Tales from the Territories
Memphis set the bar as far as the series was concerned and then the AWA raised the bar to unprecedented heights. To a point I don't even think that me talking about some of the stories is worth or could possibly do them justice and I think it would be better if you just took the time to watch the episode.
In my opinion, the American Wrestling Association will always have a lasting legacy on the wrestling business due to the talent that walked through the door. Names like Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Curt Hennig, Scott Hall, and of course Ric Flair became household names in the AWA. It was in the AWA where Flair met Dusty Rhodes and at first wanted to call himself "Ramblin" Ricky Rhodes before going by the name of Ric Flair. It was Verne Gagne that brought Hulk Hogan back to pro-wrestling following the success of Rocky and gave him a spotlight.
Legends and Icons called the AWA home and made Verne's baby one of the most prominent and successful territories of the era. To break down each name that called AWA home would be to list out years of future Hall of Fame inductees and World Champions. Losing sight of what was important and what made the territory unique ultimately led to the downfall of the promotion. Verne Gagne knew real talent and clearly loved the wrestling business, but when the business started to change he wasn't comfortable moving forward.
Andy Was Real
Terry Funk would always say "they might not believe everything is real, but they will believe that I am real." Andy Kaufman loved the wrestling business enough to work matches into comedy specials against audience members as a way to prove he was the Intergender Champion of the World. Over the years I knew about the rivalry, but the more I've learned about the rivalry the more I've grown to love the rivalry and have a tremendous respect for Andy Kaufman. Honestly, this would also give some insight on the business acumen of both Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett.
For fans who might be unaware the Memphis territory was a weekly territory which meant they had to draw and keep drawing on a weekly basis. Weekly sell outs of arenas like the Mid-South coliseum were needed for continued success of the territory. I do believe this is one of the main reasons that Lawler and Jarrett would alternate running the territory, each man running the company for a six or eight months usually before the other would assume control. Lawler of course always had a say in his own angles or feuds.
The week to week layout of one of the greatest feuds in wrestling history that sadly most fans have never learned about or will understand. Andy gave credibility to not just wrestling, but to Memphis Wrestling as a whole and helped elevate the wrestling business long before Vince McMahon. The fact that David Letterman would tell Lawler decades later that it was Andy Kaufman & Jerry Lawler's episode of the Tonight show that helped the show's popularity start to flourish. It can't possibly be understated the historical importance of this feud and the legacy it leaves behind even all these years later.
Memphis Where Wrestling Was Real
I have been looking forward to this show since it was announced and I know that it's something that has been done before, but stylistically it is unlike anything we have seen. Wrestling fans have proven that they love the stories from a bygone era and that's exactly what this show provides. It doesn't just focus on the dark side either it's more or less a story about an era when wrestling was simple and before the wrestling business changed forever.
It might be difficult to understand or believe that there was a time when a pro-wrestling fan who lived in Florida wasn't aware of what was happening in arenas in New York, Seattle, Dallas, or even in Georgia. One promotion in Georgia had nationally televised programming on TBS that promotion was Georgia Championship Wrestling. This was a time when the only way you could watch multiple promotions on television is if you knew the channel to look for them on. At this time it is bygone era, but turn off your phone and step away from social media as harken back to the golden age of pro-wrestling. Join me as sit under the learning tree for some "Tales from the Territories"
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