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 - Eric Westlund

ICW wrestling was the new kid on the wrestling block in 1979 in the Kentucky and Tennessee areas. They had chosen a brash way of attracting existing fans to their brand of action, outright challenges to the other promotions' top stars for matches. They focused on the Knoxville based Fuller group originally, then shifted towards Jerry Jarrett's Memphis clan when Fuller shut down in late 1980. Much of the ICW roster came from these two groups and animosity continued during the ICW run in the area.

Many of the feuds ICW presented for the fans were reruns of battles which had occurred in other times and places. Garvin and Orton Jr. had a great series of battles in the Knoxville region previously in 1977 and 78.  Savage had many battles against Pez Whatley in the same Tennessee region for Savage's first singles title, the NWA Mid-American belt. These rekindlings, although a rehash for the fans, showed remarkable chemistry between the combatants. These were made necessary due to the shortage of quantity of talent for the group, a fact which I believe sorely caused a deterioration of the fan base in the 1983 version of the ICW troupe.

New younger talent was to be the answer for Poffo's group to attract a wider fan base. Rick McCord (no relation to Austin Idol/Mike McCord) was tabbed as the ICW Rookie of the Year in 1979. I'm not sure whether this was his actual rookie wrestling season, but his versatile style, combined with youth and good looks, gave Rick the nod in the ICW's decision. A close second was Doug "pride of Alabama" Vines. The voting caused a major ruckus between the two stars, with matches occurring all through the region after the award presentation.

Another person who springboarded to main event status was Hustler Rip Rogers. This lad had also wrestled for Fuller under the ring name of The Disco Kid. He was strictly opening match goods prior to his ICW stint, but certainly matured quickly when presented the opportunity to succeed. He had extended programs with all the faces in the area during the 79-80 time frame. He stole or broke George Weingeroffs' monocles, much to the dismay of the area's fans. Rip also had a program with Lanny Poffo early in 80 where the loser of a match had to wear a T-shirt with "I'm a brat" printed on it. Originally, Lanny wore the shirt for a week or two, however using trickery he was able to turn the tables and make Rip wear it for the remainder of the 6 week challenge. If you have seen video of Lanny causing Rip to lose the match (and thus have to wear the shirt) I was in the TV studio for this taping. More...

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