S.S.W. 33rd Anniversary

S.S.W. 33rd Anniversary

Friday, July 21, 2017

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


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