A little Saturday oddity, as episodes of the short-lived, Nashville-based Lou Thesz promotion the Universal Wrestling Association have turned up on YT. This was a rival group to Nick Gulas’ and prided themselves, as per Thesz’s presence and endorsement, on better wrestling, but ran out of money before the year was out. Here’s an episode from March. You will see some faces that would be a lot more familiar in the future on these shows.
Beware as you start the episode as you get a high-pitched frequency sound. Amusingly, the show ident for the tape is on a piece of card in pen, and they obviously forgot the number of the episode when they wrote it down and have used a ragged piece of masking tape to cover it up badly! The intro music sounds like it’s for a carnival.
Hosts are Lou and Buzz Benson, who looks like Lee Marvin.
Pistol Pez Whatley and Dick Griffiths vs. The Spoiler and Outlaw Cowboy Ray Parker
Pez is still at uni at this point and a lot smaller than the fireplug he’d become. The Spoiler is ugly veteran Frank Morrell under a mask. Kangaroo Al Costello manages the heels Spoiler and Parker, the latter of whom has pretty much every cowboy insignia he could think of on his tight, from stars to horseshoes, and resembles a slimmer Buddy Rose. The heels trap Pez in their corner and he has to use his speed, including his amazing dropkick, which never got bad, and technique to escape them. Griffiths gets a tag, but Parker knees him coming in, to show this is a match like when Ron Garvin would team up with some loser in 1990. Griffiths can’t even run the ropes right and barely bumps off a Spoiler elbow. Even Lou calls him the weakest link as he falls badly off a clothesline. He’s just got no natural instincts on how to sell, turning over after being slammed down. Despite this, they continue to work their blows rather than just shoot on him. Backbreaker (just about) from Parker, then Spoiler gets his own for the win. Wow, Griffiths was awful, Whatley should’ve stayed in as long as possible. He gets the ignominy of having to take a shot from Costello with the boomerang when he comes in to try and clean house after the loss.
The Renegade vs. Wild Bull Curry
No, it’s not a baby Rick Williams or Lorenzo Lamas, just some biker-like guy with long brown hair, jeans and boots, who looks like he’s been put in a shrinking machine. Curry is a legend of pre-hardcore wrestling and a sight to be seen, with thick black hair and eyebrows so long that they almost cover his forehead. No body and quite a small guy, but scary as fuck as he wanders through the audience harassing them as they scramble. Renegade actually gets some shots in early to knock him out of the ring. Benson explains Curry’s mannerism of holding his hands over his ears, which is that repeated injuries to them has made them weak, so he has to cover them when the crowd yells and screams, which is the most awesome way to get people to make noise – tell them not to so that they do. Bull is back in with some hard blows. It’s like the world’s scariest grandad. Renegade gets trapped in the ropes and falls out of the ring backwards, so Curry goes outside and just rams the back of his head while prone into his knee, which sounds as nasty as it looks. Even a fan from ringside comes up to try and help Renegade out. Once he’s out, Bull runs his head into the post, which I’m surprised didn’t lead to him blading as the fans bang the floor and everything they can. The cornerman at ringside helps him up, so Bull runs his head again into the post, then brings him back in for the knockout punch and knee to the gut for the pinfall victory. Pretty amazing squash, unlike anything you’ve seen in the last thirty or forty years.
Nelson Royal vs. Mario Leone
Quite the contrast here, as Royal was an NWA stalwart as a junior heavyweight, even into his fifties, while Leone was WWWF heel Joe Turco, and the styles are as different as the promotions were. Leone uses the hair to pull down Royal on a wristlock, which Nelson nips up out of twice, which is definitely impressive for a man of his age and build. He rolls into a roll-up, but it’s in the ropes. Leone gets a leg grapevine, assisted by the ropes. The ref catches it on the third go, causing a break. Nelson gets the tap-elbow to the nose to Lou’s amusement, because it’s one of his old moves! Leone gets a kidney shot and choke in the corner, leading to a forearm slugfest between the two. Royal uses the headlock takedown as a pinning attempt rather than a transition into a side headlock, but Leone gets a front facelock. Nelson gets out and gets a Thesz press out of nowhere, which Lou doesn’t take the credit for and just calls a flying scissors, for the pinfall victory. As good as two older, hairy, tubby blokes laying the leather in can get!
Leone hangs around to protest the loss, but Benson cuts him off by throwing to the details for the promotion for high school gym, armory or fairground shows for fundraisers. He’s also trying to fill time in obvious fashion because the match ended early, so just thanks everyone and anyone that he can see.
As a bit of a bonus after the tape has rolled out, there’s another show it’s recorded over with a match in progress, from the Eddie Einhorn’s IWA. The Love Brothers finish off a pair of jobbers with Horrible Hartford getting a flying elbowdrop for the win. The slo-mo shows how stiff it looked too.
Then another bit under that, with the end credits from John Ringley’s Mid-South Wrestling! Ringley was the husband of Frances Crockett and apparently the more likely guy to continue running the promotion after Jim Sr. was gone, but he couldn’t keep it in his pants and was exiled.
Melting it down: A pretty fun, albeit short show. Dick Griffiths was awful in the opening tag team match, but everyone else was professional and giving it a good go, even though it looks like an odd gathering of people. I’m going to review another episode for tomorrow!