wrestling / Columns

The Best Of Times 2.21.08: April 1982

February 21, 2008 | Posted by Matt Adamson

As I’m writing this I’ve been devastated by the announced retirement of who is in my opinion the greatest mascot/supporter in all of sports history, Timber Jim. While I’m convinced Jim isn’t a wrestling fan (though he may have been at one point), I’m dedicating this column to him, who entertained the hell out of me as a Portland Timbers fan. Thanks for bringing a chainsaw to a soccer match in 1975 and giving 110% at almost every match since, you’ll be missed. For those of you readers who are in the Portland, Oregon area, he’ll be having his sendoff/final appearance at the Timbers 2008 home opener at PGE Park on April 17th 2008 at 7:00pm against the Puerto Rico Islanders. Get your ass to the match, it will be legendary.

If this is your first time reading The Best of Times, let me explain things before we get going. The Best of Times is a column in which I will be evaluating several wrestling promotions during a selected month from the past. I’ll take anywhere from 3-5 promotions that were thriving during the period I’m covering and go over what went down in each promotion during that month including results of big shows and major angles going on at the time. I’ll give my opinion of each and then choose the best wrestler, tag team, match, feud, show and promotion of the month. I hope to give this is slight old school kayfabe feel with a lot of modern analysis. Well, on with the show!

April 1982

For many Americans, April 1982 was a pretty mild month in terms of news, but that was not the case everywhere. On April 2nd, in a place where sheep outnumber people, war began. It was the Falklands War and Argentina were battling the United Kingdom for the small South American islands. The war would end in June, but nearly 1,000 people would die, 2,000 would be injured and 12,000 would be captured. In Canada, the Canadian government changed its constitution, giving the nation complete political independence from the UK, and this happened in professional wrestling…


In April 1982, the WWF was still the Northeast regional promotion and was running one supercard per month in Madison Square Garden. These shows were always big events and typically sold out. Jimmy Snuka and Bob Backlund were feuding over the World Title while Hulk Hogan was off joining the AWA after having recently finished filming Rocky III. It wasn’t the best of times for the WWF, but they did have big stars in Jesse Ventura, Ivan Putski, Tony Atlas and of course, Andre The Giant. All four of these men and a debuting Bob Orton Jr. would appear on the April 26th Madison Square Garden show. Here are the results…

1. Johnny Rodz def. Baron Mikel Scicluna by DQ
2. Bob Orton Jr. def. Rick McGraw due to blood loss
3. Blackjack Mulligan def. Steve Travis
4. WWF Heavyweight Championship: Jimmy Snuka def. Bob Backlund © by DQ. Backlund retains the title
5. Tony Garea def. Charlie Fulton
6. Tony Atlas def. Jesse Ventura
7. Adrian Adonis def. Pete Sanchez
8. Two out of Three Falls Match: Andre The Giant, Pedro Morales and Ivan Putski def. Mr. Saito, Mr. Fuji and Greg Valentine. The match was won 2 falls to 0, with the first fall being won by DQ

Not exactly a spectacular show now is it? However, it would be a rather impressive peak in Jimmy Snuka’s career which would lead to the WWF having enough confidence in him over the next 3 or 4 years to be a top baby face for the company. Though Bob Backlund was champion for a long stretch which included all of 1982, his drawing power was never that great, considering those set by Bruno Sammartino and carried on and improved by Hulk Hogan.


People often attribute wrestling breaking into the mainstream to the rise of Hulkamania, but that was not the case. The first real mainstream media exposure for professional wrestling came in the form of Andy Kauffman. He was an actor who played Latka Gravas on the sitcom “Taxi”. He started off wrestling women on Saturday Night Live. He then got involved with Memphis Wrestling and began to feud with Jerry Lawler who took exception to the skits he was doing involving wrestling women. This seems so funny today considering how Lawler behaves toward women in character. The Lawler feud would gain media attention due to the big wrestling match the two had on April 5th 1982 at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis. Here are the results from that show…

1. Jerry Lawler def. The Monk
2. Bobby Fulton def. J.R. Hart
3. Rick McCord def. Tojo Yamamoto
4. The Fabulous One’s and Eric Embry def. Luke Graham, The Angel and Dream Machine
5. The Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose) def. Roy Rogers and Dutch Mantel
6. Bobby Eaton and Sweet Brown Sugar (Koko B. Ware) def. Robert Gibson and Steve Keirn
7. Andy Kauffman def. Jerry Lawler by DQ

There is some great talent on this show, but the reason it is so important is because of the Kauffman vs. Lawler feud climax. From here the feud would be taken to national TV where on SNL, Late Night with David Letterman and other shows, the two would bad mouth each other and Kauffman would even get slapped out of his chair on live national TV. He would respond to this by swearing up a storm and spilling coffee on Lawler. April 1982 is the reason for these shenanigans.


In April 1982, Mid-South Wrestling did not have a big show, but as always it had stellar television programming. Tully Blanchard was spending some time in Louisiana at this point. Paul Orndorf was still rocking the place in a feud with Bob Roop that Blanchard got involved in on the side of Roop. Even Harley Race made an appearance for Mid-South in a spectacular match against Terry Taylor. While much of what was offered on Mid-South Wrestling’s TV shows was angle related, there were still several great matches that took place in April of 1982 including…

Iron Mike Sharpe and Buddy Landell vs. Afa and Sika
Jesse Barr vs. Bob Roop
Dick Murdoch vs. Bob Roop
Paul Orndorf vs. Tully Blanchard
Harley Race vs. Terry Taylor
Jesse Barr vs. Buddy Landell

It wasn’t the best month in the history of the promotion, but it was solid as always.

The Best of Times: April 1982

Best Wrestler: Paul Orndorf (Mid-South)

There aren’t a lot of standouts in terms of achievement or actual wrestling in 1982, but Paul Orndorf certainly carried his weight. The feud was Roop was hot, the match with Blanchard was top notch and he was a top star in one of the biggest territories at the time. It’s times like this that are what made Orndorf the commodity he became when he was picked up by the WWF during the early Hulkamania years.

Best Tag Team: The Midnight Express (Memphis)

The Midnight Express were in their infancy here, but nonetheless were awesome. They would get so much better with a personnel change, but Condrey and Rose could get it done better than most during this time.

Best Match: Paul Orndorf vs. Tully Blanchard (Mid-South)

In a month that wasn’t stacked with awesome wrestling matches this will have to do. It’s a darn good match, but limited by the television restrictions. Blanchard and Orndorf were fit and worked hard all the time. This match and feud raised the stock for both of them.

Best Feud: Lawler vs. Kauffman (Memphis)

The mainstream attention coupled with the quality and originality of this feud makes it one of the best that has ever been. Lawler and Kauffman got people talking about wrestling and there were times where it was easy to think that Kauffman was taking it all seriously, as if he had something to prove to Lawler. Hell, there are more than a couple movies out there about this feud.

Best Show: Lawler vs. Kauffman Show (Memphis)

April 1982 was not a great month for big shows. The WWF ran a rather weak Garden show and the other territories missed the mark as well. While the Lawler vs. Kauffman show was a one match show, it was a match that counted for something.

Best Wrestling Promotion: Memphis

Memphis was HOT in April 1982, setting up one of the biggest feuds in the history of professional wrestling up to that point. Heck, how many wrestling feuds actually manage to be largely featured in a major motion picture? Missing what was going on in Memphis in April 1982 means you missed out on the best angle pro wrestling had to offer at the time.


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Matt Adamson

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