Friday, July 18, 2008
Why We Watch, Exhibit N
Much like season 3 of Strangers With Candy, season 2 of The Sarah Silverman Program, last night's premiere episode of Reality Bites Back (which might be the most unintentionally unfunny show ever green lighted onto television) and Hulk Hogan's contrived attempt to feign cogitation and emotion that daddy's little girl is all grown-up and has blossomed into a spoiled, ditsy, big breasted amazon suburban pop crooner on her way to a third tier college and ten years worth of routine morning after pill ingestions, STD tests, and crossed fingers during his cameo appearance on Brooke Knows Best, I feel that my past few weeks worth of blog entries have been lacking panache and sagaciousness. My recent content makes the episode of Diff'rent Strokes where the pedophile bicycle shop owner plays a game of "fondle the scrotum" with Arnold's best friend Dudley, the observational yet ironic stand-up comedy stylings of Blair Warner's intrusive and handicapable cousin Gerry on The Facts of Life, or Zack and the gang's drunk driving escapade on Saved By The Bell seem NOT overly contrived, alarmist/preachy, or unamusing by comparison.
Therefore, in order to rectify this self-perceived deficiency, yours truly Malibu Sands has decided to resurrect a thematic that is sure to inspire some shrewd, provoking, office water cooler worthy blog fodder -- The "Why We Watch Professional Wrestling" series, paying homage to the grapplers, promotions, feuds, angles, and rasslin' conventions which have made us fans of this noblest of distractions from the minutiae, tedium, and constant regret, self-doubt, disappointment, and unmitigated and spectacular failure after unmitigated and spectacular failure that is everyday life...well, mine anyways.
Today, I want to shine the spotlight on Bill Watts' Mid South Sports/Universal Wrestling Federation, which incorporated purposeful and realistic (or if you prefer, non gimmicky or cartoonish) characters, well conceived, comprehensible, and linear/straightforwardly laid out feuds and storylines, an athletic, physical, rugged, often bloody/violent in-ring product (similar to World Class, but in my opinion executed at a higher level/more disbelief suspending fashion with more talented roster top-to-bottom), and a fondness for the pier-six brawl. Covering towns in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and parts of Arkansas and Mississippi (and maybe the northern portion of Texas, IIRC), the promotion was on fire with top workers, packed houses, and national syndication of its television programs. But by the mid-1980s, it was hemorrhaging money due to an unsuccessful attempt at national expansion and and oil bust which devastated the local economy, compelling Watts to sell the promotion to Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987, leading to its absorption into the NWA (which by that point had ceased to be a collective of regional territories/promoters and was solely under the control and direction of Crockett).
I implore you to cick play on the clip above and enjoy some wild action from their flagship television program circa 1985 that features all of the elements of the Mid South style that I outlined in the preceding paragraph. Here's a bit of background on this clip and and an overview of the action:
(1) Like any critical unthinking red blooded American, owner/promoter/TV color commentator Bill Watts detests Russians.
(2) Furry boots sporting Korchenko is a Russian. Not only that, he likes to remind people of his inferior national heritage by not growing hair, wearing singlet wrestling trunks, waving the Soviet flag in a furious manner and, whenever possible, draping said flag over the corpse of his conquered opponent, most often in the form of local jobbers like Mike Boyette or Jeff Raitz.
(3) Chicken shit heel and sharp dressed man "Hotstuff" Eddie Gilbert has assembled a stable of talent -- Korchenko and The Blade Runners (a very green Sting and perpetual lumbering stiff The Ultimate Warrior) -- to run roughshod through the territory.
(4) Bill Watts ain't intimidated by no hoss or, in this case, hosses. He loves this county because of our respect for individual rights, liberty, and freedom of speech, expression, and assembly. And under no circumstances will he allow these freedoms and rights be endangered, besmirched, or exercised by a diabolical Russian and his cronies.
(5) #1 babyface Dr. Death Steve Williams, who also happens to be a hoss, don't take kindly to a Russian wanting to publicly proclaim his love of party, motherland, collectivism, and nationalized means of production. Ditto Ted DiBiase.
(6) For Watts, the means do justify the ends as he sucker punches Korchenko.
(7) A young Jim Ross is positively catatonic in cadence yet lucid in narrating the ensuing mayhem (or slobber knocker, if you prefer the contemporary parlance of Good Ol' JR). Quote of the clip (referring to the fist throwing Watts): "He's a proud American. He can't stand it any longer!!"
Thanks to MidnightRiderEddros1 for uploading this and a plethora of other assorted awesomeness from the territorial days.
Mid South Sports/UWF Wrestling...Exhibit N as to why we watch professional wrestling. Now if only I could persuade my local CW affiliate to add the UWF's 20+ year old syndicated program to the juggernaut that is their early, early morning lineup. I guarantee it will get them a higher audience share than the snow currently occupying the coveted Monday-4AM programming slot.