Mid-South #15 Page #2
9. Terry Taylor vs. Steve Williams 1984
This is a personal favorite of mine for its pure simplicity. Through unscrupulous means, Krusher Khrushchev defeated Terry Taylor in the final of a tourney to determine a new Mid-South TV Champion on May 2, 1984. Taylor was determined to win the title that he felt rightfully belonged to him. Meanwhile Taylor’s fellow babyface Steve Williams had a confrontation with Khrushchev and stole the championship medal in the process. With a rematch upcoming between Khrushchev and Taylor, Doctor Death said he would give the medal to the winner. Taylor won that match and the TV Title, but there was one slight problem. Doc forgot to bring the medal. Well no problem, Taylor would get the medal the next week. However, when next week came, still no medal. Eventually Steve Williams’ heel turn was completed when he declared himself TV Champ and refused to give the medal to Taylor at all. If Taylor wanted it, he had to take it. To make sure Taylor wouldn’t take the medal back, Williams resorted to using his Oklahoma University football helmet as a weapon at times to break down Taylor physically and mentally. Taylor wasn’t going to give up though. He fought on and eventually beat Williams and took back the TV Title medal that rightfully belonged to him, going on to enjoy a three month reign as TV Champion.
8. Cowboy Bill Watts vs. Jim Cornette 1984
Some feuds are based on intense action. This feud’s intensity stemmed from the incredible microphone work of the principal combatants. When the Midnight Express won the Mid-South Tag Team Title from Magnum TA and Mr. Wrestling II, Jim Cornette wanted to party. So the following week Cornette, Dennis Condrey, and Bobby Eaton came on to Mid-South TV with party hats and noisemakers, ready to live it up. The Rock n Roll Express put a quick end to their fun by smashing the cake right in Jim Cornette’s face. Corny could not believe it. He ranted and raved with fury. Mid-South owner Bill Watts thought this was the funniest thing he had seen in years and had it replayed over and over on TV. Cornette demanded that the footage not be shown, even threatening to have his Mama buy Mid-South wrestling and demote Watts. The big Cowboy laughed it off until Jim took a verbal shot at Bill’s son Joel. Cornette earned a hard slap in the face for that comment. The following week Jim and the Midnights assaulted Bill Watts as he interviewed Butch Reed, using a blackjack to turn Watts into a bloody mess. You don’t cross Bill Watts and get away with it. A series of matches occurred around Mid-South Wrestling, the biggest going down in front of 23,000 fans at the Superdome in New Orleans. In these bouts Cowboy Bill Watts and Stagger Lee (a close personal friend of Junkyard Dog) defeated The Midnight Express each time. For Jim Cornette defeat carried a heavy price. Since Jim acted like a baby, Watts stipulated that after each Midnight Express loss Jim Cornette would be diapered and forced to wear a bonnet and suck a baby bottle. After numerous humiliations, Jim wisely steered clear of Cowboy Bill Watts.
6. The Chase for the NWA World Title 1985
This was not so much a feud between combatants as an angle that enveloped the entire promotion during the second half of 1985. When Butch Reed started nipping at the heels of NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair, Flair decided that in the future only the North American Champ would receive Title shots. This upset Reed and other worthy contenders like Hacksaw Jim Duggan and infuriated the North American Champ Dick Murdoch who felt that he was being unfairly overlooked. Reed and Murdoch began a Cold War of sorts. The tension was as high as in any blood feud, yet they hadn’t come to blows. Eventually the tenuous relationship violently collapsed and Reed won the North American Title. Next Flair placed a bounty on Reed’s head. Ultimately Dick Slater collected the fee and knocked Reed out of contention with a neck injury. This in turn led to Flair defending the NWA World Title against Ted DiBiase in a match that was a backdrop for the legendary angle in which Dick Murdoch attacked Ted DiBiase and nearly ended Ted’s career. An amazing part of this whole situation was the fact that the catalyst for all of this chaos, Ric Flair, was rarely present in the territory. Flair would show up now and then or send in an interview or even be merely referred to, yet Flair and his NWA World Title managed to be the focal point of the promotion for months. This feud may have been a bit unconventional, but it was definitely exciting.
6. The Midnight Express vs. The Rock n Roll Express 1984
The Midnight Express and Jim Cornette had just won the Mid-South Tag Team Title. It was time to party. Unfortunately for them the ones doing the celebrating were Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson and the fans after the Rock n Roll Express hit Cornette in the face with the cake. As if that wasn’t humiliating enough, the worst was yet to come. Several weeks later The Midnight Express vowed to defend the Mid-South Tag Team Title three separate times on one show. Alas the first two teams were handpicked jobbers. But the third team was something different. They appeared to be Mr. Wrestling II and III, but they were obviously imposters. It was The Rock n Roll Express in disguise! Ricky and Robert won the belts and one of the truly legendary feuds of professional wrestling was underway in earnest. Night after night after night these two teams put on matches that blew the fans away. The Midnights won the belts back after a few weeks, but the battles continued. One of pro wrestling’s great angles occurred when Robert was placed in a straight jacket to demonstrate how Cornette would soon be prevented from interfering by the device. Of course The Midnights and Cornette struck like lightning and destroyed Morton and the straight jacketed Gibson. The two teams eventually fought it out during a series of scaffold matches with Ricky and Robert prevailing. Over the next four years the teams would take their feud to other promotions, but Mid-South fans saw the feud from the beginning.
5. Junkyard Dog vs. Butch Reed 1983 – 1984
When the fans of Mid-South Wrestling decided that Junkyard Dog was the wrestler they loved the most, it infuriated Butch Reed into a heel turn. And what a heel turn it was. This feud encompassed not only physical battles between Reed and JYD, but verbal battles as well. Junkyard Dog had a knack for getting his point across in a manner that made him seem likable and personable. Fans wanted to love him. Reed spoke in a brash arrogant manner that made fans hate him like few other wrestlers have ever been hated. Reed and JYD battled on TV, in arenas at house shows, in locker rooms, in the seats and everyplace in between. Junkyard Dog was tarred and feathered and painted yellow by Reed. JYD responded by doing the same to Reed’s lackey Buddy Landell with Reed narrowly escaping the same fate. This feud even went to other promotions when the fight went to Memphis. Reed scored the North American Title by defeating JYD in July of 1983. In October of 1983 JYD took the belt back. Despite the title, this was a battle about pride and when pride is at stake, hatred doesn’t die easily. A measure of closure was reached on June 16, 1984 at the Superdome in front of a 20,000 crowd. Junkyard Dog bested Hacksaw Butch Reed in a Street Fight Match. However JYD departed for the WWF soon afterwards and the final chapter of this feud was never truly written.
4. Junkyard Dog vs. Ted DiBiase 1982
Have you ever wanted something so bad that it didn’t matter how you got it or whom you took it from? A positive answer to that question was at the root of this feud. Both friendship and the desire to become the North American Champion unified Ted DiBiase and Junkyard Dog. When JYD defeated Bob Roop for the title in June of 1982 he was first to the goal and in the process assumed Roop’s commitment to face Ted for the title. When that match came to pass Ted decided that the Title meant more than friendship. He used brutal tactics and a loaded glove to steal the Title from JYD. Surrounded by a group of heels known as The Rat Pack, Ted employed a new arrogant attitude where any means available were justified to retain the North American Title. JYD wanted revenge and the Title back. Ted got the upper hand by beating Junkyard Dog in a loser leaves town match. The shoe was on the other foot when JYD’s "close personal friend" the masked Stagger Lee came to Mid-South Wrestling to defend JYD's honor. Ted was furious, but could never unmask Stagger Lee to prove it was actually JYD. The score was settled on November 25, 1982 at the Superdome in front of 15,000 fans. Stagger won the North American Title, earned vengeance, and cleared the way for Junkyard Dog to return to Mid-South Wrestling.
3. Ted DiBiase vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan 1983 and 1984 – 1985
This exciting feud actually occurred in two separate chapters. Ted DiBiase and Hacksaw Jim Duggan had been close friends and members of the heel faction known as The Rat Pack. In 1983 things soured when Ted hired General Skandor Akbar as his manager. Hacksaw wanted nothing to do with the anti-American Akbar. Ted insisted that there would be no problems, but then betrayed Duggan at the first opportunity. The battles between these two rocked Mid-South throughout 1983. They were the perfect foes both men could brawl and while Ted’s scientific skills were unquestionable, Hacksaw’s scientific abilities were underrated and more than got the job done. Ted and Duggan took their battle to the Superdome on July 16, 1983 with Hacksaw winning a brutal lights out match. Duggan closed this chapter the following month by pinning Ted in a loser leaves town match. Ted DiBiase returned to Mid-South in the fall of 1984 by jumping Hacksaw in the parking lot of the Irish McNeill’s Boys Club. Ted and Duggan were soon battling brutally throughout Mid-South Wrestling. They soon battled over who was the classier of the two eventually having a Best Dressed Man in Mid-South contest. Ted assaulted Duggan during the contest and it led to more brutal matches. The feud climaxed with a series of multiple stipulation bouts. Ted and Duggan battled in a combination Steel Cage – Texas Death – Glove on a Pole – Tuxedo matches in March of 1985. Hacksaw Jim Duggan stood tall as the winner of these bouts to close the book on this feud once and for all.
2. Magnum TA vs. Mr. Wrestling II 1984
Very often a feud between a student and teacher features an arrogant pupil recklessly turning on his wise and loving mentor. Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbyszko in the WWF in 1980 fits that description perfectly. In the case of Magnum TA vs. Mr. Wrestling II it was the teacher who behaved arrogantly, unable or unwilling to accept that his student was eclipsing him. TA and II had been friends and partners in late 1983 and had seen off the challenge of Butch Reed and Jim Neidhardt for the Mid-South Tag Team Title. With II training Magnum for stardom, all seemed well. Mr. Wrestling II looked like the ultimate coach and Magnum the perfect student. Then Magnum ascended to #1 contender status for the North American Title. Instead of congratulating Magnum and taking pride in his student’s rise to prominence, II reacted with bitter rage. Magnum tried to make peace, but II responded by publicly humiliating his student and costing their team the Mid-South Tag Team Title. Mr. Wrestling II took things further by winning the North American Title himself, cheating to do so. Fans wanted Magnum TA to gain revenge and the moment of truth came on May 13, 1984 in Tulsa. Magnum won the North American Title, gained revenge, self-respect, and proved that no matter what Mr. Wrestling II thought, the student had finally surpassed the teacher.
1. Junkyard Dog vs. The Fabulous Freebirds 1980
This feud stands above all others due not only to the tremendous action it generated, but for the incredible emotion as well. In March of 1980 Junkyard Dog and Buck Robely were wrestling Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts in New Orleans. Michael Hayes inevitably interfered and threw the infamous Freebird Hair Cream in JYD’s eyes. Junkyard Dog was blinded and the feud was set in motion. Fans anguished over JYD’s plight. His career was over, his life irreparably damaged. JYD even missed seeing his new baby due to the blindness. On the other hand, over the course of months The Freebirds gloated over their evil deed without any remorse at all. At one point Hayes even showed up on TV with a cane while wearing dark glasses. The fans hated Hayes and Freebird brothers with an intensity that has rarely been equaled before or since. This went beyond mere boos and jeers. The Freebirds received death threats with Hayes even wearing a bulletproof vest at times as he seconded Gordy and Roberts. One day a blind JYD came to Mid-South TV for an interview. Hayes came out to poke fun at his wounded enemy. Imagine Hayes’ shock when JYD dropped the cane and removed the dark glasses. JYD had healed and was ready for revenge. It all boiled down to Saturday, August 2, 1980 at the Superdome in New Orleans. In front of a throng of more than 26,000 screaming fans, Junkyard Dog thrashed Michael Hayes in a Dog Collar Chain Match held inside a steel cage. JYD had finally settled the score and his vanquished foes The Freebirds vanished from Mid-South rings soon afterwards.
We’ve looked at the best feuds. In our next edition the spotlight will shine on the best tag teams Mid-South Wrestling had to offer.
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