The Memories That Make Me A Wealthy Soul

The Memories That Make Me A Wealthy Soul
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Monday, February 5, 2018

Saving East Tennessee Wrestling History Video Footage and Print Material YOU Might Be Able To Help

If you know me, have read my books, heard me on a podcast, or even know anything about me you know I have an undying love for pro wrestling from the territory years. Especially for my home area that had two different offices for decades in Kingsport and Knoxville.

I have spent years researching the history of  Pro Wrestling not only in my home area of East Tennessee but also East Kentucky and West Virginia. I have thousands of hours in libraries and on line reading news papers. I have searched every Kingsport paper from 1919 to 1976. I'm starting in the near future of finishing the 1970s.

I have also have spent years searching for any and all videos of Wrestling from East Tennessee. Unfortunately not a lot survived. Thanks to The Caldwell Family we were able to save the only known footage of Whitey Caldwell.

Thanks to  a couple of fans, Ken Cantrell , Kris Zellner, and Ben Straughn  I have been able to put together several hours of Knoxville TV and Arena Footage. I truly do think that there is more out there that we don't know about. There was episodes of Southeastern and NWA Championship Wrestling taped off of Channel 10 from Knoxville. Those episodes that I have are over a year apart and I believe were taped by the same person. Problem is we don't know who that is.

If they did come from the same person chances are that is not the only episodes they taped. There might be a slim chance someone has much more and doesn't realize how important it is to get it over on to digital formats to make sure it survives for history sake.

East Tennessee was a proving ground and a hot bed for wrestling for years. A who's who of the sport came through here or homesteaded here. So here is where I need help. If you have anything from Knoxville's Southeastern (1975-81) or NWA Championship Wrestling (1981-82) please do not hesitate to let me know. Also if you know who taped the weekly studio program let me know. My email is at the bottom of this blog.

The other items that I know that are out there is the weekly Southeastern Programs that were sold at the matches. I have copies of several but I'm always looking for more for my research on my upcoming book on Southeastern Championship Wrestling. If you have any of these and are willing to send me scans or copies please let me know.

I have been putting together the weekly newspaper ads from not only Knoxville but other areas they ran regular like the Tri-Cities, Eastern Kentucky, and Bluefield WV. The programs help put together what all was going on in the Territory at the time.

I'm also looking for anything related to Ron Wright's All Star Wrestling (1979-80). I have a few posters from ASW and the only Know footage that survived. I also have the ads from the Knoxville paper. I think there is more posters out there somewhere.

I have every episode of Ron Fuller's USA Championship Wrestling except one. It's the third episode of the run. Air date was the weekend of March 19, 1988.  For some reason no one I deal with has it and I did not tape it. Once again if you have it please let me know.  

Here is a list of what we know has survived and that I have.

One episode of John Cazana's Wide World of Wrestling from 12-02-1972 
Tommy Gilbert vs. Sam Bass in a 2 out of 3 falls match
Interviews with Ron Wright, Jerry Lawler, Tommy Gilbert
Jerry Lawler vs. Tommy Gilbert in a 2 out of 3 falls match
From the WTVK TV 26 studio hosted by Jim Hess

Ron Wright's All Star Wrestling 1979 Footage from Knoxville TV
Col. Yan Ky&Randy Savage vs Lanny Poffo&Terry Gibbs
The Assassin (roger Smith) w/ Boris Malenko vs. Jim Pride
Terry Gibbs and Ronnie Garvin vs. Bob Roop and Bob Orton JR.
Interview with Garvin and Gibbs
Randy Savage vs. Jim Pride
 Assassin & Col Yan Ky vs Hoot Gibson & Jim Pride
Randy Savage vs. Rick McCord
Savage Interview
Lanny Poffo vs George McCrary
Terry Gibbs vs. The Assassin

Arena footage from mid 70s - 1980 featuring
Ron Fuller, Ronnie Garvin, Ron Wright, The Funks, Jack Brisco, Robert Fuller, Jimmy Golden, Big Bad John, Bob Armstrong, Mongolian Stomper, and many more


Southeastern TV Title: Troy T. Tyler  vs. The Seraph
Promos from The Matador, Ron Slinker, Steve Travis & The Great Mephisto.
Clips from Georgia of Tommy Rich/Austin Idol/Harley Race 
Les Thatcher talks about Tommy Rich's return after being injured for 5 weeks
Tommy Rich promo about a match against Harley Race in Knoxville
Troy T. Tyler. promo
Ole Anderson vs. John Irving (Squash)
The Manchurians (Tapu & Tio) vs. Mark Hill & Rex Stone 

Ron Slinker vs. Terry Taylor
Killer Karl Kox promo on Ole Anderson
The Manchurians (Tapu & Tio) vs. The Matador (Jerry Stubbs) & Jerry Roberts (Jacques Rougeau)
Stan "The Lariat" Hansen vs. The Seraph 
Troy T. Tyler promo
Southeastern TV Title: Dirty Dutch Mantell vs. Troy T. Tyler
Stan Hansen promo on Harley Race

DVD 3 

Don Diamond vs. Rick Connors
Promos: Dutch, Matador, Steve Travis, Troy T. Tyler, Don Diamond & Ron Slinker
Southeastern Tag Titles & Great Mephisto's Hair vs. Tyler's hair & Matador's mask: The Manchurians vs. The Matador (Jerry Stubbs) & Troy T. Tyler
Bobby Eaton vs. The Beast
Personality Profile: Harley Race
Austin Idol promo
Matador promo
Killer Karl Kox vs. Terry Taylor

Dutch Mantel promo
Randy the Mountaineer vs. Rick Connors
Replay of Bad News Harris vs. Ole Anderson
Promos:Ole Anderson, Bad News Harris, Austin Idol
Dirty Dutch Mantell vs. Tim Horner
Promos: Mephisto, Killer Karl Kox, Troy T. Tyler, Dutch Mantel, Matador
Don Diamond/Dutch Mantel confrontation
Terry Taylor vs. The Matador


1970s Ronnie Garvin profile
1970s Mongolian Stomper Profile

1979 Studio Matches
David Shultz and Eddie Mansfield vs. Dean Ho and Mike Webb
Jimmy Golden vs. Ted Allen
interview Norvel Austin
Norvel Austin vs. Ted Allen

Mark Lewin w/ Mephisto vs. Larry Clark

The Manchurians (Tapu & Tio) vs. 'Golden Boy' Chick Donovan & Ken Wayne
Memphisto open challenge for Manchurians, Troy T. Tyler answers
Ginger the Wrestling Bear drinks a Coke
Southeastern TV Title: The Matador (Jerry Stubbs) vs. Terry Taylor
Personality Profile: Randy the Mountaineer 
Clips of Tommy Rich vs. Austin Idol from Knoxville
Dutch Mantell vs. Len Owen

Troy T. Tyler shows a burn on his chest from The Great Memphisto's fireball in Knoxville
Terry Taylor sitdown interview
Dutch Mantell vs. Chick Donovan
Bad News Harris (Kamala) vs. Don Graham 
Bob Polk announces that Mark Lewin can return to the area but is barred from using sleeper
Ivan Rapaputski vs. Tim Horner 
Southeastern TV Title: Dennis Condrey vs. Terry Taylor
Handicap Match: T-John Thibbedeaux vs. Rick Connors & Ken Hall
Troy T. Tyler/Bad News Harris promos on each other


Dutch Mantel/Dennis Condrey/Terry Taylor segment
Troy T. Tyler vs. Rick Connors
The Manchurians (Tapu & Tio) vs. Don Diamond & Tim Horner
Personality Profile: Austin Idol
Randy the Mountaineer (Randy Culley) vs. Ivan Rapaputski
Southeastern TV Title: Terry Taylor  vs. Bad News Harris (Kamala)

Terry Taylor challenges Dutch Mantel
Ivan Rapaputski vs. Tim Horner
Kevin Sullivan promo
Southeastern Heavyweight Title: Terry Taylor  vs. Dennis Condrey


1979 Southeastern
Sterling Golden (Hulk Hogan) vs. Bob Armstrong from The Coliseum
Jerry oberts and Buzz Sawyer vs. The Angel and Mike Barber from the studio

Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan's SWI (NWA Championship Wrestling)
Nov. 28 1981
Interview Kevin Sullivan
Sullivan vs. Denny Brown
Jackie Laken vs. Ron Sexton
interview Rick Connors
Cowboy Young vs. Blackjack Mulligan Jr. 
interview izzp Slapowitz and Ray Candy
interview Johnny Weaver
Ricky Steamboat vs. Deke Rivers (from Charolette) 
Jimmy Valiant Son of A gypsy Video
Jay Youngblood vs. Deke Rivers
interview Youngblood

Bonus Matches
Jeff Sword and Doug Vines vs. Ken Hall and Jackie Laken
Jeff Sword and Doug Vines vs. Tim Horner and Ron Sexton
Jeff Sword and Doug Vines vs. Ken Hall and Jackie Laken (rematch) 

USA Championship Wrestling March- August 1988
Every Episode but One
Featuring The Bullet, Scott Armstrong, Ron Wright, Mongolian Stomper, The Rich Cousins, 
Terry Gordy,  Moondog Spot, Bill and Jamie Dundee, The RPMS, Wendell Cooley, 
Buddy Landel, Nelson Royal, H├ęctor Guerrero, and more
hosted by Gordon Solie and Ron Fuller

Thanks for reading and any help you might can give to the effort to save The History. If you have anything you might think I'm interested in email me at

The Knoxville Studio/Arena Set and USA Set are available at the right hand side of the page. Buy either one and I'll throw in the Wide World of Wrestling and All Star Wrestling DVDs in for free

Also check out my book about Wrestling in Kingsport from 1960-69. It is on sale here, Amazon, and Amazon Kindle. 

THANKS!!! Again. Only we can keep the History Alive. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

AMW TV and Upcoming Events

Southern States Wrestling Classics 1.24.18 The Homecoming

Beau James host Southern States Wrestling Classics looking back at  the event called "The Homecoming" 1.16.99 This was the first wrestling card in The Kingsport Civic Auditorium in 32 years. Matches include The Christian Brothers vs. Death and Destruction, "Conan" Chris Walker vs. Scotty McKeever, The Iron Cross vs. Steve Flynn, and Ricky Harrison vs. Beau James w/ P.J. Sharp

Monday, January 15, 2018

28 Years Ago Tonight The 6 Man Tag That Saved The Tri-Cities

Line Up For NWA Event Jan. 15 1990 at Freedom Hall

If you have read my books or been a regular here on my site you know I love the history of pro wrestling in my home area. You also know that I grew up a super fan of the sport that became my profession. I have a couple of blogs about big events promoted by Jim Crockett Promotions at Freedom Hall in Johnson City, TN. I want to take a look at a down time today to tell you about some of the lowest points for wrestling in the area and the match that turned it around.

When I started going to the wrestling matches in the fall of 1982 Dobynss Bennett High School was the regular stop for Crockett's Mid Atlantic Wrestling. The matches were held mostly on Sunday afternoons with a Friday night card here and there. In 1985 the regular events in Kingsport stopped. Johnson City's Freedom Hall became the regular stop for JCP. Johnson City would run on either Wednesday nights or Sunday afternoons. 

I was told once by Sandy Scott that Dusty Rhodes was behind the change from Kingsport to Johnson City because he thought Freedom Hall sound better on TV over a high school gym. Even though the gym is a 6000 seat Dome it's self. Crockett with Dusty at the head as booker and TV producer was trying to make a National Expansion. 

The first Johnson City sell out came on January 24, 1986 headlined by Dusty Rhodes vs. NWA World Champion Ric Flair. The rest of 1986 would be a great year for Johnson City with another sell out with higher ticket prices in July and several other cards drawing at least 3/4 of a full house. 

1987 would continue on with business as usual with great cards and very good attendance for Johnson City. They also made a return to Kingsport setting an all time record that still stands to this day. I'll have a blog about that in February. 

Record Attendance and Gate for Wrestling in Kingsport, TN

By late 1987 business had started to take a dip a bit but Johnson City drew a crowd over half the building Thanksgiving night to watch Starrcade by closed circuit TV on a large screen.

The first event of 1988 in Johnson City was headlined by Sting vs. World Champion Ric Flair on February 10, drawing in the 3, 500 range.

The next event in the Tri-Cities came on  Sunday March 6,1988 back in Kingsport, TN at Dobyns-Bennett High School. Drawing in the 1200 range. Even though we got The Road Warriors, Midnight express and long time area favorites Ronnie Garvin and Jimmy Valiant it was not the usual card Tri- Cities fans had became use to. 

The card
Larry Stephens vs. Curtis Thompson
Ron Simmons vs. Eddie Gilbert
NWA Jr. Heavyweight Champion Nelson Royal vs. George South
Tommy Angel vs. David Isley
Jimmy Valiant vs. Black Bart
The Road Warriors vs. the Powers of Pain
Ron & Jimmy Garvin vs. NWA US Tag Team Champions Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane

By late 1987 Crockett's focus had turned to TV. They had bought Kansas City, Florida and The UWF. So they could take their TV spots and ad to their syndication. They had created The Wrestling Network and were going after National Ad Revenue. Jim Crockett JR. has stated they just started looking at arenas as large TV studios. This put the company in major financial troubles as it took time for the ad money to come in. They also had been blocked on many cable companies from carrying their Pay Per Views by a power play from the WWF.  

They were doing several TV tapings a month in arenas that were used to stacked cards and wild action. Which brings me to the next event in the Tri-Cities. Sunday June 19 1988

It seemed fans were excited that a TV Taping was coming. About a week out I heard people saying it was sold out. They said they had called the box office for tickets but were told it was a sell out. I went to the event with my Dad and Uncle and we left early because we had been caught in the lines for a sell out before. As we pulled in we could not believe it. Very few cards and no one was in line.

As we went in we where wondering where is everyone? Turns out all the tickets were sold that were available. They only sold 500 seats. The blacked out the building, used camera angles, and TV lights to make it look like it was much more. They had in fact turned an arena into a TV studio.

They taped two hours (NWA Pro and World Wide Wrestling)  of TV that would air on July 2. The only thing of any interest that came out of the two hours was the debut of The Russian Assassin and Nikita Koloff saving local Police Officer/Wrestler Kim Birchfield from Al Perez.

This is an arena us to hot feuds, World Title Matches, blood baths, and action. That Sunday was a disappointment for everyone their. People wanted and expected more. It did not help that one of if not the most exciting weekly TVs was being produced in near by Knoxville by Ron Fuller at the times.  The wrestling fans there also had been promised three Main Events and only got two of the three. The two that we did get were short and did not give a true out come. The Road Warriors defeated NWA Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard via disqualification.
Lex Luger fought NWA US Champion Barry Windham (w/ JJ Dillon) to a double count-out.

Here are the two hours of TV taped that day.

In July the NWA returns to Johnson City for the 4th Annual Great American Bash Tour. Head lined by War Games. Even the Two Rings covered by a cage could not get the bad taste out of some people's mouth as the event did not draw what the Bash had in years past in Johnson City.

Great American Bash in Johnson City, TN at Freedom Hall  July 24, 1988
The Italian Stallion vs. Cruel Connection #2
Bugsy McGraw vs. Cruel Connection #1
Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson vs. Al Perez & Larry Zbyzsko
Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers vs. Jim Cornette, Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane (handicap match)
Steve Williams vs. NWA TV Champion Mike Rotunda
Lex Luger, Sting, Nikita Koloff, & the Road Warriors vs. NWA World Champion Ric Flair, NWA US Champion Barry Windham, NWA Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, & JJ Dillon (Wargames)

By the time that the NWA returns to Johnson City for the last appearance of 1988 Crockett had been force to sell his Family's company to Ted Turner. The last card that year was November 6  drewing in the 1500 range.

NWA at Freedom Hall Johnson City , TN Noveber 6 1988
Ric Flair and Barry Windham vs. Bam Bam Bigelow and Lex Lugar
Jimmy Garvin vs. Kevin Sullivan
The Koloffs vs. The Russian Assassins
The Midnight Express w/ Jim Cornette vs. Italian Stallion and Chris Champion
Mike Rontanda vs. Curtis Thompson (Sub Ron Simmons)
Italian Stallion (should been Curtis Thompson) vs. Cruel Connection #1
Mike Justice vs. Cruel Connection #2

The next card in Freedom Hall was February 3, 1989 with the house back up around 2500-3000 range but the card was a mess with no shows, card changes, and sound system troubles. It was a five match card and a Bunkhouse Stampede. Out of the five matches one advertised match happened.

Advertised card
Bunkhouse Stampede
Road Warriors and Abdullah The Butcher vs. Dr. Death, Kevin Sullivan, and Mike Rotunda
Sting and Eddie Gilbert vs. Barry Windham and Ric Flair
Rick Steiner and Ivan Koloff vs. Russian Assassins
Junkyard Dog and Micheal Hayes vs. Original Midnight Express with Paul E.
Steve Cassey vs. Butch Reed

Actual Card
NWA TV Champion Rick Steiner defeated Russian Assassin #1
Ivan Koloff defeated Russian Assassin #2
Michael Hayes & the Junkyard Dog defeated Dennis Condrey & Randy Rose
NWA Tag Team Champions the Road Warriors defeated Steve Williams & Kevin Sullivan
Mike Rotunda pinned Abdullah the Butcher after using Abdullah's metal spoon against him Abdullah was the babyface
Sting & Eddie Gilbert defeated NWA World Champion Ric Flair & NWA US Champion Barry Windham

As 1989 went on it got worse. The lowest point came with a card on April 25th that drew in the 300 range. The people you see in the pictures is pretty much what was there.

NWA at Freedom Hall Johnson City , TN April 25 1989
Bad Street Match Lex Lugar beat Michael Hayes
His first appearance in the area in years Ricky Steamboat vs. Butch Reed
The Steiner Brothers beat The Samoan Swat Team
The Dynamic Dudes beat The New Zealand Militia

Lance Russell was there doing live commentary of the event on The WCW Hotline. That was the first time I met Mr. Russell.

For the first time since they started the tour Johnson City did not get an Great American Bash card in 1989. It seemed that wrestling was as we knew it had ended in our region. The NWA would make a return for this card on October 18 1989 drawing in the 500 range.

They announced a return date that night of January 15 1990. Which was strange because they had stopped announcing return dates in house once the Kingsport to Johnson City moved happened. They would just tell you to watch TV and look for announcements in the paper. They also announced that it was the biggest card in Johnson City in a long time. They also announce a card coming to Bristol in December.

The card that came to Bristol was another TV Taping. This time there was no limit on ticket sells and it drew in the 1500 range. Unlike the one a year and a half before the Bristol card was three hours of taping but they did have some pretty good dark matches. The high light of the Bristol Taping was a surprise return of The Minnesota Wrecking Crew Ole and Arn Anderson. Through out the night the kept plugging Johnson City.

The only change in the advertise matches was Sid was out for an injury so the Skyscrapers vs. Road Warriors turned into Hawk vs. Dan Spivey. Also Eddie Gilbert and Kevin Sullivan had a classic Tennessee brawl in a dark match. And they did a in house return for Sting vs. Luger in Johnson City in January. They never did in house to set up anything before always on TV. They had made they upcoming January event seem way different then anything before.

I've told you all of this to lead up to 28 years ago tonight. They had advertisement on TV starting the week after Bristol event on January 15th. The event was never called a TV Taping and no mention of the matches to be taped in any advertisement that I can remember.

Thanks to Ron West who I sold merchandise and set the ring up for with Continental Wrestling. My oldest  sister Mia and I had ringside seats. As we went in the first thing you noticed was the TV Lights, Cameras, and an interview stage at the back of Freedom Hall. The event did not draw like the events of years past but it was the best house in Johnson City since Bash 88. The upper balcony had to be opened. Once again the lights and camera made it look a lot better. This also was the hottest crowd the Tri-Cites had had in a long while.

They taped three hours of TV then had The Sting vs. Luger Dark Match. The match that everyone was talking about the next day was a Six Man Tag of Sting (Sub for Ole), Arn Anderson, and Ric Flair vs. Buzz Sawyer, The Great Muta, and The Dragon Master. The card also featured The return of The Rock N Roll Express to the Tri-Cities. and Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) NWA Tri-Cities debut.

The matches would not air for almost two weeks on January 26 and 27. That following weekend it seemed like everyone was a wrestling fan. When I went to school on Monday people who never mentioned wrestling were talking about watching The Power Hour and the six man tag.

Here is that episode of The NWA Power Hour

The crowds did not get back to sell outs and near sell outs until the Monday Night Wars but they did come back up. Jim Cornette would make Johnson City a monthly stop for Smoky Mountain Wrestling in the early 90s. It seemed a new life was breathed back into wrestling and new fans were made on that cold Monday January Night.

As the NWA changed to WCW they continued to make stops in the Tri-Cities and doing TV in Johnson City including a WCW Monday Nitro. WCW would bring regular live events to the area up into months before they closed.

I hope you have enjoyed my walk through fandom memories. My in ring career started shortly after this event. Which ended me going to wrestling events as a fan. If anyone has the taping from Bristol on video please let me know. I'm also looking for the NWA pro and Worldwide Wrestling that were taped in Johnson City January 1990.

thanks for reading, love to hear your feedback
Beau James
Sinner Saved By Grace, Pro Wrestling