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 - Scott Williams 

Battle of the Rat Packers

And they’d been such good friends.  Ted DiBiase and his compatriot Hacksaw Jim Duggan had spent months making life miserable for babyfaces in Mid-South for the better part of a year.

By interfering in each others’ matches, the Rat Pack members kept each other steeped in championship gold for months (see last month’s entry on the tag title reign of DiBiase and Matt Borne).  After losing the tag titles in 1983, Borne quickly exited Mid-South, while Rat Pack leader DiBiase regrouped. His regrouping would involve the notorious Gen. Skandor Akbar.

More than a decade earlier, Akbar turned to villainy by betraying his partner, the legendary Danny Hodge. Since then, he rained terror on the region as a championship wrestler (Akbar held the North American title in 1974 and 1975) and as a wrestler. His stable, which would later come to be known as Devastation Inc., boasted such wrestlers as Kamala, Killer Khan, One Man Gang, the Samoans, King Kong Bundy and the Iron Sheik, among others.

This last name was one that Duggan could not overlook. Sheik was a flag-waving, pro-Kohmeini Iranian, and Duggan hinted that he lost a relative in the botched rescue of the U.S. embassy hostages in that country a few years earlier. Conveniently forgotten in all this was the fact that Duggan’s first Mid-South appearance came in 1982, as a bounty hunter brought in by Akbar to take out Dick Murdoch.

Thus, Duggan addressed DiBiase and Mid-South fans in a pre-taped segment, in which he said he was hurt and disappointed by his friend Ted’s decision to become an “associate” of the General. This would be the end of the Rat Pack, he said, although Duggan did not want to feud with DiBiase. “You go your way, and I’ll go mine,” he said.  Soon after, Duggan attacked Akbar during a Nagasaki match, stripping the general down to his skivvies.  “We almost went x-rated here last week,” said Mid-South President Bill Watts, in reviewing the footage.

Akbar asked DiBiase to take Duggan out, saying money was no object, but DiBiase said he would not get involved in the personal issue between his former partner and his new associate.

DiBiase: “As long as he does not interfere in my matches ... I will not fight him.” 

Akbar then turned to his ninja, who agreed to battle Duggan. Duggan did not wait for the bell to begin punishing Nagasaki, but DiBiase ran in within seconds, nailing Duggan repeatedly with his loaded glove. So much for friendship.

A bloody feud ensued, one in which DiBiase had the upper hand initially. Gradually, though, Duggan began to turn the tide. Duggan and newcomer Magnum TA even got the Mid-South tag titles from DiBiase and Mr. Olympia in July 1983.

A couple of weeks later, DiBiase decided to settle it all, the same way he had driven out Junkyard Dog and Mr. Olympia in the past -- a no-DQ, loser- leaves-Mid-South match. Actually, DiBiase said if he didn’t win, he’d leave, but it was made clear that Duggan would leave out of shame if he dropped the match. Duggan had played a role in those other matches, and DiBiase knew he’d have to load more than his glove. He’d have to load the dice.

As the fateful show began, it appeared DiBiase was doing exactly that.  More...

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