365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
There were several different promotions that ran in the area, but when you think of Memphis wrestling, you’e probably talking about the Continental Wrestling Association, when Jerry Jarrett (Jeff’s dad) split away from Nick Gulas.
If you’ve never seen 1980s Memphis wrestling… it’s wild, y’all. The CWA held weekly shows at the Mid-South Coliseum every Monday, and hyped them on TV that aired live on Saturday mornings. Having a major arena event once a week allowed all kinds of creative leeway and wild matches. Win or lose, the story could continue the following week. The TV show often got crazy, with uncontrollable brawls fairly common.
Today, we visit Memphis for the first time (but definitely not the last) in this series, to watch The Fabulous Ones, Stan Lane and Steve Keirn, take on The Moondogs in an Anything Goes Match from January 9, 1984, in the Mid-South Coliseum.
The Fabulous Ones were paired together in 1982 and got an immediate on-camera endorsement from Memphis wrestling legend Jackie Fargo. That propelled them to huge fan favorite status, along with some video packages that, viewed with a modern eye, fall in the so-bad-they’re-good category.
This type of gimmick would have had the opposite effect today — making Lane and Keirn either a comedy act or huge heels. In Memphis in the 1980s, though, it worked. Making several stints in the promotion, they held tag titles on 17 (!!!) separate occasions. Then again, rapid-fire title changes also were rather common in Memphis, especially with the aforementioned weekly shows at the coliseum.
Now to the match, which you can find on YouTube, or, I’ve embedded it below:
There were several iterations of the Moondogs through the years, but we’ve got the two main ‘dogs, Moondog Rex and Moondog Spot here. Whatever the combination, the Moondogs always had the same basic premise: rugged-looking dudes with shaggy, bleached-blond hair, cut-off jeans, and a propensity to brawl. The ongoing battle between them led to this match, where anything goes and the referee (Memphis mainstay Paul Morton, Ricky Morton’s dad) doesn’t even step through the ropes, instead remaining ringside.
Ever seen a wrestling match touted as a huge grudge match, but where the participants start out with basic, traditional wrestling like a collar-and-elbow and a headlock? This… is not that type of match. Rex and Spot jump the Fabs as soon as they reach the ring and a wild brawl ensues. The end result is a variety of wrestling that would make the philosopher Hobbes proud: it’s nasty, brutish, and short. Lance Russell announces an official time of eight minutes once the decision is rendered, and a couple of minutes of footage are trimmed from what is accessible.
What’s here, though, is a hoot from bell to bell. There’s a sense of urgent viciousness and, combined with liberal use of the weapons, the heat is palpable and the Memphis crowd loves every minute of it. After Rex fails to rotate on a backdrop into the timekeeper’s table and just smashes his face into it, Rex brings the heavy wooden table into the ring as another element of plunder. The chaos and carnage continue until the Fabs grab the signature bones of the Moondogs from manager Jimmy Hart. A couple of clubberings with the bones sends the Moondogs fleeing for the exit, and a 10-count by the referee cements victory for the Fabs.
Final Rating: 6.1
This is a lot of fun while it lasts. The intensity of the brawl would be very difficult to sustain in a longer match. This match also provides a fine snapshot of the wild and woolly atmosphere of Memphis wrestling during its heyday in the 1980s.
A modern twist on one of the great score-settling gimmicks in wrestling — the dog collar match.