Throwback Thursday: Mid-South Wrestling (April 17, 1982), As Seen on WWE Network and Peacock

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This week Throwback Thursday heads back to Bill Watt’s ever-popular Mid-South territory for another exciting edition of Mid-South Wrestling, as seen on the WWE Network and Peacock, that aired 42 years ago this month!

 

The spring of 1982 was an historic time for Bill Watts and Mid-South Wrestling.

With George Scott unwilling to buy into his struggling territory and the Amarillo booking office going under in the fall of 1981, promoter Leroy McGuirk—the onetime business partner of Bill Watts—finally sold his Oklahoma territory to “Cowboy” Bill Watts.

The acquisition of Oklahoma added to Bill Watts already immense territory, giving Watts control of professional wrestling in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, creating one of the largest, most lucrative territories in the sport.

Bill Watts, a non-member in good standing with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), had also been forging strategic partnerships with key promoters across the nation like Vince McMahon, Sr., (New York), Jerry Jarrett (Memphis), and the Von Erichs (Dallas), while strengthening longtime relationships with the likes of Ole Anderson (Atlanta) and Eddie Graham (Tampa).

The most fruitful of these liaisons would be with Houston promoter Paul Bosch. Not only would Watts supply the bulk of the talent for the Houston cards but Watts popular Mid-South Wrestling program would air in the Houston markets, broadening Watts footprint.

As this edition of Mid-South Wrestling hit airwaves the push was on for the May 1, 1982, Superdome Extravaganza.

The event, which would draw over 20,000 fans, was just the start of what would become, to that point, the biggest year yet for Mid-South Wrestling!

 

 

The top story in the Mid-South territory the week this edition of Mid-South Wrestling aired was Paul Orndorff’s pursuit of Bob Roop and Roop’s North American Heavyweight title. Another top story involved Ernie Ladd seeking revenge on the Samoans (Afa & Sika), the Mid-South Tag Team Champions, for injuring Ladd’s knee and nearly ending Ladd’s wrestling career.

Another top story, not just in Mid-South but around the nation, was Andy Kaufman’s match with Jerry “the King” Lawler in Memphis, Tennessee on April 2, 1982. The spectacle was one of the key turning points in the rise of pro wrestling in the 1980s.

The Kaufman/Lawler match, clips of which aired on nearly every local and national news program from coast to coast, elevated professional wrestling to its highest level in some twenty years.

Now let’s head on over to the WWE Network on Peacock, hit ‘play’, and see how well this edition of Mid-South Wrestling holds up in 2024!

Edits are not an issue with this edition of Mid-South Wrestling on the WWE Network and Peacock. Context, meanwhile, is decent, with all prior editions of Mid-South Wrestling, dating back to December 12, 1981, available for you to enjoy right now on the WWE Network and Peacock!

 

Mid-South Wrestling #136 (WATCH)
Date: April 17, 1982 (TAPED: April 14, 1982) – Location: Irish McNeil Boys Club, Shreveport, Louisiana
Attendance: N/A – TV Ratings: N/A
Commentators: Boyd Pierce & Jim Ross – Interviews: Bill Watts

IN POP CULTURE:
Number One Song: “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” (Joan Jett & The Blackhearts)
Number One Album: Chariots of Fire (Vangelis Papathanassiou)
Number One on Television: M*A*S*H (CBS)
Number One Film in Theaters: Porky’s (Kim Cattrall, Scott Colomby, Kaki Hunter, Nancy Parsons, Alex Karras, & Susan Clark)
U.S. President & Vice President: Ronald Reagan & George H.W. Bush

CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
NWA World Heavyweight Champion: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (September 17, 1981, Kansas City, Missouri, from “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes; Lou Thesz was guest referee for this bout)
Mid-South North American Heavyweight Champion: Bob Roop (March 20, 1982, Mid-South Wrestling, taped March 17, 1982, from Ted DiBiase)
Mid-South Tag Team Champions: The Samoans (Afa & Sika) (March 6, 1982, Mid-South Wrestling, taped March 3, 1982, from Mid-South Louisiana Heavyweight Champion Junkyard Dog & Mike George)
Mid-South Louisiana Heavyweight Champion: Junkyard Dog (December 7, 1981, New Orleans, Louisiana, from the Great Kabuki)
Mid-South Mississippi Heavyweight Champion: Mr. Olympia (January 23, 1982, Mid-South Wrestling, taped January 20, 1982, from Bob Orton, Jr.)

 

Following the standard Mid-South Wrestling open of the era (sans original music, of course) we head inside the Irish McNeil Boys Club where Boyd Pierce, with a (very) young Jim Ross, welcomes us to the show.

After giving us a rundown of this week’s stacked card Boyd tosses to this week’s guest commentator, Jim Ross. J.R. calls this week’s card the “greatest television wrestling card” that J.R. had “ever been around.”

J.R. then turns his attention to the recent match between Jerry “The King” Lawler and comedian Andy Kaufman in Memphis, Tennessee on April 5, 1982. Kaufman, J.R. notes, “bit off more than he could chew” as J.R. sets up and tosses to a pre-taped recap of the situation from “Cowboy” Bill Watts.

 

“Athletics is a tough way to make a living,” Bill Watts begins. When one begins it’s “a game”, Watts says. But as one progresses through high school and college it becomes “a job”, a job “your whole future could depend upon.”

As a “professional” everything rides on ones prowess, the years put in learning the sport, and the challenges that must be overcome to “rise to the top.” In respect to wrestling, Watts says, there’s no “magic wand” that makes a star wrestler, they must “earn it” by “beating people”.

Now consider the “audacity” of a “clown from New York”, like Andy Kaufman, who believes that because he’s “humiliated a bunch of ladies around the country” (though Watts doubts how “humiliated” one could actually be if they volunteered for the matches) that Kaufman believes “he was an athlete”.

Kaufman, Watts says, committed the “supreme sin of ego” by challenging somebody “in a field that he didn’t belong”. Kaufman challenged a pro wrestler, thinking that “anybody could beat a pro”, and wound up facing Jerry “The King” Lawler.

Once Kaufman got “away from the ropes”, Watts says, the contact lasted “something like ten seconds”. Now, courtesy ABC Sports, Watts wants fans to see Andy Kaufman finding out “just how real it is inside this ring.”

 

We then cut to the story done by ABC News, which aired shortly after the April 5, 1982, bout took place.

We see Kaufman entering the ring as ABC News’ Budd Fotopoulos gives us a brief rundown of Kaufman’s exploits wrestling women. We then see Lawler crushing Kaufman with a back suplex before delivering the match-ending piledriver.

According to the report, Kaufman was placed “in traction”, suffering “strained neck muscles, cuts on his head, and a compression of the fourth and fifth vertebrae.”

Earlier in the day, we’re told, Jerry Lawler said he was going to “teach Kaufman a lesson for making fun of wrestling”.

As we see footage of Kaufman being stretchered out of the Mid-South Coliseum, we learn that, through Kaufman’s manager, Kaufman was “giving up wrestling”.

Back in the Irish McNeil Boys Club Bill Watts says he hates to see anyone injured but that (as the “Good Book” says) “pride goeth before a fall”. Kaufman, Watts says learned a lesson: “Don’t read your own clippings.”

Even Muhammad Ail, “one of the greatest athletes and showman in the world that the era has ever seen”, “got spanked thoroughly” by Gorilla Monsoon in “New York City”.

To compete with a professional, Watts says, you have to “learn and earn”. Because, Watts concludes, when one challenges one of “these men” their trying to take that man’s job, and people “fight awful hard for their job.”

We then head back to Boyd Pierce who, after putting over Bill Watts’ comments, says that professional wrestling in the world’s most exciting sport. Boyd Pierce believes it, and Boyd knows we fans do to. Boyd then tosses to the ring for this week’s opening contest.

 

—“Two-on-One Tag Team Handicap Match” (5:46)
One Man Gang w/Skandor Akbar vs. Tony Torres & Terry Gibbs

This is a fun handicap squash match. Gibbs tries to use his speed to get the better of Gang to no avail. No matter what Gibbs does Gang walks though it.

Torres tags in and immediately falls prey to the power and size of Gang. Torres is no match for Gang as Gang takes his time beating the bejabbers out of Torres.

As Gang lifts Torres for a double-handed choke Gibbs attacks Gang from behind. Soon enough it’s two-on-one, with Gibbs and Torres taking the fight to Gang until Gibbs and Torres telegraph a double back body drop.

Gang drops Gibbs with a kick and slams Torres before lifting Torres into a running bear hug. Gibbs climbs on Gang’s back and trips Gang to the mat, inadvertently driving Gang into Gibbs in the corner, all but eliminating Gibbs from the bout.

With Gibbs out of action Gang delivers a massive body slam before landing the running splash for the pinfall win at 2:59.

WINNER is One Man Gang w/Skandor Akbar (Pin, 2:59)

 

Following the match, as One Man Gang celebrates with Skandor Akbar, we head to our first Peacock ad-break with a replay of the final running splash.

 

Coming out of the break we head straight to the ring where ring announcer Reisor Bowden introduces North American Heavyweight Champion Bob Roop.

Suddenly we see Dick Murdoch, Roop’s opponent make his way to ringside with his duffle bag. After pulling a six-pack of beer, among other things, Murdoch produces his trademark black trunks.

As Bowden introduces Murdoch, “Capt. Redneck” puts on his tights and prepares to do battle in the ring. But, even before Murdoch is all the way in the ring, Roop pounces.

 

—“Non-Title Singles Match” (10:20)
North American Heavyweight Champion Bob Roop vs. “Capt. Redneck” Dick Murdoch

This marked Murdoch’s first televised match on Mid-South Wrestling since the One Man Gang attacked and injured Murdoch on February 22, 1982, as Murdoch & Dusty Rhodes battled the Samoans (Afa & Sika) in Baton Rouge.

Roop is all over Murdoch from the opening bell. That is until Roop runs into Murdoch’s outstretched foot in the corner. As Murdoch has the advantage, taking the fight to Roop, Skandor Akbar arrives at ringside to “scout” the match.

Just as soon as Murdoch has the momentum, though, Roop goes to Murdoch’s eyes and knocks the former North American Champion to the floor. Landing at Akbar’s feet, Murdoch is quickly tossed back into the ring by Akbar.

Roop batter’s Murdoch’s mid-section until Roop, going for a the slingshot splash in the corner, lands on Murdoch’s knees. Murdoch drops the big elbow and knocks Roop to the floor where Akbar encourages Roop to get back up.

But, as Akbar helps Roop, Murdoch returns to his duffle bag, pulling out his helmet and trench shovel. Moments later Murdoch brains Akbar with the shovel, laying Akbar out cold, as Roop scurries to higher ground.

Murdoch, shovel in hand, chases Roop into the ring but Roop wants no part of Murdoch or the shovel. Roop slides in and and out again before darting out of the near side of the ring and fleeing altogether, giving Murdoch the count-out victory at 2:32.

WINNER is “Capt. Redneck” Dick Murdoch (Count-out, 2:32)

 

After the match, as Murdoch chats with the referee and Akbar continues to all but motionless on the floor, we head to the next Peacock ad-break with a replay of Murdoch glomming Akbar with the shovel.

 

—Singles Match (14:29)
Tully Blanchard vs. Paul Orndorff

Tully Blanchard looks spectacular here, showing off some of the great work that would make Tully a household name among fans in a few short years.

Despite Tully’s early efforts to fluster Orndorff, the future “Mr. Wonderful” gets the better of Tully from the start. Orndorff grounds Tully, working Tully’s arm with a variety of holds, scoring a slew of near-falls in the process.

A cheap shot to Orndorff’s eyes gives Tully an opening to attempt a comeback. It’s short-lived, however, as Orndorff blocks and reverses a vertical suplex. Orndorff opens up on Tully now, landing a back elbow before cinching in a Boston crab.

Tully pushes out of the Boston crab and cinches in a beautiful figure-four leglock. Orndorff, one of only a few men who know the “reversal”, we’re told, turns the hold around on Tully.

As Orndorff cranks on the now-reversed figure-four, though, North American Heavyweight Champion Bob Roop scales the ropes and drops the diving knee on Orndorff for the DQ finish at 4:36.

WINNER is Paul Orndorff (Disqualification, 4:36)

 

As the bell rings Roop puts the boots to Orndroff, driving Orndorff to the floor before helping Tully to his feet. Orndorff, on the far side of the ring, limps off with the referee as Tully & Roop walk back to the locker room together.

 

We then head to the next Peacock ad-break with a replay of Roop landing the diving knee on Orndorff for the disqualification.

 

—Singles Match (20:19)
Larry Higgins vs. “Iron” Mike Sharpe

“Iron” Mike Sharpe, wrestling’s loudest grappler, was working as a babyface at this time, something some fans may not be used to seeing.

This is a typical “strongman” style of match, with the babyface Sharpe out-powering Higgins. Higgins’ cheap shots and dirty tricks, though, level the playing field.

After missing an elbow and eating a flurry of offense from Sharpe, Higgins slows the match down. Higgins strings a bit of offense together, scoring a near-fall with an elbow drop, before running straight into Sharpe’s elevated bear hug for the submission win at 2:31.

WINNER is “Iron” Mike Sharpe (Submission, 2:31)

 

After the match, as Sharpe celebrates, we head tot he next Peacock ad-break with a replay of Sharpe polishing off Higgins with the bear hug.

 

We return to the announce position after the break where Boyd Pierce sets up and tosses to footage from last’s week’s edition of Mid-South Wrestling of a confrontation between Ernie Ladd, Skandor Akbar, and the Tag Team Champion Samoans.

We join the replay footage from last week ring with announcer Reisor Bowden asking Ladd who Ladd’s “mystery partner” will be for his upcoming bout with the Samoans.

Ladd says it’s nobodies business, telling Bowden that with “all the wrong” happening in Mid-South lately it’s time for Ladd to start “cleanin’ up on some head”.

But as Ladd talks to Bowden the Samoans manger, Skandor Akbar, hits the ring, demanding to know who Ladd’s partner is. Ladd says it’s not for Akbar to know before dropping Akbar with a big right hand.

Ladd pounds on Akbar as the Samoans, Afa & “Sica”, arrive. The fight is two-on-one, with Ladd managing to hold his own, before the masked Assassin joins the fight to help Ladd drive the Samoans from the ring.

 

As Akbar and the Samoans flee, Ladd & Assassin stand tall in the ring. Reisor Bowden then steps back into the ring to interview the new team.

Ladd admits he played a bit a trick on the Samoans today and that next week they’ll get more of what they got, a “double dose” in fact, than today.

Ernie Ladd leaves the ring as Coco Samoa arrives for his match. Assassin tells Bowden that the Samoans would have to get up pretty early in the morning to outsmart either Ladd or Assassin. If Akbar and the Samoans “want war”, Assassin says, “that’s exactly what they’ll get!”

Back at the announce position Jim Ross puts a bow on last week’s footage before setting up our next big tag team bout and tossing to the ring!

 

Reisor Bowden begins to introduce the next tag team grudge match when the Assassin steps in and tells Bowden that he like to speak about something of “great interest” to the fans and Ernie Ladd.

Not too long ago, Assassin says, he decided he had won all medals and accolades that Assassin needed to win in amateur wrestling before setting his sights on becoming the “best professional wrestler in the world”.

Assassin says he wanted to make as “much money” as he possibly could in wrestling. Last week, Assassin reveals, Ernie Ladd paid Assassin “extremely well” to “assist” Ladd with his “problem”.

Assassin says he received another “very important” phone call this morning from someone else: Skandor Akbar.

While Ernie Ladd paid Assassin well to save Ladd’s “bacon”, Akbar has paid Assassin even more to walk out of the ring and not be Ladd’s partner here today.

An irate Ladd wants to know why he wasn’t told sooner, reminding how well Ladd had paid the Assassin. “Money is the name of game”, Assassin says. While Ladd paid “well”, Akbar “paid better”.

Ladd asks Assassin again why nothing was said earlier. Assassin says it was a bit of “flair” on his part, making Ladd look like the “stupid fool” that Ladd is. “Have at it yourself, Mr. Ladd,” Assassin says as he hops out of the ring.

 

Ladd tells Reisor to give Ladd some time to find a partner before ducking out of the ring to do just that. As the fans and Bowden look on disbelief we head back to the announce position where J.R. & Boyd Pierce discuss the shocking turn of events.

Suddenly Ernie Ladd returns with “Iron” Mike Sharpe as his partner and the fight is on!

 

—“Non-Title Tag Team Grudge Match” (23:41)
Ernie Ladd & “Iron” Mike Shapre vs. Mid-South Tag Team Champions the Samoans (Afa & Sica)

This one gets going before Reisor Bowden can even get out of the ring as the Samoans swarm Sharpe & Ladd.

In a flash, though, the babyfaces turn the tide. But as Sharpe goes after Sica and Ladd pairs off with Afa, the Assassin reappears, pulling Mike Sharpe from the ring. Assassin then loads up his mask and headbutts Sharpe, knocking Sharpe out.

With Mike Sharpe out on the floor the Assassin enters the ring to help the Samoans pound on Ladd. Just then Paul Orndorff hits the ring to save Ernie Ladd as the bell rings at :46-seconds.

WINNERS are Ernie Ladd & “Iron” Mike Shapre (Disqualification, 0:46)

 

The bell continues to ring as Orndorff & Ladd clean house of the heels and the injured Mike Sharpe begins to come to on the concrete floor.

Ladd & Orndorff stand tall in the ring as the fans go crazy and we head to tnext Peacock ad-break with a replay of Orndorff storming the ring.

Following the break we return yet again to the announce position where Boyd Pierce sets up and tosses to footage of a match from Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) featuring former NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Harley Race.

 

—“Non-Title Singles Match” – JIP (32:21)
NWA World Heavyweight Champion “Handsome” Harley Race vs. Terry Taylor

Though Boyd Pierce tells us the match is from Atlanta, this one actually comes from CWF.

Race was in the midst of his fourth reign as NWA World Champion at the time this bout was taped. By using this footage Mid-South was building anticipation for Race’s participation in the next Superdome Extravaganza event.

This match is the standard squash of the day, though we don’t get to see all of it. As we join the footage Race is getting the upper hand on a very young Terry Taylor.

Race easily manhandles Taylor with suplexes and high impact blows before grounding Taylor with a front face lock. Taylor attempts a rally that Race quickly cuts off.

Race delivers a piledriver but Taylor escapes the pinfall with a foot on the bottom rope. Race opens up on Taylor but Taylor again comes storming back.

Out of nowhere Race sidesteps a dropkick. After delivering a pair of knees to Taylor’s forehead Race polishes Taylor off with a stalling vertical suplex to score the 1-2-3.

WINNER is NWA World Heavyweight Champion “Handsome” Harley Race (Pin, 3:54, JIP time)

 

After the match we head back to the announce position where J.R. puts a bow on the Harley Race footage, calling Race “calculating”, before we head to the final Peacock ad-break of the hour with a slow-motion replay of Harley Race’s match-ending vertical suplex.

 

—Singles Match (37:21)
Buddy Landell vs. Jesse Barr

This was the kind of show-closing “young lion” match that Mid-South Wrestling was both famous and infamous for.

Jesse Barr, the future “Jimmy Jack Funk”, was just about two years into his career at this time. Buddy Landell, who debuted in 1979, had been in the Mid-South area (on and off) since May 25, 1981. These two would wrestle a 15-minute broadway in two weeks time to open the May 1, 1982, Superdome Extravaganza card.

The match is an old-school battle of leverage and technique. As Barr and Landell trade momentum Skandor Akbar joins J.R. & Boyd for amid-match promo.

Akbar talks about offering Assassin a “big, juicy contract” before going off on Dick Murdoch for having the gall to put his hands on Akbar. If Murdoch thought what happened to Killer Karl Kox was bad, just wait to until Akbar is done with Murdoch.

Akbar says he always has “something” his sleeve and is always one step ahead of his “opposition”. Murdoch had better “beware”, Akbar says, “this is war!”

Meanwhile, as Akbar was talking, Barr and Landell were showing off some incredible grappling skills. Their match is as realistic as one is likely to see.

With the final seconds ticking away, and as Barr and Landell try to snatch a flash three-count, Boyd begins to hype next week’s card. Their is plenty of great wrestling and action on display as the final minute slips by.

In the end Barr misses a running body splash before Landell misses an elbow drop. As Barr cinches in a side headlock the final seconds expire. Boyd wraps the show and the final bell rings at 3:06 to bring this exciting edition of Mid-South Wrestling to a close!

NO WINNER declared (TV time limit draw, 3:06)

 

Final Thoughts

This is, as we’ve come to expect, a thrilling, fast-paced, story-driven edition of Mid-South Wrestling!

Not only did we see the Ernie Ladd/Assassin story take shape but the Bob Roop/Orndorff story was advanced along with the establishment of One Man Gang as the territories new monster heel.

The star of the show is the Ernie Ladd/Assassin angle but the action from start to finish is all great. The final bout, between Landell and Barr, is a wrestling clinic that old-school fans of rasslin’ action will adore.

While each of the promos we saw were solid, the best piece of business outside of the ring was Bill Watts’ opening remarks on Andy Kaufman and the inclusion of the ABC News video package.

In other words, if you haven’t seen this edition of Mid-South Wrestling, or if it’s been a while, you won’t regret seeking this show out on the WWE Network and Peacock. Who knows, you may end up liking it, and that’s never a bad thing!

Already subscribed to the WWE Network on Peacock? Then you can relive this 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!

 

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