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 - Chuck Merkich

When I was growing up and someone would mention pro wrestling, the Southwest Championship/Texas All-Star areas would be the first thing to come to mind. Back in the early eighties, Texas and in particular, San Antonio were hot beds of professional wrestling. I would sneak up late every Sunday night to watch Southwest wrestling, not caring that it was a school night. Imagine my surprise when I tuned on my TV and was greeted with a somewhat different wrestling program called Texas-All Star wrestling (TAS). I say somewhat different because the only noticeable change was in the name. They still aired from the Junction out of San Antonio (that would change in later years when they began taping their shows from Gilley's bar which was located in Pasadena, Texas), and still had the same announcers - Steve Stack with Rapido Martinez providing Spanish commentary. As well, the action and excitement was seemingly maintained at the same level I was used to seeing every weekend.

It wasn't until years later that I would learn of the behind the scenes power struggle between promoter Joe Blanchard and his partner Fred Behrend that was responsible for the change. The story is that Behrend's sold the Southwest television time to Fritz Von Erich behind Blanchard's back, putting World Class wrestling in the San Antonio time slot leaving Southwest reduced to airing on Spanish TV with a few small English outlets. When Blanchard could no longer make ends meet he had no choice but to sell out to Behrend's. This was first evident on television when the announcers started referring to the area as LoneStar wrestling. That name didn't last long however and like the mythical phoenix rising from the ashes - Texas All-Star was born and a tradition continued.  

The caliber of competition suffered naught with many established legends and future superstars entering the area to join the already impressive roster. TAS is where I first saw a young Shawn Michaels, who was brought in by his mentor Jose Lothario, and soon began teaming with another up and comer named Paul Diamond as part of a tag team called American Force. Others who appeared in the area include: Jonathan Boyd, Killer Brooks, Bruiser Brody, Big Bubba (Typhoon), Rick & Scott Casey, Tiger Conway Jr., Austin Idol, Nick Kiniski, Iceman Parsons, Jim Powers, Ivan & Scott Putski, and Billy Joe Travis just to name a few. Another name change soon followed with TAS being renamed USA All-Star wrestling in hopes of being viewed as a major league promotion. Sadly, this plan couldn't stop the inevitable.   More...


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Old School Tape Review 4

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