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/16 September 2000
WCW Classics by Mike Regan





Yep, this week we get an entire show devoted to Sgt. Slaughter's original protégé. Before there was Greg Gagne or Terry Daniels, there was Private Don Kernodle. Dusty Rhodes welcomes us by stating that Kernodle went on to surpass the success of his mentor, thus proving that his segments are taped on some faraway planet. I mean, Kernodle's big run was only for the two year stretch when he teamed with Slaughter. By the time I started watching wrestling (1985) he was pretty much a jobber. Anyway, let's get started with some singles action from Kernodle.

December 1982:
Don Kernodle vs. Tommy Gilbert

Dusty beams in from the planet Zontar to call Gilbert a "young man." If Tommy Gilbert was ever a young man, he wasn't anymore by 1982. I mean, his son Eddie was already wrestling at this time. The two have an even match, until Gilbert misses a corner charge, allowing Kernodle to move in for the kill with the cobra clutch. However, Gilbert immediately reaches the ropes. Kernodle refuses to break the hold. Gilbert climbs over the top rope to the apron. Kernodle drags him back in while maintaining the sleeper. Finally, referee Tommy Young has enough of Kernodle's shenanigans and disqualifies him. So Kernodle is 0-for-1 on his episode. It's Kernodle-Mania.

Since the next match features Kernodle and Slaughter teaming up, I feel compelled to mention how little Kernodle looked the part of the protégé of a sadistic drill sergeant. Kernodle was balding, with a bushy beard (he kind of resembled what George Costanza might have looked like in college). Instead of dressing the way we'd expect of a wrestler with a military gimmick, he wore a generic black singlet. This becomes really obvious in the next match.

From an unknown time in history (graphic says April 1985):
Don Kernodle & Sgt. Slaughter vs. Mike Rotundo & Jim Nelson

This, like all of the matches in recent episodes, takes place on the Mid-Atlantic wrestling set. I'm guessing that it happened in 1982 or early 1983. There is no way that this was from 1985 because:

1) Sgt. Slaughter was long gone from Mid-Atlantic and had become the AWA's lead babyface.

2) Mike Rotundo was long gone from Mid-Atlantic and had become a WWF tag title holder with Barry Windham.

3) Mid-Atlantic Wrestling was long gone from existence, having merged with the Georgia territory when Jim Crockett bought TV time on TBS.

By the way, Rotundo's partner for this match, Jim Nelson, is wearing camouflage pants, thus looking more like a Sgt. Slaughter ally than Kernodle (The announcing in the match gives the impression that Nelson was a former protégé of Slaughter's). Rotundo applies headlocks to both heels until running into a Kernodle knee to the gut, thus becoming the face in peril. Slaughter works on Rotundo's abdomen (including what Dusty would call a "double stomp to the belly-welly). Rotundo makes a brief comeback by giving Kernodle an airplane spin, but Slaughter breaks up the pin. Kernodle winds up causing the hot tag by slamming Rotundo in his own corner. Nelson takes over, but when he tries to pin Kernodle after a clothesline, Slaughter once again breaks it up. Referee Tommy Young once again tires of the heels' antics and calls for the bell. And now Kernodle is 0-for-2 on this episode.

And now, our main event.

April 1982:
Don Kernodle vs. Terry Taylor

Ah yes, the possibilities were endless for young Terry Taylor, completely unaware that his career would one day be derailed by possibly the worst gimmick in history. And Kernodle is, I don't believe it, wearing military gear. At this early stage in his association with Slaughter, he actually looked the part. Taylor controls early working on the arm. At one point he counters a hip toss attempt with an arm bar. Kernodle takes over with brawling, and Taylor soon responds in kind. Soon, the two are rolling around on the mat punching each other. The ref (not Tommy Young) tries to break it up and only succeeds in getting caught in the middle. Finally, he gives up and calls the match a no-contest.

So, in summary, Kernodle-Mania ends with Don Kernodle going winless. That's WCW booking for you.

See you next week.

Mike Regan
Acworth, GA
[slash] wrestling

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