stars was the “American Dream,” Dusty Rhodes.
One of the most popular drawing cards in the country after his
face turn in the mid-1970’s, Rhodes would venture out of his Florida
base to tour different parts of the country, such as Georgia, New York
City, and …Houston. Rhodes
had a very successful run in Houston in 1979, going against such foes
as Superstar Graham and Ivan Koloff, and would return periodically
over the years. In 1983,
Rhodes was called upon again for a special match up which had a great
deal of spin off stories on their own.
Match “Unplanned”: On
September 9, 1983, Dusty Rhodes was slated to face then-Georgia
Championship Wrestling superstar and National heavyweight champion,
Larry Zbyzsko. (Zbyzsko
would lose the title 16 days later on September 25, 1983 to Brett
Wayne) Zbyzsko was not
there. He was an anomaly
in the days of Boesch…a no-show.
This set up a most interesting match-up.
in the card, King Kong Bundy had defeated Chief Joe Lightfoot with his
avalanche. Bundy came in
again to face Rhodes. In
a short match, Rhodes began to get the advantage over the massive
Bundy, when One Man Gang interfered.
After a two on one attack that saw Rhodes get “busted
open,” Magnum T.A. interfered to even up the sides.
T.A. fought valiantly, but was soon overwhelmed by the two
the equalizer would come to the ring in the guise of Hacksaw Jim
Duggan. Duggan hit the
ring with his typical wild bravado and eventually vanquished the ring
of the two super-heavyweight wrestlers.
The crowd was happy, as the Dream, the Hacksaw, and new crowd
favorite Magnum T.A. stood triumphant.
Was Dusty the shot of adrenaline the Houston market needed to
get itself back to normal? Not
really. The card did draw
a respectable crowd, but sellouts wouldn’t return as a normal way of
life until a few months later, when an influx of Tennessee talent
would hit the Mid-South and Houston areas.
What was and is interesting is the myriad of stories that are related to this one match……and how some things change….and some stay the same!!More...