YouTube Finds: Joe LeDuc’s Blood Oath on Memphis Wrestling
On August 5, 1978, after getting his head split open by Jerry Lawler, “Lumberjack” Joe LeDuc (billed as “Jos LeDuc” in other areas) makes an oath (although it sounds more like “oak”) to get even in front of the thousands of fans watching promoter Jerry Jarrett’s live Saturday morning Memphis wrestling show.
A nervous Lance Russell, who has no idea why the bloodied, crazed wrestler is carrying an ax, stands by on the floor of the WMC-TV Studio on Union Ave. as LeDuc recounts how men in the lumber camps in Canada would traditionally remind themselves of unfinished business. (Mind you, these were the days before pocket organizers and the iPhone.)
When Joe LeDuc has an ax to grind…the result is television history.
Recalls Russell of the moment he was sure was going to get the Memphis wrestling promotion thrown off the air: “At the time, we trying to make the show a little less violent and a little more family-oriented and not feature a lot of blood. Well, LeDuc comes out one Saturday morning with a double-edged ax. Well, he takes that axe and cuts across his arm, and here comes the red stuff pouring down his arm. He cut his arm open right there on live TV! Fans wondered for years wondered, ‘Was it real?’ Hey, let me tell you, it was real, all right. I nearly had a heart attack–and I think Jerry Jarrett did have one later when he saw it. I tried to tell him after, ‘Joe, you can’t do that on television!’”
Russell’s sidekick Dave Brown and Jarrett remember a different side of LeDuc outside of the ring.
“Joe LeDuc was such a nice man, and for years after he stopped wrestling in Memphis, I’d get a little note from wherever he was traveling or wishing me Merry Christmas,” Brown says. “I always thought that was special for a man who was traveling like to remember the folks he worked with.”
Says Jarrett: “Joe was a very good wrestler who was a real tough guy. But what I remember most of all about him was that he was a prince of a fellow. When you go through the hundreds of people who you cross paths with professionally, only a few are really special, and Joe LeDuc was one of them.”
Just don’t call him crazy.
File under Joe LeDuc and Memphis Wrestling.