The Spirit of ’96: Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling—9/26/81

**I was born in 1990 and became a wrestling fan in 1996. Shawn Michaels was my first favorite wrestler, and I watched every minute of the Attitude Era religiously. Needless to say, 90s WWF is my wrestling foundation. I have heard about the mythic era of the NWA and the territories, (and of course I’ve seen bits and pieces) but never truly steeped myself in all its glory. Follow my fresh/ignorant breakdown of classic wrestling!**

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling—September 26, 1981

Bob and David are tickled pink to announce that since the last episode, Ric Flair defeated Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City to become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Flair must be a huge face at this point because they are just beside themselves with excitement. Absolutely insane that they are describing Flair’s first world title.

They run down tonight’s show, then turn to Jake Roberts and his good buddy “Bad Bad” Leroy Brown for a quick word. Leroy is a lively dude in construction overalls and a hardhat that begins his portion of the interview by vigorously rubbing his right breast. Leroy will make Ole Anderson pay SOME HEAVY DUES! WOO! I enjoy Leroy’s lust for life.Jake can barely contain his laughter. I wish that Ride Along was around in 1981 so I could see these two making the towns, though I have a feeling that some of the activities may not reflect the corporate views of World Wrestling Entertainment. 

Austin Idol vs Scott Mcghee
The two exchange holds for the majority of the match. Mcghee frustrates Idol with his ability to nail a single leg takedown, which leads Idol to abandon the holds in favor of striking. He throws Mcghee out, and when he is able to make his way back in, finishes him with the figure four. 

Match Notes
Apparently Mcghee is from England, which has not been previously mentioned. Mcghee tries some strange frantic jerky wiggling to break out of a full nelson, and David says he is going “90 miles per hour,” which is some quick wiggling. But really, it looks like a Jack Lalanne routine.

I really hadn’t notice up until this match when Mcghee gets tossed out, but guys really don’t get thrown out of the ring very much. It’s a great example of something that is done so routinely now, yet here it’s done sparingly, so it really has a real noticeable effect. I knew Mcghee was screwed once he got thrown out. Even so, Mcghee my have a little bit of a future because he held his own well. Or maybe Idol is not presented as a dominant figure like someone like Slaughter. Idol’s promos have been pretty entertaining, so hope he has more than this to offer than the boring offense he used in this match.

Winner: Austin Idol via submission
Rating: *

Jim Nelson vs NWA TV Champion Ron Bass
The two exchange holds (seems like I should get use to typing that) for awhile with the underdog Nelson getting over on the Outlaw. Eventually Bass turns on the heat with the some good power punches and, finally, his trademark powerslam.

Match Notes
The crowd barely lets out a yell for this match until the end. Bass finds himself in a tough spot being a babyface who relies on power. If he gets too aggressive, he would seem like more of a heel like Slaughter. And unlike Steamboat, or even Jake, a quick fiery style doesn’t fit his character. He ends sort of plodding along at times with some slow holds, and it makes his matches very flat. His style does not work well in a squash. I could see how he might step on the gas a little more if he was against a hot heel who deserves a beating.

Winner: Ron Bass via pin
Rating: *

Announcing Aside
David seems to be getting a little better here. He doesn’t stammer as much and says a few relevant lines instead of the normal gibberish. Go Davy!

Sgt. Slaughter vs Frank Monte
After working a wristlock, Slaughter tosses Monte outside, where he almost pegs the camera. Sarge actually teases a jump from the top rope to the outside, but Monte runs in, only to pass out in the cobra clutch. It doesn’t sound like much, and it isn’t much, but Slaughter really connects on his offense and bears down on holds. Pair that with Monte’s strong selling, most notably after the finish when he just slumps over, and you have an entertaining squash.   

Match Notes
This was apparently a “taped” match and there is some mystery man who isn’t Bob on play by play. He’s pretty smooth too.

When the match starts, there is one lady–the only audible member of the audience and possibly Monte’s aunt–who just screams, in a heavy Southern accent, “GOMER PYLE!” and then follows it with, “GIT EM FRANK!” to heckle Slaughter. She keeps yelling “C”MON FRANK” throughout match, and even starts a “GO, FRANK, GO” chant with some other audience members.  She may be responsible for some of the letters that are always showing up at the Mid-Atlantic office. Monte looks like a juiced Jim Croce here. I’m hoping he teams with Leroy Brown at some point because it just makes sense. 

Winner: Sgt. Slaughter via submission
Rating: *½

We cut to David, who’s interviewing the lost member of AC/DC, Scott Mcghee. Being the nice guy he is, David tries to make Scott feel better about his loss by calling him a loser, only to then reassure him that he really is a winner because he fought so hard. So Mcghee responds with the most appropriate face one can make when someone calls you a winner for losing.

David says because of his heart and competitiveness, Scott finds himself as one of the top contenders for the Junior Heavyweight title. And then he turns the mic to Mcghee.

So I’m expecting him to sound like most of the other faces (Steamboat, Bass) and be calm, confident, and a little feisty. Instead he has the softest, whispiest schoolboy voice. I was completely floored. You have all these maniac heels running around ranting like they just snorted coke with their eyeballs…and then little Scott Mcghee who sounds like he would ask to shine your shoes for a nickel.

That said–and I know most people would call it terrible–it’s a good promo! It really makes me want to root for him as soft spoken, scrappy underdog telling us about how he’s been pushed by his father since he was young to be great and he was watching Steamboat even before he started wrestling. Though he doesn’t exude typical charisma, he feels authentic, and you hear this type of interview all the time in professional sports. When I watch a promo, I always want to believe the character, and I do here, even if he sounds meek. I like having some different characters.

Also, being the Peabody-caliber journalist that he is, David just inexplicably asks him what part of the leg the figure four puts pressure on, which completely throws off Mcghee.

The Grappler and Super Destroyer vs Ron RItchie and Johnny Weaver
The underdogs make a go of things by continually working the arm with any move they can. Weaver gets backed into a corner, swinging the momentum. Eventually he makes a hot tag, but the masked men sneak in for a double clothesline, which sets up the superplex to finish. The masked men are able to take advantage through power and a little cheating. 

Match Notes
These matches start so abruptly. Right back from commercial, they just ring the bell and start with the crowd dead quiet. No introductions. No entrance. You rarely get an actively bad tag match on these shows. The style of quick tags and constant action make for some really engaging matches, considering they are squashes.

Winner: The Grappler and Super Destroyer via pin
Rating: *1/2 

Jake comes out post-match, hot over the fact that the Super Destroyer and the Grappler swapped without a tag at the end of the match. I like how the faces don’t just stay in their own little conflicts. They hate any injustice.

After the break, the masked team is in studio to call out Jake and tell him to stay out of their matches.  Austin Idol pops in to tell us that he, and everyone out there, knows he has a masterplan that he’s ready to unleash, but it’s none of our damn business anyway. Not sure I believe you, Austin. Also, his cockles are warmed at Flair winning the title.

Ole steps up next to call out the faces and emphasize how bad a man he truly is.

Presentation Aside
The interview layup line that divides the matches is so expertly crafted to utilize every second of TV time. It reminds you of all the characters, and by having the heels always calling out all the babyfaces and vice versa, it creates constant tension between both sides, so you can throw any face and heel together and expect at least some built-in heat. The tension drives the show. 

“Bad” Leroy Brown and Jake Roberts vs Ricky Harris and Mike Miller
Harris and Miller get virtually no offense, as Jake and Leroy take turns pounding on them, with Jake doing most of the work. Leroy finishes of Miller with a running splash. No story to this one at all, except I guess to illustrate  that Jake and Leroy are buds.

Match Notes
The announcers hype an upcoming US Championship tournament in Charlotte, and, according to David, it’s going to be “some tournament.” Don’t oversell it, now, Davy. Also, he pauses for a three complete seconds trying to say anything about it. I deserve this for saying something nice about him earlier.

Bad Leroy, in his construction worker overalls, serves as the first wrestler on these shows that seems to rely more on his character and histrionics than his wrestling ability. In this match, he does mostly elbows and basic offense, instead focusing much of his energy on gesturing and smiling to the crowd. At one point, he even cartoonishly no-sells a barrage of punches, which really contrasts with the realistic tone of the show. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Jake continues to impress on these shows and is quickly becoming a highlight. He just moves so smoothly and his offense, from his knee lift to the quick jabs, looks great. He just knows how to make you pay attention to what’s happening in the ring.

Winner: Jake Roberts and “Bad Bad” Leroy Brown via pin
Rating: *

In what seems to be a developing trend, David gives some interview time to the losers, as Jim Nelson steps to the mic with his famously large head featured prominently. Both Nelson and David make the promo nearly incoherent with all their stuttering and stammering.

Next up to the mic are Miller and Harris fresh off their loss. They confuse David by vehemently insisting that there were they were double teamed in the loss when they clearly weren’t. Miller claims he is gonna find a counter to Leroy’s big splash. These guys are probably not going to push themselves up the card with these odd, unfocused promos.

Jay Youngblood vs Ole Anderson
Two prime guys in the feature match here (a main event anywhere in the world according to Bob.) They scrap on the mat, then Ole throws Youngblood, only for the Grappler, sitting on commentary, to throw him back in. Ole continues to work him over, but Youngblood fights back with some brutal chops. Not much later, the Grappler comes in to take out Youngblood for the disqualification. I wasn’t expecting anything too decisive with two major guys, but it accomplished what it was meant to–get more heat on the heels, primarily Ole.

Match Notes
Before jumping into the match, the Grappler sat in on commentary and continued to run down Jake for interfering in his match.

Winner: Jay Youngblood via disqualification 

The reinforcements (Jake and Bass) come down to even the odds and send the heels running. But they run into Bad Bad Leroy on the way out!

The show concludes with a promo from the four faces who claim that they are tired of getting ganged up on. They are now a cavalry that will have each other’s backs. Everyone is angry…except for Leroy, who’s still feeling pretty chipper.

 

End of Show Notes

If You Only Watch One Match: “Bad” Leroy Brown and Jake Roberts vs Ricky Harris and Mike Miller

MVP: Jake Roberts
I was tempted to go with Leroy for his entertaining character, but I had to give it to Jake, or I would feel like I was taking him for granting. He carries the team with Leroy and is just so fun to watch. I would not shocked if he gets this award multiple times in the future.

Overall rating: 5/10
This was solid enough. While I do enjoy how the heels and faces are grouped against each, I would like to see some individual personal issues develop, even if I know we won’t see the actual payoff on this show. It was lacking in promo time from some of the more memorable heels (Piper, Slaughter) and any big angle. So we will call this an average day in the Mid-Atlantic area.

So long for now!