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Memphis Wrestling (12.8.1979) Review

October 20, 2021 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
Jerry Lawler Memphis Wrestling
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Memphis Wrestling (12.8.1979) Review  

-Originally aired December 8, 1979.

-Your hosts are Lance Russell & Dave Brown.


-Tojo unloads on Hutchinson while Sonny King comes to the commentary table to explain himself. He put a lot of work into trying to turn Ricky Morton into a man, and Ricky just wouldn’t listen to him.

-Tojo goes to the eyes and the throat as Sonny pledges to run the entire wrestling business in Memphis. He’s probably one of the 40 people who bought the company in the ’90s. Stomach claw by Tojo gets the win, although I still like the hold my friends and I gave to that move in high school, the fat grab.

-Lance brings out Big Red and Ricky Morton, and we get our historic first Ricky Morton promo ever, maybe. I dunno. We’re missing a lot of episodes. Rick has plain brown hair, blue jeans, and a button-down shirt, and you would never, ever recognize him out of context. Rick starts to talk about the incident last week, but Sonny King and Tojo Yamomoto attack both men, and Sonny hogties Big Red to finish the assault. Sonny slaps Ricky around and tells him to LISTEN, and the entire time they’re carrying out the attack, they don’t notice the referee in the background untying Big Red. Red gets back to his feet, and Sonny and Tojo get outta town.

NON-TITLE: JERRY “The King” LAWLER (CWA World Heavyweight Champion) vs. KOKO WARE

-Funny start to this, as they’re still refusing to acknowledge Jimmy Hart as any kind of a credible manager, and Lawler has to demand a chair at ringside because they didn’t bother putting one out there for Jimmy like they do with the rest of the managers.

-Lawler stalls a bit before Koko can get a top wristlock applied. Lawler flings him off. Koko does likewise and naturally Lawler gets the most mileage possible out of complaining about phantom hair-pulling. Lawler goes to a wristlock and snaps and snaps and snaps that arm.

-Lawler elbows him down but misses a fist drop. Again, when you want to build up somebody as a big unstoppable killing machine, fine, do a one-sided squash. One-sided squash matches have their place. But Lawler does the kind of squash match that I like, where he makes his opponent look good and then overcomes him and looks like a bigger star in the process. For the perfect example of this, watch the 1989 NWA match with Terry Funk wrestling jobber Eddie Guerrero. Terry goes the extra mile making Eddie Guerrero look like a STAR, and then not only wins, but wins credibly enough that he has more heat by the time it’s over. If you make your opponent look good, you’ll look like a big star for being able to beat him.

-By the time I’m done typing all this, Lawler has Koko in a wristlock, and the King gives the camera a total shit-eating grin and does muscle poses, acting like Koko was never really any problem for him. Lawler DEMANDS that Lance Russell acknowledge what a great job he’s doing, and Koko has finally had enough and socks Lawler to break the hold.

-And aggression works, so Koko unleashes rapid punches and a headbutt. Corner charge misses, so Lawler capitalizes with a suplex, and a fist drop from the second rope gives Lawler the win. Great fun, with Lawler putting on a clinic in how to make a lot out of a little. They stayed in a hold for a good long time and Lawler just went the extra mile to annoy everybody while hanging onto the hold.

-We go to film footage from a few weeks ago, with Lawler in the locker room after defeating Superstar Billy Graham to capture the CWA World Heavyweight Title. Lawler pledges that he’s not going to relinquish the Southern Heavyweight Title. Two titles aren’t too much for him, and his goal is to just keep collecting championships and then defending everyone of them. He writes off Superstar Billy Graham as a chump while Lance Russell tries to warn him that Graham is waiting for a rematch.

-Funny shift in gears, as Lawler was just screaming and cackling through the whole promo, and then we get back to Lance Russell live in the studio and he just says, “Glorious night for Lawler,” the same way that you say “Nice weather.”

-Interesting thing that I’ve noticed at this point: Jimmy hasn’t cut a promo yet. I mean, yeah, he’s new to the business, I can understand hedging their bets while they maybe coach him and do some practice sessions in the locker room. But Jimmy is basically a high-energy Virgil out there and Lawler does all the talking whenever it’s time to cut a promo.

-Lance welcomes the newbies to the territory, Billy Robinson & Paul Ellering, and my god, Paul Ellering is so roided up that I don’t think he could clap his hands together over his head.


-Robinson sits in on commentary. The Avenger is masked so I can’t be 100% certain of the identity, but based on the shirtless physique, it’s probably Patrick Macnee and not Diana Rigg.

-Ellering elbows Avenger down and does to a double toehold, and Robinson craps all over Avenger for using the ropes to break the hold instead of actually getting out. Why is that a heelish thing to do? I don’t get that about these old shows. Why is being smart so terrible?

-Paul sticks with amateur wrestling and rides him. Paul whips and flips Avenger, then backdrops him. Gutwrench by Paul gets two. Atomic drop gets the three-count.

-Lance Russell talks about the incredibly gutsy thing Billy Robinson did recently: He asked Jerry Jarrett for an advance. HA! No, no, actually, he told Jerry Jarrett that he wanted to get to #1 contender status right away and suggested wrestling the Blonde Bombers in a handicap match for his debut in the territory, on the logic that he could jump quite a few places in line if he got a win like that in his first match.

-So we go to the Mid-South Coliseum for highlights. Robinson ties Wayne Ferris in a full nelson and twists and drops him, and Ferris’ sell is a a masterpiece. Robinson clears the ring as the Bombers and Danny Davis are all shocked and bewildered about how to deal with this guy because they all figured it was an easy win.

-Latham comes in and tries a wristlock, but Robinson drops to his back and kicks up, and the only way to describe this is he powerbombs Latham with his feet. It’s a wild visual and a hell of a move to pull off.

-Ferris tags back in and tries a waistlock, and Robinson counters by just letting Ferris take him down to the mat and elbowing him right in the face. Latham comes in and gets shoulderblocked all over the place. Danny Davis has finally had enough and trips Robinson from the floor, and the Bombers smell blood now. Bombers abandon all semblance of a match and just stay in the ring together and gang up on him. Danny Davis decides it looks fun, so he comes in too, but his timing sucks, as Robinson gets his second wind and just murders Danny with the stiffest-looking backbreaker I’ve ever seen. Robinson singlehandedly takes out both of the Bombers, and everybody heads for the locker room and escapes the onslaught. It’s only a win by DQ, but Robinson still looks like a superhero and it only took one match.

-Billy Robinson stays on commentary for this one.

-Assassins pounce before the bell and it looks like the challengers are already boned. Assassin #1 lifts him in a bearhug and just drops him. #2 with a running powerslam as the crowd frantically tries to motivate the faces with a chant, but the commentators just write it off as a hopeless endeavor. “He never had a chance!”

-Assassin #2 does a legdrop on the shoulder while hanging onto the arm, and Hector appears to have a broken arm. Billy Robinson is furious about what a sick move that was and how they’ve crossed a line from trying to win to trying to maim a man, and he’s so riled up that he yells at Lance Russell to stop the match because Hector is obviously injured. Lance sounds the bell and Billy is so furious about the terrible sportsmanship that he storms into the ring and kicks both Assassins’ assasses.

-But the Assassins aren’t going to let that fly, so when Robinson returns to the commentary table and tries to explain his actions, the Assassins attack. But Paul Ellering is still in the building, so he comes to his buddy’s aid, and it looks like we have ourselves a match for Monday night at the Coliseum.

-And sure enough, Billy Robinson returns and says Jerry Jarrett promised him any match he wanted when he arrived in the territory…well, he wants a tag team match against the Assassins, with Paul Ellering as his partner!

-Jerry Jarrett comes out to clarify that he really just meant matches that would put Robinson in line for a title shot, but damn it, Billy wants THIS match, so Jerry agrees. And Jerry adds a GREAT extra touch to this, as he’s holding the scheduled card for Memphis Monday night in his hands…Lance hasn’t announced the matches yet…and Jerry goes over the sheet with a pencil as he mutters to himself. “Okay, well, if we put Ellering in a tag match…that moves Koko here…and this one has to be the third match now.” Compare this to everything that happens on RAW where a promo cut at the start of the show leads to the main event at the end of the show, and you’re just left to assume that the main event otherwise would have been, I don’t know, Harrison Anderson vs. Preston Darrington or whoever the hell is on RAW anymore. I like the idea that there actually was a plan and that Billy’s challenge required some tinkering.

-BONUS: They run the graphics package for the card on Monday night, and the graphics package has the “wrong” matches, so Lance has to clarify what the card actually is. It won’t be Koko Ware & Paul Ellering vs. The Assassins, it’ll be Billy Robinson & Paul Ellering vs. The Assassins, and instead of Billy Robinson vs. Super Destroyer, it’ll be Koko Ware vs. Super Destroyer. Your main event is title for title, AWA vs. CWA, Jerry Lawler vs. Nick Bockwinkel, with a 90-minute time limit!

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Mandatory viewing if you've only come across the name Billy Robinson but never actually saw him in action. Great show, too!

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Memphis Wrestling, Adam Nedeff