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Mid-South Wrestlefest ’85 (7.28.1985) Review

September 30, 2022 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
Mid-South WrestleFest 85 Image Credit: WWE
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Mid-South Wrestlefest ’85 (7.28.1985) Review  

-It’s July 28, 1985.

-We’re on Skelly Field at the University of Tulsa. Just eyeballing it, it’s not jam-packed, but it’s enough people in there to merit a stadium show.

-No actual commentary for this one, and I’m not watching the WWE Hidden Gems version, this is a strange master tape edit where each match has its own digital slate for post-production and everything is divided up into distinct segments for future use on TV.


-No commentary for the opener. Face vs. Face match to start, with Perez getting a Magnum TA-style push on TV and Ragin having just a WEIRD career in this territory that ended with him leaving the business.

-Mat wrestling to start. They have a clean break, which the fans cheer. Then they shake hands, which the fans boo. More mat wrestling, and the fans are starting to get a little frustrated. One fan heckles Perez for “working overtime” because his whole deal on TV is winning in just a few seconds.

-Ragin has Perez all tied up on the mat. Perez escapes, and they have a battle for a hiptoss as a fan implores “We need some ACTION!” So at the five-minute mark, Perez finally scores a hiptoss and it’s the first real bump of the match. Dropkick misses, and Ragin capitalizes with a suplex for two. Perez gets to his feet and slips behind Ragin for a German suplex, and that gets three. 0 for 1. 5 minutes of holding onto each other and one minute of actual stuff happening.


-Since the last time we saw Gang in Mid-South, he’s gone off to WCCW and totally reinvented himself to the mohawk and skull & crossbones look. The ring is well-miked and OMG makes it completely worth the effort, complaining to the referee because the ref is only checking him for weapons and not Cooley. Referee recites the rules and Gang indignantly responds, “I KNOW the rules, idiot!”

-So we now have JR on commentary for Power Pro Wrestling, hyping Wrestlefest 2 in September 1986. Shoulderblocks by the Gang. Cooley comes back with dropkicks while JR mentions that Cooley is a former co-holder of the Tag Team Title, so that’s something to look forward to.

-Gang elbows and clubs away at Cooley. Avalanche by Gang, but surprisingly instead of going for the pin, Gang goes for a second avalanche and misses. Cooley throws chops and dropkicks. Cooley goes for the bodypress and Gang “catches” him in a finish gone horribly wrong, and a splash by Gang ends it, with Cooley kicking out right after the three probably because the finish looked so bad. 0 for 2.

-The crowd is split about 50/50 for this. Brown tries to work the arm. Barbarian fights him off and tries to Irish whip him, but Brown resists him and just does an odd-looking tumble to the mat. Kneelift by Barbarian. Clothesline and a big stomp by Barbarian as the crowd chants “Weasel” at…somebody.

-Front facelock by Barbarian. Brickhouse gets to his feet but runs into a big boot. Backbreaker by Barbarian and the big legdrop misses, because we don’t do that kind of crap in Mid-South.

-Brickhouse makes a comeback and targets the leg, but he gets caught in a full nelson and passes out from the pain. 0 for 3. Right now, all I can say is that the matches are at least faster-paced than the same matches would be on an MSG show.

-There’s an edit here where JR starts to announce that Kevin Von Erich vs. Dr. Death was to be the next match, HOWEVER…and then it cuts off. I’m going to assume that this was standard post-David issues with members of the family fucking off with no notice.


-This is a weird week in Eddie Gilbert’s life, as he had JUST reinvented himself into the character that made him a full-blown star, and then they immediately did an angle where he got screwed over by Oliver Humperdink, but now, instead of turning babyface from that, he’s a heel on a cannon fodder team. A heckler at ringside warns the heels, “I’ll give YOU some Hot Stuff!” which probably sounded completely different in his head.

-Gray armdrags Bobby Fulton right away and declares victory. Fulton fights back with some of his own, and the Fantastics clear the ring in seconds with dropkicks. And holy crap, the match just stops at that point because the old lady contingent in the crowd starts a “Jerry’s going down!” chant and everybody in the ring runs with it, with the Fantastics egging it on and the heels complaining about it, and not a damn thing happens for the next three minutes because they’re getting peak crowd reaction just from everyone responding to the chants. This happens every now and then when I’m writing these reviews and it’s a perfect example of something that doesn’t lend itself to criticism very well–if the crowd was reacting to YOU this strongly, and you’re not doing a damn thing, why would you do anything more?

-So the Fantastics start double-teaming the hell out of Jerry to work his harm over. Jerry leapfrogs Tommy Rogers and tries for a dropkick, but Tommy ducks it and slaps on a wristlock. Fantastics switch off without tagging just to screw with Eddie Gilbert on the apron. Eddie tags in and now he gets caught in the wristlock, and the crowd recalibrates to an “Eddie’s going down” chant.

-Eddie tries a corner charge but misses, and the Fantastics double-team him to continue the worst afternoon either heel has ever had. Fulton hits the ropes and Gray trips him from the outside, and the crowd just immediately starts plotting the murder of Jerry Gray. Gray tags in and now Eddie cheats from the apron and the crowd is good and riled up.

-Tommy Rogers protests to the referee while the heels drop elbow after elbow on Fulton. Bobby uses his last ounce of strength for a big boot to the face. Hot tag to Tommy and the crowd builds a roof over the stadium just to blow it off. All four men come into the ring. Fulton ties Gray into a standing front facelock, and Rogers leaps over his partner and turns it into a sunset flip on Gray for the win. 1 for 4. In terms of “legacy,” I think the Fantastics were the most harmed by the death of the territories because they got squeezed out at the end of the decade and it’s easy to forget how GOOD they were and how well they played their roles.

-Heel versus heel, but Jake has been awesome in his role in recent months and the fans seem delighted to finally have a reason to cheer him because he’s in there with a guy that everybody in Mid-South hates even more. Jake demands an inspection of the black glove and DiBiase pulls it off and offers to hand it to him, to make it emphatically clear that there’s absolutely nothing in there.

-Some jockeying for position to start, but we get a favorite spot of Jake’s big matches, where he goes for the DDT the very first time that he sees an opening and the opponent gets the hell out of the ring and panics.

-Back in, DiBiase goes for a wristlock and yanks Jake down by the hair, but Jake is a dastardly heel too, so he yanks the hair right back, and DiBiase is AGHAST that Jake did that. DiBiase throws punches. Jake fights back with the punch to the belly/kneelift combo and goes for the DDT, and again, DiBiase escapes and his “What do I do now?” walk around the ring is pretty good storytelling. Jake lies on his back to get DiBiase back into the ring.

-Side headlock by Jake. DiBiase fights it off and goes for a sunset flip, but Jake blocks it with a punch and goes for the DDT a third time. DiBiase is escapes and Jake has had it with waiting, so he just follows DiBiase out to the floor. It ends up being a ruse and DiBiase readily attacks him and drives his head into Jim Ross’ table (where the microphone for the PA is still turned on, so the table shots ECHO and it sounds great).

-Back in the ring, a neckbreaker by DiBiase gets two. Now Jake seems to want out of the ring for a break, but DiBiase stops that with boots and then chokes him out. Jake breaks the chokehold by raking the eyes. DiBiase fights back, punching Jake with the gloved hands a few times to get a two-count. Jake rams DiBiase into a turnbuckle, which, to be honest, I don’t recall ever really seeing in Mid-South until now.

-DiBiase is dazed and Jake makes his comeback with a flurry of punches. They hit the ropes, DiBiase ducks, and Jake just brick-walls the referee on impact and knocks him out. DiBiase loads up the glove and rears back for one big right hand, but Jake dodges it and FINALLY hits the DDT so hard that the weapon flies out of DiBiase’s glove. Referee revives, counts three, calls for the bell…and finds the weapon lying on the mat. And in a fun twist on the formula, Jake describes exactly what happened with some pantomime, the referee considers his decision for a moment, and then lets his original decision stand. Jake is the winner! 2 for 5. Two masters of their craft at work.

-How to screw with a person just starting to learn English: explain to him that these guys’ first names don’t rhyme.

Dutch works the arm and shoulderblocks Reed down. Reed fights back with a soupbone, and even without JR’s commentary to help me, I know a soupbone when I see it. Dutch works the arm and uses handfuls of hair (“He’s got my fucking hair, goddamn it!” Reed tells the referee). Dutch wrings the neck before getting into a brief scuffle with the referee. Action spills to the floor and Butch is reeling.

-Abdominal stretch by Dutch, but he just gets tired of applying it for whatever reason and gives Butch an inverted atomic drop instead. He heads to the second rope and misses a forearm. Butch hulks up and beats down Dutch, but the referee gets bumped AGAIN (and to be honest, if I have to pick a weakness in this territory, that’s it, it’s utterly dependent on ref bumps).

-Dutch goes for the whip and knocks Reed out with the handle. Referee revives, but Reed kicks out at two. Slugfest goes Reed’s way, and a press slam gets three. This was fine. 3 for 6.


-Faces come to the ring in a monster truck with two big American flags waving as the Marine Hymn blares. Might as well just have Jim Ross yell “GOD!” instead of introducing the team to complete the ensemble.

-So Akbar has his arm in a sling, and the Nightmare standing by his side. Akbar explains that he’s injured and bowing out, however, he’s brought the Nightmare here has a suitable replacement. That is NOT what Bill Watts signed up for, so he demands that Grizzly Smith get down to ringside. Nightmare picks a fight while everyone’s waiting, so the faces just kick the shit out of him and the rest of the heels and clear the ring completely by the time Grizzly moseys on down there and tells Skandar that he has to wrestle. Nightmare is escorted back to the locker room as all three faces gang up on Skandar, then clear the ring again when Kamala and Kareem come to his aid.

Heels storm the ring and get cleared out AGAIN, and we haven’t even had exactly two men in the ring at any point yet. Watts gets sandwiched by the fat guys, but Duggan knocks Muhammad out of the ring, then spears Kamala into position for a stampede, and Watts pins Kamala, oh my god. 3 for 7. Watts was at a point in his life where if he was getting in the ring at all, it should have been a one-on-one comedy match with Akbar, and watching this aging, pale, balding man dominate an entire entourage of professional killing machines was Nth-level obnoxious. And everybody beats up Nightmare AGAIN after it’s all over!

-This isn’t quite Dusty at his worst ego-driven instincts yet, otherwise he’d do an Oklahoma stampede and a DDT in the first 30 seconds of the match.

-Top wristlock by Big Dust. He switches it into a hammerlock and clonks Ric with the big elbow. Dusty stays on the arm until Flair backs him into the corner and chops him. Flair takes him down but misses a knee drop, and Dusty applies his, uh, version of the figure four, the one where he makes it look like it’s only kind-of on.

-It finally gets to Murdoch and Kareem, and Murdoch cleans house with elbows. Duggan comes in for a double-spear with Murdoch on Kareem, and then they do the same to Kamala. Heels regroup and head back in, and Murdoch clears them out AGAIN.

-So we finally, for just a hot second, get a moment where Murdoch is in some kind of trouble, as the heels manage to back him into the corner and gang up on him. Akbar applies a rear chinlock on him, then tags out and lets his men tee off on Murdoch until Duggan and Watts come in to clean house. Again.

-Flair makes the ropes, and Dusty throws chops. Dusty follows with a snapmare and doesn’t even bend a knee for it, he just grabs Flair by the neck and yanks him toward the general area where he wants Flair to land.

-Flair comes back with rights and chops, then goes to work on the arm. Dusty fights back with his good elbow and applies a sleeper hold. Flair breaks, but Dusty PRESS SLAMS him for a two-count. Elbow drop by Dusty misses, and NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL.

-Dusty rolls and reverses. Flair goes to the top rope and you know how that goes. Dusty Irish whips him and you know how that goes. Flair throws chops and goes for an Irish whip, but Dusty reverses the Irish whip right into the referee for ANOTHER ref bump!!!

-Clothesline by Dusty gets the visual three-count. Flair revives and goes for a piledriver, but Dusty backdrops him over the top rope, so you know EXACTLY what’s about to happen. Suplex brings Flair back into the ring and Dusty gets another visual three-count, but the referee calls for the bell instead and it’s a DQ win for Flair. 3 for 8. This was not a hidden gem from their unending series. It was very, very auto-pilot for both of them and the worst of Dusty’s booking (Dusty HAD to have booked this himself as part of the deal).

The final score: review Bad
The 411
Wow, that was a bit of a let-down.

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Mid-South Wrestling, Adam Nedeff