Legends of Mid South DVD Review By Shaun Nichols

Posted: November 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

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This is the first but hopefully not the last WWE release for the Mid South territory, if you’ve seen the front cover of the DVD don’t be confused as Jake Roberts barely features unless you buy the Blu-Ray option. This review is the DVD release.

Unlike many recent WWE compilations this does not feature a documentary but rather 2-3 minute segments highlighting a performer followed by one of their matches. As I did with the Bret Hart – Dungeon Collection review I did in September, I’ll give my thoughts on the best things on each disc followed by my overall thoughts.

Disc 1
The most entertaining thing on Disc 1 relates to Magnum TA, among the features is why Magnum chose to learn from Mr Wrestling II. Frankly hilarious footage of Magnum training which includes him running backwards down a long road as Mr Wrestling II (with his mask on) is trying to give a serious interview about Magnum TA. It really is an awesome segment but definitely a product of its era.

All this leads to a tag team match between Magnum TA & Mr Wrestling II facing Jim Cornette’s Midnight Express. This is a great showcase for Magnum, as both Condrey & Eaton bump all over the place for him. An accidental collision leads to the Express getting the advantage and when Magnum as the gallant youngster can make a tag he finds his partner distracted by Cornette and the punishment continues.

Finally Mr Wrestling II has had enough and leaves his protégé on his own where he succumbs to the Midnight Express. As per the stipulation the losing team has to whipped with a belt, as he’s on his own Magnum agrees to take both whippings as the fans rally behind him. He’s saved from that though as another young babyface comes out to save him in the shape of Terry Taylor.

Magnum TA finally gets his revenge over Mr Wrestling II when he beats him for the North American title a couple of months later, although we only get around 5 minutes of highlights.

The most famous match  is the gimmick laden ‘Coal Miner’s Glove Steel Cage Tuxedo Loser Leaves Town’ match between Ted Dibiase and ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan. They were former partners in the Rat Pack group that had been discussed earlier in the disc and here Duggan as the babyface was seeking revenge. Despite the match containing 4 gimmick/stips which is a bit of an overkill it had great drama and strong performances from both men. Jim Ross was on commentary and even back in the mid 1980’s he was talking about ‘slobberknockers’ and ‘government mules’. To the delight of the fans Duggan finally emerged victorious which meant Dibiase had to leave Houston for 30 days, luckily though he had an All Japan tour to go to.

Speaking of the Rat Pack, they featured in another Loser Leaves Town match, this time for 90 days. It was Dibiase & Matt Borne (went onto become Doink) against Junkyard Dog & Mr Olympia. This wasn’t that great but has the famous angle where Duggan attacks JYD while wearing a gorilla outfit which led to the pin. It’s followed by an awesome heel interview by Dibiase and Duggan, it really was a shame that Duggan never got to be a serious character in the WWF.

Among the other stars highlighted on the opening disc is the Junkyard Dog who was easily the biggest star in Mid South with great charisma but unfortunately was not a good wrestler. He’s featured in a ‘Dream Match with a 10 minute time limit’ (don’t want to give the fans too much!!) as he teamed with Dusty Rhodes and a mobile Andre the Giant to face Ernie Ladd, Afa & Sika. The match was fun but didn’t go past 6 minutes.

Also interesting was a match between Ted Dibiase and Paul Orndorff from December 1981, a lot of good basic wrestling but had a finish that I’ve never seen before. Dibiase used the figure four leglock as his finisher but Orndorff managed to turn it over, this was seen as legitimate finish as Dibiase desperately clung on until the time expired.

Disc 2
This is by far the strongest of the set, with famous angles and strangely for this set long and full matches this was a great disc. We start with ‘Hacksaw’ Butch Reed (who later teamed with Ron Simmons in WCW as Doom) and his feud with the Junkyard Dog.

There is two famous angles that are shown, in the first Reed with the assistance of the Midnight Express pours yellow paint over the JYD. In the second he tars and feathers JYD with the help of Buddy Landel. The Junkyard Dog is really great in the second as he keeps his calm and predicts he’s going to hurt Butch Reed badly.

This leads to a Ghetto Street Fight which is very well received by the fans although it’s incredibly basic and consists of punches, kicks, belts being used to choke and whip one another. The amazing thing is that this goes about 17 minutes and the fans never stop caring. It’s also got a lousy finish as we get run-ins before JYD is announced the winner. There is no pinfall, Butch Reed can’t be DQ’d so why he loses is anyone’s guess. Even Jim Ross on commentary couldn’t explain why JYD won.

The quality of wrestling skyrockets as we get back to back Midnight Express vs. Rock ‘n’ Roll Express matches. In the first Cornette get’s his tennis racket removed and it appears that this has worked as he doesn’t interfere and it looks like the Ricky and Robert are going to get the win.

Following a couple of insane bumps, which sees Bobby Eaton get his head split open. Cornette emerges with a bottle of ether and a cloth and sends Robert Gibson into sleepy land. This allows Eaton to get the win and the titles much to the fans horror. Hilariously Cornette then does an interview saying he only went into ring to wipe the blood of Bobby’s face with disinfectant and he’s so impressed by how great Bobby Eaton is.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express  now back as champions but still feuding with the Midnights have an idea to stop Jim Cornette from interfering. They are going to put him in a straightjacket, they announce this in an interview and Ricky Morton puts his partner in it to show how effective it is. To absolutely no surprise Eaton and Condrey attack the helpless Gibson and also Morton for good measure.

It’s the big match time, Cornette now wearing a mask has he’d recently being shaved is placed into the straightjacket and then put in a lift over the ring. I imagine that was probably for his own safety as the Mid South fans genuinely hated him, in the Midnight Express scrapbook there are copies of actual death threats that Cornette received.

This is your typical great tag match full have quick paced action, great double teams and superb selling from Ricky Morton. These teams just had perfect psychology to work together, eventually the Midnights frustration got the better of them and Condrey got DQ’d for the loss.

Which leaves us with Terry Taylor challenging Ric Flair for the NWA title, it’s essential you watch Taylor’s interview about this as it really makes a lot more sense then if you just watch the match. It’s basically Taylor’s biggest match and he’s very hyped about it, Flair on the other hand turns up late and drunk. So Terry thinks that he’s only going to get to wrestle a standard 10 minute match so he’s really pissed off.

By match time, Flair is in full NWA Champion mode and does a killer job of making Terry Taylor look the greatest wrestler in the world. Taylor dominates everything including a spot where he has Flair in a front facelock for around 5 minutes and Flair just can’t escape.

It’s not the greatest Ric Flair match but it really is a wonderful example of someone going into a territory and making the local star look like they should and deserve to be the World Champion absolutely great performances from both men.

Disc 3
This is where Bill Watts decides that if they are going to survive then they can no longer sound regional, so Mid South becomes the Universal Wrestling Federation.

I would say this is the weakest of the three discs but there is still some good stuff. On the listings you would think that a match between Ted Dibiase and Ric Flair would be an amazing encounter. Instead it is an excellent angle which turns Dibiase babyface.

The story being that Dibiase is replacing Butch Reed in the match, he then gets attacked by Dick Murdoch who feels he would be a more deserving challenger. Dibiase is rammed against the ringpost and busted open and is taken staggering to the back. Minutes later and determined to wrestle, Dibiase re-appears and as the upperhand against Flair until he gets kicked to the outside and because of the loss of blood he can’t get back in the ring and loses by count out. To further the double turn, Murdoch again attacks him.

Also on the disc is the Fabulous Freebirds, the match between Hayes and Buddy Roberts facing Dibiase and Steve Williams is another strong match until you get an unsatisfactory finish.

Jake Roberts makes his only appearance against The Snowman (top black babyface after JYD left) who was seconded by none other than Muhammad Ali. The match itself sucked but Jake was superb as a heel antagonising Ali until eventually Ali had enough and knocked him out.

Jim Duggan’s attempts to win the UWF title from Terry Gordy was yet another surprisingly good performance from Duggan. One of the unexpected treats from this compilation is watching Duggan play a full role in having really entertaining matches.

The Terry Gordy vs. Steve Williams match was very similar to the Freebirds vs. Dibiase/Williams match, well worth watching but won’t stay in the memory long. Towards the end we got features on both One Man Gang, described as the best big man ever (have these people not seen Vader?) and Steve Williams who was the man on top when the UWF folded. His title win is captured in a 60 second clip when he defeated Big Bubba Rogers to end the compilation.

For those of you that like to watch squash matches, you can enjoy Rick Steiner vs. Nick Patrick (yes the referee) and also an early match of The Bladerunners (Ultimate Warrior & Sting) managed by the slightly more coherent Eddie Gilbert.
Overall Thoughts

As an introduction to Mid-South this is a  fine set but my general feeling is that it could have been a much better than it turned out to be. At 6 hours overall it has to be the shortest WWE 3 disc set that they have released.

I would have ideally loved to have seen a full length documentary and then 6 or 7 full length matches on the second and third discs. However there are still some really good matches and probably the highlight to me was some of the best wrestling angles I have ever seen.

I hope that they we see a second Mid South set and if it follows my suggestions even better.

Best Five Matches

1. Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. Midnight Express (May 1984)
2. Terry Taylor vs. Ric Flair
3. Magnum TA & Mr Wrestling II vs. Midnight Express
4. ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan vs. Ted Dibiase
5. Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. Midnight Express (October 1984)

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