UWF #7 Page #2
In addition to being part of the tag champions, Duggan was involved in the main feud during late ‘86-early ‘87 with UWF champion the One Man Gang. Duggan and OMG battled in a brutal series of cage and chain matches during late December and early January. In mid-January, these contests had the dreaded "loser-leaves-town" stipulation added. OMG defeated Duggan throughout the UWF territory. On January 23,1987, Duggan lost a "loser leaves the UWF" match to the Gang, setting up Hacksaw’s departure to the WWF.
Duggan’s move to the WWF hurt Watts by losing one of his top draws, but it also meant that one-half of the tag champs had left the company. Rather than name a replacement partner for Taylor, Watts declared the tag team titles vacant and announced the UWF Tag Team tournament. Always a stickler for detail, Watts seeded the top eight teams in the promotion to set up NCAA-style brackets. On Saturday, February 7,1987, the tournament took place in Fort Worth.
The tournament’s first match featured the team of Rick Steiner and Sting, members of the aforementioned Hot Stuff International stable, taking on Chavo Guerrero, Sr. and longtime Mid-South/UWF fixture the Missing Link, who were managed by Dark Journey (whatever happened to her?) Steiner had entered the promotion during the Mid-South days under his given name of Rob Rechsteiner. He did his share of jobs but was immediately identifiable as a solid technical wrestler (Watts and Jim Ross pushed Steiner’s U. of Michigan background), a super-stiff worker and a legitimate tough guy (which he still is, almost killing Kwee Wee/Angry Allan on WCW Thunder this week). Steiner received notoriety in 1986 by helping a car accident victim in Oklahoma-he and Dr. Death Steve Williams ripped the vehicle’s door off of its hinges! In Mid South, Sting was part of perhaps the most famous jobber tag team in wrestling history, the Blade Runners. He was Blade Runner Sting, and his partner, Blade Runner Rock, has now evolved into the advanced life form known as The Warrior.
Both Sting and Steiner were young and hungry, and the diabolic duo of Eddie Gilbert and Missy Hyatt provided whatever charisma the two may have lacked at that time. Chavo Sr. could still go and the Missing Link (Dewey Robertson) was a longtime crowd favorite, but their team was the decided long shot in the tournament. In an okay opening match, the Sting/Steiner team prevailed by a disqualification.
The second contest featured remaining co-tag team champ Terry Taylor and young Sam Houston against two members of the Fabulous Freebirds, Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy and the Angel of Death. Taylor’s illustrious history with Mid-South/the UWF was documented in a previous installment. Houston is the son of Mid-South/UWF booker Grizzly Smith and the brother of Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Both guys were youthful, exuberant and technically sound. Terry Gordy was one of wrestling’s very best big men in 1987, able to brawl and wrestle with equal ability. In addition, Gordy had two lengthy stints as a Mid-South tag champion in 1979 and 1980, first teaming with Michael Hayes and then Buddy Roberts to hold the belts. Gordy was also the first UWF World Champion. The Angel of Death was always the proverbial fifth wheel with the Freebirds, possessing only a portion of Gordy’s ability, Hayes’ charisma or Roberts’ mixture of the two. In a good match, the Taylor/Houston team upset the Freebirds.
The third match involved the top seeded team, Ted DiBiase and Dr. Death Steve Williams, fighting against Wild Bill Irwin and Eli the Eliminator, members of General Skandor Akbar’s Devastation Incorporated. DiBiase and Williams were favorites for good reason, as they had held the Mid-South tag titles twice before and were the inaugural UWF tag champs when Watts changed the promotion’s name. The two had also experienced success teaming in Japan. Akbar was a walking heat machine in ’87, and he gave his charges all the heelish charisma they needed to be hated by the fans. Irwin had the revenge factor working in his favor, having been one-half of the team that had dropped the belts to Duggan & Taylor. Irwin and Akbar had both come from tenures in World Class Championship Wrestling. Eli the Eliminator is brother of one of the Road Warriors (anybody know which one?) He was a suitably vicious member of Devastation, Inc. The match itself was a typically classic, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink UWF brawl with DiBiase and Williams triumphing despite outside interference from other members of Devastation, Inc.
The fourth and final first round match pitted the eighth-seeded team of fellow WCCW expatriates Gentleman Chris Adams and Iceman King Parsons against the Fabulous Freebirds duo of Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts. Adams’ credentials have been outlined in a previous installment. Parsons was a capable ring performer with a great sense of humor who carried a "rooty poo" stick (sound familiar?) Hayes and Roberts had to be considered the heavy favorites in this match involving former WCCW performers, but there was an undercurrent of dissension throughout the match between the ‘Birds. Adams and Parsons prevailed in a solid match and moved on to the second round.
Round two of the tournament started with a Watts specialty, a face vs. face match (with a twist, of course) involving DiBiase and Williams against Adams and Parsons. Ted and Doc were overwhelming favorites. During the give-and-take of an excellent match, an enraged Akbar, vowing revenge on DiBiase and Williams for eliminating his team earlier in the evening, brought to Devastation, Inc. to produce a vicious stompdown on Ted and Doc. The action left the ring and ensued on the outside, with Adams bailing out to assist DiBiase and Williams in fighting off the bad guys. Parsons remained in the ring as the referee counted to ten, disqualifying the DiBiase/Williams team. The Adams/Parsons team was awarded the victory because the Iceman stayed in the ring, but Adams refused the victory and wanted to continue the match with DiBiase and Williams. Parsons vehemently argued that the team should accept the win and advance to the title bout. Adams and Parsons continued to bicker, so Watts decided that a coin flip was necessary to determine which man would continue into the final round with a new partner of his choice. Adams won and invited Savannah Jack to team with him. This bit of crafty booking would set up a good future feud between Adams and Parsons and another twist latter in the show.
The other second round bout pitted the duo of Sting and Steiner against Taylor and Houston. The cheating antics of Gilbert and Hyatt allowed Hot Stuff Incorporated to prevail and send them into the finals. Given the teams entered in the tournament, the championship match would pair two unlikely finalists- the young Sting/Steiner duo vs. the spontaneous Adams/Savannah Jack tandem.
Before the championship match started, there was time for some patented Watts intrigue. Savannah Jack downed the infamous Mike "The Hippy" Boyette in a throwaway singles contest. Iceman Parsons was not happy about being jobbed out of a title shot due to a coin flip. Parsons entered the ring, grabbed a Mic and began laying a verbal smackdown on his replacement, Savannah Jack. Jack strode back down the aisle and returned to the ring with a hurt look on his face. Once in the ring, he got Parsons to calm down and had seemingly smoothed things over. Fat chance. As the two began to head out of the ring, the Iceman clobbered Jack and began to stomp an unholy mudhole into his former friend. Jack was left lying outside the ring.
Like the movie "Groundhog Day," it was déjà vu all over again for Chris Adams. He was given the opportunity to select another new tag-teammate. He eventually chose the former defending champ, Terry Taylor. The championship match was the best of the night, with Adams and Taylor emerging victorious and as new UWF tag-team champs.
Of course, Taylor would soon turn on Adams. But that’s a story for another time.
The main event was anticlimactic, featuring the left-for-dead Savannah Jack against UWF champ the One Man Gang. The two men wrestled to a less-than-thrilling draw. But that could not tarnish a shining example of why Bill Watts is held in such high esteem by us Kayfabe oldtimers. The action was top notch and woven into a storytelling framework that is sorely missed today. I have said this before, but the presence of sharp wrestling minds like DiBiase, Gilbert, Taylor, Hayes and Akbar only helped with the execution of the smartly booked show. Amazing how entertaining regular old "wrestling" can be without the hambone theatrics and endless screwjobs that are staples of today’s "sports entertainment."
I'll get off the pulpit now.
Well, that’s it for this installment. Thanks again for taking the time to read my Kayfabe Memories-induced ramblings. Stop by the UWF Message Board sometime. Until next time, make sure your sweetheart gets treated right on Valentine’s Day.
Tthe bad guys, thugs, heels and monsters of the UWF circa 1987.
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