Memphis/CWA #21 Page #2

With Jarrett retaining the TV show in Texas, Kevin’s attempts to run a promotion collapsed since providing a TV show was key in keeping fans curious enough to spend their money to attend a wrestling card at the local arena. Kevin would try to run a promotion in the Dallas area from time to time, as would others. The most successful of these attempts was the GWF which is tied in with Jerry Jarrett at least in it’s inception. The GWF made a play to purchase the USWA as part of their thrust to begin a new national promotion. The deal, for the biggest part, did not occur. The GWF did end up with the remaining stations on the old World Class syndicated network and eventually wound up with an afternoon TV slot on ESPN that Jarrett wound up with for a time. As the GWF began setting up shop in Dallas, Jerry Jarrett and his company were finished with running wrestling in Texas. History relating to the USWA from 1990 forward and about the GWF can be found in the Regional Territories section of this site.  

In Tennessee though the USWA continued. The old circuit continued to operate mostly on a weekly basis much as it had for years. Saturday mornings the promotion ran a live TV show at WMC-TV in Memphis while Saturday nights the promotion ran at the Nashville Fairgrounds Arena. Monday was the return stop in Memphis at the Mid-South Coliseum. Tuesday was the Louisville Garden and Wednesday was the Coliseum in Evansville.

In early 1991, the promotion found itself in a dispute with Mid-South Coliseum manager Beth Wade. Wade had raised rent and antagonized the promotion in a number of other ways. With the weekly cards drawing fewer and fewer fans, the rent increase hit the promotion hard. In March 1991, the promotion pulled out of the Mid-South Coliseum, the home for Memphis wrestling for over twenty years. The promotion then began running shows at the Pipkin Building. In August 1991 though problems were ironed out enough to see the promotion return to the Coliseum.

In August 1992, the WWF came to town and ran a show at the Pyramid, Memphis’ new arena. During the card, someone in attendance sitting in the second row threw out some challenges to WWF star Bret Hart. That challenger was USWA star Jeff Jarrett. 

Jerry Jarrett and Vince McMahon had reached an agreement that allowed WWF stars to work shows in the USWA while Jarrett would take young talent the WWF had interest in and help train them. The USWA saw an interesting mix of WWF stars for the next few years that the agreement continued. Jimmy Hart sent in a taped interview marking his hometown promotion return after a seven year absence. Later, Hart would return to the WMC-TV studio for an appearance. Other WWF stars that hit USWA rings included The Bushwhackers: Butch & Luke (remembered in Memphis as one version of The Sheepherders), Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig), Harvey Wippleman (Downtown Bruno), Doink the Clown, Lex Luger, Giant Gonzales, Randy Savage, Big Bossman, Shawn Michaels, Sherri Martel, Papa Shango, The Undertaker (known to area fans as The Master of Pain), Owen Hart, Bret Hart, Yokozuna, Crush, Luna Vachon, The 1-2-3 Kid, Tatanka, Bob Backlund and others.

Most interesting in the agreement between the USWA and the WWF was the appearance of WWF head Vince McMahon as a heel, a precursor to his role of Mr. McMahon in the WWF in the late 1990s and into the new millennium. McMahon worked a feud involving heel referee Paul Neighbors and Jerry Lawler by appearing in Neighbors’ corner along with Pat Patterson. McMahon’s evil-tinged interviews for his appearances were good practice for the role he would use in his national promotion in a few years. McMahon’s appearances in Memphis came after he spent much of the summer of 1993 embroiled in the infamous steroid trial. While McMahon was heavily involved with business outside the day-to-day operations of the WWF, Jerry Jarrett stepped into a greater day-to-day working involvement with the WWF.

Of course, the WWF’s involvement with the USWA ended up benefiting Jerry Lawler, who debuted for the WWF as an announcer in December 1992 and Jeff Jarrett, who was given a major push by the WWF upon his entry. Interestingly enough, when the USWA had a working agreement with the WWF, Jerry Jarrett signed on as a consultant for WCW in 1995, the WWF’s arch business rival.

With the WWF and WCW eating up the active talent pool, remaining wrestling offices such as the USWA and the promotional incarnations that would follow in the area would became training grounds for those young in the business. Some of the business’s future top stars passed through the promotion during the 1990s including Mike Awesome, Joey Maggs, Ms. Texas (Jacqueline), Sabu, Chris Candido, Rob Zakowski (Rob Van Dam), The Sandman, Reno Riggins, The Tazmaniac (Pete Senerca a/k/a Taz), Ron & Don Harris (The Bruise Brothers, The Blu Brothers, etc.), Glen Jacobs (as the Christmas Creature in Memphis, better known as the WWF’s Kane), Skull Von Crush (Vito in WCW), The Spiders (later known as The Headbangers), Axl & Ian Rotten, The Colorado Kid (Mike Rapada), Scotty Flamingo (Raven), The Harlem Knights (Men on a Mission), New Jack, Scott Taylor (Scotty Too Hotty), The Eliminators (Perry Saturn & John Kronus), Chris Canyon, Scott Studd (Scotty Riggs), Gorgeous George, III (Robbie Eagle, WCW’s Maestro) and eventually  Flex Kavana (The Rock), Kurt Angle and more.

The promotion would also create some of their own talent over the years. In 1990 a new tag team debuted billed as The New Kids. The team consisting of Tony Williams and Brian Christopher made a quick splash and found some success. Brian would go heel and almost immediately be likened to a heel from a few decades previous, Jerry Lawler. Of course, there was good reason for the similarities as Brian is Jerry’s son, a fact not revealed to area fans. After some success in the territory, Brian would hit the WWF and achieve some success in a tag team with Scott Taylor (Scotty Too Hotty). Another Lawler son, Kevin, worked some as a masked wrestler (most often as The Yellow Jacket) but found himself more often than not working as referee Kevin Christian.

Jaime Dundee, son of Bill Dundee, also worked the area a good deal in the 1990s. In 1993, Jaime who had become known as JC Ice paired with Wolfie D to form the combination PG-13. PG-13 would become one of the more celebrated tag teams in Memphis during the 1990s working memorable feuds against Tommy Rich & Doug Gilbert as well as The Rock n Roll Express. They would also work for both the WWF and WCW over time.

Many of the old familiar faces who had graced area rings for years continued to appear throughout the next decade. A short list would include such stars as Robert Fuller, Eric Embry, Tom Prichard, Downtown Bruno, Steve Keirn, Kamala, Gypsy Joe (who returned under as mask as El Grande Pistolero), Billy Travis, Jimmy Valiant, Koko Ware, Dutch Mantel, Austin Idol, Tony Falk, Eddie & Doug Gilbert, Brickhouse Brown, Bill Dundee, Buddy Landel, Tommy Rich, Don Bass (including a stint as The Masked Rock n Roll Phantom) and of course Jeff Jarrett and Jerry Lawler.

In late 1996, Jerry Jarrett sold his half of the promotion to his partner Jerry Lawler. In time, Lawler would bring Larry Bertman (also known as Burton) aboard. Later, Mark Selker was brought into a postion to buy the company but things fell into a muddling mix of legal issues which saw WMC-TV cancel the TV show and eventually for the USWA to cease to exist. The Monday night TV wrestling wars between WCW and the WWF also played a major part in helping kill weekly Monday night wrestling in Memphis, as the house show moved from it’s traditional Monday night slot. From the ashes of what was left, other promotions would rise attempting to recapture part of the magic that came to be known as Memphis ‘Rasslin.

Jeff Jarrett

Jeff would grow into a very good wrestler in the 1990s. As he continued to work the territory it became obvious Jeff could achieve more if allowed the chance. As the relationship between the USWA and the WWF grew, Jeff would begin to make his presence known in the WWF. Introduced as Double J, a country music singer who just happened to also wrestle, began appearing in a series of vignettes on WWF TV. Most of those vignettes featured prominent Memphis-promotion regulars in the background including Frank Morrell, Ms. Texas, Ronnie Gossett and Tony Falk. Jeff’s WWF career included stints as Intercontinental champion and a run with Owen Hart as WWF tag champions. Over time, Jeff would jump ship to WCW and eventually would hold their World title. Jeff’s final departure from the WWF was a bitter break-up so when the WWF purchased WCW in 2001, Jeff Jarrett was not offered a slot with the WWF freeing Jeff to work independent dates.

Brickhouse Brown

After first working in the area in 1984 and then having a major run in 1987, Brown would pop back up from time to time in the area over the years. Brown would never get an extended run with a major company on the national wrestling scene.

Ric Flair

The Nature Boy, who had made a handful of appearances over the years in the territory, would remain a fixture in the business almost non-stop up until this writing. Flair would leave his homebase WCW and work for the WWF for a time. He always though seemed to fit in more with WCW than anywhere else. Flair, born in Memphis, would remain a major player in WCW during most of the 1990s until the company was sold to the WWF. In time, Flair would step into a prominent role with the WWF in 2001.

Roger Kirby

The mid-1970s Nature Boy also worked Memphis for a time in 1980 teaming with Guy Mitchell. Kirby would continue to work in the wrestling business for a number of years to follow. He would eventually work only select dates in the mid-west before leaving the business and settling down in the Kansas City area.

Buddy Landel

The other Nature Boy reemerged in the Memphis territory during the 1990s. Landel would also get a run with WCW in 1990 and also worked some with the fledgling GWF. Landel’s greatest success in the 1990s was with Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain promotion, handy for Landel since he lived in the area. Landel even wowed many fans with an excellent match for the promotion against the visiting WWF star Shawn Michaels. It seemed for a time that Landel might even get a shot at the WWF but injuries marred that possibility. Landel would work independent dates throughout the South for the rest of the decade and into the new millennium. Landell would also return for various nostalgia shows not only in the Memphis area but throughout the South. Landel would work a nostalgia card in Birmingham in 2001 and announce his retirement from active competition.

Nick Bockwinkel

Jerry Lawler’s most consistent obstacle at winning the AWA title was the crafty veteran Nick Bockwinkel. Bockwinkel remained fairly active in-ring until the late 1980s. After retiring, he worked for the WWF for a time as a road agent. The 1993 WCW Slamboree pay-per-view featured a legends match pitting Bockwinkel against the equally legendary Dory Funk, Jr. The match went to a draw. In the mid-1990s, Bockwinkel returned to the major limelight in the business by becoming WCW Commissioner, a figurehead position, but one that kept him prominent in the eyes of viewers. Bockwinkel now helps train wrestlers in Las Vegas.

Ken Lucas

The feisty wrestler billed from Arizona left Memphis in 1981. He found some success working for the Southwest promotion often teaming with Ricky Morton. Lucas would mostly though work matches in the Gulf Coast region for Southeastern Championship Wrestling. An auto accident ended Lucas’ ring career in 1984 signaling his retirement from the business to reside in the Gulf Coast. Lucas did reappear on a card in the late 1990s to wrestle old nemesis Don Carson, a true throwback to the wrestling style promoted for years by Nick Gulas and Roy Welch in the old territory and in the Gulf Coast area by the Fields family.

Bobby Eaton

High-flying Bobby Eaton worked as part of the Midnight Express in the Crockett promotion with Dennis Condrey and then with Stan Lane and manager Jim Cornette until 1990. Cornette and Lane left the promotion and Eaton remained. An extensive Bobby Eaton and Midnight Express career recap is found on this site (in the Wrestlers section) . Eaton would be let go by WCW but would rebound and return to Memphis in 2000. In Memphis, Eaton wrestled but his primary responsibility was in training younger wrestlers. Eaton now works an occasional independent card in the South and has opened a training center in the Charlotte, NC area.

Koko Ware

Koko became a mid-card star for the WWF during the 1980s. While he never held any major championships there he could be counted on to fire up a crowd which seemed to be a big reason why the WWF hired him. Ware’s WWF stay is highlighted with a tag team called High Energy with Owen Hart. Ware would work independents after leaving the WWF and would also return to Memphis and work in a prominent position much of the 1990s. Koko is briefly featured in the movie Beyond the Mat.

Jimmy Valiant

One of the area’s most popular stars often returned as a special attraction over the years well into the 1990s. Valiant though had dropped a lot of weight and slowed some looking very unlike he did during the glory years of his Memphis runs. Valiant who had a major run with the Crockett promotion in the 1980s would not headline any major promotion cards again except those promoted by Jerry Jarrett. Valiant continues to work on the independent circuit and also works training wrestlers in his own wrestling school near Roanoke, Virginia.

The Von Erich Family

The Texas dynasty never returned to previous glory. Fritz was rarely seen by wrestling fans after Jerry Jarrett bought his promotion. His influence though was likely felt as Kevin made a play to overturn Jarrett from the Texas end of the USWA in 1990. Fritz would spend the rest of his live recounting his family history and promotion history in a much different light than what many in the business remember it. After a battle with cancer, Fritz Von Erich, aka Jack Adkisson, passed away on at the age of  68 in 1997.

Kerry Von Erich signed on with the WWF in 1990. He received an immediate push, billed as The Texas Tornado, and downed Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig) for the company’s number two singles title, the Intercontinental championship. Kerry though continued to battle health and legal problems and personal demons. Kerry’s struggle with drugs saw him lose his WWF job. In February 1993, Kerry found himself in legal trouble in Texas relating to forged drug prescriptions. He was placed on probation. He was then discovered with cocaine in his car. Kerry committed suicide in Denton, Texas instead of facing the potential of a prison stay due to the parole violation. Kerry’s suicide followed the suicide of the youngest Von Erich son, Chris in September 1991. Chris debuted in ring in June 1990. Chris though was the smallest of the Von Erich sons and his lack of size would be a major obstacle for him to overcome to see any long term success in the business. Chris also battled drug problems and personal demons.

Kevin Von Erich remained in Texas and continued to wrestle from time to time. He would also try his hand at promoting on occasion with little success. Kevin became the lone surviving Von Erich son after Kerry’s suicide.

Following Kerry’s death in 1993, a benefit card for Kerry’s children was held in the famed Dallas Sportatorium. Longtime Texas stars such as Killer Tim Brooks, Steve & Shawn Simpson, Black Bart, Mike Davis and Iceman Parsons made appearances. The night’s main event saw Kevin team with Gentleman Chris Adams to down The Fabulous Freebirds: Buddy Roberts & Michael Hayes.

Bam Bam Bigelow

The Beast from the East has delighted fans all over the world since his initial Memphis appearance in 1986. The tattooed monster has drawn crowds to shows in Japan and to the major promotions in the U.S. during the 1990s including the WWF, WCW and ECW. Bigelow’s last major run was in WCW when the company brought him in as a major challenge to monster fan favorite Goldberg. Bigelow’s U.S. career has stalled after the WWF purchased WCW.

Rocky Johnson

One of Jerry Lawler’s key rivals of the 1970s had returned to the area last in 1987. In the late 1990s though Rocky’s son, Dwayne Johnson debuted in the promotion preparing him for a career in the WWF. Working in Memphis as Flex Kavana, Dwayne Johnson would gain greater fame in the WWF as The Rock. With The Rock’s success, attention was also brought to his father. Rocky Johnson returned to Memphis in 2001 and wrestled as part of the card celebrating the history Memphis wrestling.

Verne Gagne

The head of the AWA saw his kingdom slowly die. By the early 1990s, Gagne’s American Wrestling Association no longer promoted wrestling. Gagne appeared on WCW’s 1994 Slamboree pay-per-view which celebrated pro wrestling’s history.

Kevin Sullivan

Kevin Sullivan would have an interesting ring career after departing Memphis in 1981. He would attract great attention in Florida for his devil-worshipping gimmick which included a valet billed as Fallen Angel (his then-wife Nancy Daus Sullivan) and feud against Dusty Rhodes. Sullivan would uncover this gimmick in several territories in the 1980s. By the end of the 1980s, Sullivan was  working with the WCW promotion and had a run as the leader of a group of heels called the Varsity Club. 

As Sullivan gained power in WCW by becoming a member of the booking committee, Fallen Angel was reintroduced. This time though she appeared as innocent Robin Greene who turned into the devious manager Woman, setting Nancy Sullivan up with a gimmick she would use in various promotions in the 1990s and would reprise for WCW later.

Sullivan left WCW and wound up working for Smoky Mountain and ECW, among other independent groups. He wound back up in WCW settling into a role similar to his devil-worshipping gimmick known as The Taskmaster. Sullivan even brought back veteran King Curtis Iaukea for some appearances as his mentor. Sullivan again gained power within WCW and would be a major part of the creative team for some time. Sullivan would eventually fall out of power as various forces fought over control of the company and Sullivan left the business except for rare appearances on the independent scene.

The Fabulous Freebirds

The trio known as the Freebirds would continue to see success after their last appearances as a team in the territory in 1985. Cowboy Bill Watts featured them prominently in his UWF promotion. Terry Gordy even held the UWF title for a time.

Buddy Roberts would mostly work shows in Texas as the 1980s and 1990s progressed. Roberts would eventually retire to Chicago where he has battled throat cancer for several years.

Michael Hayes reprised The Freebirds in 1989 in WCW with Gordy and later with Jim Garvin as the third Freebird. After Gordy left the promotion, Hayes & Garvin carried the Freebird name on in WCW for several more years. Hayes would eventually settle into the WWF as announcer Dok Hendrix before eventually becoming part of the WWF creative team. Hayes would work Memphis again in the late 1990s as part of the WWF’s development process.

Terry Gordy became one of Japan’s top stars in the 1980s and 1990s. Gordy though battled drug addiction that nearly killed him on more than one occasion. The ramifications of the drug use on Gordy took their toll and seriously hurt Gordy’s in-ring abilities which in turn hurt his career overseas and in the States. Gordy would have a run with the WWF as the Masked Executioner in the 1990s and also show some spark in 1995 working for Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain group. Gordy would pick-up matches wherever he could. In 2001 though Gordy, living near his childhood home in the Chattanooga area, died from a heart attack at the age of 40. A few weeks later a tribute show was held in his honor in Birmingham highlighted by Gordy’s longtime partner and friend, Hayes teaming with Gordy’s son, Ray.

The Blonde Bombers & Sgt. Danny Davis

Wayne Farris would work a number of territories in the 1980s before debuting in the WWF as The Honky Tonk Man. HTM was a success for the promotion and Farris, often paired with Memphis vet Jimmy Hart as manager, worked near the top of many cards for several years to follow. After leaving the WWF, Farris worked occasional independent shows and eventually had a run in WCW.

Larry Latham gained a great amount of fame working in the 1980s as Moondog Spot. He also worked in some territories with the same gimmick but was billed as The Dog. Latham and various partners, as The Moondogs, worked the Memphis area for many years. While Latham was billed as Spot other Moondogs in the territory included Splat, Spike, Fifi and Cujo.

Danny Davis worked several territories as well in the 1980s but usually came back to Memphis. Many times paired with longtime partner Ken Wayne, Davis worked the various promotions in the area into the 1990s. Davis would also work for Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling. Davis would settle in Kentucky and train young wrestlers (with the help of Jim Cornette) in the Ohio Valley promotion.

Terry Boulder

The man Memphis fans first knew as Terry the Hulk Boulder would go on to become one of the greatest attractions in the business. Transformed into a fan favorite Hulk Hogan, Terry Bollea was the standard bearer for the WWF as it expanded nationally in 1984 and beyond. Hogan would star in movies and make TV appearances and become a mainstream celebrity.

By 1994, Hogan had left the WWF and signed on with WCW. Hogan’s star power helped turn the fortunes of the company around as WCW eventually overcame the WWF as the top promotion in the U.S. Ever controversial among longtime wrestling fans for being long on glitz and short on substance, Hogan would pop business for WCW by turning heel, a major departure from his goody-two shoes image painted by years in the WWF spotlight. Hogan would eventually depart WCW and at the time of this writing appears set to return to the WWF.

Gorgeous George, Jr.

The flamboyant wrestler-manager had a number of successful runs in the area including runs in 1976 for Nick Gulas and 1977, 1978 and 1979 for Jerry Jarrett. He would pop up on occasion on Gulas cards into 1980 and even on a few independently promoted Gulas cards in the years to follow. George retired from the business, settled in the Nashville area and eventually became a truck driver.

Bearcat Brown

Matt Jewell had become Nick Gulas’ first regular African-American star in the late 1960s. As Bearcat Brown, Jewell worked for about a decade and usually worked near the top of the card for Gulas. Jewell would work for both Gulas and Jarrett after the split. Jewell also worked some through the years in the Gulf Coast promotion. After retiring around 1980, Jewell slipped out of the wrestling spotlight and passed away in 1996.

Crazy Luke Graham

The Graham brother who spent a lot of time in the territory dating back to the 1960s remained an attraction much of the 1980s before retiring. Luke’s son, Luke Graham, Jr. keeps alive the tradition of the Grahams in the business to this day. Luke, Sr. and Luke, Jr. operate Galaxy Wrestling in Arkansas. The Grahams web site can be linked to from the Links section of Kayfabe Memories.

Downtown Bruno

The grubby and mouthy manager continued to haunt Memphis off and on for years to come. For a time in the area, Bruno’s wife appeared billed as Uptown Karen. Bruno though would find greater prominence after debuting in the WWF as Harvey Wippleman. In the WWF, Bruno would serve in a variety of roles and can often be seen backstage at WWF events.

Manny Fernandez

Manny’s Memphis run in 1987 and into 1988 was one of his final extended runs for an American-based promotion. Fernandez would work independents and Japan in the years to follow.

Phil Hickerson & Dennis Condrey

Phil Hickerson cut back his ring appearances after his early 1990s run as PY Chu Hi. Hickerson would pop back up a time or two during the nineties on area cards. He also returned for the various nostalgia cards held over the years in the area. Hickerson has worked as a radio personality and in other occupations since his retirement from the business. Phil lives in west Tennessee.

Dennis Condrey worked as tag partner to Bobby Eaton as The Midnight Express. The Jim Cornette-managed team is regarded as one of the best tag teams of the 1980s. As the team worked for the Jim Crockett promotion in the mid-80s, Condrey left the team and was replaced by Stan Lane. Condrey worked a few indy promotions after his departure winding up with brief runs in the AWA and the Crockett promotion again teaming with Randy Rose in another incarnation of the Midnight Express. Condrey also popped up in 1989 for the dying CWF promotion in Alabama but has since remained mostly quiet in regards to professional wrestling as he retired from the business to Colorado.

The Midnight Rockers

Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels had varying degrees of success in the Memphis promotion in the mid and late 1980s. They would eventually leave the AWA and stick with the WWF serving as one of the most exciting teams the promotion had. The promotion would split the team and turn Michaels heel. Michaels’ career would take off.

Jannetty’s career would see good days in the years ahead although never quite on the level as his team with Michaels. Jannetty would work for the WWF and WCW and a number of independents over the course of his career after the Rockers split. He would show up in the old territory a handful of times during the 1990s.

Michaels would become the biggest star in the business for a time as WWF champion. He would also gain a reputation as being difficult to deal with. He would be a part of the most infamous match in the modern wrestling history in Montreal, 1997 as part of the Vince McMahon double-cross on Bret Hart at the Survivor Series pay-per-view. Injuries attributed to his physical style of wrestling saw Michaels retire from active ring competition. Michaels operates his own training facility and promotion in his hometown of San Antonio. He makes rare appearances for the WWF and is often rumored to be returning there in some capacity.

Hector Guererro

The high-flying Hispanic star continued to work in the business after his 1987-1988 run ended in Memphis. Guererro mostly worked independents in the U.S. although he did wrestle some in 1990 for WCW. Also on his resume is his brief stint as the WWF’s Gobbledy Gooker.

Randy Hales

Randy Hales served in a number of capacities with the promotion over the years including announcer, promoter, booker and talent. Hales left his stamp on Memphis wrestling history by putting together the 1994 Monday Night Memories card in Memphis. The card drew over 7500 fans and a near $30,000 gate, the largest non-WWF or WCW crowd to watch wrestling in Memphis since Jerry Lawler’s 1988 AWA title win over Curt Hennig. Hales would continue with the promotion until the wheels began to come off on the heels of the Larry Bertman fiasco. He would reemerge in a couple of projects that attempted to return Memphis wrestling to it’s past glory.

Jacques Rougeau

After his run in Memphis in the early 1980s, Rougeau would soar to various levels of success. Often headlining shows in his native Canada, Jacques and brother Raymond would eventually sign and work with the WWF. For a time The Fabulous Rougeau brothers were managed by Memphis vet Jimmy Hart. Jacques would also work for WCW some in the midst of the Monday night TV wars teaming with Karl Oulette. Jacques remains active in the business by helping promote independent cards in Canada that actually do quite well.

Bobby Jaggers

The rugged veteran who first appeared in the area in 1974 as Bobby Mayne and then returned in 1987 as Bobby Jaggers has retired from the business. Although he worked some in the business after his Memphis run, his career was mostly relegated to independents and stints in Puerto Rico. Jaggers lives in Kansas.

Jos LeDuc

The crazed Canadian lumberjack worked many of the territories until the national expansion. Briefly, in 1988, LeDuc worked some WWF shows billed as The Headbanger. LeDuc quietly slipped away from wrestling and wasn’t seen or heard from by many in the business until 1995. When the promotion lined up Memphis Memories II and Louisville’s A Night to Remember, LeDuc appeared on the cards and wrestled reprising his 1978 feud with Jerry Lawler. Later in the year, LeDuc was scheduled to make some appearances for Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain promotion but the company folded before he could return to the east end of Tennessee. LeDuc died in 1999 from diabetes at the age of 51.

 The Fabulous Ones

Stan Lane worked for a number of years with the Jim Crockett promotion and then WCW teaming with Bobby Eaton as The Midnight Express. Memphis vet Jim Cornette served as their manager. Ironically, Lane replaced another Memphis vet, Dennis Condrey in the tag team with Eaton. Eaton & Lane’s run ended in 1990 after the promotion failed to use them in a meaningful manner. Lane would work the independent circuit in the interim. He would reunite with Steve Keirn in late 1990 to reform The Fabulous Ones in the Memphis territory. Cornette alo returned to Memphis to manage them and the team who was slated in 1982 to turn heel to feud against Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee and Jackie Fargo turned heel to feud against Lawler and a series of partners.

Lane would later join Dr. Tom Prichard in the Heavenly Bodies tag team with Cornette managing them in the Smoky Mountain promotion. A brief dalliance with the WCW promotion under the Bill Watts regime saw Lane, Prichard and Cornette reunite with Eaton. Lane left the Bodies tag team at the culmination of a feud with the Rock n Roll Express: Robert Gibson & Ricky Morton in 1993. Veteran Jim Backlund billed as Gigolo Jimmy Del Rey replaced Lane. Lane would work for a time as a WWF announcer before leaving the wrestling business.

Steve Keirn returned to Florida and worked with promotion there during the last few years of the 1980s. He would from time to time reappear in Memphis. In 1991 Keirn debuted with the WWF billed as Skinner, a tobacco-spitting alligator hunter. After his WWF days, Keirn worked for a time in WCW beginning in 1994 mostly teaming with Bobby Eaton in a tag team billed as Bad Attitude. In between his stints with the big companies, Keirn would venture into Memphis from time to time but most often worked independent cards in Florida. The Fabs were inducted into the Memphis Hall of Fame in 1994 and one year later were on hand to welcome Jackie Fargo into the Hall as well.

Ken Patera

The Olympic strongman who wowed Memphis fans in 1983 and 1984 would depart Verne Gagne’s AWA for Vince McMahon’s WWF. Trouble loomed though back in Gagne-land for Patera as he and Masa Saito had a run-in with law enforcement officials in Wisconsin. Both would serve time. Vince McMahon would welcome Patera back after his time in prison but Patera’s effectiveness as a pro wrestler was mostly over. Patera would work some again for Gagne in the waning days of the AWA. He pops up on independent cards from time to time even now.

Lance Russell

Lance worked with WCW a few more years. While Lance worked some as a broadcaster, behind the camera his main responsibility grew to be the WCW Hotline, a pay-per-call phone service that raked in a lot of money prior to the internet becoming a major source of information for fans. Russell and another veteran announcer, Gordon Solie, often were the announcers on the WCW Hotline during the company’s cable specials and pay-per-view events. Russell’s last days with WCW saw him rarely utilized, a sign of the lack of respect and lack of knowledge about the business that those in charge at the time held.  

After leaving WCW, Russell mostly retired although he did work for hotline associated with the Wrestling Observer Newsletter for awhile. He also worked as an announcer on some Smoky Mountain Wrestling special events. In 1994 Lance returned to Memphis TV prior to the Monday Night Memories card. That card celebrated the rich history of Memphis wrestling. Russell returned to the TV show on a semi-regular basis for a number of years to follow and even at one point hosted one Memphis-based TV show while longtime co-host Dave Brown hosted a rival show. For his years of work with the promotion, Lance was one of the initial inductees of the Memphis Wrestling Hall of Fame introduced on the first Monday Night Memories card. While Lance appeared from time to time at various wrestling events he spent most of his time in retirement the Pensacola, Florida area.  

In 2001, Lance returned to the Memphis airwaves in more ways than one. He did reappear for the Opening the Vault of Classic Memphis Wrestling TV show and for a June 2001 house show at the Mid-South Coliseum. More importantly for longtime wrestling fans, the new TV show featuring footage from the glory days of the live weekly TV show brought back plenty of memories as most of the action seen on the show was called by Lance Russell and Dave Brown.

Stan Hansen

The Bad Man from Borger, Texas had a successful run in the area in 1983. His U.S. ring career from that point forward was a hit and miss situation. Hansen did work for the Georgia promotion and for the AWA, where he held the AWA title for a time. Hansen though mostly stayed out of the national expansion war taking place in the U.S. during the 1980s by working an active schedule in Japan for All-Japan wrestling. Hansen did work for a time in WCW in 1990 but most of his wrestling endeavors were in Japan. Hansen would retire from the business in 2000 and return to his home in Mississippi.

George Gulas

George Gulas’ ring career all but ended in 1980 when his dad, Nick, sold his remaining territory to Buddy Fuller. The Gulas family though continued to promote cards here and there through Tennessee and Alabama for much of the 1980s. George would sometimes wrestle for these groups. George would settle into a teaching position in middle Tennessee. In 2000 though Music City Wrestling brought back George to honor Nick for his contributions to Nashville wrestling. Rumors float through the state from time to time how George yearns to get back into the promotional end of the business.

Len and Joey Rossi

The popular Len Rossi wrestled from time to time for Nick Gulas after his 1972 auto accident seriously injured him. Len, who had been a major attraction for Gulas, also worked in other capacities over time for Gulas including as an announcer. Len’s son, Joey, worked independents from time to time in the 1980s even sometimes for Nick and George Gulas but eventually left the business. The Rossis own a health food store in the Nashville area.

Eddie Marlin

Longtime mat star turned promoter Eddie Marlin became a familiar sight to area fans over the years. Marlin continued to serve as an authority figure on the TV show into the 1990s. In reality Marlin served as road agent for the company and also promoted some cards for the company. As had been the case for the previous decade or so, Marlin would hop back in the ring when the circumstances merited such.  

A major scare occurred in May of 1993 when Marlin and Jeff Jarrett were transporting a wrestling ring back to Nashville. Marlin apparently fell asleep at the wheel of the truck and crashed. Neither Marlin or Jarrett suffered serious injuries. Marlin is retired from the business and has appeared on various reunion shows that have occurred in cities around the old territory over the years.

Curt Hennig

The man Jerry Lawler defeated for the AWA title in 1988 left the AWA later in the year. Hennig would debut in the WWF as Mr. Perfect and work near the top of WWF cards for a number of years. Over time, Hennig would hop to WCW and work there. The Royal Rumble 2002 featured the return of Mr. Perfect to the WWF.

The Actual Territory

After 1989, what once was the Nick Gulas-Roy Welch territory and later the Jerry Jarrett territory was saturated with TV shows from national promotions. The WWF and WCW ran house shows in many of the arenas around the territory. One of the big differences though was wrestling went from a weekly event to only occurring once every few months. While the USWA continued to service many of the towns they had in 1989, over time it grew obvious that weekly wrestling shows would eventually be a thing of the past. Various independent promotions now service many of the old-time cities and towns from the old territory. The closest thing to the old-style territory is the  Danny Davis/Jim Cornette-influenced Ohio Valley Wrestling, which promoted a nostalgia-tinged show in 2001 honoring the famed Louisville Gardens arena prior to it’s closing.

Jerry Lawler

The top attraction ever in the territory continued to reign supreme into the 1990s. Lawler remained a heel in the territory much of 1991 feuding against area legend Jimmy Valiant, among others. Lawler returned to fan favorite status when he feuded against The Snowman in 1990. The feud with the Snowman included Lawler battling briefly with former boxing champion Leon Spinks, who was brought in to work as a referee who favored Snowman. Spinks had dabbled some in the business in Japan prior to his Memphis stopover. While remaining an attraction in the territory he had ruled for years, Lawler continued to work select independent dates as well. 

In 1992 though Lawler shocked many fans by appearing on a WWF telecast in the role of an announcer. This floored some people since Lawler, as co-owner of the Memphis promotion, had seen his promotion leveled to a just-surviving status by the national expansion the WWF began in 1983-84. As the area’s top star, Lawler had also been very vocal about the WWF and the product they presented to wrestling fans. While Lawler mainly worked as an announcer for the WWF he did participate in WWF ring action at times including in the 1993 Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Lawler also worked a WWF house show at the Memphis Pyramid in February 1993 defeating Jeff Gaylord who substituted for Shawn Michaels. Lawler continued to work in the territory but accepted dates to work in the WWF as well. Lawler’s WWF stay complicated matters back home. In the WWF Lawler was a heel. Back home, Lawler was a fan favorite. This problem first cropped up for Lawler in 1982 when he made some appearances for the Georgia promotion televised on cable TV throughout the country. Lawler had to explain why he was a heel on Atlanta TV but the standard-bearer of all that was good in Memphis. This whole situation is considered by many to help speed up the demise of the promotion. Near the end of 1993 though Lawler faced more serious problems. 

Jerry Lawler was indicted in Kentucky during November 1993 of four charges involving an underage girl. The WWF dropped Lawler from their roster and TV show when the charges went public. Lawler returned home and worked the old territory waiting what would follow. Almost as soon as the charges were made though they were recanted.  The legal system was much slower though and it was spring 1994 before a deal was struck which allowed Lawler to return to the WWF. Lawler was welcomed back to the WWF with open arms. 

Lawler continued to work the old home base for years to follow and also popped up in various independent promotions as well as in the Smoky Mountain promotion in 1995. Lawler’s sons, Brian and Kevin, would become involved in the old territory over time. Kevin often worked under a mask or as a referee named Kevin Christian. Brian though worked in a babyface team called the New Kids with Tony Williams for a time. Later though, Brian, billed as Brian Christopher, would become the area’s lead heel with his persona reminiscent of a young heel named Jerry Lawler. Kevin and Brian’s relationship with Jerry Lawler was not revealed in angles to fans. 

Lawler would become total owner of the promotion when Jerry Jarrett sold his half of the promotion to Lawler. Despite some serious legal issues involving the later sale of the company, Lawler would remain a fixture in Memphis wrestling in the years in it’s various forms that would follow and on the national scene with the WWF with his work as a TV commentator. In 2000, Jerry Lawler ran for mayor of Memphis and placed third in a field over fifteen candidates. 

Lawler also appeared as himself in the Jim Carrey movie Man in the Moon. The movie, based on Andy Kaufman’s life, featured parts that highlighted the famous Memphis feud between Kaufman and Lawler. 

In 2001, Lawler would leave the WWF when his wife, Stacy Carter, a WWF character called The Cat, was fired. Lawler refused to work for a company that fired his wife so he left as well. Not long after leaving the WWF the marriage dissolved. Later, in 2001, Lawler reached an agreement to return to the WWF where he serves as an announcer who constantly drools over the female performers.


Aftermath, Part II

Special Thanks

Edsel Harrison, Mike Rodgers, Scott Teal, Charles Warburton and David Williamson.

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