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 - Scott Williams 

Bill Watts Explains the Universe

Many people overlook the role announcers play in getting across what the great territories aimed to promote. Fact is, a bad announcer can suck the life out of a good angle, while a great announcer can create excitement around, or at least make sense out of, even the goofiest of situations.

In Mid-South, there weren't as many goofy situations as there were in most other promotions, or maybe it just seemed that way because Mid-South fans had "Cowboy" Bill Watts to explain things to us. OK, I admit it -- there was no explaining Paul Ellering doing pushups with a large woman on his back while "Pac Man Fever" played over the P.A. system, but Watts could usually explain away any wrestling lack of logic.

It all came from Watts' belief that wrestling should be as realistic as possible. The realism made suspending disbelief easy.

I mean it -- what are the questions or qualms you had about wrestling as a kid? Chances are, big Bill explained it all away.

"Say, those masked guys. How can they expect us to believe their identities are secret? They have to make the paycheck out to somebody, right?"

Glad you asked. Here's Bill: That's an excellent question. In our case, we pay the Grappler and Mr. Wrestling II, per their contracts (and I don't know if they learned this from the same person or it's just coincidence) with a money order that we mail to a post office box. What happens to it from there, gosh, I just couldn't tell ya.

Actually, the masked wrestlers question was one he answered in the form of a letter that came into Mid-South. In other words, Watts went out of his way to explain this.

Here's a good one: "Why does it hurt when you miss a dropkick, but not when you hit one?"

See, longtime Mid-South fans know this one, thanks again to the Cowboy. You see, when a wrestler throws a dropkick, he is hurling his body counting on hitting his opponent, which will will him to spring off and land a certain way. When he misses, it screws up his trajectory, and he can land badly.

In 1983, Mid-South was packed with monstrous wrestlers. Watts wanted to make clear to the audience that his wrestlers, even the biggest of them, was not inferior in any way, so he actually explained during a King Kong Bundy handicap match why it looks like big men move more slowly: "When a big man like this moves, what a lot of people don't realize is you've  got a lot of mass and size moving. When he moves six or eight inches, it doesn't show as much as like a 140-pounder to go that amount of distance, and oftentimes it looks slow and ponderous."

Bill Watts was also gifted with the ability to explain away the implausible on the spot, sometimes on the missed spot. To his credit, Watts never insulted fans' intelligence by trying to tell them a missed blow had connected.

Witness this 1984 Midnight Express-Rock & Roll Express match, in which Robert Gibson threw a dropkick that missed Jim Cornette by a more than a foot. 

Unfortunately, Cornette sold the move anyway. Watts reacted instantly.

"Look at that! Robert Gibson didn't even touch Cornette, and Cornette just fainted away from fright."

Around the same time, Butch Reed was wrestling former Alabama Junior Heavyweight Champion Mike Jackson. Reed messed up a spot where he was supposed to reverse a whip from Jackson, from one corner to another. He does it at the last second, instead of in mid-ring, and Jackson landed awkwardly in the corner.  Watts didn't miss a beat in making it seem like Reed pulled a fast one out of nowhere. "There's Butch Reed, changing gears. He was a middle linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, so he has that speed."  More...

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