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1980 - 1981:  "Sweet Home Alabama" Lynyrd Skynyrd

 - Mike Calloway

By the summer of 1980 Southeastern had firmly established itself as an exciting territory stretching along the South Alabama - Northwest Florida border. The Houston County Farm Center in Dothan, Expo Hall in Mobile, Bayfront Auditorium in Pensacola, and Marina Civic Center in Panama City were all home to weekly house shows, and by the autumn of 1980, it was time for growth. In October of 1980, Southeastern "purchased" the promotional rights for North Alabama. With this purchase, Southeastern was now holding house shows in Birmingham (Boutwell Auditorium), Gadsden, and Florence. This also brought Montgomery, in central Alabama, into the territory as well. Most of this area of Alabama had been run by Nick Gulas, other than Montgomery, but Gulas had long pulled out of 'Bama and different promoters were handling the towns. Several wrestlers working the area were already familiar with the fans of North Alabama such as Bob Armstrong and Robert Fuller so this helped make the expansion a smooth transition.

One of the first things acting Southeastern Wrestling President Don Curtis did to help promote the opening of the entire state was to (re)create the up 'til now defunct Alabama Heavyweight Championship. This title has lineage dating back to the 1950's even though Southeastern had not used the title until this time. The tournament to award the first champion was held in Birmingham in November, 1980. Wrestlers from Southeastern plus Mr. Wrestling II and Tony Atlas from Georgia were entered in the tourney with Bob Armstrong winning out. One of the first men to feud with Armstrong was Japanese great Mr. Saito, who would eventually trade the belt with Bob several times. Other men to hold the belt during this period were Dennis Condrey, Jimmy Golden, Ray Candy, and Ken Lucas (who in consecutive weeks, defeated Saito for the Alabama title AND Ron Bass for the Southeastern title to be the only man to hold both belts simultaneously).

The top title in the area (Southeastern Championship) was under the control of the Mongolian Stomper for much of the latter part of 1980. Stomper, managed by Georgous George at the beginning of his run in the area, was by the end of 1980 being handled by Don Carson. Most of Stompers title defenses were against 2 men, Jos Leduc and longtime enemy Ron "Tennessee Studd" Fuller. Other holders of the title during 1981 were Mr. Saito, Lucas, Ron Bass, and Mr. Olympia.    More...

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