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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Dundee’

YouTube Finds: Bill Dundee’s tall tale about getting ‘gun-downed’ to size by ICW champion Randy “Macho Man” Savage

June 8th, 2011 2 comments

As I reported last week, at the peak of the Poffo/ICW vs. Jarrett/Lawler promotional “war” of 1979 to 1982, many of the Memphis crew were carrying handguns, just in case, on road trips around the territory’s loop should they encounter the seemingly crazed “Macho Man” Randy Savage–who reportedly lived his gimmick 24/7–or shooter Bob Roop on the road.

Even longtime announcers Lance Russell and Dave Brown were scared to death of the Macho Man after Randy confronted them outside the parking lot at Rupp Arena.

While the Memphis crew ignored the repeated shoot comments on ICW TV as mandated by Memphis promoter Jarrett–even when Savage cut a promo outside Lawler’s house–the Kentucky-based ICW boys would occasionally show up at Louisville and Lexington shows looking to stir up trouble before being promptly escorted out by security.

Eventually, it was only a matter of time before the ICW heavyweight champion of the world (who was arrested for shoplifting a steak from a supermarket during his reign) crossed paths with a top Jarrett star–in this case, Bill Dundee, the second-highest drawing card in the area behind Lawler in 1982.

Supposedly, the two exchanged words outside a diner with Dundee retreating to his car to grab a gun.Savage wrestled the gun away from Dundee and pistol-whipped him, breaking his jaw and putting the Superstar out of action for nearly six weeks. (Ironically, Dundee used to wear trunks with the words “Macho Man” on the backside in 1977-clearly false advertising.) More important, it gave the Jarrett group an embarrassing black eye as the Macho Man bragged loud and often about the incident on ICW TV.

When Dundee returned to Memphis TV in August 1982, he was forced to address the rumors, claiming that a 9-foot-behemoth had jumped him outside a gym. Nine feet?  Wow–that even rules out Andre the Giant.

I don’t believe Dundee and Savage ever worked the same Memphis card following the Macho Man’s truce with Lawler and Jarrett. Despite Dundee’s claims, Lawler acknowledged last week that Savage “kicked Dundee’s ass”. (In Dundee’s defense, perhaps Savage only seemed 9 feet tall–after all, the Macho Man was larger than life. Dig it! And Dundee? Well, he was only about 5’6″. But as Dundee often said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog that matters.” On this night anyway, Savage was the alpha male.

Three for the road: Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, Dutch Mantell pay tribute to Nashville Fairgrounds

January 19th, 2011 1 comment
The first of many cards featuring Lawler, Dundee and Mantell.

The first of many cards featuring Lawler, Dundee and Mantell.

I believe it was Nov. 8, 1976, when Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee and Dutch Mantell appeared on the same card together for a night of action at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis.

On that night in ’76, King Lawler was risking his crown against the NWA Southern title of Rocky Johnson, the father of young Dwayne Johnson, who would one day become the most electrifying superstar in sports entertainment. Also that evening, not too far removed from a hot run as a heel tandem with partner George Barnes, rising babyface star Dundee clashed with Gorgeous George Jr. in a lumberjack match (Joe LeDuc was unavailable apparently). Although newcomer Dutch Mantell was stuck in the opener against Mike Pappas, he would climb the cards quickly, teaming with partners like Lawler and David Schultz in Southern tag-title bouts in the months that followed before leaving the territory.

Mantell certainly has some fond memories of working in Memphis in winter ’76: “I didn’t like it all. Not one bit. I got there in the middle of a bad winter—seemed like it snowed every Wednesday. In those days, Tennessee was looked down upon in the wrestling business. You go to Florida and they say, ‘Oh, don’t go to Tennessee…they don’t really do wrestling there.’ I was thinking, ‘Well, it looks like the same stuff to me.’ They’d say that Tennessee had all these gimmick matches and such. But heck, to me, the Florida stuff and Tennessee stuff looked the same.”

Less than five years later, on June 1, 1981, Lawler, Dundee and Mantell were all in the ring together for perhaps the first time, teaming with the Dream Machine (the late Troy Graham) headlining a Coliseum card as they battled Jimmy Hart‘s evil First Family of the Nightmares, Kevin Sullivan and Wayne Ferris (cousin of the King and the future Honky Tonk Man). Babyfaces Lawler, Dundee and Mantell helped draw huge crowds all summer long on top against Hart’s henchmen.

About thirty years after that memorable summer, the King, the Superstar and the Dutchman will be in the ring together again for the last time (no, really….OK…maybe) for what’s being billed as a tribute show at the Nashville Fairgrounds on Saturday, January 29.

OK, OK, never mind that report I made in November about TNA promoting the last wrestling card at the Fairgrounds. Supposedly, some local celebrities are making a last-ditch effort to save the historic Fairgrounds from being torn down later this year, so I have no idea about its current status.

What I do know is that it’s rare to see Memphis legends Lawler, Dundee and Mantell together in the ring for what promises to be a hell of an entertaining bout. Mantell is the designated special ref–Dennis Stamp is not booked–but something tells me the Dirty Dutchman might have something diabolical planned for his two former rivals. Check out the mayhem in Music City on the 29th to find out.

Love this picture on the flyer below: With the exception of Adam West, nobody over the age of 60 can get away with wearing a cape quite like Jerry Lawler. And is it me, or is Dundee starting to resemble Kenny Rogers with plastic surgery? Amazingly enough, Dutch doesn’t appear to have aged a bit.

Christmas–Memphis Wrestling-style

December 17th, 2010 No comments

In the mid-’80s, a lot of traditional wrestling fans were outraged when Vince McMahon took the business into an unprecedented campy direction, with outrageous comedy skits, music videos with babyfaces and heels singing together, and his tongue-in-cheek commentary not only on his wrestling TV programs but also as the host of his “Tuesday Night Titans” (TNT) talk show, in which he attempted to be Johnny Carson to Lord Alfred Hayes’ Ed McMahon.

To Memphis wrestling fans, though this hokey stuff was nothing new. Case in point: Christmas morning 1976 fell on a Saturday, so the live weekly show from the WHBQ TV Channel 13 Studio (before Jerry Jarrett moved the program to WMC-TV 5 the following year) could not take place. Instead, the promotion decided to tape a Christmas-themed episode, providing a glimpse into the approach the McMahon machine would take eight years later.

Not only do we receive holiday greetings from Memphis legends Jackie Fargo and Tojo Yamamoto, but we also see that Christmas wishes do in fact come true, courtesy of Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee.  (During the Rocky Johnson segment, keep an eye out for a cameo by the little boy would become the Most Electrifying Superstar in Sports Entertainment History. If you smelllllllalala what I’m cookin’.)

A camp classic that only Memphis could pull off in the ’70s–funny stuff.