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 - Charles Laffere


Thanks for stopping by and welcome back to another installment of my memories of the UWF. In 1987, I moved away from home to attend college, and I no longer was able to see Houston Wrestling. By that time, the wrestling landscape was dominated by the WWF. The AWA was fading, in its own Midwestern way, to a tragicomic end. The promotion had its shows on ESPN, but I was either neglecting my studies or suffering from a profound lack of a social life if I ever watched them. Jim Crockett Promotions had assumed the mantel of the NWA and broadcast its shows on TBS. The Saturday night show was cool, boosted mainly by the presence of the 4 Horsemen. Here in Texas, the Von Erichs’ WCCW had collapsed under the combined family tragedies and Southwest Championship /Texas All-Star Wrestling was a distant memory.

Bill Watts had not given up. I can still remember him gesturing on television, promising that he had a big announcement regarding the future of his company. Watts took his regional, Mid-South Wrestling promotion, and renamed it the UWF. He syndicated his television programs nationally and got a time slot on TBS.

Watts loved the attention he got from the "sheets" like the Wrestling Observer and utilized it to his advantage. The Cowboy and his company also received much free publicity from Bill Apter's wrestling magazines. All of this occurred in the pre-Internet world, but Watts was an expert at working the wrestling media. Ken Hoffman was a television critic for the Houston Post. Hoffman was also a wrestling fan, and he would offer little blurbs in his columns regarding wrestling, a real rarity in those days. Anyway, Hoffman stated that Jake Roberts was due to leave Mid-South and join the WWF. Watts noticed this and promptly booked the Snake to win the North American Title in Houston. Roberts would drop the belt to Dick Slater in Oklahoma City 10 days later and subsequently head to the WWF, but this footnote illustrates Watts’ attention to detail and his use of the media and how it worked to his advantage.

In 1987, Watts had his pieces in place. The wrestling action and storytelling was second to none in the U.S. He had a national television deal. And with Jim Ross, Michael Hayes and himself handling commentating chores, he had one of the strongest wrestling announce teams ever.  More...

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