SECW #2 Page #2
Gordon Solie did the TV for only a few weeks before he left the area. When he did, Charlie Platt, who had began doing ring announcing for Gulf Coast, took his place. Platt would become the voice for Southeastern as Thatcher left the area and Dickie Steinborn became Charlie's co-announcer.
Already mentioned as the first Southeastern Southern Division Champion was Bob Armstrong. Other holders of that title between 1977 and 1980 include David Shultz, Don Carson, Tora Tanaka, Ron Fuller, Mongolian Stomper, Ron Bass, Jos Leduc, Jimmy Golden, Austin Idol, Terry "Hulk" Boulder, Ox Baker, Greg Peterson, The Masked Gladiator (Louie Tillet), and Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods.
The first tag title holders in the Southern Division was the team of the Masked Assassins (proudly presented by Rip Tyler). Other teams to garner the belts from 1977 to 1980: Ricky & Robert Gibson, Ricky Fields & Terry Latham, Rip Tyler & Eddie Sullivan, Ron & Robert Fuller, Don Carson & the Assassin, Robert Fuller & Bob Armstrong, The Samaons (Afa & Sika), The Dargon Twins, Bob Armstrong & Charlie Cook, Ron Bass & Randy Rose, The Masked Big C's, and Robert Fuller & Terry Gibbs.
A Southeastern TV Champion was also crowned, however for some reason this was not a title that ever really stuck around. I actually only remember Bob Armstrong holding the trophy once.
The most successful managers in the area were Billy Spears and Don Carson. However both Gorgeous George Jr. and Rip Tyler worked here also. NWA World Champion Harley Race made frequent title defenses as well, with Andre and Dusty Rhodes also coming in for appearances.
Now the period from fall 1978 - winter 1979 will be a mystery for any wrestling fan that did not attended a live match nor lived in the Dothan - Mobile area. A man that would dominate the sport for years to come, (unfortunately), Terry Bollea, and one that would dominate the Dothan wrestling scene for the next 7 years, Austin Idol, both made their debut in the Farm Center on the same night in the fall of 1978. Idols' first match was against local legend the Masked Wrestling Pro Leon Baxter. The Universal Heartthrob only made a couple of appearances at this time as he was still working Memphis, then started his first great run in Georgia before returning to Dothan in the summer of 1979. Bollea was a different story. Hulks' first match was against Robert Gibson. By the end of the night he was one of the top heels in the area. During a lumberjack match featuring Ox Baker, who was being managed by Billy Spears, Boulder got into a shoving match with Wrestling Pro and helped Baker win his match, therefore joining the Spears Family of Baker, Tanaka, Eddie Sullivan & the Challenger. It was during this heel run that nearly 6,000 fans were packed into the 5,000 seat Farm Center to witness the WrestleMania III main event of Hulk Hogan - Andre the Giant way before its time. The famous arm-wrestling angle that led to that night's match can be found on the Wrestling Gold Vol. 1 tape.
By the spring of '79, Boulder had become a "face", being kicked out of the Spears Family, and defeating Baker for the Southeastern Title. This turn landed Bollea one of, if not his first, World Championship match. During a match between Boulder and Baker, Ron Fuller, who was to face NWA Champ Harley Race later in the evening, came out to help Boulder fight off Spears' men. In return, Baker heart-punched Fuller causing him to not be able to wrestle later. His replacement, you guessed it...Terry "the Hulk" Boulder. Again over 5,000 fans saw Boulder face Race in a match with almost the same exact ending as the St. Paul, Mn. Hogan - Bockwinkle AWA title match from 1982. Boulder would receive one more match with Harley Race for the NWA title in June of 1979. This was the main event of the largest card ever held in Dothan. Nearly 8,000 fans packed Rip Hewes Stadium, the local high school football stadium, to see this match. Other matches on this card were an Austin Idol vs. Jack Brisco for the Southeastern title, Ron Slinker vs. Jerry Brisco for the Southeastern TV title, and the Samoans vs. the Dargon Twins for the Southeastern Tag titles. The finish to the Boulder - Race match you ask? Idol, who was taking still pictures at ringside, flashed Boulder in the eyes causing "blindness" and the easy pinfall. Bollea would leave the area shortly after his feud with Idol, I believe going to Knoxville as Sterling Golden, returning for a few matches with Idol before leaving the area for good. It was at this time that "IdolMania" took over the area. Idol would defend the Southeastern title for the rest of 1979 and through the early part of 1980. This was another one of those strange co-promotional periods for Southeastern as several stars from Atlanta would be working Dothan on Saturday Nights. Idol, with the help of former partner Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie) was defending the title against Bob Armstrong, plus wrestling tag matches with Superstar against Armstrong and different partners. Austin Idol also wrestled Wahoo McDaniels, Tony Atlas, Wrestling II, and Ole Anderson for the Southeastern title during this period before finally losing the belt to Tim "Mr. Wrestling" Woods.
As you can see, the late 70s' were a great yet mysterious period for Southeastern Wrestling, particularly Dothan since no website that I know of, nor wrestling book, acknowledges any of the title reigns nor angles of this end of the Southeastern promotion. Hence the title of this months installment: 1977 - 1980 The Lost Years.
We'll begin to look at Southeastern's expansion into North Alabama in 1980 and go through the renaming of the promotion to Continental in 1985.
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