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My articles about startup promotions on Cageside Seats


Bix
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A couple weeks ago, I decided that a fun topic for history pieces on Cageside Seats would be startup promotions. I started with the WXO because well, it's the easiest.

 

I decided to do the GWF next, but I realized that it's a much less complete story without discussing the end of World Class and the early USWA, so I decided to do a [much longer] piece about that first.

 

Please let me know what you think and which promotion you'd like to see next after Global.

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Great article on WCCW/USWA relationship Bix. But I would love to know more about Embry's booking as I heard he did some crazy shit. I got some of that stuff on Tape but need more of it.

 

As for other promotions you should do, One should be WOW(Women of Wrestling) I admit, I have a soft spot in my heart for that promotion. I even bought the ppv. Also that promotion from 1995 that did the British Round system with the guy from Roller Jam doing commentary with Terry Taylor. I forgot the name of it.

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Bix that was a great read. As someone who has childhood memories of all of that unfolding it really fills in the gaps in my memory on specifics and also gives me some kayfabe busting background on certain things that I was viewing through the prism of ESPN afternoons, oddball syndication and the Apter Mags. I especially appreciate how you focused some on the better feuds and angles that were going on at the time.

 

A few questions:

 

You said 3,000 people were in the Sportotorium for the final WCCW show with Hickerson v. Embry. I know that is the generally accepted capacity of the venue (though I've heard Bill Irwin and Marc Lowrance claim figures as high as 4300), but from memory I don't recall it being a packed house - certainly not packed to the same degree of what you would see during the height of WCCW. Is that an official figure, conjecture, hyperbolic device, guess work? Just curious.

 

Also on the scale of attendance, you mention that the company wasn't doing good business because of the failure of live shows and the ticket prices. But you also said business was surprisingly strong at times. I know some of the shows were notoriously cheap dates, but I'm curious as to if you have any attendance figures, what towns they were running regularly on the Texas circuit, and what the best feuds for business were. By comparison were they a hotter "territory" than Memphis at the time? Were they hotter than SMW would be a few years later? I really have little recollection of any of this.

 

Somewhat unrelated, but how much of this is widely circulated in tape trader communities? I remember the Adams/Austin feud being an Apter Mag favorite, and seeing some of it at the time, but I don't remember ever seeing any of that heavily pimped via the trader network. As someone who didn't start reading the sheets until 94ish, there is a gap of time from the end of the the territories to the rise of ECW where I'm sort of at a loss as to what non-big two U.S. matches were being heavily touted within that community. Can you fill in the blanks on that?

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Great article on WCCW/USWA relationship Bix. But I would love to know more about Embry's booking as I heard he did some crazy shit. I got some of that stuff on Tape but need more of it.

 

As for other promotions you should do, One should be WOW(Women of Wrestling) I admit, I have a soft spot in my heart for that promotion. I even bought the ppv. Also that promotion from 1995 that did the British Round system with the guy from Roller Jam doing commentary with Terry Taylor. I forgot the name of it.

Believe that was the AWF. If memory serves Virgil was a ref for them at one point and Tito was their most heavily pushed star.

 

I'd be interested to see Bix take on Einhorn's IWA, but that might be a tall order.

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Somewhat unrelated, but how much of this is widely circulated in tape trader communities? I remember the Adams/Austin feud being an Apter Mag favorite, and seeing some of it at the time, but I don't remember ever seeing any of that heavily pimped via the trader network. As someone who didn't start reading the sheets until 94ish, there is a gap of time from the end of the the territories to the rise of ECW where I'm sort of at a loss as to what non-big two U.S. matches were being heavily touted within that community. Can you fill in the blanks on that?

I don't know about the Adams/Austin feud but years ago I bought a 2 VHS comp of the whole Embry/Akbar feud that starts with Embry as a heel feuding with Kendall Windham and Steve Casey all the way to USWA Texas. So the footage is out there. As for matches, Embry had some good ones with Gary Young and Cactus Jack but 99% of the time, they ended in a run in. I mean worse than Russo booked finishes. And the Texas vs Tennesee multi man tag match with Jarrett/The Samoans and Eddie Marlin vs Embry/Steve Cox/Michael Hayes and Frank Dusek is a awesome match just for the Samoans turning on the USWA team.

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Thanks for all the feedback!

 

You said 3,000 people were in the Sportotorium for the final WCCW show with Hickerson v. Embry. I know that is the generally accepted capacity of the venue (though I've heard Bill Irwin and Marc Lowrance claim figures as high as 4300), but from memory I don't recall it being a packed house - certainly not packed to the same degree of what you would see during the height of WCCW. Is that an official figure, conjecture, hyperbolic device, guess work? Just curious.

Observer covering the show has it as sold out w/ 3,000 fans. From the TV footage, it definitely looks more packed than it had been in awhile.

 

Also on the scale of attendance, you mention that the company wasn't doing good business because of the failure of live shows and the ticket prices. But you also said business was surprisingly strong at times. I know some of the shows were notoriously cheap dates, but I'm curious as to if you have any attendance figures, what towns they were running regularly on the Texas circuit, and what the best feuds for business were. By comparison were they a hotter "territory" than Memphis at the time? Were they hotter than SMW would be a few years later? I really have little recollection of any of this.

I should have clarified a little better here.

 

The tickets were cheap and the only shows promoted by Jarrett were Friday nights with cheap tickets and the free Saturday morning shows. Chris Adams promoted the spot shows on his own and there weren't a lot of them. The Friday shows, as best as I can interpret from the Observers, were not drawing well until the Chris/Toni-Austin/Jeannie feud popped the territory in the Summer, but due to low ticket prices, a healthy crowd still meant a relatively low gate.

 

Somewhat unrelated, but how much of this is widely circulated in tape trader communities? I remember the Adams/Austin feud being an Apter Mag favorite, and seeing some of it at the time, but I don't remember ever seeing any of that heavily pimped via the trader network. As someone who didn't start reading the sheets until 94ish, there is a gap of time from the end of the the territories to the rise of ECW where I'm sort of at a loss as to what non-big two U.S. matches were being heavily touted within that community. Can you fill in the blanks on that?

Adams/Toni-Austin/Jeannie was #3 in the WON feud of the year voting, plus USWA Challenge was #5 and USWA Championship Wrestling (WMC) was #6 in best TV show voting. The shows could be uneven at times, but there was plenty of good stuff and the teacher and wife vs student and teacher's ex-wife feud was always fun. They didn't really have an on-air excuse for the shows suddenly moving out of Dallas with half the roster replace and the hottest program gone.

 

As far as tapes & DVDs, there're some circulating. Most commongly, the first 13 episodes of USWA Challenge are circulating from ESPN Canada airings (if more aired, they're not floating around), the 52 disc "Ultimate WCCW set" has a bunch of late WCCW mixed in it, and the Savoldi Classic Superstars of Wrestling/Slams & Jams/etc shows and DVDs are all full of stuff from this period, including a Jarrett DVD that's very good.

 

Also:

- romdam at Crazy Max has a lot, and I should try to work out a trade with him when I have a fully functional duplicator again.

- I'm converting all of my USWA Challenge shows. Years ago, a trader was selling tapes from his collection, mostly early '90s TV taped off a C-Band dish, for $2 each. I got some (wish I got more), including a bunch of '89-'90 (mostly '90, including the all 5 Unified Title tournament) USWA Challenge shows re-aired as Legends of USWA on Channel America in '92-'93.

- There's a 3 disc set of early '91 stuff in great quality floating around.

- When I first started trading, I did a trade with John McAdam, that included me getting his Steve Austin: The Early Years Vol. 3. Last week, I converted my copy and TuCold sent me the DVDs of Vols. 1 & 2 he did without asking for anything in return. Nice set that includes plenty of KTVT footage, mostly in very nice quality.

- I have a KTVT tape from earlier in '89 that I should try converting to DVD again now that I have better VCRs, as it had a lot of drop-outs when I did it before.

- Most of the 1990 Evansville version of Championship Wrestling (featuring the mixed Michael St. John shows for months) is available in excellent quality.

- There's little to no other KTVT footage floating around, and no USWA Main Event footage. McAdam obviously has more KTVT tapes but he's AWOL again. I have never seen USWA Main Event on anyone's tape list, ever (I've seen its replacement, GWF Main Event, but that probably got re-aired in an ESPN slot). I know Wild West wasn't on in a lot of markets, but there are tapes out there from the original airings (what I have includes the WCCW B-Show era and looks like it was taped off a C-Band dish when it was fed out to affiliates) and yet nothing from its replacement, though, in fairness, Wild West was a non-entity at the time of the switch due to the lack of specific tapings for it (Mantell only ran a few over several months) so maybe most people just forgot about it and never looked back. It sounds like an interesting show, and I never even heard of it before reading the (oddly excellent) WCCW article on Wikipedia.

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Very interesting article Bix. As a sidenote how does the 'merger' between WCCW and Savoldi's ICW which was renamed IWCCW tie into all this? I am sure Kevin Von Erich appeared on their TV once and they used the old World Class theme music and logo but I don't think they ever ran Texas? In fact they just seemed to air repeats of the same Tony Atlas vs Vic Steamboat match all the time...

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That'll be discussed more in-depth in the GWF article (since I'm using the introduction of Olu Oliami in late 1990 as the cutoff point between the two), but to answer the querstion:

 

It was just a deal for the name and theme song, so Kevin could get a little money and keep the name alive. They never ran Texas and never used any Texas talent other then Kevin Von Erich's one match.

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The Snowman was the last in the line of title continuity problems before Jarrett pulled out of Dallas. He was a journeyman jacked up black dude who had been one of Bill Watts' failed mid-'80s projects who had worked for Jarrett in Memphis a few times. In 1990, he was working outlaw shows and going around black neighborhoods in Memphis about how the USWA wouldn't hire him because he was black, and Jarrett decided to use it for a shoot angle that would turn Lawler back face. Snowman interrupted a WMC taping, aired his complaints, and got a match with Lawler. They had a program that included special ref Leon Spinks turning heel to help him, Norvell Austin's brother coming on TV to go over the plight of black wrestlers, and Snowman winning the Unified Title (which, of course, didn't unify anything for more than 2 weeks due to the AWA split, was still called that for the next 8.5 years). Not long into his title reign, Snowman quit and took the new Unified belt with him. Snowman hadn't been announced as champion on any of the Dallas-based shows, the same treatment that befell former champions King Cobra, Master of Pain, Soultaker, and Jimmy Valiant.

 

On the TV shows in and around Memphis, Eddie Marlin told the truth and even speculated that Snowman may have pawned the belt to buy crack!

 

On the nationally syndicated show, Snowman (suddenly champion after not being what had been Dallas-based TV) was injured and unable to defend the title within thirty days.

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