Mid-South #32 Page #2

In 1984, everything changed. 

Vince McMahon's national expansion of the World Wrestling Federation involved snatching up top stars from territories all across the country. Mid-South was spared for the first few months, but in summer came the most potentially devastating defection of all -- longtime top babyface the Junkyard Dog.

Burying a guy you've portrayed as Superman for four years is not easy, but Watts managed to do it, using JYD's recent feud with Butch Reed as the reason for his departure.

Before the matches started one week, Watts addressed the fans directly. "The big topic of conversation is the Junkyard Dog and what's happened to him. We don't really know. We know he's left the Mid-South area. Of course, Junkyard Dog was a great superstar for so much time, and I think that pressure Butch Reed has put onto him may have finally affected him. The only thing I disagree with is that he had a lot of obligations here and he let his fans down, but you know he's been under the gun here for five years now.

Butch Reed is an awesome individual, and apparently, it caused him to seek greener pastures. Again, we don't know, this is all summation, or speculation."

The coup de grace was in the last sentence.

"And of course, he didn't show up for his match this week, and he was booked against Butch Reed."

The loss of JYD to the WWF juggernaut put Watts' desire to bury the WWF into overdrive, and brought about what might have been his finest moment of explaining the unexplainable. Funny thing was, it didn't even happen on an episode of Mid-South.

Mid-South's sister show was a program called "Power Pro Wrestling." The show featured arena matches and edited highlights of the main Mid-South show, as well as matches from other territories featuring stars on their way to Mid-South.

On one episode, Butch Reed took on former WWF champion the Iron Sheik, only Sheik wasn't yet WWF champ at the time of the match. The bout was more than 18 months old, but Watts commentated the match as if it had taken place the previous week.

Watts had an answer for everything. The fans were cheering for Reed, Mid-South's top heel, because he was a babyface when the match took place in early 1983.  Watts, however, explained that fans were cheering Reed because he was an American opposing an Iranian.

He even noted that the referee came "out of retirement" for this special match.  He also took every opportunity to note how Reed was dominating the Sheik, whereas Junkyard Dog had gained a lot of weight, suffered from personal problems (or "drugs," for short) and lost his competitive edge.

Ironically, JYD's weight gain had been explained a year earlier as him "bulking up" to take on larger foes like Kamala, One Man Gang and Bundy.

Of course, some of Watts' explanations were not implausible. Take this 1983 explanation for why pro wrestling was the best sport of all.

"These guys are right close to them. There's no padding, no equipment. These people can feel every blow.  They can feel the strain of defeat. They can also feel the exultation of victory."


We follow up on the DiBiase-Duggan feud column of a couple of months back, picking up about a year after if left off, in September 1984, so join us to recap Round 2 of this legendary feud.

Please email me with comments, compliments or complaints at rocksays@prodigy.net.

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