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Memphis Wrestling (1.24.1981) Review

December 5, 2022 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
Memphis Wrestling 1-24-81 Joe DeLuc Image Credit: Memphis Wrestling
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Memphis Wrestling (1.24.1981) Review  

-Originally aired January 24, 1981.

-Your hosts are Lance Russell & Dave Brown. We’re FINALLY to the finals of the Southern Heavyweight Title tournament, which we didn’t know about until last week. Lance hastily explains that the matches in the tournament happened in “various towns,” and that both men defeated several unnamed opponents to get here. But the CWA agreed to air the finals right here on television, despite getting a sizable bid from the local promoter in Rio De Janiero, Kentucky.


-As with standard title matches, the time limit for the tournament finals is one hour, so we’re opening the show with it in case it goes the distance.

-Jimmy Hart picks a fight with Hector and Hector just goes straight over and punches him. Valiant retaliates with a stiff shot to the back of the head that knocks Hector suspiciously out cold. Babyfaces come in to tend to Hector while Lance wonders if the Jimmies brought a weapon to the ring, and we won’t have a match. Eddie Marlin hurries out here to confirm that he’s willing to delay the match for however long it takes for Hector to recover.

-But Hector has too much guts and refuses to wait, so he tells his friends to leave the ring so he can wrestle like he’s supposed to…and Valiant just wallops the dazed Hector with an elbow and pins him in seconds to win the title. Nobody conveyed disgust better than Lance Russell and this angle is a perfect example of that. Guerrero is being booked really oddly in this territory, though.

-Tuesday night in the Louisville Gardens, Jimmy has his first title defense, against “Dundee the Flea,” who’s even shorter than the guy he just beat! What’s Dundee thinking even challenging for this, the Jimmies wonder.

-We get a Jerry Lawler tribute, set to the magnificent theme from Battlestar Galactica. Jerry admits to being nervous about whether his leg would hold up during his first match back, but facing the Dream Machine in the Mid-South Coliseum convinced him that he’s still got it. We get a montage of Lawler’s revenge tour, with Lawler getting wins over Dream Machine (with a post-match brawl), and then Paul Ellering, and then Austin Idol, but Lawler battled all of them, and he’s not going anywhere any time soon.

-Moving on from Jerry Lawler, we’re back live in the studio with…Jerry Lawler. Jerry now has Jimmy Hart’s record, and he’s wondering what to do with it? Throw it in a river? Melt down the gold? Well, the second one’s not happening, because he called a friend in the record industry and learned that Gold Records are actually just gold-plated, so they really have very little actual value, so he’s not doing that either.

-Actually, side story from my life working in game shows. There’s another thing about gold records that makes them not particularly valuable. Bob Eubanks has this story about how he was gifted one of The Beatles’ gold records as a thank-you for organizing and promoting their concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. He held onto it as a trophy for years and then one day, a question writer at The Newlywed Game got curious enough to actually open up the frame, take the gold record out, and put it on a turntable, and it plays some obscure German-language opera. A gold record isn’t even the record it claims to be, the company just takes a random no-value record, slaps the appropriate label on it, and coats it with the gold.

-So Jerry announces that at 4 pm at the old bridge downtown, any fans who want to watch are welcome to show up to watch him throw Jimmy Hart’s gold record in the river. He asks the fans to be careful though because, in classic Memphis fashion, Jerry clarifies that traffic isn’t being closed and nothing official has actually been done with the city for this publicity stunt, so if you show up to watch Jerry throw the record in the river, you’re doing it at your own risk.

-Next on Jimmy Hart’s list of Lawler enemies: Joe LeDuc. If Jerry wins, Jimmy Hart will get handcuffed to the top rope and take ten lashes from a leather strap! But Lawler clarifies that it’s UP TO ten lashes. If Jimmy Hart asks Lawler to stop at any point prior to the tenth lash, Lawler has to stop, but Jimmy Hart must leave professional wrestling.

-We refresh everyone’s memory about what a crazy, dangerous mofo Joe LeDuc is. Among the flashback highlights: at a house show, ten fans are pulled from the crowd for a crazy stunt where Joe stands in the middle of the ring with his hands clasped together, and the fans pull straps on his arms to try to pull his hands apart. LeDuc holds on, and bonus, one of the straps actually breaks, so LeDuc looks extra-strong.

-We also rewatch a Mid-South Coliseum match between Lawler and LeDuc, and, get this, they selectively edit it so it’s all highlights of LeDuc just kicking the shit out of Lawler, making Lawler look like an idiot for wanting to wrestle this guy again. Oddly, this isn’t a clip of the match I was expecting to see, and Lawler even mentions afterward that he has scars from being thrown into a table by LeDuc, which we somehow didn’t get to watch here.


FALL ONE: Koko, who, yes, is still the reigning TV Champion, takes David Novak down right away. Eddie shoulderblocks David down, so he tags in brother Jerry. Gilbert reverses an atomic drop and turns it into a side headlock while Lance lays out the heels’ back story: A few years ago, they were an “obscure tag team” wrestling in low profile matches in Canada. Jimmy Kent saw them during a scouting trip and saw something in them, so he brought them to Memphis a while back and by golly, they immediately won the Southern Tag Team Titles. Just that simple. And now they’re back in the territory.

-Koko gets a beatdown in the Bounty Hunters corner and tries for a comeback, but he misses a dropkick. Eddie tries to help and we have chaos in the ring, but Jimmy Kent sneaks up, knocks Koko out, and Jerry rolls over for the three-count.

-During the rest period, we recap one of the most famous promos in the history of the territory: Joe LeDuc takes an ax and carves a huge line down his arm so that every time he looks in the mirror, he’ll see a scar that reminds him to take Jerry Lawler out of wrestling. And NOW we watch the match that happened after that promo: LeDuc presses Lawler over the top rope and Lawler lands SPLAT on a ringside table with no give to it at all, and his body just bounces right off and he lands SPLAT again on the concrete, fucking up the muscles in his leg and knocking him out of wrestling for a little bit.

-Joe LeDuc cuts a promo from “his home” in Atlanta. Joe lives in a suspiciously well-lit home with only three walls and no decorations on the walls. LeDuc shatters a flower pot across his face to prove he can take pain. “I have a maid! She can clean this up!”

FALL TWO: Back to the ring to run out the clock, Eddie cradles Jerry for a two-count. David comes in and they slug it out until Eddie can escape and tag Koko. Dropkick by Koko gets a three-count and everyone is more confused than elated by that finish. TV time expires with the match all tied up.

The final score: review Average
The 411
Lawler/Hart is going into high gear, and I'm fine with that.

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Memphis Wrestling, Adam Nedeff