Memphis/CWA #3 Page #2
Hickerson came across to fans as that bully that inhabited many of the towns from which Gulas drew fans. He talked like they talked. He sounded like they sounded. And when it came time to step into the ring, he was believable enough to come across as being able to back up his boasts.
Condrey had hit the area as a babyface the year before but had made very little impact. He had never reached past mid-card status in the area since his debut. That changed when he was paired with Hickerson and automatically became a heel. Condrey had good size, weighing in the 235-pound range. He also had pretty good ability, having learned the basics of the business in his native North Carolina under the tutelage of Nelson Royal.
Since 1976 was the bicentennial year in the States, Hickerson and Condrey billed themselves as the Bicentennial Kings. They were like kings during the year as they held the area’s three major tag titles (Southern tag, Mid-America tag and U.S. tag titles) and mainly feuded with area superstar Jackie Fargo. The fans did not treat them like kings though. They often chimed in with their comments, which were usually influenced by their opponents. One frequent rival, Tojo Yamamoto, often called Hickerson a "septic tank" and then called Condrey a "Pekinese dog".
Hickerson’s size and speed coupled with Condrey’s solid mat ability made them a dynamic duo. Add to this Hickerson’s microphone talents, which riled the fans, and the team was doubly good. Perhaps the best test of their ability as a team during the year came when Jackie Fargo was out for a brief time. In Jackie’s absence, Hickerson and Condrey had to battle the young team of Randy Fargo and Don Kernodle. Sometimes the measure of a good professional wrestler (or in this case, a good team) is their ability to make the opposition look good. Hickerson and Condrey, still a fairly young team, were able to make Randy Fargo and Don Kernodle, both relatively new to the business, look great, getting that team over while in the process getting themselves over.
Hickerson and Condrey worked the area through 1977. In 1978, they worked most of the year in the Knoxville territory where they were managed by Ron Wright. Injuries caught up with Hickerson in 1979 and forced him out of action for awhile bringing an end to this team. 1976, though, was the year this combination was at the top of their game. Hickerson and Condrey arguably were the greatest tag team never seen by many fans.
Jerry Lawler began the year as Southern champion but he also was embroiled in a feud with manager Sam Bass against Bob Armstrong and Bill Dundee. The feud would eventually also include Professor Toru Tanaka (on Lawler’s side) and Tojo Yamamoto (on Dundee’s side). Lawler, wrestling almost exclusively on the western end of the territory, soon got into a feud against the up and coming star Tommy Rich. The feud with Lawler propelled Rich into greater prominence in the area. Lawler also paired up on occasion with Plowboy Frazier, who had appeared off and on in the area for years. Frazier initially appeared to assist Lawler and while Lawler lavished him with some gifts he also made fun of the big guy. Frazier eventually caught on and turned on Lawler and Bass.
Jackie Fargo held the Mid-America title early in the year but he spent most of his time facing the team of Phil Hickerson and Dennis Condrey on the eastern end of the territory. Fargo would call upon brother Roughhouse to help battle Hickerson and Condrey. Fargo would wind up injured at the hands of Hickerson and Condrey so the gauntlet was picked up by Fargo’s nephew (billed a few times as his cousin) Randy. Randy would team with Don Kernodle to defend Jackie’s honor. Hickerson and Condrey would also have a series of matches against fellow bad guys The Bounty Hunters (David and Jerry Novak).
The Mid-America title would vanish from the area until around mid-year. Research shows veteran Dick Steinborn defending the title in the Gulf Coast area and in the spring for Ron Fuller’s Southeastern territory in Knoxville. How Steinborn gained the title hasn’t yet been determined by research, although he did make a few appearances for Gulas during the year.
Appearing in the area during the first part of the year included such stars as: U.S tag champions The Islanders (later known as Afa and Sika: The Wild Samoans) with manager Saul Weingeroff, Pistol Pez Whatley, Don and Al Greene, The Masked Interns with manager Dr. Ken Ramey who feuded over the Southern tag titles with Tommy Gilbert and Bearcat Brown, Jackie and Roy Lee Welch and their father, Lester Welch, Mike Jackson (used a good deal in his home state of Alabama), Luke Fields, Joe Sky Turner, Bill Bowman, Big Bad John, George Gulas and others.
During the first part of the year, Gulas faced a promotional challenge in the eastern end of the territory. A group called the Universal Wrestling Association formed and began running shows in Nashville and later in Chattanooga. Without running their first card the group had instant credibility in the area. Working with the group was a man who had appeared for Gulas within the past year, Lou Thesz.
"And in This Corner…Lou Thesz"
Nick Gulas had faced promotional opposition in years before 1976. This time though, the opponent could claim to be a former six-time world champion, Lou Thesz. Thesz had worked for Gulas quite a bit in the years prior to running against Gulas. He and his backers though seemed to believe Gulas was vulnerable to competition. They first targeted Nashville and later Chattanooga as two cities they would run cards in against Gulas.
Thesz assembled a varied crew to work what became known as the Universal Wrestling Association. He drew from some who had worked the Gulas territory for years including Gentleman Saul Weingeroff, Dr. Ken Ramey and the Interns, Lorenzo Parente and Frank Morrell (who worked under a mask as the Spoiler). He threw in some young talent, some of which had also worked for Gulas including Pez Whatley, Afa and Sika: The Islanders, Tommy Seigler (who had just worked the Knoxville territory for Ron Fuller) and others. He also mixed in some fairly established talent from outside the area including Eric the Red, Luis Martinez, Al Costello and others. Later in the year, Thesz’s group was able to also persuade Don Greene and Steve Kovacs, both longtime Gulas mainstays, to work for them.
The group initially made Pez Whatley their champion. Whatley, a Chattanooga native and standout amateur wrestler, was still young in his pro career at this point in time. Later, Cowboy Ray Parker was the champion. Parker had teamed in 1975 for Gulas with Ken Dillenger to form a team billed as the Outlaws. The UWA, which did have their own TV show, ended up providing little in the way of sustained competition to Gulas.
1976 found the fireworks between Gulas and Thesz and their promotional war over by the end of the summer. Gulas and Thesz would work together in the future and also see things differently in the future. Little is left behind by Thesz’s attempt to run opposition against Gulas in 1976. It did though give an underage wrestler a chance to test his wares. A fifteen-year-old appeared in the UWA under a mask (as Mr. Wrestling) to gain some in-ring experience. That fifteen-year-old would grow up to become wrestling superstar Terry Gordy.
Despite challenges from Tommy Rich, Jerry Lawler held onto the Southern title. Lawler really began cementing his interview skills during this time period by often badgering announcer Lance Russell. (Lawler often referred to Russell as "Old Banana Nose" and made fun of Russell’s "Baxter suits".) Lawler also battled former football player turned wrestler Ron Mikoloczyk. By the summer, Lawler had renewed his feud against Jackie Fargo.
Hickerson and Condrey continued their feud against Randy Fargo and Don Kernodle but Jackie returned during this time frame. Jackie paired with Jerry Jarrett and later teamed with Big Bad John against the duo of Hickerson and Condrey. Hickerson and Condrey billed themselves as The Bicentennial Kings while John billed himself as The Bicentennial Baby.
"Esquire" J.C. Dykes returned to the area. In the 1960s, Dykes had worked the area as a referee for Gulas. Later, he left the area and worked as a manager to the Infernos becoming successful in Georgia and the Carolinas and later elsewhere. Dykes and the Infernos rarely worked the Gulas territory during their successful run. By 1976, the Infernos were through, so Dykes returned to the area and brought with him a brand new tag team called The Dominoes. This was a different team than any other that had appeared here before. The masked team wore black and white ring outfits and to complete that idea one member was Caucasian and the other African-American. This team quickly made waves in the area by winning the Southeastern tag titles (not the Southeastern titles recognized in Knoxville but a briefly recognized title by Gulas). They battled various combinations of Charlie Cook, Joey Rossi and Cowboy Frankie Laine in many matches in the area. Dykes stirred even more controversy by throwing fire at some opponents.
Appearing in the area during this time were such stars as Ernie Ladd, Haystack Calhoun, Danny Miller, Gene Lewis, Rocket Monroe, Southern tag champions Don Greene & the Masked Scorpion (Don Bass), Duke Miller, David Shultz and Bill Ash, Roger Kirby and others. The son of Chattanooga announcer and co-promoter Harry Thornton, Butch Thornton, debuted in the ring in April and would work low on the cards much of the year. Nick Gulas’ son George was still in the area and mainly working tag matches with Dennis Hall.
One Long Night in July
Professional wrestlers take a lot of risks. There are those who laugh at their business and wish it away by saying it’s nothing more than staged theatrics. They know how to fall. They know how to pull their punches. It’s all fake they claim. And maybe if that’s all that is observed then that claim could hold some credence. However, there’s more to the business of professional wrestling than knowing how to sell a punch or knowing how to fall. Fake is not a word to use when describing the events of July 26, 1976. There was nothing fake about it then or now, years removed from that day.
July 26, 1976 was a Monday night. The wrestlers came to Memphis for the weekly stop there. After the show, many of them made their way via automobile to Nashville. Nashville was home to a number of the wrestlers in the territory because the booking office was there and also because of it’s relative central location in the territory.
Sam Bass, Frank Hester and Pepe Lopez left Memphis together that night. About an hour west of Nashville, near the town of Dickson, Tennessee, Bass, Hester and Lopez topped a small hill and crashed into a car. The car Bass, Hester and Lopez hit had already hit a bridge and stopped, without any lights on, in the middle of the interstate. The car carrying Bass, Hester and Lopez was then hit by a big truck. Their car then caught on fire. Bass, Hester and Lopez were all killed.
Bass was the manager of the area’s leading heel at the time, Jerry Lawler. Hester and Lopez (whose real name was Reuben Rodriquez) were making a name for themselves in the area as the Masked Dominoes (Lopez was actually the third Domino as he replaced Cliff Lilly who left the promotion after a few weeks into the run for Gulas). J.C. Dykes was the manager of the Dominoes. As the crew prepared to leave the Memphis Mid-South Coliseum earlier that night, Dykes decided to ride with former wrestler and Gulas employee Pat Malone. Dykes and Malone came upon the accident scene and discovered that their friends had died in the crash. Yeah, but professional wrestling is still fake.
That is an easy answer for those who refuse to look beyond the surface. There’s nothing fake about what happened or the aftermath of that long July night. Wives had lost husbands. Children had lost fathers. Friends had lost friends. No doubt fellow wrestlers stopped to contemplate their own mortality because it could have just as easily been them in that car that night. Nick Gulas had lost three stars. Jerry Lawler lost his manager. J.C. Dykes lost his team. Dykes also had to live with the scenes of the accident in his mind.
Dykes turned to alcohol but things didn’t seem to turn around for him. Finally a few months later, Dykes, at the urging of his wife, turned to God to help him deal with the demons he battled. He left the business of professional wrestling and entered into a life away from the world he had known most of his life, settling in Cleveland, Tennessee, just outside Chattanooga. He died on November 20, 1993 at the age of 67.
Professional wrestlers take a lot of risks. Sure, they may know how to fall but that doesn’t mean they don’t acquire back problems, knee problems and leg problems from the wear and tear of knowing how to fall. Sure, they may know how to pull a punch but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t get pulled now and then.
Still, some say it’s fake.
They take other risks. They often fight their way through riot-like crowds chomping at the bit to get their hands on them and sometimes they make it through fine while other times they end up with battle scars. They often step in the ring with someone who is not trained properly or someone who is performing under the influence of some intoxicating substance and sometimes they make it through fine while other times they end up injured for a time. They always have to travel to get from one show to the next and sometimes they arrive safely and other times they do not.
Despite the risks involved some still laugh at the business of professional wrestling. However, those same people, will marvel at their favorite TV comedy even though the characters and situations involved are, well, "fake". They watch movies with incredible stunts and never complain about it looking staged even though it is carefully choreographed and often a super-enlarged version of the concept of good versus evil that has sustained professional wrestling for decades. Yet these same people choose to never explore professional wrestling because of those very reasons they refuse to apply to other entertainment. They never come to understand that although there are aspects of professional wrestling which are fake (predetermined is a much more accurate term) the participants and some of the aspects of the business are very real.
On one long night in July, 1976, three men died who just happened to be professional wrestlers. That is as real as real can get on any level.
The events of July 26 no doubt stayed with many in the area for a long time. It came on the heels of the death by auto accident in 1975 of former area manager Sir Clements, who passed away while working in the Ohio-Michigan area. In 1972, the Knoxville territory lost area legend Whitey Caldwell to an auto accident. Also in 1972, Gulas star Len Rossi’s career was cut short due to injuries from an auto accident. And now in 1976, Gulas had lost three stars to another auto accident.
The show, as it always seems to do, went on.
Gorgeous George, Jr., billed as son of the legendary 1950s star Gorgeous George, relieved Jerry Lawler of the Southern title. George and Lawler battled off and on the rest of the year over the title. On the eastern end George often teamed with George Gulas. Lawler, meantime, found an instant nemesis in Rocky Johnson.
Longtime area favorite Tommy Gilbert turned heel and wound up in a brutal feud with Cowboy Frankie Laine. This feud introduced the Coal Miner’s Glove match to the area.
Big Bad John who had been a fan favorite, turned heel. Injuries prevented him appearing too often in the ring so he began managing the newly arrived tag team of The Masked Superstars (Dick Dunn and Tarzan Baxter), who had worked the Knoxville territory for Ron Fuller.
Phil Hickerson and Dennis Condrey swapped the Southern tag titles with Bill Dundee and Tommy Rich during the summer, mainly on the western end of the territory. On the eastern end their role of leading tag team was taken by the upstart duo of David Shultz and Bill Ash. For some matches Shultz and Ash were joined by Butch Malone, who feuded briefly with Tommy Rich.
The Mid-America title picture got busy in the summer. Roger Kirby held the title and often battled Gorgeous George, Jr. and the returning Robert Fuller and Bob Armstrong for the title. Armstrong took the title from Kirby and their feud stretched into the fall with Armstrong losing the title for a week to Big Bad John.
Others in the area at this time included NWA champion Terry Funk, former NWA champion Jack Brisco, who defeated Lawler for the Southern title for a few weeks before losing it back to Lawler, Abdullah the Butcher, Dennis Hall, who turned heel on Buddy Diamond, Norvell Austin who teamed with Butch Malone, Rip Smith, Bearcat Brown, Professor Toru Tanaka, Jimmy Golden and others.
Ron Fuller, who continued to run the Knoxville territory, also made some appearances for Gulas. The Knoxville office was running a much more regular weekly schedule than ever before and business there was good. They were able to attract wrestlers to work that territory regularly making the long-running talent deal with Gulas, for all purposes, useless.
The Nature Boy
When professional wrestling fans mention the nickname "The Nature Boy" two names, maybe three, come to mind, Buddy Rogers, Ric Flair and Buddy Landel. Quite a select group of company to keep for anyone. In the 1970s though there was another Nature Boy and 1976 found him working for Nick Gulas.
Roger Kirby burst onto the scene during the year and become a force in the area. Kirby had come to the area a veteran of the territories. He had worked most of the NWA territories in the 1960s and 1970s, beginning his career as Wild Bill Baker (Kirby had actually worked some for Gulas under the Bill Baker name in the 1960s). He had made a reputation for himself in the Pacific Northwest (as Rip Kirby), the Central States area, Florida, Georgia, the Gulf Coast area (where he worked with Gulas veterans Dennis Hall and Les Thatcher billed as cousins), the Amarillo territory and countless other places.
He was often part of a successful tag team in many of these areas and held regional tag titles with partners such as James J. Dillion (Florida tag titles), Harley Race (Florida tag titles and Central States tag titles), Lord Alfred Hayes (Central States tag titles) and Buddy Colt (Georgia tag titles).
Kirby also held one of the more prestigious titles in the business at one time. On May 20, 1971 Kirby defeated NWA World Junior Heavyweight champion Danny Hodge for the title in New Orleans. Kirby held the title for around four months before losing the title to Ramon Torres. By choosing Kirby to hold this title meant he was considered to be a talent who was thought of fairly highly since Leroy McGuirk, who booked the title matches, and Hodge, himself, took pride in having only good workers hold that particular title.
Kirby’s work for Gulas included a few runs as Mid-America champion. He was managed by Bearcat Wright during much of his 1976 run in the area. He feuded with Gorgeous George, Jr., Bob Armstrong, Robert Fuller and eventually Tommy Rich. Kirby’s stay in the area also brought some needed luster to the Mid-America title. The title, ironically first defended in the area by Nature Boy Buddy Rogers in 1957, had been dormant or vacant, for a long time. Kirby’s stints as champion backed by his reputation elsewhere made the title more valuable in the long run.
Kirby was more than adequate in the ring, much like his Nature Boy counterparts, Rogers, Flair and Landel. He also, much like them, was a pretty good showman. He often strutted around the ring with an arrogant swagger. His Nature Boy counterpart, Flair, has often said, "To be the man, you gotta beat the man." For awhile, in 1976 in the Gulas territory, Nature Boy Roger Kirby was the man.
Tommy Rich who had failed in earlier attempts to dethrone Southern champion Jerry Lawler finally defeated Lawler to win the title. Rich’s reign did not last long as he dropped the title to Gorgeous George, Jr. who promptly lost the title to Rocky Johnson. Johnson was a major star in the business having worked major territories such as Texas, California, Florida and Georgia. His feud with Lawler over the Southern title would spill over into 1977 with Lawler forming an army to battle not only Johnson but others he perceived as threats.
Although his Southern title reign was only a brief one, Tommy Rich was on a roll. Roger Kirby had defeated Bob Armstrong for the Mid-America title. Kirby then ran afoul of Rich who won the title. Rich then began a feud over the title with the returning Eddie Sullivan.
Danny Little Bear and Chief Thundercloud hit the area with Chuy, the Drummer Boy and latched onto the Southern tag titles defeating Phil Hickerson and Dennis Condrey. The Native American combination was challenged mainly by David Shultz and Dutch Mantell.
Upon losing the Southern tag titles Hickerson and Condrey captured the Mid-America tag titles. The duo ran through a variety of teams such as Ricky Gibson and Bob Armstrong, Ken Lucas and Bobby "Porkchop" Cash and the odd combination of Big Bad John and Dean Ho. By year’s end Hickerson and Condrey dropped the Mid-America tag titles to Bill Dundee and Ricky Gibson but were still a team to deal with in the area.
Appearing in the area at this time: Thunderbolt Patterson, The Samoans (Tio and Tapu, not Afa and Sika Anoia), The Masked Executioner, Don Bass (who had been unmasked as The Scorpion), Robert Gibson, Oki Shikina, Gentleman Ben the Wrestling Bear with trainer Nick Adams, Jim Dillion and Al Greene, who managed Tommy Gilbert and Roger Kirby. Greene also managed newcomer The Russian Stomper.
Late in the year, Gulas ran an angle probably run before and definitely run after in virtually every promotion everywhere. Eddie Sullivan was wrestling a TV match. He was harassed by a fan in the audience and Sullivan gave the harassment back. The fan eventually had enough and entered the ring only to get clobbered by Sullivan. There was enough interest though to sign a match between Sullivan and this fan identified as Cecil Hedge. Sullivan won the match and Hedge faded into oblivion making a TV appearance as a jobber from time to time in the next few years.
By, George, I Think We’ve Got A Problem
George Gulas, son of promoter Nick Gulas, had been involved as a wrestler in the area since 1974. George, often billed as George ‘Nick’ Gulas, was pushed to the top of the cards from day one. He had held various tag titles since his debut and remained near the top of cards throughout the area.
Despite being near the top of most of the cards George was not very accomplished as a professional wrestler. Physically, George looked more equipped to play basketball than participate in the ring. Even though he was fairly tall (6’4" or 6’5") George was clumsy. George also never gained much muscle mass during his time as a wrestler, although that wasn’t as important in the 1970s as it would become in the 1980s and beyond. His offense in ring was poor. He often used a leg grapevine hold as a finisher but since his legs were so long the hold often looked unrealistic coming from someone his size especially after he often struggled placing the hold on his opponent. Since he was billed as being trained by Tojo Yamamoto, master of the karate chop, he threw chops also. George’s chops though looked extremely weak.
Since George received such a push it gave the impression that he didn’t have to pay his dues like others had to before him. (Even in the Gulas territory, where often a ring newcomer could make a name quickly because of the constant need for talent, few, if any didn’t have to pay some sort of dues in the territory by working opening matches and TV matches.) Maybe the logic behind the push was since he (George) had been around the business all his life he must know it really well. Maybe it was thought the fans would believe he must have gotten pointers from all the veterans he had seen and known over the years and thereby gained even more knowledge by watching these stars for years. Since he was pushed from his debut he was made to be nearly unbeatable. Another argument, which seems much likelier, states that George received such a push because his father was the boss. Very few have the talent and perseverance to achieve success after such a build-up. It was 1976, two years after George’s debut, apparently someone (Nick? George?) felt as if it was time George became more of a force in the area without regard to George’s obvious limitations in the ring.
Nick Gulas brought Gorgeous George, Jr. to the area during the summer. George, Jr. was named after the legendary wrestling star of the 1950s, Gorgeous George, although as is often the case in professional wrestling the two were not blood related. George, Jr. was a veteran of the territorial system having made a mark in the Amarillo territory operated by Dory Funk, Sr. as well as the Central States area, the Pacific Northwest, the Leroy McGuirk territory (Oklahoma-Louisiana-Mississippi) and other areas. George, Jr. had gained a good deal of fame for his work in Florida and Georgia, often teaming with Bobby Shane.
George, Jr. was a fascinating character in great part because he employed many of the mannerisms of his namesake. He came to the ring with Sir Bradley (sometimes with Suzette) who sprayed the ring with disinfectant. George then had Bradley remove golden bobby-pins from his hair and threw them to the audience. Somehow, these tactics made George, Jr. a fan favorite upon his arrival.
George, Jr. quickly made an impact in the area by winning the Southern title from Jerry Lawler. The title would go back to Lawler but the King made a foe he would see later on down the line. George, Jr. also formed a tag team early in his stay with George Gulas. The duo even laid claim to the Mid-America tag titles for a brief time.
As often occurs when two make a successful team the promoter sees money to be made by splitting the team and feuding them against each other. It wasn’t long before George, Jr. turned heel and found himself in the ring against his former tag partner, George Gulas. Although Gulas had been featured in tag matches and even a 1975 feud with Mr. Suzuki this series was his first significant feud.
Gulas’ feud with Suzuki was George’s first singles feud but Suzuki had virtually no track record in the area so the feud in the grand scheme of the territory meant little. The tag team feuds Gulas had participated in had served to give Gulas much needed ring experience and expose him to others more talented who could cover his weaknesses but they also were merely footnotes in the territory compared to the antics of others at the time.
The feud with Gorgeous George, Jr. seemed obvious to get Gulas over as a major area singles star. George, Jr. had seen success in other territories. He had hit the Gulas territory and made an immediate impact. He even had defeated the area’s top star Jerry Lawler for the Southern title. George, Jr. was the "son" of a legendary wrestler while George ‘Nick’ Gulas was the son of the legendary area promoter.
The feud between George, Jr. and Gulas isn’t memorable. Gulas did get some wins even though he was not the superior athlete or showman in the matches. No matter the outcome of the feud between the two "Juniors", things were about to change in the territory.
Jerry Jarrett booked the western end of the territory for Nick Gulas, including the red-hot Monday night shows in Memphis. Since the wrestlers were paid according to how many tickets were sold at each event most of those who worked for Gulas preferred to be booked for the shows that made the most money, in this case, the western end of the territory.
Nick Gulas began to question Jerry Jarrett as to why he rarely booked George Gulas on cards in the western end. After all, George had been around a few years. He had worked plenty of tag team matches. He had even scored a few wins over the well-known Gorgeous George, Jr., who had defeated Jarrett’s top draw on the western end, Jerry Lawler. Why wouldn’t Jarrett use him in arenas where more fans could see him? Despite these "reasons" Jarrett had an answer. George Gulas was not good enough in-ring to work main events on the big shows.
Nick was then placed in a bind. Who would he side with? His son or the man responsible for making him money. The question was further complicated by the fact that Nick’s promoting partner, Roy Welch, was in poor health and his role in the partnership was being assumed by Jarrett.
As the year ended the problem was unresolved. The western end continued to do good business and George Gulas rarely was booked there. The problem remained but would resolve itself, one way or another, in 1977.
The Gulas territory survived the opposition of Lou Thesz’s UWA during the year. Jackie Fargo slowed down some although he did spend part of the year in a red-hot feud with the dominating team of Phil Hickerson and Dennis Condrey. Jerry Lawler continued to perform at a high level despite the loss of his friend and manager Sam Bass to a July auto accident. Tommy Rich, mainly relegated to tag matches in 1975 became a solo star in 1976 by holding the area’s two major titles, the Southern title and the Mid-America title with wins over Lawler and Roger Kirby. Things were humming along but some dissension was building as the year closed. Nick Gulas wanted his son George used more prominently on the hot western end of the territory but booker Jerry Jarrett, gaining more power as Roy Welch’s health worsened, did not think that was a wise move. Nick was the boss but Jarrett was a major force behind the company’s success. Gulas and Jarrett had a decision to make about the direction they would go in, and, in 1977, it would literally tear the territory in half.
1977 would reveal how Gulas and Jarrett handled the decision before them that had been building for awhile. That and more in the next installment.
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