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Opening the Vault of Classic Memphis Wrestling (Episode One)

We begin the show with Corey Maclin and Dave Brown telling us all about what to expect on this debut episode of Opening the Vault of Classic Memphis Wrestling. It’s clear that this show was created to filler until Power Pro Wrestling could get back on its feet. Sadly, that day never happened. Both Corey and Dave hype up the show and are thrilled to bring us a peek back at some of the greatest matches and angles in Memphis wrestling history.

The show starts off strong with the Monday Night Memories music video. Back in March 1994, Jimmy Hart quickly put together this song as a tribute to the legends of Memphis wrestling in preparation for the Monday Night Memories show which drew 6,500 fans to the Mid-South Coliseum to see legends like Jerry Lawler, Austin Idol, and Terry Funk. The song is a little cheesy, but it’s a great look at all the big names that came and went through Memphis.


Following the music video, Corey and Dave are joined by The Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart, who I am convinced is never not in character.

He immediately begins bragging about having the most impact on Memphis wrestling history and starts naming off all the big names he’s worked with while Corey and Dave try not to roll their eyes. Jimmy mentions on his favorite teams was PYT (Pretty Young Things) that consisted of Koko B Ware (Stagger Lee) and Norvell Austin. This led us into our first wrestling clip of the show: PYT vs. The Fabulous Ones (Eddie Gilbert and Tommy Rich).

Opening the Vault of Classic Memphis Wrestling is a clip show, so we do not get to see the full match here. This match took place at the WMC-TV 5 studios and was one hell of a brawl. Things got out of control quickly and bodies were flying all over the place. Hellacious punches are thrown and it made me realize how weak the punches thrown nowadays are. These punches looked real and looked like they felt real. Eventually the action spills out onto the floor as the referee loses control of the match. Jimmy Hart gets involved, and starts beating the hell out of Tommy Rich while he’s being held by Koko.

Things become so out of control in the tiny studio crowd, that you actually see Memphis police officers stepping in to keep the crowd back at certain moments. Obviously, this match was a double DQ. I wasn’t able to find a date for when this match took place, but I was able to narrow it down to sometime in 1983-1984.

We cut back to Corey, Dave, and Jimmy who are now joined by Jerry “The King” Lawler. Jimmy Hart jumps out of the big chair to allow The King to sit and he plays it off wonderfully, telling The King how much he’s been bragging about him, when in fact, he has done nothing but trash Lawler until he showed up.

They joked about some bad blood because of the Jimmy Hart vs. Jerry Lawler feud over the years, and Jimmy Hart even commented at one point about not wanting to have his jaw broken again. (Jerry Lawler purposely broke Jimmy Hart’s jaw as a receipt for his comment about having to put down a prized race horse once he breaks a leg which was in reference to Jerry Lawler and the year he had to take off due to a broken leg.) 

Jerry tells the story about how he went to the same high school as Jimmy Hart, although Hart was several years older. He mentions that despite hitting it big with The Gentrys, Lawler found Hart singing in a lounge years later, looking all pathetic, so he took him in and introduced him to the world of wrestling, only to have Jimmy turn on him once he got injured. Hart and Lawler play so well off each other it’s a joy to watch them on the screen at the same time, even when discussing small non-wrestling stories like this.

Our next match is Jerry Lawler vs. Nick Bockwinkle, which is always a good time. Jerry is rocking some awesome purple tights, and Nick Bockwinkle clearly has the upper hand when we begin the match.

Both men are obviously tired where we pick up in the match, but out of no where Bockwinkle head butts Lawler in the crotch. A normal man would cower in pain, but not The King. Instead he hulks up, pulls the strap down, and begins beating Bockwinkle with stiff punches. He crawls to the second rope and hits The Jawbreaker, but Bockwinkle kicks out. Jimmy Hart and Jim Cornette both come out, and Hart pushes Lawler off the second rope and then retreats under the ring. In what has to be a first and only time in wrestling history, the referee listens to the crowd and looks under the ring and sees Jimmy Hart. In the ring, Bockwinkle has covered Lawler, but referee Jim Calhoun pushes Bockwinkle off and disqualifies him. Lawler wins the AWA title, but two days later, Jimmy Hart lobbied Verne Gagne and had the decision over turned.

Following some back and forth between Hart and Lawler, The Fabulous One Jackie Fargo calls in to give Hart a piece of his mind.

We get clips of a crazy match between Jackie Fargo and Stan Lane vs. The Moon Dogs in a grudge stretcher match. If you want to see some insane hardcore wrestling years before ECW would come along, you need to see this match.


Our next match is The Fabulous Ones (Steve Kern and Stan Lane) vs. The Masked Assassins in a masks vs. hair match from the Mid-South Coliseum on November 7th, 1983. The hosts were forced to run this clip after Jimmy Hart proclaimed The Fabulous Ones never once beat a Hart Family tag team. Well, as we see in our clip here, The Assassins are beaten cleanly by The Fabulous Ones and are forced to de-mask.

You can’t run a classic Memphis wrestling show without mentioning Andy Kaufman. The King runs a clip from the Memphis News that highlighted the night that Jerry Lawler piledrived Andy Kaufman. It’s a very short information piece that was no doubt added to cash in on the recently released Man on the Moon movie.

Next we are treated to a highlight reel set to Jerry Lawler’s own song, “The World’s Greatest Wrestler.” It’s uhhh… interesting.

We end the show with some previewing of next week’s episode with a promise of some footage of Austin Idol, Memphis most asked about legend.

Thoughts:

For the first episode of a TV show that was just thrown together at the last minute, this worked surprisingly well. It’s not polished and plays off more like four friends gathering around to look back at the past and this allows all of involved parties to shine, especially Lawler and Hart.

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