I have been reading messages from this board for a couple of months but have not joined until now. I think it is a great forum, and I have learned a lot from the members. I have seen a few references to Central States Wrestling, which is what got me hooked on professional wrestling. In fact, the Sunday morning TV shows greatly hindered my Sunday school attendance in Topeka, KS.
Aside from the shabby TV studio and the poorly lit arena footage shown on TV, as well as Rufus R. Jones's ineloquent interviews, do any of you have other fond memories of the Central States promotion? I particularly remember the fearsome duo of MEB (?) and 666, who seemed to be a poor-man's version of the Shiek and Abdullah the Butcher. They would relentlessly bloody their opponents and seemed immune to pain. Do any of you know who these two gentlemen were, or even remember these two?
I remember JJ Dillon and his cohorts (the Rat Pack) plotting to put Rufus R. Jones in a rat suit, but I think that plan backfired. I also remember the excitement of Ric Flair's announced visits to Kansas City to accept the challenge of the Central States Heavyweight titleholder, who often was Bulldog Bob Brown. The TV station would show a video of Ric stepping out of a Lear jet with some ladies on his arm.
Speaking of videos, I remember the video announcing Kamala the Ugandan Headhunter's visit to the Central States territory, as well as the video featuring Lord Alfred Hayes introducing the Super Destroyer Mark II (?). These videos were simplistic and seemed to consist mostly of a voiceover soberly repeating the wrestler's name and weight. Anyway, please help refresh my memories with your own recollections of this one-of-a-kind promotion. Thanks!
[This message has been edited by beefking (edited 04-19-2000).]
Well, my Central States memories are all bad. When I finally was able to see this promotion on tv around 1985, I was disappointed. Bad camera work, lighting, and commentary. Akio Sato, Sheik Abdullah, and Bob Brown never seemed major league to me.
The Flair video sounds like the famous clip put together by I believe Larry Matysik for the St. Louis office back around 1979 (originally to the tune of Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" and later remixed to "Fire & Ice" by Pat Benatar).
The Kamala clip sounds like the one shot in Jerry Lawler's backyard (deepest, darkest Africa my royal foot).
The Central States area probably had its highest talent level in the late 60s and early 70s, when the promotion featured such names as Bob Geigel, Bulldog Bob Brown, Rufus R. Jones, Danny Littlebear, Omar Atlas, Black Angus Campbell (managed by Percival A. Friend), Nature Boy Roger Kirby, Lord Alfred Hayes, Mike George and "Mad Dog" Harley Race.
In the late 70s, Col. Buck Robley and his Army came into the area as the major heels for several years. At various times, the Army included Buzz "Avalanche" Tyler, Bruiser Bob Sweetan, Bobby Jaggers, the Blue Yankee and others. Bulldog Bob Brown, usually a heel, did a face turn to battle against the army. Ted Dibiase, Harley Race, Rufus Jones, Ken Lucas and Kevin Sullivan were all guys who I recall taking part in the long struggle against Robley and the Army.
The early 80s saw a decline in the promotion (at least in my eyes), as many of the familiar names disappeared from the territory and were replaced by guys like Mr. Pogo and Gypsy Joe. Strapped for cash because of the failure of the St. Louis promotion that Geigel, Pat O'Connor, Race and Verne Gagne had purchased from Sam Muchnick, the talent level dropped again in the mid-80s.
Jesse Ventura, Dusty Rhodes, Dick Murdoch, Ox Baker, Thunderbolt Patterson and many other stars began their careers in the Central States area.
I have copies of Bob Geigel's booking calendars for 1982. When I can add some photos to spice them up a little, I'll post them on harleyrace.com
I grew up on Central States as well, as I am from the Wichita area. I watched in the early 80's before the WWF took over television. I remember Brown and Race wrestling each other often, as well as Rufus R. Jones and Butch Reed. I think Andre came through there one during this period. Does anyone remember if that's the case? The opening to the All-Star Wrestling show is printed on my brain. Jesse the Body debuted in the Century II convention hall. Was that for Central States?
Thanks everyone for your Central States memories, good and bad. I'm a bit disappointed nobody knew the identities of MEB and 666, but maybe there's a reason for that.
Blake, I'm sorry you saw the worst of the Central States. I would agree with Chris that the promotion's more illustrious years were the 1970s rather than the early 1980s.
Richard, thanks for clarification regarding the Flair and Kamala videos. Jerry Lawler's backyard certainly passed for Uganda in my eyes. It seems like certain videos were used repeatedly in the late 1970s and early 1980s to introduce incoming wrestlers to territories. I have seen mention of a Bruiser Brody video segment on compilation videotapes, and I'm sure there are many others. Does anyone have any favorites?
Chris, thanks for providing additional background on the Central States promotion. The www.harleyrace.com website and its affiliates are excellent sources of information about the promotion. Please go ahead and post Bob Geigel's booking calendars without pictures. I would love to see what they look like. I remember Col. Buck Robley's Army also, although I never quite understood the appeal of Robley himself. I wonder whether anyone has started a thread on famous self-proclaimed wrestling Armies. Who would win in a war between Robley's Army and, say, Jim Cornette's SMW Army?
Brendan, the All-Star Wrestling credits are still vivid to me also, espeically the cheap video afterglow created by the floating logo. I don't remember Andre in the Central States, but I wouldn't be surprised.
i remember andre coming through central states, he and a midget named bo johnson wrestled buzz tyler and jj dillion at the civic arena in st.joseph,mo....early 80s. i also remembered terry taylor,shawn michaels and marty janetty wrestling here and a couple years ago i interviewed bob geigel for bryan alvarezs figure four weekly and of taylor,michaels and janetty geigel said at that time he expected janetty would be the biggest star. there were so many guys who came through central states over the years...ken lucas and a young kevin sullivan were tag champs at one time. ted dibiase and bruiser brody had a memorable war at memorial hall. central states may have had bad lighting and terrible announcers and what not but i would love to turn on the t.v. this sunday morning and see all-star wrestling come on.
My favorite Central States memory is the piece of crap ring that Giegel used in Wichita. The ropes were green-red-green, there was silver duct tape for turnbuckle pads, and the apron looked like a bunch of pieces of construction paper taped together.
The ring announcer/timekeeper used to keep a toolbox on the ringside table next to the bell, because two or three times a night on every show, one of the turnbuckles would come loose from the post, and he'd have to jump up and fix it in the middle of a match.
Actually Tiger Mask was there. Late 80s in a February for some reason Giant Baba did a TV taping from Memorial Hall. Rock and Roll wrestled the B Bulldogs with Pat O Connor as ref,Funks tag wrestled,Hanson wrestled, Tiger Mask(not sure who Tiger Mask was at that time) wrestled some local CS area guy who did nothing for Tiger's style, I think Steve Williams or Gordy was on the card also. There were five NWA champs in the building(Race watched,O'Connor,both Funks,and Baba along with an AWA champ in Hanson and an IWGP champ in Williams.
Hey Chris Owens-ask Harley Racewhat the deal was on Baba doing a special taping from Memorial Hall.
Does anyone know whether a tape exists of the card to which harrywhite referred? I don't think any of the readily available All Japan Classics tapes have this footage. It sounds like that would be the zenith of the Central States promotion in the 1980s. The booking sheets posted by Chris Owens at www.harleyrace.com listed one card with some All Japan talent, but I don't know that it is the same card referred to above.
In a somewhat recent post regarding the current NWA, a poster suggested that the NWA should put their belt on someone like Curt Hennig, who could visit the various regional NWA promotions, wrestle the local champions, and make them look good and even teach them some skills. I don't know whether this would improve attendance or create excitement, but I think it could be worth the money to give Hennig a sizable amount of money to serve as a credible champ. I was always impressed when I heard that Ric Flair was coming to Kansas City to give Central States Champion Bob Brown, Rufus R. Jones, or whoever a shot at the NWA title.
Baba did several tapings from the U.S. over the years. The best was from Charlotte in 1982 (packed show) but I can remember an early 80s tourny for Detroit's version of the "NWA" World tag title (won by Baba & Tsuruta) being televised in Japan as well. There was also a taping from Savannah in 1983 and one from Los Angeles in the 70s I believe. Sure there were others.
If I remember correctly, this was a favor of Baba to Geigel to try to pump some life into Geigel's WWA promotion (he had withdrawn from the NWA). I think by this time Baba had also withdrawn from the NWA as well, but he was still doing business with some of Crockett's talent (he withdrew his membership but still booked Road Warriors, Flair, etc.) As an aside, this if probably one of the very few times Stan Hansen worked in the U.S. between the time he walked out on the AWA in 1986 and came to WCW in 1990. Anyway, here are the results (courtesy of Wrestling Supercards & Tourmanents):
International Bash February 2, 1989 in Kansas City, KS Memorial Hall drawing 300
Rick McCord beat Bobby Jaggers.
Tiger Mask (Misawa) pinned Tommy Sharpe (8:47).
Terry & Dory Funk, Jr. beat Doug Somers & Gary Young (10:28) when Terry forced Young to submit.
Genichiro Tenryu pinned Bill Irwin (9:24).
Akio Sato pinned Curtis Hughes (8:20).
The British Bulldogs drew The Rock-n-Roll Express (30:00). Pat O'Conner was the special referee.
Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu beat Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy (16:36) to win the International Tag Title when Tsuruta pinned Gordy.
WWA Champ Mike George beat Stevie Ray (10:47) via countout.