365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
I wouldn’t be a wrestling fan if it wasn’t for my dad.
Oh sure, I discovered the sublime art of costumed murder gymnastics myself, turning on the USA Network on a Sunday afternoon in 1987 in the midst of a squash match. I don’t remember all the particulars, but I distinctly recall Junkyard Dog and Hillbilly Jim teaming together … maybe with Billy Jack Haynes? Not long after, I remember expressing my newfound interest to my parents. Turns out, dad had been a lifelong fan of wrestling himself, but, with my parents deciding they didn’t want to risk warping my fragile little mind (ha!) he wouldn’t watch it in the room. Dad also likes to tell the story that, as a wee tyke in the early 1980s, I had a habit of awaking from my Saturday afternoon naps right in the middle of the main event of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. Or maybe WorldWide?
Anyhoo… Dad had and has his favorites like any fan. Two guys near the top of his list are featured on opposite sides of our January 26 entry for 365 Wrestling: Mr. Wrestling II and Kevin Sullivan going against Austin Idol and Masked Superstar on Georgia Championship Wrestling TV from January 26, 1980.
You can find this match on YouTube by searching for the full episode of TV. Start watching at the 12-minute mark.
Mr. Wrestling II and the Superstar were longtime rivals by now, embroiled in a seemingly endless feud. Each man had ripped off the mask of the other on TV, with the de-masked individual in either case quick to cover his head to reveal his face being shown, of course. At the time of this match, II has just dethroned Superstar to become the new Georgia Heavyweight Champion. The Masked Superstar also has an ongoing $3,000 bounty he’s agreed to pay for anyone who can break his dreaded Cobra Clutch.
Meanwhile, Idol and Sullivan are in a feud of their own. The video of this episode features pre-match interviews with both teams, and mention is made of Sullivan’s family. I did some research, which told me the feud started when Idol reportedly broke the leg of Sullivan’s brother in another territory. After Idol and the Superstar have their say, Solie interviews the trio of Sullivan, II, and Steve Travis. Sullivan and Travis originally were slated to team up for this match but Travis and his slouched cowboy hat have agreed to step aside for the masked man.
The fists and feet start flying from the moment Sullivan and II try entering the ring, and the audience loves it. This kind of heated brawling fits the studio wrestling of the territories so well, with such intimate surroundings and the fans right on top of the action. Seeing Sullivan as a clean-cut babyface is interesting and such a departure from the majority of his later work. He spends the majority of this match as the good guy in peril. Idol and Superstar prevent a tag at every turn. Take note of some of the little things the heels do to keep Sullivan from making the tag. At one point, after Sullivan reverses a suplex on Idol, the Universal Heartthrob blocks off Sullivan with his own body, just planting a leg in front of Sullivan for enough time for Idol to make the tag/
Sullivan keeps fighting and keeps getting knocked back. Meanwhile, the studio audience starts chanting “Two!” at one juncture in their eagerness to see the masked man get into action, while Gordon Solie’s commentary is on point to help keep the overarching narrative flowing. Finally Sullivan makes it to his corner and the crowd goes bananas as II charges into the ring. Looking at Mr. Wrestling II from a modern view, you might wonder what all the fuss was about. He doesn’t have a good physique, his plain white trunks and boots couldn’t be more basic, but he brings so much fire and charisma that made him beloved by the Georgia fans in particular. Though he’s known more I’d say for his singles work, he’s got some great hot tags in him (see the Christmas night steel cage tag with Magnum TA against Jim Neidhart and Butch Reed from Mid-South for evidence, if you haven’t seen that match).
II has the studio audience in the palm of his hand and has the heels reeling with strikes and several of his “patented” knee lifts. Idol trips up the masked man as he goes into the ropes, and that’s apparently enough for the referee to call for the bell. Such a result would get blasted by Twitter nowadays but the actual outcome of the match gets overshadowed as the brawl continues between the four men. Superstar hooks II in the cobra clutch, and II is able to break the hold–with a little help from Sullivan and the unwitting aid of an Idol on all fours. Still, the crowd goes nuts and Solie succinctly describes the $3,000 challenge to break the Cobra Clutch as Idol and Superstar head for the heels.
The segment closes with more words from II and Sullivan, further hyping planned singles matches for the two pairs at the next event at the Omni in Atlanta.
-Solie’s outfit for this episode of Georgia TV is a whole mood … especially the pants!
-Idol, who is Georgia’s TV champion at the time of this match, is a guy who I think is pretty underrated. His stint in the WWF ended well before that company reached national and international prominence. He didn’t work for Jim Crockett Promotions after it absorbed the Georgia promotion and established itself as a competitor to the WWF. He’s best known for his work in Memphis, which while a highly entertaining territory, didn’t have the same platform. Just makes you wonder what might have been …
-You might know Masked Superstar better as Ax from Demolition, which started their multi-year run as a top team in the WWF at the beginning of 1987. I love his cool, calm demeanor on the interview here. He just stands there and tells you in a measured tone exactly what he intends to do. It’s also a nice contrast to Idol, who has a more bombastic speaking voice.
Final Rating: 5.5
The action here is fairly standard, but this is worth watching because of the wrestlers taking part in the match, the chance to get a good luck at Sullivan as a clean-cut fan favorite, and as a snapshot for how wrestling booking works, or was supposed to work, during this era. Use the TV show to get people to the arena for the next event. This clip is more than 40 years old but it left me wondering how the two matches at the Omni ended.
We go to 2017 and California, and a match featuring perhaps my favorite character in all of current wrestling.
Got a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.