UWF / Mid-South wrestling facts

An RF video shoot interview resume written by Andrew Lutzke and published on May, 2015 on culturecrossfire.com
They open things with a great voice over by Jim Cornette covering a brief history of Mid-South.
Cornette explains how the Mid-South had great TV that is still revered today, plus a collection of wild talent that were true outlaws being led by a sheriff known as “Cowboy” Bill Watts.
Hacksaw Duggan is introduced and he and Jim cover how Mid-South was violent (but not over the top gory) had real athletes who became wrestlers and tough men.
Duggan explains that he was a heel early in his career because it was easier to learn the business this way.
They cover how Bill Watts bought into the territory in the late 70’s and used his history of having learned booking from Eddie Graham to eventually take over a big chunk of the area from promoter Leroy McGuirk. Watts took Louisana and Mississpi as his territory and quickly established success.
Hacksaw explains how stiff everyone worked in the area, which was an eye opener for a greenhorn like himself.
Early gimmicks where Duggan played a pretty boy and a masked man known as the Convict didn’t last long. “Hacksaw” became a star once Watts got a hold of him.
Bruiser Brody convinced Duggan to come to Texas and learn under Brody.
Buck Robley was booking for Mid-South in the early 80’s. Corny and Duggan cover a few other bookers who worked under Watts like Bill Dundee. The bookers would often have their ideas “edited” by Watts.
Hacksaw covers how the cops weren’t much help to the heels since the cops were often marks who figured the heels had it coming.
The fans would wreck the heel’s cars. The bad guys learned to leave in groups in order to protect themselves.
Watts begin to book black men and Mexicans near the top of the card in order to draw in ethnic fans.
Mid-South created many stars out of guys who had been green or journeymen workers such as Ray Candy, JYD, The Freebirds and “Bruiser” Bob Sweetan.
The Louisiana and Mississippi areas were drawing big money while McGuirk’s area was dying. Watts liked McGuirk so he paid him for the rest of the territory.
Houston promoter Paul Bosch switched alliances from Joe Blanchard to Watts and that gave the Mid-South a Texas foothold as well.
JYD took off as a massive star and the fans were rabid towards any heels who messed with him.
Cornette covers a riot he was involved in during a JYD/Magnum TA vs. Midnight Express match up.
The fans came every week or sometimes every two weeks to the same arenas to see the wrasslin’
They share some funny stories about taping TV in a place with a LONG staircase which made entrances and run-ins rather difficult.
Cornette shares a story of having to dress in drag for an angle, only to roll his ankle from the high heels.
Duggan got his girlfriend involved in an angle with Dick Slater. Hacksaw ended up soaked in blood, which he spilled on her as he tended to his fallen beau. He then screamed “SUPERDOME!!” to really hammer home the hard sell for the big card that was upcoming.
The arena they taped TV in wasn’t air conditioned, so in summer it got very hot inside. To remedy this, giant fans were brought in to circulate air. This led to a comedic moment where Corny tried to use powder on JYD, but it just blew back in his own face. JYD had to rub his own face in the floor to try and be “blinded” after the miscue.
The TV had a staggered tape delivery system, which meant some towns saw things up to 5 weeks before other town saw the same tape, which made for careful planning when setting up promos and such.
To make sure wrestlers showed up on promo taping day, Watts made that day pay day.
The workers wrestled in a bunch of tiny towns, and since GPS wasn’t yet invented, finding arenas could prove difficult. To make matters worse, the fans would lie to heels about what the directions were.
Some towns had ratings that showed 30-60% of all TV watchers tuned into Mid-South wrestling.
Duggan and Terry Gordy got trashed on booze and drunkenly barraged into a room that they thought contained Len Denton, but was instead just a random guy who was frantically calling for help since two 300 pound monsters were trying to get in.
The same hotel had 10 dollar a night rates, and in some rooms you had to keep the light on or the rats would come out.
The workers had a 3500 mile round trip each week in order to hit all the house shows scheduled.
Duggan shares a bar fight story where he, Hercules and Doctor Death beat the piss out of a plethora of marks. The cops arrested Dr. Death for DUI and Hercules for assault. Herc attacked the cops during the arrest.
When you’re in he real world, everybody saw you as a phony wrestler, but once you were sent to court, you were portrayed as a trained killer.
Groupies were all over the place, especially in the rooms of Magnum TA, the Rock and Roll Express and Bobby Eaton.
Wrestlers were constantly getting in bar fights. They didn’t lose.
Houston was a LONG drive, but the pay was crazy good.
Duggan covers the night he accidentally took a metal bolt to the skull and split his head wide open.   Later that night, Gordy pulled on his hair and the wound tore wide open.
Corny was in the business barely two years when he was already part of a headline feud with Watts and JYD at the Superdome.
JYD was paid to stay home for six weeks while selling being “blind”.
JYD was about to be attacked by the Freebirds, when a fan jumped the barricade and pointed a handgun at them. JYD couldn’t save them because he had to keep up kayfabe.
Duggan explains how close the guys were back then, with long car rides giving guys time to bond and discuss how to draw more and such things.
Little Rock, Arkansas was one of the best towns in the area for booze, broads and drugs.
Fans would load water guns with Draino to spray at heels while they hid behind the police.
Grizzly Smith took care of Watts’ business from town for town. The boys loved him for having their back in tough situations, even though he was also Watts’ stooge.
Fans were offered the chance to prove the wrestlers were fake by being given a chance to shoot with Dr. Death. This usually ended very poorly for the fans.
One of the local promoters for Mid-South was very racist. This led to the JYD namedropping him on promos were he talked about eating fried chicken and watermelon at the promoter’s house.
Duggan turned face and ended up as the area’s top babyface after JYD jumped ship to the WWF.
Mid-South re-branded as the UWF in 1986 as part of the effort to expand nationally. Meanwhile the talent kept leaving for the WWF and the NWA and the local economy collapsed. All this led to the expansion failing.
Kamala is put over for being a good man and a good hand in the ring.
The Mid-South title belt weighed 25-30 pounds and was a pain in the ass to carry around.
Hacksaw and Corny both decry that the modern product scripts so much both in the ring and promos which kills the workers creativity and freedom.
Sting and the Ultimate Warrior broke into the business in Memphis. They were so horrible that the whole locker room would watch their matches and howl with laughter.
Dick Slater was dating valet Dark Journey, Sting ended up banging her. When Slater found out, he broke into the babyface’s locker room and beat Sting into the bathroom, then sunk his head into the toilet.
Duggan points out all the stuff he, Gordy, Doctor Death, Hercules and others used to put in their bodies while running up and down the roads. Then laments that so many of his friends are now dead.
Magnum TA and Duggan smashed up their car while driving on a snowy road. Doctor Death was behind them and stopped to help. A semi came through and smashed into Doc’s car. The semi was carrying cement and that spilled all over the road. Duggan jumped out of the way when Doc’s car got smashed and rolled down an embankment. For a brief spell the others thought he was run over and dead.
The Midnight Express and Corny had their car break down once and hitchhiked with a farmer with a truckload of chickens. They showed up at the arena covered in feathers.
Cornette made 100K in one year with Mid-South and that was just his manager’s pay. Cornette was a mere 22 years old at the time.
Duggan recalls the locker room fight between John Nord and Butch Reed that was egged on by Watts.
Doctor Death was insanely strong. Corny watched him press slam a 360 pound Big Bubba Rogers with ease.
Nikolai Volkoff would sew Cornette’s jacket arms together as a rib.
Low card guys who worked the house show circuits could clear 50K a year in base salary when business was hot.
JCP grossed 20 million dollars in 1986 and within a year they were nearing bankruptcy.
JCP tried to run the Crockett Cup in 1986 in New Orleans, but the area was dead and the show bombed despite having wrestling stars from across the world on the card.
Corny feels that the fans in the Southern US stopped coming to the shows once Vince McMahon exposed the business because they had such a strong connection to the wrestlers only to find out the thing they loved was fake. Fans were once so involved in the product that they ended up in jail for going after the heels, now those same fans gave up as the magic was gone.

An RF video shoot interview resume written by Andrew Lutzke and published on culturecrossfire.com
This is a roundtable Q and A featuring Skandor Akbar, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, Bill Dundee and Brad Armstrong. Sadly three of these men are no longer with us.
Bill Watts is the first subject. Akbar explains that Bill Watts bought a promotion that had issues with no shows and other rules being broken, so he became a disciplinarian.
Bill Dundee said Watts had a few strict rules and you best just follow them. Dr. Death was fined for wearing football shorts into the ring during a card. Dundee was fined for letting him wear them since he was acting as the agent for the office that night.
Brad Armstrong says the pay was outstanding but the travel was brutal.
Ernie Ladd would come into the locker room, take off his pants, give the guys their finishes for the night, then put his pants back on and leave.
Ladd was fined for fighting off the Rock and Roll Express while on his knees during a tag match.
Guys would often pay the driver of the car they were sharing .02 a mile for the trip.
Ricky Morton once had a handkerchief tied to his boots, somehow it got wrapped in the rope, Morton jumped off the top rope and splatted on the canvas.
Buddy Landell was a bullshitter but a fine worker.
Kamala kept kayfabe around the security force at the New Orleans Superdome – Once while being taken by golf cart from the underbelly of the dome to the arena entry the cart suffered a broken wheel. Kamala refused to get off the cart and just kept screaming at the guard in “Ugandan” moans and patting his belly. Dundee and Watts came by with a new cart and Kamala still refused to budge. Watts spoke “Ugandan” to Kamala and convinced him to come along. The guard asked what Kamala was talking about and Watts told him that Kamala thought the guard looked tasty.
The first time Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett gave Sugar Bear Harris the Kamala gimmick, Lawler did the body paint work on him. Harris thought the moon on his chest was a banana and was greatly confused.
Kamala did big business in most of the places he went in the 80’s.

Brad Armstrong tells the story of accidentally busting open Dr. Death with an elbow, which ended up forcing Doc to get 115 stitches. Armstrong was terrified that Doc was going to kill him. Watts was worried that Doc would miss house shows via the injury. Doc simply said “Fuck it brother, it ain’t ballet.”
Watts would raise hell over a lot of small things.
Watts paid 10 grand for a rottweiler that kept the wrestlers trapped in Watts’ guesthouse because of how vicious it was. Watts also owned a big stable, and yet owned no horses.
Akbar once accidentally burnt Watts’ chest with a fireball.
The highway system was poor in Louisiana for much of the Mid-South’s heyday, so if you got stuck behind a logging truck or some-such, you were almost definitely going to be late to the show.
The boys were often disappointed by their pay offs for Superdome show. They failed to account for all the extra expenses that came with running a dome. Paul Orndorff quit the promotion after headlining a dome show and receiving “only” a seven grand payoff.
Dundee took over as booker and brought in sexier looking babyfaces to attract women to counteract all the big rugged workers on the roster.
The night the Rock and Roll Express debuted, the spotlight that was used on the wrestlers blinded Robert Gibson and he fell off the stage and hurt his ribs.
Watts was leery of using the smaller talent.
Brad Armstrong receives a cell phone call and picks it up on camera. Ironically it’s Brad’s Mid-South partner Tim Horner calling.
The heat the heels used to get was amazing. Akbar wore a bulletproof vest at a Superdome show after receiving death threats. Another time a fan tossed Drain-O in his eyes.
Your move set could be limited if you knew how to sell and how to make comebacks.
The fans mobbed the Rock and Roll Express. A fan got her hand caught in a car door trying to touch them. Instead of freaking out over her injury she just squealed, “I’ll never wash this hand again!”
Dundee goes on a bit of a rant about scripted promos not being conducive to drawing money.
Watts had to work harder to keep his headliners fresh and interesting compared to some territories. The Von Erich’s name alone was going to sell tickets in Texas, for example.
When JCP bought the UWF in 1987, Dusty Rhodes told Akbar that the WWF would be out of business in a year.
Bob Armstrong drew a big house in Florida once, so booker Dusty made sure Armstrong lost the next time around in the town to make sure Rhodes remained the top face.
Rhodes sent Dundee on JCP’s private plane from Texas to Charlotte alone. Rhodes was burning up insane amounts of JCP’s money doing things like this.
Jim Crockett would also take the top talent on trips to Vegas constantly on their plane as well.
Finally Mama Crockett called Jim and David into a meeting with Dusty, Dundee and other agents/bookers and told Jim that trying to cross America and only draw in big cities was a recipe for bankruptcy compared to the business Jim Sr. had run that saw many small towns hit a week, while actually maintaining a profit.
Ole Anderson bitched to Akbar about Jim Jr. not even being able to format wrestling TV and overall being a poor fit to run the company.
Jim Crockett Sr. started very small and left his company in very good condition. Many individuals in the business felt Jim Jr’s expansion attempt was ill conceived.
Rhodes was very stubborn to dissenting ideas.
Dundee explains how JCP would draw a big house for the summer Bash tours and the profits would be small because of paying for so much hullabaloo. Rhodes wanted to spend 50K a night to bring in country singers, and then Dusty would make a tape of himself singing with the star – all on JCP’s dime of course.
Akbar tells a story of Ric Flair’s first trip to Japan and gigging himself a ton to try and outdo Akbar, Rhodes, Dick Murdoch and the other Texans blade jobs.
They tore up Flair’s room and made sure he was drunk all night, every night.
Flair’s wild spending is touched on. Tully Blanchard took up Flair’s spending habits for a while.
Jerry Lawler put himself over Andre the Giant via pinfall and that created an uproar among promoters the very next morning.
Andre warned Fritz Von Erich in 1984 that Vince McMahon intended on putting him out of business, along with everyone else.
Tim Horner pops in the room and joins the table.
Brad Armstrong went in the ditch and got stuck in the mud. Hercules and Dr. Death were in the car following them, and Herc tried to power the vehicle out, only to have the mud splatter and cover him from head to toe. Akbar went off a snowy embankment and Dundee and other workers crashed down in a snow bank. Akbar never lost the cigar he was puffing on. They sent Billy Jo Travis for help in his wrestling boots since he was the youngest of the bunch.
Terry Taylor and Hacksaw Duggan were playfully tossing ice at each other at a bar. Hercules thought some fans were causing trouble and ripped his shirt off before starting a bar brawl with the unsuspecting patrons.
Duggan got cheap shotted by a “fan” at another bar and lost his glasses. Blind, Duggan swung wildly as the other guy peppered him. Finally the dude bit Duggan’s finger and Hacksaw screamed out “NOW I GOT YA!” and plowed the guy over with one punch.
Dr. Death power slammed a guy on a table during a bar brawl. Somehow he caught his nose on the edge of the table and busted it wide open. Blood spurted everywhere.
Ronnie Garvin was amazingly tight. He knew where buffets were all over the country and constantly managed to get into gyms for free. During one week long road trip, Garvin managed to train, eat and stay at a hotels every night for a total cost of 80 dollars.
Garvin was a pilot and would fly the boys around on occasion. The alternator on the plane went out, as did the power. He ended up flying over an Air Force base and being chased down by Blackhawk helicopters. Arn Anderson, Armstrong and others were praying and Garvin, the atheist, just teased them “Tell God to fix my alternator!” The guys were all freaked out when they landed, but Garvin was ready to switch planes and keep going.
Akbar was in street clothes at a gas station, when Mid South popped up on the TV at the station and he could hear the guys watching starting to cuss him out for cheating. Akbar was concerned they may start trouble while he was paying for his stuff, but the guys apparently didn’t recognize him.
Tim Horner was riding from a show and had to shit really bad. When he got to a gas station, he had to get a key to use the bathroom. By the time he unlocked the door, bad things were about to happen to his underwear and he flew in the dark bathroom and missed the light switch. He shit and then went to find the light… he hadn’t aimed near a toilet… shit was all over the wall. Naturally, he went and got Brad out of the car to see his mess.
Akbar tells Danny Hodge stories, including boxing Alex Karras!?!!?
JYD worked Memphis, and wanted to use a “King of Wrestling” gimmick. That obviously didn’t fly in LawlerLand.
George Gulas was a notoriously bad worker who was pushed because his dad was Promoter Nick Gulas – he’d chop guys in the ring and whisper to them “Daddy said y’all gotta go down”. Gulas was disliked enough by the fanbase that when he was put over World Champion Harley Race, the fans attacked Gulas.
Bill Dundee is glad Youtube exists so fans can see real wrestling and not “the modern bullshit”.
We get a bitchfest about guys not being able to work nowadays.
Armstrong tells about working Jake Roberts for 15 minutes based all around Armstrong teasing a punch and Roberts selling fear of the blow.

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