WWE's purchase of the Mid-South Wrestling/Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF) archives will result in the company releasing fantastic DVDs that teem with nostalgia, excitement and intrigue.
One of the greatest regional territories in pro wrestling history now gets a second life to be seen again by those pining for wrestling's golden years and by new audiences who can simultaneously get an education in the industry's history and be hugely entertained.
As reported by the Miami Herald, WWE acquired the rights to the Mid-South/UWF library in 2012 via Bill Watts' ex-wife Ene. It was a deal years in the making, one that many of today's fans might not fully appreciate.
WWE Hall of Famer Watts ran Mid-South Wrestling beginning in 1979, guiding it to becoming a hub for some of the industry's biggest stars and most compelling stories. Mid-South ran shows in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Watts renamed it the UWF in 1986 as he attempted to make the promotion a national power.
With WWE in possession of all the video in the Mid-South collection, a whole new audience and generation can experience what Patrick Michael of Yahoo! Sports called "the greatest wrestling promotion in history."
A big part of the promotion's success and why all the subsequent WWE-issued Mid-South DVDs and Blu-rays are going to be must-haves is the star power that company had.
What will be interesting for fans who have mostly just seen WWE is taking a look at some familiar faces in a different stage in their careers.
Before Ted DiBiase was the Million Dollar Man, he was a huge star for Mid-South. DiBiase played both a face and a heel on his way to several championships with the company. Many of his biggest rivals went on to have success with WWE.
DiBiase clashed with Paul Orndorff, Jim Duggan and Junkyard Dog during his Mid-South days.
WWE fans will be intrigued to see Duggan before he took on his cartoony patriotic character and by Junkyard Dog's immense popularity.
While JYD was certainly over with WWE fans, it doesn't compare with his status with Mid-South fans. Crowds erupted for him, the company's top fan favorite for many years.
Other WWE alum on the roster include the Ultimate Warrior, One Man Gang, the Wild Samoans, Mick Foley and Jake Roberts, who was one of the promotion's biggest stars.
Seeing a young Sting in action is also sure to stir up many fans' curiosity.
An Introduction to the Past
Beyond just watching WWE guys before they came to Vince McMahon's company, reliving Mid-South's past offers a chance to fall in love with the stars of yesteryear.
As both a manager and a wrestler, Skandor Akbar was one of the more mesmerizing heels in wrestling. Akbar played on tension between America and the Middle East on his way to becoming intensely hated by crowds.
Not enough fans have seen Olympian Danny Hodge in action, and releasing Mid-South DVDs can change that.
"Dr. Death" Steve Williams is a name known by fans of his work in Japan, but the bruising Oklahoma Sooner is not as well known as he should be. He had some great matches for Watt's promotion against men like Terry Gordy and Sting.
Iceman King Parsons, Nikita Koloff, Ox Baker and Magnum TA are among the names on the Mid-South roster worth learning or reminiscing about.
Butch Reed's time with WWE and WCW doesn't compare to the great work he did for Mid-South. As one of Junkyard Dog’s biggest rivals, Reed was enthralling in his arrogance and physical dominance. Their feud is one of the company's great stories that WWE fans will love watching unfold.
Stories from the South
Jim Ross, who did commentary for the promotion, was quoted in the Miami Herald piece on how seeing Mid-South wrestling in episodic form would be "like reading an action adventure book."
The promotion's strength was in its feuds and how much they sucked fans in. WWE's acquisition of the Mid-South library opens the curtains on theater that has long been lying dormant.
Akbar's venture into villainy began when he turned on his friend and tag team partner, Hodge. Sting broke away from Terry Taylor and Eddie Gilbert in 1987 and formed a partnership with Chris Adams.
Junkyard Dog was the central figure for two of the company's biggest storylines.
Gordy and Michael Hayes blinded JYD with hair cream. He would go on to wrestle in several matches despite being unable to see. The angle later included Junkyard Dog not being able to see his newborn daughter because of Hayes and Gordy's attack.
In another angle, DiBiase defeated Junkyard Dog in a Loser Leaves Town match, but the hero found a way to return for revenge.
JYD donned a mask and called himself Stagger Lee. It was obvious who was under that mask, and the crowd loved it.
WWE's first Mid-South DVD, Legends of Mid-South, is scheduled for release on September 10.
Ross released a partial match listing for the DVD on in a recent blog entry. It will include the feud between the Rock 'N' Roll Express and the Midnight Express, the infamous Coal miner's glove, Tuxedo and the Loser Leaves Town match that was the climax of a feud between Duggan and DiBiase.
Other crowd-pleasing matches include Ric Flair vs. DiBiase for the NWA title, Dr. Death vs. Bubba Rogers (Big Bossman) and one of Shawn Michaels' earliest bouts.
This release is sure to be just the first of many. Mid-South has a treasure trove of stories to retell, stars to showcase and history to explore.
WWE's purchase of Mid-South's archives is a bridge to the past and a way to highlight and honor wrestling history.