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Important wrestling history that's largely been ignored/forgotten/not written about nearly as much as it should be


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The Texas history stuff in the comments that don't warrant a thread...thread got me wondering about this.

 

The history of how wrestling evolved in Texas over the years is a pretty big deal, but because just about everything available on video is from after the splits, people think of Houston as being a St. Louis/Toronto-esque "one big city" promotion that favored certain offices at times as opposed to part of a full-time territory, whether it was Fritz's, Blanchard's, or Watts's. They don't realize that Boesch and Blanchard with his (San Antonio-centered cities that became the main part of the Southwest Championship Wrestling territory) had just been associate promoters/NWA associates booking wrestlers from Fritz. Same goes for how previously Houston was the home of the booking office that got usurped by Fritz, who was just part-owner of Dallas with Ed McLemore.

 

So...what else is relatively important but gets forgotten/goes unmentioned?

 

- Sort of related, but on the flip side, it's not always made clear that St. Louis wasn't a territory, just a town that booked all-star shows with some Kansas City guys on the undercard.

 

- The stories about the demise of the UWA in Mexico tends to gloss over that it lasted well into 1994 (and maybe even further) while working with AAA.

 

- Inoki's attempts at opposing the JWA are something that I don't remember hearing about until Dave Meltzer started writing about them semi-regularly over the last several years in history pieces.

 

- The Georgia satellite (pun not intended) circuit in Chattanooga would be completely forgotten if Cornette didn't constantly talk about it. This was a badly executed radical change to a major territory that completely bombed, but you don't hear much about it from anyone other than Cornette. Yeah, it was short-lived, but still...

 

- Similarly, with all the talk about Crockett's issues and the wrestlers' morale in '87, until Cornette mentioned it in his MX book, I had no idea that thanks to the increased number of TV tapings under the Crockett banner led to more shows being paid as TV ($25 or $50) instead of as house shows (paid out of an allotted percentage of the gate scaled to the match's positioning).

 

- Georgia and Southwest working together and sharing talent in '83. Since this is when Southwest was on USA, they had to be attempting to monopolize cable for a potential expansion. This is as Vince was moving the pieces into place for his expansion (beyond the Northeast and California, which nobody minded him moving into), but I never hear anyone talk about it. Also, nobody ever really talks about Southwest trying to use the USA slot to run shows outside Texas in addition to getting local TV in Dallas to run local shows against WCCW.

 

Whaddya got?

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- Inoki's attempts at opposing the JWA are something that I don't remember hearing about until Dave Meltzer started writing about them semi-regularly over the last several years in history pieces.

I haven't read them in a lot time, but would suspect they got some mention in the 1996 G1 issue and even more likely in the Inoki "retirement" issue if Dave did a bio (seem to recall that he did).

 

I think some of the more recent play was due to people other than Inoki who were involved in it either dying in the past few years or making the HOF.

 

It would make for interesting history of someone from Japan wrote it up in detail, as I don't know if Dave has ever really detailed it well. There was the Tokyo-Pro Wrestling with Inoki opposition, which sort of morphed/co-promoted with IWE. That died a quick death in 1967 and Inoki smarted up to run back home to JWA. IWE then re-opened, sort of felt their way around in 1968 before settling down into a long term promotion.

 

John

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-- I'm never clear if people agree or disagree that the decline in the oil economy is what killed Mid South. I know that is what Watts says, but I don't know if that's considered carny promoter talk or what. Dave reports it, but I don't know his opinion. Are there things that happened from a booking perspective when Watts was in control that are generally considered big mistakes that hurt them?

 

-- There have been so many alternating stories floating around that I still don't know WHY the WWF decided to break up the Rockers. Revisionist history would suggest to give Shawn a singles push, but I've heard contradicting stories about everything from fights over WWF cereal rights to Michaels telling the front office Jannetty was going to WCW when he wasn't, to Shawn threatening to leave and go to Memphis so he could prove to the WWF that he could carry a territory as the top heel. What's true? What isn't?

 

-- The Rick McGraw death story should be a bigger deal than it is. He dies, and the WWF airs him doing a stretcher job on TV a few days later anyway. Some blame the WWF, some say the taping schedule at the time would have made it impossible to edit, but either way, it's worth talking about more.

 

Those are a few.

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- According to people who researched the subject, in cities in the Watts territory where there were major sports franchises, attendance wasn't going doing and in many cases went up. But no, there's no consensus.

 

- I have never heard the cereal story before but in the WWF cookies available around that time, The Rockers were the only tag team and they were a single cookie, not separate Shawn and Marty cookies. Maybe between that and and other stuff like shirts, one was sick of getting half the share of merchandise money that singles wrestlers at the same level were getting but the other thought he would get lost in the shuffle as a singles?

 

- I'm pretty sure that they were still sending out the syndicated shows on tape back then, and who knows how far in advance they were sent out. The match was set to air one or two days (depending on the market) after he died. I would think they sent a weekend syndicated show tape before Friday, and I'm not even sure he was found the day he died. The real issue is that they should have explained it had nothing to do with the Piper match when discussing his death on TV. I'm not sure if they did or not, but they should have.

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Wrestling in the city of Knoxville was a total mixed bag from 1980-85 after being a wrestling stronghold for years with John Cazana & Ron Fuller running it for years then the All-Star split with ICW talent which featured a big war that ended up with both promotions going out of business and Jim Barnett having to pick up the town for a few months then Crockett picking it up. Crockett then ran with his regular crew until late Spring 1981 where he sold out to Flair & Mulligan who ran it until SCW went under. Knoxville then became GCW again but it wasn't run regularly for almost 4 years when Ron Fuller decided to come back to town with Continental.

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Wrestling in the city of Knoxville was a total mixed bag from 1980-85 after being a wrestling stronghold for years with John Cazana & Ron Fuller running it for years then the All-Star split with ICW talent which featured a big war that ended up with both promotions going out of business and Jim Barnett having to pick up the town for a few months then Crockett picking it up. Crockett then ran with his regular crew until late Spring 1981 where he sold out to Flair & Mulligan who ran it until SCW went under. Knoxville then became GCW again but it wasn't run regularly for almost 4 years when Ron Fuller decided to come back to town with Continental.

I was actually gonna mention that and then totally forgot.

 

I thought Fuller picked Knoxville back up not long after Flair and Mulligan pulled out. What towns did SECW cover from '80-'84?

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They stayed in Alabama/Panhandle of Florida. The area which was the old SECW circuit was pretty much dead after ICW died until Continental came back in.

That one tape with so much Troy T. Tyler stuff was recorded off a station in Hazard, KY. Wasn't that a Knoxville loop town? It's a lot closer to there than Birmingham.
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This might not be very improtant but after watching a episode of Pro Wrestling This week, I got some questions:

 

- The Tracy Smothers vs Wrestling bear match from Continental wrestling was shown. Did anyone ever die from these types of matches? I remember reading in Bret's book about the bear living underneath the Hart house. It just shocks me that this type of match existed and when did they stop doing them?

 

- When did WWF stop sending footage for the PWTW? I was surprised WWF let them air footage even into 88 while NWA didn't?

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- I've been reading a lot of back Observers from the last 80's- early 90's and I'm just wondering, When did the Dave Meltzer/Wade Keller friendship go south? Dave used to always plug Wade's newsletter and writing. Did anything happen or was it a result of the Monday Night wars and the Torch getting popular?

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From my understanding, it was in 2001. Bischoff had Dave's ear in a big way. Wade reported (correctly) that the Fusient sale was in danger. Dave posted something to the effect of saying he had no idea what to say about Wade's reporting, other than it wasn't true. It continued with little snide comments throughout the years, like Dave saying the WON and Torch are the New York Times and USA Today, and in his review of Bischoff's book, saying he was frustrated that Bischoff implied that he and Wade did the same things. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but that's part of it.

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There was also the Trans World Wrestling promotion...that was Inoki too, right? I always forget the specifics of which was when and how Frank Tunney and Eddie Quinn were involved.

I think Trans World is just what they called the World Title, a fake governing body similar to Baba's PWF. That was Lou and Hodge in IWE, and the belt quickly died. IWE went on without them and had a slew of titles before narrowing down into the World Title and the Tag Title.

 

Inoki's was Tokyo-Sports, which sorta also was IWE. Inoki's crapped out quickly, collapsed, and IWE rebooted the following year with that series that had Lou and Hodge.

 

I'd love to read a detailed history of it by someone who knows it. I've seen the results through 1972 or 1973, and it's interesting how it evolved. Kobayashi evolving into the Ace, but Kimura at the same time having his Cage Match gimmick at the top of the cards as well. The results don't quite read like the promotion that they started out with in 1968 intended to be where they were in 1971, but they ended up there anyway. A pretty strong contrast to say NJPW or AJPW, who in 1975 were pretty much on the path they were leading out of 1972, with minor adjustments (such as Sak ending up in NJPW).

 

John

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- I've been reading a lot of back Observers from the last 80's- early 90's and I'm just wondering, When did the Dave Meltzer/Wade Keller friendship go south? Dave used to always plug Wade's newsletter and writing. Did anything happen or was it a result of the Monday Night wars and the Torch getting popular?

It never really went south.

 

Dave plugged everything in the 80s and early 90s. Then as the "Readers Page", especially the shilling section of it, died over a few years, Dave didn't really plug anything. Other people had issues with that (take some guesses), but Wade never really did.

 

As Wade has said a dozen times, including in a thread on his board in the past month or so, Wade just set out on his own path at a certain point. You cover the same stuff, and you talk to Dave all the time, and your eventually reporting "Dave". I'm sure folks who've read the Figure 4 a lot of years, especially before Bryan developed his own sources in the business (I assume he did), people who read both probably could pick out the "Dave" in the Figure 4.

 

Wade wanted to have the Torch stand on it's own. It wasn't a feud, just that if you're going to Newsweek opposite of Time, you probably don't want to be comparing notes on every piece you both run.

 

Wade has often pointed to (and I'm sure Dave would if you cornered him) that Bruce is something of a filter between the two. Bruce talks to Dave all the time, pretty much daily if they have the time. Bruce talks to Wade all the time, again daily. Wade and Dave can get a sense of what the other one has on a story through Bruce, if they cared to know. I think for the most part they don't seek it out.

 

When I first started dealing with Wade in 1995, he already was in the early part of going his own way. I'd been dealing with Dave for a few years by that point. The time I was with them together (Bash at the Beach weekend), they got along very well, and I think to this day they'd have the same thing to say about that PPV: the waves were better than the show.

 

The WCW/Fusient thing didn't change anything. They had different sources. Wade stood by his version of what was happening, even if Dave was reporting some different things. Wade ended up being the more correct in covering it. Wade is correctly proud of his coverage of it. I think looking back we were lucky to not only have two people covering it, and that Wade had made that decision more than a half decade early to build his own coverage rather than have the Torch be "Dave Jr. + Columnists". Someone who read the Fig-4 through that period could highlight whether Bryan's news on that story was along the lines of what Dave was reporting, or if he had anything different.

 

John

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Something else that doesn't get talked about nearly enough is how Verne invaded LA in like 1969 trying to take out Mike LeBell. Yohe & Jeff Walton have talked about it in the past and how Verne came in with guns blazing only to get his ass kicked by LeBell who brought in the NWA big guns. It's definitely funny considering what happened to Verne 15 years later.

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I'm thinking about wrestlers and how they were held in a certain regard at a certain time, but because they never hit the level expected, that's been forgotten.

 

Examples:

 

* Buddy Landell was being set up for an NWA World title run

* Terry Taylor was a hardcore darling in 1987-1988, considered the next Flair in some ways

* Randy Savage was blacklisted for years, despite having tremendous superstar potential

* Reckless Youth being all the rage in the late 90s

* Chris Jericho being offered the gimmick of The Goon that ended up going to Bill Irwin (The recent WON mention of this in Jericho's HOF bio is the first time I've heard this brought up in years)

 

I'm sure there are lots of others I'm forgetting.

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