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of The Freebirds’ chicanery, JYD even missed the birth of his child.
Michael Hayes took to mocking JYD in interviews, even wearing sunglasses
and holding a cane. The death threats received by the Freebirds and
incidents of them being verbally and physically harassed by fans on the
road and outside arenas attested to the love fans had for Junkyard Dog.
After a couple of months on the sidelines, the moment that JYD revealed
that his sight had returned by taking off his sunglasses and attacking
an unsuspecting Hayes remains one the most exciting and emotional
moments of JYD’s career. Even more emotional and dramatic was the
moment of JYD’s revenge. Before a rabid crowd of more than 26,000 fans
at the Superdome in New Orleans, Junkyard Dog defeated Michael Hayes in
a Steel Cage/Dog Collar Chain match. JYD had tasted revenge and more
importantly justice at last.
of Junkyard Dog’s great foes was Ted DiBiase. Ted and JYD had actually
been great friends and tag team partners. Both men wrestled by the rules
and possessed the love and respect of the fans. Both men also desired
the North American Heavyweight Title and each man earned a shot at the
champ Bob Roop. JYD defeated Roop on June 21, 1982 in Shreveport to
become the champ, thus inheriting Roop’s title defense schedule. His
first opponent was Ted DiBiase on June 23, 1982 in New Orleans. Both men
insisted that it would be a clean, scientific bout between best friends.
Imagine Junkyard Dog’s surprise when Ted used a loaded glove to KO JYD
and steal the win. Ted’s betrayal came as both a shock and a
disappointment. Junkyard Dog had lost the belt and his best friend.
surrounded himself with a pair of fellow cheaters and scoundrels in
Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Matt Borne. They called themselves The Rat Pack.
For every lowdown trick The Rat Pack used, JYD had an answer. After
numerous matches and brawls it came down to a big Loser Leaves Town
match pitting Junkyard Dog and Mr. Olympia vs. Ted DiBiase and Matt
Borne. In one of Mid-South Wrestling’s most famous moments, Hacksaw
Jim Duggan interfered and cost JYD the match and his place in Mid-South
Wrestling. Duggan had cavorted with fans at ringside disguised in a
gorilla suit, before intervening in the match. The Rat Pack thought that
they had won. How wrong they were. Junkyard Dog’s “close personal
friend” the masked Stagger Lee entered Mid-South Wrestling immediately
after JYD’s departure. The arrival of Stagger Lee enraged The Rat Pack
as much as it thrilled the fans. The war was on. The Rat Pack knew that
if they could get the hood off of Stagger Lee and reveal his identity as
Junkyard Dog, then JYD would be banned forever from Mid-South. At one
point Stagger Lee was unmasked only to reveal another wrestler entirely!
Stagger Lee continued to fight Ted DiBiase throughout late 1982. Stagger
finally won the big one by defeated Ted on Thanksgiving Night at The
Superdome in New Orleans winning the North American Title in front of a
massive crowd. Eventually Stagger Lee departed and his pal Junkyard Dog
returned to Mid-South to a hero’s welcome.
great rival of Junkyard Dog was Hacksaw Butch Reed. Reed and JYD had a
close friendship until Reed’s jealousy ripped them apart. A fans’
popularity poll revealed Junkyard Dog to be the #1 star in the hearts
and minds of the fans. Reed could not handle this perceived slight. His
reaction was to assault and belittle JYD. JYD with right and the fans on
his side never backed down. To say that the feud was intense would be a
mild understatement. The down home appeal of JYD and his long history in
Mid-South made him as big a favorite as ever. Reed on the other hand
seemed born to play the heel with booming voice and cocky, braggadocios
demeanor. Their matches did not exactly invoke memories of Jack Brisco
vs. Dory Funk Jr. These were hard hitting battles with great amounts of
blood spilled and egos bruised. This was such a big feud that it went to
other territories like Memphis and headlined. Shreveport, Little Rock,
Houston, Tulsa, Jackson, and all across Mid-South they battled. Of
course ground zero for their battles was the Louisiana Superdome in New
Orleans. Three times within a year Junkyard Dog and Butch Reed headlined
the Superdome. On each of those occasions they drew massive crowds in
the 20,000 range.
Junkyard Dog did not leave Mid-South Wrestling in a blaze of glory. He
departed the promotion in the summer of 1984 without any prior notice.
Mid-South Wrestling buried JYD mercilessly in response. Mid-South
regularly broadcast JYD losses, losses that were presented as if they
had just occurred. The announcers, especially promoter Bill Watts,
denigrated JYD as having “left to seek easier competition” and so
forth. Despite his rocky departure, there can be no denying that
Junkyard Dog was arguably the greatest ever superstar of Mid-South
Wrestling and left a lasting impression on the fans and the promotion in
general. The numerous, failed attempts to replace JYD with Master G,
Savannah Jack, and others attest to JYD’s lasting importance and
popularity in Mid-South Wrestling.
leaving Mid-South JYD headed to the WWF and enjoyed a great deal of
success during his first few years in the promotion including teaming
with Jimmy Snuka against Roddy Piper and Bob Orton Jr. in a Madison
Square Garden main event and challenging Greg Valentine for the
Intercontinental Title at Wrestlemania. JYD later had several stints
with WCW in the late 1980s and early 1990s, before becoming a regular on
the independent circuit. Unfortunately Junkyard Dog lost his life in a
1998 traffic accident while returning cross-country from his
daughter’s graduation. Too many fans only saw Junkyard Dog at the end
of his career when he had gained weight and lost skill. To judge JYD on
those grounds would be akin to judging Johnny Unitas on his lone season
with the San Diego Chargers or Babe Ruth on his sad, final season with
the Boston Braves. To get the true measure of Junkyard Dog you had to
witness his feats and exploits in Mid-South Wrestling. For more than
four years Junkyard Dog burned as brightly as any star in professional
The feuds of Mid-South Wrestling were always exciting, intense, and brutal. Next time we’ll take a look at some of the most exciting and memorable of these feuds.
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