Mid-South being unique: I had been a wrestling fan since I was nine years old. I had been around the wrestling business in Memphis for six years from the time I was fourteen as a photographer, part-time ring announcer and general all around gopher. I had been a manager for about fourteen months at the time that I got to go to Mid-South Wrestling and I was not prepared for the level of credibility that the company was run. I do a column for a magazine in the United Kingdom called "Fighting Spirit" and the level of credibility that pro wrestling had as a legitimate sport in the Mid-South Wrestling during the late 70's and early 80's was unmatched anywhere else. We didn't just have the typical stereotypical "rasslin" fan, although we did in Oklahoma, Texas and in Louisiana but we had banker, attorney, and television executives. They wouldn't say: "You put on a good show", they would say: "You had a great match" or they would wish us luck and "hope you win the belts".
Bill Watts went to incredible lengths and down to minuet details to see that his matches, his matchmaking and his booking had logic, everything had reason and there were no loop holes left outside the ring. The guys were expected to hold up the credibility of wrestling to put their lives on the line and it was a military school for wrestling and if you were like some of the main event talent or that had been elsewhere that thought they knew everything, wanted to do their own thing and you can into Bill Watt's rules, regulations, commandments and if you rebelled, you didn't last long. But if you went in there with the thought that I'm going to learn from the guy who learned from the masters like Eddie Graham who was a genius in Florida and I'm going to see how booking is done, how television is produced, how bigger arenas are run every two weeks, twenty six times a year and sometimes more on a regular basis and all of these major markets in the area and if you went in like that, you got a degree in the college of wrestling knowledge and you got a degree that was unmatched.
Here is the extent that Bill Watts went to keep the credibility to the wrestling business, his business and that he imparted to the guys. Junkyard Dog was blinded by the Freebirds and he came back to New Orleans with goggles on and he was sitting at ringside so the guys that he was in the corner of got revenge on the Freebirds for blinding him so he is allegedly blind at ringside and the big Superdome show was coming up that JYD and Michael Haynes drew thirty thousand people to see the Dog Collar Match and this was the big angle to set it up and the Freebirds dispatched the babyfaces in quick order and they were all down and it was the three Freebirds standing in the ring in New Orleans in the "Dogs House" downtown Municipal Auditorium where the people would chant "Who Dat" and that's where the (New Orleans) Saints got it from. It wasn't the other way around, they started it for JYD. "Who dat talking about beating that Dog. Who Dat!" The Freebirds are menacing the Junkyard Dog and they look at him sitting at ringside, vulnerable, blinded at ringside and they pointed at him and everyone in the crowd knew they were fixated to kill the blinded Junkyard Dog and a guy runs out of the crowd, over the guard rail and is right at Junkyard Dog's shoulder and pulls out a handgun. He points it at the Freebirds and Junkyard Dog told me this story himself, and the fan says: "Don't worry Dog, I got him!" and he levels the gun at the Freebirds and Dog is now faced with a quandary. He has to figure out if he blows the angle, shows he can see and saves the Freebirds from getting mowed down by this guy with a handgun or whether he sits there and sells the angle by being blinded and does nothing and to the extent that Watts stressed upon was to uphold the credibility of pro-wrestling as legitimate at all times was as such that he was conflicted as to what he should do and just then security tackled the guy and the Freebirds were not shot and they drew thirty thousand people at the Superdome but that was the atmosphere that the fans over all took the heroes and villains at face value and guys like JYD, the Rock N Roll Express, "Hacksaw" Duggan and there pictures were in wrestling fans homes next to Jesus and conversely heels like Ted DiBiase when he turned on JYD in New Orleans had to be taken out of the arena in the trunk of Grizzly Smith's car to avoid a lynch mob. We used to be regularly walked out of the Lake Charles Civic Center by riot police with German Shepherd's to disperse the hundreds of people that were waiting to lynch us and we were followed down the Interstate, Dennis Condrey was attacked at a convenience store. If I was traveling along, I never got out of my car. I went to fast food drive thru and made sure I had some gas.
Short URL: http://winc.cc/xR9jcC
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