Throwback Thursday: Mid-South Wrestling (Sept. 28, 1985), As Seen on WWE Network and Peacock

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This week Throwback Thursday takes another trip down to Bill Watts’ ever-popular Mid-South territory to revisit another classic edition of Mid-South Wrestling, as seen on the WWE Network and Peacock, that aired 37 years ago this month!

In late September 1985 it had been some three months since Bill Watts’ successful stint on WTBS had come to an end. Though Watts failed in his bid to become the sole provider of wrestling content for the Superstation the experience only bolstered Watts’ confidence. In it’s short time on WTBS (March 10, 1985 to May 26, 1985) Mid-South Wrestling became a ratings juggernaut, routinely drawing higher ratings than anything else on the Superstation and mirroring the massive success Watts was experiencing in his home territory. With his ties to the Von Erich promotion in Dallas, Paul Boesch’s Houston Wrestling, and the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), Watts was hoping to build an expansive territory and a stacked roster that could compete nationally with either Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) or the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). At this time Mid-South was little over a month removed from a highly successful Superdome Extravaganza event that drew over 15,500 fans for a gate in excess of $106,000. As other territories began to falter the Mid-South territory seemed primed for one its biggest booms ever. With a loaded roster that included the Fantastics, Dick Murdoch, Ted DiBiase, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, “Hacksaw” Butch Reed, Jake Roberts, Dick Slater, and “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer, to name a few, Watts was looking to parlay the regional success into a national venture in the coming months. For many involved in the territory there were high hopes that the future of Mid-South Wrestling was bigger and better than anything they had experienced before.

 

 

The main story in Mid-South Wrestling at the time this show aired was the simmering feud between NWA World Champion Ric Flair and Butch Reed. Flair’s refusal to only wrestle the North American Heavyweight Champion put greater emphasis on an already crowded title picture and instantly elevated all involved. The return of Ted DiBiase, and Bob Sweetan’s inability to successfully defend DiBiase’s half of the Mid-South Tag Team title in DiBiase’s absence, was another big story, as was the ongoing mystery as to the “mission” Dick Slater was in Mid-South Wrestling to accomplish. Away from squared circle the number on song in America the week this edition of Mid-South Wrestling aired was Dire Strait’s classic “Money For Nothing” from their number one album Brothers in Arms. On television NBC’s The Cosby Show was the number one show while Invasion U.S.A., starring Chuck Norris, was the number one film in theaters.

Now let’s head on over to the WWE Network on Peacock, hit ‘play’, and find out how well this edition of Mid-South Wrestling has fared after 37 years!

Edits aren’t an issue with this edition of Mid-South Wrestling on the WWE Network and Peacock. Context is solid, with the bulk of Mid-South shows dating back to December 12, 1981, as well as number of other shows and “hidden gems”, available for you to enjoy on the WWE Network and Peacock right now.

 

Mid-South Wrestling #316 (WATCH)
Date: September 28, 1985 (TAPED: Sept. 25, 1985) – Location: Irish McNeil Boys Club, Shreveport, Louisiana
Attendance: N/A – TV Ratings: N/A
Commentators: Boyd Pierce & Bill Watts – Interviews: Jim Ross

CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
NWA World Heavyweight Champion: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (May 24, 1984, Yokosuka, Japan, from “The Modern Day Warrior” Kerry Von Erich)
Mid-South North American Heavyweight Champion: “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch (August 10, 1985, Superdome Extravaganza, from The Masked Champion)
Mid-South Television Champion: “Hacksaw” Butch Reed (July 22, 1985, New Orleans, Louisiana, from Dutch Mantel)
Mid-South Tag Team Champions: Al Perez & “Wildcat” Wendell Cooley (August 31, 1985, Mid-South Wrestling #312, taped August 28, 1985, from “Dr. Death” Steve Williams & “Bruiser” Bob Sweetan; Sweetan was defending the Tag Team title in place of Ted DiBiase, who had given Sweetan “power of attorney” to defend DiBiase’s half of the title in his place while DiBiase was working a tour of Japan)

 

After the usual Mid-South Wrestling open of the era we head straight to announce position where Boyd Pierce, with “Cowboy” Bill Watts, welcomes us to the show. Boyd gives us a quick rundown of this week’s card before introducing Bill Watts.

 

Watts begins by thanking the fans for coming to the taping, despite the bad weather, and hypes the TV title match to come later in the show before turning his attention to Kevin & Kerry Von Erich. Watts talks about Kerry & Kevin winning the then-vacant NWA American Tag Team titles from Gino Hernandez & Chris Adams in Tulsa, Oklahoma on September 22, 1985 at a Mid-South event at the Tulsa Convention Center. (In actuality the Von Erichs defeated Adams & Hernandez at a World Class Championship Wrestling two days prior to the Mid-South event at taping at the Sportatorium on September 20, 1985, with the match airing the next day, September 21, 1985.) Watts also talks about the Von Erichs being presented a giant “get well” card from Tulsa radio station KAYI-FM (K-107), bigger than the one Bruce Springsteen got, Watts tells us, at the same Mid-South show for the injured Mike Von Erich, who was recovering from a near-fatal bout of toxic shock syndrome following surgery to repair a shoulder injury suffered in Tel Aviv, Israel. We see footage of the Von Erich’s receiving the card and hear a bit of Kevin’s speech thanking the fans for their support.

 

Watts then talks about NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair causing “friction” around the “hotly contested” North American Heavyweight Championship after Flair stated he would not wrestle anyone in the Mid-South area except the North American Heavyweight Champion. Watts lists the top three contenders as “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Television Champion “Hacksaw” Butch Reed, and current North American Heavyweight Champion Dick Murdoch. Watts then reiterates that Ric Flair does not get to choose his opponents, that the NWA and Mid-South Wrestling determine who Ric Flair wrestles and defends the World title against. Watts then puts over the North American Heavyweight title as one of the most “prestigious” titles in wrestling and that the toughest competition in wrestling is in the Mid-South area. Watts talks about that “intense competition” boiling over last week during Murdoch’s title defense against “Dr. Death” Steve Williams before tossing to the closing moments of the title match. We see Bob Sweetan helping partner Steve Williams before posting TV Champion Butch Reed. In the ring, meanwhile, Murdoch lifts Williams for an airplane spin that inadvertently wipes out the referee. With both the ref and Reed down, Sweetan stops Murdoch from delivering the brain buster before Reed bounced Sweetan to the floor. Williams goes after Reed until the two run head-to-head, sending Williams to the floor and Reed down atop Murdoch in a pinning position. Reed and Murdoch stagger to their feet before Murdoch waylays Reed. As Murdoch stomps Reed to the floor Bob Sweetan sneaks back into the ring. Murdoch manages to keep both Sweetan and a returning Williams off of him until Williams takes Sweetan down with a double-leg takedown. Williams and Sweetan put the boots to Murdoch until Tommy Rogers & Bobby Fulton, The Fantastics, rush the ring and run the heels off. Al Perez & Wendell Cooley, the Tag Team Champions, are in next to tend to Murdoch before a ticked off Butch Reed storms into the ring and gloms Murdoch. Reed and Murdoch are toe-to-toe before wrestling one another to the mat. We then cut back to the announce position where Watts says that Reed and Murdoch are on a “collision course” for the North American Heavyweight title but also says that “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan must also be considered “a factor in the situation.”

 

Bill Watts then turns to the return of Ted DiBiase to the Mid-South area after a recent tour of Japan. At the time of DiBiase’s departure, Watts explains, DiBiase was one-half of the Mid-South Tag Team Champions with “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. Prior to leaving for Japan, Watts tells us, DiBiase “left power of attorney” for “Bruiser” Bob Sweetan to defend DiBiase’s half of the Tag Team titles in Championship matches. However, five weeks ago, on the August 31, 1985 edition of Mid-South Wrestling, Sweetan & “Dr. Death” lost the Tag Team titles to Al Perez & “Wildcat”Wendell Cooley. Watts says that DiBiase has a few comments to make and tosses to the ring where DiBiase, joined by Steve Williams and Bob Sweetan, stands with Jim Ross. DiBiase begins by reiterating Ric Flair’s insistence on not defending the World title against anyone in Mid-South besides the North American Heavyweight Champion and says he’s putting his “name in the hat”. DiBiase says that everyone knows he’s held the North American title more times and longer than anyone else in Mid-South history. DiBiase says he doesn’t care about current North American Heavyweight Champion Dick Murdoch and can’t stand Jim Duggan, but Reed, DiBiase points out, has TV title, something that could be DiBiase’s “stepping stone” to a World title match with Ric Flair and getting much needed “leverage” with Mid-South. Unlike some wrestlers in Mid-South, who get what they want when they want it, DiBiase says he needs “leverage” to get anything. “Leverage”, DiBiase explains, “means a title.” When DiBiase left for Japan he had that leverage, he says, as one-half of the Mid-South Tag Team Champions. Now, returning from Japan, DiBiase says he no longer has that leverage. Regardless of leverage DiBiase says he wants a shot at the North American title and DiBiase wants a shot at NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair.

 

DiBiase then turns his attention to Bob Sweetan and, after putting over his own master plan to get the titles off of The Barbarian & Jake Roberts, explains how Sweetan begged DiBiase to let him defend DiBiase’s half of the Championship while DiBiase was away in Japan. DiBiase says he did that and that Sweetan “blew it”. Sweetan doesn’t back down, telling DiBiase it wasn’t he who lost the fall but DiBiase’s “partner” Steve Williams. As Sweetan continues to defend himself Steve Williams sneaks behind Sweetan, waylaying Sweetan. Williams holds Sweetan for a shot from DiBiase’s loaded black glove, busting Sweetan open, before the two dump Sweetan to the floor. DiBiase then shouts to have matchmaker Grizzly Smith send out the “paper champions”, Perez & Cooley, for a match with DiBiase & Williams to prove to everyone who the real Tag Team Champions are. As DiBiase talks Bob Sweetan continues to try and get back into the ring. DiBiase sends Williams to put Sweetan down but Sweetan posts Williams on the outside. Sweetan then reenters the ring and goes after DiBiase, tearing DiBiase’s suit jacket and peppering DiBiase with right hands before Williams tosses a chair into the ring that hits DiBiase by mistake. Sweetan grabs the chair and blasts both DiBiase and Williams with it, chasing both from the ring, before we head to our first Peacock ad-break with a replay of Sweetan attacking DiBiase.

 

Coming out of the ad-break we head to the announce position where Bill Watts caps the previous segment before turning our attention to Joel Watts recent trip to the Peach Tree Plaza in Atlanta, Georgia to sign “Mr. Unpredictable” Dick Slater to a full-time contract. We then see some of the footage from the signing, including Slater (joined by a yet-to-be-named Dark Journey) explaining that he’s on a “mission” to earn a great deal of money. Slater says he’s won every national and regional title there is today but is now chasing the money. Slater says he was planning on going to Mid-South and knew he’d have to sign a contract, but he’s doing this for a reason, a reason that will “shock the wrestling world”. Just what the mission is Slater refuses to say, saying that the world will find out when they need to know. For now, Slater says, he plans on staying in Atlanta. When Slater does turn up in Mid-South he says, someone will be in for a “whole lotta trouble”. The feature ends much like a standard, professional news piece, with Joel Watts wrapping the scene and signing off. Back at the announce position Watts talks up the talent converging on Mid-South, listing a number of reasons why that may be, before tossing to Jim Ross in the ring to get our first bout of the week underway.

 

Singles Match (11:20)
“Mr. Unpredictable” Dick Slater w/Dark Journey vs. “Broadway” Joe Malcolm

This match is a squash. Though Dark Journey is with Slater at this time she has yet to be given a real name at this point in time. Slater has his fun toying with Malcolm, refusing to pin Malcolm in a variety of ways before hitting a Samoan drop from the second rope for the pinfall at 1:47.

WINNER is “Mr. Unpredictable” Dick Slater w/Dark Journey (Pin, 1:47)

 

Following the match we head to a Peacock ad-break with a slow-motion replay of Slater putting Malcolm away.

 

Coming out of the break Bill Watts turns his attention to last week’s brawl between Jake Roberts and Oliver Humperdink’s Humongous. Watts then tosses to footage of the incident last week that starts with Humongous & Barbarian destroying a pair of enhancement talent in and out of the ring. Out of nowhere Jake Roberts hits the ring and goes after Barbarian. As Roberts peppers Barbarian with right hands Humongous makes the save and he and Barbarian beat the snort out of Roberts, busting Roberts wide open. Barbarian holds Roberts in a full nelson position as Humongous headbutts Roberts over and over with his mask. Suddenly Jim Duggan hits the ring and, steel chair in hand, walks the heels off.

 

Back at the announce position Watts tosses to the ring where Sir Oliver Humperdink introduces his “guardians of the gates of hell” tag team of Humongous & The Barbarian.

 

Tag Team Match (16:28)
Humongous & The Barbarian w/Oliver Humperdink vs. Tony Faulk & Pat Rose

The music for Humperdink’s team has been, for obvious reasons, overdubbed. This one is an annihilation from beginning to end. Humongous and Barbarian (Jim Nord) demolish Faulk & Rose before landing their Doomsday Device-esque decapitation finish for the pinfall at 1:57.

WINNER is Humongous & The Barbarian w/Oliver Humperdink (Pin, 1:57)

 

After the match we get a replay of the decapitation finish before heading to the next Peacock ad-break.

 

Following the break Bill Watts talks about Buzz Sawyer coming to the Mid-South area before tossing to a pre-taped interview that Jim Ross conducted with Sawyer in the ring prior to the show starting. Sawyer starts by talking about how all he keeps hearing about is the Mid-South area. Sawyer says was thrown out of “New York” because they’re not “tough enough” and that he was thrown out of “Atlanta” for being “too tough”. But everyone says it’s in Mid-South that a wrestler can prove he’s the toughest, that Mid-South is where is all happens. Sawyer says that here in Mid-South he’s going to show everybody what the “Mad Dog’s” like and we’d better be ready for it. Watts wraps the interview before tossing to the ring for Sawyer’s match.

 

Singles Match (22:20)
“Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer vs. Rick Dunn

Another squash here. Sawyer swarms Dunn, biting, pounding, and rubbing Dunn’s face into the canvas, cutting Dunn in the process. Soon enough Sawyer lands a spike powerslam for the pinfall at :42-seconds.

WINNER is “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer (Pin, 0:42)

 

Following the match we head to a Peacock ad-break with a slow-motion replay of Sawyer putting Dunn away.

 

Tag Team Match (25:29)
Jerry Grey & Nightmare vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts & “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan

Roberts and Duggan get the better of Nightmare before Grey tags in. Grey tries to get the upper hand on Duggan but Duggan’s power is too much for Grey. Jake reenters the match and, after slamming Grey, attempts to set up for the DDT when Nightmare breaks it up. The match breaks down then with Duggan wiping out Nightmare with a spear as Roberts shoots Grey off the ropes. Roberts drops down and Grey nearly runs headlong into a Duggan right hand before stopping short and turning into a DDT for the pinfall at 1:47.

WINNERS are Jake “The Snake” Roberts & “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (Pin, 1:47)

 

After the match we head to the next Peacock ad-break with a replay of Jake’s DDT to Grey.

 

Mid-South Television Championship (28:29)
“Bad” Bob Brown vs. “Hacksaw” Butch Reed(c)

This one is power versus power. The two feel each other out early with neither man able to gain full control. Watts takes the time to call out critics of Reed, noting he’s “never seen a statue erected for a critic.” Against the ropes Reed lands a knee to Brown’s midsection that turns the tide. In the end Reed hits the spear before dropping Brown with the gorilla press slam for the 1-2-3 at 3:00 to retain the TV title.

WINNER and STILL Mid-South Television Champion, “Hacksaw” Butch Reed(c) (Pin, 3:00)

 

Following the match we head to another Peacock ad-break with a replay of Reed press slamming Brown for the win.

 

Tag Team Match (32:39)
Ted DiBiase & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs. The Fantastics (Tommy Rogers & Bobby Fulton)

This is a very good tag team match. Williams power is too much for Bobby Fulton, who uses his speed and agility to get the better of Williams. Ted tags in and finds himself equally frustrated by Fulton’s speed. Tommy Rogers tags in and, despite DiBiase landing a big back elbow coming off the ropes, uses his speed and agility to get under DiBiase’s skin. In a flash both Fantastics are in the ring, cleaning house and strutting, leaving the heels on the floor to regroup. Back in the ring Tommy Rogers leap frogs DiBiase and runs straight into a stiff lariat from Williams that gives the heels the edge. DiBiase takes the fight to Rogers, eventually cinching a sleeper hold that Rogers struggles to escape. Despite Rogers best efforts to make the hot tag to Bobby Fulton DiBiase and Williams pour on the offense. Rogers tries to use his speed and athleticism but flubs a move in the corner that leads to a big backbreaker from “Dr. Death”. Williams attempts a splash from the second rope that Rogers evades before finally making the hot tag to Fulton. The match breaks down then, with Williams and DiBiase being run into one another before the Fantastics land the double dropkick to DiBiase. The referee then tries to get Rogers out of the ring as Williams and Fulton go at it. Out of nowhere Fulton rolls Williams up in an O’Connor Roll as DiBiase loads his infamous black glove. As the referee counts Williams shoulders, and Rogers tries to sneak back into the ring, DiBiase gloms Fulton with the glove. Williams covers Fulton for the pinfall as Rogers points to DiBiase on the floor at 6:10.

WINNERS are Ted DiBiase & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams (Pin, 6:10)

 

After the match the heels celebrate their win as Tommy Rogers checks on his fallen partner. At the announce position a winded and raspy Bill Watts hypes next week’s big Jake Roberts/El Corsario (Savio Vega) showdown before tossing to a show-closing vignette of Humongous touring a welding shop and posing next to giant pieces of metal.

 

Final Thoughts

This is an exciting, story-filled edition of Mid-South Wrestling. The action, including the squashes, are fun to watch and the promos are great. The highlight of the card is the final tag team match, and is one you should seek out if you’re looking for a good old-school tag team encounter this week. For those curious about why so many fans and observers have raved about the episodic nature of the Mid-South product this is a great place to start. If you haven’t seen this edition of Mid-South Wrestling before, or if it’s been a while, you won’t regret seeking this one out on the WWE Network or Peacock. Who knows, you may actually like it, and that’s never a bad thing!

Already subscribed to the WWE Network on Peacock? Then you can relive the classic edition of Mid-South Wrestling right now or experience it for the very first time! As always, let us know what you think in the comments section below!

For pre-WNN editions of Throwback Thursday, click here!

Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!

 

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