ICW (Poffo) Intro Page #2

Their product was pretty much a lower budget version of Southeastern. I remember phrases like "outlaw promotion" being thrown around, and it was alleged that the top wrestlers were people who had been blacklisted from other promotions. I donít know how true that was; I do know that many of the top performers later found success there, such as Orton, Garvin, Crusher Broomfield, and of course Randy Savage.

Since Angelo Poffo ran the promotion, it makes sense that his sons Lanny and Randy were pushed. Randy Savage was the champion during the entire period I watched ICW. He had supposedly won the title from Lanny in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1979. Both had worked in Canada, but it seems like a stretch that that title change actually took place. I find it even harder to believe that Lanny won the title in San Francisco from Joe Banek. If I were a betting man, Iíd say those were phantom title changes. After the promotion left my area in late 1982 Savage did finally lose the title. It supposedly went back and forth between him and Lanny once or twice, and Savage finally dropped it to Paul Christy (who ironically had been Savageís first opponent). Although Savage was the champion, the top man in the promotion until he left in late 1982/early 1983 was Southeastern champion Ronnie "the One Man Gang" Garvin. I suspect that one reason Poffo stopped promoting in our section of the territory was the loss of Garvin. He was probably the top face in Southeastern at the time he left, and he was certainly the top draw for ICW. I donít think anyone else could have put butts in the seats in Johnson City like he did. He would soon turn up in Georgia. By this time the quality of the product had, in my opinion, dropped quite a bit.

ICW disappeared from the Johnson City area rather abruptly. This is the way I remember it; details may have been lost or altered in the mists of time. The last card I attended at the Johnson City Rec Center was, I believe, in late summer 1982. Ratamyus (more about him next time) made his debut in a handicap match against two jobbers, who I believe were B. B. Lewis and Pinky Graham. He made short work of them both, and later carved up local favorite Hoot Gibson and a young Tony Falk. They lost their 2:00 television time slot soon after. The last television show I saw came on 11:30 on a Saturday night. It was hosted by Lanny Poffo, and consisted of tapes from the past couple of years. One interesting match featured a very young Buddy Landel jobbing to Bob Orton, Jr. Shows also stopped running in Johnson City. There was a story going around that at the last card in Johnson City Garvin had gone berserk and torn up a dressing room, and thatís why he left the promotion. What happened in ICW between late 1982 and the time the promotion folded in 1983/1984 is a bit of a mystery to me. At some point Poffo started working with Jerry Jarrett. A long time after ICWís disappearance from eastern Tennessee I happened upon an ad for an ICW card at Chilhowee Park in Knoxville. As far as I know ICW hadnít run shows in Knoxville since the early days of the promotion. A few of us made the 100 mile drive down from Bristol to see the show, which was probably the most bizarre card Iíve ever seen. By this time Poffo was apparently sharing talent with Jarrett. The main event was the heel team of Tojo Yamamoto, Doug Vines, Jeff Sword, and Speed Manson versus the face team of Randy Savage, Angelo Poffo, Mike Doggendorf, and Dirty George Cavalaris. Some of these names are probably unfamiliar to most of you. Mike Doggendorf was a former University of Kentucky football player who was about to get a big heel push at the time ICW went off the air in Johnson City. Dirty George Cavalaris looked to be in his sixties, and he had the typical physique of a man that age. He carried a whip to the ring, and his work was truly pathetic. Speed Manson was a hippie type who probably weighed 135 pounds soaking wet. To top it off, this was a two out of three falls match. I had never heard of most of the other wrestlers on the card. Some were clearly past their prime. By this time Pez Whatley was in Georgia, and I believe Lanny Poffo was in Mid-South teaming with Terry Allen. My guess is that ICW didnít go on very long after this show.

ICW was an interesting promotion, but they never seemed to have a very deep talent roster. This probably caused angles to go on too long to hold fan interest. It seemed that Ronnie Garvin was trying to win Randy Savageís ICW world title the entire time I followed the promotion. They also rehashed old angles, such as the "mammoth country boy wrestler whose contract is held by unscrupulous manager" bit that was an obvious rip-off of the old Southeastern angle that had Boris Malenko holding the deed to Crusher Blackwellís familyís farm and forcing him to do his bidding. It was up to Dick Slater to win Crusherís contract. In ICW, it was Crusher Broomfield who was made to do the bidding of Randy Savage until Ronnie Garvin intervened. Iíll be covering this angle in depth in a future installment. I think that if they could have kept more of the former Southeastern talent (Orton, Roop, Garvin, and Ron Wright) and developed some young talent, they might have held on longer. They were able to bring in several big names for shorter programs; the Sheik, Ox Baker, and Ernie Ladd all made appearances. Granted these guys were past their prime, but they were still big drawing cards at the time. I thought both their tv show and live shows were very entertaining, and was sad to see them go. For a while there was a big void in the area, since Mid-Atlantic still didnít appear that often. A couple of small promotions came and went; we didnít have regular shows in the area again until Ron Fuller returned to the area with Continental.

NEXT MONTH:

The ICW talent roster.

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