S.S.W. 33rd Anniversary

S.S.W. 33rd Anniversary

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

This week in Tri-Cities Wrestling History Two Attendance Records Were Set.

July 23 marked the 31st anniversary of the The Great American Bash Event on Johnson Cit's  Freedom Hall that set all kinds of records. It was The record gate for the Crockett era in the Tri-Cities. The attendance was 6,300+ inside over 2,000 turned away. The only wrestling event in the Tri-Cities history to sell out in advance. The only time I can ever remember seeing ticket scalpers at a wrestling event here. It was and is to this day the all time attendance for wrestling in Johnson City. WCW and WWE had sellouts later with higher ticket prices but less people due to fire codes being enforced.

The card was stacked with every match featuring TV stars well known in this region. All but two matches had TV time and some kind of build up going into them. These were the same Main Events that were headlining major arenas and football stadiums. Freedom Hall was selling out in 86 with one or two Main Events. I think this card was our reward for that fact.

The Main Event of the night was a Six Person Tag Match that was one of the bloodiest matches I have ever seen and that covers a lot of ground. It was build on The Revenge Factor. As valet Babydoll and her team of Magnum and The Dream were out to get even with Jim Cornette and his Midnight Express of Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey. The video above shows the incident that started this run.

  The is no doubt in my mind that The Midnight Express was the best team any where in the World in 1986. Dusty and Magnum were over like Rock Stars to the Crockett audience and so was Babydoll. She was Mid Atlantic's first female valet and when Dusty came to her aid she was accepted by the people. The fans were emotionally involved in this and want to see her beat up Cornette. Jimmy and not only physically attacked her but for months he was on all of Crockett's TVs making fun of her with his verbal attacks as only Jim can.

The fans knew it was not going to be Funk vs. Brisco they just want to see Cornette get his. Americas team and The Express gave us a bloody fight with all four pouring buckets. The extent of Babydoll vs. Cornette was her punching him one time and getting the pin.

The entire Bash Tour was built around NWA World Champion "Natureboy" Ric Flair defending his title each night vs. a different challenger. Booker Dusty Rhodes put the perfect man to face the Champ in Johnson City with "The Hands of Stone" Ronnie Garvin. Garvin is, was ,and as long as my generation is alive will be one of the biggest stars East Tennessee knew.

Ronnie Garvin Southeastern Champion 1975 Johnson City Parks and Rec

Ronnie Garvin Southeastern Champion 1979
Garvin then known as "The One Man Gang" had headlined cards in Johnson City from 1975- 82. His feuds with Ron Fuller, Joe LeDuc, The Mongolian Stomper, and Randy Savage made him a Legend in these parts. Once again fans were emotionally connected to him and wanted to see him win the World Title right here in his adopted home area of many years. The match nearly 45 minutes with Flair getting the win with help from J.J. Dillion. If you would have told 12 year old Beau James he would become friends with not only Ronnie Garvin but several others on this card just a few years later I don't know what I would have said. I have a few week ends on the road with Garvin earlier this year. This weekend I will be on the road with Valiant and The Rock n Roll Express in Virginia.

The rest of the card as did the top two delivered and as I look back at it 31 years later it would stand today and anywhere else in time as a great card. Johnson City would continue to get great cards from Crockett all the way up until he was bought out by Ted Turner. Johnson City other than a run of awful house in 1989 would stay a great market for WCW until they closed in 2001.

The Bash Tour would also continue to make stops in Johnson City for years to come. I missed the 1987 Bash in Johnson City because it came just days before the Bash in Charlotte which my Dad took me to for my 13th birthday.

Bash 87 program and ticket from my trip to The Queen City to see The $100,000 Challenge Dusty vs. Tully

It's not everyday that you are part of a history making record crowd but a year and two days later my Dad, uncle Odell and myself found ourselves apart of another Tri-Cities record.

Today marks 30 years for The WWF's first event in the Tri-Cities. This is the all-time attendance record for Bristol. Every seat in Viking Hall was full. They even had bleachers and chairs on the stage that were also full. Plus standing room only around the first level of Viking Hall was full. This was the first of only two sell outs for them here in this era. They had crowds as small as 350 range (WWF Debut at Freedom Hall) here in the 80s.

The atmosphere for this event was very different than the events being ran in this market by Crockett Promotions or Continental Wrestling. The crowd didn't know some of the wrestlers. This was definitely Crockett country in 1987.

Hogan vs Savage was definitely the draw. It was a homecoming for the two who had both wrestled here weekly earlier in their careers. Hogan for Southeastern and Savage for ICW. I went to this event for two reasons. One to see Randy Savage beat Hulk Hogan and two to see Billy Jack Haynes. I was a fan of Billy Jack from the magazines and his short stint for Crockett. Haynes was a no show.

Randy Savage ICW World Champion
ref Mac McMurray and Sterling Golden (Hulk Hogan) Southeastern Champion 1979

The wrestlers with the most reaction on the under card were the One Man Gang and Sam Houston. Gang had wrestled here for ICW and Mid Atlantic. Sam wrestled for Crockett from 1984-late 86.
Houston was the only wrestler to be on the all-time record attendance for Johnson City (July 23, 1986) and Bristol (July 25, 187).

The only other sell out for WWF in the Tri-Cities Market in the 80s was a TV taping. By the time they got to the dark match Main Event of Hogan and Bigelow vs. DiBiase and Andre a third to half of the audience had left. I did not go to this event. I was not a fan of WWF TV and did not want to sit through a marathon taping.

WWF (E) would not have another sell out in this market for almost 20 years. That sell out did not have seats and bleachers on the stage. The ticket prices in early 2000s were much higher than 1987.

As always thanks for reading. I love hearing your feed back
Beau James
sinner saved by grace, pro wrestler

My Billy Jack T Short I bought that night. The only WWF merchandise I ever bought other than event programs

Sunday, July 23, 2017

More on USA Wrestling, Ron Wright pays tribute to his early days in wrestling

Thanks to everyone who took time to read and send me comments on my last blog on USA Wrestling and The AWA World Championship Matches. If you missed it you can scroll down my site here to see it.

As I have stated that USA Wrestling was a special part of not only my life as a fan but it was the beginning of my journey of the rest of my life. As I write this on July 23 2017 it marks the 29th Anniversary of me meeting Johnny and Davey Rich at a Wal Mart in Greeneville, TN on July 23 1988. If you have read my book "Do Ya Wanna Be A Wrestler, Kid?" you know that Davey is the one who suggested that Ron West and Bob Polk give me a job. Which they did in October on 1988.

Top Johnny Rich , me, and Davey Rich 1988 bottom the 3 of us in 2017
To me USA Wrestling was the last great summer of Territorial Wrestling based out of East Tennessee. I know Jim Cornette and others may disagree with me making an argument for Smoky Mountain Wrestling in the early and mid 1990s. Which they have a good case but to me it was USA. Maybe because it was my last summer as a super fan due to the following summer  being the start of my in ring career.

Also here is something that may shock you until the last couple of years I did not see alot of SMW. By the time Jimmy had opened up I was running Southern States Wrestling. My duties of running towns, promoting, in ring, booking towns, etc. took most of my time. Thankfully to the internet and my firestick I've been able to watch more SMW over the last couple years.

The internet and SMW are what brings me to my blog today. Early on in SMW they had a masked man called The Stormtrooper wrestle on some of their TVs. The Stormtrooper was a masked Nazi. To todays wrestling fan and especially the internet fans they can not grasp why such a wrestler was on TV. I've seen many attacks on Cornette for using him. Some think Jim was the man behind the masked grappler and even have attacked him for such. Guess what? Jim was not responsible for The Stormtrooper nor was the one on SMW TV the original.

SMW Stormtrooper 

The truth of the matter is that the original man behind the Swastika Mask was journey man wrestler Tim Frye. Tim had wrestled for Ron Fuller before in Continental as one of the Shoguns, El Lobo, The Mercenary, and himself.

Frye as Shogun and as The Mercenary 

Tim was put under the masked and into Ron Wright's stable of Monsters. Ol' Brother Ron already had a Moondog from the Swamps, A Mongolian Stomper, and A large unnamed African American Man that spoke about Astrology. Tim was no where in size as big as the other men so they needed something to make him a monster. When I asked Ron Wright he could not remember who came up with making Tim a Nazi. It was either Wright or Ron Fuller. They both were drawing from their youth and the memories of unreal heat teams like The Von Brauners and Saul Weingeroff got where ever they went.

Ron Wright saw them as a teenage fan and reffed their matches early on in his in ring career. Fuller knew them well also, as they made a living wrestling for his Grandfather, Dad, and other Family members.

Kingsport News paper Ad talking about the abuse ref Ronald Wright took during a Von Brauners notice Kpt paper missed spelled their names a lot. 

Ron Fuller just two years earlier had made well known veteran Chris Colt who had been in East Tennessee many times the previous 20 years as a Dupree Brother and Hell's Angel a Nazi. You may be asking why? Why would he do that knowing the feelings the Nazi Flag and Swastika bring out in people? Especially those older gentlemen and their families that were coming to the matches who had fought in World War 2. That is why he did it. Before wrestling was controlled by corporations, stopped being portrayed as a true sport , and every other rule broken. It was based on heat. You wanted heat on your heels. You did not want cool heels who did cool moves and people liked.

You wanted people buying tickets to see these nasty no good so and so's get what was coming to them by humble all American boy next door baby faces. A struggle of good vs. evil. The good being the underdog. How could The Rich Cousins, Armstrongs, or anyone else get a fair deal in a match when they were up against monsters who would do anything not just to win but to hurt them? Let's not forget that middle aged man at ringside who was as mean, nasty, tough, and under handed as they came in Mr. Wright.

Colt as Nazi Von Colt in Continental 1986

This was not only a tool of getting heat. It was Ron Wright's way of paying tribute to men who helped him along the way in The Von Brauners and Saul Weingeroff . Ron began to carry a cane and wear a tuxedo. He in the past had wore suits but never like this complete with a hat like you see Saul wearing in pictures from the 60s. Ron in past had managed alot of great talented wrestlers. Thats what they were wrestlers who used holds and moves and Ron would only interject himself when he thought one of his men were going down. Now like Saul of the 60s and 70s Ron had a stable on killer heels, MONSTERS!. They went out there on TV and beat guys to a bloody mess. Ron did not have to help them in most cases but would be cause he like his men liked hurting people. The only time he had to help his men was in Main Events in the towns where you had to buy a ticket to see. He then went on TV the next week and lied about it.

Everyone in wrestling has borrowed from the ones before them. There is nothing new under the sun. Ron Wright took from men like Saul,  Bill Caney and even his childhood pastor that is where is interview style came from.

Wrestling would be so much better today if the lines were not blurred. If it was good vs. evil and you knew who was on what side. Sadly the style of true professional wrestling that I grew up on, studied, wanted to be my life, and battle to keep some semblance of it alive daily. Is just not what young wrestlers coming up or even younger fans want. A big part of it is because they just simply don't understand it. The complicate everything by picking it apart, over thinking it, and trying to be more than a fan. Go ,watch, enjoy you are already the most important person in the building a "ticket buy fan". Just be a fan you will like it even more.

The wrestling fans that filled buildings in years past wanted wrestling too. How do I know? Because they stopped coming when wrestling stop giving them wrestling. They turned off their TVs too and have not turned wrestling back on.

 They were not offended by a mask a man was wearing or concerned with flips and dives. They went to see that masked man get whipped in a fight. They went to cheer on the underdog. They went to see grown men settle issues. They went to yell and forget the world's problems for two hours every week.

I was asked about wrestlers like The Nazi, Russians, Japaneses, etc by both HBO and CBS during our times with them over the last couple weeks. I explained it as I did here. I was then asked who would make a monster heel today? I told them a member of Isis but today's fans would be upset in a different way. It would be the wrong kind of heat. Folks it just ain't yesterday no more!

Ron Wright in the 70s
Ron ringside in the late 70s given to me by one of Ron's cousins
Once again thanks for reading my memories and thoughts. A reminder to check out my books and DVDs on the sides of this blog.

Check out the videos at the bottom of this blog

Beau James
sinner saved by Grace, pro Wrestler

Rick Connors & The Mercenary vs. B.B. Lewis and Charlie Petters early 1980s Johnson City Parks and Rec.

Gulas' UWA Rick Connors & The Mercenary vs. Don Lucas & Chris Powers. Powers was the Stormtrooper in SMW.

Ron Wright interview recapping how the Stormtrooper debuted followed by Moondog vs. Kim Birchfield

Ron Wright interview with Gordon giving Mr. Wright bad news followed by The Storm Troopers first match on USA TV

Tim Frye wrestling in WCW  in the early 90s

Friday, July 21, 2017

Updates July 21

I have updated with a special blog on USA Wrestling, Upcoming events, AMW TV, and a Podcast.

Here is your weekly Dose of Waylon! Waymore turned four months old Sunday. So his Uncle got him a Batman and Spiderman. I turned 43 Monday btw.

A look back at USA Wrestling and a historic night 29 years ago tonight in Johnson City

Ron Fuller on the USA TV set

 In the summer of 1988 Ron Fuller's USA Championship Wrestling was producing some of the best TVs in the country and running live events across East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Eastern Kentucky. This would be Ron's last stint as the owner of a territory. As he would turn his eyes to Pro Hockey that fall.

 Ron and partners had sold Continental Wrestling earlier in the year. Ron held on to this region and re branded with a new look, new stars, and the classic wrestling we love as USA. The run of USA was built around a blood feud between The Rich Cousins vs. The RPMS and Bill Dundee, Scott Armstrong chasing World Junior Champion Nelson Royal, Buddy Landel feuding with Wendell Cooley for The Tennessee and Ron Wright and his band of monsters trying to rule over everyone. Fuller also used other well known starts to the area like "Freebird" Terry Gordy,

Johnny Rich, Scott Armstrong, and Davey Rich

 I was, am and always will be a fan of Ron Fuller , his family and their wrestling promotions. USA Wrestling holds a special place in my heart as in 1988 I spent many Tuesday nights at the legendary Parks and Rec on Legion Street in Johnson City. I met Johnny and Davey Rich through USA wrestling and if you know my story that lead to my first job in Wrestling in the fall of 1988. This week twenty nine years ago was no ordinarily week for USA fans as The AWA World Champion Jerry "The King" Lawler was coming to Johnson City and Knoxville.

 Now the Tri Cities may very well be the only market that got both the USA and Memphis TVs. In fact Ron West and Bob Polk did not know that we saw Memphis TV on WJHL TV 11 until I told them. So it was confusing to see Lawler on Memphis TV as the hero and then tapes of him on USA talking bad about our area stars.

 It did not matter to this 14 year old super fan because I was going to see something on July 21 1988 that Johnson City had never seen before an AWA World Title Match. It was the one and only defense by a True AWA (Vern Gagne's) World Champion in Johnson City History. Nick Bockwinkle defended the AWA World Title in Kingsport in 1979 if you were wondering about other AWA Champions being here.

 With The King coming in this week it was the only time in the USA run that the same TV did not air in all the markets. The matches were the same but the ending of TV were different. Also the Johnson City event was moved from the regular Tuesday night spot to Thursday. Here are the two different endings and local interviews for USA TV July 16 1988. These clips also feature Jamie Dundee's first time talking on TV.

I guess you are wondering now what happened? Here are the results to the two cards featuring the World Title Matches.

"Wildcat" Wendell Cooley
USA  Wrestling Johnson City, TN  at The Parks and Rec. – July 21, 1988
Todd Morton d. Moondog Spot
Davey Rich d. Bill Dundee by DQ
The Party Boys (Johnny and Davey Rich) fought The Rock n Roll RPMs (Mike Davis and Tommy Lane) to a draw
USA Heavyweight Title: Mongolian Stomper with Ron Wright d. Doug Furnas (c) to Win the Title
AWA World Heavyweight Title: Jerry Lawler (c) d. Wendell Cooley

USA Champion Doug Furnas
USA Wrestling  Knoxville, TN – Civic Coliseum – July 22, 1988
$1,000 vs. Mask: The Bullet d. Bill Dundee by DQ
The Party Patrol d. The Rock n Roll RPMs
Todd Morton d. USA Champion Mongolian Stomper with Ron Wright by DQ
World Jr. Heavyweight Title: Scott Armstrong d. Nelson Royal (c)
Tennessee Heavyweight Title: Wendell Cooley d. Buddy Landell (c) by forfeit
AWA World Heavyweight Title: Jerry Lawler (c) DQed vs. Doug Furnas

Bill and Jamie Dundee with The Bullet's Mask

ref Tommy Weathers and AWA World Champion Jerry Lawler on the way to the ring July 22 1988

The King was DQed for piledriving The Orange Crush in Knoxville 

If you have never seen USA Wrestling it's well worth checking out. I have a 7 DVD set featuring every TV but one from March of 1988 that it seems no one taped. Also check out my Southeastern Continental Wrestling Tribute Page for more on the great territories brought to you by Ron Fuller and Family. Special thanks to Tracy Breeden for the pictures used here. 

thanks for reading
Beau James
sinner saved by Grace, pro Wrestler

Upcoming Events in Virginia and AMW returns to London, KY

Peach State Pandemonium with Ron Fuller and Charlie Platt

Here is last night's Peach State Pandemonium hosted by Micheal Norris, Jerry Oats, and I set in for Bobby Simmons. Sorry to announce it was the last PSP. I set in over the years in the host seat as Michael was dealing with health issues. It was always a pleasure being apart of this podcast. It went out with a bang as the last guest were "Tennessee Stud" Ron Fuller and Charlie Platt. 

WUKY Story on Daniel Richards and me plus CBS News

WUKY Story

Above is a WUKY PBS Radio of Kentucky STory on Daniel Richards and myself.

Misty James, CBS' Jim Axelrod, and myself

Stan Lee, Misty, Jim Axelrod, Daniel Richards, and myself

Be on the look out for Jim Axelrod's story on us as it should be airing on the CBS Evening News this coming Monday but of course that is subject to change with ever changing news.

Appalachian Mountain Wrestling TV and big announcement

Monday, July 10, 2017

Updates, thank you and news for July 10 2017

Just updated today with Appalachian Mountain Wresting TV for July 5. Where you can see me this week. More National and now local Media coverage. if you missed last weeks media craze alot of it is posted below as well.

A Special Thank you to everyone who came out to our annual Ministry Outreach Events with Southern States Wrestling and Ministry 29. We were apart of Calvary Baptist Church's Villagefest Saturday morning. Then we were apart of the Gray Block Party at The Appalachian Fairgrounds. We are already booked for both events again next year.

Brad Thomas returned to East Tennessee for these events. He gave a message after both events. We had a young man named Mason give his life to the lord at Calvary. We had several ask for prayers Saturday night. These are my two favorite events of the year. It was also great sharing the ring with my nephew Jake Booth again.

Here is your weekly dose of my great nephew Waylon. This was his first trip to the matches with his uncle Beau. At four months old this little boy has more charisma, personality, and sense of humor than most adults I deal with. There are not enough words to explain home much I love him.  

Coming this fall My Kingsport Wrestling 1950s Book

Here is where you can see me in Action This Week and AMW TV

This week's upcoming events. As mentioned below CBS News will be with us Tues. and Wed. for a national story that will run next week.