PTBN’s Excellent WWE Network Adventure: Mid South Wrestling 5/26/1984

As many of you are aware, WWE Network is pretty packed with all sorts of content. And as you may also know, we here at Place to Be Nation love long term, in depth projects. So, as part of this initiative, members of the PTBN Staff are choosing programs that coincide with this week in history and after watching each program, they will share their thoughts, notes and recommendations with our readers. So, settle in and enjoy this epic ride through wrestling history!

Show: Mid South Wrestling 5/26/1984

Best Segment:

Dave Hall:  The highlights of Magnum TA winning the North American Title stood out as the best moment on the show. The commentary highlighted how important this moment was, reminding everyone of the history between Magnum and Mr Wrestling, and putting over how significant it was that Magnum had finally captured the title. I never really saw Magnum in action down here in Australia, so this was a good moment for me, to see how smooth he was in the ring and how much charisma he had. Can clearly see why everyone holds him in such high regards

Calum McDougall: I like Jim Cornette’s interview after the tag title match. He was excellent in talking his way around the controversy (even though there shouldn’t even be controversy since it was No DQ) and it shows why Cornette is so highly regarded as a manager. The video issues didn’t bother me because at least we can still see this stuff in 2019. I’ve had never seen any Mid-South before this so that I can see any of it at a few clicks of a button on my phone is worth a small bit of video interference.

Jacob Williams: The early video package did such a great job of telling the story of Mr. Wrestling and Magnum TA’s feud. The voiceover was maybe a tad overbearing at times and could have let the wrestling breathe a bit, but it immediately orients you with the simple, effective story they were telling, and put over Magnum as a rising star.

Brian Bayless: The highlights of Magnum TA defeating Mr. Wrestling to win the North American Heavyweight Title were great. This was an amazing feud and had a ton of heat from the crowd pelting Mr. Wrestling with trash to erupting after Magnum TA foiled Mr. Wrestling’s plan by having Mr. Wrestling II (Hercules Hernandez under a mask) come out to interfere. I would love to see this entire match and if the WWE did acquire it in purchasing the Mid-South library it would make for a good hidden gem on the WWE Network.

Steve Riddle: I will go with the recap of Magnum TA winning the North American Title from Mr. Wrestling. The match had been built up really well with Mr. Wrestling taking Magnum under his wing and eventually turning on him, and this was a huge win for Magnum who was clearly being positioned as one of the new top faces of the company.

Chad Campbell: Magnum TA winning the North American Title was a big moment that was the first step to launching what should have been a HOF career. Mr. Wrestling was a good foil and unique character and the clips of the match from Tulsa that we saw looked good. I like how they transition the feud from Magnum vs Mr. Wrestling to Mr. Wrestling II by the end of the show.

Best Match:

Dave Hall: The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express vs The Midnight Express. There was only one choice on this show. Apart from really being the only match on the show, this was a good match anyway, with a unique finish. I like that both teams used the “No DQ” rule to their advantage, especially seeing Ricky Morton throwing someone over the top rope. Cornette’s interference was well-timed, and the out of the ring spot that “busted” Bobby Eaton open was very good. I loved how Cornette clearly showed everyone what he was doing with the rag, and then entered the ring to put Gibson out of action.  The only issue I had with the match is trying to work out why the ref was not in the ring at that moment

Calum McDougall: With only one real match on the show it would have to be the Midnight Express vs. Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. It was a good match and you could tell that these two teams had great chemistry and could have even better matches given more time than what you could have on TV. It was a decent enough match even though it had a finish that El Gigante would be proud of with a rag of “medical substance”.

Jacob Williams: Well, we didn’t have to work hard to get to this pick. Despite not showing everything they had in this fairly quick TV match, the Midnight Express vs. Rock ‘N’ Roll Express match was still high energy and had enough to illustrate why this feud is so famous. I loved how they worked this frenetic pace while still selling and building heat. The ether didn’t come off as overly goofy to me, and it put the heat on the heels until the next episode.

Brian Bayless: Easy choice this week with the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express vs. Midnight Express in a match for the Tag Team Titles and $50,000 and the other match on the show being a quick squash match. Good match that saw the Midnights cheat to win back the Tag Team Titles as Cornette used the ether rag on Robert Gibson. Both teams had tremendous chemistry together and the RnR’s were insanely over with the fans to give this match a ton of heat. Their feud was also a blast to watch and one of the best tag team feuds of the entire decade.

Steve Riddle: With a limited list this week, it is a pretty easy choice and that is the battle of the Expresses for the Mid-South Tag Titles and $50,000. This was one of the best feuds of the 1980s and this was a good showcase for the two teams even though we didn’t see the whole thing due to being on TV with commercials. Having really only seen a lot of the Eaton/Lane version of the Midnight Express, this was a good chance to see Eaton and Condrey at their peak and they had really good chemistry together. Coupled that with the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express really hitting their stride as well, and you have yourself a solid no-DQ match and Cornette makes the difference as he helps his boys regain the titles and keep the money.

Chad Campbell: Slam dunk pick this time with only two matches and Landel vs. Ragin lasting about 20 seconds. This edition of the Midnight Express vs. RNR Express was a good sampler for someone that had never seen those teams mix it up before. The match only lasted around 10 minutes and had a great mixtures of RNR shine, Midnight domination with Morton as FIP and Cornette being an integral part of the overall proceedings. The finish feels a bit hokey now but was more unique and groundbreaking on TV in 1984.

Most Cringeworthy Moment:

Dave Hall: Sonny King’s interview. I really struggled with this interview. Apart from the fact that when he first appeared I thought it was Virgil, King made the whole interview about race. He was talking about Butch Reed’s attack on Junkyard Dog, which could have been put over as angry his friend was attacked, not good that such a popular competitor was attacked, but instead Sonny King focused on the fact that they are both black wrestlers and it was all about the impact of black men fighting each other. I really struggled with this interview

Calum McDougall: I felt uncomfortable watching the whole angle with JYD, Butch Reed and Buddy Landell and it’s not so subtle racial overtones. It was 35 years ago and not everything can age well but my god that was bad!

Jacob Williams: Watching JYD get tarred and feathered definitely made me wince a bit, especially given some of Watts’s past comments on race.

Brian Bayless: The racial overtones of the Sonny King interview and Butch Reed vs. JYD feud certainly do not hold up today and even considering the era was in really poor taste. And King’s promo itself was all over the place.

Steve Riddle: In today’s edition of “Stuff you would never see on TV in 2019”, we have the segment where Butch Reed and Buddy Landel tar and feather the Junkyard Dog. Now it worked back in 1984 and would lead to a pretty hot feud, but it was pretty uncomfortable watching it and JYD covered in feathers was a pretty bizarre sight. I will say though I don’t know which was worse, that segment or Sonny King trying to piece a promo together because he was terrible.

Chad Campbell: The tar and feather angle setup was one that Memphis liked to go to from time to time but it ages extremely poorly and brings back unneeded visions of huge racial discrimination divides in the South in the 1960s. Overall, race in this episode is something to ponder given Watts’ track record from a historical standpoint. There were plenty of African American talents showcased but most had one unfortunate stereotype or misstep, such as Ragin loving to dance.

Funniest Line/Moment: 

Dave Hall: Once again we have Jim Cornette saving this award with his interview after the Midnight Express won. Jim Ross’ insistence to say that Cornette cheated when the match was a “No DQ” match annoyed me, and it looks like it annoyed Cornette as well. His line “We’d have a nice conversation if you stopped interrupting me” made me laugh out loud, and then his explanation that he “always carries a complete first aid kit at ringside” was hilarious. Thank you once again Jim Cornette

Calum McDougall: I had a chuckle when Watts said that the cameras would keep rolling during a commercial break and that we would get a video tape replay if anything happened. Very strange to hear this as a selling point when its just expected in 2019, but this would’ve been a big deal in ’84 and it gave me a laugh because of it.

Jacob Williams: Since there wasn’t much humor in the actual show, I’ll pick any time I could see the hyped up guy in the crowd sporting a full body confederate flag shirt and mask (maybe for Mr. Wrestling?) as my funniest moment.

Brian Bayless: Cornette was amusing at times in the post-match interview with Ross but Mid-South was not a promotion known for its comedy.

Steve Riddle: There wasn’t much in terms of this category, but I guess I will go with Buddy Landel getting no entrance while his opponent does and then he loses by intentional DQ in less than a minute.

Chad Campbell: Mid-South was known as a serious wrestling program and that is displayed in this episode with Watts and Boyd Pierce calling the action straight as an arrow. The only comic relief came from some one liners Cornette fired off against Jim Ross after the Midnights won the tag titles.

Highlights:

Dave Hall: The highlights are what has already been spoken of: The Midnights vs. the Rock “N” Rolls and the title win by Magnum TA really held this show together, along with the post-match interview with Jim Cornette.  They also did a good job of pushing the Junkyard Dog vs Butch Reed feud. I was impressed with what I saw of Butch Reed, which was better than anything I saw of him in WWF/E.

Calum McDougall: I loved Boyd Pierce’s matching jacket and tie, it was a powerful statement outfit. In a time where you have to suffer sit through three hours of Raw every week, it was refreshing to watch a crisp and concise 40 minute program, and one with a pretty good match and title change to boot.

Jacob Williams: For what its worth, I did at least appreciate the intensity from everyone involved in the tar and feather segment. JYD stayed cool after the attack, and Butch Reed was on fire as a heel. Bill Watts does a great job of putting over the angles and stories on commentary. The interviewers were great too, always putting across how despicable the heels are to build heat. I liked Sonny’s involvement coming out to save Ragin. His shoutouts to my home state of Louisiana also earned him a few bonus points. Cornette proves here that he clearly had “it” from an early age, in both his work during and after the match.

Brian Bayless: Boyd Pierce’s suits are always a highlight on any Mid-South show. The North American Heavyweight Title switch had a great finish and its always great to see a crowd react that well to a win. Plus, they kept the feud hot by announcing Magnum vs. Mr. Wrestling II for next week. The Tag Team Title match was superb with a strong interview afterwards with Eaton’s head all bandaged up when he was busted open after getting rammed into the post. And I liked how later on in the show they had Watts tell us that despite what happened, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express are going to be at the Superdome show to seek revenge. And Despite the racial overtones, the tar-and-feather segment did feature great character work by Reed and JYD.

Steve Riddle: It is always funny when they have an actual check available whenever money is involved; Bill Watts was a pretty solid commentator in the 1980s; Huge moment when Magnum TA won the North American Title from his mentor Mr. Wrestling; As cringy as it was, that was a unique moment seeing Butch Reed and Buddy Landel tar and feather JYD; Jim Cornette will always be one of the greatest talkers and managers in history; It is weird seeing young Jim Ross after seeing him so long throughout the last two decades; In terms of tag wrestling, it will never get better than the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express and Midnight Express; Funny they had to bandage Bobby Eaton up quickly since he had to be back out after the match for an interview; As bad as his promo was, they made Sonny King look strong by fighting off Reed and Landel; Good promo by Mr. Wrestling II setting up the match between him and Magnum TA next week

Chad Campbell: Boyd Pierce’s jacket is always a highlight. Butch Reed was the most effective heel we saw in the program besides the Midnight Express and he was a main event presence within Mid-South. I enjoyed seeing them use footage from the Memphis television program. We are around two months out from Black Saturday and it was imperative that the territories teamed up to combat the expansion of the WWF. The Landel/Sonny King/Butch Reed brawl was effective and showcased Sonny King in an effective manner.

Lowlights:

Dave Hall: The Buddy Landell squash match was very poor, with his opponent screwing up moves and looking very bad in the ring. Sonny King’s interview was horrible, as was his involvement “making the save” during the Buddy Landell match

Calum McDougall: I did not like Bill Watts’ commentary. I understand it was a straight-laced product but I found his commentary very dry. The dreaded over-the-top rope DQ rears its ugly head here in a pointless match and makes Landell look like a mug – he gets the jobber entrance, gets DQ’d albeit intentionally then can’t take advantage of a 2-on-1 attack.

Jacob Williams: Though I generally like Watts’s commentary, he did annoy me a bit with how much he would repeat certain points. After 300 times, we get that going over the top rope can be a DQ. I wished we could have gotten a little more wrestling on the show.

Brian Bayless: Pierce might have had a colorful wardrobe but he was practically non-existent on commentary. And Watts was overbearing as usual. The Buddy Landel squash to set up King coming out for the save probably did not need to take place. They could have set this up during King’s interview.

Steve Riddle:  I know it was the 80s and we were still in the territory days, but the ring used during the Magnum/Mr. Wrestling match looks so bush league; Sonny King promo; You know it’s the 80s when there are issues with the video feed; Buddy Landel gets himself DQ’d in a jobber squash.

Chad Campbell: Ragin vs. Landel was a waste of a match as it was used as a setup to the angle that was going to follow. The finish of the Midnights vs RNR Express match could have seemed flat in 2019 eyes.

Wild Card Baby!

Dave Hall: It’s My Show, so I’ll do the talking:  Bill Watts… At the start of the program we are informed that Bill Watts is the special guest commentator for this week’s episode. We are then subjected to Bill Watts essentially doing all the play-by-play, the analysis, the crossing to the interviews and the reviews of major angles. For a guest commentator, he sure didn’t let the main play-by-play guy do much. The way he went, I was surprised he didn’t get up and conduct the interview with Jim Cornette either. I know you are the owner and booker Bill, but this was overkill.

Calum McDougall: That Sinking Feeling When… You see the warning of “Suggestive Language” and you know that Bill Watts, a man known for making racist comment or two in his time is coming up, that’s a cause for concern.

Jacob Williams: Best Promo: Corny’s post match interview, where he gives an absurd explanation for why he had an ether soaked rag, was gold.

Brian Bayless: Best Tidbits: The WWE Network version of this show cut out an ad for the “Super Date at the Super Dome” show voiced over by Jim Ross that shows the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express in various poses while “Jump” from Van Halen plays. Ross puts over how you can win a date with the team and you can be eligible as long as you are an “unmarried” female that is 18 years old or older and have to send in a photo and in 25 words or less say why you want to go on the date as the address to send this flashes on the screen. Understandable that it was cut due to the music but this was truly amazing to see.

Steve Riddle: Creative Cheater of 1984: Jim Cornette using a rag to smother Robert Gibson and hide it from the ref even though the match was no-DQ.

Chad Campbell: Underrated Worker: I would expect given their WCW appearances that the Lane/Eaton Midnight version is the one that most casual fans are familiar with. I think from an overall package, the Condrey/Eaton pairing may be more effective based on their Mid-South, Memphis and World Class footage that is available. Loverboy Dennis is a more grounded heel that isn’t afraid to mix it up and make an ass of himself.

Final Thoughts:

Dave Hall: Overall I really enjoyed this episode of Mid-South. I had never seen one before, and the action was good.  With the Midnights and Rock “N” Rolls dominating most of the show, I guess it would be hard not to enjoy it, but throw on top of that highlights of your new rising top star winning the major championship of the region, and coverage of a building feud between two top guys, and this was really good. I may take the time to watch some more Mid-South cards. 7/10

Calum McDougall: Overall I thought this was a pretty decent show. It was a quick and easy watch with some well known faces on show. The tag title match was good for TV and we got a title change, well, two if you include the Magnum TA/Mr. Wrestling highlight package. Most of the show was inoffensive, apart from the obvious, and it is far from the worst thing I’ve watched. 6/10

Jacob Williams: For clocking in at under forty minutes, this was an incredibly efficient show that gave time to multiple angles. It flew by, but at the same time, it felt like a lot of meaningful stuff happened in that short window, which is a testament to how well it was constructed. Add a legitimate, competitive tag bout to all of that, and it made for a pretty fun program that I wouldn’t mind returning to. 6/10

Brian Bayless: We saw two title changes on this show back in an era when they were taken more seriously and saw some of Mid-South’s best feuds in Magnum/Mr. Wrestling and Midnights/RnR’s. The racial stuff was not something I enjoyed but overall this was a fairly strong hour of television during a time when this promotion was putting out one of the most exciting products in North America. 6.5/10

Steve Riddle: This was a pretty quick watch and it was cool going back to watch this show as I have seen very little of Mid-South. This was a pivotal time for the territories as the WWF were a short time away from their national expansion, so the territories were about to be raided with a lot of their biggest names being taken away. Despite this, Mid-South still had plenty of talent to sustain their territory as we had the two best tag teams showcased here while also having their new young gun Magnum TA showcased as well. It was clear Magnum was being groomed to be a future star since the longtime star of Mid-South, the Junkyard Dog was going to be leaving soon so someone was going to have to fill that void. Overall, the show was a pretty basic TV show with a solid tag match and some good segments to highlight other things going on. 5.5/10

Chad Campbell: This was a breezy show clocking in at just 38 minutes. Mid-South produced exciting tv in a tight package around this time with tv matches that actually had stakes. It was unique among the territories and effective in rewatching. Watts and Pierce presenting everything as a serious sports manner also provided a differentiation to watching the product compared to other promotions. 5/10

Author: Place to Be Nation Staff

Place to Be Nation Staff pieces feature any number of our contributors who are multifaceted when it comes to Pop Culture expertise.