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Joe Gagne




Wow, where the hell have I been? I haven't written anything in ages. Well, I'll rectify that now with a review of the USWA Unified World Title Tournament from Memphis in 1990. See, previous champion the Snowman (not Al Snow) was stripped of the title for no-showing title defenses, so the USWA brass held a one night tournament on 10/8/90 to fill the vacancy. Since the show is almost ten years old, we may as well have another look at it. Here are the brackets.

Jerry Lawler------------------------


Bill Dundee----------


Marc Callous--------

Dick Slater------------


Danny Davis----------

Jeff Gaylord-----------


Doug Gilbert----------

Brickhouse Brown---


Terry Funk------------

Dirty White Boy-------


Steve Keirn-------------

Dick Murdoch-----------


The Samurai-------------

Gary Young--------------


Austin Idol---------------

King Cobra---------------


John Tatum---------------

Eddie Gilbert-------------


Jimmy Valiant------------

Sheik Hussein------------


Jeff Jarrett-----------------

Hope my bracketing is okay. This is a funky tournament with only 20 participants, so Lawler gets a bye through the opening rounds, since he won a round robin mini-tournament the week before. The winner of Murdoch/Samurai gets a bye into the quarter finals. Hell, I'll explain it as we go, don't worry. And this isn't a commercial tape, just a collection of matches shown on ESPN, so some opening round matches were omitted. Here are some quickie First Round results: Marc Callous d. Bill Dundee via countount, Dick Slater d. Danny Davis (not the WWF evil referee), Jeff Gaylord d. Doug Gilbert, Eddie Gilbert d. Jimmy Valiant, and Jeff Jarrett d. Sheik Hussein. Sorry to all those looking forward to seeing Sheik Hussein in action.

Taped from the Mid South Coliseum on 10/8/90. Your hosts are Joe Pedicino and Craig Johnson. Oh yeah, my VCR's timer is acting funny, so no match times for the moment.

Terry Funk vs. Brickhouse Brown [First Round]: Funk was coming off an awesome feud with Ric Flair the previous year, and at this point was only a wily veteran, as opposed to the crazy old man he is today. Brown is/was a Memphis staple, and one of my personal favorites. Funk start the match with a little intimidation, slapping and spitting on Brickhouse. Brickhouse retaliates with some spit of his own, which sends the Funker to the outside. Brown chases Funk around the building, but Terry manages to toss Brown onto the announcer's table. Back in the ring, Funk goes for the illegal piledriver, but Brown powers out and starts a comeback. He pummels Funk, hits two jumping headbutts, then a nice top rope headbutt. He goes to finish Funk with a top rope sunset flip, but the Funker reverses and holds the tights for the three count. Fun little match.

Steve Keirn vs. "Dirty White Boy" Tony Anthony (w/Dirty White Girl) [First Round]: Oy vey, this match has three future sucky WWF gimmicks. Keirn was, at the time, a former member of the Fabulous Ones and the PWF champion. He wrestled mainly in Florida and was damn solid. He went on to become Skinner, the uh, WWF tobacco chewing swamp guy. Anthony was another Memphis mainstay, who went on to become both T.L. Hopper (the wrestling plumber) and Uncle Cletus (manager of the Godwinns). Then again, being called the Dirty White Boy can't be a picnic, either. Keirn gets dumped outside early, and gets whipped by the DWG, so he pulls a Tommy Dreamer and asks for more. Back in the ring, Keirn is in control until some punches from Anthony turns the tide. Anthony then dominates with cheating and shitty offense. Keirn makes a comeback and Anthony gets dumped to the outside. He tries to surprise Keirn by coming off the top with a cross body, but Steve rolls through for the pin. Bad match, thanks to Tony "Never seen the inside of a gym" Anthony.

King Cobra vs. "Hollywood" John Tatum [First Round]: Tatum looks like Michael Hayes and plays a wimpy heel. I know nothing about King Cobra, sorry. According to the announcers, he apparently has "bionic power," which sounds like an unfair advantage if you ask me. Tatum looks like he's about to cry during a wristlock. Back and forth action for a few minutes until Tatum takes control with a superkick and some ridiculous martial arts poses. Cobra starts dancing makes a comeback, until he gets tossed to the outside. He tries to sunset flip back in, but Tatum sits down and grabs the ropes for the win. Tatum's facial expressions made it watchable.

"Universal Heartthrob" Austin Idol vs. "Gorgeous" Gary Young [First Round]: Idol's an old-school Southern heel and a favorite of many. Gary wrestled out of Texas and looks like a porn star. Young stalls like nuts, bailing out of the ring twice and getting on the mic, telling the fans to shut up. Then Idol gets on the mic and tells the fans to make some noise. Then Young stalls some more. Exciting, huh? They finally make contact as Idol beats Young outside the ring, but Gary turns the tide with some forearm blows. Idol soon hulks up and batters Young with punches, so Gary pulls out some brass knucks and pops Idol in the stomach. Young then charges at Idol, but Austin backdrops him for his troubles. Idol then takes the knucks, pops Gary (don't ask me why ref Frank Morell didn't notice this) and gets the easy pin. Too much stalling, although Idol looked good.

"Captain Redneck" Dick Murdoch vs. The Samurai (w/Tojo Yammamoto) [First Round]: I think "Captain Redneck" ranks up there with "Dogfaced Gremlin" as one of the stupider nicknames in wrestling. And this isn't El Samurai, just The Samurai, some Japanese wrestler I don't recognize. According to the commentators, Samurai was a top star in Japan, but he was kicked out due to his evil ways and association with Tojo. Uh, okay. Murdoch works the arm while Samurai chops a lot. There's your match right there. Murdoch shocks the hell out of me by pulling out an enziguiri late in the match, and a nice one at that. Finish sees Tojo throwing salt at Dick, but (of course) hits the Samurai instead. Dick pops Tojo and covers for the pin. Why getting hit with salt in the eyes leaves you unable to kick out of a pinfall, I dunno. If you watched this mast in fast forward, it almost looked like they were moving at regular speed.

Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. "Mean" Marc Callous(w/"Downtown" Bruno) [Second Round]: Now why do I feel like humming "American Baddass?" Oh yeah, because Callous is actually the Undertaker, right after getting dropped by WCW and just before his WWF Survivor Series debut. It's weird seeing a tattoo-less Undertaker, who resembles Mike Awesome at this point. Callous pummels Lawler and no-sells his offense. Lawler makes a brief comeback and rolls Callous up, but Bruno is distracting the ref. More Callous beating, but he can't put Lawler away. Finally Lawler has enough and PULLS DOWN THE STRAP. He punches Callous into a corner, but the future phenom lunges with a clothesline that nails the ref instead, getting himself DQ'd. Callous lunges at Lawler again, but hits Bruno. On the outside, Callous lunges at Lawler again, but hits the pole. Methinks Marc needs to work on his aim.

Jeff Gaylord vs. "Mr. Excitement" Dick Slater [Second Round]: Gaylord is Luke Johnston's favorite interview. "Mr. Excitement" was honestly Slater's nickname. Stuff happens, and then we get a weird finish. Slater hits a Side Russian Leg Sweep and floats over for a pin. The ref counts to two, and then stops, even though Gaylord hasn't kicked out. Slater then drops an elbow on Gaylord and covers for the pin. Slater looks legitimately pissed afterwards. Did the ref or Gaylord screw up there? Anyone know? Amazingly (or maybe not), Slater and Murdoch were brought into WCW next year as the Hardliners, and their main accomplishment was legitimately injuring Scott Steiner.

Jeff Jarrett vs. "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert (w/Evil Wrestling Photographer Sam "Bass" Lowe) [Quarter Finals]: My my my. The Cho Cho Chosen One was pretty much just starting his career at this point. He's skinny as a rail, has hair like the Maestro, and is wearing these fugly blue and neon green tights. Gilbert had just returned to Memphis, and was in the prime of his heeldom. First few minutes sees Gilbert trying to cheat, Jarrett countering with a wrestling move, and Gilbert bailing out of the ring. Gilbert sells like a king, acting like a fireman's carry broke his back. When we get back from a commercial break, Jarrett has Gilbert small packaged for the pin, but Lowe is distracting the ref. More back and forth action with neither man getting an advantage, and then time runs out. So we have a coin flip, which Gilbert wins, advancing to the next round. Jarrett the good sport beats up Gilbert and Evil Wrestling Photographer Sam "Bass" Lowe after the match. Gilbert would soon toast Jarrett with a fireball and take his Southern title. Of course, ten years later, Gilbert's dead and Jarrett is a top player in WCW.

"Universal Heartthrob" Austin Idol vs. "Hollywood" John Tatum [Quarter Finals]: Tatum attacks Idol outside the ring and drags him to the back of the arena, where he wallops him with a trash can. Back in the ring, Tatum beats on Idol some more until Austin uppercuts him in the nuts. Austin then drops a knee to the groinatological area. Does this count as psychology? Austin then drags Tatum to the exact same spot in the back and wallops him with the trash can. Back in the ring, Tatum tries a Flair pin, but the ref notices Tatum's feet on the ropes. Tatum goes to finish off Idol, but Austin grabs Tatum and does his own Flair pin. This time, the ref doesn't notice and Idol gets the pin. Tatum throws a tantrum after the match.

Steve Keirn vs. Terry Funk [Second Round]: Ooh, this could be good. Funk lays the badmouth on Keirn before the match. Then we start out with a clean handshake, oddly enough. They tie up, and Keirn backs Funk into the ropes, then we get a clean break. Then they go through a nifty chain wrestling sequence, that ends with Funk getting to the ropes. This time, Keirn slaps Funk in the back of the head before letting go. Funk is pissed at that. Now they tie up again, and Keirn sends Funk into the ropes. Funk rebounds with a shoulderblock, and bounces off the ropes again, but this time Keirn drops down and Funk nearly tumbles to the outside. Back in the ring, the two have a test of strength, which devolves into a fistfight, with Funk getting the better of Keirn. The Funker tosses Keirn outside and rams him into the pole. Back in the ring, Funk tries a headbutt, but knocks himself woozy. Keirn gets his second wind and hits a pair of DDTs. They brawl some more, and Funk charges at Keirn, only to slam his knee into the turnbuckle. Keirn starts working over the knee and slaps on a figure four, as the announcer bring up Funk's feud with Flair. Funk eventually reverses the figure four, but his knee keeps giving out on him as he tries to get away. Keirn works on the knee some more, and goes for another figure four, but the Funker small packages him for the pin. Keirn flips and destroys Funk's knee after the match. Way cool old school match.

Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. "Mr. Excitement" Dick Slater [Quarter Finals]: This is Slater's third match of the night, so we go right ahead with the restholds as Slater works the arm. Lawler with a nifty move as he reverses a reverse neckbreaker into a backslide for 2. Lawler then works on the arm as we go to commercial. Okay, we're back as Slater hits a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. He goes for the illegal piledriver, but ref Frank Morrell stops it. Lawler soon makes a comeback, but gets caught in a Flair pin, which Frank Morrell sees. Slater turns to complain, but Lawler jumps him, and we've got a ref bump. Slater goes for the piledriver again, but Lawler backdrops out of it. Lawler hits one of his own, and the ref starts to count but stops at two, apparently figuring Lawler used the illegal piledriver (or something). So the match continues. Slater manages to hit a pinning backdrop suplex, but (wait for it) Lawler gets his shoulder up, so he wins and advances in the tournament. Does the pinning backdrop suplex ever work? Pretty decent match considering the ages of the participants.

Terry Funk vs. "Captain Redneck" Dick Murdoch [Quarter Finals]: Murdoch spends the opening segment of the match working over Funk's injured knee. Funk tries the headbutts again, but knocks himself silly. Murdoch works over the knee for a few minutes, and then they start brawling outside the ring. Back in the ring, Funk shoves the ref in the corner and grabs his branding iron. He takes a swing at Murdoch, who ducks, pops Funk, and grabs the iron himself. He's about to nail Funk when the ref stops him, so Murdoch shoves him down, getting himself DQ'd.

"Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert (w/Evil Wrestling Photographer Sam "Bass" Lowe) vs. "Universal Heartthrob" Austin Idol [Semi Finals]: Gilbert gets on the stick and offers Idol $10,000 to lay down. Idol says no, so Gilbert ups the ante to $60,000. Idol agrees, so Gilbert pulls a checkbook out of a briefcase. Lowe writes out a check and hands to it Idol, and then Gilbert pops Austin with the briefcase. Guess he wanted to save some money. Gilbert pummels Idol for a while with a chain, until Idol hulks up. He pummels Gilbert and works the leg, eventually slapping on the figure four. Gilbert holds out for a few seconds, but then Lowe throws in the towel. Hmmm. Austin goes onto the finals.

Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. Terry Funk [Semi Finals]: Funk jumps Lawler outside the ring and beats the holy hell out of him, hitting The King with stiff shots, choking him with rope, and dumping him on the announce table. Lawler finally makes it into the ring as we go to commercial. When we come back, Lawler just avoided getting pinned by putting his foot on the ropes. So Funk flips out and pops referee Frank Morrell and gives him a piledriver! That's enough for the DQ. Referee Paul Neighbors runs in and suffers the same fate. Funk gives Lawler a piledriver, and Eddie Gilbert runs in to count a pin, but Lawler kicks out! Gilbert tries again, this time counting fast, but Lawler kicks out again! Gilbert and Funk spike piledrive Lawler, and that's enough for the faux three count. Lawler goes to the finals, but is in rough shape. Afterwards, Funk and Lawler give Lawler another spike piledriver for fun.

Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. "Universal Heartthrob" Austin Idol [Finals]: Austin offers Lawler a rest period, and promises that this will be a scientific match. Then he kicks Lawler in the guy during a handshake and proceeds to beat the crap out of him. Methinks we have a heel turn (although a logical one, considering Idol's always been a heel, and how he won his first two matches). Idol dominates, but can't put Lawler away. Finally Lawler has had enough, so he PULLS DOWN THE STRAP and gets medieval on Idol, but the ref gets bumped. Here come Gilbert and Funk. They try to double clothesline Lawler, but hit Idol instead. Lawler covers Idol, and gets the pin and the title. This doesn't sit well with the heels, so they destroy Lawler. Out comes Jeff Jarrett, but he gets toasted too as the show ends. Kind of a bummer ending.

Epilogue: Like I said earlier, this isn't a commercial tape, so it's pretty hard to track down. Nothing too noteworthy happens (Lawler wins the title for the 7th (of 27!) times. He lost it to Funk a month later, BTW). Newer fans probably won't dig this, but old school and Memphis fans will get a kick out of the show. I've always been a sucker for one night tournaments. Not a lot of great wrestling, but it's fun seeing guys like Funk, Gilbert, and Idol tear up the ring.

Mucho thanks to for the title history. There's also a link to the full brackets of the tournament there (compliments of Jason Campbell).

I'll be back, hopefully soon, with a review of the Louisville Gardens 25th Anniversary Show, or some SMW stuff, whatever. Take care 'til then.

Joe Gagne
[slash] wrestling

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