Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Jason Hess
a new year, with new possibilities, and my sincerest wish and hope is that
in the short time 2004 has been here, you the reader would have had a
joyous time so far. I further
hope that all of the Kayfabe family had a happy holiday season, and look
forward to a peaceful and prosperous year.
the holidays fade into our rear view mirror, I would like to recall one of
many positives that happened to me during the latter part of December.
I had an opportunity to watch some tapes of Mid-South Wrestling
from various parts in the 1980’s. While I had originally planned to talk about the end of 1983
and beginning of 1984 (which I will return to next month), I just had to
write about my own thoughts on various angles, and wrestlers from that
I saw some tapes of Roop both wrestling, and doing commentary with
“fashion plate” Boyd Pierce. A
disclaimer here at this point: I
had only seen Bob Roop before this past holiday season in a 1984 Georgia
tape, and in some Florida tapes where he had become Maya Singh. All that to say: I
had both never known why the fondness for Roop from some folks I talk to,
and I had never seen Roop in his element as a “scientific” heel.
Roop was great in getting over his angle with babyfaces Ted DiBiase
and Junkyard Dog. Roop was a
solid performer in the ring, and his shoulder-breaker could make one wince
even 22 years later. Everything
Roop did in the ring was believable, and his commentary was at times even
complimentary to the baby face side. I am now convinced that Roop was
greatly underrated, but was used to a good way during his tenure in
Mid-South. Roop would later
beat Orndorff in a taped fist match at the May 1982 Super Dome show.
Much has been known, written, and said about this man, who
throughout his career has had an incredible physique.
Again, I had previously only heard about his Mid-South forays
before this past holiday season. His
feud with Ted DiBiase, and team with Roop and Bob Orton were both
excellent. Orndorff was as
usual, in fantastic shape. His
mannerisms were great as a cocky heel who could usually back up what he
said. Him and DiBiase had simply a fantastic feud, and both men
could really go in the ring. One
great moment was when Orndorff and Roop “devised” the counter for DiBiase’s
figure four leglock. It was
played off as legitimate rather than a cowardly heel type of tactic.
While that may not work now, it worked then.
The fans hated Orndorff and Roop even more for figuring out a legit
way to possibly best their hero. Furthermore,
you could tell that Orndorff, while a heel, could also make a very good,
believable baby face at any time, which he later would be in Georgia.
Orndorff went to Georgia having lost a North American title match
against….his former partner Roop, as he was downed in a taped fist match
at the May 1982 Super Dome show. Orndorff
would leave a three time North American Champion.
Having grown up with DiBiase already a heel, I never saw him in his
original face role before turning on JYD in 1982. He was very mild and calm during his interviews and his
commentary with Boyd Pierce. Yet,
in the ring, at just 27 years old, DiBiase was just awesome.
During a match with cult legend Mike Boyette (referred as Mike
Boyer…which for all I know may be his real name), made more known for
his 1987 loss streak in the UWF, DiBiase turned a potential blown spot
into a unique variation of his powerslam.
He didn’t skip a beat, and showed why he was garnering a national
reputation as a great worker. Even
though mild-mannered, DiBiase was able to rally the fans behind him in his
battles with Roop and Orndorff. Even
knowing that his turn against JYD would be “soon,” I was able to see
how good DiBiase was at the baby face role, although some would say his
best work was to come as a heel.
The Imagination of Booking: It was seemingly a throwaway match, simply to feature the use of midget wrestlers. However, in the summer of 1985, a match between Bill Dundee-Little Tokyo vs. Wendell Cooley-Little Coco was used in an entertaining…and actually believable way to further an issue between Bobby Fulton and Bill Dundee….leading to Dundee and partner Dutch Mantell against the Fantastics. During the match, both Cooley and the referee were bumped from the ring. Dundee then did the ultimate heelish thing…….he bodyslammed and elbow dropped Coco!!! That brought out the Fantastics to attack Dundee….and place Coco on top of the Superstar for the PINFALL!!! Now, if that wasn’t enough to further the issue, the week after, Dundee was wrestling a preliminary guy. More...