Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
Enhancement Talent - 1981
- John Edwards
for one, miss the good old-fashioned TV “squash” match. You fans of
the kayfabe days all remember the basic formula. A one-hour TV show,
including four matches, all name players in the local promotion against
(insert your favorite term here)....”jobbers”, “ham ‘n
eggers”, “carpenters” (because they built up the opponent), and so
forth. In today’s environment, you have name grappler versus name
grappler on the weekly TV product. The primary purpose of today’s TV
shows is to build up interest in the next pay-per-view event. In fact,
sometimes the WWE (and former WCW) would go too far and “hot book” a
potential PPV match to “spike” a TV rating. Essentially giving away
something for free that could have been sold (via PPV) later.
in the day, the formula was different. The local TV show existed to
promote the next local house show. St. Louis was no different.
“Wrestling at the Chase” on Channel 11 existed to promote and sell
tickets to the next Kiel or Arena event. The matches and interviews
served to generate interest and sell tickets. And to give the faces and
heels a forum to showcase their talents.
to get the faces over as faces and the heels over as heels, the
“name” talent needed opponents who would readily bump for them, and
ultimately, after 5-10 minutes in the ring on camera, “do the job”.
The focus of this months’ article is on these largely unknown heroes
of the squared circle, the “jobbers”.
I go on, I must say that I had seen many a TV taping in person at the
Chase. I mean no disrespect with the term “jobber”. My travels
around the KM board have given me a great respect for these gentleman.
I, for one, would never want to take a Harley Race suplex, a Dick The
Bruiser piledriver, a Crusher Blackwell giant splash, a Ric Flair figure
four leglock, a Dory Funk Jr. spinning toe hold, or a King Kong Brody
flying kneedrop! I give credit to these athletes and miss what they
brought to the ring. For every one of the stars just mentioned to shine
in the ring, they needed a willing and talented partner. It does, in
fact, take two to tango. And to put on a great wrestling match.
I go on, I have questions I still wonder about to this day. Today, we
know that most of the younger, lesser known talent generally comes from
wrestling schools and work their way up from the independent promotions.
By the time someone reaches the WWE, we know who they are and their
history. I have long wondered about some of these guys I am about to
describe. How did Sam and Larry find them? Who were they? Did any of
them actually go on to have successful careers?
focus of this month’s article is on a classic TV episode of Wrestling
at the Chase, dated May 31, 1981. I will focus on my observations of the
lesser known “enhancement” talent in the matches. Without further
ado, here goes: (jobbers underlined)
31, 1981 – Wrestling at the Chase
(one fall, 10 minute time limit)
Oswald, 242, Union City, TN
vs. Dusty Rhodes
Oswald was pretty terrible. Pale skin, concave chest – just no
“look” whatsoever. His entire offensive repertoire consisted of some
weak forearms. Dusty takes this one with a flying elbow in 4:09.
Match: (first main event, one fall, 20 minute time limit)
Sexton, 230, Knoxville, TN
vs. Harley Race (NWA Champ)
This was probably the only time the words “Ron Sexton” and “main event” were used in the same sentence. More of the same. Ron Sexton was pretty darn awful. (I hope nobody tells me he put on a mask and went to Japan and became a Triple Crown Champion...) Like his fellow Volunteer, Ron was pale, skinny, and decidedly lacking on talent. He did, however, bump well for Harley Race, and did his duty at 6:02 when Harley dropped him with a vertical suplex.More...