TNA will make its official Lowcountry debut when the wrestling company invades Blackbaud Stadium for a night of action on Oct. 3.
The Sunday show, which starts at 6 p.m., will feature such talent as Jeff Hardy, A.J. Styles, Jeff Jarrett, The Motor City Machine Guns, D’Angelo Dinero and Angelina Love.
A number of surprises are planned. TNA ring announcer Jeremy Borash will hide a backstage pass at Blackbaud Stadium and announce its location on Twitter before the show. The loudest fans also will be invited backstage for a special TNA experience.
Fans who purchase a ticket in the first three rows will receive a special meet and greet with TNA performers one hour before doors open.
Tickets will go on sale Aug. 20 at www.charlestonbattery.com, or charge by phone at 1-843-971-4625. Tickets also will be available for purchase at the Blackbaud Stadium box office. For more information, visit www.tnawrestling.com.
-- Few wrestling territories in the country were hotter than Memphis in 1982.
Jerry Lawler, in addition to selling out the Mid-South Coliseum with the likes of Nick Bockwinkel and Dutch Mantell, was making national headlines for his “feud” with comedian and performance artist Andy Kaufman. The Fabulous Ones — Steve Keirn and Stan Lane — were setting the area on fire and bringing back memories of The Fabulous Fargos. Jimmy Cornette was emerging as one of the greatest managers in the business.
And Jerry Jarrett was booking what Mantell called “the greatest wrestling show on earth during that time period.”
This magic time in the wrestling business is chronicled — in text, photos, clippings and programs —in a new book on Memphis wrestling by Mark James.
“Memphis Wrestling History Presents 1982: A Legendary Year from the Golden Era” takes a comprehensive look at a year that produced some of the most memorable matches in the history of the Memphis promotion. And that covers a lot of ground.
The book’s foreword is written by Mantell, and is dedicated to the legendary announce team of Lance Russell and Dave Brown, whom James aptly describes as “the heart and soul of Memphis wrestling.”
James is one of the foremost authorities on Memphis wrestling history, and his book sparkles with valuable information from that era.
High-quality reproductions of all 52 of the year’s weekly souvenir programs sold at the Mid-South Coliseum are represented, and James does a yeoman’s job documenting each month in Memphis wrestling. In addition, there’s behind-the-scenes stories from the wrestlers themselves, including Lawler, Jarrett, Mantell, Cornette, Jimmy Hart, and Russell and Brown.
James also breaks down the angles and analyzes practically every major storyline in the territory during that year.
All that makes for a great read and an enjoyable trip down memory lane.
James has released two previous books —Memphis Wrestling History Parts I & II. But his latest book, he says, has been the most rewarding.
“The first one was strictly all the weekly newspaper clippings for the Memphis cards and results from 1970 through 1985,” says James. “The second book covered Memphis wrestling during the years 1972 through 1976 and had some programs along with commentary by many of the wrestlers involved. To be honest, this new book has been the most fun and rewarding. The first two books were building to this one. I’ve taken the best parts of those and added more to it.”
The biggest difference, says James, is that he offered more of his own thoughts and insight in the new book.
“Even though I followed it as it happened, it took submerging myself into the subject for a few years before I felt comfortable in giving my opinions. Having many, many talks with (Memphis owner) Jerry Jarrett helped me get to the place I needed to be. Back that up with guys like Dutch Mantell and Bill Dundee, who gave me additional insights, and it all finally started to fall into place.”
Surprisingly enough, says James, nearly all of the talent he contacted cooperated with the project.
“That’s the amazing thing, almost everyone that I was able to get into direct contact with was willing to answer a few questions,” says James. “As you’ve seen in the new book, even guys who weren’t in our territory, but in wrestling at the time (like Jim Ross and Bill Apter), were open to giving their opinions on some of the more well-known Memphis angles.”
James had reached out to some of the more prominent figures from that era after completing his second volume.
“When I released the second book, I sent it to a lot of the Memphis Wrestling guys (Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, Jerry Jarrett, Jimmy Valiant, Lance Russell, Dave Brown, Dutch Mantell, Jim Cornette, etc.), and they were able to see what I was doing. I was out to document the territory’s history and not follow the trend of the ‘shoot’ interviews. The truth is 99 percent of the Memphis fans have nothing but wonderful memories of Memphis Wrestling. My books are meant to help the fans enhance and remember all those great times. I believe it comes through in the books. After the boys saw the second book, they were very open to answering questions.”
James’ major objective in writing the book was to “as accurately as possible document what happened in front of the camera and behind the scenes while not trying to destroy the fans’ great memories, but actually enhance them.”
“I’m not a big fan of the ‘shoot’ interviews,” he says, “because they seem negative-based, and my memories of the glory days are all very positive. The wrestlers were human, they had faults, who doesn’t. When they went on TV or into the ring, they became supermen. We wanted it and they gave it to us.”
James has been following the wrestling business — particularly the Memphis version of it — since he was a youngster.
“My grandparents used to watch Memphis Wrestling religiously. In 1974 I was a 7-year-old kid the first time I ever saw a match on TV with them, and I can remember it to this day (Tommy Gilbert and Eddie Marlin vs. Al and Don Greene). From that first match, I was hooked. I followed it the whole time.”
The influx of nostalgia-based websites in later years only served to whet his appetite.
“Around 2005 I noticed there were a lot of great websites that were out there to memorialize the glory days (Mid-Atlantic Gateway, Georgia Wrestling History, etc.), and there was next to nothing on the Memphis territory. That bothered me. It became one of those deals where I felt if I didn’t do something, no one else would, and the memories might be lost forever. As many wrestling historians have done, I started hitting the microfilm machines and scanning everything I could. My website (www.memphiswrestlinghistory.com) currently has all the newspaper scans of the weekly cards and results for Memphis Wrestling from 1957 through 1993. Many people loved the website and were printing the stuff off, so I decided to put together a book of clippings. Everyone really liked that, and that’s where all this started.”
The book is required reading for any longtime fan of Memphis wrestling, and is a must for any serious fan of wrestling history.
“This book is also for the younger fans who never got to see a wrestling card at the Mid-South Coliseum, or ever got up on a Saturday morning and tuned into Memphis Wrestling on Channel 5,” adds James. “Those young fans need to know that there was amazing wrestling going on before Hulk Hogan won the WWF title on Jan. 23, 1984. While those days are gone forever, I want to make sure the memories are never forgotten.”
-- Johnny “Mr. Wrestling No. 2” Walker, who suffered an apparent heart attack during the recent NWA Legends Fanfest weekend in Charlotte, is scheduled to undergo open heart surgery next week.
-- George’s Sports Bar, 1300 Savannah Highway, will air the Summer Slam pay-per-view at 8 p.m. tonight. Cover charge is $7.
Reach Mike Mooneyham at (843) 937-5517 or email@example.com.