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Archive for December, 2009

12 days of Christmas Chaos: (Day Nine: The Man Who Would Be King)

December 20th, 2009 2 comments
Royal cover treatment

Royal cover treatment

The year was 1976. Fresh off a Texas Death Match win over Dory Funk Jr., Jerry Lawler challenged Terry Funk for the NWA World title on Oct. 18. Lawler seemingly won the title from Funk, but the decision was overturned with Terry declared the winner by disqualification. That didn’t stop Lawler from retreating to the dressing room with the World strap for a photo shoot with MEMPHIS MAGAZINE. (Given that Funk and Lawler were buddies, he probably had the champ’s blessing. Something tells me that Harley Race would not been so accommodating with the 10 pounds of gold.) A shot of Lawler wearing the NWA World title ended up gracing the magazine’s cover that same year as part of a piece on Memphis wrestling. In the weeks following the Oct. 18 bout, Lawler was billed as “NWA World title claimant.” The angle was eventually dropped.

I owned a copy of that rare magazine for years before it was lost when I moved to Los Angeles. Two years ago, I called the offices of MEMPHIS MAGAZINE asking if they could search their warehouse for any remaining copies. I explained that I wasn’t sure of the month, but was quite certain the year was 1976. A brief description–and hours later–several copies were placed up for sale as a back issue on their Web site. They have a few remaining, and at $5 apiece, that’s a steal for such a unique collector’s item. You can order it by clicking here.

12 days of Christmas Chaos (Day Eight: Stylin’ and Profilin’)

December 19th, 2009 1 comment
Sadly, I only held the NWA World title for about 5 minutes. (And you thought Tommy Rich's reign was short.)

Sadly, I only held the NWA World title for about 5 minutes. (And you thought Tommy Rich's reign was short.)

I’m almost hesitant to once again put over Dave Millican, as he’s already such a huge mark for himself. (Dave’s going to hit me with a chain next time I see him.) But the fact remains, if you want the best in wrestling belts, you get yourself a strap made by the Ace (Bob Orton Jr. should sue for gimmick infringement). This is not a cheap toy–Dave belts are for the big boys and the big girl (Madonna). His belts come at a price (most are over $1,000), but you get what you pay for when it comes to championship belts. My favorite: Dave makes an impressive, ring-quality replica of the famed Ten Pounds of Gold worn by Harley Race, Jack Brisco and Ric Flair (which I’m modeling in the photo). Check out Dave’s Web site for more details, including photos of his impressive ring-used collection (featuring some of the most famous straps of the last 25 years) as well as several examples of his amazing handiwork. Don’t tell him I sent you.

12 days of Christmas Chaos (Day Seven: That ’70s Show)

December 17th, 2009 No comments

Several months ago, I noticed an eBay seller offering reels of rare Memphis wrestling footage that had been disposed of by a TV station, including one marked “Jerry Lawler vs. Harley Race 1976.” I have to admit I was intrigued, thinking that it might have been the Southern title defense Lawler made against Race on July  26, 1976, at the Mid-South Coliseum–the night the King’s manager, Sam Bass, was later killed driving from Memphis to Nashville. Incidentally, I’ve always thought that it was ridiculous that this Memphis newspaper clipping mentions the news of Bass’s death…but reports Lawler’s successful Southern title defense first.

EvenWhen the promotion announced the death of Bass (a heel) to area fans at the arenas, they reportedly cheered and applauded. Now that's heat.

When the promotion announced the death of Bass to area fans, they reportedly cheered and applauded. Now that's heat.

Anyway, because I was skeptical of the quality of the footage after all these years and unsure if it could be successfully transfered to home video, I didn’t bid. I’ve sometimes wondered where that footage wound up.

All the heroes from my childhood in one spot.

All the heroes from my childhood in one spot.

Turns out it ended up in the hands of Rick Crane over at 70s-TV.com, a wonderful nostalgia site that for years has not only offered quite possibly the best quality footage of classic Memphis wrestling but also rare concerts (Fleetwood Mac, Bee Gees, etc.) and TV specials/guest appearances featuring Farrah Fawcett, Lynda Carter, Adrienne Barbeau, Cheryl Tiegs and just about every other woman who adorned my wall as a kid.

As Rick tells it on his site: “I purchased some almost unmarked film reels containing Memphis Wrestling matches. After having them repaired with the latest technology, I was amazed to see the picture and sound quality bursting with COLOR!! Footage that appeared to be from 1974 to 1976… obviously never seen since the original studio shows it was filmed for or possibly never used at all. I hope you enjoy these Extremely Rare 42 minutes of Memphis Wrestling History.

Match listing: 1. Jim & Terry Garvin vs. Tommy Gilbert & Bearcat Brown (Nashville, TN) 2. Jerry Lawler broken leg following Jackie Fargo match (Nashville, TN) 3. The Mongolian Stomper vs. Robert Fuller (Chattanooga, TN) 4. Tommy Rich & Tojo Yamamoto vs. Karl Von Steiger & Otto Von Heller(w/Sam Bass) (Chattanooga, TN) 5. Jerry Lawler (w/Sam Bass) vs. Harley Race(Southern Heavyweight Title Match)(Chattanooga, TN) 6. Lance Russell introduces Champions Bill Dundee & George Barnes for the very first time(MSC for Knoxville, TN) 7. Lance Russell backstage interview with Robert Fuller(MSC for Knoxville, TN) 8. Lance Russell backstage interview with Ron Fuller (MSC for Knoxville, TN) 9. Jackie & Roughouse Fargo vs. Chris Colt & Bill Dundee (MSC) 10. Jerry Lawler vs. The Mongolian Stomper (Southern Heavyweight Title Match) (MSC) 11. Lance Russell backstage interview with Bearcat Wright and Mongolian Stomper (MSC).” MSC= Mid-South Coliseum.

"Battle of the Network Stars" sold separately.

"Battle of the Network Stars" sold separately.

So while I was disappointed to learn that the Race/Lawler bout wasn’t the one on that fateful night in 1976, I am pleased that Rick obtained the footage because it looks amazing. Pick up this rare Memphis footage by clicking here. I also highly recommend his 4-disc collection of Lawler’s career (which includes uncensored tirades by Andy Kaufman [Late Night w/Letterman] and Terry Funk [empty arena], the one-hour special “Return of the King” hosted by Dave Brown the week Lawler came from his broken leg in December 1980, and nearly complete seasons of years of Jerry Jarrett TV, including 1980 and 1981 (Evansville TV feed). Incidentally, if anyone’s looking for the perfect gift for me, I’ll take the VICTORIA PRINCIPAL PICTURE DISC $7.95 (296 pictures of the “Dallas” star from private collections around the globe).