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That boot became The Grapplerís trademark for many years. Mr. Wrestling II faced The Grappler in many memorable battles. The Grappler and fellow masked man Super Destroyer had a run with the Mid-South Tag Team Title as well. The Grappler had another run in Mid-South in 1985. During that period of time he wrestled without a mask, under his own name, Len Denton. Denton teamed with Tony Anthony as the Dirty White Boys. An attack on former marine Terry Daniels led to the Dirty White Boys facing Daniels and Sgt. Slaughter in a series of matches, including an encounter at the Superdome. This series highlighted the Dirty White Boysí run in Mid-South Wrestling.
Kamala was the cornerstone of General Skandor Akbarís Devastation Incorporated. Accompanied by the General and his handler Friday, Kamala intimidated the wrestlers and fans of Mid-South Wrestling. His battles with the legendary Andre the Giant thrilled Mid-South fans throughout 1983. Kamalaís televised bodyslam of Andre may have been the highlight of the Ugandanís Mid-South career. Another great moment for Kamala came on August 10, 1985 at the Superdome in New Orleans. Kamala teamed with General Skandor Akbar and Kareem Muhammed to defeat Cowboy Watts and Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a loser leaves town, handicap match. Watts was pinned and had to leave Mid-South for 90 days, a tremendous triumph for Devastation Incorporated. Hacksaw Jim Duggan battled Kamala on a regular basis and their rivalry matched any in Mid-South for intensity. Although Kamala would be treated as a comedy figure later on in his career, in Mid-South Kamala struck fear into all of his opponents as a truly dangerous man.
People best remember King Kong Bundy for his memorable feud with Hulk Hogan in the WWF and forget that he had quite a career before that point. As a key member of General Skandor Akbarís Devastation Incorporated, Bundy made a forceful impact on Mid-South Wrestling. Junkyard Dog, Dick Murdoch, and Hacksaw Duggan all had intense battles with Bundy. Bundy always infuriated fans by arrogantly demanding a five count on his beaten foes. Sometimes Bundy competed in handicap matches to display his awesome size and power. Bundy was big and brash and definitely made an impact on Mid-South Wrestling. Just ask some of his opponents.
Big Cat was already a legend in Louisiana when Mid-South Wrestling
launched in 1979. Ernie Ladd had starred at football for Grambling State
University, playing for the great Eddie Robinson. Ladd later played nine
seasons in the AFL for the Chargers, Oilers, and Chiefs. During his
football career, Ladd began what would become a long and successful
wrestling career often centered in Louisiana and Oklahoma. His success
in the squared circle came naturally. At 6í9Ē 320lbs, Ladd stood
taller than virtually any other football player or wrestler of his era.
While Laddís size and football fame opened the door to a
wrestling career, his talent and charisma blew that door off its hinges.
In the ring, Laddís athletic ability, taped thumb, and choke rope
helped him to several reigns as North American Champion. Out of the
ring, when Ladd stepped before the microphone, you always edged closer
to the TV. His brash, arrogant tone of voice and sadistic sense of humor
gave emphasis to everything he said. When the Big Cat talked, you
listened. Ladd also managed and later feuded with the Wild Samoans early
on in the Mid-South era. Later still, in 1984, Ladd won the North
American Title for the last time in his great career, ending the reign
of Magnum TA. Love him or hate him (and the fans mostly hated him), you
had to respect him There was only one Big Cat Ernie Ladd.
Shawn Michaels, you say? Yes, itís true. The future Heartbreak Kid wrestled some of his first matches in Mid-South. Shawn mostly experienced heartbreak during his Mid-South stint. As a fresh faced, 18 year old Michaels took some harsh beatings from stars such as Jake Roberts, Steve Williams, and others. At the time, no one could have known that Shawn would go on would go on to become one of the biggest stars in the history of wrestling. You could say that by cutting his teeth in one professional wrestlingís toughest promotions, that Shawn Michaels learned early on about what it takes to become a true star. For all of his faults later on in his career, Shawn always wrestled hard and gave his all in the Mid-South tradition.
Mister Olympia began in Mid-South as a huge favorite of the fans. He and Junkyard Dog held the Mid-South Tag Team Title for a five months reign during 1982. Mister Olympia later turned heel in a pretty interesting angle. He substituted for Mr. Wrestling II in a tag match, teaming with Stagger Lee (the masked JYD) against Ted DiBiase and Matt Borne. Whoever got pinned had to leave Mid-South. Mr. Olympia lost the fall and had to go elsewhere. Months later, not long after Mr. Olympia returned, someone stole and defaced some of IIís famous masks. Evidence pointed to Mr. Olympia who did a poor job of denying involvement. Mr. Olympia was later revealed as the culprit and feuded with Mr. Wrestling II, Junkyard Dog and others. He held the Mid-South Tag Team Title with Ted DiBiase during this time. The man behind the mask was Jerry Stubbs, who also had several great runs in Alabama. Mid-South fans will always remember him as the crafty Mr. Olympia.
As a former marine, Dick Murdoch proudly defended Americaís honor against the evil forces of General Skandor Akbarís Devastation Incorporated and other heel foes who entered Mid-South. Murdoch counted on Junkyard Dog as one of his closest allies and the two shared the Mid-South Tag Team Title. Despite this great record and the love of the fans in the early 1980s, many remember Murdoch for a more sinister reason. In the fall of 1985, overcome by jealousy and rage, Murdoch brutally attacked Ted DiBiase before, during, and after Tedís NWA World Title match against Ric Flair. DiBiase lost his shot at NWA World Title glory due to Murdochís violent attack. Tedís career fell into question due to the injuries and blood loss caused by Dick Murdoch. This exciting and emotional angle changed the course of Mid-South history and transformed Dick Murdoch into one of the most despised men in the organization. When DiBiase returned from injury, he and Murdoch engaged in some incredibly bitter battles. Murdochís conduct during these matches made the fans hate him even more. However the fans may have felt, it canít be denied that this memorable incident and the battles that followed it cemented Dick Murdochís already well earned place in the promotionís history.
As the long time host of Mid-South Wrestling, the late Boyd Pierce was just as or even more important than any wrestler. He was the voice. He was the man behind the action. His folksy, Southern accent made him seem like a good friend or even a family member. Each week he came into the homes of wrestling fans and helped make sense of all the action and mayhem that made Mid-South Wrestling so exciting. If Boydís unmistakable voice didnít give him away, then his loud and colorful sports jackets did. Boyd Pierce was definitely a one of a kind broadcaster. He never talked down to the viewers and truly captured the flavor of the action and the region. Sadly we will not see his like again.
The Wild Samoans:
Wrestling fans best remember Afa and Sika for their great runs in the WWF as tag team champions. Nevertheless they had a great run in Mid-South as well. Originally Ernie Ladd served as their manager. The Big Cat guided them to the Tag Titles as Afa and Sika faced all the top teams in the area. Junkyard Dog and Dick Murdoch provided perhaps the toughest challenge of all. The Samoans eventually betrayed Ladd, preferring to cast their lot with General Skandor Akbar. Ladd turned babyface and feuded with The Samoans using various partners. In all, The Wild Samoans held the Mid-South Tag Team Title on three different occasions and firmly established their place in the annals of Mid-South history.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan personified the rough and tough, blood and guts attitude that made Mid-South Wrestling so exciting. Next month weíll take a look at some of the memorable moments of Dugganís long and storied career in the rings of Mid-South Wrestling.
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