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 - Sean Rowland

The top area title in the Mid-South region was the North American Title. The legacy of the title itself stretches back to the late 1960's when Leroy McGuirk was promoting the territory. True legends of the sport such as Bill Watts, Dick Murdoch, Ernie Ladd, Killer Karl Kox, Dusty Rhodes, and many, many more have held it. The title was even split for a time in the Seventies when Watts pulled out on McGuirk and took the title to the Georgia and Florida areas, while McGuirk continued to keep the title alive in his area as well. But, since this is the Mid-South Memories area, I'm going to give the history of the title from August of 1979, until May of 1986, when it was changed into the UWF Title.

Mr. Wrestling II was the North American Heavyweight Champ when Watts started the Mid-South Wrestling promotion in August of 1979. He had been champion since February of 1979 when he beat Ernie Ladd in Atlanta for the belt. II was defeated in September of '79 by Mike George. George was a long-time mainstay in the McGuirk days and also worked regularly for Bill Watts in the early days of Mid-South. George and his partner, Bob Sweetan, were involved in a pretty hot feud with Watts and his partner, Buck Robely. In December of '79, Watts apparently beat George for the belt, but the title was returned to George when Watts' victory was overturned on a technicality. From that point, George held on to the belt until February of 1980 when Ted DiBiase beat him.

DiBiase enjoyed a long reign as champ. He defended the title against men like Killer Kahn, The Grappler, and even close friend and former champ Mr. Wrestling II. DiBiase finally met his match in November of 1979 when The Grappler (Len Denton) defeated him. DiBiase and The Grappler had met on several occasions, and the masked man claimed that during a match against DiBiase, he had suffered ligament damage in his leg that actually made one leg shorter than the other. Because of this, The Grappler had gotten medical permission to wear an orthopedic (read - loaded) boot. It was with the help of his boot that The Grappler defeated DiBiase. The Grappler and his boot defended the title against such men as Killer Karl Kox, Jerry Oates, Wahoo McDaniel, Jim Garvin, and many others.

The Grappler's reign was a long one as well. He held the belt until June of 1981 when he was upset by Jake "The Snake" Roberts. This stirred no end of controversy, since the shot was supposed to have been Paul Orndorff's.  More...

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