Mid-South #3 Page #2
The change took place in a televised match, and near the end of the program, Orndorff showed up and said that his alarm hadn't gone off and he had overslept. When he was informed that the match had already taken place and that Jake Roberts had won the title from The Grappler, Orndorff flipped out. He said he was sabotaged. He said that someone should have called him when he didn't show up. When Roberts pointed out that Orndorff should have made certain he would be there on time since a North American Title match was an important thing, Orndorff challenged Roberts to defend the title against him. The two met the following week, on July 4th in New Orleans, and Paul Orndorff left as the North American Champion after making short work of Jake "The Snake."
Orndorff had his hands full with challenges from The Junkyard Dog, Jim Garvin, Brian Blair and others. But, Orndorff's biggest challenge by far was the returning Ted DiBiase. DiBiase had left the Mid-South area to tour Georgia after he lost the North American belt to The Grappler. He finally returned to the Mid-South rings on a full-time basis in the late summer of 1981. And his first order of business was to take the title from Orndorff. Orndorff was determined not to go quietly. He enlisted the aid of his brother Terry, as well as Bob Orton, Jr. and Bob Roop in his feud with DiBiase. But, despite the odds against him, DiBiase finally managed to unseat Orndorff in November of 1981.
Before I go any further with the title history, let me just say that the matches between DiBiase and Orndorff were simply classics. These two men were so fast, smooth and evenly matched that it was easy to see where they were both considered future superstars. The two men wrestled a television match that went about ten minutes, and was simply one of the best matches I've ever seen. It was non-stop wrestling from beginning to end. I can honestly say that the feud between these two was every bit as intense and exciting as the Flair-Steamboat wars. And, I think if the feud had gone longer, or they had come back and picked it up again after a few years, it would be remembered as every bit as legendary as the Flair-Steamboat feud.
DiBiase's immediate challenges came from Orndorff. But he also defended against the returning Mike George, Bob Roop, and Mid-South newcomer Ed Wisowski. DiBiase looked very sharp and appeared to have the title situation well in hand, until March of 1982. DiBiase was scheduled to make a title defense on television against Paul Orndorff. Bob Roop, who was a close confidant of Paul Orndorff's appeared early in the program to say that Orndorff hadn't shown up yet. He said that if Orndorff didn't make it, he should be the number one contender and he should get the shot. It was acknowledged that Roop would get the shot, but since it was early in the program, Orndorff would be given time to make it to the arena. Roop even tried to beg off in a match in which he was already scheduled to wrestle Killer Karl Kox. But, he was forced to wrestle that match, and lost when Kox applied the Brainbuster. When time finally arrived for the North American Title match, Orndorff still hadn't shown up. So, Bob Roop was given the shot. Roop wrestled well, but DiBiase appeared to have things in hand until The One Man Gang charged down to ringside, and injured DiBiase's knee by wrapping it around the ringpost. DiBiase was in so much pain that when Roop grapevined his leg, DiBiase passed out. So, Bob Roop left the ring as the North American Champion.
It turned out that Roop had sabotaged Orndorff's car. This lead to a short run as a face for Orndorff, but he left shortly thereafter for a tour of Georgia. Roop's victory over DiBiase was, however, the start of one of the most unexpected angles in the history of Mid-South wrestling. DiBiase was out for several weeks with his injured knee (or possibly a tour of Japan…same thing). When he returned in June of 1982, he was gunning for Bob Roop. He was set to meet Roop in a match for the North American Title on Mid-South television. DiBiase said that if he lost the match, he would leave Mid-South. He even had this written into the contract as a stipulation. However, two days before the TV taping, there was a house show in New Orleans. At this card, DiBiase saved the Junkyard Dog from an attack by Killer Kahn, and took a severe shot in the head. DiBiase was scheduled to face Bob Roop that night, but since he was unable to wrestle, JYD was given the shot. And, at the end of the evening, The Junkyard Dog walked out of the building the North American Champ.
Two days later, at the television taping, it was announced that since JYD had beaten Roop, he had to take on all of the champion's commitments. The Dog would have to face his close friend DiBiase in a match that meant DiBiase would have to leave the area if The Dog won. Both men were obviously upset by this, but being professionals, they went on with the match. From the early going, it was obvious that DiBiase couldn't match The Dog's strength. Both men appeared to be holding back. At one point, JYD had the opportunity to drop a big fist on DiBiase, but held off at the last minute out of respect for his friend. Finally, after several minutes of grappling, DiBiase was knocked from the ring. The Dog went out and helped his friend back in. Then, while The Dog was climbing back into the ring, DiBiase went to his tights, and put something into the glove he was wearing on his "injured" hand. As JYD came toward him, DiBiase spun around and decked The Dog. JYD hit the canvas out cold, and three slaps of the mat later, Ted DiBiase was the North American Champion for the third time.
Next time I'll continue with the history of the North American Title as we get our first look at Stagger Lee, Mr. Wrestling II turns heel, and the Mid-South area becomes the UWF.
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