Memphis/CWA #40 Page #2    










1977 Gulas

1977 Jarrett

1978 Gulas

1978 Jarrett

1979 Gulas

1979 Jarrett

1980 Gulas

1980 Jarrett










Twenty five years covers a great amount of time. During that time cities that ran weekly house shows likely ran over 1200 professional wrestling cards. Hundreds of wrestlers worked these shows. Tens of thousands of fans walked through the turnstiles of armories and auditoriums. It was a weekly habit for some who enjoyed the action that took place in an elevated ring inside ropes on a plain mat under intense lights. For much of those twenty five years the show called professional wrestling also stopped over in high school and elementary school gyms in small towns providing a night of excitement in towns where everybody knew everybody else. It was a grand ole time!

Over the course of the last few years these articles have explored many of the cold hard facts that can be accumulated about pro wrestling’s past as promoted by Roy Welch, Nick Gulas and Jerry Jarrett. These articles have uncovered many of the champions and the feuds and the high points and low points. Cards and attendance figures have been listed and speculation of all sorts has been bandied about. Honestly, my own memory about wrestling in the area doesn’t stretch back to the full time period covered here. Through some research and discussion with those who do recall it firsthand from inside the business or those who remember it as a fan, I have been privileged enough to write about this territory for several years. In this process I have learned much more than I ever dreamt.

 Ultimately though for those of us who enjoy professional wrestling from the territorial days, when you cut past the list of champions and attendance figures and speculation and the facts and figures, it is all about memories. My memories from watching this territory specifically, and wrestling in general, remain vivid and special.

Watching a bad guy Tojo Yamamoto holding a wrist lock on an opponent and while the referee’s eyes are diverted Tojo slowly began spreading his opponent’s fingers apart while announcer Harry Thornton screamed how the rules of wrestling were being violated then made me think Tojo was the meanest man in the whole world but now makes me grin at how I bought into what I was watching without thinking otherwise.

Watching Phil Hickerson & Dennis Condrey work their tag team magic yet never quite getting shut up made me want to see them eventually get their comeuppance but now makes me realize how good they were at getting me to the place they wanted me to be.

Watching a fan favorite Jerry Lawler get attacked by a group of villains and wondering who would rescue Lawler then made me believe somehow Lawler would get back at these ne’er do-wells but now makes me wonder why I couldn’t see what was happening clearer before it happened.

Watching Jackie Fargo tell an opponent to “Put up your dukes, pally” makes me remember when I believed no one could whip the blonde good guy and now makes me marvel at his charisma and how he connected with the fans.

Watching Nick Gulas in his mumbling monotone tell viewers “a record breaking crowd” is expected at the next card then made me want to buy a ticket that moment but now makes me chuckle a bit wondering how understated Nick seemed to be in retrospect.

And so many of these things and more make me smile but sometimes they make me very sad. It’s all a part of my life but a part I can only recall.

Maybe it’s just a bit of relishing days gone by as if they are better in retrospect than what I understood at the time that makes me feel this way sometimes. Maybe it’s the descending trail the business once called professional wrestling but now called sports entertainment started down a few years back that make me enjoy old tapes, old magazines, old newsletters and old, but frequently revisited, memories more often than I would like to do so. Maybe it’s something altogether different that I haven’t cared to discover yet or something somewhere in-between.

I do know a few things though. I miss Saturdays in front of the television hearing the bell ring and not quite knowing what to expect. I miss the TV audience razzing the bad guys and exhorting the good guys. I miss seeing a new wrestler for the first time or one returning from a long absence.

I miss the edgy expectancy of an evening at the matches while pulling into the arena parking lot. I miss the cigarette and cigar smoke hanging in the unreachable atmosphere above the lights. I miss the lights dangling above the ring. I miss the ring resting alone and silently on the floor as if waiting patiently for the pandemonium that would ensue soon.

I miss the crowd banter. I miss the anticipation and faith of true believers, those who no matter what happened or what they heard would not believe anything other than what they knew and understood. I miss watching fans who took seriously what they were watching, fans who had their favorites and stood by them through thick and thin. I miss not having to peer around homemade signs to see the ring just so some ham can get his mug on TV for three seconds.

I miss soft drinks in red paper Coca-Cola cups and greasy hot dogs and the smell of popcorn. I miss the programs you could buy for under a buck and that turn yellow with time. I miss cramming the evening’s ticket stub into my pocket knowing it would be kept at night’s end because it was a reminder of a trip to some magical world that enthralled me like few things ever had.

I miss wrestlers entering from different sides of the building into the auditorium. I miss bad guys swaggering into the ring and feeling a small hint of fear developing in my gut. I miss wrestlers hiding under the ring from their opponent. I miss tag team doubleteams and interfering managers. I miss the airplane spin as a finishing move. I miss seeing a chair shot once every six months. I miss believing the piledriver was the most dangerous wrestling move of all time. I miss the midgets and the fabulous ladies and even the wrestling bear. I miss when a main event meant something special.

Somehow along the way, these things changed. Of course, I’ve changed as well. Most of us come to understand that change in life is seemingly the only constant. Sometimes though when it comes to something that has been such a regular companion, change is not always welcome.

Maybe time has passed me by when it comes to professional wrestling. I know there are those in the business today who are great at what they do and I wish them well. I understand that there are things about the business that make it easier for the boys now than in a previous time and for those things I am glad. I hope those who enjoy those benefits today appreciate the price paid by those who walked that aisle before them.

Yes, it’s still a show with a ring and lights and fans and many of the things remembered from a time gone by. Still, though it’s all different now.

At times now I look back and think about cities like Memphis, Chattanooga, Nashville, Birmingham, Huntsville, Lexington, Jackson, Tupelo, Jonesboro, Evansville and Louisville and others that scheduled wrestling on a regular basis. I think about those old buildings that housed those regular cards and the memories that haunt those walls. I think about little towns throughout the territory that brought wrestling to town a couple of times a year just to raise some money for the athletic booster club. I think about the long road trips made by the boys. Sometimes I even find myself on some of the same roads I’m certain they traveled at some time or another. I find myself wondering if at some point in the past one of the boys while ticking off the miles somewhere between last night’s show and the next show thought that the world they knew then would never change. I then realize in the world I knew then that sometimes crossed into their world then that I never saw change coming and never imagined things would change from what they were then.

Still, the miles tick on bringing change, sometimes slowly, sometimes swiftly, with every day.

Since change is so constant, it provides a bit of hope for me that in someway things can change again, maybe not to the exact way things were but in some direction more reminiscent of the business of professional wrestling that I miss like an old friend on a lonely day. I’ll wait and see, and hope.

Meantime, I turn back to the old tapes, programs, clippings, magazines, newsletters and results. I read the articles on KM’s main site and read the knowledge on the KM message board imparted from fans and wrestlers with an almost unexplainable passion for the business. I realize I am not alone in feeling melancholy for the old days sometimes. I also know I am not alone in reliving and rehashing these kayfabe memories.


The memories continue…

Special thanks

To all those who have contributed in small ways or large ways to the previous 39 articles, thank you immensely for helping capture a part of professional wrestling history and for sharing your memories. 

To all those who participated in the grand business of professional wrestling in the territory working for Mr. Welch, Mr. Gulas and Mr. Jarrett, thank you for the memories so many of us value. 

Dedicated to the memory of

Roy Welch, Nick Gulas, Harry Thornton and Miss Christine Jarrett

and in honor of

Jerry Jarrett

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