Profiles‎ > ‎

Mid-South


One of the most successful and most acclaimed territorial promotions was Bill Watts'
Mid-South Wrestling, which was actually only in operation under that name for six and a half years. It was followed by Watts' attempt at a national product, the Universal Wrestling Federation, and it was preceeded by Leroy McGuirk's NWA Tri-State promotion. Although Watts changed pro-wrestling in that region more than any other individual and the "Mid-South" tag is attached to him and that four state region, there is long tradition of pro-wrestling that came before him.

Originally, two promoters were running the major operations in the region in the 1920s. One was Julius Sigel, who was based out of Houston, Texas, and his promotional efforts trickled over into Louisiana from time to time. The other promoter was Sam Avey, based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who ran that state into the 1950s. Avey was a local entrepreneur, who owned the Coliseum, which housed pro-wrestling in the city through the 1940s. He also established the local radio station with other businessmen and that became a main media outlet for promoting his product. In the 1950s, Avey brought local hero Leroy McGuirk on board to run the Coliseum and take over as Avey focused on his other investments. By the end of the decade, McGuirk had taken over the promotion and Avey only made the odd appearance for big shows.

The creation of television and national stability saw a boom in professional wrestling throughout the country. McGuirk, aligned with the National Wrestling Alliance, began expanding his territory. Throughout the next two decades, his promotion, Tri-State Wrestling, reached from Oklahoma into Arkansas, Mississippi and eventually Louisiana with a network of local promoters that maintained order. These four states were ripe with rasslin' fans. In fact, Jerry Jarrett was able to expand into Arkansas himself and Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling (based out of Mobile, Alabama), ran in Mississippi and Louisiana through the 1970s. In the late 1970s, McGuirk's Tri-State promotion began fragmenting. Watts felt he could do things better himself, so he broke away and basically took over the region within a few years. He had one of the most impressive operations in the country in the 1980s, but a ripple effect set off by the oil crunch of the mid-1980s, forced him to sell his company to Jim Crockett Promotions. They took over running parts of the region, competing with Vince McMahon's WWF over the scraps.


NWA Tri-State Wrestling (1958-1982)
Tri-State Wrestling headed by Leroy McGuirk ran successfully for years in this tough area of the United States. The physical area was huge and the population to draw from was small, but many stars came through and developed there over the promotion's twenty year run. McGuirk was a junior heavyweight himself and mainly promoted them with some excellent talents to get behind, namely Danny Hodge and Jack Brisco. The promotion's name, Tri-State, refers to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, but Mississippi became a key state and they even ran spot shows in Missouri and Texas. The focal cities were: Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Little Rock and Fort Smith, Arkansas and Shreveport, Louisiana. After struggling in the early 1960s, McGuirk aligned himself with Verne Gagne and Fritz Von Erich for a time and eventually partnered up with Bill Watts and his long-time top star Danny Hodge. The promotion came alive in the late 1960s and was reformed in the early 1970s under McGuirk and Watts, shifting its focus away from being just another NWA territory. They even pulled out of the Alliance and bought out Gagne and Von Erich in hopes of running bigger shows and promoting itself better. New Orleans, Louisiana, became their big money city and Watts felt they had to shift their focus toward it instead of Oklahoma. By this point, the company had split into Northern and Southern operations. Like Tennesee, the old-timer stuck with his main region (the Northern part), while the secondary part (the Southern part) was allowed to grow and it eventually broke away and the old part eventually died off. McGuirk had lost touch and Watts bought the Southern portion of Tri-State Wrestling. George Scott came in to book the remained Northern part and McGuirk's daughter took over promoting, but it struggled for the next few years before Watts bought it in 1982.  


Skandar Akbar

The Assassins

Tarzan Baxter (The Wrestling Pro)

Jack Brisco

Danny Hodge

Hollywood Blondes (Dale Roberts & Jerry Brown)

Chuck Karbo

Don Kent

Killer Karl Kox

Leroy McGuirk

Sputnik Monroe

Dick Murdoch

Bruiser Bob Sweetan

Waldo Von Erich

Bill Watts


CLICK HERE for a full NWA Tri-State alumni list



Mid-South Wrestling (1979-1986)
Mid-South Wrestling is one of well-respected pro-wrestling organizations of the sport’s unique history. It became legendary for its athletic matches, wild angles and distinct personalities. Its mastermind, Bill Watts, had been a successful booker in Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida before deciding to start his own promotion in 1979. New Orleans was big money city for Tri-State Wrestling and Watts decided to take it, its home state of Louisiana and neighboring Mississippi and create a top notch wrestling promotion. Watts was an innovative promoter and turned Mid-South into one of the premier companies in the early 1980s. He broke away from the NWA, but remained loosely affiliated with them. Over the next few years, Watts bought out and expanded into Leroy McGuirk's territory of Oklahoma and Arkansas. He also accumulated more power by creating beneficial relationships with Paul Boesch in Houston, Joe Blanchard in San Antonio and Jerry Jarrett in Memphis. As the WWF and Jim Crockett Promotions grew and other promoters were unsure of their futures, Watts made an attempt to go national himself. He secured a TV deal with Turner Broadcasting and quickly garnered a strong viewing audience. Watts was position to take over the WWF’s two-hour Saturday slot in 1985, when it was snatched away from him and JCP bought the spot in their own national push. Watts was not deterred, he reorganized and tried again.  

Chris Adams

Skandar Akbar

Andre the Giant

Brad Armstrong

Tony Atlas

Bruiser Brody

Crusher Broomfield (One Man Gang)

Bob Brown

King Kong Bundy

Porkchop Cash

Wendell Cooley

Jim Cornette

Krusher (Barry) Darsow 

Ted DiBiase

The Dirty White Boys (Len Denton & Tony Anthony) 

Jim Duggan

Kim Duk

Bill Dundee
The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts)

The Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane & Steve Keirn)

The Fantastics (Tommy Rogers & Bobby Fulton)

Ric Flair

Jimmy Garvin

Mike George

Eddie Gilbert

Ryuma Go

Terry Gordy

The Grappler

Chavo Guerrero

Michael Hayes

Gino Hernandez

Hercules Hernandez

Tim Horner

Bill Irwin

Rufus R. Jones

Junkyard Dog

Kabuki

Kamala

Killer Khan
Killer Karl Krupp

Krusher Krushchev (Barry Darsow)

Ernie Ladd

Buddy Landell

Stagger Lee (Junkyard Dog)

Mark Lewin

Marty Lunde (Arn Anderson)

Magnum T. A.

Dutch Mantell

Masked Superstar
Wahoo McDaniel

Bugsy McGraw

Shawn Michaels

Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey)

Angelo Mosca

Kareem Muhammad

Dick Murdoch

Kendo Nagasaki

Mr. Olympia (Jerry Stubbs)

One Man Gang

Paul Orndorff

King Parsons

Al Perez
Lanny Poffo

Tom Prichard

P.Y.T. Express (Koko B. Ware & Norvell Austin)

Butch Reed

Dusty Rhodes

Buddy Roberts

Jake Roberts

Dewey Robertson (The Missing Link)

Buck Robley

Rock-N-Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) 

Rip Rogers

Bob Roop

Tito Santana

Buzz Sawyer

The Sheepherders (Luke Williams & Butch Miller)

"Mr. Unpredictable" Dick Slater

Rick Steiner

Adrian Street

Big John Studd

Super Destroyer

"Bruiser" Bob Sweetan

Terry Taylor

Nikolai Volkoff

David Von Erich

Kerry Von Erich

Kevin Von Erich

Koko B. Ware
"Cowboy" Bill Watts

Wild Samoans (Afa & Sika) 

"Dr. Death" Steve Williams

Mr. Wrestling II


UWF - Universal Wrestling Federation (1986-1987)
Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling was one of the premier territorial promotions in the United States in 1985. The WWF was successfully moving into markets and forcing competitors to close or sell out, the other promotions were not only unable to unify, but they began vying for the #2 spot. Watts was confident in himself as a businessman, who understood his market, his product and his bottom line. He also had the best right-hand man around - Jim Ross. After failing to buy the WWF's Saturday TV slot on TBS, Ross became the man who brokered TV deals that expanded the company's viewing audience. Though their talent pool was not what it was several years prior, it was still strong and they offered a gritty version of pro-wrestling that was tough to match. The major change was the name, in an attempt to get away from the regional feel, they became the “Universal Wrestling Federation” and declared their own World Champion. It was not to last. While the other companies lost their fortunes trying to keep up with McMahon, the UWF’s home territory simply bottomed out with the oil crunch. They had once had a lucrative, albeit widespread region. When the money left, so did the demand for amusement like pro-wrestling. Watts struggled for a while, but soon sold his assets to Jim Crockett Promotions. The UWF talent was largely buried and many of them found work elsewhere after a while. Notorious promoter Herb Abrams rekindled the UWF name in the early 1990s when he ran several forgettable shows under the UWF banner. Time has largely washed away the UWF name and the legacy of the region is its predecessor - Mid-South Wrestling.

Chris Adams

Skandar Akbar

The Blade Runners (Rock & Sting)

Mike Boyette

Leroy Brown

Jim Cornette

Ted DiBiase

Shane Douglas

"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan

The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts)

The Fantastics (Tommy Rogers & Bobby Fulton)

Eddie Gilbert

Terry Gordy

Chavo Guerrero

Sam Houston

Kamala

Ivan Koloff

Nikita Koloff

Buddy Landell

The Lightning Express (Brad Armstrong & Tim Horner)

Masked Superstar

The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane)

The Missing Link

Dick Murdoch

One Man Gang

King Parsons

Dusty Rhodes

The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal)

Buddy Roberts

Big Bubba Rogers

Buzz Sawyer

The Sheepherders (Luke Williams & Butch Miller)

Dick Slater 

Tracy Smothers

Rick Steiner

Sting

The Super Ninja

Terry Taylor

Koko B. Ware

Bill Watts

"Dr. Death" Steve Williams

Barry Windham



SOUTHERN RASSLIN' BOOKMARKS

Comments