Mid-South #16 Page #2

Only a logjam of top teams in Mid-South during 1984 and 1985 prevented them from achieving championship status. Even without a title The Fantastics proved their worth in matches with The Midnight Express in a feud that later carried over to World Class and the NWA. Fellow Memphis vets Bill Dundee and Dutch Mantel also provided tough opposition. Greatness is not only measured in title reigns. The Fantastics showed that artistic merit deserves its rewards as well. 

8. Junkyard Dog and Dick Murdoch
When: 1981 
Title Reigns: 4-27-81 to 6-81 and Summer of 1981

To Sum It Up: Sometimes a mismatch makes the perfect match 

There is a mistaken belief that two singles wrestlers cannot mesh as a tag team. Junkyard Dog and Dick Murdoch proved that wrong. They showed that two individuals could make it as a team with the right motivation and cooperation. They battled principally with the Samoans.  While fans were more likely to see a brawl than a display of holds, Captain Redneck and JYD showed that as long as you get the job done, it doesn’t matter if it’s pretty.  

7. Ted DiBiase and Matt Borne
When: Late 1982 – Early 1983

Title Reigns: 10-27-82 to 3-12-83
Major Feuds: vs. Junkyard Dog and Mr. Olympia, vs. Stagger Lee 

To Sum It Up: So much accomplished, so much left undone 

Ted DiBiase and Matt Borne formed the heel trio known as The Rat Pack, along with Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Together they adhered to the policy of win at all costs, cheat at all costs. Ted and Matt had just the right combination of science, skill, and viciousness to get the job done. They seemed in line for a long run at the top. However, after a great start Ted DiBiase and Matt Borne with a bright future as a team in the offing, the team fell apart for reasons outside the wrestling business. Unfortunately the personal demons that have tormented Matt Borne’s personal and professional life reared their ugly heads. Borne was terminated by Mid-South Wrestling, bringing the team to an early finish. 

6. The Wild Samoans
When: 1981-1982
Title Reigns: Summer 1981, Fall 1981, and Winter 1981-1982
Big Feuds: vs. Ernie Ladd, vs. Junkyard Dog and Dick Murdoch 

To Sum it Up: Big and Mean 

It’s easy to forget that Afa and Sika had a career beyond the confines of the WWF. They spend many of their peak years in that promotion. In between WWF stints they ran rampant in the Mid-South rings. Ernie Ladd, who served as their manager and mouthpiece, brought the Samoans to the promotion. General Skandor Akbar later stole them away to Devastation Incorporated, leading to a feud with Ernie Ladd. The Samoans also battled heavily with Junkyard Dog and Dick Murdoch. Finesse and clean wrestling were seldom seen in those violent encounters.  

5. Mr. Wrestling II and Magnum TA
When: Fall of 1983 to Spring 1984
Title Reign: 12-25-83 to 3-13-84
Big Feuds: vs. Butch Reed and Jim Neidhart, vs. The Midnight Express

To Sum It Up: Age and Experience + Youth and Ability = Greatness 

This team was based as much on a teacher-student or even father-son relationship as it was on friendship. The cagey veteran Mr. Wrestling II was determined to impart some of his vast knowledge on the up and coming Magnum TA. This duo used good old-fashioned scientific wrestling as it faced the likes of Butch Reed and Jim Neidhart, Nikolai Volkoff and Krusher Khrushchev, and The Midnight Express. Although it wasn’t their first option, TA and II would and could resort to brawling to stop their opponents. This team came to an untimely end when Mr. Wrestling II’s jealousy over Magnum’s burgeoning singles career tore the duo apart. 

4. The Fabulous Freebirds
When: Late 1979 and 1980
Title Reigns: 11-24-79 to 4-6-80 (Hayes and Gordy) and 6-9-80 to 9-80 (Gordy and Roberts

Big Feuds: vs. Junkyard Dog 

To Sum It Up: Organized Chaos 

Where the Freebirds went, mayhem followed. This team had talent, but also gained fame for attitude with their rock n roll lifestyle and entrance music. Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy entered Mid-South as a duo in 1979 and made short work of winning the Mid-South Tag Team Title. When they later added Buddy Roberts to the team, the Fabulous Freebirds took shape as we remember them. Each man brought a different element to the table. Hayes was the flamboyant, mouthy, braggadocios leader with a bit of a pretty boy streak, but a mean streak to back it up. Terry Gordy had size, power, surprising speed, and an even bigger mean streak. Buddy Roberts added experience and old school craftiness to a team that now looked invincible. Their feud with Junkyard Dog encapsulated everything that Mid-South so exciting with the right blend of action, drama, violence, and even a touch of humor. Few wrestlers have stirred a crowd’s emotions in the manner that The Freebirds, especially Hayes did. The Freebirds had to drive from town to town in an old junker, as the debris hurled at the vehicle would have severely damaged a late model car. When the Freebirds finally flew off to Georgia in the fall of 1980, they left behind a legend in Mid-South. 

3. The Midnight Express
When: 1984
Title Reigns: 3-13-84 to 5-2-84 and 5-23-84 to 10-1-84
Major Feuds: vs. The Rock n Roll Express, vs. Mr. Wrestling II and Magnum TA, vs. Bill Watts 

To Sum It Up: Teamwork at its best 

Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton had talent, craftiness, and a mouth with legs for a manager. Dennis and Bobby had been around wrestling for years teaming with many different partners prior to teaming up. Once they got together it was magic. Bobby was a high flyer by the standard of the day. Dennis stayed on the mat. They utilized tremendous double team maneuvers, both legal and illegal. In the ring, few could compare. If the action in the ring wasn’t enough, then outside the ring stood a bespectacled man with a loudmouth, an even louder wardrobe, and a loaded tennis racket James E. Cornette. Creating magic in the ring with The Rock n Roll Express. Attacking Bill Watts with a blackjack. Waffling The Fantastics with steel chairs. Humiliating Magnum TA with syrup and chicken feathers. And of course, enraging the fans while doing all of this and more. When Jim Cornette and The Midnight Express left the territory, it definitely took everyone some time to recover.

2. The Rock n Roll Express
When: 1984 and the first half of 1985
Title Reigns: 5-2-84 to 5-23-84, 10-1-84 to 12-3-84, and 12-25-84 to 5-3-85
Major Feuds: vs. The Midnight Express, vs. Steve Williams and Ted DiBiase 

To Sum It Up: It’s the size of the fight in the men, not the men in the fight 

Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson broke in as a team in Memphis and gained their greatest fame in the Carolinas. However, it was in Mid-South Wrestling that they truly ascended to greatness. In Mid-South Ricky and Robert no longer played second fiddle to The Fabulous Ones and proved that they deserved the spotlight. Their highflying, scientific style added a welcome facet to a promotion built mainly on ground-based brawlers. Ricky and Robert were equally adept whether facing a similarly styled team like the Midnight Express or using their speed and skill against larger opponents like Ted DiBiase and Steve Williams. They enjoyed two reigns as a Mid-South Tag Team Champions during two separate stints, sandwiching a return to Memphis, with the promotion in 1984 and 1985. Ricky and Robert also drew female and younger fans with their looks and gimmick, yet still impressed the rest of the fans with their tremendous talent and personable demeanor.

1.  Ted DiBiase and Steve Williams
When: 1985 and 1986
Title Reigns: 5-3-85 to 8-28-85 and 12-26-85 to 3-16-86
Major Feuds: vs. The Rock n Roll Express, vs. Jake Roberts and Nord The Barbarian, vs. Dick Murdoch and Masked Superstar 

To Sum It Up: Simply The Best 

After much thought Ted DiBiase and Steve Williams garner the top spot as Mid-South Wrestling’s all time best tag team. Never mind Lex Luger, this team was the total package. Each man brought what was needed to the table. Doctor Death had devastating power. Ted, by comparison, had finesse. Together they both possessed fantastic scientific wrestling skills and bad attitudes. They certainly knew how to use those attitudes against teams of different sizes and attitudes. The Rock n Roll Express, The Fantastics, Jake Roberts and Nord the Barbarian, Wendell Cooley and Al Perez, Dick Murdoch and Masked Superstar all faced and lost to Ted and Doc. During 1985 they rolled over the Mid-South tag team scene like a Mack Truck. Even after their babyface turn they continued to roll as a team right up to the point that Mid-South Wrestling became the UWF in the spring of 1986. They were truly the best Mid-South had to offer. 


When the WWF expanded in 1984 it affected the wrestling business in many ways. In our next edition we’ll look at how the changing pro wrestling landscape affected Mid-South Wrestling and the steps the promotion took to fight back.

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