Mid-South #9 Page #2
despite that statement, Reed pulled a fast one and unilaterally decided
that heíd defend the title against Magnum TA. Reedís intent was
clear. His title defense was little more than an excuse to soften up
Magnum for the Tag Title match later on. To a point his plan worked.
Reed and Neidhardt did leave Shreveport as Mid-South Tag Team Champions,
as usual cheating to steal a victory. But before this occurred Butch
Reed discovered, to his cost, that often the best-laid plans go awry.
Reed thought he had himself a pushover, that Magnum was too young and
inexperienced to do him any harm. Reed would work over Magnum easily,
retain the North American Title, and get a clearer path to the tag team
championship. Instead Reed fell victim to overconfidence, poor planning,
and a young superstar ready for his breakout moment. Anything Reed
tried, Magnum answered. Even Reedís typically underhanded tactics
failed to produce results because Junkyard Dog served as special guest
referee. With the crowd going wild for his every move and JYD providing
a level playing field, Magnum TA gave the best performance of his career
so far and, to the delight of the fans, walked out of the ring as the
new North American Heavyweight Champion.
for Magnum, his reign would be short and shrouded in controversy. Just
twelve days later, on October 24, 1983, Magnum TA lost his belt to
Nikolai Volkoff in New Orleans. Compounding
matters his original win over Reed was nullified on a technicality. Only
the Mid-South Championship Committee or the official matchmaker could
grant a title match. The champ could not pick his own challenger as Reed
had. Therefore Magnumís win over Reed was never officially for the
title and neither was Volkoffís win over Magnum, as TA never actually
held the title. Despite this double dose of disappointment, Magnum was
unbowed. He had scaled the mountain once and could do it again. All he
needed was an opportunity. That opportunity turned out to be just around
the corner. Unfortunately heartbreak was around the corner as well.
TA and Mr. Wrestling II righted the wrong committed by Butch Reed and
Jim Neidhart by capturing the Mid-South Tag Team Title in New Orleans on
December 25, 1983, a great Christmas present for their fans. On the
singles front, based on his brief phantom reign as North American
Champion and his fine skills and record, Magnum TA was named the number
one contender to that title. Mid-South televised a special contract
signing for a title match between Junkyard Dog and Magnum TA. Mr.
Wrestling II should have been proud that his protťgť had earned the
title shot and stood on the verge of greatness. Instead II reacted with
an envious rage that he could barely contain. The advantage of a masked
wrestler has long been his ability to hide his facial expressions. In
this case not even Mr. Wrestling IIís mask could conceal the
bitterness on his face. He denigrated Magnum as too inexperienced and
totally out of his league. Then he knocked JYD, effectively calling him
a cowardly champion, accusing him of only wrestling TA because he would
be an easy opponent. IIís words and attitude shocked everyone. This
was totally out of character. Magnum immediately tried to calm down his
mentor. II amazingly thanked Magnum with a hard slap in the face.
Ordinarily this might set off a brawl, but Magnum showed tremendous
patience and grace under fire. He seemed stunned rather than angry or
upset and he certainly wasnít alone in that feeling.
the heels of this uncomfortable incident, somehow Mr. Wrestling II and
Magnum TA had to function as teacher and student and as tag team
champions. Magnum did not want something like a title shot to come
between him and II. So, in a gesture of great sacrifice and
unselfishness, Magnum offered to give his title match with Junkyard Dog
to Mr. Wrestling II. Mr. Wrestling IIís reaction once again shocked
everyone. Just as before, II slapped Magnum TA across the face. He
showed no gratitude or humility, only self-centered rage. Magnum for his
part ripped up the title match contract. He made it clear from the
beginning. Mr. Wrestling II meant more to him than a title match.
Meanwhile Mr. Wrestling II continued to act belligerently. Not even
Cowboy Bill Watts could reason with him. It truly depressed the fans to
see one of their heroes behaving this way.
That should have been the end of the issue. Instead tensions continued to rise and all the blame goes to Mr. Wrestling II. II totally ignored Magnumís obvious, natural talent and insisted that all of TAís accomplishment came from IIís coaching. II teamed with a jobber, John King, to show the world that he could make anyone a star. IIís boasts had nothing to do with any concern for Kingís career. He just wanted to feed his own ego. When the pair teamed up to face the Midnight Express, IIís behavior sank to a new low. As soon as the inexperienced King ran into trouble, Mr. Wrestling II took a walk, leaving King to take a beating and the loss. The fans could not believe their eyes. Could this really be the same Mr. Wrestling II they had loved for so many years?
displayed even more outrageous behavior as Magnum faced off against the
powerful Krusher Khrushschev. With Magnum in control and seemingly en
route to victory, II threw in the towel. Magnum questioned II about his
latest act of treachery and once again Mr. Wrestling II slapped him in
the face. This time Magnum had had enough. He entered the ring and
challenged II to an immediate match. The fans were absolutely going
crazy, ready to see Magnum finally give II what he deserved. II
responded to the challenge by walking off. He arrogantly claimed that when
Magnum lost, TA would use the impromptu nature of the match as an
excuse. Magnum and the crowd seethed with rage over IIís latest
it or not, throughout all this turmoil, Magnum TA and Mr. Wrestling II
still held the Mid-South Tag Team title! Back in happier times, they had
disposed of the team of Butch Reed and Jim Neidhart. Just before their
relationship began to disintegrate, II and TA faced a tough, new
challenge from The Midnight Express. Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton and
their manager Jim Cornette hit Mid-South Wrestling with hurricane force.
II and TA needed to stick together and initially they did. As
time passed and tensions between II and TA stretched to the breaking
point, the Midnight Express took advantage. It all broke down one
fateful night in Lafayette, Louisiana, March 13, 1984. The two teams
faced each other in a match; to the winners went the Mid-South Tag Team
Title, while the losers received ten lashes from a belt. With both teams
at their peaks this would have been an epic battle. Alas, the II and TA
team finally fell apart for good. II abandoned his partner, the match,
and the Mid-South Tag Team Title. Magnum possessed great talent, but not
even he could withstand two all-stars like Condrey and Eaton, not to
mention the energetic Cornette at ringside. The Midnights won the
championship and prepared to administer the ten lashes. Magnum took the
first five, then Terry Taylor saved the beaten, bloody Magnum by taking
the remaining five lashes for him. Nevertheless, Magnum was drenched in
blood, beaten down, and thirsty for revenge. He also still wanted the
North American Title. Magnum would get the chance to kill two birds with
over a shot at the North American Title had torn Mr. Wrestling II and
Magnum TA apart. While Magnum had selflessly given up a title shot
earned via true effort and hard work. His partner cheated and schemed
his way to title contention. On March 12, 1984, the night before he
abandoned Magnum in Lafayette, Mr. Wrestling II got his shot at the
belt, taking on the Junkyard Dog in New Orleans. In the not too distant
past, this would have been a great scientific battle between friends.
How times had changed. II continuously used underhanded tactics to gain
the advantage, but JYD always had an answer. Finally, Mr. Wrestling II
went for the coup de grace, the knee lift. The knee lift had long been
Mr. Wrestling IIís trademark maneuver, but with IIís new, bad
attitude came an ominous change to that finisher. With the referee
distracted Mr. Wrestling II loaded up his kneepad, giving the already
effective knee lift a devastating edge. The illegally augmented knee
lift knocked JYD into next week. Mr. Wrestling II had committed highway
robbery, stealing the North American Title. He now possessed what Magnum
TA wanted most. Mr. Wrestling II became a target for Magnumís North
American Title ambitions and vengeance.
Wrestling IIís ego and bad attitude were now simply out of control.
Just to prove his acumen as a trainer, he brought in Mr. Wrestling III,
later unmasked as Hercules Hernandez, as his new protťgť. II even had
the audacity to proclaim himself Mr. Wrestling and his new student as
Mr. Wrestling II. His interviews had degenerated into grumpy, nonstop
complaint sessions. The fans could not stand even to listen to his
bitter ranting. Mr. Wrestling II had become a shadow of his former self.
Magnum TA, meanwhile, continued to put the teachings of the ďoldĒ II
to good use. His matches against the likes of Butch Reed, Nikolai
Volkoff, Krusher Khrushchev, and others showed that he was ready to move
to the next level. The fans stood behind Magnum TA 100%. They wanted
Magnum to gain revenge as much as he did.
major confrontation between the former allies was now only a matter of
time. Ric Flair has long stated that to be the man, you have to beat the
man. Truer words were never spoken. For Magnum TA to get his revenge and
put an end to Mr. Wrestling IIís evil actions, he had to beat II for
the North American Heavyweight Title. Although II managed to retain the
North American Title against Magnum at the Superdome in New Orleans on
April 7, 1984, the 23,000 fans in attendance could certainly vouch for
the fact that II cheated his way to another win. Despite that setback,
Magnum TA would not be denied his destiny for long. On May 13, 1984 in
Tulsa, Magnum TA nailed Mr. Wrestling II with the belly to belly suplex
and finally claimed the North American Title and the revenge he so
desperately wanted. The fans and Magnum exploded in cathartic joy. The
battle and the war had been won at last. Magnum TA had conquered his
mentor turned tormentor and in the process lay to rest any doubts about
his worthiness as a true superstar.
was feud of beginnings and endings. This was the last great feud of Mr.
Wrestling IIís career and arguably his best. After this great run in
Mid-South, II did a stint in Georgia and then had a disappointing stint
in the WWF. Mr. Wrestling II later had runs in Continental and other
Southern promotions before retiring to Hawaii in the early 1990s. This
was the first truly great feud of Magnum TAís career and arguably his
best as well. He reigned nearly six months as North American Champion
beating all comers. After losing the belt, Magnum moved on to the
Carolinas where he achieved even greater fame and fortune. Sadly the
career of Magnum TA ended in a horrific auto accident in October 1986.
Amazingly Magnum survived and has led a productive life away from the
ring. As the years have passed, these two great stars remain linked by
this epic feud. Why not? For drama and excitement Magnum TA vs. Mr.
Wrestling II may still be the greatest feud in Mid-South and pro
Names like Hacksaw Duggan, Junkyard Dog, Ted DiBiase, and Butch Reed are synonymous with Mid-South Wrestling. However, Mid-South Wrestling was about more than just these big stars. Next month weíll look at some of the unsung heroes of Mid-South Wrestling, including some stars that you may have forgotten about.
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